As I write this a little after midnight on Thursday, less than 24 hours remain before the close of the Copenhagen talks. Local television is playing continuous loops of an English-language TV movie (with Danish subtitles) about an evil oil company that is trying to sabotage the “Kyoto 2 talks at Calgary” by pressuring the U.S. delegation, besmirching a respected scientist, hiding damaging data, and maybe worse [...]
As leaders debate climate policy in Copenhagen, one essential dimension has been largely left out: human health. This is a mistake for two reasons. First, one of the most compelling reasons for aggressive action is to avoid the enormous long-term health impacts likely to be felt throughout the world if we continue to push our climate out of balance. Second, there is an emerging consensus among health scientists [...]
Copenhagen is being scaled back. Whereas originally the hope was to have a treaty incorporating “legally binding” targets and timetables, now the aim is to reach a “political agreement.”
This matters much less than you might think. The Kyoto Protocol, which entered into force in 2005, already incorporates “legally binding” targets, but it lacks any means of being [...]
The formal negotiations are taking place in only one place, the Bella Center, but throughout the city of Copenhagen the climate event cannot be missed. Numerous buildings are draped with huge signs proclaiming some company’s, nation’s, or group’s contributions to reducing the climate problem. Public plazas have large displays of electric cars, annotated globes, and alarming aerial photographs. A wind company has purchased the right to paste its posters on the platform floors in many [...]
With less than three days remaining in the Copenhagen climate talks, the rich have finally begun to discuss climate financing for the poor. The negotiating round has gone on for two years with little serious discussion on financing and many other topics, a gaping failure of a process run by and for rich-country politicians who do not like to be bothered with unpleasant details. This will not do [...]
For years, activists have sought to “save the rainforest.” Now, it looks like there could be a mechanism to do just that. It was announced yesterday that negotiators have reached a nearly final agreement on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, or REDD, in which polluters in the north will pay rainforest countries to keep from cutting forests. Many forest-rich countries would like to benefit from [...]
The climate summit offers an opportunity to agree on two concrete policies that should significantly reduce global warming: incentives to end deforestation, and to generate electricity without releasing greenhouse gases. The initiative to save forests looks like it may be the one major accomplishment at Copenhagen, with yesterday’s announcement of an agreement that may be [...]
As the giant climate classroom in Copenhagen moves toward its closure, some will come away frustrated and even angry, while others may be satisfied or at the very least relieved. Whatever documents may be signed at the end of the meeting, these two weeks of December will have a lasting impact. The stresses on our planet caused [...]
Difficult as it is to discuss global warming in the midst of a snowstorm (such as Copenhagen is experiencing right now), discussions proceed on multiple tracks, though “tracks” implies more linearity and parallelism than actually exists.
The hidden elephant (or polar bear) in many of the rooms is the U.S. Senate. Virtually every other [...]
There are many shows taking place in Copenhagen right now. Where the real action is, however, is another question entirely.
Over the weekend a mass demonstration — estimates of the number of participants range from 30,000 to 100,000 — took over parts of the city, leading to nearly 1,000 arrests. When I arrived at the Bella Center first thing Monday morning, things were more [...]