US Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern’s speech at Chatham House a couple of days ago is worth a look if you follow climate change. But don’t expect it to cheer you up.
It’s a thoughtful piece that clearly sets out where the US is coming from with regard to a new international agreement. But here’s the key part – which comes right after he acknowledges developing countries’ concerns about retaining space to develop as “entirely legitimate”:
The nationally determined structure of commitments we have already discussed should satisfy this pragmatic purpose, since countries would make their own decisions about what kind of mitigation commitments were appropriate given their own circumstances and capabilities.
Sigh – here we are once again with the same old pledge-and-review crap of countries doing whatever they figure they can manage, and then hoping it will somehow magically add up to the right global outcome. As though the atmosphere will award ‘marks for effort’.
And if you’re wondering where this kind of approach leads us, well, this year’s IEA World Energy Outlook – published next month but extract available here – estimates that the net effect of commitments under the Copenhagen Accord will be 3.6-5.3 degrees Celsius of long term warming, most of it before the end of this century.
Oh, and despite the comprehensive nature of Stern’s speech, there’s one thing he conspicuously didn’t mention – the global target of limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius. Go figure.
Someone explain to me again how the Obama Administration’s global climate policy is different from that of the Bush Administration?