Sunday, December 20, 2009

Copenhagen's NON-agreement: developing countries shoot themselves in the foot

It was clear for a long time that neither China nor the USA were keen on any real or binding agreement at Copenhagen.

The final result is a non-binding "promise" of a measly USD 10 billion a year for the next three years, with the idea that this might be increased by 2020. Given that there is no agreement about which specific countries will provide this money, which countries it will go to, in which amounts, on what conditions and by which mechanisms - and given the non-history of the "Millennium Development Goals"! - it is clear that what emerged from Copenhagen was a grand total of nothing.

Non-binding offers of cuts in carbon emissions, such as from China immediately before the summit can be considered to have been either mere posturing or in line with what the Chinese were planning anyway - and had no relation to the summit.

What is not clear is why the rest of the developing world (including India) wee so keen to avoid confronting China and the USA on the matter and arriving at an international deal that committed everyone else. That would have isolated the two bad guys and exercised at least some moral pressure on them - not that America has in recent times shown itself amenable to international pressure - let alone China of course.

So Copenhagen can be summed up as follows: duped by China and the US, the developing countries have shot themselves in the foot.

Assuming the consensus thinking about climate change is anywhere near correct, guess which countries are going to suffer most from the consequences? China and India. We have the largest coastlines, and the largest populations near them. We are more dependent on the monsoon and on the water that flows from the Himalayas than any other countries in the world. Naturally, in proportional terms small island states may be completely wiped out, but in terms of actual numbers of people, the damage in China and India will be much worse.

However, the economic and moral impact of the lack of an agreement at Copenhagen will be most on the USA. Not only has it delcined from providing leadership on a matter of global importance, its industry will continue to be hollowed out as more and more of that is outsourced to countries with lower environmental and human standards.

Global trade without global rules disproportionately disadvantages countries with the best environmental and human standards. Sphere: Related Content

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