World leaders and their representatives attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen failed to achieve a binding agreement to cap and reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the close of the conference on Friday, in effect agreeing instead to continue their collective experiment in uncontrolled global climate change.
The only document produced at the conference was a last-minute, non-binding political agreement, dubbed the “Copenhagen Accord“, in which the United States, China, India, Brazil, and South Africa promised to work toward a future climate change prevention convention. The 193 countries present at the conference agreed only to “take note” of the accord. However, it is expected that most, although not all, of the countries that attended the conference will sign on to it.
Nevertheless, many conference participants and NGOs criticized the accord for falling far short of the kind of commitments required. The document fails even to set a target date for the achievement of a true, binding emissions reduction agreement.
As the New York Times noted,
The three-page accord that Mr. Obama negotiated with the leaders of China, India, Brazil and South Africa and then presented to the conference did not meet even the modest expectations that leaders set for this meeting, notably by failing to set a 2010 goal for reaching a binding international treaty to seal the provisions of the accord.
Nor does the plan firmly commit the industrialized nations or the developing nations to firm targets for midterm or long-term greenhouse gas emissions reductions….
It is likely to undergo many months, perhaps years, of additional negotiations before it emerges in any internationally enforceable form.
Unsurprisingly, given his position on limiting Canada’s own greenhouse gas emissions, Prime Minister Stephen Harper declared his support for the accord, calling it “comprehensive and realistic”. (He may have some convincing still to do with some of his caucus, however.)
The major unresolved question concerns where we will have to go to buy a new planet with all the money we will save by not preserving this one. But surely The Market will provide.