Bad News for Climate Reductions, Troubling Prospects for Copenhagen

President Obama’s failure at the G-8 summit to get the largest developing countries to agree to set goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 was  only one piece of bad news this week for efforts to attack global warming.   Although the House of Representatives narrowly passed the Waxman-Markey bill last week, prospects in the Senate are looking grimmer.  Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) announced yesterday that the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which she chairs, will not vote on climate change legislation until at least September.  Boxer explained that the Senate has its hands full with health care legislation and the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Sotomayor.  And a Democratic Senator from a coal-dependent state, Claire McCaskill, told a radio host this week that the Senate will not pass Waxman-Markey.  (Holly previously posted about Nate Silver’s predictions about Senate votes; Silver has McCaskill as a “Likely Yes” vote).  Moreover the unwillingness of China and other fast-growing developing countries to commit to 2050 goals can’t be helpful in persuading reluctant Senators to vote to reduce U.S. emissions — after all, it was the Kyoto Protocol’s differential treatment between “developed” and “developing” countries that led the U.S. Senate to pass a resolution urging President Clinton not to sign the protocol.

All of this bad news seems especially troubling for efforts to sign a new international climate treaty (Kyoto expires in 2012) in Copenhagen in December.  The head of the United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has described the U.S. role  as “absolutely critical to the success of Copenhagen.”  It’s hard to imagine how Obama can make progress on the gap between developing and developed countries if he can’t persuade his own Congress to cut U.S. emissions.  And prospects for Senate passage don’t appear great.

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Reader Comments

3 Replies to “Bad News for Climate Reductions, Troubling Prospects for Copenhagen”

  1. Waxman-Markey proponents seem unable to have an intelligent and objective discussion of climate science. These proponents catagorically refuse to recognize the effects of solar radiation, water vapor, and natural cycles, and they demand that everyone accept the premise that climate change is caused by human carbon dioxide emissions. This refusal to engage in rational discourse will ultimately defeat Waxman-Markey.

  2. Jim Coody,

    I take issue with your point. I think there are sincere efforts to explain the science, including uncertainties. I attempted “an intelligent and objective” reply to your previous post about water vapor with links to some NASA web pages that surely answer some of your questions.

    One gets the impression (I hope false)from reading your posts, that you are ideologically, not rationally, opposed to the idea that humanity is altering the atmosphere.

  3. Red Desert said to Jim Coody;

    “…One gets the impression (I hope false)from reading your posts, that you are ideologically, not rationally, opposed to the idea that humanity is altering the atmosphere…”

    Dear Red Desert,
    We agree that human activities may have some minor impact on altering the chemical composition of the atmosphere. We do not agree with the assertion that humans can control the atmospheric temperature by regulating relatively miniscule amounts of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions.

    The proposals to control global atmospheric temperature by capping and trading carbon dioxide emissions are technically flawed and unproven. This is why the EPA and the Obama Adminstration can not guarantee any climate benefits under Waxman-Markey.

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About Ann

Ann Carlson is currently on leave from UCLA School of Law. She is the Shirley Shapiro Professor of Environmental Law and was the founding Faculty Director of the Emmett I…

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