Copenhagen Summit: What to Expect?

In Economics, Misc on December 5, 2009 at 14:18

Environment ministers, government officials and other major players from more than 190 countries are gathering on Monday in Copenhagen for two weeks, in the framework of the United Nations Climate Change Conference for the highly-anticipated environmental summit, to address and agree on the measures that would curb climate change. The stakes this time are really high as major participants like the US and China have pledged to give in and finally seek for a deal.

Now, what is to realistically expect from the summit? We expect officials to agree on a new treaty that will succeed that of the Kyoto protocol and whose first phase will expire in 2012. Developed countries are expected to reduce their CO2 emissions while the newly-industrialised ones reduce its growth.

US, China and India have shown willingness to cooperate and strive for a sustainable agreement towards CO2 reductions. A major obstacle is that of funding. Although China overtook US in total CO2 production, it still is on 1/4 on a per capita basis of that of the US and has historically emitted much less than the States. In order for the NICs to engage in a CO2 growth reduction they would somehow have to be compensated for their economic slowdown.

Few days ago President Obama changed his scheduled appearance in the summit and announced he would be arriving at the final stage of the negotiations, boosting hopes for a strong deal.

There is a consensus that a positive outcome will come out. Nonetheless, limiting emissions by 80 percent on a 1990-basis by 2050 doesn’t look attainable to me. There is the problem of ‘burden-sharing’ of how much each country gets to emit. Moreover, according to Gordon Brown, leaders would have to pledge more than $100 bn a year by 2020, but the recession has made this sound as utopia. These are hurdles that have to be overcome.

There is a need to point to a direction and look long-run for once. When it comes to the environment, geopolitics ought to be neglected or at least downgraded to a second level. It’s the first time we’ve come that close to an agreement and who knows if we may have this opportunity again.

More posts throughout the summit.

by the Self-Seeker

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