the climate debate

Tony Blair’s summary on Copenhagen:

This is a tough time to be a decision-maker.

We live in an era of low predictability. The world appears in constant flux. The challenges are immense. And most of all, there is, in many instances a clash between the correct short-term politics and the correct long-term policy.

…. in respect of the environment and energy, whatever the financial pressures, if we think that the earth’s climate is probably changing as a result of human activity, we need to set the global economy on a low carbon path to the future.

This doesn’t mean that we can come out with unrealistic propositions as we struggle for a new global treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.

We should not make the best the enemy of the good.

There are major things we can do on the basis of existing knowledge – on deforestation, energy efficiency and renewables – to make a big difference over the next decade. We will then require a long-term framework of incentives to develop the technologies of the future. But the point is: now is not the time to put off action.

The seriousness of China on this issue, and now India, the enthusiasm of Brazil and others in the emerging markets to participate in tackling climate change: all of this offers a huge opportunity that should be grasped.

And for the West, we should all remind ourselves about $100 a barrel oil. There are exemplary reasons of energy security why we need to change the nature of our economies to drive down carbon dependence.

Susan Kraemer’s summary on Copenhagen:

Copenhagen… moved the process forward.

All nations agreed to cooperate in achieving the peaking of global and national emissions as soon as possible.

The good news is that this time, unlike Kyoto, every nation is included. For the first time, China, India and the US were participants in a worldwide agreement that deep cuts in global emissions are required to hold the increase in average global temperatures to less than 2 C above the pre-Industrial Revolution level.

Developed countries commit to quantified economy-wide emissions targets for 2020, creating a joint $100 billion a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries, $30 billion from 2010 to 2012 to help developing countries mitigate climate change and protect forests… and to communicate impacts every two years….

The bad news is that this is not enough to save Tuvalu. Like the Maldives, they will be the first of us to go.

But it’s to be expected that there are losses.

As the decades roll by and we don’t switch to clean renewable energy fast enough, it will get harder and harder to come out of these international agreements to do something about the problem, because less and less will be achievable.

Jeff McMahon’s summary on Copenhagen:

And the Oscar goes to…

You will hear many denounce the Copenhagen Accord. Many would have done so no matter what happened here. There are many who dreamed of greater strides, and those dreams have again been deferred.

But isn’t it truly a dream to expect 193 nations–each with its own demands–to draft a detailed agreement together?

Nearly all of the world’s nations have committed to greenhouse-gas emissions cuts, to a new fund that will channel hundreds of billions of dollars into green initiatives, and to some international oversight of their actions.

In the most immediate and practical terms, over the next three years $30 billion will go to the poorest nations of the world, where it can stretch the farthest, to help those nations develop clean energy sources.

Agreements have been struck on deforestation, reforestation and clean-technology transfer. Brazil, where the Amazon jungle has been shrinking for centuries, has committed to redesigning its agricultural system.

Numerous nations have struck side deals, committing more hundreds of billions to green goals.

In loftier terms, the state of our planet is now undeniably the world’s leading political issue.