If the Obama administration succeeds in passing the Waxman-Markey energy tax, and it works perfectly, it will only reduce global temperatures by nine hundredths of one degree Fahrenheit. In other words: it will do nothing. The only possible benefits from Waxman-Markey occur if the rest of the world, including the globe’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases– China– also reduces its emissions. So how are those negotiations going? Financial Times reports:

China and the US failed to achieve a breakthrough at their latest round of climate talks yesterday, raising the stakes in the global effort to fight global climate change.

Todd Stern, President Barack Obama’s special envoy on climate change, tried to sound optimistic when the US delegation ended its China visit but could hardly conceal that little had been achieved. Mr Stern, who before leaving for China had said, “Let’s get this damn thing started [between the US and China],” did his best to paper over the lack of progress.

Chinese officials maintained that the two countries should have a “common but differentiated approach” – code for Beijing’s reluctance to adopt a formal domestic mandate to reduce its carbon emissions. The US Congress is considering a bill that would reduce US emissions to 83 per cent of 2005 levels by 2020. China wants the US to cut its emissions to 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 – a different order of magnitude. It also wants the US to pledge up to 1 per cent of its gross domestic product to pay for clean technology in China and elsewhere.