The United Nations climate change conference begins in Copenhagen today, but it may spell the beginning of the end to the global warming scare.
For nearly two years, this meeting was touted as the biggest global warming conference since the 1997 meeting in Kyoto, Japan. That conference resulted in the Kyoto Protocol, with emissions reduction targets for developed nations. These targets expire in 2012, thus Copenhagen was seen as the pivotal time and place to expand the Kyoto approach into the future. American wisely stayed out of Kyoto – which has been a failure, as developing nations like China were exempted from reductions, and many developed nations have failed to live up to its commitments – but many thought President Obama would sign the U.S. up to a post-Kyoto deal.
But economic, political, and scientific reality is intruding. Even with the President promising to attend the conference on the critical final day, it does not look like much will come of Copenhagen other than the usual consolation agreement to try again next year.
The economic reality is that substantially reducing carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels is prohibitively expensive, especially given the lingering recession.
The political reality is that China and other fast developing nations insist on being exempted from binding, verifiable, and enforceable targets. But since these nation’s emissions are rising much faster than those of the developed world, exempting them would render any treaty almost meaningless.
The scientific reality is that global warming is proving to be far from a crisis. Climategate – the leak of emails showing gross misconduct amongst scientists with important roles in promulgating the official UN science – further adds to the doubts. The fact that temperatures have been flat for over a decade doesn’t help either.
Pro-Kyoto negotiations will try their best to make Copenhagen their big moment. But most likely, action on any new emissions reduction targets, both via treaty or domestic legislation (currently stalled in the Senate) will be punted into 2010. However, the above mentioned economic, political, and scientific realities aren’t going away. And 2010 is an election year, making it harder for Washington to sign on to something unpopular like a de facto energy tax in the name of addressing global warming.
Global warming alarmists have long thought of Copenhagen as a turning point on this issue. They may be right, but not as they intended.
For background on the Copenhagen conference as well as live updates from it during the critical final week of December 14 – 18th, go to www.heritage.org/copenhagen.