22. 10. 2009

US position on Copenhagen may be treaty-wrecking

You can’t fault our Government for its ongoing efforts to get people to focus on the Copenhagen Conference. Both the Prime Minister and Ed Miliband are out there emphasising the ‘make or break’ nature of the event: governments either seal the deal now, or we could be into drift for a couple of years.

Personally I’m not so sure about this kind of rhetoric. It probably wouldn’t be the end of the world if it took another six or nine months to get the right deal sealed – and that means a deal with the US on board. And that probably won’t happen until some kind of climate bill has got through the US Senate.

That, at least, was the prevailing view at the end of the most recent round of talks in Bangkok a couple of weeks ago. The Senate is bogged down in health insurance stuff; Obama doesn’t want to use his political capital to try and force it through the Senate prior to Copenhagen; and he absolutely doesn’t want a re-run of the Kyoto process, where Al Gore signed off on the Kyoto Protocol only to find that the Senate would have nothing to do with it later on.

And that’s the reason Obama hasn’t accepted the invitation to go to Copenhagen himself in order to bring his own personal leadership to bear on the negotiations.

Because the focus of a lot of this discussion is about Obama and most people just seem to have bought into this approach. That’s just the way it is: unfortunate timing and all that. America doing its best in difficult domestic circumstances.

I must say, I don’t quite see it like that. I think this represents a massive failure on Obama’s part. As the rest of the world raises its game (particularly in key countries like China, India and Brazil), the United States’ negotiating position, in essence, doesn’t seem to have advanced much beyond George Bush’s negotiating position.

US negotiators still refuse to acknowledge historical responsibility. They’re still trying to force developing countries to do what America itself has totally failed to do up until now – and doesn’t show much readiness to do it even now. They’re still trying to change the baseline date from 1990 to 2005 – and, in essence, want to tear up Kyoto rather than build on it by allowing each country to determine its own path to greenhouse gas reductions.

For US negotiators, read Obama. I don’t know why everyone (and particularly Government ministers) is being so ‘understanding’ about this. It’s a despicable, immoral, self-serving, treaty-wrecking negotiating position which, in the current context, where the need for action is so much greater, and so many other countries are now playing ball, is no better than what George Bush was doing during his eight poisonous years in the White House.

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Comments

23. 10. 2009
Nick Grealy

Jonathan:
If you're equating Obama with Bush, I'm afraid I lose any respect I had for you. And it was substantial!
Do you realise how narrow and objectionable that is? It makes you as influential as a Green Nick Griffin,
How would that serve the planet?

24. 10. 2009
Andrew Harmsworth

I think I agree with you that the timing for the US is far from ideal - ideal would be next summer - but let's hope Obama can actually exert some influence and bring some common sense to the US position if, what you indicate in this blog post, is accurate. Time will tell - let's look forward to Christmas!

06. 11. 2009
Briar

If the only requirement on Obama is that he be not Bush, no wonder he has been able to get away with so many broken promises. So - the US will not get universal health care as a right (and certainly not abortion on demand - never an Obama promise of course), will not stop its wars of aggression in the East, will not guarantee justice for the Palestinians and will not act to stop carbon emissions. But that's okay. He still isn't George Bush. He just acts like him.

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