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Cold War Over Warming Already Underway?

Seems like it.

Mark Lynas, who worked with the Maldives group at COP15, was literally in the room when the final negotiations took place, and wrote about it for The Guardian. The key section:

To those who would blame Obama and rich countries in general, know this: it was China's representative who insisted that industrialised country targets, previously agreed as an 80% cut by 2050, be taken out of the deal. "Why can't we even mention our own targets?" demanded a furious Angela Merkel. Australia's prime minister, Kevin Rudd, was annoyed enough to bang his microphone. Brazil's representative too pointed out the illogicality of China's position. Why should rich countries not announce even this unilateral cut? The Chinese delegate said no, and I watched, aghast, as Merkel threw up her hands in despair and conceded the point. Now we know why – because China bet, correctly, that Obama would get the blame for the Copenhagen accord's lack of ambition.

China, backed at times by India, then proceeded to take out all the numbers that mattered. A 2020 peaking year in global emissions, essential to restrain temperatures to 2C, was removed and replaced by woolly language suggesting that emissions should peak "as soon as possible". The long-term target, of global 50% cuts by 2050, was also excised. No one else, perhaps with the exceptions of India and Saudi Arabia, wanted this to happen. I am certain that had the Chinese not been in the room, we would have left Copenhagen with a deal that had environmentalists popping champagne corks popping in every corner of the world.

[...] With the deal gutted, the heads of state session concluded with a final battle as the Chinese delegate insisted on removing the 1.5C target so beloved of the small island states and low-lying nations who have most to lose from rising seas. President Nasheed of the Maldives, supported by Brown, fought valiantly to save this crucial number. "How can you ask my country to go extinct?" demanded Nasheed. The Chinese delegate feigned great offence – and the number stayed, but surrounded by language which makes it all but meaningless. The deed was done.

I figured something like this would happen. I just didn't expect the signs to show up so quickly.


Would this then be called a "Warm War"?

It's an interesting piece but the author has a major axe to grind on this, and as a participant he is not going to be bringing a neutral perspective. Which is okay, it's still interesting.

The piece is hard on China, but from China's perspective, I can see why they are reluctant to agree to binding targets and inspections. I mean, "inspections" by itself is a word likely to cause screaming alarms in any sovereign nation. Anyone sane who watched the Iraq war buildup understands that the weapons inspections were used as a pretext for war. The fact that they didn't find anything was used as evidence that what they were looking for was being concealed. Well, imagine China 20 years from now with allegations flying around the UN about unauthorized carbon emissions and saber-rattling by industrialized countries - why the hell would they sign up for something like that? Better not to sign the agreement in the first place than have it used to beat you around the head later.

Assuming that the consequences of climate change are as great as feared, there is no country with so much at risk as China, and as the world's largest CO2 emitter & air polluter there is not much potential for free-riding. I'm not necessarily convinced that the Chinese government 100% believes that CO2 is a problem (not that controversial a statement - the same is true of much of the US Senate, e.g.), but at the very least they rate it as a major potential risk. They certainly understand that the air pollution from coal & polluting industries is an enormous problem.

But like I say, it's the Iraq war precedent that screws the US in these negotiations. Yeah, they're probably not seriously worried about being invaded, but trade sanctions could be a big problem for them in the future. So why sign onto an agreement that could be used against them later?

As I posted on this site earlier, connected to the article that you cite:


And to my questions below, the best futurists are the ones closest to anticipating the reality of the present, rather than any future scenario. :)

Urgh, that's disheartening. I wonder what will happen in Mexico City, then. Will there be similar insistence on avoiding hard numbers? Will all the remaining countries sign the paper with stronger language, leaving China (and possibly India) as the villains, instead of the US? ... Is that even a possible outcome?

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