Clashing in Copenhagen

Posted on Fri 12/18/2009 by

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By Nick Loris

With the Copenhagen climate summit wrapping up Friday, there are a number of battles developing from the political elite to the grassroots activists. But none is bigger than the one between developed and developing nations that has stalled progress for a binding treaty.

Rich vs. Poor

Developing nations want more money to combat climate change, steeper emissions cuts from developed nations and exemption from any binding agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Developing nations are pushing for $100 billion annually, emissions cuts of 25-40% by 2020 for developed countries and an extension of the Kyoto Protocol that would excuse developing nations from cutting CO2.

Developed nations want just the opposite. Their offer to developing nations is $10 billion a year but Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it could be increased to $100 billion if major developing countries, most notably China, commit to emissions reductions. The Washington Post reports, “The United States pledged Thursday to help secure $100 billion in annual financing by 2020 to help poor countries cope with climate change but said its commitment depends on whether the nations gathered here forge a substantive environmental pact that includes “transparency” on tracking emissions cuts.”

In light of Climategate and given the fact Chinese statistics are often altered or censored, it’s obvious transparency has been absent in this entire climate change debate and there’s no reason to think it will improve now or in the future.

Protesters vs. Police
As the talks between global leaders heat up, so does the battle between protesters and guards armed with batons, pepper spray and riot gas. In total, 1,800 people have been arrested since the climate summit began on December 7th. Most of those arrested are radical environmental activists but not everyone who traveled to Copenhagen is pressing for urgent action to address climate change. Some are warning of the economic dangers of an international climate change treaty.

For instance, the National Center for Public Policy Research is distributing bubble gum balls displaying the phrase: “Carbon Credit Gum: World’s Biggest Bubble” in Copenhagen. The group is also handing out candy suckers with the caption “Sucker for CO2 Limits.”

Carbon trading fraud has long been a problem for nations that entered into a cap and trade like system. The European Union implemented a carbon trading scheme and it has been fraught with fraud. French officials are investigating a $230 million carbon trading fraud scheme and this is only the tip of the iceberg in what is a startling revelation and huge blow to the climate talks in Copenhagen:

“Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement arm against organized crime, announced on Wednesday that carbon-trading fraud has cost the bloc’s governments $7.4 billion in lost tax revenue over the last 18 months.”

Political Heavyweights

Last week Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Lisa Jackson told attendees at the United Nations climate conference her agency would regulate carbon dioxide with common sense, but implementing carbon regulations and using common sense are mutually exclusive seeing as how it would cost exorbitant sums of money for no environmental benefit. Then Al Gore told an audience there was a 75 per cent chance that the entire north polar ice cap could be gone in 5 to 7 years, but the climatologist he cited refuted that instantly, saying, “It’s unclear to me how this figure was arrived at. I would never try to estimate likelihood at anything as exact as this.” Hillary Clinton put her stamp on the conference by pledging the U.S. will help with a large foreign aid package to developing nations. And Senator John Kerry (D-MA) says that success in Copenhagen would spell success for cap and trade in the Senate.

Senator James Inhofe battled back in Copenhagen with some bold words of his own. He told reporters: “I am here to make sure the 190 countries here don’t go home with the false impression. The United States is not going to pass cap and trade. It just isn’t going to happen. Its chances are zero.” He continued on to say, “Most of you are on the far left side, so listen closely. I contend the consensus is not there, and it wasn’t there prior to Climate-gate. Nothing binding will come out of here in my opinion, and if it does it will be rejected by the American people.”

President Obama will be up next. As Heritage Senior Policy Analyst Ben Lieberman warns, our politicians shouldn’t be making promises abroad when they can’t deliver them at home.

For more on Copenhagen, check out The Heritage Foundation’s Copenhagen Consequences Web site.

Contributing Author Nick Loris writes at The Heritage Foundation and he is a Research Assistant at The Heritage Foundation’s Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies.

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