December 19, 2009

Copenhagen Summary

In an article written by Andrew Light, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, Andrew argues that the results from Copenhagen are good news. 

He writes - "When you add up everything that the 17 largest economies have on the table, not for a treaty mind you, but awaiting domestic action that could happen regardless of a treaty such as the US legislation, then we are 5 gigatons away from commitments that should get us on a 450ppm stabilization path by 2020, essentially 65% of the way there. " 

I posted the following question in response to his article and received an answer from Bill McKibben. 

  1. Mark Sandeen says:
    I'm not sure how it is possible to spin being 5 Gigatons away from a path that would get us moving towards 450ppm can be viewed as good news. If we are 5 Gigatons away from 450ppm, then we are on a path to something higher than 450ppm.
    What is that number? 500ppm? 550ppm? 600ppm?
    Success means reducing the carbon in the atmosphere, not telling folks it is ok to be heading higher than 450ppm.

  2. the number at the moment, from Climate Interactive, which has the very cool C-Roads software running, is 770 ppm. That's a…large number.

End of a long day, Start of a long road

There will be time for full post-mortems on the "deal" that the US, China, India and South Africa struck tonight. The initial impression of most journalists is that it was a failure--indeed, that's the word the Guardian uses in its headline. It has no real targets, no real timetables, not really much of anything very useful. And it was reached without the participation of most of the countries that will suffer most and have contributed least to the problem.
And yet there was a strangely hopeful gathering outside the Bella Center in the freezing cold after midnight. Mostly young people, chanting slogans--especially 3-5-0--long into the night. They were upset, but they were also optimistic--because they know that the one undeniable thing about this conference is that it reflected the growing power of a people's movement around the world. You were heard. We're not strong enough yet to dominate the talks--that's still the fossil fuel industry. But we're strong enough to make it harder for the great powers simply to impose their will behind the scenes. This time the power grab was out in the open. People have learned a lot about both climate science and international relations in the last few weeks--it will pay off in the months ahead. Stay tuned--and stay hopeful. We haven't won...yet.

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