24 September 2009 15:52 [Source: ICIS news]
By Joe Kamalick
The Copenhagen climate summit is supposed to craft a new and detailed global treaty to combat global warming, an expanded agreement that would extend the Kyoto climate treaty of 1997, which is due to expire in 2012.
With the 7-18 December Copenhagen conference just ten weeks away, there is little indication that the US and
With good reason.
Even before the Kyoto treaty was signed, the Senate voted 95-0 to reject any UN climate change treaty being negotiated then “or thereafter” that would limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by the US and other developed nations “unless the protocol or other agreement also mandates new specific scheduled commitments to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions for developing countries parties within the same compliance period”.
That resolution was approved without opposition by 54 Republican and 41 Democrat senators, with one Republican and four Democrats not voting.
Of course that was the 105th Congress, and the Senate make-up in the current 111th Congress is different - but not that different.
Even though Democrats nearly hold a 60-vote super-majority in the Senate (with the seat vacated by the late Senator Ted Kennedy likely to be filled by appointment soon), there is little prospect that the Senate will approve any sort of climate change legislation of its own - much less any treaty that comes out of Copenhagen without China’s committed participation.
Because of the chamber’s parliamentary rules, it takes 60 votes to get Senate approval of any controversial and complex legislation. A climate change bill would certainly qualify.
But to approve a treaty - such as the broadly opposed
“The Democrats don’t have the votes,” said Senator James Inhofe (Republican-Oklahoma), the Senate’s leading global warming skeptic.
“There are too many newly-elected Democrats in the Senate who don’t want to go home and tell voters that they just voted for the largest tax increase in American history,” Inhofe said, referring to Republican estimates that a cap-and-trade emissions mandate would cost US consumers about $2,000bn (€1,360bn) in higher energy costs.
Few if any senators would be willing to commit the
At the special UN climate meeting held in
Instead, he merely promised that
In addition, Hu again called on developed nations to provide funds and royalty-free green technology to developing nations if the latter are to realize any substantive GHG cuts.
According to Representative Jim Sensenbrenner of
“In light of this, will the Senate ratify an agreement that lets
There are at least 13 Senate Democrats that have voiced strong reservations about a climate change bill, much less a new binding global treaty. Ten are from states where coal is a major resource or that are dependent on coal-fired electric power. Three others have additional reservations about climate change legislation.
“So what does all of this portend?” Sensenbrenner asked. “My more than 12 years experience with international climate change negotiations tells me that we are heading towards a repeat of
Essentially, it is one of those chicken-and-the-egg quandaries. Which comes first?
Climate change treaty advocates say the
Opponents contend that China must make binding emissions reductions commitments before the US can be expected to burden its industry and consumers with harsh energy penalties inherent in any emissions caps and cuts mandate.
Although President Barack Obama spoke forcefully at the UN climate change meeting about the need for concrete action at
That does not appear likely, given
As a consequence, Obama already is beginning to distance himself from the fast-approaching
Earlier, it was thought that President Obama would put in a personal appearance at the
Asked this week if Obama will be going to
“I think it is probably premature to talk about the president’s schedule for December,” Froman said. “And a lot depends on what happens between now and then in the negotiations.”
($1 = €0.68)
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