From Hopenhagen to Nopenhagen

Copenhagen, Denmark – The climate change conference in Copenhagen adopted a new, bold, historic agreement…

… to continue to talk. Wow, and accomplished in just two weeks!

The last-minute deal, helped along by our deal-closer-in-chief Barack Obama, was three-pages long (not counting appendices) and included a number of non-binding commitments, including…

* The U.S. and other developed countries will help raise $100 billion per year by 2020 to help developing nations with climate change mitigation and adaptation. In return, these nations agreed to accept the cash. The cash specifies on that “[m]itigation actions… be subject to… domestic measurement, reporting and verification.”

* Developed nations also agreed to provide some $30 billion in aid between 2010 and 2012, with the U.S. pledging $3.6 billion of that amount.

* China and other developing countries agreed to what is being widely reported as international verification of their action to address climate change, but they agreed to do nothing of the kind. The agreement calls for the establishment of “guidelines” for international “consultations and analysis,” but significantly, no international verification. And, lest there be any doubt that China won’t tolerate such verification, the agreement specifies the guidelines it issues “will ensure that national sovereignty is respected.”

* China, now the world’s largest emitter of carbon, agreed to cut its “carbon intensity” by between 40% and 45% by 2020. Sounds good, doesn’t it? But there’s a difference between reducing carbon intensity (the amount of carbon emitted per dollar of GDP) and overall carbon reduction, which the U.S., EU and other large emitters committed to undertaking. India, too, vowed only to reduce its carbon intensity by between 20% and 25% by 2020. Both countries could meet these targets and still see their emissions grow substantially.

* State parties agreed to a goal of limiting global warming by 2 degrees Celsius, but as the above makes plain, they didn’t establish a blue print – certainly not one that is binding to achieve this goal.

Obama hasn’t had such a stunning success in Copenhagen since he closed the deal for Chicago to host the next Olympic games. Oh right – scratch that.

Though the climate summit was a spectacular failure for President Obama, it was a great victory for the American people.

The Heritage Foundation estimates that the imposition of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade regime, the type of system most likely to be imposed to ensure the U.S. meets its carbon reduction targets under a binding treaty, would destroy an average of 1.15 million jobs every year between 2012 and 2030. So President Obama’s failure to deliver a treaty may have been his single biggest contribution to fighting unemployment in the United States.

Even if he didn’t mean to do it.

Written by David A. Ridenour, vice president of the National Center for Public Policy Research. Write the author at [email protected]. As we occasionally reprint letters on the blog, please note if you prefer that your correspondence be kept private, or only published anonymously.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.