Copenhagen: wassup?

What's happening in Copenhagen with less than a week to go? Not agreement.
Written by Harry Fuller, Contributor on

There's almost no chance of any binding agreement being reached. One reporter on the scene in Denmark opined today that whatever agreement is paraded before the world will: 1) be binding on both the U.S. and China, or, 2) be voluntary for U.S. and China and whomever else chooses to use the merit system on global warming emissions. Everybody is fully aware that the U.S. Senate would never approve a treaty that allows Chinese government enterprises more freedom than it allows American business.

One environmental coalition is posting frequent video reports, if you're interested.

Today NPR actually spent some time covering the Copenhagen situation as it speeds toward its final collision with the calendar. Some points made on the radio show were about the crucial conflicts that are not settled. Will the agreement be binding or honor system? Will there be a verification program for emission cuts? That is not so hard for Americans to understand. But China? Transparency there is not popular among those with power in the regime. China has a sovereign wealth fund of nearly $300 billion. Try to find out how it's run and where all its interests lie, besides in U.S. Treasury bonds. That information is always transparent but China's soveriegn fund?

There's also the issue of who donates money for what. Rich nations are promising ten billion dollars in the next three years. Some poor nations are saying publicly that rich nations should spend as much on global warming solutions as they spent bailing out the broken banks. That would be well over one trillion. Are they kidding? Profit or planet? Tuvalu or Citigroup? This is not a contest. Nobody with real power, from Abu Dhabi to America, cares half as much about small countries disappearing as they do about quarterly earnings reports. The global stock market is the great addictive activity of our era for those who need to win.

I mention Abu Dhabi because they have the world's largest sovereign investment fund, well over $600-billion worth, more than full-sized nations like Norway and Saudi Arabia. Every time you or I buy a gallon of gasoline Abu Dhabi gets their share of the action. Their one export is crude oil. Drive, baby, drive.


Formal sessions resumed late Monday after Denmark assured the walk-out nations there was no intention of abrogating the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Clearly the level of trust among the many nations at Copenhagen is minimal. One observer today said that the talks may look like an environmental discussion but it's really all about economics and competition.

One American press report says China and the U.S. are at an impasse overmandates and verification v. honor system. Meanwhile a Chinese news service says progress was made, but sticking points remain. They used no funny French word like "impasse."

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