3 Reasons for Hope for Hopenhagen

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Thanksgiving weekend brought a historic turning point for human civilization when President Obama was able to get the Chinese to offer 40% cuts in carbon “intensity” at least, prior to the climate summit at Copenhagen.

The leaders of the two nations jointly responsible for almost half of the world’s carbon emissions were able to announce that they would be joining the rest of the world in agreeing to cuts in carbon emissions. That in turn led to India jumping aboard ship, too, with a 20% offer. None of the three had agreed to the original Kyoto Accord.

Europe also put an offer on the table to entice China, India, and the US. They will go up to the next level with 30% cuts if a new international agreement is reached. Collectively, the EU has agreed to a 20% reduction in carbon emissions below 1990 levels by 2020.

This is a momentous sea-change that brings hope for change in three areas.

1. Knocks out the “We Won’t Till They Do” argument

2. Even beginning local legislation has national effects

3. Once a signer, always a signer

Image: Jonathan Hiskes (covering Copenhagen for Grist)

1. Knocks out the “We Won’t Till They Do” argument

Before walking out of environmental hearings, Republican Senators dismiss climate action on the grounds that “China and India won’t” do anything. By first exacting promises from both of the other two greenhouse gas giants; China and India, President Obama has knocked out the central leg of two decades of resistance by those who oppose climate action.

The agreements with China and India increase the chances for passing climate legislation in the US to support a US commitment. In the US; 67% of 100 Senators have to ratify any international treaty. President Obama is taking an offer of 17% cuts to Copenhagen, and has now switched his timing to be there when it matters.

Image: Whitehouse at flikr

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