Kate Mackenzie A glimmer of hope for Copenhagen?

So far, progress towards the Copenhagen meeting in December to determine the successor to the Kyoto protocol has been mixed at best.  China is holding out for concessions the developed world is highly unlikely to grant, the US climate bill has been heavily criticised, as has Japan’s recent commitments, while Australia’s emissions-trading proposals languish.

The G8 commitment yesterday to an 80 per cent reduction in emissions by 2050 sounds quite encouraging, until you get to the baseline vagueness.

But hold on a moment. Perhaps things aren’t so bad?

Point Carbon, an emissions trading consultancy, puts the chances of an agreement at Copenhagen at more than 50 per cent. Not much more than 50 per cent, but still. Their reasoning is partly based on the relatively fast passage of the Waxman-Markey bill through the House of Representatives. Although it passed only narrowly and the Senate looks somewhat dicey, the Point Carbon report estimates the bill to more likely than not to pass in time for Copenhagen. A US commitment to an emissions cap and trade scheme will make a multilateral agreement much more likely.

Meanwhile Rajendra Pachauri, the chair of the IPCC, says he is ‘cautiously optimistic‘ of an accord being reached.  Pachauri was similarly encouraged by Waxman-Markey’s passage through the House.

However Dr Pachauri’s comments bear some closer examination:

“If you didn’t have someone like President Obama who repeatedly has been emphasizing his commitment to this issue, I would have had no hope at all.”

It seems closer to desperation than optimism.

Related links:

G8 agrees stiffer curbs – but will the rest of the world follow? (FT Energy Source, 09/07/09)
Crunching the numbers on Waxman-Markey in the Senate (FT Energy Source, 07/07/09)