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IEET > Security > Eco-gov > Directors > George Dvorsky

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Five Reasons the Copenhagen Climate Conference Failed

George Dvorsky
By George Dvorsky
Sentient Developments

Posted: Jan 8, 2010

I’m still reeling from the rather anticlimactic finish to the recent Climate Change Conference held in Copenhagen. Like so many others, I was hoping for an internationally binding deal that would, at the very least, compel and motivate the nations of the world to address the climate crisis in a meaningful and precedent setting way.

But it was not to be. The immediate reasons for the conference’s failure are complex and laden with the political and economic realities of our time (e.g. settling on exact targets and incentives). But these reasons are part of a deeper malaise that is currently paralyzing the countries of our warming planet. As this crisis is revealing, our social and political institutions are ill equipped to deal with a pending catastrophe such as this.

More specifically, there are basically five ‘bird’s eye view’ reasons that can account for the conference’s failure:

1. Nation-states are far too self-serving: Countries don’t like to be told what to do, and when push comes to shove it’s far too easy for them to hide behind the sovereignty shield. Instead of acting proactively and with leadership, many nations (particularly those in the developed world) are ‘aligning’ themselves with what other countries are doing. No more and no less. And seeing as no one is doing anything….well, there you have it. Compounding this problem is the realization by some countries that they aren’t going to be too negatively impacted by climate change—a disturbing reminder that nation-states are unwilling to deal with threats that are not considered local.

2. Democracies are too ill-equipped and irresolute to deal with pending crises: A reader of mine recently complained that the people of the world were not being consulted on what they feel should be done about climate change. Well, this would only work if the ‘people of the world’ were universally educated about the intricacies of the issues (including scientific, economic, cultural and political considerations) and disarmed of their petty selfishness and local biases. This isn’t going to happen anytime soon, and consulting the Joe the Plumbers of the world on something as multi-faceted and complex as climate change is probably not a good idea. Moreover, like the politicking politicians who supposedly represent them, the masses have shown a tremendous unwillingness to deal with a problem that has yet to show any real tangible negative effects.

3. Isolationist and avaricious China: One thing that the Copenhagen failure revealed is that China’s isolationism is alive and well—even as they emerge as a global superpower. They’re going to go about this whole global warming thing on their own terms, whatever that’s supposed to mean. This unilateral approach is particularly disturbing considering that they’re the largest manufacturing state in the world and house a massive population that will soon start to demand first-world standards of living. And exacerbating all this is the communist Chinese system itself with all its corruption and lack of accountability and due process.

4. The powerful corporatist megastructure: As the onset of last year’s economic crisis so beautifully illustrated, capitalism, if left to its own devices, will eat itself. This is because corporations don’t act rationally or in a way that would indicate foresight or a desire for long-term self-preservation. Moreover, corporations will never voluntarily deal with a seemingly ethereal and controversial problem, especially one that requires a dramatic reduction of profits.

5. Weak consensus on the reason for global warming: Global warming denalists are no longer the problem. What’s of great concern now is the growing legitimacy of anthropogenic climate change denialists—those individuals who believe that global warming is a natural phenomenon. This is a particularly pernicious idea because it absolves humanity from the problem. Adherents of this view contend that human civilization is not responsible for the changes to the Earth’s climate and that as a consequence we don’t need to fix anything—we can keep on spewing carbon into the atmosphere with reckless abandon. This idea is particularly appealing to politicians who use it as a convenient escape hatch.

I’m inclined to think that the only way the nations of the world will band together and act decisively on this issue is if an actual climate-instigated disaster happens—one that touches all international stakeholders in a profound way. But even this isn’t guaranteed as there will always be global disparities in terms of impact.

Part of the problem right now, aside from the intangibleness of it all, is that some countries will be impacted more than others, a prospect that will ultimately lead to the rise of a new geopolitical stratification: different regions (both inter- and intra-national) will experience the effects of global warming differently, whether it be coastal areas, those dealing with desertification or those having to contend with the exodus of climate refugees.

Given the failure of Copenhagen, I’m inclined to believe that semi-annual conferences are not the way to go. Instead, I’d like to see the United Nations assemble an international and permanent emergency session that is parliamentary in nature (i.e. representative and accountable) and dedicated to debating and acting on the problem of anthropogenic climate change (a sub-parliament, if you will). The decisions of this governing board would be binding and impact on all the nations of the world. The chances of outright failure (like the one in Copenhagen) would be significantly lessened. Instead of ad hoc conferences, the emergency sub-parliament would conduct a series of ongoing debates over proposed legislation that would ultimately result in internationally binding agreements.

The current climate problem has caused the emergence of another crisis, namely a crisis-of-resolution. Failure at this point is not good enough. What’s required is something more respective of the dire situation we’re in.

George P. Dvorsky serves as Chair of the IEET Board of Directors and also heads our Rights of Non-Human Persons program. He is a Canadian futurist, science writer, and bioethicist. He is a contributing editor at io9 — where he writes about science, culture, and futurism — and producer of the Sentient Developments blog and podcast. He served for two terms at Humanity+ (formerly the World Transhumanist Association). George produces Sentient Developments blog and podcast.
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Point 4 is the most important reason for negative approach of the leading capitalist countries. The industry and agriculture sectors of the USA had warned Pres. Obama that he would not sign any document at Copenhagen, which would affect negatively their profits and empires. Capitalist system is not for the welfare of the people of the world in general. It has to prosper irrespective of any damage to the ecology, mankind. other species. Hence the developed nations cannot agree to rduce the green house gases at any level. This was made clear at Kyoto conference too. It is therefore futile to expect the developed nation to agree to any binding agreement of this kind. Pres. Bush Jr. had said that there won’t be any negotiations on American life style.

India in particular has developed inferiority complex during the last three decades about the place of material progress in human development. This was a wrong perception of human development. The Indian leaders wanted to remove such a complex feeling by joining the anti-eco capitalist economic development model. Mahatma Gandhi had warned against this mad race almost a century ago. But the economists and political leaders of the country have forgotten his teachings and started liking for West’s economic development since most of them have been trained in the West universities.

In case of China, the pressure on its leaders was immense due to the failure of Marxian economic development model. The pressure was mounting inside that country from the people for freedom from the dictatorship and non-development. They have not developed any leader (rather they have not been allowed) who could talk any thing about the new economic development model in place of the capitalist model. They therefore wanted to take full advantage of the weakness and economic crises being experienced by the West in this regard. They exploited the situation and joined the anti-eco and anti-people development model. The leaders will soon face the anger and revolt of the common people in very near future as the results of the present model would never reach the bottom level of the Chinese population. As such they will at the moment play safe on green house gas generation by not agreeing to any commitment at international conferences. They will allow the West and more particularly the USA to get exposed and ruined in this play to gain the support of the locals. This game will go on for any number of times as no one is interested to save the population of this planet as they are interested to make huge profits as long as it is possible, even at huge cost of mankind and the ecology.

Environmental Impact of Siachen Conflict in South Asia
Author: Debarati Mukherjee
Editor: Thomas Bärthlein

The Siachen glacier has long been a source of conflict between India and Pakistan, and now ecological problems are causing concern for the whole of South Asia. The glacier is melting and putting millions of South Asians at risk of catastrophic floods, droughts and food shortages, environmentalists warn.
Siachen is the planet’s second largest glacier apart from the polar caps and also the world’s highest battleground at some 6,000 metres above sea level. Soon, it could win the title of the world’s filthiest glacier.
In Siachen, the decade-long conflict between India and Pakistan is perpetuated by bullets that whistle over the wild roses and snow leopard dens, endangering the fragile environment.
The intense activity of more than 30,000 soldiers along the 70-kilometre-long glacier, a headwater for major rivers in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh is causing great concern to environmentalists.
Human presence is aggravating situation
Professor Syed Iqbal Hasnain, from India’s Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), believed that the human presence was aggravating the situation, which is already critical because of global warming.
“There is an additional input of warming by the presence of huge armed forces, their machines and their garbage, which goes into the glacier itself,” he said.
The conflict at Siachen is also a “death sentence” for other Himalayan glaciers, said Arshad H Abbasi, a researcher at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute in Islamabad.
He explained that India and Pakistan’s armies have used chemicals to melt and cut through the age-old glacial ice to construct bunkers, helipads and airfields.
“When you cross the actual line of demarcation there are so many troops on the glacier and so many base camps. India has laid a 165-km long kerosene oil pipeline. You would be amazed to see satellite images of these glaciers—it’s just as if the armed forces have converted them into slums.”
This ecological deterioration is gradually poisoning the health of the Himalayan glaciers, which are also known as the “third pole”. Environmentalists also worry about the impact on low-lying countries such as the Maldives and Bangladesh.
Governments should act wisely
Professor Shahnaz Huq Hussain from Dhaka University warned that the governments of both countries should act wisely: “We have to preserve the natural balance. Whatever they have done cannot be rectified, but no more harm should be done.”
Peace activists and environmentalists from both India and Pakistan have called for the region to be demilitarised and converted into a peace park.
Shekhar Gupta, the editor-in-chief of the national Indian Express daily, thought that a Siachen peace park “would be a wonderful idea”. He believed it would be great “if the two countries were able to restore faith because Siachen is such an exclusive and rare place and there are not so many glaciers at that altitude that are accessible.”
“Both sides have now set up base camps on either side, which are today used to launch troops, but tomorrow they could be used to launch expeditions.”
In the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks in November 2008 and attempts by India and Pakistan to resolve the problems of terrorism, activists hope that there might be progress towards preserving the natural balance in Siachen in 2010.

All the people are responsible for the failure of copenhagen meet   becouse   they are not interested in saving WORLD

1 they are greedy
2 they think that environment is borrowed fromthe ancestor
but actually they borrowed from next generation
3 callashes , coldwar, war to become superpower
4 rapid industrialisation in developing countries
5greedness of developed countries

I don’t think you are right on the third reason, China is not isolationist country, we ‘ve been actively got involved into international affairs to respond the image of a emerging power. But the truth is we can’t take responsibility which was suppose to be taken by those developed countries, who had polluted the air hundreds of years ago, so we said “no” to the unfair treaties. We are communist, but just like democracy, it is just another form of constitution, and since everything goes well in China, it already proved the successful leadership of the communist regime. Most people in Europea has been brainwashed by their media and government, who depicted Chinese government as dictatorship, we admit that we are not as advanced as those countries who conducted industrial revolution long time ago, but as a nation enjoy thousands of years history, we have our own way of living and forming the society, democarcy finally decided by the people


Denis, what is “MA project”?

Americans are willing to exhaust the world’s supply of oil simply to satisfy the needs of their selfish automobile civilization. They are willing to exhaust the worlds oceans. They are willing to exhaust the world’s mineral deposits, in a quick century, to make automobiles and airplanes. Most assuredly, this is a nation who will happily surrender the ice caps, remove the world’s forests and minerals.  At the limits, if the world’s mineral deposits run out, they could easily go into space looking for metal. This could be veiled behind a great technological quest of exploration and discovery.  It could, for instance, result in the mining of the moon and the removal of it’s metal core which would create a great procession in the earth.  This would create a technological challenge of trying to save the earth from extinction.  Green technology is about saving the earth while, at the same time, exploiting it to its very limits.

I believe that it is a multitude of different factors and if you read the literature that has been produced over the past ten years, many of the aspects George has mentioned here have been echoed by academics from all over the world. Personally I think the main problems are the disproportionate power wielded by multination companies and the prioritisation of economic welfare over environmental and ecological concerns.

PS Veronica I think Denis is talking about a degree. MA stands for Master of Arts unless I’m very much mistaken

so long as the multinationals and corporations are not an active part of the agenda, we will all continue to go around in circles and they will be going all the way to the bank, etc

Veronica and Tom:
Denis was saying “my project”. In slang. smile

just look at the fact before making any comments out of your own pre-occupied minds

The Emissions Thing
It’s generally been the United States’ position that China should commit to reducing its emissions as prerequisite to domestic action.
What we (as a nation) fail to realize, however, is that per capita (the amount of emissions per person), emissions in China are far less than in the U.S. And if that surprises you, wait ‘til you see these other comparisons…
Both China and the U.S. have set emissions goals for 2020:
The U.S. has proposed a 17% cut in emissions from 2005 levels
China has proposed a 40% to 45% reduction in carbon intensity (per person) from 2005 levels
The World Resources Institute has said those two efforts would have about the same outcome.
But here’s the kicker: China’s goal is official policy. Ours is simply a goal announced by the White House, though the EPA now has the authority to act independently.
So who’s more committed?
The Energy Thing
Last year, China got 9% of its energy from renewable resources. It has committed to raise that number to 15% by 2020. But recent reports show that if the current expansion rate continues, solar power alone could reach five or ten times the 15% target.
The most recent U.S. data comes from 2007, when we received 7% of our energy from renewable resources. A 15% by 2020 target has been passed by the House, but the Senate has yet to act. If passed, state governors could reduce the target to 12% if they increase efficiency targets.
Who’s more committed? Who’s making more progress?
The Efficiency Thing
Three years ago, China pledged to improve energy efficiency 20% by 2010. They are on target to reach that goal and to create a more stringent goal for 2020.
The U.S. : while committing a few billion for efficiency projects in the stimulus : has set no firm targets. The Waxman-Markey bill that has passed the House mandates a paltry 5% by 2020.
Who’s more committed?
The Auto Thing
After a big U.S. push to increase Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, the blanket target efficiency is 35.5 miles per gallon.
China is also beating us in this arena: in 2008, average fuel economy for new cars was reported at 36.7 miles per gallon.
The Disclaimer Thing
Of course, I can’t put forth such a rosy Chinese sustainability picture without a few caveats.
The country is building coal plants at an alarming rate.
China is home to some despicable industrial practices that cause dangerous levels of chemical pollution.
And yes, they are the world’s leading overall emitter of greenhouse gases, with dangerous levels of pollution still clogging numerous cities and rivers. (We’ll get to their behavior in Copenhagen in another article.)
So yes, there are still serious problems in China… but we can’t ignore the positive steps they’re taking to address them : nor can we ignore the profit implications those steps will have for green investors.
The Reality Thing
The reality is pretty scary.
Think back a decade, to the height of dot-com expansion. Who were the leaders?
Sun Microsystems. Yahoo!. Google. eBay. Amazon. All U.S.-based companies.
Now think about the present day…
My best gains this year came from Chinese companies. And they came from multiple sectors.
Chinese solar producers are undercutting their European and American counterparts. Companies like Canadian Solar, Trina Solar, Suntech Power, and JA Solar have begun to show great strength.
The Chinese wind industry has also turned into a juggernaut, with multiple multi-gigawatt projects announced or under construction. American Superconductor (NASDAQ: AMSC) has been the way to harness those strides.  And what about A-Power’s (NASDAQ: APWR) monster run?
The Middle Kingdom has also become a breeding ground for battery and electric vehicle companies. Hong Kong Highpower (NASDAQ: HPJ) and China BAK Battery (NASDAQ: CBAK) have offered legendary gains this year.
It’s hard to find a cleantech sector without at least one dominant Chinese player.
We should all keep this in mind as we form our investment strategies and policy opinions for next year.
China, while it still has a way to go, may not be the monster it’s made out to be. Their ambitious approach thus far, coupled with their penchant to be seen favorably by the world, will make for even more gains in 2010.

Thank you for sharing the ideas. I don’t want to offend anybody, but I don’t want to waste my freedom of speech. Here are my personal ideas:
I found the 3rd point rather disputable. Chinese people are as equal as everyone else in the world. The right to be well-off is one of the basic human rights that westerners, especially Americans advocate. If Chinese people should remain in backward life because of the population and possible pollution, how about India with her huge population, UK with its historical industrial pollution, and the US with its industrial past and its refusal to the Kyoto Protocol? China does have a huge population and there is some kind of pollution during developing, but the government and the people are working hard on it. Many local environmental projects are successful. It’s a pity that some people don’t see what’s gradually happening in China.
By the way, I agree with Jodie. New China has changed a lot since the 1970s. And so does the CPC. Corruption exists in China as well as in many western democracies and measures have been taken. I do see clean, upright and hardworking officials like the mayor of my home town back in Shandong Province.
I’m sorry to say that some people are surprisingly ill-informed, always clinging to the stereotype of China distorted by some western media and reluctant to learn about the new changes with their own eyes. Communism is just another type of ideology like capitalism and the CPC evolves over time. The CPC under Mr. Deng Xiaoping has brought an end to the so called class warfare of the Cultural Revolution and concentrated on improving people’s life and making peace since late 1970s. Although I’m no authority to believe, today is not the times of “red scare”, McCarthyism and Cold War. People are free to check the facts in various ways if they want to. And if seeing is believing, just come to China and look around. A trip won’t cost much and I bet it will help some people to rethink something.
  Global issue needs everyone. It would be easier to cooperate if people learn to know each other. I hope friendship will survive.

with all respect to your study, i think 5 reasons are to much to reason out the failure of the Copenhagen conference. why didn’t you just say the influence of the us and china

The important thing to realize (whether it is by human action or not that the climate is changing), is that the climate change is heading towards global disaster.  Over the long term, considering the fluctuations from cold to warm to cold and back to warm, and so forth and so on, if the trend on the overall is we are headed towards thermal maximum (which nobody wants to talk about), then we should be working together to subdue the forces that bring us to such climate extreme.  And whether it be warming to thermal maximum or cooling towards ice age peak, for our species survival we should really be thinking through the possibility of such extremes, or a mix of the extremes, to learn what it is that is driving the climate.  For one I do not believe it is CO2; I think it is the increasing amount of moisture in the atmosphere that is driving the mixed changes in the climate.

We should be asking questions like: what can be done to subdue the Earth to keep us away from extinction? What are the variables that drive the climate change.

thanks a lot i got many information for GROUP DISCUSSION…......

Nothing is going to change,if we remained pointing on each other or organising conference in this way.Anyone knows ,how many peoples are aware of this climate change?
if we make the common public aware of these problems,there would “nt be necessity to invest money or time on conferences.
Whatever the damages to the climate are done ,let it be past,we need to take steps to bring it to minimum.If we will harm the nature,in return ,it will make our life hell.
Government or public organisations should make it mandatory to bring awareness to common people about climate changes and tell them the steps to be taken to get rid of this.If the govt think that they can do it on their own,its impossible ,unless or untill they take this primary step.

Â¥ THANKS, I also got lot of information, It will be helpful for my examination,and mine General knowledge as well…

I think one obvious point of note here is the big picture. Climate change is now the one and only plank in the new global order. The developing countries - especially China, India, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia - quickly realised (and keep upper most in their calculations), that the first UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janiero in 1992, signalled the basis for which the taps on fossil fuels like oil and coal to power future civilisation, would one day be turned off.
New carbon-based trading laws in the WTO, for instance, would be one potent way to punish and render uncompetitive those nations with high carbon-intensive production processes.
The proverbial writing was on the wall on fossil fuels.
The pressure mounted on the poorer countries to make as much use of fossil fuels while they still remained affordable and available to power growth. This is why the BRIC economies have risen so quickly - they are in a desparate rush to achieve self-sustaining economic bases with existing mainstream energy sources before it becomes unviable to do so. They are simultaneously taking the finality of fossil fuels seriously, and are therefore the nations taking alternative energy very meaningfully. China and India now have commited themselves to the world’s largest nuclear energy and renewable energy programs.
Sadly, the OECD nations are more bogged down with negativities of nuclear proliferation rather than commiting resources for safe nuclear energy technology. India is advancing nuke technology rapidly. 
A close correlation exists between the Rio summit and when the BRICS began powering ahead.
In the process though, the BRICS have become the economies that the world is now banking on rather the advanced ones - simply because the BRICS & G77 developing nations will be the future economies and not the over-the-hill G7 nations.
The BRICS’s meteoric rise and their irristibility to global capitalists, means nations like China, India, Brazil, Indonesia etc ,will be calling the shots in the new world order where energy security and controlling global greenhouse gas emissions are central leverages.
Read Fareed Zakaria’s “The Post-American World” and you’ll understand why the days of G7s are largely over. The Eurozone crisis is symptomatic of this - economic growth and human ingeniuity in this region - if at all - will become more marginal, as too will be most other OECD states.
The first global order based on ideology, gave way to American unilateralism, which has now yielded to energy security. 
Copenhagen was an example of the new world order on show.

On Copenhagen climate conference, it was a case of developed nations throwing pennies on the floor and told the developing nations to be grateful and must do as they told them.  For the sake of freedom and equality, isn’t it fair that all human has equal right to this world?  Then, shouldn’t it be based on per capita CO2 emission where the developing nations are “free” to increase CO2 emission rate to the average developed nation per capita CO2 emission level at 2020 unless they are being “paid off”?  For the grand total of US$30 billion over 3 years period, that’s less than $2 per capita per year for the rest of the world population, definitely not enough to buy even a meal in UK!!  May I be the first to let you know a secret: all developing nations aspire to have the same quality of life (at the cost of high CO2 emission per capita) enjoyed by developed nations for years.  Unfortunately, there is no feasible (or at least immediate) solution for a high quality of life AND a low CO2 emission rate.  For a trade off of $2, any fool will choose the alternative of faster growth with higher CO2 emission rate.  After all, worst come to worst, we (both develop and developing nations) all die together!!

Alan, thanks, you make some wonderful observations. With regards to the renewable energy and technology adaptation money for greenhouse gas mitigation from wealthy nations to poorer ones under mechanism set down by the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, the World Bank only months before Copenhagen announced that developing nations need US $100 billion annually until 2030. By your calculations, that’s more than $6 per head.
Compared to the sanctity of recomendation by such an eminent organisation, you are absolutely right about tuppence being bandied around at Copenhagen by wealthy nations - who hid behind global financial crisis not to committ.
I further re-inforce your observation though, if I can: the developing countries realised the lack of commitment by wealthy nations very early in the piece - why else have OECD per capita GHG emissions been rising since Kyoto when in fact, they should have been much less by now.
The recalcitrance of wealthy nations is well known and so poorer nations have to make do themselves to catch up quick while the going is good. Copenhagen was simply reminder of this lack of goodwill on the part of wealthy nations. It has been very well documented that a handful of wealthy nations led by Australia, wanted to rewrite the guiding principles of Kyoto, but got very quickly exposed. Poorer countries came to Copenhagen in sincerity because they still see merits in Kyoto and expected the appraisals of the World Bank and other eminent bodies to be taken seriously.
But if you really need to know something new, it is fear that prevents wealthy nations from commiting. The fantastic rate at which nations like China, India, Brazil etc have gone about investing with serious money in other poorer nations and thus bringing them under their influence, is one aspect to this new global order. But for wealthy nations, it means handing over money for these nations to “cheaply” become energy efficient, will only hasten the ruin of OECD nations.
But the point I am making is that developing nations are calling the shots in the new order simply because they are the ones taking energy efficiencies and GHG emissions more seriously than OECDs. India, for instance, will be spending upwards of $280 billion by 2030 on nuclear energy - most notably through the “green” thorium route. They will be spending a staggering $550 billion on water harvesting and energy reducing infrastruture projects to fortify the nation from climate change as much as possible while simultaneously achieving two crucial objectives: achieving sustainable employment generation for mass poverty alleviation and reducing this enormous nation’s future carbon footprint.
I don’t see these type of moneis being considered by wealthy nations. Europe has largely reached its capacity to “rebuild” like poorer nations, who are thinking with fresh ideas.
This is why I say read Fareed Zakaria’s “The Post-American World”. It is frightening for the OECDs.

guys,i do agree that b4 blaming any one we should take notice of our ownselves….public awareness is the need of the hour….and i am happy coz i got so much to write on this conference as its my project topic!!!!!!!!

Ayushi, I’ll be interested in knowing what you “unearth” on Copenhagen.

Of course nation states serve themselves first- its why we have governments and borders and Passports and welfare within nations.

If Copenhagen was a show of the ‘new world order’, and nothing happened. then surely you cant blame america? But Obama is still said to have failed the summit by not being forceful enough- and yet, if there is a new world order, then he shouldnt be blamed at all.

In point two you are very offensive the Joe Plumber. Maybe joe plumber, who we all rely on at some point in our life, has a valid opinion and is smarter than you give him credit for. Maybe the public should be consulted more- Instead of relying upon upper-middle class opinions from the ruling class, who make green public policy based on their own ability to afford higher-morality and pass costs onto joe plumber and the developing world.

The Middle East has the top three carbon emitters per person- Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, (but I dont see you complaining much about them here). So you cant simply blame China or America.

Corporations are do and are going to do wonderfully out of cap-and-trade. (sub-prime mortgages, btw- banks were encouraged to loan more and more to people who were never going to be able to pay them back, because gov encouraged it to increase poorer peoples’ standard of living.) subsidize and reward companies for passing off emissions to other companies and other countries? Essentially just moving jobs to other states (in the case of America) and countries (in the case of EU)- while still relying upon and expecting a standard of living based upon the energy-intensive products they have simply shipped elsewhere. High energy costs in NE america havnt made them more eco-friendly. Their manufacturing has simply gone elsewhere, where it can afford to produce. So pollution is still occuring at the same rate, if not increased, because it can now afford to.
Corporations will see their profits increase under legislation- with plumber joe and the rest of the tax payer base footing the bill, because subsidies mean they get paid for essentially doing nothing. EU companies build in India (for example) where they threaten to build HFC emitting plants. Companies crusade in, playing the high-and-mighty and get paid to do it.

The west is dictating to the rest how to develop- after we’ve had our chance to develop. Not fair at all- completly ethnocentric. Picking up on someones point- it isnt that America defends the right to be rich at all. You’re very much missing the point. Pursuit of happiness. The chance to make something of yourself.

And offsets- what a joke. and environmentalists know this too, and this will be the next thing to be fought over. A company will buy offsets today, (eg) to meet this years quota- but the effects of building a forest somewhere (eg) dont kick in for another 20-30 years. (Gov great idea).

Tom in Australia- where did you get your information?

Dont just blame corporations- look at Calif legislation- LA was to be the solar capital of the world- the budget broke down and they didnt get anyone interested in the product- because its not economically viable and gov’s cant control everything. So that was a gov scheme that failed.

Also, before you hate capitalism and blame big corporations- how are we communicating? Internet, computers, weren’t the off-spring of government legislation- But of free markets and entrepreneurs.

Of course nation states serve themselves first- its why we have governments and borders and Passports and welfare within nations.

If Copenhagen was a show of the ‘new world order’, and nothing happened. then surely you cant blame america? But Obama is still said to have failed the summit by not being forceful enough- and yet, if there is a new world order, then he shouldnt be blamed at all.

In point two you are very offensive the Joe Plumber. Maybe joe plumber, who we all rely on at some point in our life, has a valid opinion and is smarter than you give him credit for. Maybe the public should be consulted more- Instead of relying upon upper-middle class opinions from the ruling class, who make green public policy based on their own ability to afford higher-morality and pass costs onto joe plumber and the developing world.

Point 5 is incorrect.  Among experts and climatologists the consensus is overwhelmingly strong and in favour of anthropogenic climate change. The problem however is the over representation of sceptical views within the media which presents scientific uncertainty.

You ignored the primary reason this conference failed: Western exceptionalism. Developed countries were insisting that developing countries adopt measures that would prevent them from ever becoming a developed country. People in the West like to bash China as the world’s largest polluter, but they ignore the fact that on a per capita basis, China produces only one quarter the pollution of the USA. Like other developing countries, China consumes far less energy and produces far less pollution (on a per capita basis) than any developed country.

Western developed countries were exploiting environmental concerns to prevent developing countries from being able to develop. Countries like the US made it very clear that they would not sign any agreement that allowed developing countries to rise to the same level of energy use as developed countries, effectively preventing these countries from ever becoming developed countries themselves. The message from developed countries at Copenhagen was very clear. “We do not want developing countries to ever become developed countries, and we intend to use environmental protection as an excuse to help make that happen.”

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