Of course, back in the 1990s, we solar optimists thought that climate change would focus everyone's mind on getting that technology to work reliably. Since then, we have discovered because of the bankruptcy of Solyndra that the USA is not only NOT going to lead the way in solar conversion—we will be damn lucky to be a bit player.
Of course, this missed opportunity will come as welcome news to the knuckledraggers who are trying to become the choice to head the GOP ticket in 2012. It has been said (often) that if we didn't have fools and ignoramuses in politics, we wouldn't have a representative democracy. But passing on this ideal opportunity to redesign, rebuild, and re-invent ourselves only makes sense to members of the Leisure Classes and their love of preserved archaic traits. Unfortunately, these people control both parties so making fun of The Newt or Ms. Bachmann only makes sense if you have a LOT of Dem friends.
U.S. denies delaying global climate deal
By Nina Chestney
DURBAN, South Africa | Thu Dec 8, 2011
(Reuters) - The United States denied on Thursday it was trying to delay a new global climate deal until 2020, saying it supported an EU proposal that aims to chart a path to a more ambitious pact to fight climate change.
Delegates from almost 200 countries have until Friday to decide whether to commit to signing up to an internationally binding climate deal by 2015 at the latest.
Some countries and pressure groups say the United States is trying to delay the start of a legally binding deal until after 2020, because of deep splits between Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress and because environmental curbs are seen as a vote loser ahead of U.S. presidential elections next year.
"It is completely off base to suggest the U.S. is proposing it will delay action to 2020," U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern told reporters.
"The EU has called for a roadmap (to a future deal). We support that," he said.
The European Union is pushing to complete talks for a global deal that would bind all major polluters to cut emissions by 2015. But even if that were agreed, such a pact would likely only come into force five years later.
The United States said earlier this week it supported a discussion that would lead to an emission cut deal, even one that was legally binding, but would not commit itself to set dates or a set outcome.
The two biggest issues for negotiators in Durban are finding a way of updating the Kyoto Protocol, the only global pact that enforces carbon cuts, and finding the necessary cash to help poor countries tackle climate change.
China, the United States and India, the world's top three carbon emitters, are not bound by Kyoto's emissions targets.
Stern's apparent support for the EU roadmap met with some skepticism, particularly from the island nations most threatened by the rising sea levels caused by global warming.
"Thank you very much, let me see that in the negotiation room, let me see that in the text," Grenada's Foreign Minister Karl Hood said in response.
The United States has set a voluntary target of cutting its emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, equivalent to three percent below 1990 levels. The EU goal is a 20 percent reduction by 2020 compared to 1990 levels.
The United States has said it will only make its emissions cuts binding under an international agreement if China and other developing countries that are big polluters back their commitments with equal legal force. more
And just to make things clear, this goofing around by the climate change deniers is literally threatening to wipe out human civilization. And for what—to make the Newt look good in the Republican Primaries next year?
A Death Sentence for Africa?
Fiddling in Durban
by LAURA CARLSEN DECEMBER 08, 2011
The image of Nero fiddling as Rome burned—albeit apocryphal– has stuck as the metaphor for willfully irresponsible government.
Government representatives, gathered at climate change talks in Durban, South Africa, have been fiddling for the past week. Of the hundreds of closed-door sessions, official meetings and informational seminars, all that’s come out so far is cacophony. By the looks of it, they plan to fiddle right through to the end, wasting one of the last opportunities to respond in time to a threat that affects not only their societies, but the entire planet.
With only a few days to go, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced the obvious on December 5., telling delegates, “It may be true, as many say: the ultimate goal of a comprehensive and binding climate change agreement may be beyond our reach – for now.”
As for the burning, the climate change deniers have—finally–lost the scientific debate. Reports from the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN World Meteorological Organization, the UN Environmental Program, and others confirm that the planet is already experiencing the worst-case scenarios of early predictions, showing the hottest decade on record and extreme dangers in the most vulnerable regions of the world.
But the deniers’ message on global warming—‘don’t sweat it’—has won the agenda-setting race. In the United States, especially, conservatives heavily backed by the fossil fuel industry have created a domestic political environment to do nothing.
The term “global warming” has been replaced by the neutral “climate change,” while concern about the planet has decreased in inverse proportion to the increase in the earth’s temperature. The sense of urgency that once characterized the debates has slipped into complacency, despite the fact that in 2010, global emissions went up 6 percent.
There’s also a global consensus on what has to be done to get off this suicidal course. Emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases must be cut back immediately. For all its faults and omissions, the Kyoto Protocol brought developed nations responsible for the historic accumulation of gases into a binding legal agreement to cut emissions. The United States failed to ratify the agreement. Now Canada, Japan, and Russia want out, and prospects for renewing the agreement when the current period runs out in 2012 look dim, to say the least.
World governments limped into the Durban talks with a new global economic crisis weighing heavily on their shoulders. This has bumped climate change down the ladder of global priorities—a very convenient turn of events for powerful oil companies and polluting industries. The argument is that current economic conditions preclude significant action on curtailing global warming.
Bickering has ensued over who will sacrifice competitiveness in the international economic system in order to deal with climate change. U.S. negotiators insist that China and other developing countries exempted from the binding rules of Kyoto should be included in a binding agreement, noting that China is now the number-one emittor of CO2 in the world. Yet the United States has blocked any move toward a binding agreement, in favor of a voluntary “pledge and review” system of national commitments without sanctions.
China shook things up on Monday when its representative vaguely indicated willingness to join an international binding agreement. According to reports, South Africa, Brazil, and India made similar statements. These countries have insisted on a “common but differentiated” approach to emissions cuts. The Chinese government released ambitious national goals shortly before the conference. If the Chinese are serious about these goals, the country should have no problem with joining an international agreement on mandatory cuts. If it were to do that, and the European Union at least maintains if not improves on its current commitments, the United States would be practically isolated in blocking multilateral action.
Fourteen major international environmental groups became so frustrated with the U.S. position at the talks that they issued a statement reading, “America risks being viewed not as a global leader on climate change, but as a major obstacle to progress.” more
Addressing Climate Change
'Humankind Cannot Afford Negotiations Until 2020'
At the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban it is becoming apparent that, instead of making decisions, the global community intends to continue negotiating new climate goals until 2020. In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, Achim Steiner, the head of the United Nations Environment Program, calls the delay "irresponsible."
SPIEGEL ONLINE : At the climate negotiations in Durban, the year 2020 is now being named as a new target date for a binding global climate treaty. What do you think of that?
Steiner: If humankind hopes to, at least somewhat, contain global warming, it cannot afford to spend eight years negotiating. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has made it crystal clear that global CO2 emissions must decline before 2020. And the International Energy Agency (IEA) warns that the most important decisions on the energy supply of the future will already have been made by 2020. In other words, putting everything off until 2020 would be irresponsible.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: How far do global emissions of greenhouse gases have to decline by 2020?
Steiner: We are now at a level of about 50 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, and we are on track to reaching 56 billion tons by 2020. But this has to be reduced to 44 billion tons by then if there is to be any hope that the average temperature in the atmosphere will not increase by more than the dangerous threshold of 2 degrees Celsius. To reach this goal, we have to act immediately, and not wait until 2020.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: In light of the stalled negotiations, couldn't a few years of reflection be useful?
Steiner: If the pressure is now removed from the negotiating process, the price of CO2 emissions will decline wherever polluters are required to acquire emissions certificates. And if the price of emissions hits rock bottom, many investments in renewable forms of energy will no longer make economic sense. Waiting too long not only jeopardizes climate protection, but also the ability of the economy to take action.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Wouldn't it make more sense economically to wait until new technologies are available?
Steiner: No. On the contrary, the longer we wait, the more expensive it will be to contain climate change. If new coal power plants were to come online in the coming years and then had to be shut down again, it could end up being very expensive indeed. more