Robert Stavins assess the Durban climate talks:
Assessing the Climate Talks — Did Durban Succeed?, by Robert Stavins: The 17th Conference of the Parties (COP-17) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adjourned on Sunday, a day and a half after its scheduled close, and in the process once again pulled a rabbit out of the hat by saving the talks from complete collapse (which appeared possible just a few days earlier). But was this a success?
The Durban Outcome in a Nutshell
The outcome of COP-17 includes three major elements: some potentially important elaborations on various components of the Cancun Agreements; a second five-year commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol; and (read this carefully) a non-binding agreement to reach an agreement by 2015 that will bring all countries under the same legal regime by 2020.
Is This a Success?
If by “success” in Durban, one means solving the climate problem, the answer is obviously “not close.”
Indeed, if by “success” one meant just putting the world on a path to solve the climate problem, the answer would still have to be “no.”
But, I’ve argued previously – including in my pre-Durban essay last month – that such definitions of success are fundamentally inappropriate for judging the international negotiations on the exceptionally challenging, long-term problem of global climate change.
The key question, at this point, is whether the Durban outcome has put the world in a place and on a trajectory whereby it is more likely than it was previously to establish a sound foundation for meaningful long-term action.
I don’t think the answer to that question is at all obvious, but having read carefully the agreements that were reached in Durban, and having reflected on their collective implications for meaningful long-term action, I am inclined to focus on “the half-full glass of water.” My conclusion is that the talks – as a result of last-minute negotiations – advanced international discussions in a positive direction and have increased the likelihood of meaningful long-term action. Why do I say this? ...[continue]...
Climate change legislation has all but dropped of the radar in the US political arena.