Events are beginning to move at warp speed as the December talks aimed at reaching a global climate-change treaty swing into view not far ahead on the calendar:
- India and China have inked a pact committing each country to doing stuff to combat climate change, my old colleagues at United Press International report. Recall that the Kyoto Protocol‘s absence of emissions limits on developing nations — and especially those two countries — was the ostensible reason the U.S. Senate unanimously rejected the treaty. This five-year deal between China and India doesn’t have a lot of teeth in it. The significance is that it signals that India won’t bolt from the so-called Group of 77 developing nations, as had been rumored. (Grist.org also cobbled together a short item based on wire reports.)
- President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao spoke by phone this week about the climate talks, according to the Chinese news agency Xinhua, quoted in the same New Dehli-datelined UPI dispatch that reported the China-India deal.
- We reported from the recent Society of Environmental Journalists conference that Obama administration officials already were losing hope for a climate deal in Copenhagen. Well, now it looks like the rest of the world is also starting to think about Plan B. Nature.com’s Jeff Tollefson reports that those pushing for a deal have “tempered (their) expectations and begun to look for a graceful exit. … Even staunch optimists are now rethinking their definition of success in Copenhagen.” A lot will depend on an upcoming negotiating session Nov. 2-6 in Barcelona.
- The insurance industry is turning up the heat on climate negotiators. The Financial Times’ Paul Davies quotes the head of ClimateWise, an insurance industry group, as saying “If governments fail to act today, substantial markets may become uninsurable tomorrow. … Delay is not an option.” The quotes come from remarks prepared by ClimateWise chairman Andrew Torrance for delivery to a United Nations meeting in South Africa.
So there you have it, folks: Everbody’s getting ready to beat a path to Copenhagen, but it’s starting to look like a treaty for fighting global warming will be getting a very cool December reception in Denmark.
— Robert McClure