July 29, 2010

US Senate freezes on climate and carbon

A comprehensive Climate Bill will not be presented to the US Senate in late July because the proposal failed to rally enough support, despite being passed last November by the House of Representatives.

The Bill, which aimed to cap carbon emissions from industry and set up a US domestic carbon market, scared off many Democrats who were worried about the impacts cap-and-trade might have on the US economy.

The news has been received with exasperation by many governments and NGO’s around the world who had been hoping that, under Obama’s administration, the USA would to make serious commitments to reducing its carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions. It is also likely to take the wind out of the sails of the UN’s already beleaguered attempts to get countries to agree to a single and effective Climate Change mitigation strategy. Without legislative progress on combating climate change by the nation responsible for by far the greatest carbon footprint, international efforts are likely to continue limping along at best.

The UN itself recently expressed fears that an international agreement may not be achieved by the 2012 target deadline which ties in with the end of the present agreements and legislation formulated through the Kyoto Protocol and subsequently. In an advance version of a document released on July 20th, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Ad Hoc Working Group suggested the need to consider a Plan B, in case agreements are not achieved by 2012. Legal options are to be considered to ensure that there is no gap between Kyoto agreements and subsequent commitment periods.

Clearly, there may be a need for a Plan B, but as the demonstrators shouted in Copenhagen last December, “there’s no Planet B”.



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