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With the possibility of no global agreement, who's to blame?

It now appears that this year's Copenhagen climate conference will not produce a binding global pact to reduce emissions, but rather a political agreement on certain key elements, with hopes for a deal in 2010. Who's to blame for this, and what sort of key questions are likely to get resolved in Copenhagen? To what extent does it represent a setback for the global push to combat climate change?

Posted by Washington Post Editor on November 16, 2009 1:33 PM

Copenhagen is one step in a long journey

Progress on greenhouse gas emissions can't and won't hinge on one conference or one agreement. The issue is too complex and needs to move ahead on multiple fronts. There is no "one size fits all." For those reasons, the likelihood...

Posted by Pam Faggert, on November 20, 2009 6:08 PM

The beginning of a new treaty

I believe most observers will agree that the Danes made a good decision to use the UN climate change conference to focus on the two principal issues at play: how big will the emissions reductions be, and what will be...

Posted by Ned Helme, on November 20, 2009 9:00 AM

Delay could - and should - kill problematic global warming treaty

The December Copenhagen conference is shaping up to be something less than the history-making event its organizers intended. Gone is the expectation that participants will extend and expand the provisions of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. Instead, it is looking more...

Posted by Ben Lieberman, on November 19, 2009 2:59 PM

Blame reality

Currently, things are in a sad state of affairs, where politicians are frantically trying to find some way that they can pretend that a political agreement is a 'success' - but are also looking around for others to blame for...

Posted by Bjorn Lomborg, on November 19, 2009 9:00 AM

Plenty of blame to go around

Who's to blame? Probably all of us. The biggest stumbling block to a general consensus one way or the other about human influenced climate change is that most of us have a preconceived opinion one way or the other. We...

Posted by Rick Edmund, on November 19, 2009 8:52 AM

Yesterday is not the issue; tomorrow is.

It makes no difference who is to blame for yesterday; the issue is who will accept responsibility for tomorrow. Even if there were a practical purpose to "fixing blame" there would be very few not on the list. There are...

Posted by David F. Hales, on November 18, 2009 8:51 PM

America won't go to Copenhagen empty handed

While the slow-down going into Copenhagen isn't good news, it will represent a major set-back only if there is further backsliding. So long as we continue making progress towards emissions limits in the United States while working toward locking in...

Posted by Richard L. Revesz, on November 18, 2009 1:31 PM

Ball is in our court

As reported in the Post, the joint declaration between President Obama and Chinese President Hu yesterday included a hopeful clause that the Obama administration is likely to offer emission-reduction targets in Copenhagen if the Chinese offer its proposal as well....

Posted by Donald F. Boesch, on November 18, 2009 9:45 AM

An end to blame-and-shame

Trying to assign blame for the shortcomings of the global negotiations is exactly the wrong approach. The process has for years now been focused on questions of shame and blame, and this is one of the major reasons that progress...

Posted by Lars G. Josefsson, on November 18, 2009 7:58 AM

Success is still possible

In the final weeks leading to Copenhagen, an ambitious and successful outcome is absolutely on the table, and is something that attendees at the conference can and must strive for. Of course we would have preferred Copenhagen to agree on...

Posted by Nigel Sheinwald, on November 17, 2009 2:59 PM

America is preventing progress

President Obama wasn't willing to expend the political capital to move the Senate -- the body from which he came, and which he must have known would be as dysfunctional as it has so far proven. As usual America is...

Posted by Bill McKibben, on November 17, 2009 1:40 PM

Worth the wait

When all is said and done, Copenhagen will almost certainly represent a landmark in the progressive shift to a global low-carbon economy. Whether the final agreement is reached there or 6 to 12 months later is of little consequence, provided...

Posted by David Hone, on November 17, 2009 8:54 AM

The consequences of ignoring realities

The politicians who have been pushing for an agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol with a global agreement mandating drastic emission reductions by 2050 -- up to 83 percent -- are the responsible parties, although they will never admit it....

Posted by William O'Keefe, on November 16, 2009 7:30 PM


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