The Pre-Blame Game

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The Copenhagen climate summit is one part negotiation and one part blame game—or, more accurately, don’t-blame-me game.

When US climate change envoy Todd Stern arrived at the massive Bella Center for the first time and held a press conference on Wednesday, he noted he would be working for the “strongest possible agreement.” He quickly ticked off all the actions unilaterally taken by the Obama administration to redress climate change: boosting fuel economy standards, designating greenhouse gases a threat to human health that should be regulated under the Clean Air Act, and establishing a regime to measure and monitor global warming gases produced by major emitters. He fiercely defended the administration’s proposed reduction in emissions—about 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. Knowing that the United States has been widely criticized for not offering to cut more—and that the Europeans have agreed to deeper cuts—he pointed out that the US reductions would accelerate in the following years. He also said that the United States was ready to start financing an international fund to help poorer countries deal with climate change. And he reminded his audience that President Barack Obama would be attending the summit. The message: we’re committed, and this summit could work.

Then Stern turned to China. “We need significant action by major developing nations,” he said. He noted that that 97 percent of the growth in emissions in the next decade will come from developing nations, and half of that increase will come from China. “There is no way to solve this problem with giving developing countries a pass.” The message: if there’s no good deal nine days from now, it’s not our fault.

While it does seem that most governments would prefer to see a strong climate agreement reached in Copenhagen, they recognize that due to serious conflicts, that might not happen. Consequently, they are preparing for a storm of finger-pointing. Read about their pre-blame game positioning here.

 

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