Posted by: Matthew Hoffmann | November 22, 2011

Giving up on a Climate Treaty?

An interesting and provocative article by Fiona Harvey in the Guardian “Rich nations ‘give up’ on new climate treaty until 2020” is making the rounds on facebook and the wires.  The ‘news’ that a global climate treaty is far from imminent is not surprising.  However, the explicit admissions that a global climate treaty is unlikely to be in place before 2020 are surprising.  This could be a case of lowering expectations ahead of negotiations, but as the expectations were low to begin with, this does not seem plausible.  It is more likely that the lengthy wait described in the article is simply what is now conventional wisdom for some of the major players in the negotiations.

The danger is that this will further marginalize the multilateral process and sap the energy and resources from the places where action is taking place–cities, states, corporations, NGOs.  On the other hand, it is at least a bit heartening that the admissions that nothing will be done soon were accompanied by timetables for the next treaty, rather than skepticism that a global treaty would ever be signed.  Not much in the way of a silver lining, but with global climate treaty-making we have to take what we can get.


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