November 5, 2009
The work to clean the skies of climate changing pollution took center stage this week in influential policy forums on two continents– the 5-day UNFCCC climate negotiating session in Barcelona, and the U.S. Senate. The objective of climate advocates, which includes the White House and many Democrats on Capitol Hill was to give clearer form to a global climate treaty and provide momentum for domestic climate and clean energy legislation that is vital to the treaty’s success in world capitals and ratification in the United States.
The Barcelona negotiations were designed to give more definition to the basic outlines of a climate treaty that the world has generally agreed to over the last two years. For instance, the limits that developed countries are willing to put on the carbon pollution that causes climate change is now common knowledge. Due in part to the European Union, the magnitude of the cost of making the transition to a new epoch have been calculated. And there is a general consensus that the wealthy nations that burned all that carbon-rich fuel have financial responsibilities to the developing countries that want to get cleaner and economically greener.
In Washington, meanwhile, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee was set to begin marking up a climate and energy bill following hearings late last month.
The new approaches under consideration in Washington and in Barcelona essentially mean a redefinition of how the nation and the world are powered. They also introduce a new way for the richer and poorer nations to share financial resources, and require levels of cooperation and trust that policy makers in and outside Washington are not accustomed to.
In Barcelona, as of this writing, negotiators are still trying to polish the rough edges off the emerging climate agreement. In Washington, the Senate put off a committee vote on the climate and energy proposal until a study of its cost is completed by the Environmental Protection Agency.
What we learned again last week is that progress on such momentous changes takes time. Talk to you next week, Keith