The UN will hold a major climate change forum this week during the opening of its General Assembly. President Obama, among other world leaders, is expected to make a major statement of America’s plan for “global warming.” The Chinese president is also expected to unveil his country’s major proposals to meet this challenge.
Well the rock on which all proposals threaten to crash and fall apart is already out in the open. The leaders of the “developing” countries have already stated that they will not join the effort to accomodate global warming, unless they are paid an amount equal to 1% of global GDP, which comes to about $600 billion, to do their part. This is a really big number. Total US AID for FY 2009 is budgeted at about $40 billion and that includes the main recipients, Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel and Egypt. Given the US share of global GDP, we would be expected to pay at least $150 billion. I really don’t see the US Congress budgeting that much money to bring developing countries on board a worldwide effort to deal with climate change.
So what can one expect? Well the “rich” countries will not commit themselves to paying $600 billion to get the “poor” countries on board. They will talk about assisting them, but without commiting to specific amounts. The “poor” countries will defer committing themselves to a worldwide effort to meet the challenges of climate change until the UN Conference of Climate Change is held in Copenhagen this December (see my blogs of Sept 1 and 11 on this conference). In essence the UN will “kick the ball down the field.”
Most likely the most interesting item to come out of this week’s discussions will be the unveiling of China’s plans and proposals to address climate change. However, no matter how dramatic they may be, China will caveat its plans with a demand for the “rich” countries to pick up the bill for “poor” countries.
As far as I can see there will be no unified global effort to meet global warming until all the parties adopt more reasonable and realistic policies. I have argued for “adapting” to global warming, rather than “stopping” it. It seems pretty clear from what I have seen and heard that, no matter what measures we take, global warming will continue. The best we can hope for is to keep the increase at “historic” or “reasonable” levels. Thus it makes much more sense to examine how we adapt to this change, rather than waste our resources and energy in a fruitless pursuit to stop it.
As I have said before, Copenhagen is an interesting choice for the big UN conference since that is the home of Bjorn Lomborg and his “Copenhagen Consensus” that seeks to indentify problems caused by global warming, and determine how to handle these, rather than trying to do the impossible, i.e. stop global warming.