The next round of climate talks in Copenhagen is just around the corner on Dec. 7-18. Most industrialized and developing countries have already released their plans to reduce emissions, but the U.S. has yet to come forth with a plan.
Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, told The New York Times, ““The list of what is on the table is rather long … We now have offers of targets from all industrialized countries except the United States.” He went on to say that he was looking to the United States for “a numerical midterm target and commitment to financial support.”
So why hasn’t the U.S. played its hand yet?
Todd Stern, chief climate negotiator for the United States, said, “What we are looking at is whether we feel that we can put down a number that would be provisional in effect, contingent on getting our legislation done … Our inclination is to try to do that, but we want to be smart about it.”
Other developing or industrializing countries have revealed outlandish plans to cut emissions. South Korea said it plans to cut emissions by 30 percent by 2020. Russia promises 25 percent by then. And just last week, Brazil pledged cuts of 40 percent by 2020.
What makes it so hard for the United States to come up with a figure? Because the countries that weren’t already industrialized when the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was signed 1992 aren’t really bound by anything.
The countries that were industrialized, however, will be more concretely tied to their promised reductions.
You might say that a pledge by a developing countries is kind of like a little kid betting his friend a bajillion dollars … it doesn’t really mean anything.
Even though it’s pretty evident that no binding worldwide agreement will be made this year, the emissions reduction plans are at least a starting point … and that’s better than nothing.