Friday, December 18, 2009

So they have some kind of a deal...

It appears that the Copenhagen climate talks have produced something or other:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other world leaders — including those from the U.S., China, India, Brazil and South Africa — are leaving Copenhagen with a compromise climate deal and a vow to work out the details.
Of course, "the details" is where one is most likely to find the man in the red suit. In this case, though, there's no need to wait for said details:

Harper called it a "comprehensive and realistic" agreement, while U.S. President Barack Obama hailed it as a "meaningful and unprecedented breakthrough."

However, the agreement is not binding and does not set new greenhouse-gas reduction targets. Instead, countries are to set their own emission-reduction commitments, which would not be legally binding.

So in other words, it's utterly meaningless, except as a way for the leaders to claim they've accomplished something. And yet, something good could still come of this; the leaders have in effect made a very public admission that they recognize the reality of climate change, which could force them to make some effort to actually do something about the problem. And then there are other possible spinoffs:

The US and Russia on Friday said they were close to an agreement on nuclear arms reduction after presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev met on the sidelines of the Copenhagen climate conference.

Mr Obama reported ”excellent progress” towards a replacement for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which expired this month, while Mr Medvedev said a deal was “very close”, with only “technical details” to resolve.

Both leaders have pledged to sign a fresh accord leading to further reductions in nuclear arms, after cutting their respective arsenals to fewer than 6,000 warheads and 1,600 delivery vehicles under the previous Cold War-era treaty.
If only the climate talks themselves could produce such concrete results. Of course, 6,000 warheads and 1,600 delivery vehicles is still a ridiculous amount of firepower, and it remains to be seen what the new agreement will bring. Still, it's a clear step in the right direction, and there's already a precedent for agreeing to actual numbers. And if we are to face significant climate change, the fewer nuclear weapons there are, the better; things are likely to get ugly in the next few decades.

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