A Note on Copenhagen's Successful Failure

He cites some U.S. Republican attacks on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that are "claiming, falsely, that she committed the U.S. to give $100 billion to help poor countries deal with climate change, and that this would help our enemies and undermine American competitiveness abroad."

Clinton actually announced at the summit that the U.S. was ready, under certain conditions, to contribute to an international fund to be put together by many of the wealthier nations that, altogether, would provide $100 billion by the year 2020. She did not commit $100 billion from the U.S.

"Counterintuitively," says Yohe, "Copenhagen also gave everybody a chance to blame everybody else -- which helps, because it brought many disagreements into the open."

NASA's Hansen Captures a Paradox

NASA's preeminent climate scientist James Hansen captures the paradoxical nature of Copenhagen's successful failure in his post-summit article in the Observer: "After Copenhagen's Failure, We Can at Last Tackle Climate Change Honestly."

A critical question still lacks a definitive answer: Will the world's 20 biggest emitters agree to the hard work of a drastic reduction of heat-trapping emissions ... and somehow ensure that humanity's overall emissions peak and start declining in no more than 10 years, as scientists generally agree must happen to avoid a global climate catastrophe?

However, judging from new diplomatic activity around the world in preparation for binding agreements before the end of this new year -- and from the many separate deals Copenhagen did produce, including a new international framework to pay developing countries to stop lumbering of forests that produces some 20 percent of annual greenhouse emissions, Copenhagen apparently produced a new diplomatic critical mass that is now generating a kind of global effort the planet has never seen.

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