Cancun Conundrum

“This is a new era of international cooperation on climate change.”

That was the assessment of Mexico’s Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa who served as chair of the two-week United Nations Climate Change Conference, no doubt glad to have this gathering of hot air producers finished.  But like Copenhagen, this conference struggled to find a reason to meet again next year since while the issues remained the same so did the objections from around the world to the solutions.

There was some progress.  The US and China agreed on new protocols to measure how much greenhouse gas emissions nations are actually producing which addressed American concerns that countries were manipulating the emissions and economic data submitted to the UN to suit their political objectives.

Bolivia this year was the spokesman for “poor countries” arguing that the rich countries should pay them not to chop down their forests or commit other acts of environmental sacrilege.  It didn’t work in Cancun just as it has not worked before.

There was a face saving agreement to work harder to address the problems of climate change.  The US contributed by issuing a statement from NASA reporting that the past 12 months had produced the highest land and ocean temperatures ever recorded. The data mean that 2010 is likely to pass 2005 as the warmest year since detailed records have been kept.  But climate science even from NASA is now suspect and this report seemed to have little effect on the outcome.

The 200 countries attending the conference issued their joint statement giving themselves another year to decide whether to extend the aging 1997 Kyoto Protocol but few expected next year’s retreat to produce a different result.

Regulatory Revenge of USEPA

Meanwhile back home in Washington, DC, the US Court of Appeals said the US Environmental Protection Agency could proceed to enforce its proposed new regulations on greenhouse gas emissions even though the rules were being challenged in court. To date, 37 states and many more parties have sued US-EPA over these rules.  A Federal appeals court panel has consolidated the many lawsuits challenging the authority of the Federal Government to issue them in the absence of specific Congressional approval and the reasonableness of the rules given the benefits.  But US-EPA which is on a mission to get these new rules as fully embedded as it can before some either Congress or the Courts order it to stop.

Stay tuned.  It is not clear whether all of this will end up in a new TV series ‘Law and Order–Green Victims Unit’—or just reruns of the conehead episodes from Saturday Night Live