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Fighting Over Cop15 Before Cop15 Even Starts

It's on! At the Bangkok talks leading up the Most Important Meeting Ever, the gloves are off. Yesterday, an angry statement by 131 countries...

It's on! At the Bangkok talks leading up the Most Important Meeting Ever, the gloves are off. Yesterday, an angry statement by 131 countries accused the United States of sabotaging negotiations before negotiations even start. Strong language, and perhaps a little paranoid, but still: There's something to the argument.A sample of the accusations, according to the Guardian, from ambassador Yu Qingtai, China's representative on climate talks: "The reason why we are not making progress is the lack of political will by [developed] countries. There is a concerted effort to fundamentally sabotage the Kyoto protocol. We now hear statements that would lead to the termination of the protocol. They are introducing new rules, new formats. That's not the way to conduct negotiations."Partially of concern is the fact that on Friday, Obama's climate czar Carol Browner basically told people not to hold their breath for resolution on the climate bill before Copenhagen. "I think we would all agree the likelihood that you'd have a bill signed by the president on comprehensive energy by the time we go in December is not likely," she said.It's true that that is very unlikely. It is also true that this cements many people's concern about how much can actually be accomplished at Cop15. For the sake of poking holes in things: It's not like Browner and Obama didn't know Copenhagen was coming up. We've all known about it since well before Obama took over the White House. Was there not enough time to get a bill through? Is it a strategic move to hold off, thus limiting the kind of promises Obama can make at Copenhagen? Are all developed countries playing a game of chicken, waiting to see what the others do before making any firm commitments?Perhaps the better question is: Should this international conference have been reason enough to force the administration to speed up? The United States has a nasty reputation for going it alone when it comes to climate change agreements, and it would have sent a nice message to the world if our president could show up ready to play ball. On the flip side, what if a U.S. bill were passed and it paled in comparison to what the UN is calling for, and what other countries are willing to commit to? Then what kind of position would we all be in?It's not likely that we will pull another Kyoto, but you can't say other countries aren't justified in being a little panicky about it. With stakes as high as they are, it'll be interesting to see how this plays out.

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