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The Singapore Two-step

As Morgan noted this morning, word from the APEC meetings in Singapore was that the world will have to wait until sometime next year for a...


As Morgan noted this morning, word from the APEC meetings in Singapore was that the world will have to wait until sometime next year for a legally-binding international agreement on climate change. Instead, COP15 will serve as just the first part of a "one agreement, two step" process that'll supposedly be resolved in 2010. And just like that, hopes and expectations for next month's meetings in Copenhagen have been deflated. And everyone who has been gearing up for December, booking flights, reviewing draft texts, and preparing exhaustive, comprehensive guides to COP15, is feeling sorely disappointed.Well, not quite everyone.A rather remarkable rift has opened even within the world of climate advocacy and activism (remarkable even for a field where infighting is somewhat commonplace) between those who are reacting to this news with outrage and those who think it might actually not be that bad a thing. Those who adhere to the scientific reality versus those who defer to a political one.The cause for outrage is clear. Every month we delay taking strong action, the worse the problem gets, the greater the misery spreads, and the more land and lives will be lost. We also know, thanks to a recent International Energy Agency report (pdf), that with every year of delay, the cost of combating climate change increases a whopping $500 billion.How then, at this moment of inaction, could this possibly, maybe, be a good or justifiable delay? Here are a couple well-respected pragmatic voices giving their take:Joe Romm on Climate Progress, whose lede ("Some very good news on the international front") certainly raised some eyebrows Sunday morning:For 8 years, U.S. negotiations were run by hard-core anti-scientific conservatives, who not only blocked any domestic action and opposed any international deal - but the Cheney-Bush negotiators actually actively worked to undermine the efforts of other countries to develop a follow on to the Kyoto Protocol. It was never possible that team Obama - in just a few months - could undo that and simultaneously develop a final international deal and pass bipartisan U.S. climate legislation...The new plan for Copenhagen makes the prospects for a successful international deal far more likely - and at the same time increases the chance for Senate passage of the bipartisan climate and clean energy bill...Andy Revkin on DotEarth:Many seasoned participants in nearly two decades of treaty negotiations aimed at blunting global warming had predicted this outcome...Having leaders of the world's established and emerging powers take away the drama now could ease the burden on functionaries diving in to resolve enormously complicated issues next month.Jake Schmidt on NRDC's Switchboard:To some this may be viewed as a setback, but is it? Well it depends on what countries actually do in response when they come to Copenhagen...[An] extension -- months not years -- could be worthwhile if countries use the time to firm up their commitments to reduce their global warming pollution and to finalize all the details of an international structure to ensure that those commitments are met.How such political pragmatism fairs against the cold, indifferent realities of science is another question altogether.Photo (cc) by Flickr user StarvingFox.
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