An international climate summit began Monday in Cancun, Mexico. Most analysts don’t expect the Cancun Climate summit to result in a serious international agreement on how to deal with climate change. The main issue at hand is whether the United Nations can be counted on to broker a meaningful agreement among emerging markets and the developed world.
Procrastinating on climate change
The Cancun climate summit could determine what the world will do about climate change in the future. If the results of last December’s Copenhagen climate summit are any indication, procrastination will be the consensus. The Copenhagen Accord was a last-minute non-deal that avoided the problem of carbon emission reductions. Instead of an agreement for mandatory emissions reductions, the Copenhagen Accord merely stated that both developed and developing countries should share with the world what they plan to do about climate change — which so far has been nothing.
Nations focus on blame, not solutions
Chances of a legally binding climate change treaty emerging from the Cancun climate summit are seen by analysts as remote at best. The U.S. blames China for scuttling a real deal at Copenhagen. China, in turn, blames the United States. Developing nations say the carbon emissions crisis was caused by centuries of industrialization by developed countries, and it’s their problem to solve. Developed countries want a compromise. Both developed and undeveloped countries have lost confidence in the ability of the United Nations to play a meaningful role.
China acts while U.S. plays politics
Despite the failed Copenhagen Accord, China has been aggressively investing in clean energy. China is now the world’s largest manufacturer of solar panels and wind turbines. The country is also poised to become the world leader in clean coal technology and efficient nuclear reactors. Meanwhile, the creation of a carbon market to curb emissions died with cap and trade in the U.S. Senate, and a Republican House starting in 2011 promises congressional gridlock that will prevent the U.S. from providing any leadership at the Cancun climate summit.