After two long weeks of climate change talks in Durban, South Africa, a deal was finally made on Sunday. And though some observers are applauding the global summit as groundbreaking, the majority of environmental experts say perhaps the biggest positive was that it wasn’t a complete collapse. We’ll take a look at what happened, what didn’t, and examine all the important details of the controversial climate change talks in Durban.

Durban Climate Change Conference 13 December,2011forum

Patrick McGroarty, reporter for the Wall Street Journal.
Craig Miller, senior editor for KQED's Climate Watch.
Dan Kammen, professor of energy at U.C. Berkeley. Director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, U.C. Berkeley
Andrew Light, director for international climate policy at the Center for American Progress and director of the Center for Global Ethics at George Mason University.

  • Eric

    Here is an excerpt from an op-ed by Bjorn Lomberg in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, explaining why the Durban conference participants are delusional:

    “The Durban agreement is being hailed as a diplomatic victory. Yet it essentially concedes defeat, leaving any hard decisions to the far end of the decade when other politicians will have to deal with it. For nearly 20 years, the international community has tried to negotiate commitments to carbon cuts, with almost nothing to show for it.  Even most rich countries don’t want to cut fossil fuels, because the alternatives are considerably more expensive. China, India and other emerging economies certainly do not want to, because putting the brakes on growth means consigning millions to poverty.  But even if such intractable issues could be magically resolved, any deal would have a negligible impact on climate. Even if we were to cut emissions by 50% below 1990-levels by 2050—an extremely unrealistic scenario—the difference in temperature would be less than 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit in 2050.”

    Here is a link to the full article:

    • Tien

      How refreshing, we are all looking at this wrongly.  No matter what we do, if the population continues to grow like it does now, eventually we’ll saturate earth’s capacity for anything.

  • Bill_Woods

    Carbon offsets are completely different from a carbon tax. Offsets involve paying someone else to cut their emissions. Or to do something equivalent, like planting trees. Or notionally equivalent, like manufacturing CFCs in order to get credit for destroying them.

  • Duglst

    Why isn’t over population a more prevalent criteria mentioned in global warming negotiations? Over population seems to me to be the biggest cause of the problem.

  • Youval

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  • The idea that a legally binding agreement will solve the problem is naive. There is no historical precendent when legally binding agreements have been enforced against powerful countries. What will we do if China or Europe does not comply with the agreement? Ask them nicely? Have some international agency send them a terse letter? Send the Marines?

    The way to do this is one country at a time and through trade agreements. The US could unilaterally adopt an emission reduction strategy. It could then ask that its trade partners do the same and impose a tariff (5%-10%) on anyone who does not implement a credible emission reduction strategy. Countries would rapidly implement a solution if it was a condition to access the lucrative American, Chinese or European markets.

  • jurgispilis

    I almost fell off my chair when population growth was mentioned.  Has it occurred to anyone that the increase in climate change / global warming tracks perfectly to the increase in human population?  And that the carbon footprint of a single human is many many 100s times greater than the carbon footprint of a polar bear or a raccoon.  And that’s because we burn stuff, use cars, electricity, smoke, clear land, etc.  So if we “stabilize” or slow the rate of increase of the human species, we will be doing a benefit for the planet!  How refreshing, yet so so controversial!
    Why not provide incentives for families to have fewer children? Why not provide incentives for nations to lower the rate of their population expansion/explosion?  
    The USA is high on the guilty list.  We are the 3rd most populous, and have a rate of population growth in the top ten.

    • Well, that’s because most of us (me included) don’t care much about benefiting “the planet”. (whatever that might mean) We care about human beings. And so intruding upon people’s most private choices, including their decision to bring about and raise a child, is most distasteful. So, we look at solutions that don’t involve cutting off our nose to spite our face.

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