Opinion: ‘Africa’s COP’ made some big promises. Here’s how to deliver them
With a new deal for the International Court of Justice and a new deal on climate change, the U.N. climate negotiations are at last back on track.
So, what went right? What should the U.S. Congress do when it returns from recess this week?
Here’s the answer: Don’t make the same mistake that the U.S. government made in Copenhagen last year. Instead of putting the U.S. on the right foot in the talks, it has dragged its feet. Instead of putting the U.S. on even footing with the rest of the world, it’s been in the lead. Instead of making a reasonable offer to cut emissions, it’s been holding out.
The latest setback came this week, when the U.S. government dropped its requirement for countries to cut emissions by 2020 at a time when all other negotiators were working to make that goal more realistic. The U.S. had promised to reduce its emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 if all countries met their current commitments. Instead, the White House pulled back the date to 2020, leaving that goal up in the air for now. So far, no other major greenhouse-gas-emitting country has followed the U.S. on the date, which meant that the U.S. was the only country to miss its own agreed-to date. In December, as the world negotiated its first global climate change deal in more than a decade, the U.S. also was the only country to back out of a Kyoto-like agreement on regulating greenhouse gases.
The U.S. was not the only party that made major missed commitments in Copenhagen last year — there were plenty of other countries who agreed to cut emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels but didn’t deliver the date. And the U.S. missed its own Kyoto commitment as well by about a year. But unlike those other major countries, the U.S. missed its deadline on developing new technology and meeting its goal to reduce emissions by 28 percent below 2005 levels. So rather than being in a good position to negotiate further cuts at the next U.N. climate talks, Washington now