The Copenhagen climate conference achieved mixed success
emerging with a non-binding agreement. Blame for why it failed is
starting to coalesce around China, the world's largest polluter along with the United States, and a hard-driving participant at the talks. Whipping up the blame the Guardian's Mark Lynas, an attendee at the talks who reports
truth is this: China
wrecked the talks, intentionally humiliated Barack Obama, and insisted
on an awful 'deal' so western leaders would walk away carrying the
blame. How do I know this? Because I was in the room and saw it
happen." Whether or not Lynas is making too much of his story, quite a few
people agree that China's role at Copenhagen was about
- China's Uncriticized Obstructionism Mother Jones's Kevin Drum laments, "most of the evidence suggests that Lynas is right: the key stumbling
block was China, which simply had no intention of agreeing to anything
measurable and significant. Nothing Obama or the others did would have
changed that. By itself, that's not too surprising. What I have found surprising
is that China has largely gotten away with this. There's been a bit of
criticism of their obstructionism, but it's been almost completely
drowned out by attacks on world leaders who were far more willing to do
a deal than they were."
- China in the Spotlight AmericaBlog's Chris in Paris sighs, "Now that Bush is gone, the world may be looking for a scapegoat for
problems. It's not that China doesn't deserve its fair share of blame
but their climate change obstructionism (and human rights abuses) is
making it easier for critics. As China moves into a more important
role, the leadership is going to need to make changes in how it runs
its PR. Transforming itself into where it is today was impressive but
with a bigger spotlight on their actions, they're going to need to
evolve. Welcome to the big stage of global politics."
- Future of China-US Cooperation The Atlantic's James Fallows responds
to Lynas's story. "[E]ven in a provisional sense, this seems worth
noting as one strand
in the emerging interpretation of China's new role in international
affairs, and the prospects for the much-bruited China-US cooperation on
climate issues," he writes. "As the author, Mark Lynas, notes at the
end of the story, the Chinese government and Chinese businesses are
sponsoring very ambitious clean-tech and clean-up programs across the
country. But he argues that the Chinese representatives saw it as
strategically in China's interest to thwart any specific or enforceable
deal, and to position the West and in particular the U.S. as the
culprits for the failure."
- China Is The New GOP The Left Coaster explains. "Yes, the Chinese own our asses, but that doesn’t mean they should
continue to get most favored nation trading status from us, and be
allowed to flood our country with their cheap crap and kill the planet
at the same time," he writes." "Both the GOP and the Chinese now have something in common: they want
no action on global warming and instead prefer to kill this planet for
profit. Obama has a chance to show some guts and lump both into a
devastating narrative about why the GOP has become China's best agents
in this country, both aligned against this country’s best interests at
home an abroad."
- Shows Future of US-China Relations The Washington Post reports Copenhagen as "a glimpse into a new world order in which international diplomacy will
increasingly be shaped by the United States and emerging powers, most
notably China." They write, "Friday's climate agreement reflected the domestic political realities
in Washington and Beijing. Both nations, the two biggest emitters of
greenhouse gases, remain more cautious than, say, the governments of
Europe about establishing a strict set of international rules to combat
global warming. Not coincidentally, the agreement allows nations to set
their own emission reduction targets and provides no deadline for
signing a binding international accord."
- 'Copenhagen Backlash Begins' Foreign Policy's Joshua Keating rounds up the diplomatic finger-pointing. "British climate secretary Ed Miliband accused China of having 'hijacked' the proceedings for its own goals. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman responded that Miliband's accusations were just a way 'to shirk responsibilities that should be assumed towards developing countries.'"
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