17 September 2009

Time for a "Plan B"?

Lots of discussion of a need for a "Plan B" on climate policy. ClimateWire reports:
A day after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) hinted that climate legislation might be postponed until 2010, some analysts wondered whether that actually could mean 2011.

Or perhaps that it wouldn't be considered in the Senate at all.

With congressional midterm elections looming next year, they say the timetable is limited for politicians to act on a major bill before partisan rancor dominates Capitol Hill. That is raising speculation that lawmakers and the Obama administration may go for a "Plan B" next year that involves passage of a general energy bill without its most complex climate elements.

And in Nature today David Victor makes the same sort of observation about the international process:
'Plan A' for the United Nations climate-change conference in Copenhagen is an ambitious new global agreement to replace the ageing Kyoto treaty. But most signs point to disaster. Negotiators are grappling with issues more complex than practically any others in international diplomacy. Their progress has been so slow that the most recent round of climate talks, held last month in Bonn, Germany, ended with strident calls to work harder and faster.

In reality, no amount of hard work can meet the goal of producing a fully useful treaty in time for the conference in December. Working faster, in fact, would be counterproductive because slapdash fixes will make it harder to craft an effective, long-term strategy to slow global warming.

Rather than a mad sprint, success in Copenhagen hinges on crafting a more realistic 'plan B'. Some negotiators are privately pondering the question of what to do if Copenhagen fails. Those debates must now happen in public — starting in the upcoming meeting in Bangkok, Thailand — while there is still time to sift the issues that can be settled by December from those that require a new strategy and more realistic deadlines at least two years away.

Here is what I asked last April:
Proponents of action on climate change should be asking themselves, when is it time to go to Plan B?
I guess we now have the answer.

4 comments:

Dean said...

I wonder if the real Plan B is simply to wait - wait until the warming trend picks up again (as it may be now), wait until most illogical of the deniers are hiding behind rocks, wait until the public is more supportive - which might involve weather or climate events whose connection to AGW is unproven.

If anybody has a Plan B that is both better than Plan A and also politically realistic, I'm all ears. It's a lot easier to criticize existing plans than it is to get alternatives implemented.

Not Whitey Bulger said...

Plan A: I take responsibility for inflicting pain on my constituents now, for a theoretical benefit that will come after I'm dead, if ever.

Plan B: Not Plan A.

charlesahart said...

A good plan B is to forget caps and taxes and focus on investment in clean energy technology that can compete with coal.

Republicans support nuclear and Dr. James Hansen (chief AGW scientist) supports "green" nuclear (e.g. LFTR).

eo said...

What Plan B? We have to realize even before Conference of Parties in Kyoto, the preparation for the coming Copenhagen meeting was already on going to discuss those points that were deleted from the Kyoto Protocol because the parties could not agree. There has already been a series of working group meetings, senior official meetings and in between even high official meetings to discuss the Copenhagen documents. In addition to those UNFCCC meetings, UN sent around its envoys to sound out various governments, there is an exchange of faxes and informal communications between various governments on their position including items the will have difficulty agreeing. Major countries involved may also send a roving ambasador to other countries to discuss their position and gather supports. Within the country there are working and decision making meetings to discuss the country position. Copenhagen is just the formality. The items that are very contentious have been dropped or left for the sucessor to the Copenhagen Protocol. The poets at UN have crafted the right words and substitute wording. Words that are very high sounding no politician on his right mind will not agree but are so meaningless or could be interpreted in several ways that there is no harm done if a politician agrees. Of course it will be discouraging to NGOS and the public if an agreement is reached within one hour. Just like Kyoto, no agreement will most likely be reached within the agreed timetable so the meeting will be extended and may even go 24 hours per day trying to reach the agreement. Well there are instances were a new administration in a major country who is not fully aware and will raise serious objections just like in the 6th COP of the Kyoto Protocol, the meeting will have to be suspended and reconvened later. Depending on the strength of the NGOS and the public pulse, the official pronouncement could be very much different. A country may continue to anounce emission reductions that are very high to satisfy their NGOs and the public that they have very high concern for GHG reductions but at the end of the day they have to agree to a lower target as a good team player. After all, some target reductions is bettr than nothing but it will continue to pursue is impossible targets. Similarly a contry may publicly anounce a very rigid resistance to any cut if the public and NGO are not in favor or skeptical of climate change but then agrees to some cuts as a good member of the international community.

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