Perhaps it’s pessimistic to say so, but I doubt it. The UN can really only encourage countries to work together to reach a consensus. Whether an agreement is reached, how many countries sign on, and how many countries actually fulfill their promises cannot be guaranteed. Copenhagen will face the same problems as Kyoto. The US rejected the Kyoto Protocol due to the Senate’s refusal to ratify the treaty, which it viewed as too radical. If the numbers discussed at Copenhagen are much more ambitious than those in the current US climate bill, it’s highly unlikely that the Senate would accept it, given that there’s controversy surrounding even the current targets. The UN has precious little power to make every country comply with its treaties, and the idea of enforcing economic sanctions remains distasteful to all (and unrealistic if take in context of China and India). Real reductions in emissions will only happen when individual countries are dedicated to fighting climate change in addition to being willing to cooperate globally. So in sum, my opinion is that even given a UN climate bill success in December, countries will generally continue to work towards whatever domestic targets they had agreed upon beforehand, whether those be higher or lower than the UN targets.
Not a radical drop, but we’ll see a stronger drop than Kyoto. The EU and Japan are rather invested in fighting climate change for a variety of political reasons (fascinating though I find them, I imagine the average individual does not so I’ll spare you the torture), and they’ll reduce emissions accordingly.
Both of those nations are looking at ways to entice China and India to comply with funding via foreign aid. There are diplomatic tools at the disposal of countries that are willing to utilize them.
So, look for some change, but it probably won’t be enough.
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