Copenhagen Spin Across the Spectrum: Good News!

Created: November 16, 2009 13:37 | Last updated: July 31, 2020 00:00

Faced with the reality that reaching a global, binding climate treaty at Copenhagen next month may be next to impossible, world leaders announced yesterday that they were scaling back their ambitions for Copenhagen and putting off a comprehensive treaty until at least next year. The reaction so far? Cheers from across the political spectrum.

Marc Morano, the former spokesman for climate change denier-in-chief Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), features clinking champagne glasses atop his anti-climate legislation Website. Meanwhile, at the Center for American Progress, influential liberal climate blogger Joe Romm calls the development “some very good news.”

What gives?

Well, of course, Morano and Romm aren’t really in agreement; they’re just drawing wildly different conclusions. Morano proclaims in an email this morning, “Climate Fear Movement Collapsing at Last!” Romm takes a more nuanced position, arguing that Copenhagen has been doomed for some time now, and this recognition of reality allows for incremental progress next month and also buys American lawmakers more time to craft strong climate legislation. before global negotiations start in earnest.

Romm writes:

The new plan for Copenhagen makes the prospects for a successful international deal far more likely — and at the same time increases the chance for Senate passage of the bipartisan climate and clean energy bill that Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John Kerry (D-MA) and Sen Lieberman (I-CT) are negotiating with the White House. [...]

Indeed, had leaders gone into Copenhagen without this recognition of the obvious and let the whole effort collapse under the weight of unrealistic expectations, that would have been all-but-fatal to the domestic bipartisan climate bill.

Now it will be obvious when the Senate takes up the bill up in the winter that the rest of the world is prepared to act — that every major country in the world has come to the table with serious targets and/or serious commitments to change their greenhouse gas emissions trajectories.  Every country but ours, that is.

Over at Grist, Dave Roberts takes a less exuberant but similarly reasoned tack:

[I]f the world’s nations had headed into Copenhagen expecting a legally binding treaty complete with targets and timetables, the result would have been disappointment, acrimony, and worst of all, wasted time. By taking some of the pressure of Copenhagen, the two-steps agreement has avoided disaster and maintained momentum. It’s also given the Obama administration time to engage in more climate diplomacy. Now if something could just be done about the Senate …