Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Progress towards Cophenhagen

Two quick but important notes on progress towards the negotiations at Copenhagen. First, there's been increased talk of the climate issue becoming the organizing principle of US-China relations (see US Department of State briefing on the recent SED). While this growing importance has yet to produce substantive results, it's an astounding shift from US-China relations during most of the Bush years (asterisk: former Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson gets credit for including some climate issues under the previous iteration of the SED), when energy and environment were scarcely mentioned. In any case, it's good news, since deployment of clean technology in China will be a decades-long task that will have to take place in the context of a robust US-China relationship.

Second, South Korea became the first developing country to commit to greenhouse gas emissions caps by 2020, with significant implications for the Copenhagen agreement. I'll leave most commentary to Green Leap Forward, but suffice it to say South Korea's actions provide the first clear blueprint for how a developing country can formulate a sustainable, low-carbon development path. If it works, it will save the world. One can only hope that New Delhi and Beijing- and Pretoria, Brasilia, and Hanoi- are watching.

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