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Climate change talks: escaping Copenhagen's shadow PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 29 November 2010 12:33

The new round of climate change negotiations that starts today in Cancún has none of the hubristic razzmatazz of last year's Copenhagen summit. It is not in the diaries of the world's leaders. In the Observer yesterday, David Cameron predicted that there would be no deal at all. In fact, the preliminaries have been so low- key and expectations managed so far down that almost any progress will look like a result. Just as well, perhaps, for the truth is that if nothing comes out of the next fortnight in Mexico there is already talk about the collapse of the whole UN process, with consequences even worse than the ill-managed Copenhagen round.

Like the fruitless Doha negotiations to rebalance world trade, the annual climate change talks are a daunting struggle to reconcile national self-interest with the global good. The danger is that any agreement is either too small to make the necessary impact or so demanding that it is quietly ignored. Kyoto was a triumph, on paper. But the US never signed up to it. On one recent estimate, by the time it expires in 2012 it will have led to a reduction in emissions of less than a third of 1%. It is easier to make deals

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