Despite President Obama’s desperate last-minute attempts to transform the UN’s climate change conference into “Hopenhagen,” even this administration’s talented pool of spin-doctors will find it difficult to convince global warming alarmists that the two-week event was anything other than what is now being called: an “abject failure.” Happily, any result that distresses the alarmists comes as a huge relief to anyone who values liberty and free markets.
While Denmark is also the home to the World Santa Claus Congress, which meets every year just outside of Copenhagen, the climate change conference offered up its own version of a Christmas gift: a promise of $30 billion in goodies to various third-world countries. It’s a sad commentary on world affairs when the redistribution of $30 billion in wealth from industrialized nations to tin-pot dictators can be called a “victory,” but in an age of government bailouts and $787 billion stimulus packages, the latest climate accord is an absolute bargain.
From start to finish, Copenhagen was an exercise in absurdity. There was Hugo Chavez denouncing the West for burning the oil upon which his repressive regime rests. There was Al Gore, probably morose because he was not called upon to rush overseas and save the planet, reciting something vaguely resembling poetry. And, at the end of the day, there was U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declaring that the final agreement “will have an immediate operational effect.”
In truth, the biggest effect that the Copenhagen conference will have on the environment resulted from operation of the hundreds of jets and limos required to shuttle diplomats to and fro over the course of two weeks in snowy Scandinavia. But as far as lowering global emissions of greenhouse gases goes, the final agreement could have been composed in four words: “wait until next year.”
That’s bad news for the first President in American history to make reversing the rise of oceanic tides into a campaign promise. The far-Left broke out posters of Obama with the legend “Climate Shame” emblazoned upon them by the end of the conference. That catch phrase will eventually turn into “Climate Blame” when the President realizes that he is not going to get greenhouse gas reductions through either legislation or regulation.
The Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill was a long shot, at best, in the Senate after it passed the House. In the wake of Climategate and Copenhagen, it’s effectively dead. Forty four Democrats voted against Waxman-Markey in the House. Most of these votes came from coal states, like Illinois, Indiana and Pennsylvania. There was overwhelming support for the bill from populous east and west coast states, enough to overcome opposition from Middle America and the south, but that formula won’t work in the Senate.
No doubt there will be half-hearted attempts to craft some sort of compromise, but the demands of climate change zealots don’t lend themselves to nuance. Either you cut the hamstrings of the American power industry and wreck the economy or you don’t. Voting for the former course of action does not read well on a politician’s resume. Now that Copenhagen has confirmed that China isn’t going to commit to any substantive action to lower their emissions, the Senate has all the excuse it needs to let Waxman-Markey fade into oblivion.
That leaves regulation through the Clean Air Act, the club that the President and USEPA Administrator Lisa Jackson have attempted to wield in order to bully the Senate into action on cap and trade. The problem here is that, in reality, developing greenhouse gas regulations is the last thing that Jackson wants to do. She and her staff – and probably the president himself – know that writing such rules will be a bureaucratic nightmare.
Still, they may try. The Supreme Court says they have to. So Jackson will kick the ponderous, tedious, seemingly endless rule-making process of the Clean Air Act into gear. Hearings will be held. Studies will begin. Comments will be filed, along with the endless paperwork that the bureaucratic process demands.
There is a certain delicious irony in all of this. The rulemaking process under the Clean Air Act is so ponderous, tedious and seemingly-endless because environmental groups have demanded that it be so. Their demands for full public participation, rights of appeal and complete accountability created this monstrously unwieldy mechanism, which will now make the quick action that Al Gore demands impossible.
The alarmists have been dealt a severe blow, and they know it. This comment from Kim Cobb, a global-warming proponent and Assistant Professor in the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, belies the prevailing gloom among the alarmist crowd:
“Since the widespread distribution of stolen e-mails originating from the University of East Anglia, I have become increasingly distressed by the way that the internet and media machinery has digested their content. As a climate scientist, I have always been sensitive to the direction the wind is blowing on climate change, and it has become increasingly clear to me that more scientists need to add their voices to the debate.”
Read “add their voices” as “shout down anyone who disagrees with us” and you see the prevailing tactic of the alarmist crowd. In the wake of this latest non-action, we will see them become even more shrill. In so far as Copenhagen has proved a disappointment to the more extreme elements of the global environmental movement, however, the underwhelming conference can indeed be called a victory.