The negotiations have hit a snag. A key player won’t get on board. It’s going to end in failure. Health-care reform? Perhaps. But that’s the scenario being played out in Copenhagen, where lo and behold the Chinese are refusing to go along with efforts to hamstring their economy:
With just two days remaining in historic and contentious climate talks here, China signaled overnight that it sees virtually no possibility that the nearly 200 nations gathered would find agreement by Friday. A participant in the talks said that China would agree only to a brief political declaration that left unresolved virtually all the major issues.
Hillary Clinton cheerfully offered up the U.S. taxpayers’ money and unspecified private financing for a $100B fund to “help poor and vulnerable nations adapt to climate change and build more energy efficient economies,” but only if there’s a deal. She solemnly announced that “we actually think $100 billion is appropriate, usable and will be effective.” (I rather doubt that the taxpayers agree, and some might even think that such private financing might be put to better use to restart the U.S. economy.) Nevertheless, the Chinese seem impervious to our charms and the pleas of the developing countries. The latter are upset, you see, about “the economic and environmental tyranny of the industrial world”:
“The rich are destroying the planet,” said Hugo Chávez, the socialist president of Venezuela, on Wednesday. “Perhaps they think they’re going off to another one after they’ve destroyed this one.” On Monday, African nations briefly brought the climate talks to a standstill. China, by far the largest economic power in the group, has dragged its feet throughout the week by raising one technical objection after another to the basic negotiating text. And on Wednesday night, the group refused to take part in negotiations that conference organizers had hoped would produce a definitive negotiating text by Thursday morning. Instead, many Group of 77 leaders spent the day hurling accusations at wealthier countries.
But we want to give them a hundred billion dollars — isn’t that enough to buy some goodwill? Well, no. It’s shocking, I know, but just as they misread the IOC, the Obami didn’t appreciate “the depth of anger in the developing world and the height of grandstanding that would consume so much of the conference’s time.” They didn’t foresee the beg-and-bribe-athon, the spread-the-wealth frenzy, and the battle-to-hobble the West, nor it seems did they anticipate China’s refusal to offer up its own people’s economic opportunities for the sake of appeasing the likes of Hugo Chavez.
If this all comes to naught, there will be many in the U.S. who ask (re-ask, really) why we should hobble our own economy when China, to name just one major power, refuses to do the same. Why should we restrict emissions, setting up an exodus of jobs? Good questions all. Politico notes:
If China has, in fact, pulled the plug it would deal a major blow to efforts by Democrats in the Senate to revive stalled efforts at passing vitally important companion legislation. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) warned the conference Wednesday that the Senate isn’t likely to move if lawmaker perceive America taking more stringent steps than trading partners and rivals in China and India.
Meanwhile, in the White House, someone is probably asking how it was that they managed to mess up yet another Copenhagen confab, raising expectations only to demonstrate, once again, the severe limits of Obama’s influence. Perhaps multilateralism isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.