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Don’t Bet on a Climate Agreement in Qatar

Lots of luck trying to get the nations of the world to do anything meaningful about our rapidly warming planet. As the talks in Qatar enter their second week, nobody’s expecting much to come of it all.

The basic agenda of most of the nations is to see how little they can do and how much they can get away with. China, which emits more greenhouses gases than the next three biggest polluters combined (the U.S., India and Russia) insists that it is a “developing” nation and should be exempt from any agreements. India takes the same position. [readon]

As a result, Russia, Japan and Canada are pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol that was signed by 191 states and took effect in 2005, saying it’s meaningless to set new targets when China and India are not bound by it. The United States never signed it in the first place. Europe is split over what to do about extending the Kyoto agreement. And other nations aren’t sure what to do.

The only way out of the crisis is to “throw everything we have at the problem.”

Developing nations want wealthier countries to pay them to cut greenhouse gases. But most of those wealthier countries say they don’t have the money any longer and have to cut their budgets at home.

Meanwhile, greenhouse gas pollution was up 3 percent last year. Together, the world’s nations combined pumped nearly 38.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil, according to calculations published yesterday in the journal Nature Climate Change.

That’s about a billion tons more than the previous year – or more than 2.4 million pounds of carbon dioxide every second.

Three years ago, nearly 200 nations set the goal of keeping global warming to 2 degrees C (3.6 F) in this century. But the World Bank has already warned that the world is now likely to warm by up to twice that amount by the end of the century.

Glen Peters, lead author of the new study said that the only way out of the crisis is to start drastically reducing world emissions now and “throw everything we have at the problem.”

Given the “you go first” attitude of just about everyone present in Qatar this week, that seems unlikely.