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Climate Change and “Climategate”

Spin always trumps substance at gatherings like the COP15 climate-change summit in Copenhagen. Consider how quick the delegates were to dismiss "Climategate," the scandal caused by the release of thousands of disturbing emails and other documents from a prestigious British climate-research center.

COPENHAGEN – Thousands of politicians, bureaucrats, and environmental activists have arrived in Copenhagen for the COP15 global climate summit with all the bravado – and self-regard – of a group of commandos who are convinced that they are about to save the world. And, although the political differences between them remain huge, delegates are nonetheless congratulating themselves for having the answers to global warming.

The blustery language and ostentatious self-confidence that fill the Bella Center here remind me of a similar scene: Kyoto, 1997. There, world leaders actually signed a legally binding deal to cut carbon emissions – something that will elude the Copenhagen summit-goers. But what did the Kyoto Protocol accomplish? So far, at least, virtually nothing.

To be sure, Europe has made some progress towards reducing its carbon-dioxide emissions. But, of the 15 European Union countries represented at the Kyoto summit, 10 have still not meet the targets agreed there. Neither will Japan or Canada. And the United States never even ratified the agreement. In all, we are likely to achieve barely 5% of the promised Kyoto reduction.

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