Jennifer Kohnke

A Tale of Two Treaties

The world has once again failed to reach any meaningful climate agreement, this time in the negotiations that recently concluded in Doha. If we really want to help the world’s poor, we should get serious about the other Doha talks and hammer out even a modest global agreement on freer trade.

PRAGUE – The Doha meeting continued 20 years of failed climate negotiations, since the original Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. There, countries pledged to cut greenhouse-gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000; the OECD countries fell short by almost 9%. The Kyoto Protocol from 1998 has almost entirely failed. And the effort intended to save the world in Copenhagen in 2009 collapsed spectacularly.

So far, the world’s emissions have continued to rise – and at an accelerating pace – with emissions in 2011 about 50% higher than in 1990. The last 20 years of global climate negotiations has reduced that increase by only about half a percentage point.

Assuming, somewhat optimistically, that this reduction will be maintained throughout the century, it will reduce the temperature increase by about half of one-hundredth of a degree Celsius (about one-hundredth of a degree Fahrenheit) in 2100. Sea levels will rise about one millimeter (one-twentieth of an inch) less. Even in a hundred years, these changes will not be measurable.

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