Good COP, Bad COP

From US domestic policy to Copenhagen agreement
by -- December 17th, 2009

Today I attended a side event which is about US House and Senate climate change Bill hosted by Environmental Defense Fund. There were 5 US House and Senate Delegations as speakers.

They briefly described the Boxer & Kelly (Senate) bill (20% reduction by 2020 from 2005) and Waxman & Markey (House) bill (17% reduction by 2020 from 2005) and explained how the bills are going to affect the domestic economy and international negotiation.

In this COP15, the US reduction commitment is of vital for the agreement for the post-Kyoto framework since without US commitment, it is almost impossible to include China and other major developing countries in the new protocol. Although the bill has not been passed in the Senate, and then currently US has no domestic climate change policy, the president Obama might use these numbers (17% or 20%) on Friday to reach the agreement.

In the same time I was curious how the House and Senate came up with the reduction targets. They said these #s were based on “science.” But if the “science” means the IPCC 4th report, it should be at least 25% reduction from 1990.

After the session, I personally asked one delegate (I should have memorized his name..) for the inconsistence numbers. His answer was that a number of targets (including 25% reduction) were considered with policy analysis including Cost-Benefit and then optimal 20% reduction was selected after long discussion. As for the base year, 2005 was chosen just because this makes it cheaper to be implemented.


The US domestic climate change policy plays a critical role for the next international framework. Thus, scrutinizing the bill and the figuring out where the number comes from is also important for negotiation.

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