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Despite the modest successes (and obvious failures) of the latest climate summit in Cancun, the AP reports that there was one major force obstructing international progress that went unnamed throughout the talks. There was a massive "elephant in the room", according to the AP, that "nobody wanted to talk about." Any guesses as to which elephant the AP was referring to? I'll give you a hint -- it's big, powerful, ideologically unified, and it generally doesn't believe in climate science ...Here's the AP:
The latest international deal on climate, reached early Saturday after hard days of bargaining, was described by exhausted delegates as a "step forward" in grappling with global warming. If they step too far, however, they're going to bump into an elephant in the room.And that is indeed quite an elephant. It poses a major hurdle for negotiators, as it all but voids the possibility of the US contributing to any talks geared toward agreeing upon a binding treaty. Essentially, the Congressional Republican line on climate makes it impossible to negotiate with the US in good faith. Half of our nation's lawmaking body, after all, officially refuses to do anything to address climate change. Why would any nation count on that body to ratify a treaty that binds the rest of the world to action?
That would be the U.S. Republican Party, and nobody at the Cancun meetings wanted to talk about the impending Republican takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives. It essentially rules out any new, legally binding pact requiring the U.S. and other major emitters of global warming gases to reduce their emissions.
Remember, the US helped negotiate the Kyoto treaty -- and then the Senate refused to ratify it. The rest of the developed world agreed to take action -- and the US did nothing. A pattern that many have hoped would be broken has persisted, and there's no political solution to climate in sight for the United States.
Hence, the elephant: "In endless hours of speeches at the annual U.N. climate conference, the U.S. political situation was hardly mentioned, despite its crucial role in how the world will confront what the Cancun final documents called 'one of the greatest challenges of our time.'"