When I write this, I'm trying to be frank. Mainly this is because so little of what you may have read over the last days would have been: the journalists need to play it out as if there could possibly be another outcome, the diplomats need to present it as if progress has been made, and those of us in the NGO circles need to keep hope alive. However, the result was cemented before COP13 began.
The "roadmap" is garbage. To understand this you need to understand only one point: the US at this present time will never be a part of any agreement that sets binding targets. In other words, an agreement that actually means anyone has to do anything.
The EU and other nations present the situation as "dragging them to the negotiating table", as if this is somehow an achievement. The only thing worse than being at the negotiating table for the US is not being at it. If it wasn't part of the process then the process might actually form an agreement; the US will do anything to stop that happening.
This was demonstrated clearly at the previous talks. The US actually did walk out. The EU nations freaked and were happy when the US accepted a minor change of wording and rejoined. The problem is that the EU conceded everything but. This was presented to the world's media as a “humiliation”, but it was a victory for the US. They were still at the table, and no real progress had been made.
So here we stand today, the US are at the table and no real progress has been made. All talk of legally binding targets has been dropped. Again.
The US is indeed the world's greatest bully, but in some ways the rest of the nations could learn from their actions. Their delegation walks in with an agenda, and will not budge, will not concede, will do anything it can to destroy the agreement. Because the EU is also ultimately governed by corporate interests too, it is far easier to concede than fight, and some nations may well be happy to use the US as a bogeyman for targets they themselves don't wish to implement.
If we, meaning the rest of the world's nations, wish to make any progress we must do exactly the same. We must propose binding targets based on current science and stick to this demand.
The result will be that the US will, after realising it cannot pull the agreement off the table any longer, walk. This is inevitable. However, the rest of the world will be able to come to a strong agreement addressing climate change. Tariffs would need to be used to offset any economic advantage nations outside the agreement may have, eventually making more sense to be inside than outside even ignoring the realities of climate change.
Then the EU and Asia will have the technologies needed to address the technological aspect of climate change, and social models of the social aspect will be in place which can be used as models for those outside the agreement.
It would be easy just to say "well, with an administration change this won't be a problem". It may be that there isn't much of one after the next election, and you cannot play on a gamble with this issue. Even presuming that a Democrat or “pro-climate” Republican like McCain were elected, it is unlikely there will be a sea change in policy. Gore may be shining his new Nobel Prize, but when he and Clinton were in office they were tearing Kyoto to shreds, which is why it's only 5-6% reductions on 1990 levels and with the great big loophole where savings can be generated from thin air known as emissions trading and the Clean Development Mechanism. At COP6 at the Hague in 2000, after nearly eight years of a Clinton-Gore administration, I remember the same situation and arguments, and the same statement quoted and being painfully true: "a strong agreement without the US is much better than a weak agreement without"
Therefore the world must develop mechanisms that make hostile parties adhere to the agreement and get them to comply grudgingly. If it isn't the US then it may well be another nation in the future; there are enough with potential future growth to become a problem. We do this already to enforce the unregulated free market on nations, when what we need to be doing is enforcing CO2e reductions.
It has been noted that with the infrequency that I use this blog an idea would be to open it up. I'm certainly open to the idea, I do think it would benefit from more authors who perhaps have more time to dedicate. If you can write from a specific perspective with original or at least well collected ideas, please let me know. An idea could be, for example, covering climate change movements in California. I'm trying to avoid just re-pasted articles from other sources; there are enough blogs doing that already. Please send me an email to discuss.