The San Jose Mercury News published an op-ed by CPI’s Executive Director Thomas Heller about the shape of future international climate negotiations in a rapidly developing world:

The world has changed significantly since climate talks began two decades ago in Rio. It is no longer shaped by two rival superpowers. New economies — China, India, Brazil, Korea, Indonesia — have grown in size and standing.

These new players define their political and economic status in the global order without relation to the old poles of developed and developing, state and market, the West and the Rest. Pushed by a will to lead instead of follow and enabled by the public spending that comes with fast economic growth, these new players increasingly are implementing their own policies, blazing the path that any international accord will ultimately reflect.

Another surprise is that, instead of the top-down approach of the Kyoto Protocol, the emergent structure must reflect a bottom-up, multipronged process that builds upon on-the-ground successes. Whereas the Kyoto Protocol established a single, international architecture based on a cap and trade program and large transfers of wealth from developed to developing countries, the new framework will be built upon innovative national initiatives in both developed and developing countries, enveloped in a web of multilateral, bilateral and regional agreements.

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[Supporting development while conserving resources] should be welcomed in the United States, where we have successfully innovated in many areas, including Internet technology, food science, medicine and biotech. Unfortunately, we have been so focused on the financial downturn and confused by the growth of emerging economies that we deny climate science and pay scant attention to the opportunities on our doorstep.

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