There is spreading pessimism about the prospects for a global climate deal in Copenhagen this December.

Todd Stern, the US Special Envoy on Climate Change, just returned from a trip to China, where he had high level discussions about forging the basis for an agreement with the Chinese. There was no substantive progress to report.  I don’t know what he expected, but it remains crystal clear what it will take to arrive at an agreement. The US just doesn’t seem interested in doing what it takes.

Here’s the 411…

The industrialized world created this mess. We’ve been dumping CO2 into the atmosphere for 150 years, like it’s our own personal garbage can. The developing world has started to do the same, but just recently. That makes about 3/4’s of the problem the responsibility of the industrialized countries. China figures that makes the financial responsibility primarily the industrialized world’s instead of the developing world’s.

Sounds reasonable to me. Unfortunately, that’s not the way our government, or the EU, or Japan, or Australia sees it. And that means impasse.

If we want a deal, we’re going to have to get over it and meet our responsibility head on. Until that happens, all the happy talk in the world isn’t going to change things.

Here’s an interesting quote from Bruce Braine of the International Emissions Trading Association.

It is going to be really tough to get the Chinese to make significant concessions by Copenhagen. There seems to be a lack of realism in the developing world about what the US can achieve at home.

Here’s a couple of clues, Bruce. Science doesn’t care what you or anyone else thinks can be realistically achieved in the US, and it isn’t the Chinese that need to make the significant concession.