I didn't make the trip to Thailand for the pre-Copenhagen negotiating session last week, and I'm glad I didn't. For one thing, the weather was doing its best to remind delegates what global warming feels like: Bangkok can do hot and muggy like no place on Earth. For another, nothing much was happening—the big countries continued to refrain from making any promises about how much they'd cut emissions or how much they'd fork over to help the developing world leapfrog past fossil fuel. As Kevin Grandia, editor of the invaluable DeSmogBlog put it, "At the pace I have seen here in Bangkok there is little hope that these issues will be resolved by the time the negotiations end here on Friday. If these issues couldn't be resolved in two weeks here, it would take a miracle for them to be in the can for Copenhagen."
Meanwhile, in Washington, senators John Kerry and Barbara Boxer issued the Senate version of climate change legislation, which most environmentalists took as a modest improvement on the modest bill the House has already passed. It works the same cap-and-trade way, at the same all-too-deliberate speed. And it had barely been introduced before the president's climate czarina, Carol Browner, said there was no chance it would make its way through Congress in time for Copenhagen anyway. Which everyone kind of already knew—but still, if there had been any buzz to begin with it would have been a buzzkill. About the only good news: Norway announced it will aim for even deeper cuts, reducing its carbon emissions 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 if other developed countries will go along. Given Norway's position in the world carbon league, this is akin to the guy who stopped drinking in 1967 announcing he's getting on the wagon—it somehow served only to underscore the depressing reality of climate gridlock.