In an article for Salon, Joe Romm argues (link) that the US needs to negotiate a climate agreement directly with China outside on the UNFCCC process. The idea is an anathema to those committed with good reason to a global post-Kyoto agreement. But it does take an unfortunate political reality into account:
Yet for all his talents, Obama can't move the immovable conservatives in Congress. He can't deliver the 67 Senate votes needed to approve any international treaty that is likely to come out of the UNFCCC negotiating process in Copenhagen. Yes, Democrats have expanded their majority in the Senate, edging close to the magical 60 votes needed to stop filibusters, and they just may get there on key issues with the help of the few remaining moderate Republicans.
But as I discussed in June, the conservatives in Congress seem stuck in 1985, unwilling or unable to acknowledge the now painfully obvious reality of global warming or the remarkable advances that have been made in clean technologies. They lined up as a solid bloc against a U.S. climate bill and will surely do so until the last lump of coal can be pried from their submerged hot hands.
Yet if Copenhagen ends in failure, the Kyoto Protocol itself may well fall apart. Why would European companies (and those elsewhere) pay for the right to emit greenhouse gases in, say, 2011, when they will have no binding restrictions on their emissions in 2013? And if there is no subsequent agreement, there can be no enforceable penalty for countries that miss their targets.