Brazil and the world

Rousseff says, “Nothing will destroy Petrobras”

Kenneth Rapoza from Forbes reports the Brazilian president stands strong with the oil giant.  Mired in a political scandal involving money laundering and bogus government contracts, Brazilian oil firm Petrobras is being used by the political opposition to derail President Dilma Rousseff.  Not one to mince words, Dilma had some Monday morning advice for presidential hopefuls: “No one and nothing will destroy Petrobras,” she told a gathering of Petrobras employees in Pernambuco state today.

Later this week, Congress will begin one of its favorite tasks since the Workers’ Party took over the government nearly 12 years ago: inquiries into wrong doings by the party. The last and most famous inquiry was into the so-called ” mensalão” scandal, which involved heavyweights from the Workers’ Party closely affiliated with then-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. The pay-for-play scandal led to the downfall of many of the party’s lead singers, and now the opposition — led by the Social Democrats, know as the Tucanos — hopes the same can be said about Dilma.

Dilma is slipping in the polls. That doesn’t mean she won’t be re-elected in a second round of voting. Still, the opposition thinks her decline is a sign they can further chip away at her…and the possibility of 16 years of Workers’ Party rule.  The party, long seen as the ugly and poor labor left in a country whose main opposition is a more elite and educated left, captured Brazil’s heart in 2002 with the Lula election.  Surprisingly, the economy — including Petrobras — has been growing quite well ever since.

Today, barring the return of ex-Workers Party senator Marina Silva to the fore, Dilma is seen heading into a run-off election with Tucano senator Aécio Neves from Minas Gerais state.  If history — and poll data — is to be trusted, the Workers’ Party will yet again triumph over their “ refined” rivals.

Enter Petrobras.

This oil giant is the mud they’ve chosen to sling at her.

Petrobras is being investigated for overspending by several hundred millions of dollars on a Texas oil refinery.  In addition, a government agency is investigating allegations that Petrobras management — namely Nestor Cervero, who was fired last month — took bribes in exchange for steering contracts to SBM Offshore, a Dutch oil-production ship leasing company.

Petrobras CEO Maria Graça Foster will face questioning by the Senate on Tuesday over the oil refinery, which sits at the center of the scandal.  She will be asked how the company failed to notice that it was being more than triple the market rate for the Pasadena refinery.

Petrobras is Brazil’s largest company by market cap, and one of the most important contributors to the economy.  In 2007, it became the darling of the global oil and gas industry when it struck black gold deep under the ocean bedrock off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. Market analysts quickly gave Petrobras a price target of $60 per share.  It hit over $72 in May 2008 when the country was granted investment grade status for the first time.  The share price is now in the low teens.

Even though investors have always viewed Petrobras as the state-owned-enterprise that it is, Dilma has made it clear that under her, Petrobras is more a function of the state than the market.  Petrobras has been used to control inflation as it usually sells gasoline and diesel below market rate.  Prices are only high at the pump because of Brazil’s exorbitant taxes.  Petrobras is also involved in Brazilian cultural activities and has become a vital part of arts and entertainment funding.

“Petrobras is bigger than all of us,” Dilma told a gathering of oil workers, cheering her name. “Petrobras is as big as Brazil.”

Local Data Storage in Brazil

While Brazilian politicians try to agree on the country’s first set of regulations around data and internet governance, local storage requirements are most likely to be solved first.

ZDnet reports that Brazil’s “internet constitution,” the Marco Cival da Internet, was due to be voted last October by the House of Representatives. However, disagreement between politicians and ISPs – particularly around the point of providers being required to treat all data that goes through their network in the same way – meant that the bill is yet to become law.

Despite all the to-ing and fro-ing between public representatives and companies around net neutrality, requirements that data collected about Brazilian internet users is to be stored locally are pretty much agreed on within the government. This was initially presented as a mechanism to protect citizen data – but the government is now becoming much more aware of the value of information.

During the Mobile World Congress last month, Brazilian communications minister Paulo Bernardo reinforced the point that local storage plans will go ahead and criticized the likes of Google and Facebook.

“Google told us that it could not hand data over to the Federal Police in Brazil because the information was stored in the United States, so the company has to comply with the laws of that country. Then they told us that they store the data in a random-access system – it is not possible to believe in everything they say,” Bernardo told trade publication Convergência Digital.

“What is certain is that data is turning into money and we can’t afford to be out of this business. Data will be the motor of the economy in the next few years. Datacenters of companies like Google and Facebook also have to be in Brazil,” he added.

The requirement to force companies to store data locally has been criticized by businesspeople and activists alike, such as World Wide Web creator Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who said this is an “emotional reaction” to the NSA spying episode and will not have any practical impact in reducing espionage risk.

Brasscom, the Brazilian IT trade body, warned that the local data storage provisions will mean an increase in costs incurred by local IT companies and prompt these firms to move their operations elsewhere.

And small business owners who rely heavily on cloud services to operate their businesses are also not happy about the government’s intentions. That is the case of Bidu, a insurance price comparison start-up, who stores all its data on systems operated by Amazon Web Services and Google.

“[If the government requires local storage], Brazil will take a massive backward step. It would be such a big setback for Brazil that small companies would be a lot less competitive,” says Bidu’s founder, Eldes Mattiuzzo.

U.S. Urges Brazil to assist with Peace in Venezuela

The United States’ long-standing travel and trade embargo against Cuba has left it with an image as a bully across Latin America, in the view of Cuban native Arturo Lopez-Levy, a former policy advisor for the Castro regime who now lives in Denver. Antonio Martinez II, a New York attorney who deals with international sanctions compliance, said the U.S. image was tarnished further by the Pentagon’s role in a 2002 coup attempt against late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

“The fact is that the U.S. influence is not that great in Venezuela,” said Peter Hakim, president emeritus of Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington think tank on Western Hemisphere affairs. “The two countries most suited to shape Venezuela’s actions are Brazil and Cuba.”

Luiz Alberto Figueiredo, Brazilian minister of foreign affairs, has asked that the Venezuelan government and its opposition party begin a dialogue with one another. But Brazil has taken no direct action. Hakim said that’s just what the U.S. should urge.

Venezuela trusts Brazil, Hakim said, and it is in Brazil’s national interest to encourage stability in its neighbor.  Escalating protests and violence could lead to a mass migration of Venezuelans into Brazil, causing instability there and potentially damaging the economy.

Because Brazil has a strong relationship with Cuba, Hakim added, it might persuade Cuban leader Raul Castro to take on the role of peace maker.

Read the story here.

Visas to Brazil

Yes, all Americans traveling to Brazil, whether for tourism or business, are required to obtain a visa.

To get it, go to the website of the Consulate of Brazil in San Francisco, California, fill out the forms electronically and go to our agency in the region , Kitanda / Sendexnet
425.8204381
12700 NE 124th ST # 2 –
Kirkland
WA 98034
joao@sendexnet.com

If you go to the website of the Consulate of Brazil in San Francisco, you can get all the information you need.

You can also call the Consulate, preferably in the afternoon, Pacific time.

300 Montgomery Street, Suite 300
San Francisco, CA 94104

Tel.: (415) 981-8170
Fax: (415) 986-4625

If you want to send a letter to the Honorary Consulate of Brazil in Seattle, please send it to:

HONORARY CONSULATE DO BRAZIL IN SEATTLE
PO. BOX 51105
Seattle, 98115
The United States

The economic crisis, that hit especially hard the United States and some European countries, has changed the way countries like Brazil, China e India are perceived by the West. Before the recession they were seen as promising markets. Now, at the World´s Economic Forum, in Davos, the three, along with some other emerging countries, are being accepted as iquals.  Brazilian President Lula da Silva fell ill and decided to cancel his trip to Davos. Lula’s decision to skip the Forum this year can be considered a slap at the bankers whose “casino” mentality he cites almost weekly as bringing about a crisis in capitalism.

By Fiona Harvey, Ed Crooks and Andrew Ward in Copenhagen
The Financial Times

The United Nations climate change summit in Copenhagen ended in apparent disarray last night with some world leaders hailing a “meaningful agreement”, while others said no deal had been struck.

The US, China, Brazil, India and South Africa claimed, after a four-hour meeting, to have secured a partial pact. But their optimism was quickly undermined by a string of more pessimistic assessments.

Barack Obama, US president, acknowledged that the deal was “not sufficient to combat the threat of climate change but [was] an important first step” on cutting greenhouse gases.

“We have made a meaningful and unprecedented breakthrough. For the first time in history, all of the major economies have come together to take action [on global warming],” he said after a meeting with Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, Manmohan Singh, India’s prime minister, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil and Jacob Zuma, South African president.

No senior UN officials were available to comment on Mr Obama’s announcement.

Mr Obama said further talks were needed to secure a formal treaty to replace the 1997 Kyoto accord. “What we have achieved in Copenhagen will not be the end but the beginning of a new era of international action,” he said. “This is going to be hard.”

The agreement contained a commitment to try to hold global warming to no more than 2°C, a level scientists have suggested is probably the limit of safety, beyond which climate change could become catastrophic and irreversible.

Rich countries have also included commitments to cut their emissions and developing countries to curb the growth of theirs. There were also promises to transfer money from rich to poor countries, to help them tackle climate change.

But there was confusion as some countries appeared to be less optimistic than Mr Obama. While he was leaving for the airport, European officials were denying a deal. “If there had been a deal, the prime minister [of Sweden] and the president [of the Commission] would have been here. They still have not formalised the deal,” said Roberta Alenius, spokeswoman for the EU presidency.

Some poorer countries made clear support was far from unanimous. Lumumba Di-Aping, Sudanese head of the G77 group of developing countries, said the US-backed plan represented the “lowest level of ambition” and would be devastating for the world’s poor. “This is an idea not a deal,” he said.

His remarks raised doubts over whether a deal brokered by a small group of big industrialised and emerging economies would win the support needed to turn it into a binding treaty.

One key sticking point was China’s refusal to allow monitoring of its emissions. But in a last-minute compromise, Beijing and Washington agreed to a process of “international consultation and analysis”.

Brazilian representatives said negotiators would continue their work into next year in the hope of having a legally binding document that can be signed by the end of 2010.

By SAM ROBERTS – The New York Times

Published: December 15, 2009
India will become the world’s most populous country in 2025, surpassing China, where the population will peak one year later because of declining fertility, according to United States Census Bureau projections released Tuesday.

The bureau suggests that the projected peak in China, 1.4 billion people, will be lower than previously estimated and that it will occur sooner. With the fertility rate declining to fewer than 1.6 births per woman in this decade from 2.2 in 1990, China’s overall population growth rate has slowed to 0.5 percent annually.

In contrast, India’s 1.4 percent growth rate is being driven by a fertility rate of 2.7 births per woman.

The bureau’s International Data Base projects that China’s labor force will peak at 831 million — 24 million more workers than today — in 2016. That is because the number of newcomers to the labor force in their early 20s is expected to start declining in 2011 after reaching 124 million.

In India, the number of new entrants to the labor force is expected to reach 116 million in 2024 before decreasing.

China and India alone account for 37 percent of the world’s population of about 6.8 billion. Every minute, the bureau’s estimates, 250 people are born worldwide and 107 die, for an increase of more than 75 million annually.

By the time the 21st century is a quarter over, the bureau estimates, the population of the United States will be more than 350 million. The United States fertility rate, about 2.1 births per woman, is higher than in most developed countries, in part as a result of higher birthrates among immigrants.

After China and India, the most populous countries are, in order, the United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Russia and Japan.

The worldwide population estimates include more than 11 million people over the age of 90 and more than 326,000 centenarians.

More boys are being born than girls, but women begin to outnumber men among people in their late 40s.

Chinese President Hu Jintao (R) shakes hands with his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, in May 2009. By 2050, Brazil will be the fourth economy in the world. (Xin hua/Rao Aimin)

The New York Times
Chapter 1: The Changing of the Guard

Since 1945 the United States has been the world’s dominant power. Even during the Cold War its economy was far more advanced than, and more than twice as large as, that of the Soviet Union, while its military capability and technological sophistication were much superior. Following the Second World War, the US was the prime mover in the creation of a range of multinational and global institutions, such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and NATO, which were testament to its new-found global power and authority. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 greatly enhanced America’s pre-eminent position, eliminating its main adversary and resulting in the territories and countries of the former Soviet bloc opening their markets and turning in many cases to the US for aid and support.

Never before, not even in the heyday of the British Empire, had a nation’s power enjoyed such a wide reach. The dollar became the world’s preferred currency, with most trade being conducted in it and most reserves held in it. The US dominated all the key global institutions bar the UN, and enjoyed a military presence in every part of the world. Its global position seemed unassailable, and at the turn of the millennium terms like ‘hyperpower’ and ‘unipolarity’ were coined to describe what appeared to be a new and unique form of power.

The baton of pre-eminence, before being passed to the United States, had been held by Europe, especially the major European nations like Britain, France and Germany, and previously, to a much lesser extent, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands. From the beginning of Britain’s Industrial Revolution in the late eighteenth century until the mid twentieth century, Europe was to shape global history in a most profound manner. The engine of Europe’s dynamism was industrialization and its mode of expansion colonial conquest. Even as Europe’s position began to decline after the First the changing of the guard

World War, and precipitously after 1945, the fact that America, the new rising power, was a product of European civilization served as a source of empathy and affinity between the Old World and the New World, giving rise to ties which found expression in the idea of the West while serving to mitigate the effects of latent imperial rivalry between Britain and the United States. For over two centuries the West, first in the form of Europe and subsequently the United States, has dominated the world.

We are now witnessing an historic change which, though still relatively in its infancy, is destined to transform the world. The developed world – which for over a century has meant the West (namely, the United States, Canada, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand) plus Japan – is rapidly being overhauled in terms of economic size by the developing world.

In 2001 the developed countries accounted for just over half the world’s GDP, compared with around 60 per cent in 1973. It will be a long time, of course, before even the most advanced of the developing countries acquires the economic and technological sophistication of the developed, but because they collectively account for the overwhelming majority of the world’s population and their economic growth rate has been rather greater than that of the developed world, their rise has already resulted in a significant shift in the balance of global economic power.

There have been several contemporary illustrations of this realignment. After declining for over two decades, commodity prices began to increase around the turn of the century, driven by buoyant economic growth in the developing world, above all from China, until the onset of a global recession reversed this trend, at least in the short run.

Meanwhile, the stellar economic performance of the East Asian economies, with their resulting huge trade surpluses, has enormously swollen their foreign exchange reserves. A proportion of these have been invested, notably in the case of China and Singapore, in state-controlled sovereign wealth funds whose purpose is to seek profitable investments in other countries, including the West. Commodity-producing countries, notably the oil-rich states in the Middle East, have similarly invested part of their newly expanded income in such funds.

Sovereign wealth funds acquired powerful new leverage as a result of the credit crunch, commanding resources which the major Western financial institutions palpably lacked. The meltdown of some of Wall Street’s largest financial institutions in September 2008 underlined the shift in economic power from the West, with some of the fallen giants seeking support from sovereign wealth funds and the US government stepping in to save the mortgage titans Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae partly in order to reassure countries like China, which had invested huge sums of money in them: if they had withdrawn these, it would almost certainly have precipitated a collapse in the value of the dollar. The financial crisis has graphically illustrated the disparity between an East Asia cash-rich from decades of surpluses and a United States cash-poor following many years of deficits.

According to projections by Goldman Sachs, the three largest economies in the world by 2050 will be China, followed by a closely matched America and India some way behind, and then Brazil, Mexico, Russia and Indonesia. Only two European countries feature in the top ten, namely the UK and Germany in ninth and tenth place respectively. Of the present G7, only four appear in the top ten. In similar forecasts, PricewaterhouseCoopers suggest that the Brazilian economy could be larger than Japan’s, and that the Russian, Mexican and Indonesian economies could each be bigger than the German, French and UK economies by 2050. If these projections, or something similar, are borne out in practice, then during the next four decades the world will come to look like a very different place indeed.

Excerpted from “When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order” by Martin Jacques. Reprinted by arrangement with The Penguin Press, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc. Copyright (c) November, 2009.


Honduras former president Manuel Zelaya with members of Carter Center in the Brazil´s embassy, in Tegucigalpa

BY ANDRES OPPENHEIMER
aoppenheimer@MiamiHerald.com

Brazil, the United States and the Organization of American States deserve a gold medal each for their awful handling of Sunday’s presidential elections in Honduras.

Let’s examine how the main international players behaved in the crisis triggered by the June 28 civilian coup against deposed President Manuel Zelaya, which was the first break of the rule of law in Latin America in nearly two decades.

• The gold medal for political hypocrisy should go to Brazil. Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is leading the group of nations that is not recognizing the results of the Honduran elections won by leftist-turned-conservative businessman Porfirio Lobo. Lula da Silva says, rightly, that recognizing Lobo’s election would set a bad precedent for Latin America because it would legitimize an election convened by a non-democratic government.

The trouble with that argument is that most of today’s democracies in Latin America were born out of elections called by coup-originated governments, starting with the 1989 victory of late Chilean President Patricio Aylwin in national elections organized by Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship. Also, the recent Honduran elections were not a concoction of outgoing President Roberto Micheletti’s de facto regime, but had been scheduled before the coup.

But what makes the Brazilian position a showcase of political hypocrisy is that, only days before asking the world not to recognize Lobo’s election in Honduras, Lula da Silva had given a red carpet welcome in the Brazilian capital to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, giving him much-needed international recognition.

In addition to defying United Nations warnings about its nuclear program and repeatedly stating that he wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, Ahmadinejad has just proclaimed himself the winner of highly dubious elections. Worse, Ahmadinejad’s regime has condemned eight opposition protesters to death — something the outgoing de facto Honduran government has not even come close to doing.

Besides, how can Lula da Silva call for maintaining international sanctions against Honduras while at the same time urging the world to lift remaining sanctions against Cuba?

Brazil apparently wants to maintain Honduras’ suspension from the OAS while it recently championed the vote that lifted Cuba’s nearly five-decade suspension from the OAS. It’s a curious stand, considering that the Cuban regime has not allowed a free election nor opposition parties in five decades, something that cannot be said about Honduras’ de facto government.

Granted, Brazil may be forced to be louder than others in defense of Zelaya’s position because the ousted Honduran president is holed up at the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa. But Brazil’s handling of the Honduran crisis has been a joke.

• The gold medal for flip-flopping — and keeping all of us scratching our heads — should go to the United States.

At first, the Obama administration joined Brazil and other Latin American countries in denouncing the coup and cuting off development and anti-drug aid to the Micheletti regime. Then, the U.S. State Department said it would recognize the results of Sunday’s elections, arguing that it would help re-establish full democratic rule in the country.

More recently, it backtracked a little bit, suggesting that Honduras needs to create a government of national unity before the transfer of power to get Washington to lift its sanctions. If you are confused, don’t worry — so am I.

To be sure, the Honduran crisis took place while the job of head of Latin American affairs at the State Department was vacant because Republicans had delayed the nomination of Arturo Valenzuela until his confirmation last month. Still, the U.S. position has at best been confusing.

• The Organization of American States deserves a gold medal for one-sidedness. Instead of condemning the coup and simultaneously casting some criticism at Zelaya for disobeying his country’s Supreme Court rulings, the OAS in the early days of the crisis campaigned almost exclusively to support Zelaya. That made it more difficult for the 34-country group to intervene as an honest broker in the ensuing crisis.

What should all international players have done? Contrary to what right-wingers in Congress say, there should be some sanctions against Honduras for what undoubtedly was a break of the rule of law. No coup should go unpunished.

But there should be a distinction between political sanctions and economic sanctions. Holding Honduras’ president-elect accountable for a coup he did not take part in is unfair.

Furthermore, it makes no sense to call for imposing economic sanctions on Honduras, while demanding lifting them from Cuba.

Countdown to Copenhagen, Parque do Ibirapuera, São Paulo, Brazil

By TOM ZELLER Jr. – The New York Times

With the scientific consensus more or less settled that human activity — the burning of fossil fuels, torching of forests, and so forth — is contributing to a warmer and less hospitable planet, one might reasonably ask, why is it so hard to agree on a plan to curb those activities?

The answer lies with the many fault lines that cut through the debate over climate change. Those deep divisions will be on display beginning this week as representatives of 192 nations gather in Copenhagen for a United Nations conference on the issue.

Organizers had hoped to emerge with an international compact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help countries most threatened by rising sea waters and temperatures. But the divisions between nations are such that world leaders agreed last month to put off resolving the most contentious issues until next year. They will try instead to reach a nonbinding interim agreement in Copenhagen, then work toward a binding treaty in 2010.

Just what will happen, of course, remains to be seen. Here’s a primer on some of the major themes and fissures:

RICH NATIONS VS. POOR NATIONS

Who should pay whom for what — and how much?

The Bolivias and Chads and Mauritanias of the world argue that they are more vulnerable to changes in temperature, and have little or no resources to adapt to changes in the growing seasons or increased rainfall or — worst case — to relocate large numbers of people.

They want the rich world to commit to far deeper emissions cuts than they already have, and to provide them with cash and technology so they can prepare for the worst and develop a clean energy infrastructure for themselves.

The rich world, meanwhile, is busy trying to figure out just how to calculate the cost of all this (estimates run into the trillions of dollars), and how to divvy up the bill.

DEVELOPED VS. DEVELOPING ECONOMIES

This is where postindustrial economies like the United States and Europe, which became prosperous by burning carbon-dioxide-spewing fossil fuels, face off against industrializing economies like China, Brazil and India, which resent pressure to decarbonize their energy systems now that they are growing.

The standoff between China and the United States underscores the issues. The global trade rivals were reluctant to commit to emissions targets until each had an idea of what the other planned. The two countries together are responsible for 40 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. But all players have been eyeing each other warily.

In recent weeks, bidding has begun, with Brazil, then the United States, followed by China and, last week, India, offering up individual emissions goals. But they have used different baselines against which to measure their reductions, making it difficult to determine whether there is parity.

ISLAND AND COASTAL NATIONS VS. THE CLOCK

In mid-October, ministers of the government of the Maldives, a low-lying island nation in the Indian Ocean, donned scuba gear and held a 30-minute cabinet meeting underwater off the coast of the capital, Malé.

The stunt was designed to highlight the nation’s plight — and that of three-dozen or so other small island and coastal countries — should global warming raise sea levels in the coming decades. Even a modest increase could leave a number of low-lying nations uninhabitable.

As a bloc, these countries have been lobbying for an international agreement to keep average temperatures from rising beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius — or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit. They also want global emissions scaled back by as much as 85 percent by midcentury.

The bloc, which includes a wide range of economies, from relatively well-to-do Singapore to strugglers like Haiti, wins points for being at the front lines of a planetary problem, but its political clout at the negotiating table is uncertain.

EUROPE VS. EUROPE

Even though the European Union has been at the vanguard of renewable energy development and emissions reduction through its carbon trading scheme, it is struggling internally over each nation’s carbon quotas, assistance to developing countries and fidelity to the emissions reductions agreed to in 1997 under the Kyoto Protocol.

While Europe as a whole is on track to meet its goal of an 8 percent reduction over 1990 emissions levels by 2012, not every country has pulled its weight. Nations unlikely to meet their individual Kyoto targets include Italy, Spain and, yes, Denmark, host of the Copenhagen talks.

Poland and Estonia, meanwhile, have been bickering with the European Commission over the amount of carbon dioxide the two countries should be allowed to emit. Both rely heavily on coal for electricity.

Oil-producing nations are worried about the impact of a global climate deal, and they have increasingly argued that any agreement that would reduce reliance on fossil fuels should include compensation for their lost revenues.

Saudi Arabia has spearheaded this argument, and while environmental groups and other stakeholders have dismissed the notion as a stunt, oil producers are not without the ability to muddle negotiations if push comes to shove.

Meanwhile, developers of wind, solar and other renewable technologies anticipate a windfall if the community of nations — including mega-polluters like the United States — agree to a binding climate treaty. So, too, do global banks, which would presumably do handsomely through an expanded carbon trading market.

Lobbyists from all sides will be wining and dining delegates over the next two weeks.

CARBON TAXERS VS. CARBON TRADERS

Many experts argue that the only way to tackle climate change is to put a price on carbon. Some say the best way to do that is to create a cap-and-trade system, in which industries are issued permits to emit carbon dioxide up to a certain level, or cap. Companies that emit below the cap can then sell their permits on a carbon market, where companies exceeding the cap will, presumably, buy them so they can continue to pollute. The total number of permits would not exceed an overall emissions target.

Europe has had an emissions trading scheme since 2005. Some critics argue, however, that such systems are unnecessarily complicated and prone to manipulation. A simpler solution would be a tax on carbon, they say.

But with a cap-and-trade scheme forming the bedrock of negotiations in Copenhagen, and among legislators in Congress seeking to pass national climate legislation, the carbon-tax camp has been increasingly marginalized.

EMERGENCY VS. WE’LL FIGURE IT OUT

The idea that human beings are nudging the planet’s thermostat upward is widely accepted among climatologists. But just how rapidly things are changing, to what extent and where — and at what threshold, if any, should we abandon all hope — are far less settled questions.

In 2008, the NASA scientist and global warming guru James Hansen identified 350 parts per million as the upper limit for safe atmospheric carbon concentration. Current levels are approaching 390 parts per million.

Others argue that there is no reason for panic — nor for what they say is an economy-crushing global climate treaty. They are putting their faith in human ingenuity, arguing that planetary-scale engineering projects like blasting seawater into the atmosphere to increase the heat reflectivity of certain clouds (yes, that’s a real idea), will eventually solve the problem.