The US delivered a climate change bombshell last night, announcing a new climate change pact between the US, Australia, Japan, China, India and South Korea: the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate. As should be clear from the title, though, the agreement is more about "clean development" than seriously addressing climate change. While it encourages the transfer of clean technologies such as wind farms and "clean coal" (which isn't), it sets no binding emissions reduction targets. This has led to a certain amount of entirely justified cynicism, with commenters dismissing it as a "coal pact" (four of the signatories are among the worlds biggest coal producers and consumers), and the Worldwide Fund for Nature saying
"A deal on climate change that doesn't limit pollution is the same as a peace plan that allows guns to be fired."
While I think this cynicism is entirely justified - the deal commits the parties to nothing they haven't already agreed to under the Framework Convention on Climate Change, and is a transparent attempt to undermine Kyoto by setting up a rival system - if it actually results in better technology and a cleaner development path for the parties, then it is a Good Thing. Kyoto was always just a beginning, and any serious attempt to tackle emissions relies on bringing major developing nations on board. And the only just way of doing this is not by denying them a higher standard of living while Americans continue to overconsume, but by ensuring that they follow a cleaner path to development.
(Actually, the only just way of doing this is by deciding how much we can emit, dividing it per capita, and making the Americans buy from underdeveloped nations - but the rich nations will never sign up for that...)
One other observation: Bush has just completely shafted Tony Blair again. He spent the leadup to the G8 summit pushing hard for a deal on climate change, yet this deal caught Downing Street completely by surprise. You'd think that Bush would have told him that the agreement was in the works, but apparantly not. Yet more evidence that the US no longer wants friends and allies, only servants...