Friday, July 29, 2005

Climate change bombshell

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...


Yes, clean development is important - very important (which is why I think this is a Good Thing). But it must also be coupled with emissions reduction from industrialised nations - something that is not addressed in this agreement, and which the US is simply unwilling to contemplate.

And its not as if this was left out of Kyoto: the Protocol includes a "clean development mechanism", whereby developed nations can gain credits for undertaking emissions reduction programmes in non-Annex I countries. The US could, if it chose, ratify Kyoto, and undertake serious clean development projects in China and India to meet its quota - but that would be too concrete a commitment for them, I guess.

As for the servants vs friends comment, its apparant from how the US treats its "friends". They don't believe in quid pro quo any more, and they no longer even seem to believe in basic courtesy towards even their closest allies. Bush treats Blair like the help; smaller countries are treated even worse. I wouldn't choose to associate with an arsehole who behaved like this, and I wouldn't suggest it on a national level either.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 7/29/2005 11:40:00 AM

While I agree with I/S and the majority of US citizens that the USA should do more to reduce emmisions, I must second Sock Thief's points. I/S, while it is your blog and hence your freedom, roundly denouncing anti-Islamic 'bigotry' whilst engaging in perpetual hyperbolic and vitriolic condemnation of the US does seem a trifle odd. Surely life on the left should involve more than simply countering right-wing 'bigotry' with indigenous left-wing bigotry. I seldom see any post from the left that treats the USA as anything more than a monolithic entity, forever intent on domination and subjugation: yet this remains the most culturally and politically heterogeneous of all nations.

As for Kyoto, I'm sure you're aware of the following:

As of November 15, 2004, nine Northeastern US states are involved in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which is a state level emissions capping and trading program. It is believed that the state-level program will apply pressure on the federal government to support Kyoto Protocol.
As of February 16, 2005, 132 U.S. cities support Kyoto after Mayor Greg Nickels of Seattle started a nationwide effort to get cities to agree to the protocol.

Cities include NY and Chicago, the list is growing all the time. Good, isn't it?

Posted by Anonymous : 7/29/2005 03:58:00 PM

Speaking of the wonderful and rich political, dissident and counter-culture of the US, what better way to illustrate it than with this protest march in Berkeley?

And look, no a conservative preacher in sight...

Apparently there's one coming to NY, but I think I'll pass...

Posted by Anonymous : 7/29/2005 04:34:00 PM

Man they are absolute mingers .. wheres the hot chicks ... thats right they were all at that convention with David Farrar in Washington

Posted by Anonymous : 7/29/2005 05:08:00 PM

yada yada yada. Stop messing around with what "ought" to happen. It hasnt, it won't and while it makes you and your fellow travellers feel better, if there really is a climate change issue, your feelgood mantras, and the stupidity of Kyoto achieve nothing - thats right. NIX. Its also deeply amusing to watch all the Euros who signed up now cheating. Not so funny of courst that innocent little NZ got stuffed with a bill and are too stupid to cheat too.

But back to the real issue. This policy is genuinely revolutionary. The reason - poor countries are not going to give up growth regardless of the calls from the rich and declining west.

But clean technology might just reduce the environmental cost of that growth.

ITs simple, practical and makes economic sense.

Now if all the greenies want to go back to their little feel good conferences (COP 11 now is it?) and pass resolutions that they know their governments will cheat on, well just fine.

As they do this, they could observe that the US has quietly made a massive move. Which is actually typical of the US. Despite all the ranting, they are normally on the side of the angels.

Posted by gazzadelsud : 7/30/2005 12:22:00 PM

Funny that a thing like this that poepel think is a good thing gets reported wiht such derision.

Anyway I suggest the USA could
1) pass a law to freeze emission growth and pay any taxes relesed from that to themselves. (acheives the aims of kyoto without the costs)
2) a law to fix emission growth to no more than that of the rest of the world's emission growth (probably no effect at all but if you will make the moral argument you might as well guarantee you remain on the right side of it)

Having said that thsoe are jsut moral arguments. Suply side is the solution. I/S looks like he may have taken the first baby step in the direction of seeing this as the problem by recognising "the great nemesis" has some of it.

Posted by Anonymous : 7/30/2005 02:08:00 PM