Thursday, September 26, 2019

Climate Change: Meh

The "big news" from New York is that Jacinda Ardern has agreed to start working on a climate change-related trade deal with four other small countries:

New Zealand will lead a five-way trade talks with Norway, Iceland, Costa Rica and Fiji to try to use trade to combat climate change by slashing fossil-fuel subsidies and abolishing tariffs on environmental goods.


Called the Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability (ACCTS), the agreement plans remove tariffs on environmental goods, make new commitments on environmental services, establish concrete commitments to end fossil-fule subsidies and introduce an "eco-labelling programme".

So far there is little detail, with negotiations expected to start in March 2020.

Meh. Yes, this is welcome, every little bit helps, and if larger countries (which actually use them) sign up, ending fossil fuel subsidies could help a lot. But with only five countries signing up, and all of them small, this is very small potatoes indeed. And if this is as ambitious as the leaders of the five supposedly most ambitious countries can get, its really not very ambitious at all - just a restatement of former principles.

If these five "high ambition" countries wanted to actually lead, they'd be drafting a fossil-fuel non-proliferation treaty instead. Instead, they've chosen to take the easy bits of that regime, without the actual meaningful commitment.