Clever new approach to Climate Change

The reac­tion to the “pro­posed six-nation pact”:http://ca.today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2005–07-28T042819Z_01_N28305145_RTRIDST_0_NEWS-ENVIRONMENT-CLIMATE-AUSTRALIA-COL.XML on cli­mate change is begin­ning to warm up—both for and against. I con­sid­er it’s a clever move to take the lead on glob­al cli­mate change pol­i­cy. What we know so far inspires con­fi­dence that this pro­pos­al might, unlike the Kyoto pro­to­col, achieve real change The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion “approves”:http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticleSearch.aspx?storyID=217999+28-Jul-2005+RTRS&srch=climate+eu ‘very much’ (although their for­eign pol­i­cy spokesman “hasn’t got the message”:http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticleSearch.aspx?storyID=217999+28-Jul-2005+RTRS&srch=climate+eu yet). The Swiss envi­ron­ment min­is­ter says he’s “optimistic”:http://www.swissinfo.org/sen/swissinfo.html?siteSect=511&sid=5973799&cKey=1122572166000. Pre­dictably, Green­peace says it’s a “tragedy”:http://www.swissinfo.org/sen/swissinfo.html?siteSect=511&sid=5973799&cKey=1122572166000. The New Zealand For­eign Min­is­ter is crit­i­cal that it does not deal with rumi­nant flat­u­lence: no kid­ding, look at the quote on the bot­tom of “this”:http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticleSearch.aspx?storyID=248265+28-Jul-2005+RTRS&srch=climate+eu page. John Quig­gin labels it “hypocrisy”:http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2005/07/28/hypocrisy-is-the-tribute-vice-pays-to-virtue/, although he admits that he hasn’t much infor­ma­tion about the proposal—which, to me, recalls some­thing about motes and beams. It’s true that there is lit­tle infor­ma­tion in the pub­lic domain right now. But what there is inspires con­fi­dence: # It involves the only two indus­tri­al­ized coun­try ‘hold-outs’ from Kyoto (Aus­tralia and the USA) and the most obvi­ous big ener­gy con­sumers in the devel­op­ing world that are free from Kyoto oblig­a­tions (Chi­na and India)
# It will focus on find­ing appro­pri­ate tech­nolo­gies to deal with the prob­lem of con­trol­ling emis­sions rather than on a diplo­mat­ic dis­tri­b­u­tion of unen­force­able ‘oblig­a­tions’ As the UK par­lia­men­tary report that I “discussed”:http://www.inquit.com/article/454/net-benefits-of-cutting-greenhouse-gasses ear­li­er this week demon­strates, the devel­op­ment of tech­nolo­gies whose cost/benefit can be objec­tive­ly assessed holds out a much stronger prospect of doing some­thing mean­ing­ful and pro­por­tion­ate about the risks that are posed by the cur­rent lev­el of human ‘green­house-effect’ forc­ing. The clev­er­ness of this pro­pos­al is that it gives sur­pris­ing and wel­come sub­stance to the more neb­u­lous “G8” agen­da (by involv­ing the USA, Japan and Chi­na) and poten­tial­ly address­es the most glar­ing weak­ness of Kyoto—the Protocol’s unbal­anced dis­tri­b­u­tion of
unen­force­able emis­sion obligations—without attempt­ing to re-struc­tre or replace Kyoto. It does so just as the Kyoto mem­bers begin to steel them­selves for a long-drawn-out bar­ney over the exten­sion of the treaty[1]. Many of them will, undoubt­ed­ly, see this as an attrac­tive alter­na­tive approach and oth­ers can be consoled—if they wish—by the idea that it will be com­ple­men­tary to what­ev­er is left of Kyoto. As some­one who fol­lows the man­age­ment of anoth­er glob­al ‘com­mons’ on a pro­fes­sion­al basis, I con­sid­er these are excel­lent ear­ly signs of an effec­tive col­lab­o­ra­tion.


fn1. The last revi­sions con­fer­ence, “COP6 and COP7”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyoto_Protocol#Protocol, reached a point where lead­ing mem­bers of the Euro­pean ‘greens’ were seri­ous­ly advanc­ing the “fan­tas­tic proposition”:http://www.greens.org/s-r/24/24–26.html that the ‘nation state’ is no longer an appro­pri­ate vehi­cle for man­ag­ing glob­al affairs.

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