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. 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.