Monday, March 24, 2008

Climate Change Hypocrisy

From The Economist

“A year ago they were brimming with selfless idealism. They agreed to make deep cuts in carbon emissions (by a fifth from 1990 levels by 2020), even if other rich countries did not follow. The signal was clear: Europe will start saving the planet now, even if the selfish Americans (not to mention the Chinese and Indians) are not ready. Bigger cuts were promised if other countries joined in, prompting much self-congratulatory talk about the EU's “leading role”.’

“That was then. A year on, with the world economy looking wobblier, the March summit was a less uplifting affair. Leaders from countries with powerful heavy-industry lobbies called for explicit measures to “protect” European firms in case talks on a global climate-change deal failed (and left the Europeans pushing ahead with tough curbs on their own). In a move that would make an American divorce lawyer proud, Germany, France, Austria, Italy and the Czech Republic all asked the EU to plan for failure, insisting that defensive measures must be agreed before climate-change talks in Copenhagen at the end of 2009.”

Comments: Remember all the snarling in early December that was taking place in Bali, Indonesia concerning America’s role or lack thereof in the global warming/climate change dialectic? America has taken a global public relations beating by not participating in the Kyoto Protocol or cowing to climate change zealots. European politicians have had a field day taking cheap shots at U.S. policy in order to pander to their constituents. They are helped along by American environmental groups that have seen a rare opportunity to legitimize their views and consolidate their position on a global scale.

But it seems that the mechanism that the E.U. is using (Emissions Trading Scheme or ETS) to guide it along to a greener economy and a better world is not working as well as was hoped or intended. There are already squabbles and divisions appearing despite the fact that no one will admit it just yet. European industries have been doing a neat end-around the ETS by funding projects in the developing world and have threatened to continue to move some industries abroad.

So now European countries, and their respective industry lobbyists, are calling for a sort of environmental protectionism or eco-tariff on products produced in countries that do not have measures as tough as their own. All while the global economy is slowing. Talk about putting a stake in their own hearts.

But this gets better. In Bali, if you remember, environmentalists and some of the scientists that support their view called for bigger cuts than the Kyoto treaty while knowing all too well that global energy use is expected to rise considerably by 2030.

Europe’s ETS is a sort of pilot program for a global carbon trading scheme like Kyoto. What we see happening in Europe is what happens when the rubber hits the road; when all the political hot air gets let out and the reality of carbon-trading in a world that needs economic growth becomes impossible to avoid. And America, the favorite bad apple of environmentalists and European opportunists, will end up having the last laugh if it avoids bad ideas like ETS.

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