Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ballyhoo from Bali: Kyodiot rhetoric meets reality

Lorne Gunter wrote in “For Kyoto’s champions, the meetings never end”, (National Post, Dec.17, 2007):

“If you want an indication of just how utterly meaningless the "historic" Bali global warming deal was, consider this: The UN climate change meeting that concluded on Friday was officially the 13th conference of the parties (COP) to the Kyoto accords. It was the 10th since the international greenhouse gas treaty was created more than a decade ago.

Every year, these same signatories meet. Every year, they go over (and over) the same territory. Every year, they dicker, blather, preach, assail, negotiate, draft and redraft (not to mention flying from one exotic location to another eating, drinking and living off fat publicly funded expense accounts). And every year, they leave claiming to have reached an historic consensus to save the UN climate change process.

There is never any "final" deal. The goalposts move at every conference, and often three or four times during the pre-negotiations that occur between COPs. Don't like a COP agreement? Wait a few months. It'll change.

You may remember that COP-11 was held in Montreal in December, 2005, during the first two weeks of Canada's last general election. It, too, was hailed as historic. Stephane Dion, then the Liberal environment minister, was praised as the saviour of the Kyoto process for having hammered out some last-minute deal that kept negotiations alive through COP-12. But just what bargaining catastrophe Mr. Dion is supposed to have averted can no longer be recalled -- just as the "historic" achievements of Bali will quickly be lost in the mists -- because the substance of the agreement was completely meaningless.

Achievement means little to the UN's climate crusaders. It's the appearance of activity that counts. Keep moving, keep meeting, keep the shrimp toast and single malts coming, and the need actually to accomplish some tangible environmental outcome becomes inconsequential.
The Kyoto process is the ultimate triumph of symbolism over substance.

Consider the reception for Kevin Rudd, the new Australian prime minister. He wins power on the eve of the Bali conference and announces his first act as PM will be to sign the Kyoto accord and agree to deep emissions cuts --perhaps as much as 60% by 2020. He then flies off to the Indonesia resort where the 15,000 delegates and hangers-on welcome him as a conquering hero.

But three days into the UN gathering, Australia's electricity commission tells the new prime minister that his government's proposals will lead to a rise in electrical bills of at least 30%, perhaps more. Such an increase would almost surely stunt Australia's booming economy. So Mr. Rudd backs down. He announces his country will not agree to immediate cuts, but rather now favours cuts of 50-60% by 2050.

These are the same levels and deadline that have been advocated by Canada's Conservative government for more than a year. But because our Tories refuse to pay homage to Kyoto as the be-all and end-all of environmental compassion, they are vilified by delegates while the Rudd government is celebrated. Symbolism over substance.

Our own Liberals, while they were in government, presided over as large a percentage increase in greenhouse gas emissions as produced by any country with binding limits under the Kyoto accord. From 1997 through 2005, our emissions rose by more than 25%. The Americans, who everyone at UN climate conferences likes to malign as the world's climate baddies, raised theirs only 17%.

If the UN climate process were about results rather than rhetoric, the Americans would be praised for slowing the pace of their emissions, while our Liberals would be held up as the worst failures and hypocrites on the planet. Instead, of course, because our Liberals never failed to pledge fealty to Kyoto, they were heroes, while the Americans were bums. Form over function.
My sneaking suspicion is that this reality finally dawned on the Americans, who agreed to sign onto the process at Bali because they realized just how hollow the whole exercise is.
The "historic" Bali agreement is no agreement at all. Rather, it is a compromise on a promise to negotiate an actual deal within the next two years. It contains no emissions quotas on any countries, developed or developing.

All it does is assure onlookers that there will be a COP-14 and a COP-15, and a whole bunch of lavish sub-committee meetings in between, at which all these full-time cause-pleaders can indulge their canape-consuming addictions and bow down before the totems of Kyoto.”


Benny Peiser (editor of CCNet, an international science-policy network), wrote in “Climate alarmism hits a brick wall”, (National Post, Dec.18, 2007):

“The success of the major Anglosphere nations at last week's United Nations climate conference in Bali marks the beginning of the end of the age of climate hysteria. It also symbolizes a significant shift of political leadership in international climate diplomacy from the once-dominating European continent to North America and its Western allies.

This power shift has perhaps never been more transparent and dramatic than in Bali, when Australia's Labour government, under the newly elected Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, announced a complete U-turn on the thorny issue of mandatory carbon dioxide emissions targets. Only days after Australia's delegation had backed Europe's demand for a 25% to 40% cut in emission by 2020, Mr. Rudd declared (his signature under the Kyoto Protocol wasn't even dry) that his government would not support such targets after all.

Indeed, Australia's position hardened further when Trade Minister Simon Crean announced that developing countries like China and India would have to accept tough binding emissions targets before Australia would ever agree to any post-Kyoto agreement beyond 2012.
Similar stipulations were made by Canada and Japan. Surprisingly, even the British government appeared to deviate from the European Union position when Britain's Trade and Development Minister, Gareth Thomas, told the BBC that developing countries would also be required to accept targets for CO2 emissions.

Rather than being isolated, the decision by the United States and Canada to take the lead in international energy and climate diplomacy appears to have galvanized key allies, who are gradually rallying around a much tougher stance vis-a-vis China and India.

In Bali, the Anglosphere nations have in effect drawn a red line in the sand: Unless developing countries agree to mandatory emissions cuts themselves, much of the Western world will henceforth reject any unilateral burden imposed by future climate deals.

As a consequence, the so-called Bali road map adopted last Saturday has shifted the pressure further on to developing nations to share responsibility for CO2 emissions, a move that is widely regarded as a significant departure from the Kyoto Protocol.

For the first time, there are now firm demands for developing nations to tackle CO2 emissions by taking "actions in a measurable, reportable, and verifiable" way. There can be little doubt that the words adopted in Bali herald increasing pressure on China and India to accept mandatory emissions targets.

Australia's public endorsement of this line of attack attests to the fact that the West's climate strategy no longer depends on party politics. Nobody has made this new reality more obvious in recent days than Democratic U.S. Senator John Kerry. Speaking to reporters at the Bali meeting, he notified the international community that a rejection by China and other emerging economies to cut their own greenhouse gases would make it almost impossible for any U.S. administration to get a new global climate treaty through the U.S. Senate -- "even under a Democratic president."

Yet, neither China nor India will be able to agree to any emissions cuts in the foreseeable future. While their CO2 emissions are expected to rise rapidly over the next 20 to 30 years, there is simply nothing in the world of alternative energy or clean technology existing today that has the capacity to arrest this upwards trend. Any forceful attempts, on the other hand, to rein in the dramatically rising energy consumption in almost all of Asia would, inescapably, trigger economic turmoil, social disorder and political chaos.

In Bali, more than perhaps ever before, climate alarmism has finally hit the solid brick wall of political reality. It's a reality that won't go away or be changed any time soon. After more than 20 years of green ascendancy on the world stage, green politicians and climate campaigners are for the first time faced with a conundrum that looks as impenetrable as squaring the circle.
Reflecting on this predicament and the results of the Bali conference, Germany's former foreign secretary, my old friend Joschka Fischer, declared that nothing short of divine intervention would be required to reach a post-Kyoto agreement by 2009, in face of insurmountable obstacles.

"Perhaps something will happen in the meantime, something that does not normally happen in politics, namely a small miracle. After all, given past experiences, one must fear that international climate policy won't probably advance without the direct intervention of higher powers."

That Europe's most famous and most eminent green politician is prepared and desperate enough to publicly call for heavenly support is a strong indication that the age of climate alarmism is now being gradually replaced by fatalism. That's what the encounter with a brick wall tends to do to hot-heads. One can only hope that a period of sobering up from green dreams and delusions will provide political leaders with the prerequisite for a realistic, pragmatic and most of all a manageable approach to climate change. "


In Bali, Kyodiot rhetoric met reality. Australia's position seems right up there with what Canada's Liberal Bumbledore Dion would have done - talk a great game, then suddenly realize (as did Dion's federal Liberals for 12 years, and as did McGuinty's Liberal hypocrites in Ontario in their last four years) that the environmental socialism preached by the green bolsheviks - greensheviks - on their annual all-expense-paid hot-air pilgrimages might not be as practicable as was preached. Kerry's comments at Bali are astounding as well, that "even under a Democratic president" the U.S. would want the 'developing' economies to accept mandatory emissions targets. It looks like Stephane Dion's Liberal Kyoto pipedreams are more realistically met by the Canadian Conservative government's substance over rhetoric.

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