December 20, 2010
Freedom survives climate conference
Despite profuse self-congratulations and a Kumbaya spirit, the global warming summit in Cancun, Mexico, didn’t much advance the cause of climate alarmism. It may even have set back the movement.
The 1997 Kyoto Protocol, whose Draconian mandated cuts in greenhouse gas emissions expire in 2012, wasn’t extended or replaced, and nothing else legally binding was agreed upon by the assembled 190-plus nations. The United States never signed Kyoto, as most nations did.
Cancun got off to a rocky start two weeks ago when Japan, a signatory, declared it would never agree to another Kyoto treaty. Apparently no one else was willing, either.
The Asia News Network reported that Cancun’s failures make it more likely developed countries will shift from Kyoto’s binding regime “to a voluntary system in which each country only makes pledges on how much it will reduce its emissions.”
Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists lamented, “Fundamentally there’s not consensus coming out of here on the long-term way forward in terms of the legal regime.”
This is good news for anyone who regards catastrophic manmade global warming to be a hyped nonthreat, and for anyone who cherishes liberty and economic freedom and is repulsed by transnational mandates.
Coming a year after gridlock at the U.N.’s previous worldwide climate conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, Cancun’s delegates were intent on at least the appearance of agreement. Their consensus was more posturing than substance.
No firm proposals were agreed on for nations to reduce emissions by even the lowered amounts summit planners sought. Moreover, it was left to each nation to decide how much and how soon to reduce. A system was agreed upon to monitor, report and verify emissions, but without enforcement provisions.
A committee was agreed upon to provide technology for developing nations. But delegates avoided deciding how to protect developed nations’ intellectual property rights, a concern that inhibits sharing.
Similarly, there was no agreement on how much each rich nation will pay into the still-empty so-called Green Fund to subsidize poorer nations. Delegates set up an account for the World Bank to manage, hoping to receive up to $100 billion a year promised (but not yet delivered) by nations last year. We suspect there won’t be a mad rush to cut checks anytime soon — if ever.
Agreement was reached on a plan for developed nations to pay developing nations to soak up carbon dioxide using plants. Again, delegates backed off a proposal for faux carbon markets to finance the scheme. Everyone agreed to get together next year in South Africa to see if they can agree then on how to make any of this stuff legally binding.
Environmental activists were more candid than delegates. “The negotiations in the future,” said China’s negotiator, “will continue to be difficult.”