As expected not much progress is being made in Durban on solving the world’s carbon emissions challenges. Kyoto Protocol became effective in 2005, requiring greenhouse-gas reductions in nearly every developed nation. The US recognized the unsustainability of a treaty that excludes the fastest growing polluters China, India, Russia and Brazil because they were emerging markets while requiring the established markets to effectively write them big checks so they could keep growing and pollute more.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a worthy goal, but one nation or block of nations alone cannot solve that problem. Signing up for a giant wealthy transfer from developed countries to emerging and undeveloped countries was a tough guilt-tripped sell in the booms times of the global economy. It is a non-starter now that the global economies except for those emerging markets are in the ditch.
So the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period will end in 2012 and there is nothing to replace it laments the assembled delegates in Durban. GOOD! We can now all quit pretending it was a good idea in the first instance. Canada, Japan and Russia all signed onto Kyoto the first time but now realize they scored few green points for such a commitment and don’t plan on continuing the charade by re-upping for another five years of greenmailing. The EU said it was willing to sing-up for a second five year commitment—-IF and ONLY IF everyone else did so. Fat chance of that!
The best that can be said of the Durban conference is that thousands of delegates will have improved the economy of Durban by their whining and wining. The release of another round of leaked emails about climate scientists behaving badly when the science did not fit their politically correct views soured the event further with reminders of the first Climategate scandal. They now face a second round of red-faced bluster knowing that there are still more than 220,000 documents to be leaked.
If the world is serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions then everyone must take action on their own to do so. We don’t need a treaty for that—we need resolve. Gaining consensus about that resolve also means that the cure cannot be worse than the disease. Kyoto was worse than no treaty at all. It tried to guilt the 1% nations into paying reparations to the 99% as penance for their economic growth and success. The US made the right decision to just say no to such a dumb idea. The EU played politics for domestic consumption but now cannot continue to hide the stupidity of its decision.
The world public is skeptical that this enterprise is worth the cost and aggravation because of the overreach of political pandering and the Climategate scandal revelations that the ‘incontrovertible scientific evidence’ isn’t so incontrovertible after all. That should not be interpreted as lack of public resolve, but rather public realistic public resolve. Our politicians have nearly bankrupted us with their mismanagement of the economy—let’s not give them control over the earth!