Monday, February 1, 2010

Extra time, replay... or new game?

Remember, in the run-up to Copenhagen when we were told that it is now or never to save the planet? When high ranking diplomats said 'We can go into extra time, but we can't afford a replay'? Well, we clearly need to think again. This now also dawns on those who thought that the world cannot affrod Copenhagen to fail. It turns out that, after all, we do have something else than the rhetoric of alarm.
The Guardian reports that even John Prescott, the former UK deputy prime minister and now Council of Europe's rapporteur on climate change, who was bullish even on the day after Copenhagen had ended in a fiasco, now thinks that we should not expect the next round of negotiation to agree on targets. He is quoted as saying: 'I don't care if it's government ministers or NGOs, if they think you can get a legal agreement all signed up by November in Mexico, I don't believe it.' The Guardian story says:

One of the most senior British climate officials told the Guardian that a legally binding deal, while desirable, was now no longer the critical thing: "What people seem to forget is that an agreement does not reduce one molecule of carbon dioxide – it's national policies that do that."
The shift of emphasis from a global deal to national action stems directly from the problem that wrecked the Copenhagen summit, and which remains unresolved. The UN framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC), the secretariat for climate treaties, makes decisions by unanimous agreement of all 192 member countries, and was described as "fatally cumbersome" by one close observer.
 Read the whole article here.


itisi69 said...

Politics and AGW is a lethal combination....

P Gosselin said...

We can't afford for Copenhagen to succeed. In the meantime the British government is covering up for Phil Jones.

Falk Schützenmeister said...

Interesting article about the emerging inside discussions in the IPCC (maybe one of the bloggers could make it a main post.) Falk

Werner Krauss said...

It is not either national or global. Both levels are equally important. There is no reason to condemn the global level only because Copenhagen was complicated and the IPCC is under discussion. Of course do we need a global forum representing six billion people sharing a common planet with a fragile climate envelope.

We still don't know exactly what it means to be so many. Of course, the national level is much more effective, and there are many good reasons to focus on the national level. But I am sure we also have to develop global mechanisms, and be it only to figure out what that is. Cumbersome? For sure. But no need to ridicule all global ambitions. Instead, we should focus on various parallel levels, and treat each one with due respect - global, national, regional, local.

It is not a soccer match, by the way. It is not the question of replay, overtime etc. It is the question of how to organize the global in a better and more effective way. The global will not disappear, even though the media and many scientists raised completely unrealistic expectations. It is fine to clear that mess up, but we should not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

@ReinerGrundmann said...

"It is not either national or global. Both levels are equally important."

Agreed. But what if the global does not work becuase the nations are not ready? This should hardly be a reason to wait with climate policies, especially when the likely outcome of a global accord would be the creation of carbon markets.

" There is no reason to condemn the global level only because Copenhagen was complicated and the IPCC is under discussion."

It is not to condemn it but to realise that it can be used for delaying action. We should use this window of opportunity where climate policy, on a global level, is in a disarray, to reorient it.

@ReinerGrundmann said...

And, love it or hate it, soccer match analogies are part of the language diplomats use (and not only they). Other sports come in as well, one is played with a stick...

P Gosselin said...

"It is the question of how to organize the global in a better and more effective way."

Another proponent of some undefined, untested, experimental third way, I see.
The free market has performed admirably over the past 100 years. No one has yet to come up with a better alternative. Sure it is not perfect, but we live a chaotic system and so nothing could ever be perfect.
Those who complain about the free market system and the results it has achieved I beleive are hopelessly pessimistic and incapable of seeing any positive aspects to anything.
There is no need to reorganise the entire planet. There is only a need to let all people be free and to allow them to enjoy the fruits of their labour, and not have them stolen away by greedy statists.

Falk Schützenmeister said...

The market argument is inherently tautological: Either the free market exists. In this case all human institutions (inclusive communist countries, robbery, and climate policy) have to be seen as results of these market forces. Economy is everywhere even in the most suppressed and corrupt places.
Or: Markets are limited institutions, only one organizational instrument in the toolbox. In this case, we need to decide in which areas we want to have a markets (e.g. consumer goods, financial products, services etc.) and where not (slaves, drugs, sex, etc.) - even though they might exist. Working market institutions require a lot of normative and regulatory preconditions (like protection of the individual, of private property, peace etc.) Many government institutions (e.g. the courts, the military, or the policy) are also set up to protect markets. What we need to decide is whether we need to protect the environment (where the resources for the economy come from) as well in order to keep our markets going.

Unknown said...

@P Gosselin:

The entirely unchecked capital and interest based globalized economy only has been around for about 20 years and it only has consolidated itself during the last ten to 15 years, the formation of the WTO perhaps being the official birth hour. There are many different way of looking at the so called free market, some of them not exactly being admiring. Aside from that: 100 years are not exactly much in historical - let alone geological - terms.

The system as it currently exists requires exponential economic growth, and at one point the productivity required from all of us in the West to simply pay only the interests for accumulated debts (from our mortgages all the way to exploding state debts) forces us into an ever accelerating and never ending rat race cycle. And that is not exactly the path to happiness. It also cannot be sustainable, as there is no physically viable way to entirely de-couple economy and energy/resource consumption. Ultimately therefore - even in case of efficiency recolutions - exponential economic growth requires exponential growth of energy and resource consumption. I know that some try, but I am afraid you cannot argue with the laws of thermodynamics. So as I see it: climate change and economic growth are coupled. And carbon trade does not strike me as a useful instrument as the trading schemes are optimized and utilized to maximize money output and not to minimize global carbon emissions.