…on Clean Development and Climate
Anyone hear anything concerning this agreement, which was announced last week? I just found these two articles on it, and I was wondering if anyone else had any insights?
Yes to Growth; No to Kyoto
By Alan Oxley
Japan’s decision to join the new Asian Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate will raise anxiety in Europe’s leading capitals, for overnight it transforms the European Union from climate change cock of the walk to climate change feather duster.
But the implications go beyond just that for Europe. The Kyoto Protocol, with its caps on emissions and limits on growth, has been Europe’s focus for dealing with climate change. Now that anti-technology, anti-growth attitude threatens to further marginalize Europe in global affairs.
The new Asian Pacific Partnership is a Bush administration initiative. Japan’s decision to join the USA China, India, Korea and Australia strengthens this conclave of economies, which are the world’s leaders in economic growth and technology.
Details of the pact have yet to emerge, but its focus is clear. The pact is an alternative to Kyoto. Rather than regulation of energy, it will focus on research on new technologies.
The contrast lays Kyoto bare. Its supporters have been urginggovernments in Asia to ratify Kyoto and “invest” in loss-making, renewable energies, depicting them as first mover strategies for a ‘carbon-constrained’ future.
That strategy carries the burden of higher costs.
The Asian Pacific strategy supports growth and promotes research in new technologies to manage emission of carbon dioxide. That itself makes it more appealing.
It also has the advantage of buying time, as the science of greenhouse warming is far from established.
This is disconcerting for some. Greens in Australia have already denounced the new pact as a “convention of polluters”.
But while Greens lament, a more ominous scenario will be looming in the minds of Europe’s leaders. This Asia Pacific grouping includes the world’s best performing economies and the drivers of the world economy. It includes the economies with the requisite energy and dynamism to develop and commercialize new technology.
While the scope of the pact is climate change, it is the sort of arrangement that can engender a habit of cooperation. All of these economies are interested in the new technologies that will drive growth in future such as information technology, biotechnology and nanotechnology. And Europe is not part of this.
The secret fear of leaders in Europe as they grapple with low growth and poor productivity fear is that the rest of the world might be passing it by. The strategy to turn the European Union into the “United States of Europe” and global leader has stalled. Strategies to build a strategic relationship with Asia, such as through ASEM, the Asia European Economic Meeting, have flopped.
Climate change was arguably Europe’s grand, global initiative. The EU attacked refusal of the Bush administration to ratify Kyoto as undermining “multilateralism.” Now Kyoto is in tatters, reduced to a regional program to shape Europe’s climate change policies - a now ineffective and very costly program as Kyoto only made sense as a global strategy.
How did Europe get this so badly wrong?
Two reasons. First, Europe pursues policies the rest of the world does not want. It believes growth should be compromised to protect the environment. Every directive from the European Commission must have environmental goals and reflect Europe’s “no risk” version of the precautionary principle.
Second, Europe has become guilty of provincial thinking globally. That is, there is a belief in European capitals that what is acceptable in Europe is right for the rest of the world. Thus, European environmentalists never understood that Kyoto did not represent to developing countries so much a green future as an anti-growth strategy. That’s why developing countries signed up for Kyoto only on condition that they had no obligations to regulate energy and in return for promises of aid.
European Greens spun this highly qualified support as “a first step.” They missed the point. They never understood there would be no “second step.” The alignment by China and India with the U.S. strategy now surely has made this abundantly clear in London, Bonn, Brussels and The Hague.
Many in Europe might be content to become green provincial. But for so long as Europe continues to project its preoccupations on the rest of the world, to promote regulation over free markets and push environmental protection over growth, its influence will continue to wane.
–Alan Oxley is Chairman of the Australian APEC Centre at Monash University, Melbourne. In November the Centre produced an analysis of the impact of the Kyoto Protocol on APEC economies in East Asia.
Way, Way Beyond Kyoto
By James K. Glassman
In a surprise move that caught Europe’s smug moralists and the environmental movement’s noisy extremists flatfooted, the United States announced in Vientiane, Laos, last week that it was joining five other nations - China, India, Japan, South Korea and Australia – in a new pact that offers a refreshing and effective alternative route to tackling the problem of climate change.
While given short shrift by the puzzled media, this is a big deal, in many ways.
First, it breaks the climate-change deadlock. This is the agreement that responsible scientists and public officials have been seeking since the failure of the Kyoto Protocol became evident at the global warming conclave in Delhi two years ago. Call it “Beyond Kyoto” - Way Beyond Kyoto.
Second, the new deal was negotiated and settled without the involvement of the United Nations or the European Union - a clear message from the United States that multilateralism does not have a single definition. In fact, according to The Guardian newspaper, the agreement - called the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate – was kept secret by President Bush from British Prime Minister Tony Blair, an uncompromising champion of Kyoto, during last month’s G8 meeting" in Scotland.
Third, the agreement comprises countries that account for 45% of the world’s population and about half the world’s economic output and greenhouse gas emissions, mainly carbon dioxide, implicated in raising surface temperatures. More Asian countries may soon join the pact.
Fourth and most important, it takes a pro-growth approach to combating the possibility of global warming in the century ahead. The new Beyond Kyoto agreement focuses on innovative technology as the antidote, not only to carbon-dioxide emissions but also to dirty air and economic deprivation. The very first statement in the pact is: “Development and poverty eradication are urgent and overriding goals internationally.”
That’s a stark contrast with Kyoto’s preference for hard CO2 targets, met through government directives, to reduce energy use. Development is an afterthought.
Even its staunchest supporters now recognize that Kyoto, signed in 1997 and officially ratified last year, has no future.
Many of the world’s most prolific emitters of greenhouse gases, including China, India and South Korea, were exempt from the requirements of the protocol. The US and Australia have rejected it. And even noisy advocates, like France, Italy and Canada, are nowhere close to meeting the treaty’s targets. The EU’s emissions rose 3.6% between 2001 and 2004 (those in the US fell).
To reach Kyoto’s drastic goal of cutting emissions by 2012 to levels 5% below those of 1990, developed nations have no choice but to slash energy use. That means slower growth, even widespread recession, with especially dire consequences not just for rich nations, but, worse, for poor nations that rely on demand from the developed world for their goods and services.
The Beyond Kyoto pact, by contrast, seeks to “address energy, climate change and air pollution issues within a paradigm of economic development.” Specifically, the deal will concentrate on the technology that will help China and India, especially, to increase the efficiency of their energy use. Currently, these countries produce twice as many emissions as the US for each unit of GDP.
A major focus will be clean-coal technology. The US is the Saudi Arabia of coal, with the world’s largest supply, and China and Australia are also large producers and users. The deal also seeks more alternatives to fossil fuels with both low emissions and high efficiency - not just nuclear, wind, even biotechnology and nanotechnology.
Many professional environmentalists, for whom Kyoto is a matter of religious fervor, are disarmed and dismayed. “There’s really nothing new here,” said Jeff Fielder, an analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York.
Fielder is right in one respect. The Bush administration has been quietly signing bilateral agreements for technology sharing for years now. But Vientiane is, absolutely, a new comprehensive approach to climate, and the Greens don’t want to acknowledge its clear validity. “I think this is aimed at complicating the Montreal talks,” Fielder added, referring to the 11th annual conference on global warming four months from now.
I’ve been to four of these extravaganzas - huge wastes of money and time. I am looking forward to Montreal, though. With the future-fearing Europeans bypassed by growth-loving Americans, Australians and Asians, there’s a whole new world opening Beyond Kyoto.