Thursday, October 18, 2007

Evasion replaces climate change denial

Brooks Bulletin (Alberta): When denial fails, try evasion. Almost all the climate change deniers, even President George W. Bush, now allow the forbidden phrase to pass their lips, but that doesn’t mean they have really accepted the need to do something about it. The preferred tactics now are distraction, diversion and delay.

That’s why the US government held a mini-summit on climate change last week just two days after the United Nations held a one-day summit to prepare for the December meeting in Indonesia that must set the targets for deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions in the period after 2012, when the current Kyoto Protocol expires. The Bush administration, which refused to ratify the Kyoto pact, doesn’t want any hard targets at all, so the name of the game is sabotage.

Canada … is a big emitter that committed itself to reduce emissions under Kyoto but made no effort to reach its target. The fault mostly lies with previous Liberal governments, but the new Conservative prime minister, Stephen Harper, is a former climate change denier who is seeking a way to welsh on the commitment….

Australia will probably join the post-Kyoto process as soon as Australian voters have dumped Prime Minister John Howard, a serial climate change denier who looks certain to lose the election later this year. After six years of intense drought, Australians are losing their scepticism about climate change. So are Americans.

Seventy percent of Americans now identify climate change as a major problem, and in the face of the federal government’s obstructionism many states are pressing ahead with their own greenhouse gas reduction programmes. As California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (who has committed his state to deep cuts) said at the UN summit: “California is moving the United States beyond debate and doubt to action..What we are doing is changing the dynamic.”

An even bigger problem is the Asian giants, China and India, whose hopes of achieving full developed-country status depend on historically unprecedented economic growth rates. They will not abandon those hopes while other countries still live in lavish consumer societies. So how can they be persuaded to accept emission controls?

…That will be one of the most difficult political bargains that has ever been negotiated, but the prospect of global disaster may help to concentrate people’s minds.

No comments: