A surprisingly non-wacky column on Tech Central Station about the developments in Montreal, by Ronald Bailey (via H&R).

It’s non-wacky, but I also think it makes a mistake — a mistake made all too often over the last five years — namely: Believing in the Bush administration’s good intentions when they say something that flatters your ideological preconceptions. (See: liberal war hawk.)

Specifically, Bailey notes that several participants in the Montreal meetings are pushing the notion that economic development and environmental protection can go hand in hand. For instance:

… China’s leaders are worried about being at the mercy of insecure energy imports. China has the advantage of seeing what the results of 90 years of car-focused development in the U.S. and other western countries have been. … China’s cities could choose to build more robust public transit systems rather than highways. Furthermore, China could apply oil saving technologies in the transit sector and charge Japanese-style prices for gasoline. … these measures would reduce the number of cars in China in 2020 from a projected 160 million to 130 million and cut oil imports by 1 million barrels per day. Such measures would also dramatically lower China’s projected greenhouse gas emissions.

Such policies are considered, depending on who you ask, either alternatives to Kyoto-style emissions caps or supplements thereto.

I say: peachy. Sign me up.

But then Bailey goes on to say, well, the Bush administration is already pushing something like this: the Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate Change (which is abbreviated "AP6," as it turns out, rather than my unwieldy APPCDCC).

But look, just because Bailey genuinely wants to solve the climate-change problem through market-and-development oriented policies doesn’t mean that Bush genuinely wants that. I don’t think it’s "irrational Bush hatred" to learn from the experience of the last five years that the presumption should be that a new Bush proposal is some kind of venal giveaway to corporate contributors masquerading as a solution to a real problem. That is the Bush administration metier: A pre-determined set of policies (tax cuts, corporate giveaways) offered as solutions to any problem that crops up (see: Medicare bill, energy bill, clear skies bill, bankruptcy bill, social security reform, etc. etc.).

This is particularly true in the case of AP6, which is — as I said here — a sketchy PR ploy with virtually no concrete details. It looks largely like a stimulus plan for the nuclear and coal industries. This isn’t "letting the market decide" on the best solution to the problem, it’s deciding for the market. Bailey shouldn’t be so naive.