On how the Bush administration creates an illusion of climate change progress
There’s going to be a lot of hype around the Bush climate summit this week. The key buzzwords of the global warming delayers are “aspirational,” “technology,” and “intensity.” The more someone uses those words, the less serious they are about stopping climate change.
The bottom line is that any international global warming agreement must include prompt, binding, and enforceable greenhouse-gas reductions by the United States or else the agreement will fail and all nations will suffer the consequences. Some other key points:
- The Bush administration will use every opportunity to create the illusion of action without agreeing to meaningful, binding pollution reductions. That’s why it’s launching talks with the major emitters that would start another process outside the United Nations and post-Kyoto talks — a process consisting of multiple meetings that don’t finish their work until the very end of his presidency.
- Scientists believe that we need a 60-80 percent reduction in GHG emissions by 2050 to avoid the worst impacts of global warming, and slowing the pollution growth rate won’t enable us to meet this goal. “Emission intensity” agreements that lower the rate of emissions or energy use on a per capita or per $ of GDP basis will do nothing to slow global warming. Total GHG emissions will determine the temperature rise, and not the rate that we add to the problem compared to our population or economy.
- Many other nations have already agreed to significant GHG reductions, such as the European Union and Japan. If the U.S. adopts pollution reductions, it will increase the likelihood that China, India, and other nations will agree to cut their emissions.
- Other nations have begun to develop international carbon markets. The U.S. is missing its opportunity not only to invest in a low-carbon economy and increase the exports of innovative low carbon technologies overseas, but also missing the opportunity to help shape the emerging global carbon market.
- Any global warming solution must ensure that developing nations receive assistance with the reduction of their emissions, as well as resources to assist with their adaptation to the impacts from global warming.
- Any agreement that relies on “aspirations” is nothing more than faith-based pollution control. It’s like trying to lose weight by promising to eat less.
- The major emitters conference is just delay by another name.
- Like with the Iraq war, the Bush administration will use these talks to run out the clock on the global warming problem, and leave it to Bush’s successor to clean up the mess.
- The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation “aspirational” agreement was made toothless at the behest of the Bush administration. It demonstrates that nothing meaningful will occur at the major emitters conference.
- The European Union has committed to a 20 percent reduction in global warming pollution by 2020, so the U.S. must act, too.
- The Bush administration launched a war on scanty evidence, but refuses to take a single step to slow the world’s most thoroughly studied global disaster.
- A commitment to cut its global warming pollution is one way for the U.S. to begin to rehabilitate its worldwide image.
- While the Bush Administration fiddles with more talks, temperatures rise, glaciers melt, forests burn, and hurricanes blow.
[Tip of the hat to Dan Weiss for writing most of this!]