With the hypocrisy of which only thick skinned beasts are capable without understanding the irony you might remember that last December the politicians of the world jetted off to a climate change conference. In order to keep their personal carbon feet as large as possible they went to Bali, in the South Pacific, probably the most inconvenient place they could find in terms of location. Never mind, the politicians and other attendees no doubt consoled themselves in their spare time with the pleasures of that South Sea Island. Once in Bali they started their deliberations about saving the planet from climate change.
Looking back on my post of 15th December 2007 I find that I described the agreement reached at Bali as “virtually worthless”. Sixteen months on, it is no surprise that the developed nations who reached the accord at Bali are now having second thoughts about it.
The European Union have now decided that they should attach a condition to financing clean technology in undeveloped and developing countries. The main condition that they wish to attach is that those countries should curb their growth of emissions as a condition of getting the money to invest is clean technology. If the undeveloped and developing countries do not curb emissions, there is little point in giving them free money to install renewable energy while they are merrily increasing emissions. I suppose it is a bit like providing the owners of a boat with the money to paint it, instead of the money to fill up the holes in the hull.
I suspect that the main target of the European Union’s new stance is the developing countries, particularly China and India, rather than the small African States whose per capita emissions of greenhouse gas are so small that they are hardly measurable.
The United Nations has cried foul; the UN thinks that the EU should stick to what was agreed at Bali and that the money should be provided regardless of whether the recipient is curbing its own growth in emissions.
The existing way of reducing emissions in the undeveloped and the developing world is the disgraced Clean Development Mechanism, which is a very bureaucratic scheme and has ended up in many cases providing free money for projects that would have been done without the free money. The bureaucracy has replaced judgment in the CDM’s decision making, as it often does in complex schemes which offer free money.
Of course at Bali there was no treaty signed, simply a statement in writing and I think the European Union is right to rethink its position on the statement. The point of the statement was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, not to increase them, and it seems sensible to me to provide money for clean energy for nations which are curbing emissions, if they can, not to nations like China who have been given a free pass to emit greenhouse gas by the Kyoto Protocol.
In December the nations of the world will attempt to reach agreement on a new climate change treaty. Kyoto has worked only in the sense that it has raised awareness of the problem of climate change and provided some inspiration and resolve to deal with it. I doubt if Kyoto has done more than marginally reduce the rate of emissions increase.
Again, as with all environmental matters the reduction of emissions comes into conflict with large vested interests of business and of nations. You cannot devise a set of rules to curb emissions in such a way that the largest polluters, China and the United States, are either, in the case of China, excluded from sticking to the rules or in the case of the United States, can argue that the rules are unfair to them and therefore they will not adopt them.
Vested interests have always prevailed against the common good. Somehow I do not expect any new climate change regime to alter this unfortunate fact of life.
Filed under: carbon emissions, climate change, energy, global warming, United Nations Climate Change Conference Tagged: | Bali accord, cdm, clean development mechanism, internation ways of curbing emissions