Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Running In Circles Around Climate Change

Fighting Global Climate Change is not just about saving the planet. It is first and foremost about saving ourselves.

But the way things have been going with regards to the Kyoto Protocols and Environmental summits over the last year or so, it looks like we keep running in circles around the matter of fighting Global Climate Change - while we keep on screwing up the planet's climate cycle.


The Kyoto Protocol, originally agreed upon in December 1997, was effectively interred after the G8 summit of June 2007 - thanks in large part to the continued (neo)con games and double-talk of the Bush (a.k.a. The Leader) administration and the Harper (a.k.a. The Mini Leader) minority government - grand tall-tales which I previously wrote about often enough (one example here).

How did this come about, you ask?

To begin with, it is noteworthy that the Kyoto Accords constituted at the time a uniquely historical engagement of utmost significance by industrialized countries to fight Global Warming - provided, of course, that the signing countries actually implemented the Accords ... something the U.S.A. and Canada never did.

Indeed, Kyoto was never ratified by the U.S.A., in large part due to Climate Change denialism and economic scare tactic-driven arguments. Furthermore, President Bush - like a good neocon - double-talked the nation into confusion: his "global warming is real but not man-made" proclamation has become infamous to this effect. Likewise, his so-called initiatives with regards to the environment have typically proven to constitute nothing more than shams, the usual (neo)con games forte we have become used to. For instance, his Clear Skies Act of 2003 was an obvious fraud - albeit very much approved by Big Oil and Big Corporation interests, not surprisingly - and its "improved", somewhat less laughable 2005 version has remained in legislative limbo. In an obvious attempt at rendering the Kyoto process moot, Bush and his Bushies promoted the downward redefinition of the ways to reduce climate change outside of Kyoto, without any reinforcement measures but with much "voluntary measures" - winkwink. On top of all of this, the Bush administration established and enacted a policy of systematic censorship, re-writing, controlling, falsifying, fund cutting, hiding, lying and spinning the de facto science underlying the reality of Climate Change.

In this respect, the Bush environmental circus has kept on going and going, to this very day.

Meanwhile in Canada, things have not been that much better. Although Canada actually ratified Kyoto in 2002, and after implementing several initiatives and investing billions of federal monies to work toward achieving Kyoto targets, everything was scuttled by Canadian neoconservatives - namely, by Prime Minister Harper and his Harpies, when they came to power in 2006. Indeed, and just as in the U.S.A., typical neocon pro-Big Oil and pro-Big Business scare tactic-driven, false and hypothetical arguments were used to belittle Kyoto, including outright disinformation and the promotion of climate change denialism. Not counting simple lack of concern. Furthermore, actually going outside of the Kyoto process was floated, in an obvious attempt at following in the footsteps of The Leader. Even environmental funding designed to meet the Kyoto standards was cut, including programs aimed at monitoring industries. In addition, outright scaling back of funding for climate science and adaptation programs was enacted by The Mini Leader's government - again, obviously in order to follow the "lead" of The Leader. The last nail in the coffin of Canada's commitment to Kyoto was hammered in whenthe Harper government flat out announced that Canada would not meet its targets under the Kyoto accords. In the end, Harper and his Harpies came up with what I have come to call Kyoto-Ultra Light - which was such a fraud that it prompted opposition parties in the House of Commons to put forth legislation (bill C-288) in order to force the Harper government in meeting Kyoto targets by 2012. However, Harper and his Harpies resorted to the usual economic scare tactics (same ones they used against Kyoto) to debunk the bill which, since then, has remained essentially lettre morte and unlawfully ignored by the Harper government.

Hence, what we have been treated to in the U.S.A. and Canada is nothing more than stalling and disassembling, the new neocon tactics to avoid dealing with climate change - in other words, they chose to "ignore it and hope it will go away", at best coming up with token measures (light bulbs and laws, anyone?), while using hypocritical double-talk like their Big-Oil and Big Corporation masters (another example here).

The problem is that GHG's emissions drastically increased nonetheless in both the U.S.A. and Canada (see also here for both countries and others) - with no regression in sight.

And of course, the Earth has been warming further as a consequence. With potential disastrous results down the line.

Which brings me back to the momentous G8 summit of June 2007.

First came the frenzied posturings of the neocon Bushies and Harpies prior to the summit in Germany - just as both Canada and the U.S.A. deservedly ranked last among the G8 nations in tackling climate change.

On the one hand, The Leader rejected draft proposals for the official G8 communiqué on climate change, which stated that G8 members agreed on tough measures in GHG's. This went as far as to strike out entire sentences and significantly reduce the certainty with which the communiqué addressed climate change. Then, Bush attempted to throw into confusion international efforts to control world climate change, with a proposal which would work outside of a planned UN process - and again, he peddled his cherished "voluntary measures" and "no enforcement measures". Last, but not least, The Leader outright rejected the pre-G8 proposal of committing to cutting emissions by 50% by 2050, to increase fuel efficiency by 20% and to limit the world's temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius.

Not surprisingly, world experts were not impressed by The Leader/Commander Guy.

On the other hand, and at the same time, The Mini Leader continued to lie his way into blaming his predecessors for Canada's failure to meet Kyoto's targets, while touting the example-making leadership quality of his Kyoto-Ultra Light Plan. Still gripped by the same extensive fit of self-delusion, he went as far as to claim that his plan was tougher than the pre-G8 proposal! Harper also, of course, double-talked aplenty:
"Canada won't meet its Kyoto targets to lower greenhouse gas emissions, but can be a world leader in battling climate change".
He and his Harpies even went further by positioning Canada as a "consensus builder" between the EU and the U.S.A. - thus once again playing stoogie/apologist for Bush. And just to be on the safe side, Harper started playing the excuse card of developing countries by advancing the idea that each country is unique and that "there's no one set solution for everybody" - thus effectively aligning himself with Bush's proposal of individualized voluntary measures for each country and without reinforcement mechanisms. In the meantime, Harper and his Harpies raised the limits on pesticide residues for better harmonization with those of the U.S.A. (making me wonder again who exactly is the Harper government serving: Canadians or Americans?).

Suffice it to say that, in turn, the world's experts rolled their eyes with incredulity and disbelief at The Mini Leader.

Thus the table was set for the June 2007 G8 summit - and thanks to all the confusing hypocritical double-talk and sleight-of-hand posturing of our Canadian and American neocons, this was the result (emphasis added):
(Excerpt from the official G8 communiqué, June 2007 - link for pdf full version here)

We face serious challenges in tackling climate change and achieving sustainable development globally. We reaffirm our commitment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and to its objective through both mitigation and adaptation in accordance with our common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. On this basis and taking into account the scientific knowledge as represented in the recent IPCC reports, we remain committed to contribute our fair share to tackle climate change in order to stabilize green house gas concentrations at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. To this end we need a flexible, fair and effective global framework and concerted international action. We underline the crucial role of economic incentives, in particular by carbon markets, for the necessary investments in climate friendly technologies at large scale. The adaptation to climate change will be a major challenge for all countries, in particular for developing countries , and means for adaptation need to be included in a future agreement along with enhanced technology cooperation and financing. We call on all parties to actively and constructively participate in the negotiations on a comprehensive agreement at the UNFCCC Conference in Indonesia in December 2007.
Meaning: no more Kyoto protocols, no commitments to any targets, let's move the goalpost further ahead, and let's agree to disagree but promise to talk more about actually doing something in the years to come.

Which effectively interred the Kyoto Accords.

But this specific G8 summit of June 2007 was furthermore very significant in shaping the way any subsequent international Climate Change summit to come would likely end up.

The following UNFCCC summit of December 2007? Same old crap from the Bushies and Harpies, resulting in the Bali Road Map (emphasis added):
"The Bali Roadmap that has been agreed is a pivotal first step toward an agreement that can address the threat of climate change, the defining challenge of our time."
Meaning: we are now right back where we started when before we finally agreed on the Kyoto Protocols!

Then it was "onward" to the UNFCCC summit of March 2008 - which gave us more of the same thing as before while not doing much except, to say "see you again at the April 2008 summit in China", and which was essentially ignored by the traditional media.

Why? In good part because, from the G8 summit of June 2007 and the death of Kyoto, such meetings have concluded the same way, thanks to the Bushies and the Harpies: "we agree to disagree and see you again at the next meeting".

Equally in good part, because of typical tripe and vapidity on the part of the media - one example (emphasis added):
Imagine, there is a UN climate conference, and hardly anybody seems to note or care. This is what appears to have happened with the latest round of post-Kyoto negotiations that ended in Bangkok last Friday. While delegates from more than 160 nations met at yet another United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change confab in the Thai capital, much of the media seemed indifferent to its deliberations or did not bother to report about it.

What used to be major environmental gatherings that would trigger global media hype and front-page headlines has turned into routine diplomatic meetings that wrap up, these days, on more or less the same note: Let's meet again. Eight more such meetings are planned for the next 18 months to negotiate a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol, which runs out in 2012.

Instead of the passionately celebrated "breakthroughs" that used to be the hallmark of international climate conferences, today they often end in deadlock and disappointment.

At the heart of the solidifying standoff lies a growing realization that the entire Kyoto process has been an abject failure. Not only did it fail to slow (never mind reduce) carbon-dioxide emissions over the last 15 years or so, climate hysteria is pitting rich and poor nations against each other, dividing the world into opposing camps that embrace incompatible strategies and competing demands.
"Kyoto failed". "Climate hysteria". "These meetings are now booooooring". "Blahblahyaaaawnblah".

There is the media for you.

Never mind that the Kyoto Accords did not fail - it was rather countries like Canada and the U.S.A. which have failed them.

And thus, "Kyoto has failed" has become the new meme, while economic scare tactics against fighting Global Climate Change have become "common sense" (just three examples here, here and here).

In the meantime, governments are pushing for biofuels (this is very much the case in both the U.S.A. and Canada) - regardless of the fact that they will contribute equally in GHG's emissions as fossil fuels.

The growing world-wide food crisis notwidthstanding, that is.

But wait - I fear that I must correct myself here, for it is indeed the food crisis, the price of oil and the current turmoil of global markets which are now used as further justifications to claim that fighting Global Warming will destroy our (now shaky) economies.

How convenient.

Meanwile, Humanity keeps on screwing up the Global Climate Cycle as the planet's ice caps keep on melting.

Therefore, here we are now - pretty much all governments of the world (including the Bushies and Harpies) recognize that Humanity's contribution to Climate Change constitutes a clear and present danger, and yet no one is actually doing anything substantial and significant about it - except deciding when to meet to talk about it more while moving the goalposts on reducing GHG emissions further and further ahead (1997, 2012, 2025, 2035, 2050, 2055 ... and still counting).

In short: we are swimming in circles while we are slowly drowning - because there is no leadership on this matter.

And without leadership, you have laissez faire.

And with laissez faire, you have what we have today.

Yes, the planet will do fine in the long run, regardless of what we do to its climate cycle. After all, Earth and life on it did so after an extinction-level event some 65 million years ago - although the dinosaurs didn't do so well.

Consequently, fighting Global Climate Change is not so much about saving the planet, but rather about saving ourselves and our future generations.

So, the final question is: fighting Global Warming - can Humanity afford not to?

And so it goes ...


(Cross-posted at DKos and The Wild Wild Left)

4 comments:

  1. Mentarch, well done as usual. Harper has certainly followed Potomac Pinocchio down the pollution path.

    You may consider this incompetent, but check today's top post at my place. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow! A Progressive Patriot Award? For me? Thank you TC - this is quite an honor!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow - the DKos version fo this post made the Eco Diary Rescue! Who would've thunk it?

    ReplyDelete

Please feel free to comment on APOV. However, remember to keep in check your tone and respect for all here. Let rational, reasoning, enthousiastic and passionate conversations and discussions rule first and foremost in our participatory democracy, so as to facilitate the free exchange of reality-based facts and ideas. In between, do not forget to have fun and enjoy yourselves ... in other words: keep on rockin'! - Mentarch