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Surprised that nobody has picked up on this story, yet, courtesy of Reuters.

It suggests that, instead of addressing the issue of CO2 emissions, the US Government is going to propose a new deal on ozone, basically speeding up the process of cutting HCFCs.

Apparently, the claim is that this will have twice the impact compared to cutting CO2. Those sums would be interesting to read. The article continues:

Connaughton, who was touring EU capitals to prepare for the conference, said the United States could not accept a system for trading rights to emit carbon dioxide (CO2) like the one established by the European Union and allowed under Kyoto.

“The design of the global cap and trade system has proven to be horribly flawed,” he said.

“The whole structure does not contain the incentive system that cap and trade is intended to create.”

He said the Washington meeting would seek “nationally defined” strategies for fighting global warming, including binding and non-binding measures.

“We would like to find consensus on a long-term global goal for reducing emissions,” he said.

He said EU plans to add domestic and international airlines to its emissions trading scheme — opposed by the United States and other nations — would violate World Trade Organisation rules. “This battle is over before it begins,” he said.

So, this is the outlier for next month’s meeting: ‘We’re not going to do anything about CO2 emissions, whatever you say, and we’re not going to do anything about airlines. Instead, let’s propose something which will be a problem for China and not us…’

The logic of these ‘decisions’ is interesting, too: ‘We’re going to propose HCFC changes because it will reduce the greenhouse effect, but not CO2 regulation, because…er…’. Then there are those comments about cap and trade. ‘The existing system is flawed, so rather than work out a new system, we’ll abandon the idea altogether…’

Then there are the weasel words; ‘We would like to find a consensus on a long-term global goal…’ Well dur! What is the EU agreement if it is not a consensus (amongst EU nations), on a global goal’. But you can already see the sneak: ‘when we say say long-term global goal, we don’t mean a long-term goal for global emissions, we mean a long-term globally agreed goal on emissions…’

As per usual, this is not a discussion about what needs to be done, but a promise about what will avoid being done. Given that, without the participation of the USA, no policy or agreement will have a sufficient impact, this ends up feeling like the US government is saying ‘Screw you’ to the rest of the world. When the US electorate becomes sufficiently aware that this is what their government is saying to them, too, then maybe some pressure will be exerted to stop fighting this dangerous and destructive rearguard action to supposedly ‘protect the economy’ and some progress can be made.

There is a moral question involved here, too. If the US Govt. does not believe that emissions controls are necessary, why would it propose the HCFC step? If, on the other hand, it does understand the importance of emissions controls, then the decision to procrastinate is both deliberate and purely self-interested (the selfs in this case being the elected representatives and their friends) ; knowing the importance of controls implies that the Govt. also knows the likely impacts of climate change on large proportions of its population, but has chosen to do nothing about them; this, then, is another example of punishing the ‘ignorant electorate’ because the Govt. knows it can get away with it. Can anyone offer an explanation how this can, in any way, be morally justifiable?



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September 2007