Open Post on "Kyoto Climate" negotiations
This from the New York Times about the climate conference in Montreal.
Today, in the middle of new global warming talks in Montreal, there is a sense that the whole idea of global agreements to cut greenhouse gases won't work. ... But the current stalemate is not just because of the inadequacies of the protocol. It is also a response to the world's ballooning energy appetite, which, largely because of economic growth in China, has exceeded almost everyone's expectations. And there are still no viable alternatives to fossil fuels, the main source of greenhouse gases. ...
Indeed, from here on, progress on climate is less likely to come from megaconferences like the one in Montreal and more likely from focused initiatives by clusters of countries with common interests, said Mr. Benedick, who is now a consultant and president of the National Council on Science and the Environment, a private group promoting science-based environmental policies.
The only real answer at the moment is still far out on the horizon: nonpolluting energy sources. But the amount of money being devoted to research and develop such technologies, much less install them, is nowhere near the scale of the problem, many experts on energy technology said.
These conclusions sound very suspiciously like the US alternative to Kyoto, which recognized that greenhouse emission reductions could not be achieved at the cost of economic growth in a world still beset by poverty; that regional arrangements were better than a single global one and that the best way forward was to invest in new and cleaner technology. This article, from the BBC's 2001 archives, is entitled US plans 'Kyoto alternative'. Note the scare quotes around the words Kyoto alternative, and then how the article refrains from describing the US proposal. However, the US plan, known as the Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate is comprehensively described by Wikipedia.
US President George W. Bush called it a "new results-oriented partnership" that he said "will allow our nations to develop and accelerate deployment of cleaner, more efficient energy technologies to meet national pollution reduction, energy security and climate change concerns in ways that reduce poverty and promote economic development."
In addition, the agreement promotes long-term transformational technologies that could radically reduce emissions while promoting economic growth, including:
- Next-generation nuclear power
- Fusion power
- Hydrogen energy distribution
Readers may wish to do a Google search on 'US alternative Kyoto' to see what the press was saying about the US plan at the time. One of the questions I'm interested in exploring is whether politics somehow prevented environmentalists from reaching the conclusions described by the NYT years earlier; and if the answer is yes, whether there is any way, in principle, one can detect whether politics is twisting a current public policy debate away from its rational path.