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APEC, Howard's vision, climate change « Previous | |Next »
September 3, 2007

John Howard is touting the 2007 APEC summit as the most important international meeting to discuss climate change since the 1992 Rio Conference.

Bill Leak

Okay, Rio gave birth to the Kyoto Protocol and binding targets. What does APEC give birth to? A promise by the member nation-states to cut greenhouse emissions? Isn't that what is on the table? A flexible regime is the key word; a regime based on talking down binding targets and talking up technology, free markets and prosperity through trade.

So where is India? Why isn't India a member of APEC? APEC without India makes little sense as a regional grouping.

The flexible approach to climate change is being spun as Howard's vision for a post 2012 -Kyoto international agreement and policy regime. It's a long way from an international emissions market. Howard wants the end of the Kyoto approach to international action on climate change. Not that the final communique will say this.

I guess the importance of APEC for Australia is a symbolic one --its a recognition that Australia's place is in the Asia-Pacific region, and that its economic future as a vibrant multicultural nation-state lies in Asia. So it offers a chance to set Australia on the right course and to help shape the issues for the region

Will Howard be able to use APEC to drink from the wellsprings of partisan feelings? Will he be able to tell emotionally compelling stories about who they are and what they believe in to use it to run on who he is and what he genuinely cares about, and to show that he knows hisr constituents well enough to know where he shares their values and where they don’t. Can be speak at the level of principled stands and provide emotionally compelling examples of the ways he would govern, and to use this as a signature issue that illustrates his principles and fosters identification.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:00 PM | | Comments (6)


why isn't India a member of APEC? Aren't we selling uranium to India and offshoring our IT to India?

India's absence is odd isn't it, especially when Russia is a member.

One argument is that APEC is an Asian Pacific grouping and India is not really a Pacific country. Another argument is that India does not have a sufficiently developed economy to warrant inclusion.

I reckon it goes deeper than this--something along the lines of the US blocking India's entry. I'm not sure why this is so given the security talk about the the security dialogue between US, Japan and Australia being extended to include India. That is effectively an anti-China security pact--ie.,--one based on an axis of democracy ---and it can only make Australia uncomfortable now that a resource hungry China is Australia's largest trading partner. Why bite the hand that feeds us?

What to do? Try and have it both ways?

I see that Paul Kelly is holding forth in The Australian on the challenge for Australian diplomats to develop a strategy to revive APEC. He says:

The APEC concept envisages ``a community of Asia-Pacific economies’’. Its mission has been to promote trade, investment and economic and technical co-operation, address human security challenges such as pandemic disease, reduce transaction costs for business, promote structural reforms and build mutual confidences where interdependence is growing daily....The problem with APEC is the gap between expectation and reality ...APEC operates on a voluntary basis; it has no legal constructs; it is not a negotiating forum ...Given the hopes of Howard and Rudd for APEC, a deeper question looms: Is Australia’s public culture behind them or is it reverting to aggrieved introspection?

Aggrieved introspection? Didn't Keating develop the APEC structure to foster the idea of an Asia-Pacific community that would provide a way to maximise Australia’s influence and leverage over the politics, economics and security of the region?

I cannot see much happening re climate change from APEC. Leadership and practical tools with which to tackle climate change will be absent. The US would resist any substantive moves Australia makes.

And now Malaysia is saying we don't have the authority to be making climate change proposals because we didn't sign up for Kyoto. Fair enough.

Kyoto may have been "only" a symbolic gesture, but that attitude begins with the assumption that the symbolic means nothing. Clearly that's wrong.

The US is not the only one resisting tackling climate change. Reuters reports today:

"A plan by U.S. President George W. Bush and Australian Prime Minister John Howard to sign a climate-change agreement at an Asia-Pacific summit may put the leaders at odds with developing nations, who only want to discuss trade.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group isn't the right forum to discuss climate change, Malaysia's Trade Minister Rafidah Aziz was cited as saying by state news agency Bernama.

``The `E' in APEC doesn't stand for the environment, it should stand for economic,'' said Simon Tay, chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs.

At the APEC leaders' summit in Sydney this week, Bush and Howard, who have been criticized for refusing to ratify carbon-emission caps mandated by the Kyoto Protocol of the United Nations, want to be seen taking a proactive approach as they prepare for elections at home....

According to Indonesia's Foreign Ministry, environmental issues should be discussed at the United Nations Framework Control on Climate Change meeting."


Not quite according to plan.