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climate heating: UN negotiates « Previous | |Next »
September 22, 2009

The Rudd Government has given the impression that its approach to emissions trading scheme has been directed more at placing pressure on a deeply fractured Coalition, rather than reducing greenhouse emissions and shifting Australia to a low carbon economy. Coal rules in Australia and the fossil fuel lobbyists deploy the tactic of delay.

So Australia has targets but no action and we are planning to build more coal-fired power stations to power the nation into a new era of prosperity:


Attention has shifted to the UN in the context of the negotiations for a climate change treaty being adrift. It is marked by the failure of leaders of the big polluting countries to sign on to the deep emissions cuts needed; and the failure of industrialised states to come up with a package on how to compensate poor countries that will suffer the most devastating consequences.

The December Copenhagen summit is unlikely to produce a strong enough agreement that is a successor to the Kyoto protocol. Kyoto was where promises were made but not kept. The Copenhagen negotiations are dangerously stalled.

Even if rich countries clean up their act, a deal to ensure that global emissions peak and start to fall in time to keep temperature rises to less than 2C won't succeed without developing countries, such as China and India. A core issue is how to allow developing nations such as China and India to grow their economies and lift billions from poverty without generating enormous greenhouse gas emissions, as past growth in the developed world did.

The official Chinese position is summarised as "shared burden, differentiated responsibilities", which roughly translates as: We're all in the same boat but it's your fault that it's taking on water, so you'd better do most of the baling. China will not sacrifice its economic growth to prevent the world from warming by more than 2C--- its priority must be economic growth to relieve poverty among its vast population.

Is Beijing is determined to make the rich countries cut deeper and hand over more technology and cash to developing nations? The most vocal arguments are about equity: the rich industrialized world caused the problem so why should the poor world pay to put it right? China's position is that helping developing countries adapt to climate change is not an exercise in charity by rich nations, but their responsibility to help developing countries take a new low-carbon path for development.

Yet Australia is not taking a new low-carbon path for development. The United States is unlikely to be the nation that blazes the trail toward a bold new future in Copenhagen given the political trench warfare in the US,

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:37 AM | | Comments (4)


Rudd is Coailtion lite--the policy keeps softening while the pro-action rhetoric gets louder. He advances a timid policy at home, then jets off to New York to lecture other leaders on the need for concerted action, and then bignotes himself on his diplomatic efforts that are welcomed by everyone.

Obama offers little more than rhetoric at the UN. His legislation is stuck in the Senate, which preoccupied with health care reforms. The US political system looks dysfunctional in terms of its capacity to implement reforms.

Though China's rhetoric has changed --- by committing to a unspecified carbon target---but it did not say by how much it would reduce its emissions. It would expand its efforts to build a clean energy economy.Overall greenhouse gas emissions will not fall, but the fossil fuels burned in powering each surge of the economy will decline - a cut in so-called carbon intensity.China is not yet ready to reveal how far, if at all, it is willing to move off its current - highly polluting - path of economic growth.

I guess the UN is trying to do its bit to get some momentum towards Copenhagen.

"China is not yet ready to reveal how far, if at all, it is willing to move off its current - highly polluting - path of economic growth."

Oooooh THAT China!!! The one with a population over over 1.3 billion. Yeah, they really should find a better path. After all, we've managed a painless, efficient (barely noticed actually) transformation.