Monday, September 10, 2007

Resolution at the APEC summit. Well, sort of.

The APEC nations have agreed on the expected deal (CNN/AP) on climate change and energy use.

Hmm. Note the many adjectives involve. Tentative (no one signed anything yet). Non-binding. Aspirational. Voluntary. Consensus-based.

Those words describes the deal best. The last one may jump out. The use of the term "consensus-based" implies that the alternative to this agreement, like a post-Kyoto plan involving all the nations party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, would not be consensus-based. It is setting up the straw man, much like saying [as Pres. Bush and PM Howard have] you desire a technology-based approach implies that others do not.

The Globe and Mail reports that Canada and Japan pushed for (a voluntary) 50% emissions reduction by 2050 goal though erroneously reports that the APEC leaders agreed on a 25% reduction by 2030. The agreement, as discussed here before, is for a 25% decrease in energy intensity.

I don't particularly enjoy repeating myself on this issue of intensity-based targets. But people keeps getting it wrong. Here's the key: An intensity-based target is not inherently evil. The problem is this target much those used in US policy and past Canadian government policy is, at best, a forecast of business-as-usual for the next 23 years. As such, it appears to be designed for show, and not much else.

So, presuming the APEC nations all sign the final agreement, the question remains: which is better, a weak deal or no deal at all? Is it better to have these reluctant nations put their names on something? Or will it undermine other efforts?

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