Friday, September 07, 2007

Change in the climate of the APEC summit?

You might say the best case scenario for the climate is that the Asia-Pacific leaders fail to agree on a "Sydney Declaration" today. The likely agreement, a version of which leaked a couple weeks ago, would feature some nebulous technology and trade incentives and some very weak intensity-based or "aspirational" GHG emissions goals.

Such mitigation-light is a real danger. If the APEC summit succeeds in folding China, the US, Australia, Canada and others into a weak, non-binding greenhouse gas emissions plan, the UN efforts to assemble an aggressive post-Kyoto emissions reduction policy with actual science-based goals could be scuttled. One sign of hope is the Chinese preference for a UN-based climate change framework.

Even without an agreement, the danger is that the APEC summit and the upcoming US-planned summit in Washington will further the, for lack of a better, re-branding of international emissions policy. I'm struck by the language. Take for example, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's increasingly carefully worded statements: "strategies that are comprehensive, practical and realistic". They sound sensible, unless the objective is a long-term plan that avoids dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Another example was yesterday's Washington Post, reporting the false dichotomy that the US President Bush and Australian PM John Howard support a "technology approach" over a Kyoto-style approach, as if Kyoto requires going back to horse-drawn carriages.

If anything of value comes out of the APEC summit, it is that we have reached the point where the major world leaders all feel compelled, whether by science or by politics, to at least claim a serious desire to combat climate change [one reason why he won't have a chance to join the club, Law and Order reruns or not]. And this hilarious evidence of just how much the world trusts Canadians.

No comments: