Monday, May 15, 2006

Emissions cuts Bonn mots: After you. No, after you!

One hundred and ninety of the world's nations will be meeting in Bonn on May 15-16 to attempt to create a dialogue between the developing world, the 40 rich nations subscribing to the U.N.'s emissions capping Kyoto Protocol, and the United States which generates 25 percent of the heat trapping greenhouse gasses responsible for the unnatural rate of warming. We are currently warming at 0.2°C per decade and at this rate 35 years to 50 years is all we have before the climate is irreversibly damaged according to experts Gorbechov talks to: :::[SMH].

Many poor countries want industrialised nations to make deeper cuts before they consider putting a brake on emissions from factories, power plants and cars.

They say rich nations have been the source of most greenhouse gases since the Industrial Revolution.

The poor countries have a point, and it is the same one the US warned was the reason why Kyoto was weak. But it plays into the hands of big oil and big coal and it would be hard for the poor coutries to argue this way had the US not pulled out of Kyoto in 2001.

And while they have a point in terms of the rhetorical framework contructed around global warming, entrenching fossil fuel dependence is not a sensible position for their long-term when it is at the opportunity cost of adjusting their economies to run on green energy. There has been an unchallenged assumption that converting to greener economies will come at the cost of growth framing this whole global warming debate. Today, this has been challenged in Australia by the Australia Institute: :::[SMH]

THE Federal Government's argument for not signing the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions has been rocked by new analysis showing the economic impact on Australia would be much smaller than expected.

Signing would have relatively minor consequences for Australia's competitiveness and could be easily managed, the report on the effects of carbon pricing has found. And it warns Australia's failure to sign is likely to be far more costly in the long run
than if it were to participate.

Knew that would startle you. Here is a bigger eye opener.

The Government has justified its failure to ratify the protocol by arguing compliance would have a disproportionate impact on the economy because of Australia's heavy dependence on industries with intense carbon emissions.

But the report said the industries that would be most affected by the imposition of a price on greenhouse gas emissions - aluminium, alumina, steel, nickel, gold and liquefied natural gas producers - account for just 1.5 per cent of gross domestic product.

"The international competitiveness problem is much smaller than has often been claimed," says the report, prepared for the Australia Institute by Hugh Saddler and Clara Cuevas, from the energy consultancy Energy Strategies, and Frank Muller of the University of NSW.

One-point-five piddly percent of the GDP? How come these guys get to have so much influence on government policy? On our environment? Our kids' futures? And their's? You can't even get away with calling it disproportionate. It's obscene, and it exposes the anticipated Bonne mexican standoff between the poor countries and the US, our partners in eco-crime, as pure artifice.
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