Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Regime change in the US and Australia (a winning coalition needed)

With the first ominous sniff of federal elections hanging in the Australian air like a distant bushfire, and with the US presidential elections due in less than half a term, the question has to be asked.

How do we get carbon dioxide emissions regime friendly governments into power into these two countries, the only non-signators of the Kyoto Protocol?

Well, let's knock over the easier case first; the US. Unless the Democrats completely bugger-up their majority control of the senate and the house, it's hard to see them not winning. But, the burning issue of Iraq risks sucking all the oxygen from other issues, like global warming. So it it would be useful brand the issue of Iraq with its opportunity cost that arises from not combating global warming earlier (and for less in the long-term). Or developing energy independence, self-relience and sustainability. The issues are linked, and those links should be drawn out for voters to consider.

I calculated the opportunity cost using the rule suggested by World Bank economist Sir Nicholas Stern in his recent recent report: That the total cost of combating is 1% of global gross domestic product per year. I worked out the yearly average of the cost of Iraq from and US GDP from the CIA Factbook.

It turns out that the cost of fighting in Iraq is 1.4 times the cost of what Stern says is needed if the US were to effectively fight global warming, if I am right.

$35.5 billion is a lot of spare cash. Keep in mind the opportunity cost of not combating global warming is calculated at 20 times the cost of combating it by 2050.

The other high ground to stake a claim on is as the party that believes in science. The failures of Bush's 'faith-based' initiatives in not finding the WMD they 'believed' they had, for example, or the Supreme (court) Failure of Intelligent Design to viraly replicate itself in the science class-rooms alongside The Theory of Evolution makes science more reassuring whether one has a faith or not. Even if religious there still is something unsettling about Bush saying that God told him to go into Iraq.

The censoring of top NASA climate scientists like Hanson is well documented, as is the relationship of the Republican Party to the oil industry and its dirty disinformation program.

You don't need to be Rove (Karl) to make hay with all that sunshine, being as saturated with co2 as it is. The way to do this is make the case that climate science is what will lead us out of the global warming desert. And the renewable energies will be our chariots.

And Australian opposition parties should do the same.

1. Claiming the high-ground in science-informed climate recovery.
The only way we are going to combat global warming is by comprehensively understanding the entire body of interrelated science. Voters need to know this. While the Howard government is busy placing our scientific institutions at the service of commerce they must be exposed. Science is not advanced by forcing scientists into predicting what discoveries they will make when they apply for grants based on potential comercial merit.

2. Turning Iraq into an isssue of oil independence.
America is an important ally and trading parter, so we need to stay in synch with their
politics. Our opposition politicians should hear the US voters verdict
at the recent US mid-term elections as keenly as any American
conterpart. We import all our oil. If we grow our own biodiesel we cut down on climate distorting emissions, and don't have to join in on every loser mission in the middle-east.

Finally, we should accept any help from outside interested parties. Like US Democrats who might want to test market this political strategy in Australia. We are a test market for everything else. And like the rest of the world that is attempting to pull its weight under the Kyoto Potocol. From their point of view - hey, the US and us are free-loaders on the global economy. It's in the interest of Germany, France, Italy and the rest of continental Europe to get a Kyoto Protocol friendly government up in Australia, and especially up in the US.

Some say that that is what the British were up to with the politics behind the Stern Report. :::[From Economist's View]

Stop the free ride, by Philippe Sands, Commentary, The Guardian: The Stern report concludes that reducing the adverse impacts of climate change is highly desirable and feasible. ... One of the main barriers to ... change is the failure to stigmatise the industrialised states that have decided not to join the Kyoto Protocol ... Australia and the US. Putting it another way, these two states derive economic advantages by not joining Kyoto: their producers do not have to pay the short-term costs of implementing emissions reductions. The companies and their producers are free-riders, benefiting from the environmental actions of others without meeting some of the immediate costs.

It is time to start the ball rolling against this unfair subsidy. It is time to start thinking about using economic instruments to encourage Australia and the US to sign up to Kyoto. That means trade measures: levying climate duties - and perhaps even import restrictions or outright bans - on products from these two countries...

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