Saturday, September 29, 2007

Emissions reductions — aspirationals miss the binding obvious

Condoleeza Rice sounds as convincing a leader on climate change, as she is on the Palestinian crisis. But at least she knows that others regard her warily:

THE US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, has tried to assuage European and green group concerns the US is trying to hijack the United Nations process for developing a new global deal on climate change. "I want to stress that the United States takes climate change very seriously," Dr Rice said at the start of a two-day conference. "Managing the status quo is simply not an adequate response."

Oh goodie... they are now up to speed in Washington. So how to they plan to respond?

But she repeated that the US did not support binding targets on individual countries - a key difference between the US and European position.

Oh — back to the status quo. "Yip, yip, yippy", yapped her lap-dog Downer-Under, issuing discombobulated climate policy like flying fur-ball:

Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer, predicted that Australia, like the European Union, Canada and Japan, would ultimately embrace binding targets. This was because it was essential to make the Coalition's proposed carbon trading scheme work, he said. "In our case, the way the binding target will work, we'll set next year an aspirational goal, then to make that work, we have to get the emissions trading scheme into operation and you have to have binding targets under an emissions trading scheme, otherwise you can't create a price for carbon," Mr Downer said.

The South Africans don't sound too convinced by the conviction of the Kyoto Protocol hold-outs.

Critics have questioned whether the US approach of voluntary targets would work. "We appreciate the sentiments expressed by Secretary Rice, but the devil is always in the detail," said South Africa's Environment Minister, Marthinus van Schalkwyk.

The Europeans are wary of a process that circumvented the United Nations. They were right about Iraq; they are right about climate change. A target is not a target if it is not binding. If it is not binding, if it is an aspirational target, it is a mere wish.
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