A paper tiger ?

The BBC reports that the first meeting of the Asia-Pacific climate pact, scheduled to take place in November in Australia, has been postponed. I’ve been waiting to see what concrete measures this group (touted as an alternative to Kyoto) would come up with, and not expecting much. Obviously someone has realised that a meeting with no agenda is not going to do much for anyone.

13 thoughts on “A paper tiger ?

  1. I notice from the article that the Australian Government was to organise this meeting and that it was to take place in Adelaide.

    The BBC’s implication is that nothing has been done.

    But perhaps, again that is an overly harsh and hasty conclusion.

    Perhaps DIMIA did all the necessary work but lost the paperwork. Maybe it was sent by mistake to a hospice in the Philippines.

  2. I regard the Asia-Pacific Climate Pact as something akin to an Alcoholics Anonymous for alcoholics who are either in denial about their condition (USA), or whose desire to avoid the consequences of their drinking proves weaker, at the moment of truth, than their desire for another drink (Australia), and who therefore devise elaborate plans to vary what they drink, when they drink it, under what circumstances, etc., in the belief that this will spare them from hitting bottom. These strategies of denial and evasion, and the psychology which goes with them, are decribed in fascinating detail in the earlier chapters of the AA Blue Book, and are almost exactly paralleled in the current Anglosphere greenhouse debate.

    To complete the metaphor one could regard proponents of geosequestration as vendors of hangover pills, whilst proponents of nuclear power could be treated as users and peddlars of designer drugs which, so they claim, provide a better buzz with lesser health negatives than alcohol when used in moderation.

  3. Great analogies, Paul! (except for the last one; the designer drugs will come back to bite your great-great-grandchildren, and they’ll curse your name.)

    Who is on the Asia-Pacific Climate Pact? Any Astroturf organisations and thinktanks in there?

  4. Helen asks: “Who is on the Asia-Pacific Climate Pact? Any Astroturf organisations and thinktanks in there?”

    I’m wondering if this is something to do with some of our old friends at the Institute of Public Affairs. Now before anyone gets the wrong idea: this is mere speculation on my part. Just a guess. Yet it fits the known facts.

    Professor Quiggin’s remark, “a meeting with no agenda is not going to do much for anyone”, may be obvious to most people; but is it obvious to, say, Ray Evans? Whose capacity to insult would-be allies – more to the point, would-be donors – is the stuff of genius? And whose roaring public-relations ineptitude would be entirely compatible with failing to see that an agenda-less meeting is a public embarrassment? Not sure.

  5. Paul, you forgot the proponents of the Kyoto protocol in your analogy. Their strategy is to remove 1% of the alcohol from every drink in the belief that that will solve their alcoholism.

  6. My theory is that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change http://www.ipcc.ch/ upstaged them by throwing doubt on their trump card of carbon capture of coal emissions. Like the hydrogen car there seems to be growing evidence that it won’t suit the mass market. Climate optimists want to believe there is something better than Kyoto with its many restrictions. Maybe there’s not.

  7. I’m still wondering what the point of the Asia-Pacific Climate Pact. If they do believe climate change is a problem then why not join up with the Kyoto process? Even if they believe it is completely flawed there is not a lot of downside to joining it if you intend to make the greenhous gas reductions anyway.

  8. (Yeah, me again – last time this week, I promise)

    Back in the late 1970s it was quite common to hear the same person advocate – sometimes within the span of one sentence – these two cognitively dissonant premises:

    * There’s enough fossil fuel out there for millennia, so greenies can shut up already;

    * There’s so little fossil fuel out there that we’ll be brushing our teeth in the dark by next Tuesday, unless we go nuclear.

    Being myself agnostic on the whole issue, I nevertheless wonder if some such cognitive dissonance isn’t going on within the “Immaculate Conception of Smokestack Industry” lobby.

  9. Still,

    Even odder, all the ideas propsoed in the Asia-Pacific deal (technology transfer, joint research) are already contained in the Kyoto Protocol.

    For China, India, Japan and South Korea, who are already Kyoto signatories, the new deal seems to commit them to nothing new at all.

    (India and China signed the main Kyoto Protocol but didn’t sign the additional Annex B agreement to limit their emissions.)

  10. Downer was on the news saying they couldn’t have the climate meeting because of the current climate in the gulf of mexico. Would have thought this might have made it MORE likely to have the meeting, not less.

  11. It seems quite appropriate that the first meeting of the pact is postponed because after all, one of its objectives is to postpone doing anything about greenhouse gas emissions.

  12. “… why not join up with the Kyoto process? Even if they believe it is completely flawed there is not a lot of downside to joining it…”

    Joining Kyoto means accepting limits upon your economy from an outside group. The UNFCCC requires that the limits be altered until an undefined goal has been achieved, so the current limits as specified in Kyoto are not all that is involved in the agreement.

    The UNFCCC/Kyoto also requires developed countries to give piles of money to other countries. That is a tad of a downside.

  13. 1. Under Kyoto, signatories to Annex B are bound only for the current 5 year commital period. Every five years, if the parties are unhappy with the agreeemtn they have the option of quitting.

    2. Developed countries are not “required” to give a cent to anybody. The only time joint Implementation or the Clean Development Mechanism will be employed is when it’s cheaper to reduce GHGs this way rather than domestically. You also seem to assume that spending under these mechanisms are a direct transfer from the governments of the developed coutnries to the other parties. This is also simply not true.

    If, for example, BP upgrades one of its refineries in a developing country and redcues emissiosn by doing so or repalces a coal-fired power plant with gas-fired power, it will generate credits which it can either use itself or sell.

    Far from being huge unrequited transfer, JI and CDM are mechanisms to keep the cost of compliance down.

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