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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Agreement to Reach An Agreement

The Agreement Was Finally a Minimum Common Denominator

There was at least an agreement to reach an agreement on cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. China and India are keeping their powder dry, one hopes. US caved in in the last minute, after, apparently, assurances it got from developing countries that they would cut emissions too! And finally the hypocritical EU, which apparently took the lead in the talks, agree to cut, again. I'm sure they'll keep their promise, just like last time. Apparently there will be transfer of green technology from industrialized countries to developing ones. And the ever bureaucratic India inserted language that someone is going to monitor the transfer - one more ploy for blame game when the time comes? EU tried the usual nonsense of shoving the global agreement through, as it tried during the trade, Kyoto, and any number of global agreements, with the help of its friends - China, with the milder India backing it, put a stop to it with a "This is a conspiracy" charge. There were no specific standards mentioned.

I'm sure the polar bears sitting outside Bali conference (they must be glad it was cooler there at this time - although Bali is right on the equator) apparently will go back to North Pole happy! The ever more increasing ice shield of the Antarctic will probably not be happy because reversing green house gases will stop expanding glaciers at the South Pole if emission are cut - same correlation, in reverse, applies?

Climate policy analyst Eliot Diringer, of Washington's Pew center, looked on the positive side.

"It puts no one on the hook right now for emissions reductions," he said. "What's important, though, is that it lets no one off the hook either."

Now the U.N. will embark on at least two years of talks to fashion a more effective and widely accepted successor to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The process could determine for years to come how well the world will cut emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

The roadmap is intended to lead to a more inclusive, effective successor to Kyoto, which commits 37 industrialized nations to cut greenhouse gases by an average of 5 percent between 2008 and 2012.[Yahoo News - AP]

What AP doesn't say is what happened to Kyoto that EU bulldozed through and US and Australia are usually blamed for derailing. First, Kyoto went into effect in 2005 (not 2008 as the AP report says) and was supposed to reduce green house gases to 5% below 1990 levels by 2012! Number of countries ratified the treaty but no one reduced green house gases. In fact they are actually going up. The only countries that reduced emissions, for a period of time, were the east European countries and Russia. These countries, which were still under Soviet Union in 1990, lost their industrial base in the early to mid-90s, post-USSR collapse, with emissions coming down rapidly. But now their economies are growing and so are green house gas emissions, as expected. The rest of EU countries increased, not decrease to pre-1990 levels, their emissions by 2-10% depending on the country! And the much maligned US actually reduced its emissions 2% while keeping its economy growing. Talk about European hypocrisy.

In any case, in the next two years, during negotiations, Bharat should hold to its per-capita based emission standards line. If industrialized countries can cut to 1/12 their current energy consumption - level of current Bharatiya per-capita consumption, fine, India will join in to cut energy consumption. Else green emissions or not, energy usage will sky rocket in the few decades catching up with rich nations. And there is still no cheap energy alternative to coal, oil, and gas on a mass scale, without massive subsidies from the tax payers. Meanwhile, Bharat better get used to managing it's vast coast line, flooding, and irrigation facilities to deal with impact of increasing warming - man-made or not.