Friday, December 17, 2004

Kyoto Is Dead. Kaput. Sleepin' With Da Fishies. Taking a Dirt Nap....


Praise the lord. Logic and sanity prevail at a Multi-National conference, cats and dogs lying together, The Red Sox won the World Series, next thing you'll tell me that France is building the largest bridge in the world with multi-national cooperation. Oh, wait...

Ron Bailey, Reason magazine's science correspondent, has been reporting from the Kyoto conference and providing some excellent coverage. Here is an excerpt from the final death-march of Kyoto-

BUENOS AIRES -- The Kyoto Protocol is dead -- there will be no further global treaties that set binding limits on the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) after Kyoto runs out in 2012.

Under the Kyoto Protocol industrialized countries are supposed to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases 5.2% below their 1990 emissions levels during the first commitment period which runs from 2008-2012. The European Union agreed to reduce its overall GHG emissions by 8% during that period. To cut its carbon emissions, the European Union has established a carbon trading scheme in which companies must purchase permits to emit carbon. The number of carbon permits is capped at 8% below 1990 emission levels. The European Union and environmentalist activists have been pushing for negotiations to establish more stringent emissions limits for a second commitment period after 2012. It's not going to happen.

The conventional wisdom that it's the United States against the rest of the world in climate change diplomacy has been turned on its head. Instead it turns out that it is the Europeans who are isolated. China, India, and most of the rest of the developing countries have joined forces with the United States to completely reject the idea of future binding GHG emission limits. At the conference here in Buenos Aires, Italy shocked its fellow European Union members when it called for an end to the Kyoto Protocol in 2012. These countries recognize that stringent emission limits would be huge barriers to their economic growth and future development.

"I've been wondering if a cap and trade system for reducing carbon emissions would be successful," said Taishi Sugiyama, a senior researcher at Japan's Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry. "I think the answer is no. The market for carbon credits will likely shrink to be only within Europe after 2012."

The sanity part comes from the idea for a Zero Emissions Technology Treaty (the preceeding link is in Microsoft Powerpoint- Here is the Google cache in HTML)

Mr. Bailey continues-

Such a treaty would have broad appeal because it avoids the inevitable conflicts over allocating emissions targets and because most countries recognize the importance of long-term technological progress. Sugiyama argued that a global cap and trade system is way too premature for developing countries to join because effective low cost ways to cut carbon emissions that they could use to binding emissions targets simply don't exist. "I cannot imagine a cap and trade system over the whole globe without low cost energy and emissions control technologies," said Sugiyama. However, as advanced energy technologies emerge over the next couple of decades, implementing a global cap and trade system becomes a more realistic prospect because developing countries will have access to effective technologies.

Running with the theme of the death of environmentalism as a religion, I stumbled across another Michael Chrichton speech that highlights one of the main faults in politicizing science-

An excerpt-

How will we manage to get environmentalism out of the clutches of religion, and back to a scientific discipline? There's a simple answer: we must institute far more stringent requirements for what constitutes knowledge in the environmental realm. I am thoroughly sick of politicized so-called facts that simply aren't true. It isn't that these "facts" are exaggerations of an underlying truth. Nor is it that certain organizations are spinning their case to present it in the strongest way. Not at all---what more and more groups are doing is putting out is lies, pure and simple. Falsehoods that they know to be false.

This trend began with the DDT campaign, and it persists to this day. At this moment, the EPA is hopelessly politicized. In the wake of Carol Browner, it is probably better to shut it down and start over. What we need is a new organization much closer to the FDA. We need an organization that will be ruthless about acquiring verifiable results, that will fund identical research projects to more than one group, and that will make everybody in this field get honest fast.

Because in the end, science offers us the only way out of politics. And if we allow science to become politicized, then we are lost. We will enter the Internet version of the dark ages, an era of shifting fears and wild prejudices, transmitted to people who don't know any better. That's not a good future for the human race. That's our past. So it's time to abandon the religion of environmentalism, and return to the science of environmentalism, and base our public policy decisions firmly on that.

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