Canada’s strategy becomes apparent

The Globe has Geoffrey York on the ground at the Bali conference on The Protocol After The Kyoto One. He reports:

There are growing signs that the Harper government has formed an unofficial troika with Tokyo and Washington at the negotiations. Using similar language in their statements, the three countries seem to have co-ordinated their message, stressing that economic growth is just as valuable as the environment.

Argh. In the long term, they’re the same thing. The environment isn’t a nice thing to have, like an art gallery or a good baseball team. It’s a necessity, like a functioning marketplace with enforceable contracts. There’s a deep divide between those of conservative cast who get this and those who don’t.

…Canada said there must be a “balance” between the environment and “economic prosperity.”

There were other similarities, too. While they talked vaguely about long-term goals for the next 50 years, none of the troika made any mention of short-term targets for an agreement to replace Kyoto when it expires in 2012. None mentioned anything about binding commitments or mandatory targets for reducing greenhouse gases by 2020…

So all the talk of getting everybody, including China, India and the U.S., to sign onto meaningful targets was, in fact, just talk. York finds that China is ticked off at Canada‘s recalcitrance.

In its opening submission, Bejing called on developing countries to “contribute more to undertake commitments of policies and measures” to address climate change. It was the first time China had ever used the word “commitments” in any climate-change negotiation, analysts said.

I could scream.

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5 responses to “Canada’s strategy becomes apparent

  1. The talk about “balancing” seems to be a cover for other issues:

    Japan will need to buy a lot of foreign credits to meet round 1, so they’re trying to steer clear of binding targets.

    Canada doesn’t want to get dragged into another round of target setting with the EU, where our compliance costs ended up being much higher, so it seems we’re also trying to steer clear of targets.

    U.S. is still out for the same old reasons.

    In other news, Australia ratified only when it found out it could meet it’s gracious 8% increase target, and then the very next day backed away from strict targets by 2020.

    Many countries are now talking about deeper and deeper targets but with later and later compliance dates (2050).

    A pattern (long ago predicted) may now be emerging: countries won’t accept near-term binding targets in international agreements because it risks creating significant wealth trasfer effects between countries.

    At the same time, more and more policy is being written domestically (Quebec, BC, cap-trade in U.S.).

    I’d expect this to continue. That is, more domestic policy, but less short-term binding international committments. The risks of large wealth transfers/losses are smaller.

    …now if domestic policy would just improve….

  2. That’s the problem with politics and politicians. The system doesn’t offer any incentives for delayed gratification. Politicians won’t do anything that some other politician will eventually take credit for. Consequently, nobody’s making decisions with our collective long-term best interests in mind.

  3. Zoom: A good reason to reform rather than abolish the Senate, with an emphasis on the role they can play in long-term decision making and planning.

  4. Don’t write off the US yet. Our voluntary market is something very exciting, and it should be able to overstep the political problems that you mention. Did you know that a full 16% of stationary US emitters are under a voluntary cap? This number is growing rapidly, and it is all being done without the UNFCCC

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