The most ruthless member

An urgent appreciation of consensus not being a particular preoccupation of the Harper government in … well, in any other field I can think of, it’s disorienting to see one of his ministers so adamant that it’s necessary when it comes to climate-change policy:

Canada’s Environment Minister John Baird said a European Union plan to combat climate change has failed to win support from the U.S., signaling the proposal needs to be changed.

“If we want to see genuine reductions, we have to get the United States on board,” Baird said in Bonn today, where he is attending a United Nations conference on biodiversity. “The EU proposal has not been able to do that.”

Climate change will be a key topic at a July summit in Japan of Group of Eight leaders, as part of global efforts to come up with a successor to the 1997 Kyoto climate treaty. To speed the creation of a new treaty, the G-8 countries agreed to hold talks dubbed “the Kobe Initiative” in the U.K. during the second half of this year and in Italy next year.

(Purely as a marketing ploy, naming anything to do with climate change after a Japanese city beginning with “K” is probably a bad idea.)

Particularly in the lead-up to the Iraq war, it was said by right-wingers that any system that values co-operation above all things will be at the mercy of its most ruthless member. They were usually talking about the UN, and everything else aside, they were right about that. Funny that the argument doesn’t seem to apply to greenhouse gases.

Solving this global problem obviously does demand co-operation, but I’m flummoxed by a line of reasoning that seems to say that until absolutely everyone agrees on all things in this field, nobody must do anything at all.


One response to “The most ruthless member

  1. This is an often-used political (or business-political) tactic.

    When you do NOT want to act, insist that no action be taken until a consensus is reached.

    When you DO want to act, do what you want, but afterwards explain that there was no time to acheive consensus 🙂

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