What we can learn from Papua New Guniea

Following the Bali Meetings this week has been tough-mostly because no major news source is giving it the time of day in America, when there are soooo many absolutely vital news stories to be covered here in the US.

Which is why we have Blog Rolls.  Strategies for Sustainability is written by Georges, a graduate of the Swedish Masters Program in Sustainability and has loads of really well thought through things to say.  Here is an excerpt from an excerpt from his blog relating us with some High Points from the final hours of the meetings:

And then the moment of truth: India presented the alternative text from the G-77+China. The essential point about this alternative text is that it takes into account “differences in national circumstances” amongst developing countries.

Portugal, speaking on behalf of the European Union, let the other shoe drop. “We support the proposal made by….India.” …Even the Saudis rose to say they could live with the G-77 text.

And then it was the turn of the United States. Assistant Secretary of State for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky, with only the absolute bare minimum of diplomatic language, stated flatly that the United States rejected the changes. It was not prepared to accept the G-77 text.

Then occurred one of the most remarkable sounds that has perhaps ever been heard in the annals of international diplomacy–like a collective global groan–descending then to a murmur, then increasing in volume to a full-throated expression of rage and anger and booing and jeering, lasting for a full minute, so that finally the Minister had to call the meeting back to order.

(The Americans, with almost unspeakable rudeness, issued invitations to the next ‘major economies meeting’ on the first day of the Bali COP. Sort of like making a big show of announcing your engagement while at someone else’s wedding.)

Casting all diplomatic niceties to the winds, the representative from Papua New Guinea stood up and said: “if you’re not willing to lead, please get out of the way.”

Now if the American citizenry can just find the inclination to say the same!


15 Responses

  1. The US will not ratify any emission treaty involving cap & trade that does not properly bind the so-called developing nations as well. China has higher emissions than the US and has been increased its emission 50%+ in the last decade. We’re not going to let them continued that way while at the same time hampering our own economy.

  2. I have no illusions that it will be adopted.

    The argument of we won’t unless they do has no merit to me. We aren’t a bunch of grade schoolers playing chicken with our bikes here.

    If the US joined the developed world in the Hardline position of the EU, we would have significant bargaining power to pressure China into employing Green Technologies to fuel their development. Seeing as the US has a significant share of that technology we would make hundreds of billions in trade, revitalizing the industry of capitol goods here in the US. Instead we are trying to sell them Hummers, but can’t because their CAFE laws are stricter than ours, which is embarrassing enough.

  3. Rob, I completely agree. The US used to pride itself on its innovation–a lot of mechanical and technological firsts happened in this country. I just don’t buy the argument that adopting stricter environmental policies would harm the economy. Sure, status quo would be disrupted and businesses built around oil would suffer, but what about all the new technologies that are now floundering because they’re underfunded? People will always need food, electricity, and transportation, but there’s nothing that says we have to do those things the same way we’ve been doing them for the past 100 years. Our government had better make a move soon, or we’ll look like bigger fools than we already do.

  4. China has higher emissions than the US? It also has like four or five times more people!

    Hampering our economy? Since when does economic growth take precedence over all else? “But Mr. Lincoln, abolishing slavery will hamper our economy!”

    Nice troll jonolan…

  5. I stated the factual reasons why the US wouldn’t ratify the Kyoto Protocol and won’t sign any future similar one. You just don’t have the same priorities as the US Senate. That’s fine, you don’t have to.

    I will point out though that the arguments surrounding the trety have centered more on the details of the proposed carbon trading market than on actually globally lowering greenhouse gasses.

    China has more people, that the apologetic seemingly always used. That doesn’t explain the 50%+ rise in emissions or the smog problems in Chinese cities. The Chinese are even worse than the US, yet they claim and are granted a status that would largely protect them from from the Kyoto Protocols.

    I wish the world would get together and hash out a treaty that will actually work.

  6. Per capita, the US uses far more resources and pollutes far more than China. Or pretty much any other country.

    A rise in China’s emissions is largely because they are manufacturing an ever-increasing pile of stuff to sell to us! And then they’re using the money they make to try to live like us!

    Bottom line: Any climate change treaty that has never-ending economic growth as it’s primary goal cannot succeed.

  7. I know what will work. We could all stop buying so much crap. China has so much pollution because we put all our manufacturing over there.

    We can only buy green energy from our energy companies. If enough peopel do that they’ll have to build more plants to supply it all.

    We could elect officials who think like us. I’ve been closely watching their votes and any incumbent who votes different than I would won’t be getting my votes anymore. Period.

    We can keep pushing for real reform on our pollution and emissions standards. Eventually we’ll be heard. It might not be until after DC is flooded with sea water, but it will happen.

    We can keep on making our local changes and working locally. Eventually it will break through this wall.

    We can stop worrying about the economy. What good is a growing economy if we all have to work endless hours with no fun on a horribly polluted planet.

  8. I am so happy I read about your blog on Garden Rant. You are talking about all the important issues and the opportunities that we all have. I am putting a link to One Straw on my new blog Commonweeder.blogspot.com.

  9. Per percent of the global gross domestic product (GDP) China is worse though than the US when it comes to emissions. They also have very a similar share of that global GDP.

    Given the closeness of economic powers between China and the US, how can you legitimately expect the US to harm its economy power unless China harms theres as well?

    Bottom line: Any climate change treaty that has redistribution of economic growth as its goal cannot succeed.

  10. Economic growth cannot be sustained much longer regardless. We’d better just agree to disagree.

  11. e4,

    We may be speaking at cross purposes. You’re talking about economic growth and I’m talking about wealth distribution.

    Economic growth has to continue to grow as long as the human population continues growing. That doesn’t mean it has to grow irresponsibly or in a completely unregulated manner (China’s 9% growth per year as an example). I believe that it is possible to sustain growth while still being responsible.

    Wealth distribution, on the other hand, does nothing for the environment and damages the developed nations.

  12. I don’t agree that economic growth has to continue with population growth. There are plenty of examples to the contrary. Controlled contraction would be the ideal, but all forms of growth are ultimately unsustainable.

    And again, China’s growing based on all the dollars we’re sending them. They’re holding a trillion of them in their back pocket right now. We are the drivers behind China’s growth.

    I don’t see wealth redistribution as a given. The countries that cut fossil fuel dependence (which can probably only make significant gains through conservation) will have a huge advantage in the world as those prices rise.

    I just don’t buy the idea that we shouldn’t unless China does too. It’s like saying I won’t pay for trash service unless my neighbor does too. Otherwise he’ll have an economic advantage over me because of all the money he’ll be saving. Never mind the garbage piling up and the rats and the well water starting to develop a tang.

  13. Ok, i guess we will have to agree to disagree; I think that Kyoto was too focused on carbon trading and getting the developed nations to hand out tech and money to others – and you apparently don’t.

    I think we do both agree on the need for more environmentally responsibly way of life; we just disagree on the methods and the vehicle for it.

    Cheers and keep up the fight!

  14. […] Posted on December 19, 2007 by onestraw Whew!  Looking at the comment storm from today, apparently I need to get internet access at […]

  15. Well said jonolan!

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