Monday, December 12, 2011

Durban: Deal or No Deal?

The climate deal at Durban is dead on arrival. It is a deal to talk about a deal for an eventual deal. It is full of loop holes, get out of jail free cards and vague language – it had to be to secure approval of countries who basically have no intention of changing their behaviour.

The deal, such as it is, commits the parties to begin negotiations now for a deal to be done by 2015 to create a legally binding deal to come into effect in 2020. The deal keeps alive the Kyoto protocol as a legally binding framework, but Europe will be the only group of nations bound by it – Canada, Russia and Japan are pulling out. The US, China and India were never in. The new framework, yet to be fleshed out, requires all nations to curb emissions, but the developed nations at a faster and deeper cut than the developing nations. China has signalled repeatedly that it will not subject itself to external legal monitoring, but the language of the deal struck in Durban is sufficiently vague to permit them to suggest that the legal framework will be national, not international. So – no universal target, no universal legal framework, no universal commitment. Some deal.

COP17 – the seventeenth conference of the parties – was intended to settle the post-Kyoto question (just as COP15 and COP16 were). It is clear that this process is broken. The Durban agreement has kicked the ball down the road in the hope that the next three conferences can settle what the last seventeen have not. Some deal.

The science advocacy movement supporting the manmade global warming theory has already condemned the agreement reached at Durban as not enough, not serious and calamitous for the planet. It will do little to limit temperature rises to below +2C, little to move the world to a post-carbon economy and little to provide support to those countries who claim to be deeply impacted by the impact of climate change. Dr. James Hansen, a profiteer science advocate campaigner and the so-called “father” of the manmade global warming theory, thinks we have missed the tipping point and it is now likely too late to “save the planet”. Some deal.

Kyoto is dead de facto, if not de jure. The international community has shown, once again, that it is not capable of dealing with transformative challenges. Indeed, it is increasingly clear that international mechanisms for dealing with threat, challenge or change are increasingly “broken”. Anyone who thinks that the Durban agreement is a breakthrough or a substantive development needs to read the text of the agreement carefully. It is vague. It doesn’t deal with the $100billion a year fund – how the money will be raised, managed, distributed – or with the independent monitoring of performance. Some deal.

Canada is right to distance itself from all of this. We should, however, now demonstrate our own commitment to reduce emissions and shoulder our environmental responsibilities in a world-leading way. Waiting for Kyoto2, like Waiting for Godot, is a pointless task. It would be better for us to be responsible, environmentally leading global energy superpower. We should strengthen Alberta’s carbon emissions regulations and increase the cost of CO2 offsets; develop a market based ecosystems service regime that is the envy of the world and focus on shifting our energy system to natural gas or renewables. Its time for Canada to show how a different approach to sustainability can make a difference. After all, we need to do this to sell our energy systems and natural resources to the world. Now that’s a deal.

No comments: