Saturday, May 08, 2010

Germany Throws in the Towel on Climate Change

Germany has given up hope of ever achieving a global consensus to arrest climate change. Yes, you heard right, Angela Merkel has thrown in the towel. From Spiegel Online:

As recently as last December [Chancellor Merkel] said: "If we don't succeed in limiting global warming to 2 degrees, then the costs of the resulting damages will be many times higher than what we now, with a change in our lifestyle, can achieve."

Now it's a different story: Merkel will no longer endeavor to contractually implement the 2-degree target -- in other words, to reach a legally binding agreement with specific reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. She doesn't want to be snubbed again because she has realized that important countries won't lend their support the next time around either. This was confirmed two weeks ago at the nuclear summit in Washington by Chinese President Hu Jintao and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Germany now has to acknowledge the limits of its influence. The country's climate policy was an attempt to play a leadership role on the grand stage. But the others didn't follow suit. On paper they praise the objective, but they are not prepared to do more than make vague promises. The only way forward, it seems, is by taking side roads. But even there the Chinese and the Indians won't simply trot along behind the Germans.

On the domestic front, this threatens to bring down the great symbol of Germany's efforts to remodel society in line with a climate-friendly lifestyle and mode of production. If Merkel is no longer fighting on the international stage to achieve the 2-degree target, how does she intend to convince her fellow Germans that they have to change anything? A domestic temperature target would be absurd.

The article suggests that Merkel has given up hope of reaching a binding, global agreement and will instead focus on side deals with individual countries on a variety of approaches. Unfortunately you can't solve a global problem without a global solution. That much we learned when the world got together to tackle CFCs to protect the ozone layer.


Scruffy Dan said...

Is it throwing in the towel? Global agreements on this issue have been elusive.

Perhaps more progress can be made with this approach

The Mound of Sound said...

As you know too well, Dan, it isn't a matter of "more progress" but of "enough" to achieve the essential result. Can that goal be reached without global consensus? To me that seems hard to imagine.