Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Climate Change Bad Boys Tough It Out in Warsaw

The Warsaw climate change summit may go into the books as the moment when the prosperous, industrialized nations turned their backs on the rest of the world.  We're not gloating about it but we're not even slightly repentant about it either.

Canada is a shining example.  We applauded (seriously, that's the word we used) Australia when the newly fledged Tony Abbott government abolished the country's carbon pricing regime.

Canada then joined forces with Australia at the Commonwealth conference to quash any suggestion of a green climate fund for our poor and vulnerable (i.e. less than white) Commonwealth cousin nations.

Then the Bad Boys brought the same message to the U.N. climate change summit in Warsaw.  Abbott dissed the summit so much, he didn't even send a minister to represent Australia.  But I'll bet you can find an Australian cabinet minister in Warsaw this week because that's where the World Coal Association has opted to hold its annual, 2-day conference and Australia is one of the largest coal exporters in the world.

The developed world isn't coming up with any new pledges for the Green Climate Fund either.  We had promised to raise tens of billions in funds to help vulnerable countries cope with climate change.  That was supposed to be "new money" but the U.N. has found that much of it was just existing foreign aid rebranded.  Worse, of the money redesignated, only 35% actually went to the vulnerable countries.   The rest was siphoned off as aid usually is.

We knew that Washington's major concern going into the Warsaw climate summit was the risk of potential demands for reparations from small countries bearing the brunt of climate change impacts resulting from our two centuries of industrialism.  This isn't about helping the Third World any more.  It's about giving them the slip.

The Warsaw summit has been an opportunity to gauge the Bad Boys and where they're headed in the future.  That doesn't look promising.   Japan, shifting to coal energy after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, has walked away from its emissions targets entirely.  Instead of a promised, 25% cut it's now warning of an overall, 3% emissions increase.    Big Coal Australia had promised an underwhelming 5% emissions cut but, having scrapped its carbon pricing initiative, that's not about to happen.  Canada?   Do you really need to ask?

Don't despair.   The 2015 U.N. climate summit is just two years away and, for sure, we're going to have a real plan by then.  Yeah, two years - trust me.

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