Monday, November 09, 2015

Life's a Funny Old Thing

Isn't it curious how, when it comes to trade deals, governments willingly, sometimes foolishly, even rashly, surrender some pretty important incidents of state sovereignty, but when it comes to climate change and, especially, agreements to slash greenhouse gas emissions, the national sovereignty issue is used to thwart any outside interference.

We'll agree, promise even, to cut emissions by this amount or that by this year and that, but don't you dare monitor us. We'll tell you how we're doing and you'll just have to take us at our word. Don't even think about enforcement, actually holding us to our word. No, no, no - sovereign states don't tolerate that sort of meddling.

When it comes to climate change, one of the top voices is that of Hans Joachin "John" Schellnhuber of Germany's Potsdam Institute. He's Angela Merkel's 'go to guy.'  Same, same for Pope Francis.

Schellnhuber is guardedly optimistic that the Paris climate summit in December might just spark something unstoppable - other than global warming. What he's hoping for is nothing less than an implosion of the global carbon economy.

“If some countries really honour their pledges, including China, Brazil, South Africa, US and Europe, I think we will get a dynamic that will transform the development of the century. This is not sheer optimism – it is based on analysis of how incumbent systems implode.”

In July, Schellnhuber told a science conference in Paris that the world needed “an induced implosion of the carbon economy over the next 20-30 years. Otherwise we have no chance of avoiding dangerous, perhaps disastrous, climate change.”

“The avalanche will start because ultimately nothing can compete with renewables,” he told the Guardian. “If you invest at [large] scale, inevitably we will end up with much cheaper, much more reliable, much safer technologies in the energy system: wind, solar, biomass, tidal, hydropower. It is really a no-brainer, if you take away all the ideological debris and lobbying.”

The hook here is, "if some countries really honour their pledges." If. 

The key, he said, was that these pledges are honoured and future reviews deliver the rest of the cuts needed. But he warned there will be no international force to check and enforce carbon cuts, as nations would not allow such a challenge to their sovereignty.

“The verification will not be delivered by an international scheme,” he said. “You will not send in emissions inspectors like people wanted to send to Iran [for nuclear technology inspections].” Instead, he said: “It is prestige, it is image, it is a moral issue, it is how you appear to the world. If the Chinese, for example, make a pledge, they want to keep it. They do not want to lose face.”


Unknown said...

We allow our governments too much power,such as in climate change and trade deals. We need to have Canadians engaged in the decision making.what's with the bloody secrecy in signing these trade deals. It is Canadians who are going to be impacted, both in cost and loss of sovereignty.Our governments work for us. We need to start acting like the ones with the power instead of sitting back and waiting to see what our government will do.

The Mound of Sound said...

Years ago, Pamela, I wrote an essay about the decline of posterity as a factor in government policy and planning and perhaps nowhere is that as great a problem as in our response to climate change. We, from our parents' generation to our children's, have created most of the problems that will beset our grandkids and the generations to follow them. Yet, due to our indifference (even contempt for) posterity, we spurn policies that accommodate the needs and interests of the future.

It all ended about 30-years ago with the rise of neoliberalism and the demands for smaller government and ever lower taxes. We now act on the basis of "because we can" with scant regard to whether we should.

Despite all that we vest in our government the exclusive power and resources that ought to be harnessed to meet these challenges. They prefer to use those assets for other purposes and we're generally content with that.

Anonymous said...

Tell me Mound, based upon your blog and your comment, are you willing to give up half your bank account to be used in the fight to element Environmental issues? Making money is where this all began in the first place.

Anonymous said...