Friday, December 09, 2005

International Environmental Negotiations

In the 2008 Presidential Campaign, will the Democratic Party's nominee run as an international "team player"? Will the typical U.S voter be looking for a candidate who wants to build coalitions to conquer global challenges? I thought that Tip O'Neil said that all politics is local.

President Bush's antipathy towards "Kyoto" style greenhouse gas treaty participation raises an interesting game theory question. Is there issue linkage? If the U.S did sign a CO2 treaty that encouraged green innovation and carbon taxation how much good will would this "buy" the U.S on other issues ranging from Iraq to Israel to free trade pacts in South America?

President Bill Clinton certainly gives a good speech but I must admit that I don't really remember what his initiatives were during his Administration for reducing the carbon intensity of the U.S economy. Did he push to raise gasoline taxes?


Clinton Says Bush Is 'Flat Wrong' on Kyoto

By CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP Special Correspondent 42 minutes ago

Former President Clinton told a global audience of diplomats, environmentalists and others Friday that the Bush administration is "flat wrong" in claiming that reducing greenhouse-gas emissions to fight global warming would damage the U.S. economy.

With a "serious disciplined effort" to develop energy-saving technology, he said, "we could meet and surpass the Kyoto targets in a way that would strengthen and not weaken our economies."

Clinton, a champion of the Kyoto Protocol, the existing emissions-controls agreement opposed by the Bush administration, spoke in the final hours of a two-week U.N. climate conference at which Washington has come under heavy criticism for its stand.

Most delegations appeared ready Friday to leave an unwilling United States behind and open a new round of negotiations on future cutbacks in the emissions blamed for global warming.

"There's no longer any serious doubt that climate change is real, accelerating and caused by human activities," said Clinton, whose address was interrupted repeatedly by enthusiastic applause. "We are uncertain about how deep and the time of arrival of the consequences, but we are quite clear they will not be good."

Canadian officials said the U.S. delegation was displeased with the last-minute scheduling of the Clinton speech. But U.S. delegation chief Paula Dobriansky issued a statement saying events like Clinton's appearance "are useful opportunities to hear a wide range of views on global climate change."

The former president spoke between the official morning and afternoon plenary sessions of the conference, representing the William J. Clinton Foundation, which includes a climate-change program in its activities.

In the real work of the conference, delegates from more than 180 countries bargained behind closed doors until 6:30 a.m. Friday, making final adjustments to an agreement to negotiate additional reductions in carbon dioxide and other gases after 2012, when the Kyoto accord expires.

Efforts by host-country Canada and others to draw the United States into the process were failing. The Bush administration says it favors a voluntary approach, not global negotiations, to deal with climate issues.

"It's such a pity the United States is still very much unwilling to join the international community, to have a multilateral effort to deal with climate change," said Kenya's Emily Ojoo Massawa, chair of the African group of nations at the two-week long conference.

Clinton's vice president, Al Gore, was instrumental in final negotiations on the 1997 treaty protocol that was initialed in the Japanese city of Kyoto and mandates cutbacks in 35 industrialized nations of emissions of carbon dioxide and five other gases by 2012.

A broad scientific consensus agrees that these gases accumulating in the atmosphere, byproducts of automobile engines, power plants and other fossil fuel-burning industries, contributed significantly to the past century's global temperature rise of 1 degree Fahrenheit. Continued warming is expected to disrupt the global climate.

In the late 1990s the U.S. Senate balked at ratifying Kyoto, and the incoming President Bush in 2001 formally renounced the accord, saying it would harm the U.S. economy.

The Montreal meeting, attended by almost 10,000 delegates, environmentalists, business representatives and others, was the first annual U.N. climate conference since Kyoto took effect in February.

The protocol's language requires its member nations to begin talks now on emissions controls after 2012, when the Kyoto regime expires. The Canadians and others also saw Montreal as an opportunity to draw the outsider United States into the emission-controls regime, through discussions under the broader 1992 U.N. climate treaty.

But the Americans have repeatedly rejected the idea of rejoining future negotiations to set post-2012 emissions controls. The Canadians continued to press for agreement early Friday, offering the U.S. delegation vague, noncommittal language by which Washington would join only in "exploring" "approaches" to cooperative action.

While rejecting mandatory targets, the Bush administration points to $3 billion-a-year U.S. government spending on research and development of energy-saving technologies as a demonstration of U.S. efforts to combat climate change.

2 comments :

John Whitehead said...

"After President Clinton realized he could not gain enough support for his proposed Btu tax (which would have, among other things, imposed a tax of about 7.5 cents per gallon for gasoline and 8.3 cents per gallon for diesel), he had to accept a smaller tax that was agreed to in the Senate and passed by Congress: a 4.3-cents-per-gallon motor fuels tax. The law also extends a 2.5-cent gas tax set to expire in 1995."

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