The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
The Forum - On Line Opinion's article discussion area


RSS 2.0

Main Articles General

Sign In      Register

The Forum > Article Comments > The Kyoto Protocol - it's just 'so not there' > Comments

The Kyoto Protocol - it's just 'so not there' : Comments

By Peter Vintila, published 13/9/2007

The Kyoto Protocol, arguably the most important international treaty in human history, remains weak and irresolute.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. All
Yet another attempt to ridicule the Kyoto Protocol, and minimise its importance!
In fact, the Kyoto Protocol has been, and continues to be, quite a success.
Leaders of the 27 EU countries agreed in March 2007 to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by the year 2020. They also pledged to increase the total energy from renewable sources to 12.5% by 2010, and then to 20% by 2020.
The European Commission says it's on track to meet a key renewable energy objective and that 19% of the gross domestic electricity generated in the European Union's (EU) 27 member states will come from renewable sources by 2010 at current rates of progress, falling just short of the target of 21% set in 2001.
A record 7,500 megawatts (MW) of wind capacity was built in Europe in 2006. Wind energy now supplies 3.3% of the EU's total gross electricity consumption. It is estimated that the wind power capacity will increase from today's 50,000 MW, producing 100THW of energy, to 180 GW, producing 500 TWH of electricity by 2020. Wind power could, some studies say, supply 16% of the EU's total electricity consumption by 2020. Nine countries are on track to meet their national renewable electricity targets of 21% for 2010: Denmark, Germany, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Luxemburg, Spain, Sweden and The Netherlands.
Germany has already overshot the EU target and 14 per cent of its gross electricity consumption is expected to come from renewable energy by the end of 2007. In 2000 the share was 6.3%.

Kyoto targets will be reviewed, with new national plans later this year. meanwhile, Kyoto gives the world, including the developing countries, the lead on real action to address global warming.
After all, the "developed" world put those gases up there. Kyoto provides an ethical way to teach and guide those "developing" countries, by example.

Australia and the US are the world's pariahs in this challenge of global warming. Christina Macpherson
Posted by ChristinaMac, Thursday, 13 September 2007 10:13:02 AM
Find out more about this user Recommend this comment for deletion Return to top of page Return to Forum Main Page Copy comment URL to clipboard
Why denigrate the only multilateral agreement that commits anyone to reduce emissions, only to suggest swords-to-ploughshares. Wasn't the UN supposed to achieve that earlier?

You'd need 100% consensus on diverting defence funds before any action happens at all. Is *anything* less likely to succeed than asking the USA, China, India, Russia, Pakistan and Indonesia to divert military spending elsewhere?

The Stern Report explains clearly that modest emissions cuts are cheap: equivalent over two decades to postponing the doubling of the size of a typical economy by six weeks. The delay might be longer in filthy, rapidly-growing China, but the environmental benefit correspondingly greater. Growing economies will have no trouble switching from dirty to clean technologies to "fuel" their growth if their emissions are capped.

A cap like that negotiated by Iceland and Australia, or even one indexed to economic growth, would have been appropriate for developing countries at Kyoto. Any successor agreement within the UNFCCC should impose such a cap.

Neither Hamilton nor Monbiot is wrong about offsets. Emissions *permit* trading, where total emissions are capped, is effective except where polluters get a free ride from "grandfathering". Offsets bought in countries which have not committed to a cap are less valuable, but nor are they worthless if the emission reductions are genuine and immediate.

The CDM under Kyoto requires very strict accounting for the benefits achieved, so emissions reductions bought with it are genuine. The best thing about CDM is that it prepares participating countries to make a commitment.

Offsets bought under other schemes (such as forestry) may or may not be devious: some operators maintain new plantations well and account properly for sequestered carbon, while others "buy" growth that might have happened in any case. But tree-planting is a slow and therefore ineffective subsitute for direct cuts. A tonne of brown coal burned today produces two tonnes of CO2 a newly-planted tree will take thirty years to extract from the atmosphere. Better to leave the coal in the ground.

A binding multilateral emissions cap is essential. Only a successor agreement to Kyoto will provide it.
Posted by xoddam, Thursday, 13 September 2007 11:58:10 AM
Find out more about this user Recommend this comment for deletion Return to top of page Return to Forum Main Page Copy comment URL to clipboard
There are two major problems in the world that are being ignored,(because they are politically incorrect), and make all current efforts under protocols such as Kyoto futile.

The first is that the population of the third world will double over the next 25 years.

The second is that we are going to run out of oil (at least of cheap oil).

Projections of carbon emissions assume a continuing increase in oil consumption, when the oil just won't be available.

The unpalatable conclusions are:

1. The third world will never be developed.

2. There will be a general drop in the standard of living everywhere, particularly in the first world. This will leave little motivation for continuing aid to the third world.

3. The third world country of hope, China, is only in that position because of its success in controlling its population through its one child policy.

4. Third world countries who continue to allow their population to increase will have to choke on the increase, as first world countries, particularly Australia, will not permit any but a selected few migrants from the third world. By 2020 our navy could well be using boats carrying illegal migrants coming from Asia for target practice.

5. Kyoto was a joke, or a sweetheart deal between the EU and the third world, whichever you prefer. It needs to be replaced by something universal and stringent, which includes provision for population control.

If these problems are not addressed they will be solved by natural means, which usually include the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

When you have a world shortage of an essential resource, you don't have rationing, you have a little war to see who will get the resource, and who will get nothing. That is why suggestions that aid could be funded out of foregone military expenditure are ridiculous.
Posted by plerdsus, Thursday, 13 September 2007 1:49:35 PM
Find out more about this user Recommend this comment for deletion Return to top of page Return to Forum Main Page Copy comment URL to clipboard

You drastically underestimate people's creativity and adaptibility by putting the population cart before the development horse.

Population growth in developed countries (including the former Second World) has slowed not by population control policy, but by people making informed personal choices in an economic context. That supposedly liberal governments try to *reverse* the trend shows a selective deafness to market signals. Population can stabilise elsewhere in the world in the same way. If well-informed people with the means to control their reproduction choose to have children, they have their reasons.

China is the *only* country with a successful top-down population control policy, achieved mostly by force. Its booming economy has also been achieved top-down by opening all paths for investment (state, private, foreign and domestic) to exploit its workers and resources with near-complete disregard for quality of life and the environment.

There is no evidence that Chinese economic growth is a consequence of its population control.

Calling China a "country of hope" is disturbing -- it's a scary place right now. My hopes for that country are only that its leadership is not entirely insane, bolstered by convincing signs of a commitment to better environmental outcomes, quality standards and consumer protection, but undermined by disregard for personal freedoms of the non-property kind and one of the world's most arbitrary legal systems.

We are never going to run out of oil, because as it becomes more scarce its price will soar. If it were not for destructive externalities like atmospheric pollution, global warming, urban sprawl and soil depletion, our use of liquid fossil fuel would be unproblematic. Of course we use more now than ever before, it is a resource at the peak of its production! We have no choice but to use less, starting Very Soon. Big deal.

Development may be slowed, but cannot be halted, by changes in the cost of readily harnessable energy. The techniques to which we switch -- most importantly in the developing countries -- as oil becomes more expensive will on average be less wasteful and less destructive.
Posted by xoddam, Thursday, 13 September 2007 4:10:17 PM
Find out more about this user Recommend this comment for deletion Return to top of page Return to Forum Main Page Copy comment URL to clipboard

You are right in saying that the world will never run out of oil. The significant thing is that we will run out of cheap oil, which I mentioned, and you appear to agree on this point.

Back in 1948, when it had been devastated by damage in ww2, Japan instituted a draconian program of population control, which was the foundation of its economic recovery. I know of no poor country that has managed to break out of the poverty trap since ww2 which did so with a population increasing at the rate we are currently seeing in the third world. If you know of one, please tell me.

The only way we know how to run an economy is with continuous growth. The only recent example of an extended period of zero or negative growth was the Great Depression, and it was largely responsible for the second world war, as well as not being much of a fun time to live in.

The need to cut oil consumption will almost certainly end the current period of long-term economic growth. Even though a two hundred year period of growth, punctuated by occasional periods of depression, is unusual in history, many people have come to believe they are entitled to it and its absence will cause much discontent.

The reason I call China a country of hope is that a Confucianist government seems to be only one capable of enforcing population control. Think where we and the world would be if there were 200 million more Chinese, which is what we could easily have had without the one-child policy.

Basing policy on the hope that innovation and technology will deliver a currently unseen bonanza is not realistic. The electric car, for example has been available for 100 years, apart from the continuing failure to develop a suitable battery. I am sure you would join with me in hoping for the development of a new, pollution-free source of energy (nuclear fusion seems the most promising candidate), but until it can be made to work we cannot base policy on its availability.
Posted by plerdsus, Thursday, 13 September 2007 5:28:11 PM
Find out more about this user Recommend this comment for deletion Return to top of page Return to Forum Main Page Copy comment URL to clipboard
Kyoto is a very important first step. But even first steps need to be taken correctly. For all it's bennefits, Kyoto has some serious flaws, notably an over reliance on carbon trading. Emmissions trading has worked in the past, notably in reducing the pollution from surfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides in the US and Europe to deal with the acid rain problem in the 1990s. But there are serious problems with it too.

However, the point the author does not make clear is that Kyoto was only ever intended as a first step. We need to keep pressure on governments to make meaning contributions in further discussions, as opposed to "aspirational" APEC like talk fests.
Posted by ChrisC, Thursday, 13 September 2007 9:55:35 PM
Find out more about this user Recommend this comment for deletion Return to top of page Return to Forum Main Page Copy comment URL to clipboard
  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. All

About Us :: Search :: Discuss :: Feedback :: Legals :: Privacy