It really doesn’t seem that many are paying attention to the climate conference being held at Cancun in Mexico. Apparently, attendance is down from the Copenhagen conference of a year ago, and many of the delegates who are in attendance are strictly going through the motions.
“… the much heralded [Kyoto] Protocol was a singularly stupid piece of counterproductive social engineering that encouraged the migration of good jobs to China and other low wage countries — without helping the environment at all.”
– Walter Russell Mead
The massive failure of Copenhagen will not be repeated at Cancun since not very much is expected to be achieved at that Mexican resort—global action to combat climate change is now acknowledged by many to be but a pipedream. The much ballyhooed cap-and-trade scheme of U.S. President Barack Obama is pretty much dead, as is Chicago’s once vaunted carbon-trading market.
Will Cancun finally consign the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to the dustbin of environmentalism history? Let’s hope so. As of July 2010, some 191 states have signed and ratified the protocol. But has the Kyoto Protocol actually achieved anything more than making millions for climate change activists like former U.S. vice-president Al Gore and promoting job migration to low-wage, low-regulation, high-pollution Third World nations? Kyoto certainly has not reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and that was its central purpose.
Most of the world’s growth in energy-intensive manufacturing is occurring, not in the countries that are expected to make and achieve Kyoto targets for CO2 emission reduction—i.e., the developed Western democracies—but in the developing world, and especially in China, Indonesia, India and Brazil where hard targets for greenhouse gas reduction are nonexistent.
And some of the countries that have been praised for making achievements under Kyoto have been disingenuous about their claims. Take the European Union’s claim that, by the end of last year, emissions produced by the current 27 member countries have fallen by more than 17% since 1990. What a joke that is.
As energy intensive manufacturing has moved to the developing nations such as China, so too have the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the activity. But the EU countries have not cut their consumption of goods and services—far from it. So their claims have been no less than a fraud as pointed out recently by the Globe and Mail’s Margaret Wente who wrote: “The EU is actually responsible for 40 per cent more CO2 today than it was in 1990, if you count the goods and services it consumed as opposed to the ones that it produced.”
Kyoto’s fatal flaws are many, but a notable one is that it only measures carbon emissions from production, and has virtually ignored the emissions generated by goods and services consumed by individual countries.
The public has become more skeptical of the climate-change industry’s claims of impending doom and have less tolerance for inflated statistics. Couple that with the media’s reduced coverage of climate change and you see something close to public apathy approaching. And that’s a good thing, for perhaps we can begin to turn our attention to the real problems of pollution to our air and water, and to other activities which are damaging our environment at an alarming rate.