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Dissolving in Durban: Green Eggs and Ham

The dissolution of the global climate movement continues in Durban.  As every developed country outside the EU united to shovel the expiring Kyoto Protocol into its coffin, China and other developing countries turned on the conditions Europe wants to make Kyoto more palatable.

As the FT reports:

“We think the EU is just shifting the goalposts from one place to another and it’s a departure from what we understand the Bali balanced-package to be,” [Beijing’s lead negotiator Su Wei] said.

A second phase of Kyoto was part of that package, he said, adding: “Now the EU is talking about new conditions for them to undertake on a second [Kyoto] commitment targets, so that’s not fair.”

He said that since the EU was the only major group willing to consider a second phase of Kyoto, China and other large emerging economies were willing to listen to their position, but he made it clear they did not believe this necessary, given the Bali road map was already in place.

Translation from Dipspeak: China’s right to economic growth is not up for discussion, and nothing Europe says or does will have any impact on its behavior at all.

Not all developed countries are bothering with green window-dressing. Canada will not confirm whether it’s willing to make new commitments and its enthusiastic embrace of oil sands extraction makes greens everywhere go pale at the gills. The US offers greens little more hope.  Some environmentalists probably believed President Obama when he said that his nomination marked the moment when the seas stopped rising, but today the greens accuse his administration of undermining negotiations altogether.

Meanwhile, the developing countries want to press ahead with what many of them see as the most important piece of the global climate agenda: $100 billion in new foreign aid commitments every year.  The greens had to throw this fund into the negotiating mix to get third world governments to accept limits on their future carbon output.  To anyone with a double digit IQ it is painfully obvious that $100 billion per year will never never never be paid into a green fund of any kind.  It is also obvious that the US Senate will never ratify a treaty which has this fund attached to it.

But the $100 billion unicorn is the third world’s favorite beast in the whole lovely green herd; therefore diplomats are wrangling and haggling over this nonsense as if something real was at stake.  And the wrangling isn’t going very well.  From Agence France Presse:

In a tense session at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting, the vast majority of countries pleaded for swift adoption of the fund, which aims at helping poorer countries fight global warming and its impacts.

Forged in principle at the 2009 Copenhagen Summit, the Green Climate Fund is to be ramped up gradually to the 100-billion annual mark by 2020.

The US, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia united in a rare constellation to block further progress, much to the distress of a number of third world strongmen who were already picking out the Swiss banks where they hoped to store this largesse.  But it turns out there are a couple of other little problems with the fund, besides its architecture and its fiscal supervision:

Also unclear is how the fund would be financed.

Many ideas have been tabled for filling its coffers — a tax on aviation and shipping fuels, a global financial transaction fee, auctioning of carbon emissions allowances — but none have so far gained much traction.

Another source of tension is where the money will go: developing nations want more money for adapting to climate change rather than keeping emissions down.

If we had some eggs we could have some ham and eggs if we had some ham.  Green eggs and ham.  The only agreement seems to be that many countries want some money really, really badly, they want it now, and they don’t want anybody telling them what they can do with it.  The $100 billion Unicorn Fund is never going to fade away from these climate negotiations — and the rich countries are never going to pay up.  The poor countries will use this failure to justify their own refusal to give any ground on emissions and generations of diplomats yet unborn will fly business class to exotic locales around the world to argue about it.  It is Jarndyce v. Jarndyce for greens.

One country did get some good news out of the climate summit. It is now official: Qatar has beat out South Korea to host the next futile green gabfest in 2013.  How appropriate that the next round of talks on how to save the world from its addiction to oil will be hosted by a Gulf state that thrives off the world’s addiction to oil. Hopefully Qatar won’t over prepare. If next year’s summit is anything like this year’s, attendance will be low.

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  • Bill Glahn

    Great Dickens reference.

  • elisa

    Highly entertaining and informative. i so appreciate the wit, insight and principled thinking to be read here.

  • Kenny

    Keep pounding the Green, Mr. Mead, they deserve the beating for the damage they’ve already caused.

    Sooner or later the ref will stop the fight on a TKO.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    I understand that Unicorns are quite tasty, especially if deep fried in oil. (Yum, fried Unicorn, it’s what’s for dinner)

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