walter russell mead peter berger lilia shevtsova adam garfinkle andrew a. michta
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Another EU Greenfail As Poland Vetoes Carbon Targets

The EU’s carbon agenda has launched a trade war that has China blocking purchases of Airbus’s troubled new jumbo jets; now word comes that the EU climate agenda is beginning to fall apart at home.

The European Union’s ambitious low carbon plan collapsed yesterday when Poland vetoed plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions drastically after 2020. The move is the latest stage in the ignominious failure of EU carbon policy that has seen a grandiose carbon trading system bog down in a quagmire of scandal and price collapse. Europe will meet its current carbon reduction goals less because of any serious action than because the continent’s economic crisis brought on by the poorly constructed euro experiment has stalled economic growth.

Now the post 2020 picture is in near total disarray as EU law requires unanimous consent for new carbon targets to be set. Poland, which depends on coal for much of its energy production and has neither the money nor the desire to turn to Russian gas or oil, will not accept any European carbon policy that undermines its drive to raise local living standards.

Back in those halcyon times when the Davoisie were convinced that a global green carbon treaty was just around the corner, EU diplomats and journalists used to boast incessantly that climate activism was the centerpiece of a new and dynamic European diplomacy. Now both Europe and the climate agenda are in near-total disarray, and the EU has been unable to legislate for itself, much less for all mankind.

There are several lessons here. One is a healthy reminder that Europeans think they are very good at foreign policy but fail at it more often than not. Americans are often so concerned by our own regrettable shortcomings in this field that we assume that other people are better at it — but the historical record says otherwise. European powers have been misreading power realities and failing to adopt sustainable international strategies for more than a century. The climate kerfluffle is only the latest in a very long line of half baked initiatives and failures to come to grips with international realities.

This episode also reminds us that in spite of the many problems we have in the United States, we have a much, much better constitutional system than our European allies. Individual states, thankfully, do not have a veto over federal legislation; the last state to propound that theory was my native state of South Carolina back when Andrew Jackson was in the White House.  Nullification died in the US, and the Europeans will never have a real union unless they can kill it over there. (They probably can’t for the very good reason that the European Union is a confederation of nations rather than a single people, but that is another story.)

A third lesson from this mess is that the global treaty process is the European Union process writ large. For the green dream of a global climate treaty to come into being under UN auspices, every country on earth must sign up.  That includes Poland. It includes China and India, where governments know they face revolution if they give up the right to growth. It includes the United States, where two thirds of the Senate will vote for a complicated, third world-subsidizing climate pact when Hell freezes over and not before.

If the Europeans can’t agree on a climate plan, the prospect that the rest of the world can agree is less than zero. Every dime spent by climate activists on this goal was wasted. Every white paper on the subject was a folly. Every global conference was a grotesque and pointless boondoggle. Every pundit who supported this agenda was blowing smoke and every politician who endorsed it was either an idiot or a demagogue — or both.

This dog won’t hunt. This pig won’t fly. This horse can’t win. This parrot is dead.

None of this will stop green scam artists raising money from naive and goodhearted donors. It won’t stop bureaucrats who have a vested interest in eternal international processes and immortal, salary paying institutions devoid of all purpose or use. It won’t stop people who don’t understand the international system dreaming up new and equally unworkable unicorn catching devices. It won’t stop socialists, Malthusians and other anti-capitalist activists from using green rhetoric in attempts to whip up resistance to progress and change.

But maybe, just maybe, it will persuade a few more thoughtful and public spirited people who genuinely do care about the future of mankind that the environmental movement needs to rethink its approach from the ground up.

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  • ThomasD

    Maybe.

    But I doubt it. Given that one entire political party is dominated by “socialists, Malthusians and other anti-capitalist activists” and BOTH parties are deeply in the thrall of “bureaucrats who have a vested interest in eternal… processes” and beholden to “immortal, salary paying institutions devoid of all purpose or use”

  • gringojay

    Too bad the Europeans’ “unicorn catching”
    wasted so much coin of their realms. A cold epoch
    soon would set the scene for overdue appologies.

  • Rich K

    Rethink the green agenda ,NO. Stomp into the ground and leave for dead like the luddite creature it is,Yes. Anyone credible here knows that once a society is comfortable with its economic and societal security, it will fix any serious environmental issues it has but not before. Cant eat clean air.No matter how much you want to.

  • spinoneone

    Look for the next unicorn to be named “ocean acidification.” All caused by climate change, don’t ya know, and all the fault of MAN.

  • Corlyss

    “Every global conference was a grotesque and pointless boondoggle.”

    It wasn’t a total waste: the meaningless conferences got them out of their offices where they could do serious harm to their own countries and into an echo chamber of empty gestures that really hurt no person or nation. I say, “Let’s encourage them to meet 20 or 30 times a year.” It will also give a much needed boost to air travel and to tourism wherever they land.

  • Otiose

    Another lesson is how politicized science and scientists can become.

  • joe

    Bad that a state can’t nullify a federal statute?

    Isn’t it good that Poland nullified this horrible carbon trading scheme?

    Wouldn’t it have been nice if – say Ohio – had nullified Obama’s national health care law?

    Isn’t local control of local problems better for the country in many cases?

  • david c

    “This parrot is dead”

    No, no’e’s uh… resting

  • Kris

    “Poland, which depends on coal for much of its energy production and has neither the money nor the desire to turn to Russian gas or oil”

    Imagine!

    “This dog won’t hunt. This pig won’t fly. This horse can’t win. This parrot is dead.”

    See? The malignant effects of Global Warmening are already making themselves felt!

  • Jack

    Thank you for saying that. It is well past time that some one did.

    And maybe you could convey those remarks to the State Department as well.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    Recipe: How to make Unicorn Chowder
    Step 1: First you catch a Unicorn

  • Jim.

    “United States, where two thirds of the Senate will vote for a complicated, third world-subsidizing climate pact when Hell freezes over and not before.”

    Brilliant!

    “If the Europeans can’t agree on a climate plan, the prospect that the rest of the world can agree is less than zero. Every dime spent by climate activists on this goal was wasted. Every white paper on the subject was a folly. Every global conference was a grotesque and pointless boondoggle. Every pundit who supported this agenda was blowing smoke and every politician who endorsed it was either an idiot or a demagogue — or both.”

    Preach it Brother Mead!

    “This dog won’t hunt. This pig won’t fly. This horse can’t win. This parrot is dead.”

    This is BRILLIANT! This is why everyone in the world should read Via Meadia — when WRM goes full steam ahead like this, he’s THE best polemicist alive today.

    Keep telling it like it is, Professor Mead!

  • teapartydoc

    The entire twentieth century is a testimony to the superiority of European foreign policy and diplomacy. You have no business denigrating their achievements. Heh.

  • Bill Vancouver

    The watermelons (green on the outside and red on the inside) are using anthropogenic global warming as the vehicle to world governance. Don’t think ocean acidification is going to be their next ploy…too much scientific evidence against that one, but biodiversity seems to be moving to the front. Check this one out:
    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/originals/un_progress_governance_via_climate_change.html?Itemid=0

  • kim

    A warmer world increases biodiversity and sustainability. To the extent we can warm the world we should have praise rather than guilt trips.

    This viewpoint will become obvious in a cooling world, and will be obscured in a warming one. You pays your money and you takes your chances.
    =====================

  • Windy

    “….the environmental movement needs to rethink its approach from the ground up.”

    The environmental movement is not a movement of one mind. Enviros willing to engage in the ground upapproach have seen the emergence of an anti-industrial, anti-growth, “fundamentalist” enviro tribe that will never accept growth and energy expansion. A recent example is the insane statement by James Hansen when he said that it was, “Game over for the planet” if the XL Pipeline was extended to Texas. This mobilized an extremist radical group 350.org to unquestioningly oppose the pipeline.

    Mere weeks after Hansen’s bizzare comment, another climate scientist actually crunched numbers and presented the data saying:

    “As a climate scientist myself, I can profess to knowing the same thing that the 15 signatories know about what the impact that carbon contained in fossil fuel reserves will have on the climate. And I can (as can they) calculate how much of an effect the Keystone XL pipeline will probably have on global temperatures. For some reason (hmm?) the 15 climate scientists chose not to include that information in their letter to Congress.”

    “But here it is: The rise in global temperatures resulting from extracting and burning the oil delivered by Keystone XL at full capacity is about 0.0001°C/yr.”

    So activist scientists will ignore and hide facts and actual data in order to propagandize their radical ideology even when it hurts America and no one else. This is an anti-American pro-globalist POV that our president embraces and since President Obama has a very low energy IQ, he is trusting and appeasing these radical activists. As long as this president and anti-American activists are involved, we will never get a ground up approach to energy.

  • jmgzcc

    I still do not know if you are for or against Poland generating on coal beyond limits, or if a limitation in co2 in Europe, the US or the world at large is convenient or not, and why. Thanks for reminding us how difficult it is to put together 300 million souls. But the main question remains unanswered!

  • Gai

    Yes and it is just in time for a down turn in the global temperature bringing with it failing crops…
    Thank goodness Poland has some sense. I guess they got stung badly enough with the EU’s Ag policies that they are not interested in this idiot self destruction.

    (The Eu’s Ag policy is well worth reading: http://louisaenright.wordpress.com/tag/the-battle-to-save-the-polish-countryside/ )

  • Cathy

    I love the way you talk! Only now, please tell the Congress—which balked at passing Cap & Trade in 2009, but passed the 2007 Farm Bill which gave the USDA-NRCS the authority to get into the “ecosystem credit” trading biz (the easement business is booming!) along with the Dept of Interior, Fish and Game, et al.

    My stint as a volunteer bill reader during this VA General Assembly session had me reeling, trying to figure out where this is coming from. Go figure—“no-till” and carbon sequestration are the new fangled agricultural crops. Truly astounding—especially among the urgent cries for doubling food production by 2050, coming from the same source. Go Poland!!!

  • http://wheelgun.blogspot.com/ Zendo Deb

    Kudos on the Monty Python reference. (It isn’t pining, it has past on)

    jmgzcc. The main question isn’t unanswered. The answer is that EU style treaties and EU style promises don’t work. (Look at how EU promised after the Indonesian tsunami, and how much they actually delivered.)

    It is easy to promise much. But one of the results of the climate/co2 promise was send a lot of manufacturing out of Europe.

    The EURO and the problems in Greece are a case in point. (And the Greeks are going to have an election soon. I wonder how many of the REALLY unpopular austerity measures will be completed by the new government.)

  • jose lori

    Agendas and opinions are not science. The warmists have rode the AGW horse for over 30 years, changing their hat as the rest of us caught on to their charade. First it was global warming, and then it was climate change. Next came climate disruption all the time predicting catastrophic consequences. They seemed to have an insurmountable position as they morphed their belief into a theory that attributed all weather extremes – hot or cold, wet or dry, snow or no snow, glacial advance or retreat, greater or weaker hurricanes, changes in sea levels, and more to atmospheric CO2.

    At the same time real science, real data, observations and reality caught up with these extremists. None of the catastrophes that they have predicted have come to pass. The earth’s temperature, as measured by NASA’s Aqua satellite clearly shows stable to declining temperatures for at least the last 15 years.

    One might suspect that the end is near for these eco-terrorists and might even hope that the most egregious of them would be held accountable for the harm they have done to the earth’s peoples and economies. But I am afraid that this will never happen.

    Within the next year or two, the world’s elitist environmental police, led by the UN, will seamlessly slide into a new meme, still proclaiming the same dire consequences and demanding the same draconian sacrifices this time not in the name of global warming but now in the name of sustainability.

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