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.