The US, Australia, China, India, South Korea, and Japan have negotiated a climate pact in secret that policy experts believe is a diversion from some members rejection of the Kyoto Protocol. Instead of establishing emissions reduction targets, the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate calls for developing new technologies to reduce the production of greenhouse gases. The call for new technologies is nothing new.
Nature News Experts caution that there isn’t really anything new within the pact itself. Both the United States and Australia have long promoted technological solutions as the best way to tackle climate change. “The United States already has bilateral technology cooperation agreements with all the countries involved,” points out Fiedler.
Energy experts say that new technologies, such as renewable energy systems and more efficient vehicles, are a vital part of climate-change measures. But they add that emission targets are the best way to act now.
The creation of this pact is thought to be a means of deflecting attention form the US’s and Australia’s rejection of the Kyoto protocol.
Climate-policy experts say that although the aims of the pact are worthwhile, it contains no new financial commitments or targets. Australia and the United States are the only two developed nations not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, and experts say the pact is likely to be used by them to deflect pressure to accept future versions of the protocol.
“They want to say ‘Leave us alone, we’re already doing something’,” says Jeff Fiedler, a climate-policy specialist with the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington. Talks about what to do when the protocol expires will begin in earnest in November.
The problem here is that the partners in the pact are taking the easy route instead making the hard choices needed to deal with this problem today not sometime in the future.
“I don’t see this announcement as a threat, but it reflects a way of thinking that could threaten effective action,” says Michael Grubb, an energy economist at Imperial College in London.
“Technology cooperation is being presented as an alternative to the hard issues of building incentives for energy efficiency and low-carbon technology investment by the private sector, which has to include regulating carbon emissions,” says Grubb.
Bush has argued that trying to meet the Kyoto Protocol emissions targets would harm the US economy. Bush seems to have little faith in our nation’s can-do technological know-how. A recent study by the Union of Concerned Scientists finds that not only do we have the know-how, in addition the US economy would benefit from steps that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
UCS UCS recently examined the economic impact of gradually increasing our nation’s use of renewable electricity from about 2.5 percent today to 20 percent by 2020. The end result: more than 355,000 new jobs in domestic manufacturing, construction, operations, maintenance, shipping, sales, finance, and other industries. This is nearly double the number of jobs that would be created by producing an equivalent amount of electricity from fossil fuels during the same amount of time. These 157,480 additional jobs would generate an additional $8.2 billion in income and $10.2 billion in gross domestic product. Increased renewable energy development would also reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 434 million metric tons per year.
We don’t need to wait for research to develop new technologies to start doing something about global warming. Those technologies are available and their adoption would help our weak economy. It’s really a pity Bush has so little faith in our Nation’s ability to solve problems.