We’re sure it won’t do much to placate Bush administration critics in the Environmental Anxiety Industry, who won’t be satisfied until the United States binds itself to economy-killing emissions caps included in the unratified Kyoto Treaty. But we like the change of approach signaled by the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, an alternative to Kyoto signed last week by the U.S., Australia, China, India and South Korea.
The U.S. and Australia signed but did not ratify Kyoto; China, India and South Korea are exempt from Kyoto’s provisions due to their status as “developing” countries; and Japan has signed on to both pacts.
Instead of placing an emphasis on hard caps — unrealistically stringent “greenhouse gas” limits that few Kyoto participants have been able to meet — members have agreed to work cooperatively to develop and share technologies that will reduce emissions while still maintaining an economic edge. “This new results-oriented partnership will allow our nations to develop and accelerate deployment of cleaner, more efficient energy technologies to meet national pollution reduction, energy security and climate change concerns in ways that reduce poverty and promote economic development,” President Bush said in a statement.
The goal is to build a framework through which pact members can work together to stimulate investment and research into methane capture, “clean coal” technologies, nuclear power, hydrogen transportation and other innovations.
One gaping flaw in Kyoto is that it does nothing to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the emerging economic giants, China and India. The new partnership at least involves them in a constructive effort to deal with climate change. Australian Prime Minister John Howard said the new pact would help his country maintain a vibrant economy while responding to climate change. “The fairness and effectiveness of this proposal will be superior to the Kyoto Protocol,” Howard predicted.
This is likely to fall short of the radical steps advocated by the Chicken Little Lobby, which has adopted the motto, Don’t just stand there, panic!
But Bush and the U.S. Senate were wise to refuse to ratify the Kyoto treaty, recognizing the hardships and costs its mandates would impose, based on computer models of climate changes predicted for 100 years from now.
The rational response to climate change, whether man-made or not, isn’t in wrecking the U.S. economy, but in developing the technologies and policies that will help deal with climate change while also sustaining the American standard of living.