Out of Step, Out of Arguments and Out of Time

Those are the words of Kofi Annan at the UN conference on Climate Change earlier today (see AP story by Charles Hanley). His speech emphasized the “frightening lack of leadership” in forming strategies for how to tackle the huge task that lies ahead for our planet with regards emissions. Getting the job done here of course means us realigning our entire global culture’s priorities, taking our eyes off short term gain and looking to prospects for the future. The typical stance of the current US government that strong emissions controls (and treaties to enforce them, such as the Kyoto protocol) will hurt economies is one example of the short-sightedness that we are up against. Their delegates at the conference continue to reject arguments such as Annan’s (See Reuters story by Alister Doyle and Daniel Wallis).

Happily, the pure economic argument is being made ever more prominently in recent times. So much so that the British government is now adding climate change issues to its daily pronunciations – it was even in the Queen’s speech. I’m a bit cynical about the motives for that -and the danger of entirely cosmetic policy results- but we should give them a chance….. it is better than nothing.

In the meantime there is another worry – With all the arguing going on, will we get another global agreement in place to take over when Kyoto expires? Or will there be a gap – possibly long enough to undo whatever good Kyoto will have done?

-cvj

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