One more conference of the parties has ended. As many before, it dragged on beyond the deadline. Richard Tol remarks this is a tactic employed by developed countries and those with bigger budgets. They can afford large delegate contingents who work in shifts, driving the small country one-man army delegates to drop off from exhaustion, boredom and sleep deprivation.
Presumably this makes decision-making in the UN system easier.
Press coverage has been along predictable lines. There is one aspect that goes unsaid: almost everyone notes how each of the COPs result in an utter failure. Christopher Booker notes for example how every conference throws up as a ‘breakthrough’, ‘a meaningless document that commits no one to anything’.
However we need to be reminded – this is the best thing that can happen. It is a ‘failure’ for the UN climate mechanism sure but it is the world saved for another year. Any other outcome from these COPs would mean that some countries or all countries have taken on a binding agreement to ‘cut carbon’, in other words hurt themselves and their economies. ‘Failure’ for the climate activist fantasy bubble means success for the rest of us.
The setting up transnational energy budgeting regimes with carbon inspection and verification systems would be the final neomalthusian-Orwellian nightmare. It is appalling the US and other developed countries push for such measures. The US and UK may feel compelled by domestic politics to show they are able to extract promises from China, Brazil and India. But was it their original intention to be monitoring how much gas the average Chinese citizen fills up in his car? Western regulatory systems tend to be absolutist. Issues are tackled with rules, frameworks, discipline, enforceability and penalties. Applied to carbon, it paves the way for future wars.
The far more rational approach is pointed out by Nigel Lawson. Instead of punishing oneself with carbon restriction, and then pursuing imposition of such punishment in other countries by various means, Lima should serve as a opportunity to rethink such self-imposed burdens as the Climate Change Act in the UK, or the EPA-mandated carbon rules in the US.
Contrary to developing countries foolish imaginings developed countries need their economies maintained. It is not just comfort and luxury that costs energy. Good governance, strict regulation, clean environments, digging out of snow and staying warm in the cold costs energy too. The so-called developed economies have poor people as well. They walk, travel by train or bus, buy essentials at discount grocery stores and don’t own homes. As Raghuram Rajan identified in Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy , a developed economy with open markets brings prosperity to ten others.
The COPs are the annual ritualized destruction of climate activists harmful ‘hopes’. Let us work to keep them that way. The conferences are expensive, no doubt but think of them as tithe to be paid yearly to the gods of environmentalism. Emerson said ‘experienced men of the world know very well that it is best to pay scot and lot as they go along, and that a man often pays dear for a small frugality.’