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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

AND HERE GOES THE CLIMATE SQUABBLE – AGAIN!

I don’t know about the rest of y’all, but oh, MY, am I sick and tired of the civilized nations, so–called, squabbling like a bunch of 5 year olds on the playground. This particular squabble, however, is a bit more serious than most, since it is involving transparency in monitoring climate-change technologies and remedies.

Monday, China and the US reached what seems to be a complete impasse in agreeing on just how compliance with any climate-change treaty terms could be monitored, verified and enforced if infractions occur. I must confess, I don’t see what the problem could be, aside from China’s NOT wanting “furriners” in their country looking around. Goodness, who knows what else they might find that has NO relation to climate-change problems – but I digress.

China, which only last month for the first time publicly announced that it was going to put a cap of its greenhouse gas emissions in place, as well as make a real effort to limit and ultimately get rid of its greenhouse emissions, is refusing to accept any kind of international monitoring of its emission levels, according to negotiators and observers here. The United States is insisting that without stringent verification of China’s actions, it cannot support any deal. Negotiators for both the United States and China have been trading public accusations in recent days and making little progress in negotiations on the critical issue of treaty compliance. Or, in other words, trading insults like 5 year olds on the school playground.

Chinese negotiators have said very little during formal negotiation sessions here, where they have been working in partnership with the developing countries. The Chinese government has made it very clear that it doesn’t expect money from the industrial powers to help make the shift to a more energy-efficient economy. In point of fact, they’ve been really, REALLY clear that not only does their government not expect it, it doesn’t want it either. No money, and no help – that way, the government doesn’t have to pay attention to anybody else’s opinion or findings. This also means that they absolutely will not accept any outside monitors to ensure that they are indeed making the changes that they have promised to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide and other pollutants emitted per unit of economic output. If they’re not taking money or advice from anybody, they won’t have to – and given that the rest of the world is in hock to China up to our respective hairlines, there really isn’t any way that the Chinese government can be pushed into complying, either, by any sort of economic warfare like sanctions.

If this sounds like Bu$hit43 and the Kyoto Accords, well, it certainly bear a lot of similarity, doesn’t it?

“I think there’s no doubt that China, when it says 40 to 45 percent reduction in energy intensity, is serious about that,” said Ed Miliband, the British secretary of state for energy and climate change. The more challenging hurdle, he said, is finding a way that China can prove to the outside world that it is reducing its emissions by the amount it claims.

He Yafei, the Chinese vice foreign minister, said China’s laws would guarantee compliance. “This is a matter of principle,” even if it scuttles the talks, he said in an interview with The Financial Times: “If China or any other country wants to be a full partner in global climate efforts, that country must commit to transparency and review of their emissions-cutting regime,” said Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts and a co-sponsor of the climate and energy bill that passed the House in June:“Without that commitment, other governments and industries, including those in America, will be hesitant to engage with those countries when they try to partner on global warming.”

The Chinese refusal to accept verification measures could also lead to calls for punitive tariffs on Chinese goods coming into the United States. The House bill allows for the imposition of tariffs on goods from countries that do not constrain their carbon output. A group of 10 Democratic senators wrote to Mr. Obama two weeks ago warning that the Senate would not ratify any treaty that did not protect American industry from foreign competitors who do not have to meet global warming emissions limits.

Uh-huh, and, as I said earlier, that is SO not going to happen. We don’t have a steel industry here in this country – we get at least 85% of our structural steel from China. It’s our own scrap redone, but WE aren’t making it, the Chinese are. Ditto cloth and clothing: MOST of that is made either in China or India. Take a look around you, folks – almost everything that we use on a daily basis comes from China, because they can do it cheaper and better than we can. Now, maybe that threat could, paradoxically, help drive the Chinese to cement a deal here, an American official said. “Their #1 motivation is to avoid border tariffs,” the official said. However, all they really need to do is tell us “Yeah. RIIIIIIIIIIIGHT.” And quit selling to us, and demand that we pay them back the money that we’ve borrowed from them to finance our own economy. Think we’re in trouble now? But again, I digress.

Barbara Finamore, who is the director of the China program for the Natrual Resources Defense Council, said the top Chinese leadership was pursuing a cautious and calculated strategy as the talks near a decisive phase this week. “They’re going to wait until the last hour of the last day and just as the other side is walking out they’ll say, ‘Hey, come back.’ Just as they do every day in every market in China,” Ms. Finamore said. “That’s why they’re the best negotiators in the world.”

In New York on Monday, Ban Ki-Moon, the United Nations secretary general, warned the negotiators in Copenhagen that leaving too much for the heads of state and government to hammer out at the end of the week risked enfeebling any final deal. “There is no time left for posturing or blaming,” he said at a news conference, before leaving for the Danish capital. “If everything is left to leaders to resolve at the last minute, we risk having a weak deal or no deal at all, and this will be a failure of potentially catastrophic consequences.” Todd Stern, the chief American negotiator, acknowledged that Monday had been a difficult day but said that progress continued to be made. “In any big and complicated negotiation, and this may be the biggest and most complicated ever, it never goes smoothly,” he said. “It never goes as planned. There’s always bumps. There’s always zigs and zags, people getting up and down, and that’s to be expected.”

Sheesh, I want some of what *he’s* been smoking. Zigs? Zags? And this is to be expected? What’s happening is that we, and the rest of the world, are being outmaneuvered by a culture that makes haggling for their own advantage into an art form. The Chinese don’t want international monitoring of their climate-change protocols any more than the Iranians want oversight of their nuclear power plants, and for the same reason. They honestly don’t want anybody to know what they’re up to. The difference is that the rest of the world has a chance at least persuading China to go along with the protocols.

I’m looking forward to seeing what, if any, effect President Obama’s appearance at Copenhagen is going to have. It should be interesting, to say the very least!

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