Jul 31, 2008

WTO Collapse Bad News For Climate Change Negotiations

The Hive has opposed the Government's proposed emissions trading scheme because it has been rushed and needs more work done to it. We have, however, advocated a stop gap carbon tax to get people used to paying a charge for emitting greenhouse gasses and to help meet the Kyoto liability (we would prefer to see the money come from the budgets of those departments responsible for this abysmal piece of negotiation but accept that this is probably wishful thinking). We also accept that climate change needs to be addressed but have stressed all along, that this is a global problem that requires a global solution that is much more sophisticated than the dreadful EU inspired Kyoto model. New Zealand's domestic actions are unfortunately not going to impact on this global problem because we are only responsible for 0.2% of the problem. A global solution is going to have to involve the world's biggest emitters. These happen to be the US and China (China has won recently won the race to become the #1 emitter).

The spat this week between the US, China and India(India is not quite so big a player on the climate change issue, but is still an important player) in the WTO have been ringing alarm bells with us as these three are going to have to reach an accommodation on the global response to climate change if a meaningful response is to be negotiated. It is also our view that a meaningful outcome on climate change is a far more ambitious goal than those that were on the table in the WTO over the last nine days.

We therefore read with interest this article on exactly this issue:

The failure of key powers to agree a new pact on global trade does not bode well for international cooperation in other areas such as climate change, top delegates warned Tuesday.
The European Union's agriculture commissioner Mariann Fischer-Boel told journalists that the collapse of talks after nine days at the World Trade Organization headquarters in Geneva would have "wider consequences than we have ever seen before."
"If we cannot even manage trade, how should we then find ourselves in a position to manage the new challenges lying ahead of us" such as climate change, Fischer-Boel said.
Her point was echoed by Australian Trade Minister Simon Crean, who said that success here in Geneva would have been an "important signal" ahead of new international negotiations on climate change that are set to start next year.
The EU earlier this year pledged to reduce its greenhouse-gas pollution by 20 percent by 2020 compared with a benchmark year of 1990.
Hoping to spur the United States, Japan and Canada, the EU promised to deepen this to 30 percent if other rich economies followed suit.