While an earthquake shifts the ground beneath our feet, the United Nation’s climate change proposal would shift trillions of dollars in wealth transfers and entail “ job losses and gains, new taxes, industrial relocations, new tariffs and subsidies, and complicated payments for greenhouse gas abatement schemes and carbon taxes.” And while earthquakes inflict considerable amounts of economic damage, it pales in comparison to the economic burden a carbon dioxide reduction scheme would do – not only in the United States but also in other developed countries and developing countries.
The U.N. conference in Bonn, Germany commenced yesterday to hash out details for an international approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The goal is to have a plan ready for the global warming summit in Copenhagen at the end of the year that would supplant the failed Kyoto Protocol. The 1997 agreement, which the United States chose wisely not to enter into,
requires the 37 countries that signed it to slash emissions by a combined 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. But the treaty is a pipe dream. Instead of falling, the U.N. reported that such emissions are nearing “an all-time high.” Greenhouse gas emissions from the Kyoto signers increased 2.6 percent between 2000 and 2005.
Signing Kyoto may allow a country to claim it’s a good “global citizen,” but many of those citizens aren’t keeping their promises. The U.N. reports Kyoto signers Austria, New Zealand and Canada have all increased their emissions over 1990 levels — by 14, 23 and 54 percent, respectively.”
The way things are shaping up, this time would be different: “President Obama’s chief climate-change negotiator said Sunday that the United States would be ‘powerfully, fervently engaged’ in global talks to reduce carbon emissions but warned that a difficult path lay ahead.” This does not bode well for the American economy.
Furthermore, any global treaty “would require deeper concessions from rising economic powers such as China, Brazil and India. Many researchers have concluded that China recently surpassed the United States as the world’s leading producer of greenhouse gases and that its booming industrial sector accounts for most of the world’s cumulative increase each year.”
China, Brazil and India are rising economic powers, but that can also be read as developing nations. Political leaders of these nations are not going to de-develop their respective economies for dubious climate benefits.
Heritage Foundation Research Fellow Derek Scissors writes that China’s chief concern is water, not carbon dioxide:
That is not to say there is nothing important to do in the meantime. At the moment, China’s greatest ecological challenge is not air but water–which includes poor sanitation (despite rising affluence) and poses a severe long-term threat to the food supply.
Unlike restricting carbon emissions, cleaner water does not have competitiveness implications that translate to fewer jobs. Given the intense need for water in manufacturing, better water supply–both directly in terms of water treatment and indirectly in terms of feasible industrial output–actually translates to continued competitiveness and more jobs.”
Although a global treaty to reduce CO2 might not occur until after the economy recovers, it would be just the thing to put us back into a recession.