Monday, December 27, 2004

So what about kyoto?

I am in two minds about Kyoto, and that is because I disagree with both camps.
I am reminded of a theory proposed I believe by Jordan at "just left" there are type one people who support any move in the right direction and on the whole one would have to say that Kyoto does vaguely lengthen the amount of time we have with the current environment so for the sake of those couple of years it is a good thing.
Then there are type two people who oppose any move that does not really solve the big problem. The problem is that if one accepts a halfway house that fails to solve the problem then there are many type one people who just relax. In a sense putting a bandage on the problem thus reduces the likelihood of people actually solving the problem.

I thought I was more of a type one person but it is possible that we need both types. Someone needs to remind everyone whenever the issue is discussed that Kyoto is NOT a solution it is nowhere near solving the problem. All the scientists are fully aware that Kyoto will not get anywhere near solving the problem just like they are aware that global warming exists. If Kyoto is signed by every country we must realise it needs to be changed again within the next decade or so at least into a MUCH stronger treaty - and if we want to approach it rationally we need to be very clear about that - deception has no place in a good debate.

But not only is that true but I think Kyoto attacks the problem from the wrong direction. It presents a path that will in my opinion never succeed and pretends it can. In many ways that is worse than nothing because it distracts people from real solutions.

Finally Kyoto is corrupted by politics. It has become the left vs. the right or developing world vs. the USA. With the apparent freedom it gives to developing nations to pollute, this is also reflected in their unwillingness to consider the real solution as I have proposed earlier. That does not mean Kyoto is not better than nothing but at least if nothing was happening everyone would know we were not doing anything about it - as it is most people THINK Kyoto solves the problem even though it obviously does not.
Even worse you could get the US and australia to sign a more effective version of the kyoto protocol - it is in part the hidden adgenda of kyoto that prevents them from signing it.

Even a best case scenario like grey shade has proposed in my comments lets say 60 years from now we completely replace fossil fuels because wind power is more efficient and so ridiculously plentiful as to make it not feasible for any nation to burn oil just sitting under their feet - THEN Kyoto will have saved us .08 deg or so of change the earth will be about 2 degrees hotter instead of 2.08 degrees. The odds that a disaster would be caused by that last .07 or so degrees is basically nothing.

Worse yet - that is the optimistic scenario of Kyoto supporters other scenarios (proposed by opponents) suggest the effect would be FAR less. Surely if one is going to tie the hands of their economy one would want to actually see a tangable result.

SO what do do.. all i can think of is to play the missing role of the type 2 even if I am the only one.


Blogger Greyshade said...

Your analogy with the Type 1 and Type 2 person in the CUB context is apt. The question I would ask in both cases is "How will you make it happen?"

(I assume that "your solution" is to impose a much more drastic limit on fossil fuel use - but by what means?).

Of course Kyoto must lead to progressively deeper cuts in future commitment periods. If it does not then Kyoto may be little better than some of the "business as usual" scenarios (depending on the true size and cost structure of the resource). At least Kyoto gives us a mechanism for implementing these changes. No way is it the intention of Kyoto to allow "business as usual" after 2012.

The mid-range IPCC "business as usual" scenario projects a cumulative CO2 emission of 1500 GtC between 1990 and 2100. Kyoto requires Annex 1 countries (with a handful of exceptions) to reduce emissions by 2% per year in the first commitment period. Growing economies such as China need to come into the system as their CO2 emissions start to approach those of Annex 1 countries. By 2100 we might expect to have the original Annex 1 (including USA) countries down to about 1.0 t C per capita, new Annex 1 countries (China, India, etc) up to the same and a group of "hard-core" third-world countries with levels at about 0.5 t C per capita. Assuming that the (old and new) Annex 1 countries contain 2/3 of the projected 11.3 billion global population that would mean that C emissions were stabilised (or even falling) from a level of about 10 GtC per year and total emissions would be about 1000 GtC (1990-2100). That should mean only about 2/3 of the "business as usual" scenario (say 2.5 deg rather than 3.8). We would know much more about global warming and the means of replacing fossil fuels than we do now.

One of the great myths is that Kyoto involves huge economic sacrifices on the part of signatories. Perhaps the main reason for going ahead with it is to demonstrate that the global economy does not grind to a halt. It may then be easier to persuade people to push the boat out a little further.

5:10 PM  
Blogger Genius said...

Excuse me if I sound like a rabid pessimist here....

the Kyoto system picks a fight with the USA and later on the chinese and indians (who will slam into a massive new tax when they reach an arbitrary level) will see it as picking a fight with them. the harm is also pretty immediate and direct. It is no coincidence that the US opposes it. I see high chances of you loosing the chinese/indians if they expand to a certain level and you will have no way of enforcing it. If you loose either of them it is dead in the water.

> The question I would ask in both cases is "How will you make it happen?"
>I assume that "your solution" is to impose a much more drastic limit on fossil fuel use - but by what means?

Not at all. your assumption is the same as Kyoto's. That "use" is the way to deal with the problem.
when we deal with ivory or cocane or WMDs we dont put a tax on their usage. The thing that is sucessful in the end is targeting the supplier.
One can do that in any way that is feasible but in the above cases we
1) secure the means of production,
2) ban the harvesting of it
3) prevent the exporting of it.
One country at a time if needed using different strategies as requried.


Besides the above argument there is also the "point of least resistance" argument
what if like any good politician we did not pick a fight with the powerful (at least not at first) - we instead co-opted them and instead picked one with the weak. Then we could get the job done much faster.

Sounds unfair? well (assuming the worst - which is why we need an "effects of global warming debate to determine how desperate we are) I'm trying to save a planet here - unfair comes a very distant second.

Instead of controling china india usa etc you can control saudi arabia iraq iran UAE venesuaela etc. Much more progress can be achieved for much less effort. Besides relying on oil has benefited these countries rather less than you might think. You MAY also in the long run need to secure china's coal reserves and US oil shale (depending on if that ever becomes feasible to mine) etc in order to prevent it being mined but - since so much of it is NOT feasible to mine at the moment - that represents an opportunity besides that will be ok once the ball is rolling and it will occur BEFORE china starts telling the world where to stick it. And the whole process will pump up the price anyway with no way to cheat the system.

Kyoto could play a supporting role to this policy but I suggest the socialist parts should be riped out of it.. every country should face some sort of control immediatly (the US + aust would probably sign it then). If you want to be socialist - do it in ANOTHER treaty.

> One of the great myths is that Kyoto involves huge economic sacrifices on the part of signatories.
Perhaps the main reason for going ahead with it is to demonstrate that the global economy does not grind to a halt.

There is that. Of course less energy usage amounts to us haveing less stuff created but that is not really a disaster in itself.
Anyway global warming will cost money too as will running out of oil.

3:08 AM  

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