Posted by: bklunk | May 24, 2007

A New Approach?

It’s unlikely that any approach to Greenhouse Gas reduction will work without the U.S., China, and India.  Maybe this approach would lead to an approach more workable than Kyoto. Japan

May 25 (Bloomberg) — The U.S., China and India should agree to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s proposal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by half by 2050, Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Aso said.

Abe made the proposal yesterday as a new framework to replace the Kyoto Protocol that expires in 2012 and will discuss it at the Group of Eight summit next month. The U.S., the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, rejected the Kyoto Protocol and China and India are not signatories.

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  1. It’s easy to make a promise that’s so far down the road that you may be dead and gone before it’s made good on. China and India have already been promising that once they get their countries up to a higher living standard, they will start to focus on the environment. South Korea is good evidence that this promise is plausible. Beijing has recently even been looking into environmental legislation simply because they noticed that the damage they caused to natural resources was cutting into productivity. As for the US, I agree that the current admistration has some liberal aspects, such as “forging” democracy abroad and other ideological pursuits. Yet ignoring the UN, acting unilaterally and preemptive strikes seem like defensive realist behavior to me. Just as Sparta promised to protect Melos, now the US has promised to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050. When the actual date rolls around, we’ll see if America is in a situation where making good on that promise actually benefits them or not.

  2. I think this is a perfect example of one of the realist criticisms of the liberal school of thought. Realists say that if international institutions work, it is only because the hegemon wants it to. In other words, an international institution is only allowed to do what the hegemon wants it to do. Realists often site the fact that the United States, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and China have veto power and are part of the Security Council permanently. I think that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recognizes the fact that if green house gas emissions are to be drastically cut, then the United States, China, and India need to be a part of it. However, the question is whether or not this is in these states self interest. Because of this, the United States may say that they want to cut down green house gas emissions; but with Iran developing nuclear weapons, civil unrest in Iraq, growth of Islamic Fundamentalism, and many other issues, the environment may not be that important to the United States’ national self interest.

  3. I think this has a lot to do with what the United States thinks is best for the country at this point in time. Maybe they have other things that should be held to a higher standard at the moment instead of environmental issues. Also, by not signing off on proposal right now doesn’t mean that the U.S. will not sign off on it later on. This could just be a bad time to think about this situation when greater conflicts are going on and being resolved.

  4. Lots of interesting ideas here. The commentators rightly point to relative gains problems and discounting issues. What may be changing on this issue is that there is less uncertainty about climate change and its causes and costs.

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