Europe Leads - North America Dawdles

Tue, 2008-10-21 01:16Mitchell Anderson
Mitchell Anderson's picture

Europe Leads - North America Dawdles

Which is more important: climate change or the global economic crisis? The answer for Europe is both.

So important is tacking global warming in Europe that leaders have pledged to stick with their carbon cutting agendas, even while dealing with the greatest economic crisis since the great depression.

European Commission president José Manuel Barroso, stated for the record that “We're not going to let up in the battle against climate change and there's no question of picking between the financial crisis and climate change. The two go together.”

French President Nicolas Sarkozy concurred: “The deadline on climate change is so important that we cannot use the financial and economic crisis as a pretext for dropping it”.

In the UK, they even upped the ante on carbon cuts. Climate Change and Energy Secretary Ed Miliband said the current 60% target of carbon cuts by 2050 would be replaced by a higher goal of 80%.

He added, “In our view it would be quite wrong to row back and those who say we should, misunderstand the relationship between the economic and environmental tasks we face.”

Here in North America, it is a different story. The Canadian election saw little talk of dealing with climate change since stock markets tanked in the final week of the campaign. South of the border, election talk is almost entirely dominated by the economy.

Newly elected Prime Minister Stephen Harper successfully campaigned on a pro-carbon platform of making burning fossil fuels even cheaper. While carbon taxes ore old hat elsewhere in the world, here in Canada Harper managed to portray the idea as “crazy”, “insane”, and something that would “screw everyone across the country” and “wreck” the economy.

It is if North America exists in a transatlantic time machine – back in time that is. While Canadians like to believe that we are a progressive country, we are rapidly lapsing into a political backwater in comparison to many more progressive nations on the other side of the ocean.

Regardless of who wins the US presidential election in November, Canada under Stephen Harper will have a far less credible climate policy than virtually any developed country in the world. Even John McCain is calling for far more stringent carbon cuts than Canada under Harper.

Canada is no longer a world leader - we are a world laggard. The world has moved on climate change. Canada has not, and likely will not for many years to come. Look to Europe to leadership on this critical issue – expect more platitudes and inaction here at home.

Comments

It’s true that Europe is ahead of N.America, both for setting targets and a carbon trading system, but I’m always slightly bemused when I see Europe held up as the example to follow.

Take the UK’s 80% target. That is almost completely greenwash. The UK government is doing almost nothing to achieve that target, which is probably unachievable anyway without a massive investment in nuclear power, which will be heavily opposed by the very people who’ve campaigned hardest for the 80%.

Its true Europe is ahead of the US, on paper. Europe has failed to come even close to the goals they have set.

Or the incredible rate of ice growth around the Arctic this fall? I thought it was supposed to be free of ice by now.

Btw does anyone else follow the traffic counts for Desmogblog compared to Wattsupwiththat?….speaking of falling short.

Yeah, how come the ice is growing in the Arctic in the fall?
And how come Europe hasn’t met the goals they have set for the future yet?

well - ice build up is going fast - really fast - you might acknowledge that and Europe is well, who knows - trying their best I suppose - kinda like a fat guy on a diet - reason for doubt about the future there.

Okay, chubby Europe is struggling with its new diet. What’s North America doing about its obesity? Denying it?

You think I should acknowledge the growth of Arctic ice – fine: it’s now only 1,000,000 square km less than the 1979-2000 average at this time of year in mid-October already passed the minimum amount (averaged from 1979-2000) which typically occurred in early-mid September. Can you believe it has only taken a month of autumn ice growth to get back to the end-of-summer amounts that used to be observed? http://tinyurl.com/6ncshu

Oi! You buggered off, leaving the rest of us behind.
I’ll have you know that British Gas has just given us four CFL’s to replace our normal lightbulbs.
Now don’t you feel better about that nice Mr. Brown and his government?

so do a google on the titles. It’s not a rosey as it appears.

(2) UK WIND FARM PLANS ON BRINK OF FAILURE
John Vidal, The Observer, 19 October 2008

(3) JOBS BLOW REVEALED IN WIND ENERGY REPORT
Fiona Harvey, Financial Times, 20 October 2008

(4) WIND ENERGY BECALMED BY SHORTAGE OF FINANCE
Robin Pagnamenta, The Times, 18 October 2008

(5) CASH-STRAPPED FAMILIES FACE £1,000-A-YEAR BILL TO HELP UK GOVERNMENT BEAT CLIMATE TARGET
David Derbyshire, Daily Mail, 18 October 2008

(6) GERMAN PLANS FOR NEW COAL-POWER PLANTS MEAN MISSING CO2 TARGETS
Jeremy van Loon, Bloomberg, 17 October 2008

1) EU FACING REVOLT OVER CLIMATE CHANGE TARGET ENFORCEMENT
Bruno Waterfield, The Daily Telegraph, 16 October 2008

(2) EU CLIMATE PACKAGE MUST NOW BECOST-EFFECTIVE
Leigh Phillips, EUObserver, 17 October 2008

(3) EU CLIMATE POLICY IN DISARRAY AS ITALY JOINS REVOLT
David Charter and Rory Watson, The Times, 17 October 2008

(4) POLAND RELIEVED AT EU CLIMATE COMPROMISE
AFP, 16 October 2008

(5) ITALIAN INDUSTRY PRAISES EU CLIMATE CHANGE COMPROMISE
AFP, 16 October 2008

(6) ANGELA MERKEL: CLIMATE COMPROMISE IN GERMANY’S INTEREST
AFP, 16 October 2008

(7) EUROPEAN NATIONS SEEK TO REVISE AGREEMENT ON EMISSIONS CUTS
Stephen Castle, The New York Times, 16 October 2008

(8) IS EUROPE BACKSLIDING ON CLIMATE CHANGE TARGETS? (Is the Pope Catholic?)
Leo Cendrowicz, TIME, 16 October 2008

(1) EU CLIMATE GOALS UNLIKELY TO SURVIVE AFTER VETO THREATS
AFP, 16 October 2008

(2) EASTERN EUROPEAN COUNTRIES, ITALY CHALLENGE EU CLIMATE GOALS
Jonathan Stearns, Bloomberg, 16 October 2008

(3) ITALY TO VETO EU CLIMATE PACT OVER ECONOMIC FEARS
Agence France-Presse, 15 October 2008

(4) POLAND THREATENS VETO OF EU CLIMATE DEAL DEADLINE
Reuters, 15 October 2008

(5) THE GREAT CLIMATE REBELLION: NATIONS CHALLENGE EU CLIMATE PLAN
BBC News, 15 October 2008

(6) CAN EUROPE QUELL THE GREAT CLIMATE REBELLION?
EurActiv, 16 October 2008

(7) WSJ: CLIMATE EFFORT COULD BE STALLED BY CREDIT CRISIS
S Power & L Abboud, The Wall Street Journal, 16 October 2008

And this is just over the last 3 days.

Renewables are such a disappointment. They should be a gold mine. Set it up and let the sun shine and let the wind blow and rake in the power and the cash.

Too bad it doesn’t go like that. It limps along and hardly helps anything. Somebody build a fusion reactor please.

This is an excerpt from an article in the Oct. 20, 2008 Financial Post:

To prevent a financial crisis from turning into an economic calamity, the European Union has pulled the emergency brake on green policies. At last week’s EU summit in Brussels, seven eastern and central European countries, together with Italy, threatened to veto the Union’s climate pact. The rebel governments claimed that the originally agreed goal of cutting the EU’s CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020 was too expensive; economic turmoil and rising unemployment meant that implementing the CO2 goal was no longer affordable.

Aside from the uncertainties caused by the global financial crisis, there are increased anxieties regarding dependence on Russian energy. An imposed cap on CO2 emissions and the compulsory auctioning of carbon credits would force the closure of several Eastern European coal power stations. The recent war in Georgia and repeated shut-offs of Gazprom pipelines do not exactly inspire confidence in dependence on natural gas from the Russian-controlled pipeline. These concerns were boosted by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who threatened to veto the whole package on economic grounds: “We do not think that now is the time to be playing the role of Don Quixote, when the big producers of CO2, such as the United States or China, are totally against adherence to our targets.”

Faced with failure, the final EU summit declaration dropped all reference to the legal implementation of the climate targets and instead introduced a new pre-condition. Any future climate bill must now be “cost-effective to all sectors of the European economy and for all member states, respecting each member state’s specific situation.” The new agreement denotes that any binding climate law will now have to be delayed until the completion of a comprehensive cost-effectiveness analysis. In any event, this new hurdle has been raised to such heights that the EU’s original targets are unlikely to survive.

I have been led to believe that all green initiatives and alternate energy schemes are revinue and job creators like the world has never seen.

YOu mean to say that Green actually costs money?

About the EU’s success. Or lack of it. http://icecap.us/images/uploads/eu-15-and-us.jpg

http://climateprogress.org/2008/10/20/are-europes-greenhouse-gas-cuts-real/

http://www.oregonlive.com/commentary/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/editorial/1224199517206370.xml&coll=7

There’s no bailout for the next crisis

Monday, October 20, 2008 The Oregonian

The recent haggling over how to solve the nation’s economic crisis seems to have done little to ease the anxieties of either Wall Street or Main Street. And with good reason: Intuitively, we know we haven’t seen the worst of it yet.

Watching a lifetime of stock options head south? Worried about where you’ll find the money to pay for college or about the spiraling costs of health care? Certainly nothing could hurt worse than a foreclosure, could it? Well, maybe it could. If $700 billion sounds like a lot, try fathoming $9 trillion – roughly 13 times the cost of today’s hotly debated bailout. That’s the projected cost of letting global climate change go unaddressed within this decade.

The thorough shakeup of today’s economic climate foreshadows an even more disastrous global crisis heading our way. The same belief in unlimited, unchecked growth (some would say outright greed) that fattened our economy on a diet of junk bonds and hollow lending is also strip-mining our planet’s environment of the currency that nature safely invested for us over millions of years, and upon which all life – including our own – depends.

The concept of peak oil is not just some naysayers’ delusion. According to the U.S. Energy Department’s own findings, commonly called the Hirsch report and issued in 2005, it’s an unavoidable reality, one that is hurtling toward us faster than we know what to do about.

But like the blind eye that was turned on the proliferation of high-risk, foolhardy mortgages in the midst of a slowing economy, we’ve bolstered our bravado in the face of such warnings while enthusing about drilling offshore and in the arctic.

While we’ve been busy digging our fossil-fuel foundations out from under us with the same kind of naive bluster and faith in infinite growth that gutted the economy, we’ve also been busy ruining things at the top as our upper atmosphere becomes choked with carbon dioxide, leaving us in an environmental demise of our own doing.

When it comes to the economy, a few sleights of hand and a heavy toll on taxpayers, all partisan bickering aside, can be called upon to help us avert disaster and restore faith in the unlimited expansion model. But when it comes to nature’s bank, cashing out is forever. No amount of midnight meetings, government-ordered buyouts or credit freezes can save a habitat laid fallow by years of unregulated dumping of chemical waste, nor can they lower our thermostats to an inhabitable temperature in the face of global warming.

Sound policy and the pursuit of new technologies might ameliorate some of our excesses, helping to slow down the rate of climate change and postponing the date of disaster. But like the banking and credit crisis that arrived to the surprise of so many experts – despite the many warnings sounded years earlier – environmental failure is going to rear its ugly head someday.

And when mother earth forecloses on us, there will be nowhere else to go.

Lisa Weasel is an associate professor of biology at Portland State University and a board member of The Greenhouse Network.

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High-speed train

Aggressively tackling global warming through better public transportation and increased energy efficiencies could increase global GDP by between $1.8 trillion and $2.6 trillion annually, a new report has found.

Released on Monday, the report by the World Bank and the ClimateWorks Foundation said tackling global warming now would also save as many as 94,000 lives a year from pollution-related diseases and reduce crop losses.

The report —...

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