The Anti-Kyoto Partnership

Google Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate and you will find a host of stories lauding a new international group nominally dedicated to reducing climate change by developing new technology.

Great, you say.

But, if you read very far into the material, you will find an international industrial spin project - a blatant effort to distract the public from the Kyoto process and to justify huge increases in the production and consumption of fossil fuels, especially coal.

Look at what we know:

1. The meeting of this new partnership, which begins tomorrow in Australia, is being co-chaired by Australia's Industry Minister Ian MacFarlane and U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman. Not an environment minister in sight.

2. The parters include Australia, the U.S., India, China, Japan and Korea - the biggest producers and comsumers of coal in the world and, in the case of Australia and the United States, the only developed nations that have refused to bind themselves to the mandatory carbon reduction targets of the Kyoto Protocol.

3. While environmental groups have been banished from the conference, industry - especially the energy industry - will be there in force. Coal giant Rio Tinto and ExxonMobil are footing the bill for a harbor cruise.

To the degree that the parties are actually paying lipservice to the goal of addressing climate change, this is a positive development. But in the way this partnership is being touted as an appropriate alternative to Kyoto, it is a full-frontal assault on the world's climate.

The goal of those who are committed to the Kyoto process is to make real and measurable gains in reducing the human effect on climate change. Globally, we need specific targets for the reduction of greenhouse gases and we need political and industrial leaders who are committed to taking those targets seriously.

This process, on the other hand, appears dedicated to:

a) convincing the public that, despite all evidence to the contrary, certain recalcitrant governments are taking climate change seriously and;

b) that all our problems will be solved by some magic technology that no one has yet discovered.

In the meantime, we will be encouraged to continue our addiction to fossil fuels. No mention of energy alernatives and, for profit sake, no suggestions that we conserve energy.

So, watch the news coverage, and if the political and industrial leaders at this conference offer substantive policy proposals or technological solutions, we'll join in the celebration. But if they spend all their time suggesting that this voluntary process is good - and Kyoto is bad - we should all dismiss this whole event as an international sham, a shame and humiliation on all those governments involved.