U.S., China intransigence threatens global-warming pact at APEC

Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders have been working on a draft that would reaffirm a UN treaty on climate change and set non-binding targets for cutting greenhouse-gas emissions. The statement would also set targets requiring APEC members to increase energy efficiency by 25 per cent by 2030.

Industrialized economies, led by host Australia and the U.S., want to forge a new framework outside the UN-backed Kyoto Protocol, which sets specific goals for reducing emissions. The Bush administration refused to ratify Kyoto, the world's first treaty to set targets for greenhouse-gas reductions. China, which as a developing country was exempted from having to make cuts under Kyoto, says it will not sacrifice economic growth to fight climate change.

So the nations representing two-thirds of world greenhouse-gas emissions have essentially hijacked the APEC forum. The U.S. has come under widespread international and domestic criticism for its position, but not China, which recently overtook the U.S. as the world’s top producer of carbon emissions.

APEC leaders are still grappling over the statement, and the North-South divide doesn’t bode well for the final draft.


The draft plan includes no actual emissions targets. It suggests countries create ‘aspirational’ non-binding emissions goals. The only actual requirement would be a 25% decrease in energy intensity (energy use/$GDP) by 2030. As I’ve been blogging about of late, energy intensity has been declining for decades because energy use does not keep up with economic production. In fact, the global energy intensity actually decreased by 26% from 1985 to 1995. The required decrease is, at best, business as usual.

So maybe it is best that APEC fails. Else this climate change “mitigation-light” could destroy the serious UN effort.

Don’t work and send the wrong message to industry who need a bottom line and fair playing field to make long-term financial decisions. Voluntary emissions standards are an exercise in PR