6.08.2007

WTF?

I really don't know why after all these years of hackery and wankdom, WSJ editorials continue to amaze me:
Just call him George W. Bush, star international diplomat. Don't snicker, don't spit out your coffee. Instead, read over the final document on climate change released yesterday by the Group of Eight. ...

There's been a capitulation on global warming, but it hasn't happened in the Oval Office. The Kyoto cheerleaders at the United Nations and the European Union are realizing their government-run experiment in climate control is a mess, one that's incidentally failed to reduce carbon emissions. They've also understood that if they want the biggest players on board--the U.S., China, India--they need an approach that balances economic growth with feel-good environmentalism. Yesterday's G-8 agreement acknowledged those realities and tolled Kyoto's death knell. Mr. Bush, 1; sanctimonious greens, 0.
Really? The EU and UN have come around to Bush's position? Interesting alternate reality, but I love dreamers.
Not that the president's handling of the climate issue has been stellar. The science of global warming is still unsettled, yet Mr. Bush in 2002 caved and laid out a voluntary emissions-reduction program.
Bush caved to the unsettled science. Indeed. Pass the Kool-Aid.
But compared with Kyoto, Mr. Bush's vision has been sublime. The basic Kyoto philosophy is this: Set ever lower mandatory targets, ratcheting down energy use, and by extension economic growth. The program was viewed by environmentalists and politicians as a convenient excuse for getting rid of unpopular fossil fuels, such as coal. In Kyoto-world, governments exist to create draconian rules, even if those dictates are disguised by "market" mechanisms such as cap-and-trade.

President Bush's approach is opposite: Allow economies to grow, along the way inspiring new technologies and new forms of energy that lower C02 emissions. Implicit is that C02-control technologies should focus on energy sources we use today, including fossil fuels. In Bush-world, the government is there to incentivize industry, coordinate with it, and set broad goals.
It's so...so, sublime you'd barely notice there's any policy there at all. Oh wait, yeah, that's because there is no policy and any CO2 emissions reductions as a result of a hands-off approach is just sweet serendipity.
Take your pick. Under the vaunted Kyoto, from 2000 to 2004, Europe managed to increase its emissions by 2.3 percentage points over 1995 to 2000. Only two countries are on track to meet targets. There's rampant cheating, and endless stories of how select players are self-enriching off the government "market" in C02 credits. Meanwhile, in the U.S., under the president's oh-so-unserious plan, U.S. emissions from 2000 to 2004 were eight percentage points lower than in the prior period.
An economic downturn, fear of flying after September 11, and rising gasoline prices due in part to international conflicts led to decreased fossil fuel use in the transportation sector in the US between 2000-2004 [PDF]. Heckuva energy policy!
Pride is pride, and the Europeans haven't entirely given up on Kyoto principles. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has spearheaded these climate talks, went into this G-8 meeting in Heiligendamm advocating binding reductions. Yet she admitted earlier this week that her plan was off the table, as the U.S. held firm.
Yesterday's declaration, far from mandatory targets, instead sets a "global goal" of halving emissions by 2050. It invites the "major emerging economies" to join in this endeavor. It acknowledges that different approaches across the world can "coordinate rather than compete." It reports that "technology is a key to mastering climate change" and lauds government "incentives." It admits that "over the next 25 years, fossil fuels will remain the world's dominant source of energy," and talks up the "peaceful use of nuclear energy." It even explains that any program "must be undertaken in a way that supports growth in developing, emerging and industrialized economies." Close your eyes, and you might think this was President Bush in the Rose Garden.
Right. Those clueless Euros would never have thought about using [gasp] technology had it not been for BUSH. And in closing, like saying amen in church, we'll need to bash Democrats:
Will congressional Democrats prove as pragmatic? Even as Europeans have wised up, the left has been pushing for a Kyoto here. Should Democrats start to stumble on the difficulties, they could always ask Mr. Bush--that new international climate ambassador--for some advice.
This calls for our favorite song, Bush was Right!