I've been watching/reading about the progression of the Bali talks over the past few days, and I wish cudgeling in defense of the environment wasn't a crime.
This from the AP today.
"Trying to break the deadlock, the conference president, Indonesian Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar, proposed revised language dropping explicit mention of numbers while substituting a reference to a U.N. scientific report suggested the 25-40 percent range of cuts.
Witoelar's proposal provided a basis for a long-expected compromise, producing a relatively vague mandate for the two years of negotiations. As worded, his draft "Bali Roadmap" would not guarantee any level of binding commitment by any nation."
If it's not binding, then who's going to do it? You know, besides all the reasonable nations who are already on board, anyhow?
The other problem is LDCs. By giving China, Brazil, India, and most of Africa a break on following the same protocols as the wealthier nations, we're only hurting them. I understand incentives are being provided to encourage the LDCs to voluntarily curb the growth of their emissions. But if it's not in their short-term best financial interest, will they do it? America is certainly refusing.
I can't see the sense in making these reductions voluntary. If America doesn't do it, and it (excepting of course the several dozen cities that adopted the Kyoto protocol on their own) won't unless the UN makes us, why would developing countries do any differently? The only way to become a rich and powerful country is to mimic one. We're setting an amazingly bad example.
I love my grandmother but when I talk to her about things like how Uganda will be unable to grow coffee anymore if temperatures rise the 2 degrees they will in the next 50-80 years, she just mentions how she read a report 30 years ago that said Florida would be under water today. How depressing is it that the only way for some people to understand what we're dealing with is to wait until tragedy actually strikes, until Florida is completely underwater or whatever they need for PROOF. And by then it will be too late. And half the naysayers will be dead or certain that it was inevitable and not our fault.
The Europeans recognize that our government is self-serving and idiotic. Who do we think we are? Sovereignty is all well and good, but pollution knows no borders and what we do here can cause eco-chaos for the entire globe. Our environmental policy cannot be a national right, it has to be international. Or we're inviting war (eco-crises lead to reduction of essential resources and people will, by nature, form packs, defend what little they have, and take what others have by any means necessary).
Hell, Olympia Snowe, a Senator from Maine my grandparents support, thinks we have to step up and do the right thing here. But Bush isn't listening to his own party. And that means the EU may pack up their toys and go home, making the Honolulu MEMs in January all but pointless.
I can't friggin wait until we get a new executive branch. I hope the next president has the good sense to make Al in charge of all future US environmental policy. I would.