[ForeignPolicy] As the world’s leaders gather in New York this week to discuss climate change, you’re going to hear a lot of well-intentioned talk about how to stop global warming. From the United Nations, Bill Clinton, and even the Bush administration, you’ll hear about how certain mechanisms—cap-and-trade systems for greenhouse gas emissions, carbon taxes, and research and development plans for new energy technologies—can fit into some sort of global emissions reduction agreement to stop climate change. Many of these ideas will be innovative and necessary; some of them will be poorly thought out. But one thing binds them together: They all come much too late.
For understandable reasons, environmental advocates don’t like to concede this point. Eager to force deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, many of them hype the consequences of climate change—in some cases, well beyond what is supported by the facts—to build political support. Their expensive policy preferences are attractive if they are able to convince voters that if they make economic sacrifices for the environment, they have a reasonable chance of halting, or at least considerably slowing, climate change. But this case is becoming harder, if not impossible, to make.
To be sure, scientific studies and news reports make it clear that climate change is already happening, with greenhouse gas emissions as a significant driver of this change. Arctic ice has now melted sufficiently to open up the fabled Northwest Passage, provoking public jockeying between Russian and Canadian officials over potential oil and gas deposits. At the same time, the U.S. Department of Interior is considering placing polar bears on the endangered species list as a result of global warming. Extreme weather events have become more common, such as flooding in Africa and forest fires in the western United States.
Voici le paragraphe massue:
Dollar-for-dollar, the most efficient way to cut global greenhouse gas emissions would be, in theory, to invest hundreds of billions of dollars to improve China’s energy efficiency. But Congress would never support such an approach. After all, which members of Congress would vote to undercut the competitiveness of U.S. companies, especially in the face of a weak domestic economy, public anger over outsourcing, China’s currency value, and the U.S. trade deficit with China? More broadly, how long will voters in Europe and Japan, which have done the most to limit emissions, be prepared to make sacrifices for the global climate if they believe they are alone in doing so?