Monday, December 17, 2007
Beyond Bali: what should happen to those who don't sign up?
Climate change is unlike any other diplomatic issue.
On global trade, for example, negotiators might consider that they had made significant progress if everybody could get 50% of what they came for. On climate change, half a loaf would simply not be enough. The imperative must be to get a deal which meets the scientific evidence - not the best political deal possible.
Yet what is negotiated internationally also requires deep domestic change. Our way of life will have to change because of what is negotiated around the conference table.
The drama of the final hours of the Bali summit showed how the debate has shifted. The US had to concede, under pressure, because an unenthusiastic White House did not want to be isolated and accused of wrecking all progress. This demonstrates the way in which US opinion has changed a great deal (below federal level). With Australia having changed sides following Kevin Rudd's election victory, the divisions are not nearly so deep as they were over Kyoto.
If we can achieve a deeper consensus by 2009, this will raise another important question where the public debate has barely begun . What should happen to countries which don't agree to fair binding targets for carbon cuts in a post-Kyoto agreement? There will be much hostility to those attempting to 'free ride' on the efforts of everybody else - and we can expect calls for protection where 'unfair' competition is not bound by the same rules.
As the Washington clocks strike twelve on 20th January 2009, listen carefully and you might just hear a swooshing sigh of relief travel around the world. The Bush Presidency will not leave the legacy its architects intended. But a critique of what should have been done differently since 2001 is not enough. This blog is about the new ideas which can create a 'new multilateralism' to tackle the global challenges we face.