Why a Climate Treaty Is Impossible

by William Yeatman on August 24, 2009

The preponderance of future growth in global greenhouse gas emissions will take place in developing countries such as China and India, which is why stopping global warming must be a truly global effort.

But a global response to global warming is impossible, as I’ve been arguing for a long time, because there is no precedent for interstate burden-sharing of this magnitude, short of war. The International Energy Agency estimates that it will cost $45 trillion to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius, and history indicates that the countries of the world are incapable of agreeing who should pay what portion of this gargantuan tab.

The impossibility of a meaningful climate change treaty is a sure thing, despite what you may hear from silly idealists who claim that China will hamstring its economy to fight global warming as soon as the United States does so. Yet this realistic portrayal of climate diplomacy is rarely admitted.

So it was with shock that I saw this quote, from Xie Zhenhua, China’s the top economic planner, to the 10th meeting of the Standing Committee of the 11th National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature.

“The conflict between developed countries centers on economy, technology and global dominance whereas developing nations fight against restrictions on their developments.

The conflicts are driven by commercial and political interests.”

Through this prism (one of national interest), compromise is impossible.

nancy @ princetoncryo LLC August 25, 2009 at 5:17 am

Global warming is effecting every city in some way or another. Its high time that we take some steps or else it would get too late.

Nicole Tan August 25, 2009 at 5:01 am

If changes don’t occur, there won’t be tomorrow……..our only home, THE E.A.R.T.H

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