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For those interested in the ongoing climate change debate, I urge you to look at the recently-released report (and the Roll Call op-ed) from the bipartisan Commission on Climate and Tropical Forests (full disclosure: I sat on this commission).
Development advocates hoping for an equitable as well as efficient global agreement on climate change ought to be deeply depressed about the results of a recent FT/Harris poll. What is depressing is the way the question was framed (and that does matter): “Do you agree that, since China is the biggest carbon emitter, it should cut its emissions the most?” In most G-7 countries including the U.S., more than 60 percent of respondents agreed.
In a surprise New York Times op-ed last weekend, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John Kerry (D-MA) announced a joint initiative on climate change.
The proposal mixes the good (I am glad it finally spells out that only carbon capture and storage turns coal into “clean coal”) with the bad. Still, it is welcome news that the Senate may finally be able to “count to sixty” and pass some kind of legislation to reduce emissions.
Narratives matter. Not just for creating and sustaining nationhood as Isaiah Berlin famously argued. They also matter critically in international negotiations. At the moment, India is not winning the battle of the narrative on climate change. And that's a worry.
Carbon offsets -- granting rights to emit greenhouse gases beyond a stated ceiling in exchange for contributions to cutting emissions elsewhere -- are an important part of the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill now making its way through the U.S. Congress. Offsets have plenty of appeal, but in practice they have a poor track record. And there are less risky, lower cost ways to achieve similar goals.
You could be forgiven for thinking that national action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is going nowhere. This article in yesterday’s Washington Post describes the persistent hand-wringing inside the Beltway about the putative cost of cap-and-trade regulation. The argument continues although, as I and many others have argued, the U.S.
Countries importing Chinese goods should be responsible for the heat-trapping gases released during manufacturing, a top Chinese official said yesterday…. "As one of the developing countries, we are at the low end of the production line for the global economy. We produce products, and these products are consumed by other countries.... This share of emissions should be taken by the consumers, but not the producers."