More fall out from Bali, this time as an op-ed in the New York Times. The paper’s foreign affairs columnist, Thomas Friedman, writes:
“As readers of this column know, I have a rule that there is a simple way to test whether any Arab-Israeli peace deal is real or not: If you need a Middle East expert to explain it to you, it’s not real. I now have the same rule about global climate agreements: If you need an environmental expert to explain it to you, it’s not real.”
He continues: “I needed 10 experts to explain to me the Bali climate agreement — and I was there! I’m still not quite sure what it adds up to. I’m not opposed to forging a regime with 190 countries for reducing carbon emissions, but my gut tells me that both the North and South Poles will melt before we get it to work.”
Friedman takes issue with the lack of leadership from the Bush Administration (tell us something new Thomas), that could have been a global leader on the issue. But he says: “The other reason we can’t be a model is that whatever the U.S. is now doing to address the global warming challenge, it is not transformational. It is an incremental approach to a scale problem that can only be solved by triggering massive innovation in clean power. And without a price signal — a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system — to make it profitable to invest enormous sums, long term, in new clean technologies, it will not happen at scale.”
“This is a problem of economic transformation, not environmental regulation,” said Glenn Prickett, senior vice president at Conservation International. (Disclosure: My wife is on its board.) “The transformation needed will require far more than just passing one law or signing one treaty. It will require the same level of focus and initiative that the Bush administration is devoting to the war on terror. No political leader in the U.S. is approaching this issue yet with anywhere near the seriousness required.”
Despite the irony of a corporate funded green group like CI talking about economic transformation, we agree with them. So next year the US electorate should ask their prospective new leaders what their true policies are on climate change, before they cast their vote.