May 30, 2006


Breaking faith with the cult of Kyoto: Environmentalists embraced Kyoto with religious fevour. Now it's time to start looking for a real solution (STEVE MAICH, Maclean's)

[W]hen Conservative Environment Minister Rona Ambrose walked into UN climate change meetings a couple of weeks ago and admitted Canada has no hope in Hades of meeting its Kyoto commitments, most Canadians were aghast. A poll found more than 60 per cent of respondents considered the minister's position "a cop-out."

The reaction of activists and pundits was far more severe. "Our international credibility is skydiving," said Greenpeace's Steven Guilbeault. Liberal Leader Bill Graham suggested the Conservatives set out to "destroy the system from within." A parade of op-ed writers begged the Tories to reconsider. And the Toronto Star's Richard Gwyn perfectly channelled the smug self-regard of Canada's chattering classes, concluding that Ambrose had embarrassed herself and the country.

Pretty harsh, but whenever a question of public policy is elevated to the level of religious belief, passions are bound to run high. Over the past few years, the protocol's defenders have insisted that it represents the only viable plan to stop the scourge of global warming. And once you accept the notion that the survival of the planet hinges on the success of this initiative, no counter-argument -- economic, political or otherwise -- can hold any sway. Just as archaeological evidence wields no power over the faith of creationists, the holes in Kyoto's framework do nothing to loosen its emotional hold over its believers. To them, the lines are clear: you are either with Kyoto or against the planet.

But when Rona Ambrose came clean to the UN, all she really did was shine a cold hard light on all the happy myths that have kept the pact alive for almost a decade, despite showing virtually no progress toward its goal. [...]

Facing the facts, Ambrose has joined world leaders including Australia's John Howard, and yes, George W. Bush, calling for a third path. One promising option is the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development, which essentially replaces Kyoto's mandatory cuts and unenforceable penalties with a framework based on incentives, shared technology and co-operation.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 30, 2006 4:23 PM
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