Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Whose world is it anyways?

Just imagine for a minute that after a good night of partying hard, you returned to your house and passed out smoking a cigarette on your bed, dreaming happy dreams and woke up to find your house spectacularly on fire. What would your first concern be?

a) Getting the hell out of the house.
b) Salvaging your precious collection of baseball cards.
c) Thinking of ways in which you could con your insurance company into footing the bill, and calculating how much you stood to gain from the accident

I suppose most level headed individuals would pick option (a), given the circumstances. You could also be forgiven for picking (b) if you are either ten years old or spent your whole life collecting those stupid cards and are unwilling to see your life's work go up in a puff of smoke. But only a cold and calculating mercenary who had probably spent most of his adult life in solitary confinement would pick (c).

Yet, that is pretty much exactly how the delegates behaved at the recent climate conference in Bali. Barring the EU, whose sheer determination to the cause kept the conference alive, everyone else seemed to be trying to talk their way out of doing their bit for the planet. At the heart of the conference was the issue of mandatory emission caps on greenhouse gases, something that most environmentalists believe is urgently required if we are to avoid permanent and irreversible damage to the environment.

The US, as could be expected, was the undisputed star of the show for all the wrong reasons and almost singlehandedly derailed the entire conference. The Bush administration's reluctance to set binding emission caps on the American industry is well documented, but what is not widely appreciated outside the "environmentally conscious" circles is how the US has systematically tried to undermine global initiatives for stricter emission controls at various levels. The US first pulled out the Kyoto agreement, after having signed the initial draft rendering the whole exercise pointless. The US also got its pals, Australia, Japan and Canada, to bail out of the Kyoto Protocol and tried to make it look like it was staying out of the ambit of the agreement on account of its unfair treatment of the developed nations. Without the participation of some of the world's biggest polluters, the Kyoto initiative was really an effort only on paper.

The Bush administration didn't just stop there. In an effort undermine any future global efforts, it started a parallel initiative grandiosely called the "Asia Pacific partnership on clean development and climate", which advocated voluntary and non-binding emission control by participants. And we all know how these voluntary schemes pan out...

The final straw was at the Bali summit where the US stubbornly refused to agree to any deal that didn't place similarly tight constraints on the developing nations, primarily China and India. China and India, who are by no stretch of imagination minor players on the pollution front these days, kept pointing to history, the notion of "per capita pollution" and their current state of development as reasons they should be allowed to keep polluting while the developed world took corrective action. While the reasons put forth are all very valid, fighting for the right to pollute while the world is dying around you is truly lamentable. Furthermore, it gave the US position a hint of legitimacy.

The US finally gave in and got on board the Bali summit when faced with the prospect of collective global wrath on its position, but not before substantially diluting the wording of the draft to suit its ends. Only time will tell us whether the world's biggest polluter has finally decided that it was time to do its bit for the planet or played the last Judas in mankind's history... The world might remember the US president Bush as the man who shaped the course of world history by invading Iraq, but to me he will be the man who tried his hardest to end the world through his position on climate change. Until later... cheers...


At 1:30 AM , Blogger Kaushik said...

Do I see Pushky the school topper emerging again? :)

Not sure I agree with your analogy...don't think option C is too much of a crime and I'd do it if I could...but I do like this trend of informative posts :) If nothing else, it gets me googling on these topics, and its always nice to learn about stuff that one knows next to nothing about!

At 12:09 AM , Blogger Pushuka said...

Ya dude. I seem to have got into this annoying habit of writing socially relevant posts. :)

At 4:27 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is extremely said that we are going to an era of high tech but people were stupid enough to elect someone like Bush for a high position like president. he is very short term focused and mainly thinking abt profiting people who payed his election campaign.


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