Thousands gathered in Copenhagen to embark on an aggressive plan to reach a framework for reducing carbon emissions, with the goal of instituting a more formalized, binding agreement within six months.
Now, many others have rightly criticized and written on the faulty research used to support the panic of “global warming” and supposedly retreating icebergs. In the past two weeks, this justified skepticism has gained significant traction in light of the recently released “ClimateGate” e-mails, wherein researchers and peers of the notable Climate Research Unit of East Anglia University appear to concede that climate change is due to natural, not human, activity.
However, in this week’s column I want to pivot around that important debate to talk about the politics and economics of this week’s climate gathering.
Predictably, the United States is the main target of the thousands of protesters, media and conference participants — all more than willing to wave the finger of blame at our nation for all the world’s perceived climate ills. You see, folks in Beijing, Bandung and Bangalore all want the United States to accept stringent restrictions on her own industries without accepting even less stringent restrictions on their own countries.
In one of many possible examples, India reiterated its refusal to accept any sort of binding restrictions limiting carbon emissions for their country — while at the same time demanding an increase in proposed cutbacks for our country!
It seems as though negotiators are utterly ignoring the official projections from the Indian government which indicate that Indian emissions will triple or quadruple in the next 20 years, even as American emissions are projected to drop. In a similar position, Chinese leaders have been equally antagonistic to the United States.
Beyond even projections, this idea of the United States as the Great Polluter is increasingly less justified. In recent years, China has risen to become the greatest emitter of greenhouse gases. According to the World Bank, Indonesia clocks in at third, with India, Russia and Japan also sitting at the top. The U.S. still ranks second, but is the only top-ranked country which has been curbing, rather than increasing, emissions of greenhouse gases.
At the same time, these nations expect astronomical levels of financial assistance from the same countries they claim are not doing enough. Developed Western nations have proffered a significant $10 billion annually to aid new technologies and industrial developments in developing nations to help them implement emissions changes without severely damaging their economies. But these poorer nations insist that price tag is absurdly low — never mind the global economic recession which has hit Western nations the hardest.
Even if we were to accept the dubious scientific and environmental arguments which have sparked these Copenhagen negotiations, the idea that America should sign a binding legal treaty when other nations are given a free pass is absurd.
Not only it is a blatant disregard of our sovereignty, but it would also only lead to the exporting of dirty jobs and industries to China and other privileged-status nations, boosting their economy at the expense of ours and doing nothing to accomplish the treaty’s environmental goals.
The United States must never allow other nations to dictate our interests and objectives. We can, and should, partner with the world in friendship, but all friendships have limits. If the developing nations of the world expect our help, they will have to do their part.
Michael Reagan, the elder son of the late President Ronald Reagan, is chairman and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation (www.reaganlegacyfoundation.org).