The news out of China and Canada shows that on at least one environmental issue, the Bush administration has been at the forefront of sound policy. China will very soon surpass the US and the leading emitter of greenhouse gases – yet as late as two weeks ago, they reaffirmed that while they would participate in negotiations to shape a post-Kyoto treaty limiting greenhouse gas emissions, they would not commit to binding reduction in CO2.
China, rightly, fears continued poverty and the health and welfare problems that it brings more than the distant, in time and indirect, in effect, potential problems posed by global warming. From the start of the administration, Bush recognized that signing up to Kyoto or a Kyoto style treaty, would do little or nothing to prevent warming or help the environment, while putting us at a competitive disadvantage with China and other newly emerging economic powerhouses.
Canada’s Prime-Minister, has apparently come to the same conclusion. To the extent that future warming poses a real threat, the answer is not harming economic growth by restricting energy use, but rather the development and diffusion of new, more efficient technologies to the countries where, if used, these technologies will allow economic growth to continue while preventing new emissions. New technologies will allow developing countries to develop without using the same, less efficient, dirtier, power, agricultural, and transportation technologies critical to growth in the developed world in the past century.
The Asian-Pacific partnership which Canada wants to join, should result in far more environmental benefits, for a far cheaper price, than proposals to artificially restrict energy use by raising prices. As an ancillary benefit, companies that develop these technologies will be the industrial leader in the next century – leading to job growth in the U.S. and contributing to a lower trade deficit.