OK, so the greens already trumpeted China’s recent assertion that it would undertake greenhouse emission reduction efforts…on its own, thank you very much, and conveniently coming mere days after influential Sen. Pete Domenici seemed to switch camps to reject the idea of supporting domestic US legislation unless China was on board some international program, or at least really looked like they were doing something, too.
Next up is a media-gasm over China purportedly agreeing to remove one of the two major Bush Administration objections to joining Kyoto, which are shared by a 95-0 Senate and then-Vice President Gore when he agreed with this standard on December 11, 1997: participation by key developing countries (not-so-secret code for China, India, South Korea, Mexico, Brazil and Indonesia, the giant economies all taking a free-ride on Kyoto as agreed). All available evidence indicates — contrary to John Kerry’s debate zinger to Newt that Europe just doesn’t know how to make carbon cap-and-trade work, but the US does, nyah nyah — that the other objection, that a pact must not substantially harm the US economy, can not be met under foreseeable technologies.
Those holding with a copy of the China-Japan statement referred to in the media (see here) inform me that “the media is spinning it. Nothing new there. China signed on to an ‘effective’ framework but with one with the common stockphrase from Europe ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ or something to that effect.”
To repeat: China did not agree to actual emission reductions, to becoming a covered “Annex I” Kyoto Party (though I suggest that is one major gambit that we should expect from them, for the following reasons), or even to changing the current dynamic. Remember, Kyoto’s extant structure is based upon the “common but differentiated responsibilities” loophole that allows anyone who insists on not threatening their economic growth stays outside of Kyoto’s rationing.
In brief, why we should expect China cleverly agreeing to become a covered Kyoto Party are as follow: the EU — facing no one to buy credits from post-2012 and thus the prospect of actually having to reduce emissions because cdm and ji aren’t capable of the necessary volume — will IMHO offer the Chinese a very favorable baseline and “reduction” (like Australia’s and much of Europe’s….that means an increase) in order to become Annex I. This would remove one major US objection and isolate us in a way we simply aren’t now.
China, of course, has no intention of ever reducing emissions or becoming anything other than a recipient of wealth transfers any more than does Russia. Russia, sage observers posit, will sell GHG credits to the best of its ability then hold out for another sweetie deal or walk…but will never agree to rationing (after all, as the argument goes, the richest countries still have yet to perform). It would just be the ideal way for them — and Brazil, India, SoKo, Indonesia and others — to play the game, getting paid even more simply to hobble everyone. This redefines foreign aid as Kyoto aid, but with far worse complications. Amazing if the US doesn’t aggressively find some way out of this trap first.