The old adage advises people not to interfere when their opponents seem intent on driving themselves to failure. The leaders of China and India appear to understand that well. Seeing that the West will adopt senseless restrictions on energy production and economic output, they have declined to jump off the same cliff themselves, throwing the G-8 conference into a turmoil that will be unfortunately brief:
Hopes of a deal on climate change at the Group of Eight industrialised nations summit in Italy were today hanging by a thread.
As world leaders sat down for a working lunch at the start of a three day meeting of the G8, it emerged that negotiations had failed to reach agreement on halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Summit negotiators, who do the hard bargaining before the heads of state arrive to complete the agreements, failed to make progress on the issue in talks that continued late last night. China and India are understood to have blocked any mention of the target in the draft communiqué, insisting that the developed economies should promise to cut their own emissions sharply by 2020 before asking developing nations to commit to a long term target.
The breakdown in negotiations has undermined President Obama’s chances of producing a diplomatic coup when he chairs talks on climate change at a meeting of the 17-nation Major Economies Forum tomorrow.
That’s what will make the kerfuffle short-lived. China and India won’t really matter in this conference. Obama would like to get them on board in order to smooth passage of his agreement, but he’s going to get that agreement no matter what he does. He needs to show something more on this trip than a meaningless reduction in nuclear arms with Russia, and a damaging agreement to kill Western economies and lower the standard of living in America over the long haul is exactly what he wants. And he’ll say anything to get it, with or without India or China.
The better question will be what happens when he gets it. The Senate passed a non-binding resolution in the Clinton administration telling the President not to bother submitting Kyoto for ratification without China and India agreeing to its restrictions. That resolution passed unanimously. More than a decade later, some Senators might be willing to handicap America for the benefit of China, but that will be a tough sell for most of them. Any treaty requires 67 votes, and I’d be surprised if Obama could muster even half of that for Son of Kyoto.
Obama may plan to return home, waving a piece of paper over his head to the adoring masses of the White House press corps, claiming a victory for climate change in our time, but that’s as far as it will go without the two most populous nations on Earth exempting themselves from it. Obama will push for the limitations in other ways, though, through Congress and the EPA, while China retains its economic advantage over the US, and India builds one.