As I predicted yesterday, the G-8 meeting finally reached a climate-control accord, but one with almost no meaning at all, as the developing nations laughed off suggestions that they hamstring their growing economies. Instead of agreeing to cap carbon emissions or commit to industrial limits on energy use, the Western nations instead opted to pledge not to make the Earth warmer:
The world’s leading industrial nations tentatively agreed Wednesday to try to prevent global temperatures from rising above a fixed level, after a more far-reaching proposal to slash production of greenhouse gases fizzled, according to U.S. and European negotiators.
Leaders meeting here for the Group of Eight summit said they would pledge to keep temperatures from rising more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above average levels of more than a century ago, before large-scale industrial pollution occurred.
Temperatures have already risen by nearly half that amount, leaving little wiggle room. It was unclear what mechanisms, if any, would be adopted to enforce the target.
Some environmental groups saw the announcement as a weak nod at the obvious.
What does this mean? Absolutely nothing. It allows the leaders of the G-8 nations to brag about reaching an agreement that literally binds them to do nothing at all. With temperatures decreasing since 1998’s peak even by the earlier, flawed NASA study, the issue could just as easily be moot.
The environmental groups that had hoped for the imposition of draconian limits on industry struggled to respond to the non-event. Greenpeace didn’t bother to hide its scorn, expressing its disappointment in the “limited” result. The Sierra Club lauded the “symbolic” nature of the agreement. No one pretended that this changed anything at all.
In fact, the G-8 showered disappointment in all directions. The leaders of the free nations made sure to express its “impatience” with Iran over its nuclear program, and to scold the mullahs for the crackdown on protesters following its rigged presidential election. However, they couldn’t quite bring themselves to expand the sanctions on Iran for either of those two issues.
Talk, talk, talk. Blather, blather, blather. They could have reduced the temperature in L’Aquila, Italy, by avoiding the emissions of the empty gas of their rhetoric.