Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Inside Source: China Torpedoes Climate Deal

There are enough people arguing about climate change so I'm happy to let experts present their data and arguments to the public. However, I do ask this: if other things are equal, wouldn't you like not to keep sending money to Islamic dictatorships? Wouldn't you like to make the U.S. less vulnerable to OPEC by removing our dependence on foreign energy imports?

Aside from that I don't wade in much, but occasionally I do like looking at the arguments to see who takes what positions and why, mostly because they're good at revealing the political tectonic plates that people are standing on.

Any discussion of climate change is anathema to most self-declared conservatives, though I've had difficulty finding out why, other than liberals want it, so it must be evil. (Liberals like pizza. Quick, stop eating pizza, it must be evil! Right?) When the "pieces" of an argument shift, that's a good time to see where people stand. For example: a few months back Saudi Arabia announced that if the rest of the world stopped using oil, that it expected to get international welfare becaues its poor widdle economy is so one-dimensional.

Interestingly, both far-right conservatives and progressives were quiet about that, because it confused both of them. Many progressives seem to hate all energy everywhere, but frequently assume that if anything goes wrong in the world, the U.S. owes somebody money, so they didn't quite know what to do. Conservatives were similarly confounded - quick to applaud anything that weakens Islamic dictatorships, but also in the unfortunate habit of knee-jerk ridiculing any attempt to move away from fossil fuels. There's really no confusion here. The appropriate response? Tell Saudi Arabia "awww, let's have a pity party", and rejoice that it's within our power to turn fortune against an Islamic dictatorship in a way that decreases America's energy vulnerability. It seems to me this is an open-and-shut case!

So now we have news that the climate talks in Copenhagen were torpedoed by China's frustrating craftiness, from someone who was inside the talks:

Sudan behaves at the talks as a puppet of China; one of a number of countries that relieves the Chinese delegation of having to fight its battles in open sessions. It was a perfect stitch-up. China gutted the deal behind the scenes, and then left its proxies to savage it in public.

There are several ways an American conservative (whatever that means anymore) can react to this. The two ends of the spectrum are:

1) Hail China. China is the true savior of mankind for stopping Obama's climate change efforts and humiliating him in the process. I hate Obama so much that I'm willing to diminish America's international standing to see him disrespected.

2) I don't like Obama and I disagree with his climate change policies, but China's maneuvering put the U.S. in a bad international position. For the sake of American and democratic interests in the world I wish at least that future American policy initiatives are not seen as fiascos.

A silver lining is that in discussions with pro-climate-change-treaty types, you can point out that it was China that destroyed their hopes and China that they should be considering the bad guy, not the United States. (Extra emphasis for social conservatives: even if any climate change agreement is antithetical to you, it's a good rhetorical point to get liberals away from this idea that it's always the U.S. that's the obstacle to progress.)

The whole article is worth reading, but another choice excerpt is:

To those who would blame Obama and rich countries in general, know this: it was China's representative who insisted that industrialised country targets, previously agreed as an 80% cut by 2050, be taken out of the deal. "Why can't we even mention our own targets?" demanded a furious Angela Merkel. Australia's prime minister, Kevin Rudd, was annoyed enough to bang his microphone. Brazil's representative too pointed out the illogicality of China's position. Why should rich countries not announce even this unilateral cut? The Chinese delegate said no, and I watched, aghast, as Merkel threw up her hands in despair and conceded the point. Now we know why – because China bet, correctly, that Obama would get the blame for the Copenhagen accord's lack of ambition.

This is why there are many of us in the blogosphere trying to wake people up to the Chinese government's antics. They're smart and they play rough and for keeps, and they won this round soundly.

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