Friday, July 29, 2005

Good news week 

It's been a good few days for the environment and the international trade.

Kyoto is dead, long live Vientiane?
Australia will host in November the first meeting of six nations which have agreed a pact to combat global warming by developing technology to cut greenhouse gas emissions, diplomatic sources said on Thursday.

The Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate will be introduced by the United States, Japan, Australia, China, India and South Korea at the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional forum later on Thursday.

In documents seen by Reuters, the six nations say the pact will "seek to address energy, climate change and air pollution issues within a paradigm of economic development" and will "complement but not replace the Kyoto protocol".
Note the contrast in approaches: Kyoto is every liberal internationalist's wet dream - a meaningless strength-in-numbers exercise that attempts to get everyone inside the tent (or greenhouse) regardless whether they actually contribute much to the problem (or the solution) or not. At the same time, it places the biggest burden on the developed world, while some of the biggest offenders come from the ranks of the developing world. And it tries to achieve its objective by regulation that would put a dampener on economic growth.

Vientiane, on the other hand, is an example of effective, targeted multilateralism - it brings together states who are the biggest greenhouse gas producers, and the states with access to cutting edge technology (with some, like the United States, in both categories), and it plans to address the problem using the best that the humanity has to offer - technological innovation, that is using our ingenuity to solve the problem without inflicting collateral damage on the world economy. To me personally, one of the greatest stories in our species' history have been the efforts to successfully have the cake and eat it too.

And the new pact has already achieved some global cooling:
A new American-led initiative to combat global warming met with a cool reaction yesterday as Europe and environmentalists warned that it risked undermining the Kyoto Protocol.
Good. Now we also need to involve Tony Blair, who's been on Bush's case about climate change for some time now. Also - Australia claims some credit for the initiative. See also the Powerline perspective.

Meanwhile, this - narrow - victory for free trade:
US President George W. Bush, in a rare piece of political theatre, walked the corridors of the US Congress yesterday to personally lobby Republican members of the House of Representatives to pass the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

Mr Bush's direct action proved the clincher, as the free trade agreement was passed 217 votes to 215, the narrowest of margins but a victory the President hopes will signal renewed momentum for his second-term agenda.
See also: Will Franklin looks how both parties in the Congress are trending on free trade - hint: looks like one of the more positive legacies of Clinton's centrist agenda is going down the toilet (hat tip: Instapundit).


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