Friday, September 06, 2002

Kyoto – Playing the International Game

Canadian Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien, has decided that he wants Canada to ratify the Kyoto Protocols before he leaves office in February 2004. In fact, he’d like to get it through the Canadian House of Commons by this December. Such was Chrétien’s announcement at the World Sustainable Development Summit in Johannesburg recently.

To a large degree, the move is motivated by the Prime Minister’s “resignation”. Chrétien in an effort to avoid being dumped by his own party in 2003, informed Canada that he would instead be leaving in 2004 of his own accord. This gives him eighteen months to wreak havoc in my homeland. Chrétien wants a legacy and he think Kyoto – along with twinning the entire trans-Canada highway – will be it. Apparently, he has some other big spending ideas on his plate as well.

Chrétien’s main rival for the leadership of the governing Liberal Party is Paul Martin. As Canada’s popular finance minister until he was fired by Chrétien not long ago, Martin is often seen as responsible for getting the government’s finances into line. But the growing leadership row between Chrétien and Martin brought Martin’s long tenure to an end, and released him to begin an open campaign to dethrone his former boss.

On the issue of Kyoto, Martin, along with Alberta Premier Ralph Klein, was none too impressed by Chrétien’s sudden desire to enshrine Kyoto. Martin pointed out that the government has no clear idea as to the ultimate effect implementing Kyoto might have on the Canadian economy, and has called for further study of the issue, along with more public debate.

But lest we start to worry unnecessarily about the costs, we now find out that Canada will only meet its commitments under Kyoto by playing fast and lose with the required rate reductions on the production of greenhouse gas emissions. In other words, Canada won’t really implement the Protocols.

This fact nicely sums up the stupidity of the whole Kyoto mess. From the start the Kyoto dictates were more an exercise in political perfidy and America-bashing than anything else. The leftist European governments of the day wanted to please their Green Party members so they cooked up a treaty they knew the Americans would never be able to accept. That way, when the US nixed the thing, the Americans could take the blame. In the end, the Europeans never intended to implement the Kyoto Protocols in their entirety and never will meet the prescribed targets.

For the internationalist set, the Kyoto Protocols served as a means of increasing the power of global bureaucracy while challenging the global free market economy. Indeed, the international bureaucrats, like Soviet aparatchiks, relish centralized intervention and disdain the free market. The seemingly endless parade of treaties and tribunals invented during the 1990’s are seen as a means for spreading the gospel of global governance with unelected and unaccountable experts hijacking the decision making process now assigned to national legislatures. The same can be said of the NGOs and civil society organizations who see a role for themselves in the administration and implementation of the new global order.

For all these players – the EU, the UN, the NGOs – the point is political. Faced with a powerful US and the highly attractive and successful notion of the free market, these groups know that they could never make a direct challenge against such impressive forces. So they turn to internationalism. They concoct a whole panoply of treaties and accords, they fabricate disasters that can only be averted through “global action”, they mount their moral high horses and speak glowingly of international cooperation and sustainable development. But in the end, they aren’t any different from the now defunct Soviet Union. These people are throwbacks to an older era, they are dinosaurs. While they speak about the future global community, they offer solutions that are no solutions, they hark back to the utopian dream world that has always excited revolutionaries. The results, however, are always disasters.

During the summit in Johannesburg, the US, despite a concerted effort by the NGOs and assorted rabble-rousers present, was able to defend and advance the free market cause. Numerous individual deals were struck between the US and developing nations behind the scenes – deals that left the ever-embittered EU looking on. Some work actually did get done at the summit, though nothing that couldn’t have occurred without the excessive waste of money and hot air. It certainly would be nice if we finally were able to put all this grandstanding behind us, but that too is probably just another revolutionary idea.


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