Thursday, December 01, 2005

Montreal Talks Appear Pointless

Post-Kyoto environmental talks underway in Montreal appear pointless, based on comments made by the UK's Margaret Beckett, representing both the EU and the UK at the conference. Said Beckett, "We never had the idea that this meeting was going to sign up to a whole new lot of compulsory targets. The people who think that are living in cloud cuckoo land. This is arrant nonsense. It took five years to negotiate the Kyoto agreement with only 39 countries involved. Then two of them promptly walked away." (Guardian Unlimited: Beckett crushes hopes of new carbon deal).

The US has already refused to participate in the Montreal conference, and both Kyoto holdouts China and India are also absent. Without agreement from China and India, any hope of bringing the US to the table or having any meaningful environmental accord is sheer folly. That Beckett, considered one of the greener members of the committee, sees no firm accord coming out of Montreal really makes one wonder about the point of the conference in the first place.

Ironically, the UK has a lot to lose if some global warming theories are correct. Scientists are now reporting that there is a decrease in the amount of warm water making it to the UK via the Gulf Stream due to lower salinity in northern sea water caused by glacial melting. Eventually, as the warming trend continues and the glaciers continue to melt, the Gulf Stream conveyor will stop, plunging the UK and other northern Europe regions into an ice age.

In any event, it appears that the Montreal conference is a nonstarter. Even Greenpeace spokesman Stephen Tinsdale warns against the voluntary targets being proposed in Montreal, stating that the targets are "not worth the paper they are written on. Without mandatory targets [the Kyoto protocol] is effectively dead." I would take it a step further. Without China and India being constrained, any environmental treaty is doomed from the start.


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