Taking a closer look at the full costs of energy acquisition and dissipation
I think that the US should become more of a key player in a commitment to cleaning up our green house gas emissions. We talked in class about what a shame it was for the US to not sign the Kyoto treaty, and therefore failing to lead the world in a fight to reduce greenhouse gases. The new treaty sounds like a good opportunity for the US to start thinking about limiting our output and deciding on how much pollution we are willing to emit. Congress should use this as a starting point for legislation for regulating green house gas emissions. It is scary to think that we can't even predict a number that is reasonable to work towards.
I think that this article brings up a good realization. There should be some internal activity from Congress before the United States would potentially be willing and able to make any global agreements. This kind of thought process is a good initiative to the start the mature political debate and conversation that we discussed in class. By bringing up the issue of needing framework from Congress before agreeing to a global policy, will hopefully eliminate one factor that could potentially keep the United States from signing on (as seen in Kyoto). This article also relates to the reading we discussed in class because in having Congressional legislation in place before entering a global agreement, allows the United States to establish its own flexibility in the way such a policy adjusts overtime (theoretically decreasing costs). Again, making global action more appealing to those focused on the homeland.
While it is discouraging that disputes in Congress are halting US energy policy, I believe that the article speaks to a high level of awareness and realism on the part of the US. Many opponents of the Kyoto Protocol or more generally, international agreements on the whole, argue that individual nations will not follow the sanctions of the International Organization because no effective "police force" exists. The US appears to be aware of the pitfalls of International Cooperations and seems to be adopting a self-regulating role. The US could walk into Copenhagen and pledge CO2 reductions to zero in the next 10 years and most likely would not be held to that pledge by the International Community. What good, then, would the pledge do? Only by understanding its limitations can the US engage in an effective environmental policy. The deadlock in Congress is without a doubt a set back, but the fact that the US is unwilling to make ill-founded pledges is a step in the right direction.
Sounds like more bad news about the United States' ability to stem its emissions. I found it very interesting that Spain, Japan, and some other countries will be missing their target carbon dioxide emissions. The article mentioned some sort of punishment; what could this possibly be? I think the degree and effectiveness of these punishments will show how serious the world is about these endeavors. If they are miniscule then there will be little reason to "make good" on one's promises, other than moral obligation. I think its clear we can not rely on good will and morality to sway the trend in climate change.
With the important conference in Copenhagen approaching, possibilities of an international agreement seem more unrealistic. In my opinion, it is the responsibility of the United States to act as an international leader, and therefore lead in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Other countries look to the United States for example, and as of now the US is failing. As stated in the article, the US is not ready to come to an international agreement, because domestically laws have not been implemented. What I find interesting, is that with the Kyoto Protocol coming to an end, there a few countries that will not meet their goals. The article mentions punishing these countries, but there is no international police to really enforce these laws or treaties, thus no real incentive to meet such goals. There needs to be an international consensus, where countries begin thinking about the benefit of the world and the future instead of economic harms or benefits to their country. Although, we are not ready to come to an agreement, mere discussion indicates we may one day get there.
It really will be a shame if there is broad participation between nations on the next climate treaty without the participation of the United States, the world’s superpower. It brings our commitment to climate change into question and makes us seem quite selfish, when we tout rhetoric about how the rest of the world needs to curb emissions as they develop. We already had our chance to develop and still continue to use the majority of energy per capita. At the same time, I agree with Alex that it is a good thing to recognize our limitations in order to conduct good environmental policy. If we just agree to any environmental parameters for symbolic purposes, we would be no different than Spain, Italy, and Japan who missed their targets. Then we’re right back to square one with little progress having been made. An effective treaty would need, among many things, the genuine participation of both the United States and China with realistic emissions goals. If a domestic framework could somehow be passed through Congress, the hard part would probably be over in getting the US on board. Unfortunately, Congress along with China will be tricky situations to navigate successfully.
Especially after not signing the Kyoto Protocol, it would be a mistake if the US does not agree to cut greenhouse-gas emissions. Given all the research and evidence that shows how badly emissions are hurting the environment and causing a series of problems, I think we should absolutely sign the treaty. Even though we do need to know our limitations and not just sign the treaty and not follow through like some of the other countries have done, I think that signing it would force us to act on the issue, even if we do not completely meet our goal, more than not signing at all. It would give us more motivation to cut emissions as much as possible and it would make us more committed to improving our greenhouse-gas emissions. By not signing it it we would just be proving even more the idea that many people and countries know that something needs to be done about the issue, but they do not want to have to be the one to make the sacrifices and changes.
I agree it would be unfortunate to see the U.S. decline in joining the international effort for emissions mitigation. As Alex points out, however, our joining will really be of no consequence if we regulate on our own the same we would if we signed the treaty. The only benefit to signing is our appearance of coordinating with other countries.
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