Saturday, January 14, 2006

Climate Change Conference

The grandly named Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate met this week in Sydney. For the un-initiated, this is either (a) a sensible approach to fixing the problem of climate change without those stupid Europeans and greenies hanging around; or (b) Australia and the US putting a desperate spin on why nothing should be done about climate change in the slightest by pulling in a few big developing countries (India and China) and having an expensive conference.

I'm still pretty uninitiated on climate change - I've been trying to ignore it as I fear I will become depressed about it.

The thing that is striking me at the moment is how strange the solutions adopted are. The Europeans, who are notoriously anti market forces (see their agricultural policy, if you don't believe me), as a way of reaching the targets that they have agreed to in the Kyoto protocol, have adopted lots of creative market-based approaches (of which trading carbon credits is only the best known).

The Americans and Australians, who like to think of themselves as much more rigorous about economics, and who certainly pay lip service to market-based solutions to many quite diverse problems (health and education being two fairly large examples), have adopted an approach of picking winners (such as carbon sequestration).

Looking at these different approaches does make me suspect that the Europeans are the ones that are actually trying to do something, as opposed to have the appearance of doing something. The Sydney Morning Herald summed our approach up well: "the Australian Government's approach relies heavily on faith; it seems Australia believes industry will do the right thing because it is the right thing."


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