A new battle line has been drawn in international politics. It’s not capitalism versus statism, nor is it Islam versus the West. The new global political divide has been created over fears of catastrophic global warming.
Groups like the United Nations and the European Union have been pushing hard to convince member states to keep their coal, natural gas and oil reserves in the ground for the sake of the climate. But after 18 years with no global warming and many countries experiencing huge economic and social gains from fossil fuel use, some governments are drawing the line.
From the Pacific rim to Europe, countries are voicing their opposition to wide-reaching plans to tackle global warming by ditching fossil fuels and forcing the use of costly, less reliable green energy.
In Europe, an Iron Curtain is forming between Western Europeans and Eastern Europeans over what to do about global warming. Six central and eastern European country have opposed to European Union’s proposed global warming plans.
EU plans mandate that greenhouse gas emissions “should be 40 percent lower; the market share of renewable energy should be 27 percent and energy efficiency should be improved by 30 percent,” reports the EU Obsever.
Of course with Russia holding the lever on oil and natural gas imports into Europe, former Soviet satellite countries — the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria and Romania — are balking at the EU’s attempts to make them more reliant on energy from Vladimir Putin.
The six countries demand a climate agreement that “reflects different regional needs and circumstances.” The countries rejected previous attempts by the EU to impose binding climate targets on member states, and
What these six nations have in common, besides being held hostage by totalitarianism for decades, is that they all are developing and rely on on fossil fuels, like coal and natural gas, to supply affordable electricity to its citizens. Poland’s economy has been so hampered by high-priced Russian gas that the country’s prime minister has promised to veto any EU proposal that raises power prices for Polish citizens.
“Poles will not lose out when it comes to electricity prices,” said Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz.
But these six nations sit in opposition to a group of 13 western and northern EU member states, called the Green Growth Group, that are aggressively pushing to keep fossil fuels in the ground. This group favors forcing all EU member states to cut greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent, though the group has also said it wanted the EU to allow for some flexibility among member states to set their own energy agenda.
Abbott Versus Obama
President Obama has sought to use the G20 as a platform for climate policies. But Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is not having it, and is forming a coalition to oppose Obama’s efforts to force his climate agenda on the global stage.
Abbott’s conservative governing coalition won a major landslide victory last year opposing the country’s carbon tax, which was blamed for rising energy costs and joblessness. Abbott’s government also earned scorn from UN delegates for not taking seriously the last major international climate conference.
His latest task has been to derail the Obama administration’s efforts to use the G20 as a platform for advancing climate policies. To do this, Abbott is working to form an anti-Obama coalition among commonwealth countries. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has already voiced his support for Abbott’s cause.
Australia is currently chair of the G20 and wants to use the group to promote free trade, not policies that hamper trade by imposing regulations and keeping exportable natural resources in the ground.
“It’s not that we don’t seek to deal with climate change,” Harper said. “But we seek to deal with it in a way that will protect and enhance our ability to create jobs and growth. Not destroy jobs and growth in our countries.”
“Is it [global warming] the most important issue the world faces right now? I don’t believe so. It is one of a number of significant issues that the world faces, and we will do our bit,” Abbott told reporters this summer.
Harper’s stance against Obama has likely been influenced by the Obama administration’s failure to approve the Keystone XL pipeline for six years now. Canadian officials have heavily backed the project that would send oil sands to U.S. refineries, but Obama’s inaction on the issue has only hurt relations with one of America’s greatest allies.
Countries Back Out Of Kyoto
Efforts to enact global climate policies have suffered another major setback: only a handful of countries have chosen to extend their participation in the world’s only legally binding climate agreement.
The Kyoto Protocol expired in 2013, but 144 countries agreed to extend the treaty until it can be replaced. But so far, only 18 countries have formally backed Kyoto’s extension — most of them are developing countries that are legally required to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Though none of these countries have began enforcing Kyoto.
The bad news about Kyoto comes after key developed countries abandoned the agreement in 2011 and 2012. Canada opted out of Kyoto in 2011 and was followed by Russia, New Zealand and Japan in 2012. These countries opted not to extend Kyoto over concerns that efforts to reduce greenhouse gases would be outpaced by growth from developing countries (like China and India).
Who Will Pay The Tab?
Another major fight that continues is the battle over what rich countries should pay to poor countries in climate “reparations.” In 2009, President Obama and other world leaders agreed to give poor countries $100 billion a year to fight global warming — despite no upward trends in extreme weather events and no actual warming for many years.
But like many promises, this $100 billion climate slush fund has not come to fruition. So how much are countries willing to spend? Only about $2.3 billion, according to the liberal blog Grist. About 10 countries have promised $2.3 billion in climate welfare to poor countries, only about 2 percent of what the UN wants rich countries to spend by 2020. Of special note, is that the U.S. is not among these 10 countries providing climate funding.
However, the UN says it needs another $12.7 billion by before their next climate conference in Lima, Peru this December. For obvious reasons, this seems a little too optimistic for a two month goal.
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