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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Climate Change—Not a Two-Handed Game

When we think about the issue of Climate Change we need to ask ourselves about what our partners in this game are thinking.  Sure, the US, Canada, the UK and Europe are the big players, but so are other nations.  At the end of the day it is about what 200 different nations think.  While we can ignore those nations with little industry and a good climate, we can't ignore India, China and Brazil.  And the next President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, notwithstanding, there isn't likely to be a global dictatorship taking us through the problem.  There are a lot of different interests at stake here.  And it is going to take all of us cooperating if this is a real crisis.  Foreign Policy is HARD!

Following is an analysis, provided without attribution, of what China may be thinking.  (The emphasis is mine.)
I've now had a chance to read the article (which is in Kexue Shibao, Science Times, rather than Keji Ribao, Science & Technology Daily; both are published by the Chinese Academy of Sciences) in which the author indicates that China should see efforts at curtailing emissions as an effort on the part of the industrialized world to constrain developing countries' ability to modernize and develop.

Most interestingly, the author cites one of the vice presidents of the CAS, a paleo-climatologist, as questioning whether global warming is happening (although it is unclear whether he means global warming, or anthropogenic global warming).

That the piece was published on the front pages of Kexue Shibao is itself telling. Articles like this don't just get put out there, not on THAT piece of real estate, w/o some clearance from within the CAS and, as important, from the Chinese Communist Party (i.e., the ruling elite).  As with what Arab leaders say in Arabic versus in English, it raises some interesting questions about what is said to the foreigners, and what is said within the Chinese context.

As [someone] notes, the interesting part will be what the Chinese say at Copenhagen.  Reading that article (from September 7), I would suspect that if the Chinese push a per capita greenhouse gas emission standard, that the article's position is indicative/supported by the top leadership.  If not, then it suggests that there IS debate within various Chinese organizations about major policy decisions (with broader implications, including for national security).

As ever, the PRC system remains translucent on the best of days, opaque and misleading most others.
Global Warming, or "Anthropogenic Global Warming" (AGW) is not just about what happens at the CRU at East Anglia University or what former VP Al Gore thinks.  It we are facing an AGW problem it will take a global consensus as to how we help others grow out of poverty while not destroying the basis for our own economic success.

Regards  —  Cliff


lance said...

Maybe they should have a big convention somewhere. Maybe Copenhagen. And bring the world together. And maybe the US should participate this time.

C R Krieger said...

I agree, after they get their story straight.

Regards  —  Cliff