Entries tagged with “US”.

No time for long posts today . . . but if you want to understand why the US and China are trapped in the economic version of a dance of death that neither can escape, simply watch the following . . .

Happy Thanksgiving!

So the Tianjin climate talks have come to an end with little outward sign of progress, despite protestations to the contrary by UN Climate Chief Christina Figueres (via AFP):

“I would dare say that this week has got us closer to a structured set of decisions that can be agreed in Cancun,” said Figueres, the executive secretary of the U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change. “This week, governments had to address together what was doable in Cancun. … They have actually done that.”

In her defense, it is Figueres’ job to be a cheerleader for the process, so she sort of had to say that, evidence be damned.  Hey, if nothing else, we got to see China and the US go from passive agressive to openly pissy across the negotiating table, which is always fun.  When the Chinese start referring to “a pig looking in a mirror” to describe the US’s inability to discuss its own failure to pass climate legislation, at least it is amusing . . .

But despite the (not-so) diplomatic fireworks and cheerleading the face of evidence, the oddest statement of the week comes from Greenpeace:

Greenpeace international climate policy director Wendel Trio criticized the hard-line stance of the major players in the talks. “Governments should look at what they can do for the climate, not what the process can do for them,” Trio said.

Look, I know that someone has to stand up for the ideal world we all wish we lived in, if only to remind us of what that ideal looks like when we get too far away, this statement is so staggeringly naive as to be unproductive.  Of course governments will leverage the process for themselves – it’s what they do in international negotiations.  This is reality – begging them to behave like something they are not isn’t going to change anything, and fails to engage with the process as it is in the world – in other words, how things really get done.  A real effort to engage would have to address the staggering complexity of the diplomatic process, as well as the real self-interest of countries.  I am friends with someone close to the biofuels negotiations that just took place in Rome, and the US Government side of that negotiation alone involved several executive branch agencies or offices, and there were major differences between them that took a lot of smoothing before anyone could go sit at a table in Rome . . . so that means that not only are we dealing with national interests, but within countries we are dealing with bureaucratic interests – which speak to the interests of the constituencies of the various bureaucracies.

I share the general stance of Greenpeace with regard to the need for climate action.  However, their energy would be much better spent mobilizing all of the key actors along this legislative/diplomatic supply chain to understand why they care about the climate, and why it is in their interest/the agency’s or offices’ interest/the national interest to take action.