By David L. Brown
It’s reported as positive news, but I have to wonder. According to this report on the BBC News online website, European leaders “have agreed to finish talks by the end of the year on an ambitious plan to fight climate change.”
Why am I skeptical? Well, partly because it is just my contrary nature, but also because endless talks, meetings, conferences, and “summits” are proven means of delaying real action, and Europe’s socialist politicians are past masters at that game. They tout how “ambitious” their eventual plan is going to be, while giving themselves another nine months to find new excuses for inaction, negotiate away potential core benefits, and seize every opportunity to place the blame for failure on, well, who- or whatever happens to be handy at the time.
According to the BBC article:
After a two-day summit in Brussels, leaders for the 27 nations said they hoped new legislation would be enacted in early 2009.
The bloc aims to implement a 20% cut in greenhouse gases by 2020, compared with 1990 levels.
But EU leaders said they needed to look at the consequences for heavy industry and that could complicate negotiations.
The summit also discussed financial instability, as well as liberalisation of the bloc’s energy markets.
Some countries, like Germany and France, are worried about the international competitiveness of their businesses and the potential cost in jobs, the BBC’s Nick Childs in Brussels says.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the EU had “passed a reality test”.
The Slovenian Prime Minister, Janez Jansa, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, told reporters the EU leaders had taken “a huge step forward”.
“We are convinced that the costs of these measures will be much lower than if we don’t act,” he said.
Well, right there we see that there are some real problems ahead. Hmm, if Germany and France are worried about their business competitiveness, couldn’t that mean trouble for a commitment to the climate change agenda? What will those nations say when it turns out that other industrial countries such as China, India, and yes, even America fail to make equivalent commitments to the worldwide effort? I suspect in the end the Euro-nuts will use that as an excuse for inaction, just as the U.S. used it as a reason not to sign the Kyoto Accord.
Then there’s the statement about “liberalisation” of the EU’s energy markets. What does that mean during a period when both OPEC and Russia are holding Europe’s feet to the fire over energy? Could this be empty rhetoric, signifying nothing? Yeah, it sure can, but the BBC doesn’t explain.
And what does it mean that the EU members have taken “a huge step forward,” or that they have “passed a reality test.” This is nothing but more empty rhetoric, the very kind of thing one would expect from politicians who are engaging in smoke-and-mirror diplomacy: Hollow words that echo in an environment of political expediency; pabulum* for the masses.
Finally, EU President Jansa is quoted that the cost of measures to reduce carbon emissions will be “much lower than if we don’t act.” Well, yes … sort of. The problem is that the preventative cost is here and now, whereas the eventual cost of doing nothing will be a problem passed on at no present cost to future generations. It’s fairly easy to justify taking no action in the present when the price will be borne by generations yet unborn, and, who knows, might not even exist?
It is human nature to ignore the long-term effects of present actions (how else would we have gotten into the state we are in today?). And not only that but through the twisted logic of that “dismal science” economics, the future value of anything is discounted to zero. These are the same folks who still believe that the resources of the Earth are unlimited because an “alternative” will always be found. Well, gee Einstein, does that mean that the Earth itself is infinite? Last time I checked that was not the case.
So what are the EU leaders proposing to do to reach their ambitious goals? Well, er, um, they have proposed cutting (not eliminating, cutting) the Value Added Tax (VAT) on “environmentally friendly domestic products.” OK, there’s a way to do something without actually digging into the government’s coffers (don’t worry, they will find a way to replace the lost revenue) while appearing to help “domestic” industries. So let’s assume that the Swiss figure out a way to turn water into oil and offer to sell H2O powered automobiles in the EU? Sorry, no VAT forgiveness since Switzerland is not a “domestic” source. Same for anything made in America, China, or on the Planet Zorx should the Saucer folk try to help. In other words, this is sleazy, weasely political rhetoric in full flower.
So what other wonderful ideas did the EU leaders propose at their Brussels summit? Well, at least according to the BBC report … not much. The only other issue mentioned in the article was that the participants “gave a formal blessing for a watered-down French proposal for a Mediterranean Union,” explaining that “French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s aim is to forge closer ties between European countries bordering the Mediterranean and those beyond Europe, including Israel, Algeria and Tunisia.”
And that will help Europe to reduce its carbon emissions how? No, don’t look to me for an answer because I have no idea. Maybe Algeria and Tunisia can send some more third world illegal immigrants over to take jobs Europeans won’t do and help make lots of “green,” VAT-friendly products. Whoopee, we’ll all have a great time then that’s for sure.
But in the meantime, as global warming is enhanced by hot air flowing from posturing politicians, the danger of climate change continues to emerge as a real fact of life or death for human civilization. Pundits will continue to jaw, jaw about this subject until, as my grandfather used to say, the cows come home. Or, more likely, the cows will fail to come home because they have suffered heat strokes or been killed and eaten by starving environmental and climate refugees.
But by then, the politicians of today will be safely in retirement or have gone to the great Parliament in the Sky, beyond all touch of blame.
* Definition of “pabulum,” from Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary: “Something (as writing or speech) that is insipid, simplistic, or bland.”