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A Good Climate Agreement

December 21, 2011

From Kyoto Protocol to Durban Platform

Most greens seem disappointed by last week’s Durban agreement by all countries to work towards a legally binding limit on greenhouse gas emissions by 2015, to be implemented by 2020. They object that the limits are unspecified, and to the time scale; 2020 is conveniently far away for today’s politicians.

But iGreens are pleased. Both China and the US have agreed to the principle of a legally binding agreement, and “a long way off and likely to be weak”, is exactly what a legally binding agreement should be. We don’t want to lock ourselves into a tough agreement that slows economic development. We need that to combat poverty and to adapt to climate change when it occurs.

The Durban Platform keeps the issue on the agenda, and by minimising government subsidy gives people an incentive to develop only genuinely efficient green power sources.

It also allows rich Europeans and Californians to do more. To spend their wealth on expensive conventional green power to slow warming directly, or provide seed corn funding to develop improved sources of green energy. They are much less likely to be satisfied with “more research is needed” than governments would.

We’re content. The developing world’s poor should be too.

Jim Thornton

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