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Published on December 6th, 2009 | by Susan Kraemer

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The Fossil Party and the Future Party

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December 6th, 2009 by
 

One of the hardest parts of checking foreign news sources – to find out what others think of the emissions reductions targets their countries are bringing to Copenhagen – is deciphering the meaning of all those political parties’ names. Who knows which side each of these is on, when it comes to climate change.

The names are bafflingly similar to each other. Who could guess which foreign political party wants a higher target and which one wants a lower; between the Democratic-Republican-National Party and the the Social-National Party or the Christian-Socia… lets just say; it’s confusing!

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Lets just call the two parties in every country what they really are. In every country there’s a Fossil Party and a Future Party. One party represents hope for a future for humanity, and one represents the continued use of fossil-fueled energy that will pretty much wipe out the human race over the next few centuries.

For example, the Fossil Party took over Canada in 2006 and promptly reneged on Kyoto, through its proxy, Steven Harper. The oil sands are just about the worst thing to happen to Canada, with the resource curse of the lobbyist army that crawled out, now controling 99% of the seats in Alberta; the site of the infamous oil sands, in a nation where energy legislation is decided in each province.

The single biggest lobby on Capitol Hill is the US Chamber of Commerce. Recently it has been discovered that a tiny group of 18 members provide 30% of its funds. While the sources are not publicly available; it is possible that the most powerful industry on the planet is simply laundering money through the Chamber; resulting in the Chamber of Commerce position on climate change.

In the US, the Fossil Party metastasized within the Republican party. Previous climate legislation has been killed by Republican majority Senates, funded by far higher levels of fossil money than Democrats. But notice the slight uptick this year in funding for Democrats too, with a climate bill now threatening. While Democrats aren’t yet proclaiming that “the science is faked”, or “global warming is a hoax”; if their funding levels were as high as Republicans’, they’d get religion too.

Because each nation struggles against its Fossil Party within, of course the offers at Copenhagen are not remotely close to what any sensible person would want to see, or what we need to have happen to avert climate change.

The naivete of imagining that we who hope to preserve our human civilization dictate the terms surprises me. Politics happens. But these cuts ARE enough to avert complete and utter runaway climate catastrophe. This is why getting deal at Copenhagen is essential to the survival of our civilization beyond just the next century or two.

The 37 nations that first signed Kyoto are now more easily amenable to taking the next step. Their experience with renewable energy development reduced opposition, because it worked and really didn’t cost what their Fossil Parties had frightened them with. So, their new cuts are steeper than the offerings of the newcomers – the US, China and India. They not only have an offer on the table for 20% below 1990 by 2020, but will go to 30% if the 3 newcomers do sign on, or “an international agreement.”

So, what’s on the table?

Norway is now offering the steepest cuts: 30% – 40% below 1990 by 2020. Despite big oil discoveries.

Switzerland: 20–30% below 1990. Of course.

Even Ukraine is offering 20% below 1990 emissions, which were almost non-existent after Chernobyl.

Like the EU, Russia is offering 20% below 1990 by 2020, despite new oil riches.

Japan is saying 25% below 1990 levels by 2020; if there is an international agreement.

New Zealand; 10-20% below 1990 by 2020 but is having problems passing amendments to its legislation.

Brazil: 36% (from business as usual) by 2020.

Mexico:“aspirational goal” of cutting 50 million tonnes till 2012, and 50% below 2000 by 2050.

South Korea: 4% by 2020 from 2005 levels.

Indonesia: 26% by 2020. Deforestation reversal, mostly.

Canada: 20% below 2006 by 2020 (US-type baby steps) Unlike Europe, it is having trouble meeting its 6 per cent below 1990 for Kyoto, when a very different administration signed Kyoto.

Australia: 25% below 2000 levels with an international agreement or 5 – 15% without, but is having trouble passing legislation to back it.

USA: 17%-20% below 2005 by 2020; 83% by 2050: and just bought out a wicked big stick and carrot for passage.

China: 40% intensity reduction per unit of GDP by 2020 = invest in wind to run factories to make our stuff.

India: 20%-25% below 2005 by 2020, if there is an international agreement. Keeps changing.

(You can see from this mish-mash of offers, metrics, timetables and levels – why part of the Copenhagen agreement is simply to agree to use a common metric of success.)

Image: Climate Progress

Graph: OpenSecrets.org

Figures:PointCarbon

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About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today, PV-Insider , SmartGridUpdate, and GreenProphet. She has also been published at Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.



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