After the Kyoto Protocol

Speaker(s): 
Date: 
September 7, 2000 - 12:00pm
Location: 
Bldg. 90
Seminar Host/Point of Contact: 

The Kyoto Protocol is going to fail, and not simply because of the chaos and dissonance introduced into the climate negotiations by the carbon lobby.  Indeed, Kyoto's problems go even deeper than its "flexibility mechanisms," though, as constructed, these are almost certain to import lethal amounts of "inflation" into its emission targets.  At the end of the day, Kyoto will fail because its targets are not fair, because they're based on the contingencies of power politics rather than any ethically or even geo-politically coherent framework.  The key issue, as the Chinese delegate to the negotiations once noted, is that allocation must be done on a "rational"  basis. The "Son of Kyoto," whatever form it takes, will have to take account of per-capita rights to the atmosphere, and honestly promise at least long-term convergence to just allocation.  Anyway you grind the  numbers, even with trading and technology and transition times, it's not going to be easy.  The issues here, in any case, are fundamental, and prefigure a battle over equitable access to limited "environmental space" that will do much to shape the 21st centry.  Tom Athanasiou is a free-lance green critic.  He is the author of dozens of essays on environmental and technological politics.  Recently, his interests focused on inequity as a wellspring of ecological crisis.  He's also a realist, which explains why he holds a day job as a software engineer.  His first book was Divided Planet: The Ecology of Rich and Poor.  This talk anticipates some of the elements of his second book, a work in progress tentatively entitled "Plan B".

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