Just in case no-one noticed, the IPCC finally dropped the façade of being a scientific rather than a political body following the publication of the Synthesis Report. The IPCC now stands naked behind the Kyoto Protocol as the policy needed to avoid a computer modelled CO2 driven climate catastrophe.
Meanwhile, the report seems to have had a profound effect on UK prime minister Gordon Brown. Despite being previously advised that the UK could not meet the EU target of 20% of energy coming from renewables by 2020, he now intends to set a much higher target. Furthermore, he seems poised to replace the draft climate change bill target of a 60% reduction in the UKs CO2 emissions by 2050 with an 80% target. Details of any strategy designed to achieve such ambitious targets so far seem to be limited to the desire to seek the end of the single use plastic bag and the setting up of a ‘green hotline’ to advise people how to reduce their environmental impact. He also claims that there will be hundreds of thousands of ‘green jobs’ created, with no mention of how many may be lost.
Enter Gwyn Prins and Steve Rayner to point out that Kyoto is ‘The Wrong Trousers: Radically Rethinking Climate Policy’
We face a problem of anthropogenic climate change, but the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 has failed to tackle it. A child of summits, it was doomed from the beginning, because of the way that it came into being, Kyoto has given only an illusion of action. It has become the sole focus of our efforts, and, as a result, we have wasted fifteen years.
We have called this essay “The Wrong Trousers” evoking the Oscar-winning animated film of that name. In that film, the hapless hero, Wallace, becomes trapped in a pair of automated ‘Techno Trousers’. Whereas he thought they would make his life easier, in fact, they take control and carry him off in directions he does not wish to go.
We evoke this image to suggest how the Kyoto Protocol has also marched us involuntarily to unintended and unwelcome places. Just as the enticingly electro-mechanical “Techno Trousers” offered the prospect of hugely increasing the wearer’s power and stride, so successful international treaties leverage the power of signatory states in a similar way, making possible together what cannot be achieved alone. The Kyoto Wrong Trousers have done something similar to those who fashioned and subscribed to the agreement. To set a new course, we need to understand how we have gone wrong so far. Accordingly, the essay proceeds in three sections, as follows:
Continue reading the entire essay.