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Emissions Policy Dogma

November 30, 2009

Here is one reason that international agreements on climate change face such huge problems. A story in the Australian today makes the following observation:

Despite the willingness of the US and China to put figures for emissions cuts on the table over the past few days, most leaders have given up the idea of reaching a treaty-level agreement because of glaring differences in the plans proposed and widespread disagreement.
Both the US and Chinese plans are tailored to their own economic circumstances and fall short of tougher remedial action sought by the European Union.

And the fact that two countries would have differing policies that respond to local economic conditions… this is a problem?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to recognize that a diversity in responses to climate change is inevitable? And given how difficult it is for any nation to deliberately manipulate its energy system in order to control emissions, should we not welcome a diversity of approaches and study which ones prove effective?

The above snippet is just a minor, tacit example of rampant climate policy polarization: the mentality that you either support the mainstream policy proposal, or you are by definition a skeptic denier who hates science.

This sort of assumption has become extreme in the US (see here, here, and here), but it’s also well engrained here in Australia, as demonstrated by Rudd’s chilling speech about climate skepticism. The problem is not that public figures speak out against the views of climate skeptics; it is that they label anyone who disagrees with their policy proposals a skeptic.

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