Global Warming Demands Leadership

The fight against global warming needs a leader.  Europe, China and the USA continue to flounder.  The USA’s latest failure in the fight is the abandonment of the climate legislation.  America the great leader has failed again.  When and who will lead the world to a decarbonised economy, the Americans, the Europeans, the Chinese?  Currently the World continues the battle without a leader.  Nobody wants the task of bringing the world together and turning it away from its destructive course.

America’s Broken Dream

Since the World Wars America has been the leader of the free world; however the largest threat to face our society has been too immense even for it.  Falsifying of science and the corruption of the political system by corporations has seen America fall massively behind.  As well as a corruptible political system, America suffers from a belief in its ability to overcome a problem of any size.  This self-belief hinders preventative action against pending dangers.  This is of course a human trait, but it is enhanced and institutionalised in a land that has never seen war on its shores and was built on personal freedom.

America cannot lead the world in the fight against climate change because it is paralysed by its own self-belief.  However there are Green shoots developing in California and elsewhere because it simply makes good business sense.  Whether business sense will free America from its paralysed state is not dependent on the need for global action, but rather on whether it will help more Americans to realise the American dream.

Europe’s lack of cohesion

Europe is divided by extremely wealthy advanced states and states that have just emerged from crippling Communist rule.   Compromise is the key to its power.  There are states in Europe where action is being taken such as Sweden, Denmark and Norway.  These countries are sharply cutting their greenhouse gases, pouring millions into Green energy, blessed with low population densities and strong natural resources; whether it is wind in Denmark that powers 15% of energy demand, Norway’s rivers that power not only the Norwegian factories but also neighbouring states, or the forests of Sweden that mean bio fuel now plays a bigger role than oil. Others, such as Poland, are not so blessed and are still totally dependent on coal.

The compromise that Europe demands rarely satisfies those at the forefront let alone the science.  Europe is therefore riddled by the divide and rule policy of large interest groups.  Europe’s 20 % cut from 1990 levels of CO2 by 2020 (30% if other countries agreed to cut their emissions too) looks after the latest collapse of the economy quite easy.  There are now calls to raise it to the 30% level whatever other countries outside the block do.  The most recent call came from the environmental ministers of the big three: Germany, the UK and France.  However in Europe every vote is equal and therefore when Poland decides to protect its coal industry, the others will have to provide either compensation or water down the policy.  The same scenario has happened with car minimum efficiency standards, where Germany blocked action.

Europe will cut its CO2 levels as it a strong democratic body.  However whether it will be soon enough and whether it will be too late to encourage others to cut their CO2 is the big question.

China’s Century

Europe controlled the 19th century, America the 20th and China will control the 21st century; but will it lead us to disaster?  Positive steps from China include a possible cap and trade scheme, massive growth and investment in renewables and pledges to increase energy efficiency.  However this is a developing country.  Just as Poland fights its rich northern neighbours in Europe for lenient policies; China does the same on the global stage. China is not locked into a political body like the EU and therefore uses the only other means it has at the international level: blocking all steps towards agreement.  China was the cause of the failure of Copenhagen.  It is not prepared to be dictated to by countries unable and unwilling to take action.

China’s problem is its sheer size that means it has climbed to the top of the climate killer table.  Reaching for a comparable living standard to the West without setting the climate on fire will be near to impossible without massive adoption of Green technology; China has shown its ability to massive changes in its society (look at the economic miracle).  Its blocking tactics are an attempt to buy time and to gain the political upper hand over the West.

The World is becoming multipolar and maybe we need to let each pole find its way to a decarbonised economy: The only problem is, if any one pole does not play its part in bailing out the water, this ship will sink into runaway climate change.

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