December 28, 2011
'Organized Hypocrisy' at Durban Climate Talks
By Lee Lane
"Organized hypocrisy" saved the recent UN climate talks in Durban South Africa. The phrase refers to a common feature of diplomacy. Statesmen often tacitly agree to pretend to believe each other’s duplicities. The fiction saves all involved from the inconveniences that would result were the lack of agreement to break into the open.Thus, in the accord reached at the talks, the so-called Durban Platform, each of the major players achieved its most prized goal. Success was possible, though, only because the Platform strictly avoided mandating costly steps to lower the output of greenhouse gases.
Instead, countries agreed:
To launch a process to develop a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties, through a subsidiary body under the Convention hereby established and to be known as the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action.
Mr Lane describes the hypocrisy of reporting that China and India have pledged to cut their GHG emissions when in fact their only commitment is to agree to further talks. The United States won the right to do no more than whatever the Asian powers might accept. In future, the United States, in rejecting demands that it make GHG cuts, will be better able to defend itself by pointing to the derelictions of China and India.That so much verbal sludge was needed even to describe the form of the hoped for future deal, speaks volumes about the discord that lurks beneath the surface.
Read More at Real Clear Science.
Lee Lane is a visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute. Before joining Hudson, he was a Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He is the author of Strategic Choices for Bush Administration Climate Policy, published by AEI Press.