It's the Environment, Stupid.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Australia Signs Kyoto Protocol

Australia has signed the Kyoto Protocol. The country was only one of two nations in the world (yes, the entire world) that hadn't yet done so. The U.S. (surprise, surprise) has been the only hold outs to date.

Is this big news? Politically yes. It sends a message to the world that folks down under are now onboard with this whole climate change thing. However, signing it after the fact is just kind of lame. (I would say the same thing about the U.S. if we decided to also hop on the bandwagon after all this time.)

These talks in Bali are looking beyond Kyoto. The protocol, as it stands now, is only in effect until 2012. Carbon trading systems and the CDM/JI functions laid out in the protocol have turned into a host loopholes and get out of jail free cards for CO2 emitters, and countries bound by the protocol are continually finding it difficult to meet the (arguably conservative) emission reduction guidlines.

Curbing global warming, it turns out, isn't as easy as curbing acid rain. Climate change mitigation has turned out to be a political, economic, and logistical slow dance that has gone on for far too long already. It will, no doubt, continue to slug along with little progress as diplomats across the board will battle over whose economic development is more important.

The good news, however, is that this is still a hot issue in the media. Major news networks, especially in the U.S., are covering climate change and global warming topics, keeping awareness on the top of public mind (at least for now). Some international mega-corporatations have been making small changes voluntarily, if nothing else to capitalize on this awareness, but making change nonetheless.

I would like to see some real progress and binding agreements take place beyond Kyoto, but this will require full cooperation and a commitment to action among all nations.

(Reporter, Andrew Revkin, commented about the Australia signage on the NY Times Dot Earth blog.)