Standing offer from the international community to the US

2007-09-17

in Daily updates, Politics, The environment

Chateau Laurier lobby

At the next UNFCCC conference of the parties (COP-13 / MOP-3), in Bali this December, the focus will be on devising an international agreement for the period after 2012. Obviously, an agreement that incorporates the United States would be a lot more viable than one that does not, though it is unlikely that the current administration would sign on to such an undertaking. As such, I wonder whether it might be possible or desirable to come up with an agreement that basically has a USA shaped hole in it: an open invitation for the United States to become involved after the 2008 election, with space having been set out for US participation.

If such an approach were taken, the choice about whether or not to bring the US ship into the port facility provided could become a significant political factor in the next election. The willingness of various candidates to accept or reject the offer could be one characteristic upon which the populace could evaluate them. Furthermore, having such an option from the outset would help avoid a situation where an agreement gets crafted – say – from 2012 to 2020, excluding the United States, and it then proves necessary to wait for the end of that commitment before an international regime including them may be devised.

I am just thinking off the top of my head here, but it seems like a potentially valuable strategy. Of course, the feasibility of any such approach depends upon a substantial proportion of the rest of the world being able to reach agreement on what ought to be done post-2012. It is difficult to predict, at this point in time, whether such consensus is likely to emerge.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Tom September 18, 2007 at 2:37 pm

That’s not a bad idea, though you are right to have some doubts about whether India, China, Europe, Japan, and the rest will be able to agree on a new scheme.

Litty September 18, 2007 at 5:02 pm

It seems likely that any space left open for the US will be like the empty seat left for Elijah the Prophet, at the Seder table.

It’s not just the Bush administration opposed – Congress is quite hostile to mandatory caps, as well.

Antonia September 19, 2007 at 4:42 pm

If enough consultation is done along the lines you propose, rather than a hole left, the US could perhaps have a second jigsaw piece adjoining – something confined to it alone which will allow it to buy into the framework, with enough opportunity for it to negotiate some custom areas, so they don’t lose face and can sell it internally.

However, this would depend on the agreement of a core set of principles/aims acceptable to the US in principle, useful and which the framework does not allow anyone to derogate from. Which takes us back to the original problem of universal acceptability.

Milan December 14, 2007 at 10:56 am

Noting the bitter divisions at Bali, former Vice President Al Gore urged delegates to adopt an open-ended deal that could be enhanced after the Bush Administration leaves office and United States policy changes.

Milan December 14, 2007 at 10:57 am

“The best we hoped for was that the U.S. would not hobble the rest of the world from moving forward,” said Kevin Knobloch, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit American organization. “Our delegation here from the States has not been able to meet that low level of expectation.”

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