Re-kindling multilateralism with non-carbon energy?


in Bombs and rockets, Politics, Security, The environment

Clearly one of the principal things we need to learn as part of dealing with climate change is how to get along with one another as an international community. For one thing, we cannot afford the inevitably vast and frantic fossil fuel use which any great-power conflict would involve. More optimistically, it will only by coordinating efforts all around the world that we can follow the sort of decarbonization pathway which would avoid breaching the 1.5 – 2.0 ˚C temperature limit people talk about.

We can choose to be part of a noble tradition in statesmanship: of nations with different strengths, needs, and priorities being able to cooperate on projects of mutual interest and avoid the needless waste of arming excessively for war. It’s a waste in many senses: in terms of the time and skills of people who serve in military forces and who would otherwise contribute to society more in other ways; in terms of the spending on military equipment; the greenhouse gas emissions from remote location diesel generators and military vehicles; the fossil fuels which we are burning instead of keeping underground in order to keep our climate crisis from becoming catastrophic, or at least putting to an important social purpose which benefits people’s lives.

What it requires is a willingness to accept that people around the world are morally comparable to us, akin. We cannot choose a course of action which will condemn their nations to destruction, nor impose the level of disruption and suffering expected from unmitigated climate change. Once we have made a collective determination among some states that it is possible to move beyond fossil fuels and remain prosperous and democratic societies, we can begin to build that bloc outward on the basis of trading links and good and forthright relations with states outside our collective fossil fuel rationing system. Imposing tariffs at the border for states exporting carbon-intensive products may be a necessary part of containing opposition from trade-exposed domestic industries, while encouraging outside states to join the rationing bloc by implementing a credible set of decarbonization policies themselves, or at least established a comparable or integrated carbon price.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Milan January 1, 2020 at 6:16 am

And it sure wouldn’t hurt to peacefully, as a global society, agree to abolish nuclear weapons and use the materials in them for a good and life-affirming purpose. I don’t see how anyone can hear the life lessons of Cold Warriors and not be a nuclear abolitionist. One highly competent country operating a vast network of weapons around the world several times nearly brought catastrophe upon itself in an aircraft or missile accident. And controls against unauthorized use are inadequate on many weapon platforms. The global arms race we’re seeing is a huge wasted opportunity when we could be directing all those talents and resources to tasks which directly benefit people.

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