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当大象发起战斗

在第十五次缔约方会议上,碳就是力量——你排放的越多,你就越重要。这就是为什么随着谈判走向深入,所有的目光都汇聚在了中、美身上。世界上两个最大的排放国在过去十天已然交头接耳良久。当大约114名国家领导人或政府首脑抵达哥本哈根时,美式的中国腔则不再悦耳。

参议员约翰•克里今早的讲话涵盖了所有的隐痛:是的,时至今日,他不得不承认美国是失败的。但毕竟美国已经回到了游戏之中,事情将有所变化。他强调总统奥巴马的绿色议程,且似乎深信美国国会变得积极。不过前提是如果政治家们拒绝立法,美国就将面临环保署的制裁。

但是他说,在哥本哈根,一切皆有可能。并且比“难以忽视的真相”更现实的是,中国到2020年的排放量将比届时美国高出40%。他表示,所有主要排放国必须制定有约束力的目标。而当前或未来的难题之一,就是如何保证这个目标是透明的且可信赖的。

参议员克里强调了共同的责任,每个国家有义务分享信息,表现其具有诚意的承诺。信任和透明度是关键,而核查既不是新问题,也不是威胁,早已广泛存在于核领域及贸易协定之中。如果没有解决透明度这个核心问题的协议,参议员克里认为进展将变得十分困难。为了找到好办法,他直截了当地说,那些拒绝签署协议的国家可能正寄望着到美国”倾销高碳产品”。换句话说,这是暗指中国要遵守和面对商品关税的问题。

这个说法很可能激怒中国。中方已断然拒绝了国际核查,且没有转变立场的迹象。一些中国评论家认为,拒绝审查背后暗藏着众所皆知的中式“忽悠”统计数据。有些人认为,核查制度给中国的主要竞争对手美国打开大门,从而使之方便的干涉中国的能源政策及其他中国经济的基础。中方进一步表示,在无法得到国际金融资助的情况下(且不包括任何形式的短期融资),中国不会接受任何的国际核查。

事实上,这个问题缺乏良好的信任和积极的信念。而对于中国来说,对美国企图阻碍中国崛起的怀疑,让整件事看起来就像一座特洛伊木马。中、美可以依靠合作获取大量利益,但如果不摆脱这一僵局,他们则将全球性协议推向了悬崖边缘。

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匿名 | Anonymous

卡托:并没有太大意义

从媒体报道看,你可能觉得哥本哈根会议有划时代意义。其实并非如此。哥本哈根一点意义都没有起到。如果它不能达成一个协议,那么它就毫无意义。但是即使是达成了一个协议,那么它的意义也是微乎其微的……

Cato: certainly not ephochal

You might think from the media coverage that the Copenhagen summit on climate change is epochal. Wrong. Copenhagen hardly matters. If it doesn't produce an agreement, it clearly won't matter. But even if it yields an agreement, that will matter very little.

Why? Because reducing carbon emissions by 80% from the 1990 levels — the target for 2050 for rich countries — depends on technological breakthroughs, not political pledges at Copenhagen. Without technological breakthroughs, reducing carbon emissions by 80% will erode living standards in the countries concerned. No government will deliberately engineer economic distress for the sake of climate change, no matter what it signs at Copenhagen. Through history, treaties have been junked if they become politically inconvenient
In 1947, India signed treaties guaranteeing 500-odd princes privy purses and tax exemption in perpetuity, in return for their accession to India. Yet, when Indira Gandhi felt it politically convenient, she abolished the privy purses and tax privileges. International law allows sovereign governments to scrap any prior treaty.

In the Kyoto treaty on climate change, 37 rich countries pledged to reduce their carbon emissions to 5% below their 1990 level. But most actually increased their emissions. These very treaty-breakers now propose another treaty!

The US signed an anti-ballistic missile treaty with the USSR during the Cold War. But subsequently the US scrapped the treaty, with impunity. The Maastricht Treaty, setting up the European Union, mandated a fiscal deficit ceiling of 3% of GDP for member states. But several members, including Germany and France, have been running deficits far higher than this, with impunity. When political and economic conditions change, treaties hardly matter.
Now, research may yield technological breakthroughs — or steady, major improvements — that curb carbon emissions at modest cost, or even with a saving of costs. Aerosol cans once used CFCs. When these were phased out by the Montreal protocol, companies found it was actually cheaper to use natural gas in place of CFCs.

While governments can try to promote technological change, they cannot guarantee it. After the 1973 oil crisis, the OECD countries spent billions to develop alternate fuels (synthetic crude, shale oil). They also financed projects for solar, wind, wave and ocean thermal energy. None of these technologies proved cost-effective.

Meanwhile, thousands of innovations by individual companies reduced the energy-intensity of every conceivable appliance and practice. This halved the energy-intensity of GDP in the US and reduced its oil imports, breaking the power of OPEC in 1986. This was a typical technological surprise, not the result of governmental planning.
Something similar may happen in the case of carbon emissions. Government subsidies, carbon taxes, cap-and-trade systems, and research projects will aim to create conditions that encourage more research. These will surely yield new technologies and improvements. But these may or may not reduce emissions by 80%. With luck, a breakthrough may come in five years. Without luck, no breakthrough at all may occur. We simply do not know. That is why target dates set by governments are meaningless.

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匿名 | Anonymous

由于新技术价格高昂会对经济造成不利影响,因此如果减排未能达到80%,政府将放弃减排目标.政府不希望大经济萧条时期来临,只有寄希望于抑制排放量.

这样的作法是否会导致气候灾难的降临?这是很难预测的.由于现今对气象科学的深入理解非常有限,因此政府间气候变化专业委员会所提出的议题看似高深,但无据可依.即使这个委员会有世界上数一数二的科学家但他们也无法预测到5天后的气象走向.

印度下一次干旱能预测到吗?不能.下一次厄尔尼诺能预测到吗?不能.加勒比地区明年刮多少次飓风能预测到吗?不能.那么, 100年后的气候能准确地预测到吗?当然不能. 当人们对一个问题知之甚少时,通常会由于担忧过度而设想成最糟的状况. 这种设想并不会使最糟的状况变得肯定或者可行.

尽管气候捉摸不定,但为了应对也许永远不会降临的灾难,减少排放量是切实可行的.签订协议的目的通常是为了保证在面临政治与经济风险时的双方利益. 但假如费用过高到足以威胁到经济发展,政府一定会撕毁协议. 没有政府会为了避免一个在未来也许不会发生的灾难而亲手制造今天的经济大衰退.

哥本哈根的关于印度策略的经验教训是显而易见的. 印度应该态度强硬并且不需要担心被人指责为弃约者. 当交易的价值完全处在不明朗的阶段, 那么放弃交易就变得无关紧要了.印度应该低调并随时准备跟随着其他国家脱离苦海. 永远不要想当然地以为其他国家会履行对气候保护的约定.

cato: certainly not ephocal 2

If new technologies cannot reduce emissions by 80% save at a huge cost that causes economic distress, governments will abandon emission targets. They will not deliberately create deep recessions just to curb emissions.

Will this lead to climate disaster? Maybe and maybe not. Scientific knowledge of the weather is very limited, and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projections are just intelligent guesstimates. IPCC scientists may be the best in the world, yet they cannot predict the weather more than five days ahead.
Can they predict the next drought in India? No. The next El Niño? No. The number of hurricanes in the Caribbean next year? No. So, can they accurately predict the weather 100 years hence? Surely not. When we know very little about a problem, we tend to worry endlessly about worst-case scenarios. That does not make the worst case certain, or even probable.

Despite climate uncertainties, it makes sense to mitigate emissions as insurance against a disaster that may never happen. Treaties are often signed to provide mutual insurance against political and economic risks. But if the insurance premium becomes costly enough to threaten economic distress, governments will abandon the treaties (à la Maastricht). No government will create a recession today to avoid a future disaster that may not happen anyway.

The lesson for Indian strategy at Copenhagen is clear. India should talk tough and not worry about being called a deal-breaker. When a deal's value is so uncertain, it matters little whether it's broken or not. India should keep its commitments light, and be ready to jump ship if others do. Never assume that others will actually implement climate pledges.