Briefly looking at the news today, you will almost certainly have missed the announcement that the USA, China, India, Australia, South Korea, and Japan have made an agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the century. That is, unless you are scouring the Australian news sites, like the Sydney Morning Herald, which ran the headline: Pact halves emissions by the next century. The agreement is tentatively called the "Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate."
I can't say that I actually know anything about this agreement. One reason for that is that it is not being covered anywhere, especially in the major USA news sources. This was also pointed out by Triple Pundit today. VOA did carry a story about it, by Scott Bobb [LINK], but it says no more than the SMH story.
Update/Correction: The big USA news agencies do in fact have the story. For example, I found the Reuters report buried in the NYTimes International section. I still don't see the story at all in the LATimes though.
Okay, so we see that the story isn't being covered very well. Why is that? Well there are two possibilities. First, it might be because no one cares about covering important climate-economic policy news, but that is unlikely. Second, it could be because it is a non-story. I'm ignoring the possibility that there is a vast conspiracy to hide the Bush administration's concern over climate change. I think the second possibility is most likely. According to the stories I have found about this agreement, it is focused on techonology and sharing technology.
The idea is that by using more efficient technologies, greenhouse gas emissions can be cut significantly. We've started to hear this from the GWB administration recently, despite Dick Cheney's well-known distaste for conservation. The agreement doesn't seem to set limits or goals for cutting emissions, which means there's nothing to enforce. Apparently there will be a fund into which each member state will deposit money for R&D of new efficient technologies.
Using more efficient technologies is a great idea! I think we should do it right now. Maybe we could pass a bill that says that all new power plants must meet specified minimum standards. We could even build in a grandfather clause so that old power plants could keep working, and just install new, efficient equipment when they need to replace old equipment. Let's call it the Clean Air Act. Oh, wait, didn't we do that in 1970? IT DID NOT WORK. There are loopholes, and as long as the government allows dirty energy to be cheaper than clean energy (through massive subsidies on oil and coal, and poor enforcemnent of the Clean Air Act and others), there is no way that better technologies will be able to compete. Add to that the new "energy bill" that may be making its way through congress right now [LINK], and we see that this new Pacific agreement is, for the USA at least, nothing but lip service and business as usual.
When will the USA government wake up to the realities of climate change? When will it understand that energy security is not about military action in the Middle East? When will the largest economy, most lawful democracy, and most technologically advanced country in the world take its responsibility to be a world leader in the arena of climate change and alternative energy seriously? As far as I can see, the answer to this last question is only, when it isn't the USA.