WSJ: Global Warming Wash Out

“The Kyoto Protocol can now be ignored for another five years.”

The Wall Street Journal editorializes:

As global warming conferences go, the one that ended Sunday in Durban, South Africa was, by common consensus, a wash out.

The COP-17 meeting—so named by the United Nations bureaucracy to indicate that this is the 17th go-around—was supposed to come up with a successor to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which expires next year. What emerged was an agreement of sorts to extend the Protocol, never ratified by the U.S., to 2017. Yet Russia and Japan have said they’ll ignore the extension, Australia is wavering, and yesterday Canada said it is quitting Kyoto entirely. This pretty much makes the Durban extension an “agreement” Europe has made with itself.

The Durban meeting also produced promises from China, the U.S. and India to “develop a new protocol, another legal instrument or agreed outcome with legal force” by 2015, and to implement that by 2020. Rich countries are still supposed to provide poor ones with $100 billion a year as of 2020 for climate mitigation, as supposedly agreed in 2009. But Durban offered few details as to how that fund might be collected or disbursed.

All of this raises the question of what purpose this conference served. Cynics might say that rich countries are doing the least they can to honor promises they once made but no longer believe in and can’t afford anyway. Cynics might also say that poorer countries are hoping that someday they may claim their portion of the promised pot of climate change gold. The cynics would be right.

But U.N.-inspired causes and conferences, like comets tracing highly elliptical orbits, operate on their own momentum even when far from the sun. Which means that, at some point, global warming—like population control, the question of Quebec and other once trendy causes—is bound to be back. Let’s hope it returns with more definitive evidence and less destructive remedies.

Let’s hope it doesn’t return.