"The bill is still considerably shy of being paid and the waiter is starting to look around for the manager. "
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Lets say you have been in a bar a long time and a bunch of your friends have joined you. Some have been there as long as you have and others only just arrived. It is time to split the tab, so, like the INDCs, everyone throws some cash on the table. Someone has to take on the unhappy task of counting up the contributions, and in this case, they are quite a bit short of the bill. The waiter is standing there, looking impatient, maybe expecting you to pull out your Diner's Club card.
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This raises some questions that are relevant to what is going on in Paris so we will carry the analogy a little further than NPR did. Firstly, who gets the honor of doing the count? Presumedly there needs to be a UN office that does this, like the Green Climate Fund or some such. Some countries — most, in fact — are going to balk at being told what to do by some blue helmeted One World'ers who want to take away their guns and impose some New World Order.
Secondly, what if it turns out the tab is wrong, by a sizeable amount, as in fact it is. The barkeeper, in this case the Structured Expert Dialogue, comes around, all apologetic, and says, sorry for the mistake but you are going to have to pay much more than we indicated on the bill we gave you and here is the new bill.
Some of your drinking buddies turn out their pockets and say, we have no more, or rather, it would wreck our plans for the weekend. Call that the economics excuse. Some, the underdeveloping group plus China, say “We only just arrived, this big tab is yours.” Call it climate justice.
So now, if you really intend to pay this tab (don't even think what might happen if you don't, because then the Paris talks will be another bust and we are all screwed), you need to come up with a formula that everyone will agree to.
On the first negotiating day, Tuesday, the Overdeveloped Countries let it be known that the issue of “Loss and Damage” or climate justice, would not be part of the treaty. Those words were coming out.
That placed the proponents of the idea of historic responsibility, most notably India, on notice that these negotiations would not be paddycake. The US would not be guilted in reparations for slave trafficking, the atomic bomb, or coal taken out of the ground before the Civil War. If India, or anyone else, wanted to be painted as the ones to stop the Paris Treaty, then they can go ahead and walk out right now.
So we see the lines being drawn. China and the Like Minded Countries may need to back down on their insistence that Kyoto distinctions between the overdeveloped and the underdeveloping be retained. We are all in this together, or, to borrow from Benjamin Franklin, “we shall most assuredly all hang separately.”
Climatologist Emeritus Jim Hansen, who has never attended a COP before, was induced to do a press conference on Wednesday in which he pulled no punches. Calling the draft document "Half-assed and half-baked," he said he sat down with UNFCCC head Christina Figueres a few months earlier and told her the same thing he is saying now, so no one should feel sandbagged.
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Of the anthropogenic carbon now in the atmosphere, 25% is from the US, 25% from Europe, 10% from China and 10% from India. The remainder is from everyone else.
Any reductions by the larger industrial countries would serve to reduce world demand for fossil fuels, which would make them cheaper, and then the outlaws and rapidly underdeveloping would consume even faster. If you put a carbon tax on all sources, Hansen told Figueres, you could avoid this, make the price global, and even keep it rising. The tax could be rebated to the public and most people would gain money (so-called “tax and dividend” or "cap and share"). The only ones actually paying more might be people with two houses or private jets. Figueres told Hansen a carbon tax would never fly, and "differentiated responsibility" has already been locked in.
We stopped by one of the booths belonging to a research institute working on clean coal. There are no technological barriers to removing carbon from the atmosphere, they told us. Its been being done, and it works. You can capture carbon and store it. The barriers are strictly financial. If you want to change that, put a tax on carbon, they said.
The pub crowd here in Paris has not even agreed how to settle the bill, never mind how much to tip the waiter. Some are eyeing the exits and hoping to leave someone else with the tab, but no one has left yet.