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Response to criticism of Kyoto Protocol


I would like to address some of the points raised by London Rising Tide (LRT) in this 2003-12-04 Indymedia article. I see a danger that various groups may end up fighting each other rather than (as in the famous Monty Python scene) united against the common enemy, so without further ado let's get down to it.

First let me make it clear that I agree with the spirit of the article in question. Obviously the Kyoto Protocol does not go far enough and this is largely due to the fact that it has been designed to work within the present global capitalist system. Clearly it would be far more effective if we all simply turned down the thermostat, abandoned our car, stayed at home rather than flying to Ibiza and stopped buying useless junk. But how are we going to make that happen?

On 2003-11-17 LRT sent out an email which began "This is a message from our friends at the Campaign against Climate Change". Well our friends at CCC have been focusing almost exclusively on attempting to get the Bush Administration to change their current policy and agree to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. It is difficult to see how these two groups can continue to work together if one is campaigning for Kyoto and the other against! Furthermore, although I am not naive enough to believe that my enemy's enemy is my friend, I can't help feeling that opposing ratification is in effect helping Exxon and their ilk who have spent millions of dollars attempting to sabotage the agreement. OK, so the Kyoto Protocol does not go far enough - but then neither did the 1987 United Nations Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. In the case of the Montreal Protocol however, once it had come into force it was relatively easy to make amendments to strengthen it, and although we are not out of the woods yet we would have been up shit creek without it.

What about "carbon trading" though? Again I can see the problem, but surely it is still better than what we have now? Yes, rich countries would be able to buy carbon quotas from poor countries but simple economics tells us that if the rich countries have to pay for extra quotas they will release less CO2 than they would have done otherwise - like it or not that is how a market economy works. I don't like it either but I am not counting on smashing global capitalism anytime soon so I tend to avoid hindering efforts to make it less bad.

In summary, I am not saying that all climate change campaigners should be working to ensure that Kyoto is ratified (and I am certainly not pinning all my hopes on what is obviously a serious compromise), but if only for strategic reasons I would urge people to think twice before actively opposing ratification. We are in this together and have enough enemies already, so let's try to work positively and not trip each other up. I would like to continue supporting both LRT and CCC (as I have done in the past) because I believe that their differing approaches are not only compatible, but indeed complementary.

www.zenatode.org.uk Ian Gregory 2010