Fervent. 1. Hot, burning, glowing, boiling.
-- Oxford English Dictionary
"Fervently" is how America will henceforth engage in talks on global warming. So said the president's climate change negotiator Sunday in Germany, at a U.N. conference on reducing carbon emissions. This vow was fervently applauded by conferees welcoming the end of what the AP news story called the Bush administration's "eight years of obdurate participation" in climate talks.
Reducing carbon emissions supposedly will reverse warming, which is allegedly occurring even though, according to statistics published by the World Meteorological Organization, there has not been a warmer year on record than 1998. Regarding the reversing, the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change has many ambitions, as outlined in a working group's 16-page "information note" to "facilitate discussions." For example:
"Tariffs can be lowered to grant special preference to climate-friendly goods, or they can be maintained at high levels to discourage trade in GHG- [greenhouse gas-] intensive goods and services." The working group says protectionism "in the service of climate change objectives" might virtuously "shelter domestic producers of climate-friendly goods." Furthermore, using "border carbon adjustment," a nation might virtuously "impose costs on imports equivalent to that [sic] faced by domestic producers" operating under a carbon tax. Or a nation with a cap-and-trade regime regulating carbon emissions by domestic manufacturers might require foreign manufacturers "to buy offsets at the border equal to that [sic] which the producer would have been forced to purchase had the good been produced domestically." Cynics will see only potential for mischief by governments, including the U.S. government, using such measures to give a green patina to protectionism. Meanwhile, the U.S. government is having its own problems with one "climate-friendly good" that might not be. Last week, the New York Times front page carried this headline: "The Bulb That Saved the Planet May Be a Little Less Than Billed."