International environmental treaties CAN work

The ozone layer is healing, due solely to the 1987 Montreal Protocol which curtailed the use of ChloroFluoroCarbons.

Make no mistake, this ban was not in some countries’ national interests, and yet they chose to sign up for the common good.

The industrial revolution of the past 300 years has seen a 30% increase in carbon dioxide. Unlike most other greenhouse gases which have some natural “balancing” mechanism, this represents a massive nudge off equilibrium. (You may, of course, insist that the fact that the planet is undeniably growing warmer is merely a coincidence.)

If global treaties can work, despite possible deleterious effects on some countries’ economies, would it not be prudent to propose some kind of treaty, say, limiting the production of carbon dioxide?

You are talking about conventions and protocols ala Kyoto.

I like all the extreme weather events. Droughts, floods etc make the weather segment in the news more interesting.

I can’t see that it would be in any countries best interest to negatively affect their economy when, as you put it:

Why would any country do something that will adversly afffect their economy and population if there is little hope of it doing anything useful?

I know.

I appreciate that this is tongue in cheek, antechinus, but the ozone issue is really quite appropriate given your location. Had those countries with an interest in continuing CFC production taken an entirely selfish attitude towards the 1987 Montreal Treaty and hid its economic agenda by questioning its scientific worth, rates of malignant melanoma in Australia would by now be such that exposing your skin to the sun took on the danger of the extreme sports you mention.

Effectively, Australian and South African youth should be thankful that 1987 was not 2003, politically speaking.

IIRC, there were also naysayers back in 1987 who thought that the situation was hopeless and the ozone layer was irreperably damaged. My point is that treaties like this can work.

Well the difference is that

a) CFC didn’t really make up a massive amount of GDP
b) Obvious damage to the ozone layer and an understood mechanism
c) HCFC were available as a replacement

Carbon emissions are almost completely different. They’re reduction would entail a reduction in GDP, they may or may not be the primary mover when it comes to climate change and there are few available alternatives.

I really would like some documentation here, if you would be so kind.

The Kyoto Treaty did not propose an actual reduction, merely a check at near the level we are already producing, ie. not shifting even further off equilibrium. Be that as it may, it is simply opaque to me how an increase in efficiency can be so deleterious to GDP.

In any case, why would Europe sign up for such economic suicide? (Admittedly, some of the member states are struggling to keep their word, but I am uncertain why they should have made such an agreement in the first place.)

As I said, you may cry coincidence if you wish.

HCFC isn’t as cheap or effective as CFC, in the same way that diesel fuel isn’t as effective as petrol, long-life lightbulbs as tungsten filament, railways as roads, correct building design as air-conditioning - any number of energy saving measures compared to their obvious, free-market competitor. It required international agreement to meddle with the markets in order to save the ozone layer. Regarding carbon emissions: responsible, efficient energy use is the alternative of reckless, myopic profligacy, agreed?

Regarding the impact of CFC to HCFC vs. Carbon Dioxide reduction 5.2% below 1990 levels by 2012. Levels that are currently 10% or more above 1990’s are you serious in comparing the relative economic cost of these 2 issues?

Ok. From the CBC the plan is projected to cost roughly 2% of GDP growth by 2012 which shifts the total growth from 29-31% to 27-29%. Not much until you write it out as $5Billion and 75,000 jobs. Admittedly that is over the next 10 years.

I couldn’t really fine anything on CFC industrial impacts but I’d like to see them if you have a link.

As I have pointed out the Kyoto treaty calls for CO2 levels to be reduced to ~5% below 1990 levels. Canada is currently ~10-13% above those levels now. I would image Europe is in a similar position.

I don’t know. I never said it was economic suicide, I said it would have a greater economic impact than your example of the Montreal Protocol. My guess is that the stronger Green movement in Europe applies public pressure to governments to attempt implementation of treaties that appear to impact the climate but may or may not be achievable/useful.

Well it wasn’t my intent to cry coincide. It was my intent to point out the fact that the obvious evidence and chemical process for ozone depletion when compared to CO2 and climate change are not easily compared. My personal view on it is that yes we do have an impact; no it is not the primary mover on climate change to the exclusion of other long term climate variations we have yet to understand.

Well the obvious free market products you’re talking about appear to not have economic value in the savings of money/energy to the general public. Otherwise they would be choosing the fluorescent bulb over the incandescent despite the order of magnitude difference in cost.

As an aside, Ontario recently attempted to deregulate electrical power (badly I’ll add). However once prices climbed people actually cut they’re usage. The outcry, however, was loud enough that it was abandoned and rates were fixed at $0.045 kwh. Basically the economic pressure to reduce consumption was removed and the Christmas light burned all night.[FONT=arial]

It actually says between nothing and 2%, and points to studies which say that “Canada could halve its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 without disrupting the economy and based on technologies that already exist”, all apart from the unknown costs of not acting. Acheiving Kyoto need not reduce GDP, although I concur that the whole proposal is a much “bigger deal” than Montreal.

Yes, I admit my error here, confusing some of the more liberal offers refused by the US with what Europe etc. actually signed up to, although of course some countries (eg. Ireland) are allowed a slight increase.

The “big 3” EU members (UK, Germany & France) are pretty much on course to meet the targets. Should it be found that their economy has not suffered unduly, the world might, just might look back at Kyoto as the last chance to prevent what subsequently happened.

Well I could equally point to some studies that project a massive impact just as easily as the Suzuki foundation points to massive benefits.

Also the idea of projecting out 25 years (hell projecting out 10 years) always gets a :dubious: from me.

I would agree with you that focused achievable treaties are worthwhile and do work. The Montreal Protocol did work. The bi-lateral agreement between Canada and the US also worked to reduce acid rain. These treaties did have specific and achievable goals that did not massively require re-engineering a country’s infrastructure.

We will see I suppose, though I doubt that Kyoto itself will be better remembered than Rio.