Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Japan wants easier target for greenhouse gas cuts

We love our readers.
From an email this morning:
...if you want to get another post out of Japan's suggestion of 2005 as the "base year" for a post-Kyoto agreement, I'll be the live shill [! -ed.].
Why is the base year important?
Well, since you asked...
(The reference is to this post from yesterday)

For the British the 1990 base year allowed them to get credit for their bringing North Sea gas onstream for electricity generation. Although gas produces less CO2 and Maggie Thatcher was one of the first world leaders to develop policy incorporating global warming theory, that's not why they switched to gas. The North Sea oil and gas fields were being developed* before Kyoto was a gleam in Maurice Strong's eye.

This brings up the crucial concept of "additionality". Simply stated, you don't get credit for doing something you were going to do anyway.

For the Germans, 1990 meant they would get credit for shutting down the amazingly inefficient east-bloc heavy industry. Reunification occurred October 3, 1990 when East Germany joined Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Again the concept of additionality says they shouldn't have gotten credit for doing something they were going to do anyway.

The U.S. agreed to support this bald-faced B.S. if Europe would agree to enshrine carbon trading* as one of the approaches favored by the Protocol.

The Japanese on the other hand took a lot of energy-efficiency measures in the 1980's (they are, after all, a resource-poor country) and got no benefit from a date starting from their new, lower, base.

The 1990 base year has an important U.S. climate legislation angle. USCAP has adopted 1990 in their global warming manifesto. This would allow USCAP members to be credited for a much higher base of emissions to judge reductions against. For example, USCAP member Dupont sold their nylon business, reducing their carbon footprint immensely. If they fail to get credit for that, the fall-back position is to claim credit for changes made in manufacturing technology which were implemented as cost-saving measures. Again, giving credit for something that was going to be done anyway violates the additionality concept.

USCAP members also want credit for things they've done that are essentially P.R. branding, thus deriving the P.R. accretion to shareholder value and a higher base to measure emissions from.

One of these days I'll get around to posting on the "Credit for early action scam".

I'll take off my professorial hat and promise not to do another policy-wonk post.

*See: Enron; J-block; Teeside; etc.
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