The news is spreading like wildfire that Russia, the great climate-change-fence-sitter, has finally said No to Kyoto.
What does this mean for the world?
In technical terms, it means the Kyoto Protocol will not reach the threshold necessary to change it from a vague intention to a legally binding contract among nations.
In practical terms, the "Nyet" means very little. Kyoto is and was a milquetoast response to the threat of climate change. The actual reduction targets are nowhere near enough to stop global warming. Kyoto's chief use was in institutionalizing international mechanisms for addressing greenhouse gas reduction ... getting the world used to managing carbon markets, for example.
But Kyoto or Nyet Kyoto, those markets are developing anyway. Market forces, such as the growing push by insurance companies to reduce their exposure to climate-change-caused disasters, will only grow. The EU nations are certain to keep developing markets for CO2 trading. And the weather will get worse; if the overwhelming majority of the world's climate scientists aren't completely out to lunch, we can count on that.
No, what Russia's "Nyet" really reflects is a global reality: the vast majority of the world's economic decision-makers, who hold most of the power for policy-making, still cannot fathom the reality of global warming. They cannot wrap their heads, or their hearts, around the magnitude of the danger -- and the scale of industrial transformation required to reduce escalating catastrophe, human suffering, and ecological disruption.
At some point, more of the rich world's decision-makers will wake up to the cost of denial ... and the amazing money to eventually be made by those who finance the transformation.
But it's going to take a while.
Be sure to stock up on candles, see to it that the old folks in your city have adequate ventilation, etc. And read the current cover story of the British magazine New Statesman, on the denial of climate change.
Note: The new issue of my email newsletter WaveFront has just been published; it includes updates on this and many other breaking events & trends in the worldwide sustainability movement. Click here to read it on the web.
Hey Alan -
Great edition of WaveFront! This, however, blew my circuits. I'm rich, who knew?
"SAY WHAT? ME? RICH?
Do you make more than US$47,500 per year? That puts you in the wealthiest top 1% of all human beings on planet Earth. Relative to the rest of humanity, you are incredibly rich. Do you make more than $2.33 per day? You are still wealthier than half of humanity. To find out just where you (or anyone else) stands in world's wealth rankings, visit this new online calculator, "Global Rich List." It will help you put things in perspective."