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Making the Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate Our Own
Jamais Cascio, 28 Jul 05

There's a lot of talk about the Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate, a new climate agreement between the US, Australia, China, India, Japan and South Korea, but few details as of yet. Given the secrecy with which this agreement was crafted, and the expressed reluctance of three of the six partners (Australia, India and the US) to engage in any kind of actual enforced limitations on greenhouse gases, it's easy to be cynical about what this agreement will actually do. I suspect that, once the details are known, there will be quite a bit of justifiable dismissal from sustainability analysts.

However, I'd like to suggest something different.

When the details of the APP4CDC come out, I'd like us all to start scouring it for potential pressure points. What are the elements of the agreement that could turn out to be useful tools for forcing more change, faster change, better change than the negotiators intended? How can we use it in ways that actually can get us to where we want to go? What parts of the treaty can be re-framed in ways that strengthen the bright green approach, moving us to real emissions reduction and disaster avoidance? Think of it as memetic judo, cognitive tai chi, an attempt to use the energy of the agreement in ways that the signatory governments wouldn't expect.

It may not be possible. The Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate may be impossible to reframe because there's no content to it. But we shouldn't let an opportunity to turn the tables on those who would undercut real efforts towards radical reduction in greenhouse emissions pass us by.

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Excellent thoughts, Jamais.

I've been uneasy for weeks hearing Bush repeatedly use the words "beyond Kyoto" and talk about technology to offset climate change. Although I felt like my instincts were affirmed when the news about this secretly brokered deal surfaced, it's isn't the kind of validation I'd like to get on a regular basis.

Looking forward to the memetic t'ai chi.

Posted by: Emily Gertz on 29 Jul 05

Just a quickie: the EU's already announcing that technofixes are not enough, and that it will do its utmost to push for legally binding standards.

It will be a hot winter, when the world discusses Kyoto II.

Something entirely different. It looks like there is a trend here: everything the UN creates, must be destroyed by the Anglosaxons.

:: International law and Security Council decisions? Nice, but we go beyond them because you can't do anything about it.

:: The UN's Millenium Goals? Great, but not so great as Blair's "Africa Commission" and his G8 promises, which are of course much less stringent than the already existing MGs - but hey, it's marketed as beyond.

:: The Kyoto Protocol and the UN Framework? Great, but not so great as Bush's technofix coalition. Beyond Kyoto, no doubt.

There's this huge rift growing in the world between those who prefer a status quo but who're marketing pure air, packed nicely in slogans, - and those who're serious about matters and who want a real and binding criteria to arrive at solutions to problems.

I don't want to do any tai chi here, things are too obvious. If you find the courage to go nuanced about this, good luck.

Posted by: Lorenzo on 29 Jul 05

One great metaphor, already out there:

"A deal on climate change that doesn't limit pollution is the same as a peace plan that allows guns to be fired."

Posted by: Lorenzo on 29 Jul 05

"Memetic judo" and other forms of non-consensual reframing are efforts to make the fight for the right path happen on our terms. One of the recurring themes of the past decade of the growing awareness of greenhouse gas-triggered climate disruption has been the effort by those who want to avoid doing anything that might cut their profits in the short term to make otherwise useful phrases and ideas theirs, twisting meanings and confusing listeners. Now it's our turn -- not to twist or confuse, but to make the terms that they promote mean what we want them to mean, so that they're telling our story whether they realize it -- or want to -- or not.

When I say "memetic judo" or "cognitive tai chi," I'm not calling for a compromise. Far from it.

Posted by: Jamais Cascio on 29 Jul 05

I think you have to look at the pattern of the administration's past environmental initiatives. They all contain kernels that could be improved and accelerated ("more change, faster change, better change") ... but they've worked for the administration precisely by attracting discusion to a particular point.

If everybody starts talking about clean coal, for instance, our energy future becomes clean coal.

... so i say split the troops ;-). Let some press for faster whatever-they-propose, and let the other half reject it completely. At least part of this has to be to keep the frame of conversation where we want it.

Posted by: odograph on 30 Jul 05

What if there was anouther point of view? Just as possible just as valid and just as terrible to contemplate? Do you expect you would know it?

Posted by: wintermane on 30 Jul 05

the most terrible possibility is that human beings suffer from what the economists call "bounded rationality" and that some things, especially "large group projects" like "global warming" and "worldchanging" are beyond us.

frankly, i think we should have been called "Homo Semi-Sapiens"

Posted by: odograph on 30 Jul 05

Back a good while in the 80s I talked with my meteorologist friend about climate shifts and disasterous changes...

Now we both agreed on a few simple facts..

1 Not everyone will fight against climate change a fair number will secretly fight for it. Why? Because chaos attracts money lots and lots of money and fear of death creates money unlimited.

The simple fact is its too profitable too eagerly awaited to be avoided EVEN if we could have...

2 We cant stop it we couldnt stop it we wont stop it. I pointed out and he agreed reluctantly that by the time tech existed to carry us past coal and gas and oil we would be too late anyway to matter. The very simple fact is climate isnt a switch you flip and there is no going back in our lifetime or even the lifetime of anyone who will even remotely know who we were or care.

3 Look to the chinese they are old enough to have gone through it and remember it from past climate changes. Look at how they react and know they do what they do based on 1000s of years of built up knowhow... and guess what it looks like they are freaking out and building up like there is no tommarow.. rather ...unsettling when you think about it fully.

I dont trust treaties I dont trust international accords I dont trust the un I do trust greed and fear. Do any of you realy for a minute truely expect the hero to save the day? Do any of you realy expect anything other then a dark and long period at the end of an era that frankly prolly is best ended anyway. Should we be daydreaming about a hero or should we be preping for what happens after this fairytale ends.

Posted by: wintermane on 30 Jul 05

i've got to admit that "endless optimism" sometimes gets me down, but the flip side is that without effort we humans probably would not even attain the "semi-successful" outcomes we are so proud of.

Posted by: odograph on 31 Jul 05



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