Monday, January 26, 2009

Gore to Testify

On Wednesday, Al Gore will testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on "Addressing Global Climate Change: the Road to Copenhagen." (note: apparently the SFRC's website says it will be on Thursday, but is wrong).

I hope that this will be an interesting hearing, with tough, illuminating questions, not just a love-fest, that some of these high-profile hearings can become.

Here's my outline for questions that I'd like to see asked:

A climate change treaty is only good so long as its truly international (i.e. every country, not just developing countries sign on for binding reductions). In the vernacular of Kyoto and the UNFCC negotations, this is called 'annex 1' and 'non annex 1.' Annex 1 countries are the U.S., Europe, Japan, Russia, etc... Non Annex 1 countries are the 'developing world.' This includes obvious ones like all African countries, the Pacific islands, and other poorer states, but it also includes places like China, India, Brazil, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the UAE. The problem is clear.

So, if I were still working for Senator Hagel, I'd push him to ask: "Do the principles of Byrd/Hagel still apply?" These principles are: 1. that the U.S. will not sign a treaty that would cause mandatory reductions in our emissions, if it does not require binding restrictions on all the major economies; and 2. that the U.S. will not sign a treaty that will harm our economy. Why should the US commit itelf to binding restrictions, when this will only make our industry non-competitive, compared to our competitors (i.e. China, India)? This is likely going to be the line of attack from Republican Senators like Corker and Isakson. DeMint, Barasso, and probably this new guy Risch (Idaho) may go even further, and go towards the old questions about the science of cliamte change. Gore will skewer them on this, because he knows the issue much better than they do.

From the Dems, I'd like to hear a rephrasing of the question. Gore would probably be more likely to give a straight answer to them. I think would be interesting to hear, the Dems (maybe a moderate like Shaheen or Casey) though, would be along those same lines, is 1: how do you get the Chinese/Indians to move away from their position that they will never put any restrictions on their emissions? 2: should there be some mechanism to 'graduate' countries from 'non-annex 1' to 'annex 1' status? i.e. why are South Korea, Singapore, UAE, Saudi, and Qatar 'developing' nations? Clearly, they have high amounts of capital and growth, and therfore should be involved in a truly global treaty.

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