Thursday, October 16, 2008

"Mr Sarkozy, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency, said: "The climate package is so important that we cannot simply drop it, under the pretext of a financial crisis."
This is Nicolas Sarkozy refusing to relax restrictions needed for attaining climate change goals, and asking to accept slightly slow economic growth as a sacrifice in this process. I cannot imagine a US president or many other world leaders for that matter saying this. In Thomas Friedman's new book, Friedman interviewed Sarkozy and Sarkozy quipped that he- an avowed lover of US culture and traditions- is sad that the US is not the world leader in fighting climate change. Now Sarkozy seems to have decided to don the mantle himself.

What we need for fighting climate change is a bailout. And in this case not just the government but all of us have to bail ourselves out. The significance of 10% growth fades into irrelevance when we compare it to the expediency of stabilizing emissions. With the kind of lifestyle and policies we sustain currently, it's simply going to be impossible to fight climate change and still sustain present levels of economic growth without decisive and large-scale mandates that are prudently enforced with widespread consensus and incentives.

It is heartening to see EU leaders setting an example and not fawning over corporate wishes to sustain constant rapid economic progress, even in the face of a financial crisis. This is decisive government intervention of the right kind. The times have passed for innovative free market solutions which will gradually be driven by consumer desires and take their own time to work (although some of them would still undoubtedly play an important role). We don't want to succeed in the operation and kill the patient. The motto here is simple; slow down today, live tomorrow. Maybe the US could think again about despising those wimpy French who love accordion music. For a change, please, learn something from them. But unfortunately it's not going to be enough for just the EU to enforce climate change goals. Climate change is a true tragedy of the commons with what happens on one continent spilling over disastrously into another.

And of course, I hope we all remember that Sarkozy belongs to the conservative, right-of-centre arm of French politics. I bet the liberals are not talking much right now. Or maybe they are just happy.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

A post on the chemistry nobel this year?

8:57 AM  

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