globalizationWell you know it is important when Al Gore is in the house:

“Al Gore says there’s a “powerful voice” speaking out about climate change: Mother Nature.

Gore, citing “striking” examples of extreme climate-related conditions, said while scientists have long agreed climate change is real, the real environmental challenges facing people will drive change.”

What you don’t see is the changes being made to our global system of economics and trade that will actually do something to move the planet away from the lovely CO2 oven outcome that we’re building for ourselves.   One of the key aspects of the problems surrounding controlling global warm is the compartmentalization of the climate talks and the trade talks.

“Not that there was any question about which side would win should any of the competing pledges to cut emissions and knock down commercial barriers ever come into direct conflict: the commitments made in the climate negotiations all effectively functioned on the honour system, with a weak and unthreatening mechanism to penalize countries that failed to keep their promises.  The commitments made under trade agreements, however, were enforced by a dispute settlement system with real teeth, and failure to comply wold land governments in trade court, often facing harsh penalties. 

   In fact, the hierarchy was so clear that the climate negotiators formally declared their subservience to the trading system from the start.  When the U.N. climate agreement was signed at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, it made clear that “measures taken to combat climate change, including unilateral ones, should not constitute… a disguised restriction on international trade.” (Similar language appears in the Kyoto Protocol.)”

-Naomi Klein.  This Changes Everything p. 76 – 77.

So even back in the day we were being screwed over by capitalism (shocked).  The notion that we can’t restrict trade in order to preserve our biosphere has underwritten almost every climate agreement the world has put forward.  And that is the problem – moving goods all over the globe is carbon intensive and for the necessary work to start in tackling climate change the fundamental economic principles of neo-liberal capitalism and trade need to be rewritten.

So until you see a climate conference that includes the WTO, IMF, and World Bank be prepared for nothing more than important words and no real change in the system.