Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 22:27 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 22:27 | SYDNEY

As for protectionism, so for carbon?


Sam Roggeveen


9 October 2009 11:46

No one will be surprised by this ABC report describing the failure of climate change talks in Bangkok intended to lay the groundwork for an agreement in Copenhagen.

We're surely tackling this problem from the wrong end by putting so much emphasis on an international agreement. Not only is such an agreement hostage to the credibility problem (who seriously believes governments will carry out commitments they make now for action in 2050, or even 2020?), but it tries to enforce by international agreement a problem that is hardest felt and most politically volatile at the domestic level.

Bill Carmichael, Saul Eslake and Mark Thirlwell recently made a similar point in a Lowy Policy Brief about overcoming protectionism:

...protectionism results from domestic policy decisions made under pressure from domestic interest groups operating in their domestic political arena, and exercising power over domestic decision-making on protection. (Our paper) therefore advocates a domestic response that can address those ever-present pressures, rather than continuing to rely solely on international processes that experience has shown conclusively cannot. Domestic policy governance is the basis for this response.

And what is their proposed response?

Our proposal is that G20 leaders should encourage individual governments to introduce a domestic transparency process to provide the information they (and their domestic constituents) need to reduce the political costs of resisting demands for protection — by raising community awareness of the consequences for their domestic economies of accommodating those demands.

A similar body could raise awareness of the consequences of various carbon reduction models, and how they favour particular industries.

Photo by Flickr user Vermin Inc, used under a Creative Commons license.