EU should join forces with China to create a joint carbon market

If Ed Miliband were to set out a radical programme for climate change that urged the EU to join forces with China to create a joint carbon market establishing an international price for carbon around the globe it could be a game changer. More than that: it could be a game changer that market makers in the US suddenly find threatening. America can resist any opposition to its policies. What it cannot take is being sidelined.

Barry Gardiner MP (Lab, Brent North) was Parliamentary Under Secretary for Rural Affairs, Biodiversity and Landscapes, and Minister for the Horse (2006-7) and the prime minister’s special representative on forestry (2007-8)

Bill Clinton was a political genius. But he is also the genius that sent Al Gore to Kyoto then failed to get the USA to ratify the Protocol. The world is still living with the consequences of this and will continue to do so for at least another seven years.

President Obama’s political capital has been expended on a weak healthcare bill; the cost is his inability to get a climate change bill through the most amenable congress in decades. The mid-terms configured a very different Capitol Hill and we in the UK must now consider where future progress on climate change can best be pressed to advantage. One thing is clear: that place is not in America.

The wreckage of Copenhagen left the world with no new legally binding agreement after the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. Instead, and much to the credit of Ed Miliband, the “Copenhagen Accord” created a loose open architecture structure that is very much a coalition of the willing. Under the Accord, countries put on the table the national actions they are prepared to take to reduce their emissions (Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions or NAMAs) and they themselves monitor their success in achieving their own targets.

Interestingly, although the western press accused China of spiking an agreement at the time, this is precisely the sort of structure that China had already proposed two months before Copenhagen itself. It has the benefit of preserving sovereignty whilst maximising commitment. Obama’s insistence on international monitoring in China of voluntary actions within a process that the USA itself had not even signed up to, was always less informed diplomacy than strategic media grandstanding. The world’s press fell for it, but we should not.

China’s 12th Five Year Plan was announced just last week. It makes clear that China is now looking to create an emissions trading scheme. In Europe we have considerable experience – both positive and negative – of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. It is time now for the UK and Europe to refocus its efforts away from the United States so it can form a strategic alliance with China.

This week I participated in a GLOBE Legislators forum on Climate Change in Tianjin, along with 70 legislators from countries ranging from South Africa to Brazil. Fifteen of the G20 countries were represented, including the US.

If Ed Miliband were to set out a radical programme for climate change that urged the EU to join forces with China to create a joint carbon market establishing an international price for carbon around the globe it could be a game changer. More than that: it could be a game changer that market makers in the US suddenly find threatening. America can resist any opposition to its policies. What it cannot take is being sidelined.

Imagine if the biggest pressure on President Obama to sort out climate change were coming not from the liberal left or even from some “blue-dog” Democrats in the Senate, but from Wall Street itself; what if Wall Street were saying to Obama: “It’s not the economy, stupid!”

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9 Responses to “EU should join forces with China to create a joint carbon market”

  1. Rosie

    RT @leftfootfwd: EU should join forces with China to create a joint carbon market: http://bit.ly/baPxDj says @barry_gardiner

  2. GORDON LYEW

    RT @leftfootfwd: EU should join forces with China to create a joint carbon market: http://bit.ly/baPxDj says @barry_gardiner

  3. Brit Lefit

    Sensible idea
    RT @leftfootfwd: @EU should join forces with #China to create a joint carbon market: http://bit.ly/baPxDj says @barry_gardiner

  4. Jordan Eizenga

    RT @leftfootfwd: EU should join forces with China to create a joint carbon market: http://bit.ly/baPxDj says @barry_gardiner

  5. treeman

    carbon markets are terrible ideas. easy to rig, easy to have exemptions to based on lobbying, make most money for bankers and traders etc.

    if you want to reduce carbon, tax it at source. you could have it operational in the UK by this afternoon. it would take about 8 phone calls.

  6. Barry Gardiner MP

    RT @leftfootfwd: EU should join forces with China to create a joint carbon market http://bit.ly/dnl2Pj

  7. HSC

    #HSC EU should join forces with China to create a joint carbon market … http://ow.ly/19O3g3

  8. dw11138375

    RT @leftfootfwd: EU should join forces with China to create a joint carbon market http://bit.ly/dnl2Pj

  9. Mike Guillaume

    Agree with Treeman. Carbon markets are not a good idea, first because it is based on “rights” to pollute. Taxes -the left arm (or foot if you want)- and incentives -the liberal part- are the answer.

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