Is hot air a greenhouse gas? Or just ear pollution?

They talked global warming down in Australia. All those leaders from the U.
Written by Harry Fuller, Contributor on

They talked global warming down in Australia. All those leaders from the U.S., China, Japan, Russia, host-nation Australia, Indonesia and fifteen other nations agreed that they aspire to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Boy, that's reassuring. These leaders didn't do anything radical, like promise to do anything. Good intentions and high aspirations, that's the ticket.

And the official phrase coming out of APEC was "climate change and energy security." Nothing soft and mushy like "save the planet" or "economic growth could kill you."

Bloomberg News Service's not known to be anti-profit or liberal, yet they characterized the statement on climate from APEC as "watered-down."

Bloomberg also reported the China President's lecture to the richer nations, "China's President Hu Jintao told rich nations to`take the lead,'' in cutting greenhouse gas emissions. 'Developed countries should face their historical responsibility and their current high per-capita emissions,'' Hu told 20 other leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Sydney today."

"How does a nation that holds so much American debt consider itself poorer than the U.S.?" you might ask. And are we measuring American wealth by national debt or per capita wealth? We do still lead the league here in America for energy used per person. Just consider what it takes to air condition Phoeniz or Las Vegas. Despite China's newly gained #1 spot in total greenhouse gas emission, they're still far behind us in per capita greenhouse gases. Thanks laregly to China's huge dependende on coal and its deleterious effects on man and air. Nobody can be sure if they are #1 in using lead-based paints.

Here are some direct quotes from the White House briefing on APEC's climate change statement:

Dan Price, Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs: "The first topic at the leaders' retreat was climate change and energy security...[Australia's] Prime Minister John Howard, President Bush, and the other APEC leaders really forged quite a bold new direction for global efforts at addressing climate change. They adopted a very, very ambitious statement. I will give the highlights of that statement in a moment. I believe the statement will be released tomorrow. And Jim Connaughton will come up and brief on it in some detail.

"Let me just say that in the discussions preceding the adoption of the statement, there was universal recognition that multiple approaches concerning the problem should be adopted, including energy efficiency, renewable energies, alternative energies, including nuclear, clean energy technology development and employment. There was discussion of the importance of market mechanisms; also discussion of the need to discuss deforestation, reforestation, and the need to reach agreement on a long-term emissions reduction goal, as well as the need to liberalize trade and investment regimes as they relate to environmental goods and services.

"As you will see, this declaration is really quite an extraordinary statement for these 21 countries to make...there is agreement of the need to explore and reach agreement on a long-term aspirational goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This more or less represents an emerging consensus to determine the parameters of a post-2012 climate change arrangement. Of course this is precisely what the major economies meeting in Washington is to be about.

"The APEC leaders and the declaration welcome the major economies meeting and the initiative of the United States. The declaration will call for parties to work towards a goal to reduce energy intensity by 25 percent by the year 2030, and to increase forest cover by 20 million hectares by the year 2020."

Jim Connaughton, Chairman of Council on Environmental Quality: "Let's read the whole thing. Here we go: "The world needs to slow, stop, and then reverse the growth of global greenhouse gas emissions." And this area will include improvements in energy intensity -- that's the amount of energy you use per unit of GDP, that's an efficiency measure; it includes work on reforestation, so addressing deforestation combating, and combating illegal logging; it will include the work together on advancing zero emission technologies, especially in the area of coal, which is a very heavily-used energy resource in the Asia-Pacific region. There's an emphasis on nuclear, which has been in some question in this region. But the commitment of those countries who are choosing to pursue clean nuclear energy strategies is an important one.

"...there is a section that will deal with transportation. I mentioned aviation, but there's also discussion of advanced biofuels, and a particular standard setting, so we can actually have a common market and common standards for the introduction of biofuels, especially biodiesel, which not only is a renewable fuel, but is also much more fuel efficient than gasoline, so you'll be able to save a lot of fuel, and at the same time save a lot of greenhouse gasses....

"The elements of the Sydney declaration actually largely align with the elements the President outlined last May when he proposed to the world a way forward on a constructive outcome for a new framework after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012...two very substantial elements of this declaration, which was energy intensity goal. This is the first time APEC has ever announced a shared goal in the area of energy and climate, as well as a goal related to 20 million hectare increase in forest cover by 2020.

"But underlying these goals is a series of practical actions....the declaration didn't stop at a goal, it went forward with a means of working toward those goals. So there will be created a new Asia-Pacific network on energy technology, which is going to be an ongoing process that will help share technologies and work to get them to the marketplace. There is a strong emphasis on pursuing technologies for low and zero-emission electricity generation, especially coal, and actually there's also a strong statement related to nuclear. There will be a discussion on force and land use.

"Indonesia and China, in particular, were very strong leaders in the establishment of the practical work programs in this document. That was a very important commitment from two very important countries when it comes to forestry. And in keeping with that, a new Asia-Pacific network for sustainable forest management has been created, as well. The document will discuss -- give guidance from the leaders on how we address the issue of aviation, about the energy needs of aviation, as well as the greenhouse gas profile aviation. And that will be a very important guidance for leaders as we deal with that issue in the context of the U.N. framework convention on climate change. And I would note that on trade, trade is emphasized in this declaration, and it is the single strongest statement on the importance of open trade to advancing clean development and reducing greenhouse gases that I have seen....

"Related to clean development, under the leadership of Indonesia, they are advancing what is called the Coral Triangle Initiative. There are three components to that. One is coral reef conservation and better management of coral reefs, the second is sustainable fishing, and the third is food security.

"You may recall in the States we did a major effort on coral reef conservation in the [Florida] Keys, and last year announced the single largest act of coral conservation by creating the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, and we also enacted last year in the States the most aggressive fishing legislation to end over-fishing in America.

"What we have done in the States will only work if other parts of the world do the same thing. And that is why this coral reef initiative -- this Coral Triangle Initiative is so important, because complementary action in this part of the world, that also supplies America with a lot of fish and seafood, is going to be important so that we do this in a way that does not destroy these ecosystems, but in fact enhances them."

Coal, nuclear and legal logging only, oh yeah, and save the fish supply. Baby we are gettin' green around the gills.

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