Today on Demcracy Now! Naomi Klein stated that although Copenhagen's climate talks are occurring 10 years after Seattle's trade talks, the point of the upcoming street protests is not to disrupt the delegates, as was achieved with the WTO ministerial meeting in 1999. She claims that activists instead want heads of state to make an agreement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
However, is it this simple? Is any agreement better than no agreement? Are there possible state-led solutions that would make the problem worse?
A Reuters report today quotes an unnamed "US official" saying that the United States team "will propose an emissions reduction target" complimentary to legislation currently making its way through the Congress. The House bill proposes a 17 percent cut from 2005 levels by 2020. The Senate bill calls for a 20 percent cut. Many believe these goals are far too conservative. And how will they be achieved?
The US Congress is working on establishing a cap and trade scheme that will create a financial market for pollution credits and offsets, supposedly using "the market" to solve the problem. Cap and trade has very little support from independent economic and scientific analyst who favor a straight carbon tax.
Cap and trade schemes, however, will create huge opportunities for profit; Large financial corporations, oil companies, coal companies, and other defenders of the status quo support the kind of legislation that is likely to be passed by the US Congress within the year.
Taking this approach to Copenhagen could prove disastrous for the world by setting up an ineffective mechanism to reduce carbon emissions while simultaneously creating a financial carbon bubble the economic and ecological consequences of which could be catastrophic.
Perhaps a complete disruption of the talks would be productive if states are set to approve a global carbon market? May the protesters in Copenhagen be discerning!