July 3, 2010
G20 leaders in Toronto tried to avoid the fate of colleagues felled by warming advocacy
Last week’s G8 and G20 meetings in Toronto and its environs confirmed that the world’s leaders accept the demise of global-warming alarmism.
One year ago, the G8 talked tough about cutting global temperatures by two degrees. In Toronto, they neutered that tough talk, replacing it with a nebulous commitment to do their best on climate change — and not to try to outdo each other. The global-warming commitments of the G20 — which now carries more clout than the G8 — went from nebulous to non-existent: The G20’s draft promise going into the meetings of investing in green technologies faded into a mere commitment to “a green economy and to sustainable global growth.”
These leaders’ collective decisions in Toronto reflect their individual experiences at home, and a desire to avoid the fate that met their true-believing colleagues, all of whom have been hurt by the economic and political consequences of their global-warming advocacy.
Kevin Rudd, Australia’s gung-ho global-warming prime minister, lost his job the day before he was set to fly to the G20 meetings; just months earlier Australia’s conservative opposition leader, also gung-go on global warming, lost his job in an anti-global-warming backbencher revolt. The U.K.’s gung-ho global-warming leader during last year’s G8 and G20 meetings, Gordon Brown, likewise lost his job.
France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy, who had vowed to “save the human race” from climate change by introducing a carbon tax by the time of the G8 and G20, was a changed man by the time the meetings occurred. He cancelled his carbon tax in March, two days after a crushing defeat in regional elections that saw his Gaullist party lose just about every region of France. He got the message: Two-thirds of the French public opposed carbon taxes.
Spain? Days before the G20 meetings, Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, his popularity and that of global warming in tatters, decided to gut his country’s renewables industry by unilaterally rescinding the government guarantees enshrined in legislation, knowing the rescinding would put most of his country’s 600 photovoltaic manufacturers out of business. Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi similarly scrapped government guarantees for its solar and wind companies prior to the G8 and G20, putting them into default, too.
The U.K may be making the biggest global-warming cuts of all, with an emergency budget that came down the week of the G20 meetings. The two government departments responsible for climate-change policies — previously immune to cuts — must now contract by an extraordinary 25%. Other U.K. departments are also ditching climate-change programs — the casualties include manufacturers of electric cars, the Low Carbon Buildings Program, and, as the minister in charge put it, “every commitment made by the last government on renewables is under review.“ Some areas of the economy not only survived but expanded, though: The government announced record offshore oil development in the North Sea — the U.K. granted a record 356 exploration licences in its most recent round.
Support for global-warming programs is also in tatters in the U.S., where polls show — as in Europe — that the great majority rejects global-warming catastrophism. The public resents repeated attempts to pass cap and trade legislation over their objections, contributing to the fall in popularity of President Barack Obama and Congress. Public opinion surveys now predict that this November’s elections will see sweeping change in the United States, with legislators who have signed on to the global-warming hypothesis being replaced by those who don’t buy it.
In the lead-up to the Toronto meetings and throughout them, one country — Canada — and one leader — Prime Minister Stephen Harper — have stood out for avoiding the worst excesses associated with climate change. Dubbed the Colossal Fossil three years running by some 500 environmental groups around the world, Canada — and especially Harper — are reviled among climate-change campaigners for failing to fall into line.
Not coincidentally, Canada has also stood out for having best withstood the financial crisis that beset the world. Fittingly, Canada and its leader played host to the meetings.