03 November 2009

The FT is Drinking Climate Kool-Aid

The FT usually has cogent analyses of global issues, but its analysis of climate policy has fallen well short. Here is an example, which focuses on "myth busting" leading up to Copenhagen. I'd characterize it instead as pretty detached from reality. It looks like the FT has become a cheerleader rather than a critical observer.

On the prospects for a meaningful deal to be reached in Copenhagen:
Q. Blimey. So it looks like no deal at Copenhagen then?

A. On the contrary, the prospects for international cooperation on climate change haven’t looked brighter for more than 10 years.

Some of the differences in opinion are likely to be resolved as the talks enter their final stages. Although difficult sticking points remain, the basics for a deal are not so very hard to achieve.
It is hard to understand where this perspective is coming from. I agree that some sort of deal will be reached, the question is whether it will mean anything. The FT is silent on the substantive questions, instead suggesting rather glibly that:
If everything cannot be resolved at Copenhagen, countries may be able to continue to work on resolving some key issues into next year. And turning an agreement in Copenhagen into a fully articulated legal treaty is also a task that can be completed next year or in 2011.
How wonderful. I wonder what all the fuss is about then?

On India and China:
India and China have both begun to take many such measures, and they have pledged to increase these. In fact, if China is successful in meeting its own targets - as it has been in the past - then according to the IEA it will be the biggest single contributor to global emissions reductions by 2020.
As I've documented here on many occasions (e.g., here), both India and China claim to have now instantaneously increased their historical rate of decarbonization by as much as three times what they have achieved in the past. Maybe they have, but for the FT to report this uncritically is certainly not really telling the full story. What if China's and India's pledges are not as solid as claimed? Nothing from the FT (ever) on that question.

I am a big fan of the FT and read it daily, so it is disappointing to see its coverage of the climate issue so consistently lacking.