The G-8 summit climate: “nothing is being done”

The G8 2013 leaders summit just got started in Ireland. Will climate change be on the summit agenda? If you go by what the United Kingdom, the G-8 president this year, is saying, then no. UK PM David Cameron did not bother to even mention climate in a press release on the summit. This though Germany and France are reported to have lobbied hard since March to get him to insert at least the obligatory mention. Once again, Jeff Beck’s “A Day in the House” is perfectly apropos:

Cameron’s omission of climate has predictably offended the self-styled green lobby. And as usual, I have some sympathy for leaders who ignore the green lobby. That is because the greens, sadly, after a generation of loud lecturing and hectoring, still cannot bring themselves to demand action that is anything but utterly impractical on just about every level, including political.

Germany is the perfect illustration of this. Due to internal political dynamics (which I described in May 2011) Germany’s political leadership was forced to kowtow to facile public opinion in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns and once again revive the nuclear energy phaseout that was instituted by a previous government. The phaseout was part of the price of having the Green Party join, in the late 1990s, a governing coalition—the Greens are doctrinally, ideologically, and dogmatically anti-nuclear. Therefore Germany’s national government, which for decades led the world in talking about climate change and the urgent necessity of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), had to go along with the Greens’ cockamamie ideology—even though its national nuclear generating fleet is Germany’s only viable source of large-scale CO2-free electricity generation.

From the viewpoint of David Cameron, the UK prime minister, Germany’s convoluted and farcical internal politics likely make it an entirely non-credible advocate for serious climate change measures: he likely has privately told that physician to heal himself first before lecturing others on doing the same.

But in this case, according to the above linked Guardian article, the continental European climate action lobby included France, Europe’s most nuclearized country. With France, Cameron cannot say “physician, heal thyself.” Because it uses so much nuclear power, France has by far the lowest per capita CO2 emissions of the major EU countries.

France could of course tell Germany, with perfect credibility “physician heal thyself.” It probably does, but we don’t hear those back room diplomatic conversations.

Unfortunately, France’s unquestionable moral authority on the climate question gets zero play in “green” circles. And even more unfortunately in the media circles that report on these issues. Most reporters are too busy writing up the point-counterpoint angle: government releases an environmental statement, “green” lobbyists rebut it. So David Cameron’s rejection of France’s excellent advice is lost in the political posturing.

What a shame. Between midnight and noon on June 17, Ontario fossil-fired generating plants, most of them running on natural gas, dumped more than 15,000 metric tons of CO2 into mankind’s collective atmospheric commons. If Ontario had followed the “green” lobby’s advice years ago and not built nuclear plants, those 15,000 tons would have been more like 83,000 tons.

In half a day. From one relatively small economic jurisdiction.

***Event notification**
Robert Stone’s very well received and critically acclaimed new documentary Pandora’s Promise, which tells the story of how some prominent environmentalists reexamined their prejudices against nuclear energy, has recently opened and is now playing in major U.S. cities. It will hit Toronto on July 12. Visit www.pandoraspromise.com for more information.

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