According to Agence France-Press on January 26, dateline Baghdad, “Iraq has formally ratified the UN’s Kyoto Protocol on climate change, according to a government statement…”
Evidently, things are going so well over there that the presidential council ratified a law by which the sovereign Republic of Iraq will join the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Protocol.
Now, at long last, the Iraq government can start reducing its carbon footprint. This is real progress. Just think, maybe they could set up a cap-and-trade system to limit greenhouse gas emissions and allow trading of carbon credits among sources anxious to find least-cost ways of achieving emissions reductions.
Or maybe they could impose a revenue-neutral carbon tax while offsetting its harmful economic effects by corresponding cuts on corporate or personal income. Who needs to worry about a country in the midst of sectarian and ethnic strife, jihadist insurrection, and Iranian meddling when you can be battling global climate change right there in the desert.
This amazing turn of events offers unlimited opportunity for fairly droll commentary at best, and insensitive, even tasteless humor at worst, two failings this writer will strive to avoid. Still, how do you reduce a carbon footprint which is already smaller than a ballerina’s slipper? Don’t you have to get some of those big ugly, belching smokestacks fired up and spewing stuff into the atmosphere first?
I am not an expert but don’t you need a full-blown economic system, up and running, before you start trying to green it up?
And what about the U.S. military forces risking life and limb to patch up the bad job Saddam made of it? Does current counter-insurgency doctrine now have to include reducing your forces’ greenhouse gas emissions on top of saving a country? What are they going to do with all those Hummers? General Petraeus, call your office!
So what explains Iraq’s rather unusual exercise of national sovereignty given its present circumstances? Follow the money. Iraq will not have to do much of anything under Kyoto, but it may be eligible for funding under Kyoto’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). This arrangement allows developed countries to invest in emission-reducing projects in developing countries as an alternative to what is generally considered more costly emission reductions in their own.
So there may be method in the Iraqis’ seeming madness.