Questions Over Corporate Voluntarism

The Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate program is challenged in an interesting article, that I found here.

This initiative was proposed by governments including the two biggest carbon emitters (China and the United States), the highest per capita carbon user (Australia), along with the Republic of Korea, India and Japan, to solve global warming problems.

However:

Even the conservative Economist newspaper characterized it all as "more hot air," adding it is hard to imagine big energy companies, or anyone else, taking climate change action without financial incentives or regulations.

The bigger picture is that the APPCDC program is not just about climate change. It is a very high profile shot at establishing a "partnership" culture between governments and businesses. But, there is scant evidence that large-scale partnerships of this kind can succeed in the longer term.

In many cases, various forms of public-private couplings, including joint infrastructure projects or part privatization schemes, have been characterized by their lack of proper stakeholder engagement and opaque structure.


There has not been a lot of debate about this proposal in Japan, as NGOs are probably highly attached to the Kyoto Protocol, and not ready to accept the fact that Japan has joined hands with the U.S. in this dubious deal.

The U.S. environmental magazine Grist wondered: "Is this new partnership a Pepsi to Kyoto's Coke or more of a ... Caffeine-Free Diet Coke?" and quotes a number of experts, such as Greenpeace USA research director Kert Davies, who observed:

The only thing that the U.S. has to sell the developing world is nuclear reactors and this unsubstantiated promise of clean coal. When it comes to developing fuel-efficient cars, solar panels, wind turbines, geothermal, and other renewables technologies, we are badly losing the race to Japan and Europe. We have a comparatively small stake in selling those technologies abroad.

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