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Monday, December 12, 2005

Kyoto Protocol Meets Star Trek Convention

More about the global warming conference from husband David:
Much of the activity at the global climate talks in Montreal weren't in the negotiations themselves, but in so-called "side events": Press conferences, demonstrations and briefings by non-governmental organizations.

"Side shows" might be a more apt term.

Take, for example, the very first briefing The National Center's delegation attended upon arriving in Montreal, entitled "Creating Greenhouse Gas Markets in the United States," where panelists described their first-hand success in trading emissions credits.

Warren Batts, an Adjunct Professor of Strategic Management at the University of Chicago School of Business, described the success of one greenhouse gas market, the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX).

If that name sounds world-alteringly significant, think again: The U.S. has no caps on emissions. So, those participating in U.S.-based emissions trading schemes are not doing much more than the average participant at a Star Trek convention - they are role playing.

But all is not lost. Those having trouble deciding what to get their family for Christmas might be interested to know that they can buy a CO2 credit - good for emitting one metric ton of the stuff at your local Star Trek convention or wherever else in the USA you happen to be - for just $2-$2.50. But be forewarned: You'll have to make your purchase from 8:30 AM to 2:00 PM Monday through Friday. (Saving the planet may be important, but not important enough to forgo banker's hours.)

Members of CCX include a couple of big corporations such as the Ford Motor Company (perhaps looking for something they can actually sell), Motorola and Rolls Royce. But CCX's membership quickly drops to the likes of the City of Boulder, the University of Iowa and individuals.

Since it was started in 2003, the CCX has traded just 3.5 million tons worth of emissions credits. Apparently, to most folks, even $2 a ton is a bit steep for role playing.

Total U.S. emissions per year are about 5,789 million metric tons -- over 1,500 times the CCX volume, so you can see they're doing a bang-up job in getting the "CO2 problem" under control.

I'm reminded of the Saturday Night Live episode from 1986 in which guest host William Shatner, during a parody of a Star Trek convention, says... "GET A LIFE, will you people? I mean, for crying out loud, it's just a TV show! I mean, look at you, look at the way you're dressed! You've turned an enjoyable little job, that I did as a lark for a few years, into a colossal waste of time!"

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:09 AM

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