First of all, here is an explanation of the "bubble". It is from National Center, some kind of conservative information foundation:
The umbrella provision was modelled after the European Union's so-called "bubble" proposal, which would allow
the EU to be treated as a single nation, thereby allowing it to shift the burdens of greenhouse emissions controls to
its member states that can most easily meet the targets.
This is from the K5 article:
On the other hand, under the treaty, the EU will
reduce emissions within a so-called "bubble" that would effectively permit trading between European nations
in pursuit of a single combined EU emissions target. This setup reserves the benefits of emissions trading for
Europe alone, ensuring that the economic burden of Kyoto will fall disproportionately on the United States.
Clearly, it reflects priorities that aren't simply environmental in nature.
First off, I assume the US would be free to do emission trading within its own borders. If not, ignore my argument and I will agree with you.
I guess we first have to answer the question "why are the levels set on a country to country basis at all, why not just have a global level"? The answer is of course sovereignty and jurisdiction. The UN could impose environmental laws on the member states to reach the objective, but the member states would not agree to this (especially not the US). Instead, the parties of the treaty commit themselves to a certain level, and then it's up to themselves to figure out how to reach this level (by passing laws or planting forests or whatever). I think we all can agree that this is a sensible approach.
Now, when talking about sovereignty and jurisdiction in the EU, things become a bit complicated. While the member states are still technically sovereign, there is an EU parliament, and an EU Court of Justice which has powers over the member states. For example, here is a ruling over Sweden: SWEDEN NOT PERMITTED TO INCREASE ITS COD CATCH. Part of the EU legislation is about the environment, which of course includes atmospheric pollution.
I'm not very familiar with the US legal system from this perspective, but I assume it's quite similar. The individual states have a quite high level of self-rule (as demonstrated by the ballot counting procedures in the election), but there is a higher authority which harmonizes the laws of the states. There are also federal laws. I suspect these two systems, at least when it comes to environmental law, are quite similar.
If we can accept that the legal structures of the US and the EU are quite similar in this respect, why can't we accept that the Kyoto protocol should apply similarly?
There may even be situations where a member country could not meet its levels due to some EU general directive preventing its action plan. Perhaps Luxembourg is suddenly invaded by tourist cars from other member states (I'm guilty of this). To prevent this they try to keep cars out. This however conflicts with the directives about free movement within the union.
If this is of such a great concern to you, I have a proposal which will remove all such jurisdictional problems. We create a grid all over the Earth of a fixed resolution, say 100*100km. In the center of each cell we place a sensor. Now, instead of mandating levels for each country, we do it per cell.
Unfortunately, this would greatly restrict flexibility. If you want to build a new coal-burning power plant, you would have to build a system of pipes to distribute the pollution over a great number of cells. This would probably not be economical. Perhaps using Bush's "clean coal", this would not be a problem (ha ha). Regardless, I'm sure the US would reject such a proposal, since it would impact the US economy far worse than the protocol in its current form, even though it would provide a much more positive environmental effect. You could also not increase the cell size very much, since the smallest country in the world has to span at least one cell.
Until the US would be prepared to accept my grid proposal (or even just per-state levels), I think it's plain hypocrisy (or just a misinformed opinion) to accuse the EU of trying to benefit unfairly from emissions trading. I'm also pretty sure the EU does not intend to maximize pollution for economic profit. At least Sweden keeps a much stricter environmental policy than required and there is generally quite a high environmental awareness (and will to do something about it) in the EU.
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