In 2009 Japan promised to cut CO2 25% by 2020 — and everyone loved them. Now they are getting ready to ditch their target. The 2009-politicians got the applause, and the 2013-politicians have to actually consider the costs.
This, of course, is how most climate policy is conducted. Make nice-sounding promises about a target outside your own term of office, reap the PR benefits, and let someone else pay up.
If we ever want to get serious about cutting CO2 we have to stop asking for unrealistic, feel-good measures. We’ll only get the world to switch, once the price of green energy is cheaper than fossil fuels. And this requires innovation. Not empty pledges of what we’ll do in 2020 or 2050, but cheaper, smarter investment in green R&D.