Of COPs, MOPs and a global battle of duelling doomsayers
October 23, 2010 17 Comments
First an amendment/update to an earlier post in which I had observed:
“No sooner had the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) picked itself up after (predictably flopping in) Tianjin, China, than it was onwards and upwards to Pachauri’s ‘hell no, I won’t go show’ at Busan, Korea, aka the “Thirty-Second Session of the IPCC”. Then they took a breather (although I’m not sure where) before heading to Nagoya, Japan for yet another UNEP sponsored meeting.” [COP 10 of the CBD. Please see below for definitions -hro]
On further investigation, it seems that while the IPCC meeting was underway (Oct. 11-14), there was a (competing?!) pre-COP10 COP-MOP5: “The fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties” (Oct. 11-15)
So, the UNFCCC’s 5-day Tianjin flop (Oct 4-9) was followed by IPCC’s 3-day meeting for a total of 8 days on “climate change”. And “biodiversity loss” MOP gets a 4-day meeting, prior to an 11-day COP (Oct. 18-29) for a total of 15 days. All under the auspices of the UNEP, of course. But I digress …
It seems that the latest and greatest of the UNEP‘s scaremongering acronymic offspring, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), a body that has been carefully nurtured from “concept note” to “history making … gold standard science policy body“, as I had noted a few days ago, has encountered a rather serious stumbling block.
Alas, there’s a lack of consensus amongst the delegates to the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP 10) to the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Consequently, the IPBES “side event” may well be sidelined (en route to full UN General Assembly blessing), and the Busan green light given in June might be changing to orange during the current Nagoya confab.
The BBC’s Richard Black reports from the scene of the turmoil:
Nature panel under threat as nations wrangle
Political wrangling threatens to derail plans to establish a global science panel to assess the loss of nature.
Governments agreed earlier this to set up (sic) the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.
But moves being made at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meeting here threaten to block ratification by the UN General Assembly.
Conservation groups believe IPBES could prove essential in persuading leaders to ramp up measures to protect nature.
Proponents, including many governments, believe it can play the same role for biodiversity as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has played in that field – taking authoritative analyses of relevant science directly to policymakers.
“The CBD meeting does not have a say over the fate of IPBES formally, because that’s the responsibility of the UN General Assembly,” said Anne Larigauderie, executive director of the biodiversity policy organisation Diversitas, who has been closely involved in discussions on setting up IPBES.
“But it’s extremely important, of course, that the meeting comes to an agreement in support of IPBES, because IPBES is precisely to improve the functioning of this convention by making it more science-based,” she told BBC News.
Hmmm …. Diversitas? Anne Lariguaderie? Considering her involvement, she’s certainly more diplomatic than some of the leading lights in Big Green. But it is worth noting that Diversitas appears to be a sponsor of (or quite closely aligned with) a video project called Crisis of Life. One of “the scientists” is none other than (drumroll please) … Anne Lariguaderie. A few enlightening excerpts from this video project’s poster:
“ecologists and activists talk about ways to stop the ongoing biodiversity crisis to ensure the survival of all living beings, including ourselves.”
“Extinction of species is forever. Ecosystem collapse threatens human welfare on a global basis.”
“Most consequences are irreversible, leaving future generations to live on a greatly impoverished planet.”
“This video project is a wake-up call to us all to inform ourselves and then take action”
“The biodiversity crisis may be an even bigger threat to us than the climate crisis”
Who would have thought that there could be anything on God’s green earth that could be an “even bigger threat … than the climate crisis“? Certainly not Michael Mann* or the honourable members of the CRU crew.
* “Overloading the atmosphere with carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is heating the planet, shrinking the Arctic ice cap, melting glaciers and raising sea levels. It is leading to more widespread drought, more frequent heat waves and more powerful hurricanes.
“Burying our heads in the sand would leave future generations at the mercy of potentially dangerous changes in our climate. The only sure way to mitigate these threats is to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions dramatically over the next few decades” [Michael Mann, OpEd in the Washington Post, circa Oct. 7/10]
Pure unadulterated speculations <alert>
Could it be that underlying the political wrangling noted by Black, above, there might be some turf wars afoot amongst the scientists/advocates/activists who are advising the official (i.e. voting) delegates?
Consider the following excerpts from a document, which presumably at some point will be (or may already have been) received/reviewed as part of the COP 10 CBD deliberations:
HIGH-LEVEL MEETING OF THE UNITED NATIONS
GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON BIODIVERSITY
22 September 2010, New York
Today, as a contribution to the International Year of Biodiversity, world leaders met for the first time for the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on Biodiversity and reaffirmed the political will to reverse the alarming loss of biodiversity occurring throughout our planet.
The true economic values of biodiversity and the ecosystem services it underpins are now being identified to their full extent. Member States and other participants considered it important that such investigation continue as a matter of priority. They called for strengthening the biodiversity and economy nexus by incorporating the true values of biodiversity into economic theory, financial planning and investments in all sectors, as well as in policy and planning processes at all levels. Green economy, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) and payments for ecosystem services were mentioned as important concepts and initiatives.
Member states and other participants also recognised that biodiversity and healthy ecosystems are an essential part of solution to the challenges of climate change. They noted that there are substantial benefits to be gained from the coherent implementation of the three Rio conventions as well as other biodiversity-related conventions. For example, initiatives for reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) could provide co-benefits for biodiversity and local livelihoods. The upcoming Nagoya and Cancun meetings later this year and the Rio+20 Conference in 2012 provide timely opportunities to ensure that measures taken under the related Conventions are mutually supportive.
COP10 presents an important opportunity to adopt a post-2010 strategic plan that contains ambitious, measurable and time-bound biodiversity targets for 2020. This plan would provide a common framework for action on biodiversity at the international, regional, national and local levels, and across various issues, from terrestrial and marine protected areas to combating of ocean acidification.[...]
Furthermore, noting the important linkage between scientific knowledge to effective policy-making, Member States and other participants stressed the importance of establishing an Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)
Finally, noting the Geneva Call for Action issued by the past and future presidencies of the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Member States and participants noted that if current rates of biodiversity loss are not reversed, there will be drastic consequences for human societies.
They recognized the need for coordinated and urgent action across all sectors of government and society to address the underlying drivers of biodiversity loss. There is a need to reform our means of production, consumption and economic growth to ensure that we live within the ecological limits. Together, we can find ways to protect the “Mother Earth” and live in harmony with nature. [emphases added -hro]
Consider also that during the past year we have heard repeatedly that “nothing undermines the ‘science’ of “climate change” (notwitstanding the fact that no one has looked at the “science”).
Reading between the lines of the above ‘high level’ meeting summary, climate change gets an honourable mention (because that science is “settled”?!) while biodiversity loss is definitely ascendant.
Hmmmm … Is this a “scientific” coup d’état I see before me?!
Achim Steiner (the UNEP’s head honcho, who might reasonably be dubbed “Mr. Conservation”) is also a member of TEEB’s Advisory Board. I’m sure he wouldn’t want to see the TEEB team’s 2 years of work sit on the shelf. Not to mention that Team TEEB has a very catchy mantra (courtesy of Team leader, Pavan Sukhdev): “What you do not measure, you cannot manage”. (Hidden message: Send us your measurements, and we shall manage!)
If I were in Steiner’s shoes, and had to favour one child (IPCC and its star-studded cast of “thousands”) over another (IPBES and its smaller stable of relative unknowns), I would want to weigh their respective assets and liabilities.
Assuming that he’s a pragmatist, Steiner would see that the IPCC has a lot of liabilities – not the least of which is the headaches caused by its poor performance over the past year, and its failure to fix the carbon conundrum (resulting in the imminent demise of the popularity of carbon credits/trading, solar power and wind turbines). Add to this several very public suggestions that perhaps the IPCC has outlived its usefulness.
IPCC Assets? Not so many. AR5? Very early days … not likely to be too many tears if the UNEP were to say, “Thank you so much for settling the science, IPCC. You’ve done a Nobel award-winning wonderful job … but money’s getting tight and we have to cut back. So here’s your pink slip”.
Worst case scenario from Steiner’s perspective? IPBES will let the “climate scientists” fight over a bone by incorporating a token chapter on “global climate disruption” into TEEB2.
I could be wrong (it has been known to happen!) and I did give you a “speculation alert” … but, at this point in time … that’s the view from here ;-)