Report from Reason at Rio

If you are a relative newcomer to the climate wars and/or the foggy mysteries that shroud “climate change”, “sustainable development” and the “green economy”, Reason‘s Ronald Bailey offers an excellent primer and overview of what has led us to the current shenanigans of the United Nations (UN)’s moribund – and hypocritical – bureaucratic tyrants-in-waiting and their “partnership” with BIG Green.

Here are some excerpts from Bailey’s report [h/t Matt Ridley via twitter and all emphases mine]:

Rio +20 Earth Summit: Is Sustainable Development Still Sexy?

This week the United Nations is convening the Rio +20 Conference on Sustainable Development. It’s called Rio +20 to commemorate the fact that 20 years ago, the United Nations held an “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro, then modestly billed as “the most important meeting in human history.” The tone is a little different this time around: It turns out that a good portion of the activists attending this time are not at all happy with the concept of sustainable development anymore and are denouncing the Green Economy as a corporate sham.


The head of the Earth Summit, Canadian oilman Maurice Strong, warned in 1992 that humanity’s deleterious current path “could lead to the end of civilization” and that “this planet could soon become uninhabitable for people.” Besides the official conference, there was the Global Forum at which activists of various stripes and tendencies gathered at a “world’s fair of environmentalism.” Vice presidential hopeful Al Gore was ubiquitous.

At the Earth Summit conferees negotiated the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (U.N.FCCC) and the Convention on Biological Diversity, along with Agenda 21, an economic central plan for the 21st century. Over the past 20 years the United Nations has convened 17 conferences with the aim of trying to impose carbon rationing on the world as a way to combat climate change chiefly caused by greenhouse gases emitted by burning fossil fuels. The Biodiversity Convention has chiefly been a vehicle used by activists to slow efforts to get biotech crops to poor farmers in the developing world and to rich farmers in Europe.


In any case, economic development is certainly a worthy endeavor since 1.3 billion people still live on less than $1.25 per day and some 900 million people face hunger. The U.N. conference itself is negotiating a document called, The Future We Want, [PDF] which embodies a lot of aspirational language, but also aims to set up a process that will establish a set of Sustainable Development Goals and some kind of institutional framework for sustainable development to oversee the implementation of those goals, i.e., a U.N. bureaucracy. And to implement whatever the goals are the poor countries want the rich countries to give them $100 billion per year in sustainable development aid starting in 2018. Negotiations over this 80-page document have been quite contentious; only 20 percent of the text has been agreed to so far.

According to the U.N., the Future We Want is the Green Economy. However, a sizeable percentage of environmental activists going to the conference believe that the Green Economy is merely more corporate capitalism in green-face.[...]

As for the UNFCCC … never let it be said that Rajendra K. Pachauri, the Chair of the disgraced – and disgraceful – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been remiss in carrying out the now openly admitted obligations of the IPCC to the UNFCCC. Far from being “transparent, impartial, objective” etc. as was reported at the conclusion of the recent (and, rather surprisingly, quietly held) 35th Session of the IPCC:

Switzerland [home of IPCC bigwig Thomas Stocker -hro] highlighted the UNFCCC as the IPCC’s main client [emphasis added -hro]

[UPDATE: 06/16/2012 07:05 PM Pls. see comments below for other interesting observations about the IPCC and its "main client"]

This is certainly in keeping with Pachauri’s earlier proclamation of his “cause” and mission, as Donna Laframboise has reported:

I am not going to rest easy until I have articulated in every possible forum the need to bring about major structural changes in economic growth and development. That’s the real issue. Climate change is just a part of it. [bold added]

And considering the “focus” of Rio+20, in hindsight, it is not surprising that Pachauri’s July, 2009 “vision” for the currently-being-manufactured Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) included:

Climate change needs to be assessed in the context of sustainable development, and this consideration should pervade the entire report across the three Working Groups. In past assessments sustainable development and its various linkages with climate change were seen largely as an add-on. Most governments who have commented on this issue have highlighted the need to treat sustainable development as an overarching framework in the context of both adaptation and mitigation.

In the (rather typical) absence of any quantification of “most governments” who might have so commented, I would think that Pachauri is probably pleased as punch to be “engineering” the latest and greatest IPCC report – along with such sterling “scientific” luminaries as Gergis and Karoly.

9 thoughts on “Report from Reason at Rio

  1. Here’s in interesting quote from Bailey’s “summer vacation” article (particularly in light of recently disclosed death threats that weren’t):

    Discussing how to make economists environmentally responsible, one activist concluded, “You really need to line them up and shoot them all.”

    [UPDATE] And here’s another (on Agenda 21, the document that one is never supposed to mention when discussing the pristine “assessments” of the IPCC):

    [T]he ambitious 800-page blueprint for global environmental regulation and economic planning for the 21st century. Agenda 21 is the Mother of All Five-Year Plans. A U.N. Sustainable Development Commission will be established by the General Assembly under the authority of the secretary-general to oversee Agenda 21. To implement Agenda 21 programs, the North is also expected to give the South $125 billion annually.

    I suppose there has been some progress over the past 20 years … considering that this “expectation” has apparently been generously reduced from “$125 billion” annually to “$100 billion” annually ;-)

    • And speaking of the IPCC, its “main client” and “sustainable development” … here are some excerpts from a 2001 slide show presented by Rob Swart (former Climate Consensus Cookbook Coordinator par excellence, along with Mike Hulme and Joseph Alcamo) when he was the “Head TSU IPCC Working Group III”:

      Integrated Assessment and IPCC: Links between climate change and sub-global environmental issues

      [Slide 2]
      IPCC was established in 1988 as an intergovernmental, integrated assessment process by UNEP and WMO
      Main client: UNFCCC/SBSTA

      [Slide 3]
      The Third Assessment Report (WG3) notes that integration of climate change policies with other socio-economic and environmental policies (“co-benefits”) can make policies more effective
      A Special Report on Climate Change and Sustainable Development has been proposed which would explicitly address synergies and trade-offs between the various issues

      [Slide 13]
      Technologies are available today to keep climate change impacts limited in the long term and stop the growth of global GHG emissions in the short term
      The real problem of controlling emissions is to overcome the many political, economic, social and behavioural barriers to implementing mitigation options
      There is a strong link between sustainable development and climate change mitigation: look for synergies and avoid trade-offs

      Source [backup copy]

  2. I might agree with “avoid zero-sum” but not “avoid trade-offs.” Unfortunately, zero-sum is the default paradigm of most greens.

    Avoid trade-offs? Trade-offs are part and parcel of our existence. The only question ought to be if we, the human race, are better off after the trade-off. One trade-off for global warming is fewer winter deaths; is that acceptable or unacceptable? Another is a longer growing season in the higher latitudes; is that acceptable or unacceptable?

    Does ‘synergy’ mean “I win, you lose”?

    • Does ‘synergy’ mean “I win, you lose”?

      Good question! But one should always keep in mind that “climate scientists” seem to have granted themselves “climatic licence” to … uh … redefine whatever their little hearts desire. In their world, a trick is not a trick, decline is not decline, peer review is best conducted using “intuition” and “fudge” is apparently an important element in “transparency” as practiced by the noble manufacturers of the IPCC reports ;-)

  3. Great article and comments.

    Actually, I think the Enviros and Agendists are prepared to accept (impose?) a negative-sum game, with a disproportionate deduction from the West with plenty of allowance for Greenie-distributed net proceeds to the “disadvantaged”. After overheads, natch.

    The Bailey article reinforced my eternal gratitude to all the Divine Powers That Be that Gore lost by a nose, despite his vigourous chad-picking efforts in it.

    • Hard choice, Brian. I think I’d rather some suffering on my part (higher energy bills, ‘green economy’ hyperbole), than the Iraq war. Mind you, I think Gore is a twit.

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