I’m not sure how many voting delegates were still at the negotiating table in Durban when the dust finally settled on the Conference of the Partygoers at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – which wrapped up its overtime session with many group hugs and declarations of success.
The Press Release (ready-made for green churnalist spin) included the following:
The package includes the Green Climate Fund, an Adaptation Committee designed to improve the coordination of adaptation actions on a global scale, and a Technology Mechanism, which are to become fully operational in 2012 (see below for details).
Whilst pledging to make progress in a number of areas, governments acknowledged the urgent concern that the current sum of pledges to cut emissions both from developed and developing countries is not high enough to keep the global average temperature rise below two degrees Celsius.
They therefore decided that the UN Climate Change process shall increase ambition to act and will be led by the climate science in the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report and the global Review from 2013-2015.
“While it is clear that these deadlines must be met, countries, citizens and businesses who have been behind the rising global wave of climate action can now push ahead confidently, knowing that Durban has lit up a broader highway to a low-emission, climate resilient future,” said the UNFCCC Executive Secretary. [emphasis added -hro]
I’ve often wondered why it is – since “the science” on which the UNFCCC claims to rely has determined that “unprecedented” global warming is “unequivocal” and that human-generated CO2 is the primary “cause” (so the “experts” and media mavens keep telling us ad nauseam) – that the UNFCCC has not said, “Thank you very much, IPCC, you’ve given us everything we asked for. Now you can retire … or move on to the next scare”.
Maybe the IPCC and the UNFCCC long ago lapsed – well-past a tipping-point – into an irremediable state of co-dependency. But I digress …
It will be interesting to see, in the weeks ahead, how much air-time is given to reading the tea-leaves and entrails in the aftermath of Durban. In the meantime, here are two takes I’ve come across. The first is from Mark Lynas, whose green-coloured glasses have led him to conclude:
[T]he most important [paragraph] to emerge in any Durban document, in terms of what the meeting was supposed to achieve, and what it means for the future:
Also decides to launch a process to develop a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change applicable to all Parties, through a subsidiary body under the Convention hereby established and to be known as the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action;
Just what the world has been waiting for: yet another UN Working Group, which will no doubt come to be known as AHWG/DPEA (but only for short, of course).
A more realistic assessment (IMHO) is offered by the U.K.’s Andrew Orlowski at The Register:
Only agreement is to keep going to conferences
The United Nations Organisation’s COP17 climate conference has finished – and if you’re a concerned energy user in IT manufacturing, an investor, or simply taxpayer, there shouldn’t be anything the draft agreement to worry you. Not any more than you have to worry about already.
The two-week long gathering of 15,000 was intended to devise a successor to the Kyoto Treaty. Kyoto was signed by over 190 countries, and pledged them to reduce CO2 emissions by 5.2 per cent by next year, from 1990 levels. It also pledged to create an adaptation fund for poorer countries.
Kyoto’s targets, which have been missed by almost every signatory, will be extended to 2017. The Durban signatories made the aspiration that something should be in place by 2020, and this something should be “a new protocol, another legal instrument or agreed outcome with legal force” to be agreed by 2015.
Meanwhile the Green Climate Fund is supposed to find €100bn of cash donations a year to send to developing countries each year by 2020. One wit described this as a plan “to shift wealth from the first world’s poor to the third world’s rich without making any difference in climate control”. With developed economies crucified by private and sovereign debt, and the credit system even worse, this was never likely to happen – and Durban didn’t see any commitments from anybody to finance the fund.
There may be a glimmer of hope for the BBC – primary purveyor of all things green in the U.K. and around the world (not to mention very closely aligned and intertwined – as Andrew Montford meticulously documents – with the fount of “knowledge” known as the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA) whose dedication to “the cause” is now legendary).
In a recent very thoughtful presentation [h/t Phillip Bratby via Bishop Hill] that should be heard by all politicians:
The historian Lisa Jardine recalls CP Snow for lessons on the dangers of leaving political decisions to technocrats and experts and calls for better informed debate by politicians and public alike in the fields of science and economics.
Here are some excerpts from the transcript [h/t Cumbrian Lad via Bishop Hill]:
We should be wary of leaving political decisions to experts and technocrats. Lisa Jardine asks if someone is an expert in their field, does that make them the right person to run a country?
The scientist, novelist and British civil servant CP Snow is probably best remembered for his controversial lecture The Two Cultures And The Scientific Revolution, on the gulf of incomprehension separating the arts and sciences, delivered in 1959.
In it he argued that in spite of the increasing importance of science, British intellectual life continued to be dominated by the traditional humanities. Today his argument continues to resonate, though perhaps now economics has joined science as a specialist field which baffles those who have received only an arts education.
He warned that at a time when specialist scientific understanding was indispensable, those charged with taking vital political decisions had no proper grasp on the issues.
“One of the most bizarre features of our time,” [Snow] wrote. “Is that the cardinal choices have to be made by a handful of men who cannot have a first-hand knowledge of what those choices depend upon or what their results may be.”
“If you are going to have a scientist in a position of isolated power,” Snow concludes. “The only scientist among non-scientists, it is dangerous whoever he is.”
All those in positions of power and influence, Snow maintains, ought to be able to evaluate proposals put to them which involve science and technology. It may not be possible for them to master the detail themselves, but they must be able to follow the argument. And be surrounded by those with good enough scientific backgrounds to explain the reasoning processes by which the proposed course of action was reached.
In current debates about GM crops, nuclear energy and climate change, the public at large – including governments and senior administrators – are liable to be swayed by the most persuasive of the advisers or interest groups, because they are not equipped with the knowledge or the reasoned strategies needed to judge. Many of them are dismayed by any argument that involves number and maths.
But speaking of Kyoto (as I was earlier) … Although the decision is no surprise, I expect that, in the weeks ahead, we shall hear many moans and wails and vales of tears shed at the CBC (and other enviro-activist establishments) now that Peter Kent, Canada’s Environment Minister, has announced Canada’s official disengagement from Kyoto:
“Kyoto for Canada is in the past. As such, we are invoking our legal right to formally withdraw,” Kent said.
Kent returned to Ottawa from Durban Monday afternoon and made the announcement about two hours after landing.
He said he waited to formally pull out of the Kyoto Protocol because he’d promised a top UN official in Durban not to distract from the talks.
Good to know that Kent resisted the dervishes in Durban … perhaps he has heeded the wisdom of Snow and/or Jardine. Either way, this decision makes one proud to be Canadian, eh?!