UNEP’s “Champions of the earth” 10th anniversary edition

Just in case you missed it – I know I almost did! – during the latest and greatest United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)’s gathering of the great and the good, there were some awards presented. First some background (courtesy of the virtually ever-present IISD):

The Tenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer (VC COP10) and the twenty-sixth Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (MP MOP26) met from 17-21 November 2014, in Paris, France. Over 450 participants from governments, UN agencies, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, academia and industry attended the joint meeting.

The Preparatory Segment met from Monday until Wednesday. On Thursday and Friday, the High-Level Segment (HLS) convened. As the Preparatory Segment was unable to complete its work by Wednesday, it reconvened a number of times during the HLS.

MOP26 adopted eight substantive and seventeen procedural decisions. Substantive decisions adopted include: essential-use exemptions (EUEs) and critical-use exemptions (CUEs); availability of recovered, recycled or reclaimed halons; and a Technology and Economic Assessment Panel (TEAP) report on alternatives to ozone depleting substances. Procedural decisions adopted include: budget; organizational issues related to the TEAP; the Multilateral Fund (MLF) replenishment; and membership of Montreal Protocol bodies for 2015.

While most of the issues were not contentious, parties spent a number of hours deliberating on the MLF replenishment, the TEAP report on ODS Alternatives, and CUEs and EUEs. Proposed amendments on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and ways to the move the issue forward proved particularly difficult, with parties unable to agree on a mandate for a discussion group going into 2015.



The HLS opened on Thursday morning with a short video about Mario Molina, who was recently awarded the UNEP Champion of the Earth Lifetime Award.[emphasis added -hro]

Setting aside my curiosity as to how these “over 450” attendees managed to secure the funds for their flights and accommodation – not to mention how such funds might have been better spent – when I read the IISD’s reports of such gatherings, I make it a point to check out whether or not the UNEP’s head honcho, Achim Steiner, was in attendance … and what his spin of the hour might have been!

Steiner is on far right above

Steiner is on far right above

Well, that’s one mystery solved: Steiner was definitely on hand for this photo-op as was the ever-smiling UN head honcho, Ban Ki-Moon, standing fifth from the left – and two persons to his right, former IPCC Chair and University of East Anglia’s visionary par excellence, the bearded Bob Watson, whose primary function for the past year or so seems to have been his service as “Chair of the Future Earth interim Engagement Committee”.

Never let it be said that the movers and shakers at the UNEP are averse to “recycling”, eh?!

And before I forget … for the record, as reported by the IISD, Steiner’s oh-so-inspiring exhortations (in contrast to his far more customary voice of doom and gloom) were:

Highlighting the MP as a “shining example of multilateralism,” Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, emphasized the need for: a strong global partnership; patience to see “the positive results of our actions,” as it takes time for planetary systems to recover; and taking into account decisions that bring results later in international negotiations.

But I digress …

As noted above, one of the “winners” of this oh-so-prestigious prize (and variants thereof) was 1995 Nobelist Mario Molina. Here’s an interview with him, conducted by Deutsche Welle [DW] in 2012. Notice how right off the bat, Molina succeeds in dutifully reiterating the “well funded denier” meme, and notwithstanding his expertise and background in chemistry, he’s not at all shy about making pronouncements of the economic kind.

DW advertises the video as “Fighting climate change: Saving the world from catastrophe.” Somewhat on the long and rambling side, and somewhat short on facts, here’s UNEP award winner, Molina in (probably unscripted, IMHO) action:

Considering that Molina was also an author of the 2010 InterAcademy Council (IAC)‘s review of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) – and an “author of the [IPCC’s] 4th Assessment Report [AR4]” – he really should have known better than to perpetuate the propagation of such unmitigated poppycock.

But at least Molina had the decency to acknowledge that (notwithstanding the UNEP’s perpetuation of its VC COP and MP MOP) for all intents and purposes the “ozone problem” has been fixed. OWTTE.

Nonetheless, for the record, it appears that Molina’s involvement in AR4 was that of a “Lead Author” of Working Group I’s “Technical Summary”. For other Molina associations and involvements, see also http://tome22.info/Persons/Molina-Mario.html.

Oh, well, such are the “standards” of the UNEP and/or those who declare/elect/or whatever the “winner” of their oh-so-prestigious “Champion of the Earth Lifetime Award.”

But speaking of the UN and “standards” …

Following on the heels of my not-so-recent (surprising, but then again, perhaps not) discovery that absolutely nowhere in the United Nations Charter can one find any mention whatsoever of “environment” or “sustainable development”, i.e. the favourite hobby-horses of the (to the best of my knowledge, unchartered) UNEP, I began reading the verbiage in this Charter.

To be honest, I only got as far as Chapter VII of XIX (for the Roman-numeral-challenged, that’s Chapter 7 of 19) before I was distracted by I cannot remember what! Quite possibly, it was reading about the above-noted UNEP “awards”!

So I would invite (and appreciate) an assessment of the provisions of the UN’s Charter by those whose legal training and background could point me in the direction of the chapter(s) and verse(s) of the UN’s Charter which justifies the UN’s ventures into the (UNEP’s multifarious, oh-so-co$tly and ever-expanding) realms of “environment” and “sustainable development”.

Many thanks in advance:-)

7 thoughts on “UNEP’s “Champions of the earth” 10th anniversary edition

  1. Hilary –
    You’re a better woman than I am to slog through that mire. Interesting that the ozone problem is solved, or nearly so, yet there’s still an annual budget of around $150 million. [Not counting the salaries of those involve, which presumably are paid by their respective governments.] But then, there’s no incentive to stop, is there, and on the scale of government spending, $150 million/year is pretty small potatoes. [Perhaps strawberries would be a better comparison, given the exemptions issued.]

    But I have to nitpick. Bob Watson is not “two persons to his [Ban Ki-Moon’s] right”. Consider the view from there. ;)

  2. You have to be a special kind of person to find this stuff interesting. (OK, I admit it, I’m such a person). What’s wrong with us?
    If I were a Republican Senator, I’d simply point out that sorting out the MLF replenishment, the TEAP report on ODS Alternatives, and CUEs and EUEs is best done by email, and demand that the USA reduce its financing of this nonsense accordingly.
    In fact, it doesn’t cost that much to fly to Paris these days, so I don’t really begrudge them their outing. I’m going to Paris myself next week to see family and visit art galleries and theatres. Which is why I find them so weird.
    And who are the others, for example the military guy second from left (viewed from here)? They look like the cast of a comic opera waiting to be written. What do they all do, and who elected them to do it?

    • Just tracked him down – the young-looking military guy with the medals is Major Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, head of the elite 17th Airborne Infantry Brigade in the Indonesian army and eldest son of ex President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

      He was there to collect the award on behalf of his father, who unfortunately couldn’t attend as he happened to be busy leading a meeting of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) in Seoul, South Korea, at the time:

      “You have to be a special kind of person to find this stuff interesting. (OK, I admit it, I’m such a person).” Ha ha, me too! Keeps us (mostly) out of trouble, I suppose.

  3. alexjc38
    How do you do it? Have you thought of applying for a job with the CIA? (Maybe you already work for them).
    I’ve only recently got interested in UNEP because of this lady

    whom I discuss at
    Everything that UNEP does, it seems, it does on the internet. We can see it all, comment on it all. All it requires is the application (and I don’t mean app) to click on every single link on every single article and you can follow every action of Achim Steiner and others. As Alex illustrates above, we can know everything about everyone. What power we have at our fingertips!

  4. Geoff and Alex … First of all pls forgive me for responding to you both in the same comment. I had started to reply to Geoff a few days ago (but got distracted by my search** for what Alex has now found, i.e. the name of the mysteriously bemedalled one).

    ** FWIW, during the course of my search, I did succeed in finding a multiplicity of pics from this (gold-plated?!) 10th Anniversary MOP event – not one of which (for some strange reason) indicated whom one might be viewing; although there were few that did not include the almighty-ever-present, Achim Steiner.

    That being said, Geoff, I’m not entirely sure that “interesting” is the word I would have chosen … particularly on the financing front.

    But speaking of “financing” …

    I’ve now refreshed my memory regarding the difference between the GGGI (Global Green Growth Institute) and the GCF (Green Climate Fund [of the UNFCCC]). Both are (oh-so-conveniently?!) housed in the same building in Songdo, Korea (where, for some reason, I doubt that the rent is in the reasonable range!)

    As an aside, perhaps we need to take a vote on which is the most impressive: the above-noted photo-album, or the GGGI’s video, in all its inspiring musical glory:

    For the record, the former has been granted status as an “accredited observer organization” of the latter.

    And, in case you were wondering (as I’m sure you must be), “GGGI works in long-term partnership with developing and emerging economies through rigorous green growth planning, research and public-private cooperation” – although I haven’t been able to figure out the source of GGGI’s funding, while the GCF (with an annual operating budget of … brace yourself … US$18 million+ so perhaps they funnel-off a few bucks to GGGI?!) In marked contrast to the GGGI, the GCF has documentation that could bore one to tears long before one has exhausted the supply thereof.

    And on the “recycling” front … It seems that since April of this year, Yvo de Boer – the former UNFCCC head honcho (who presided over the 2009 UNFCCC Copenhagen lapse into a “coma” and was succeeded by “tinkerbell” Figueres, who, btw, now has the assistance of McGlade’s predecessor, Joseph Alcamo) – following a stint at KPMG, now holds the position of Director-General of the GGGI.

    Speaking of McGlade, btw, I found another video of her performance at the “Citizen Cyberscience Summit 2014 about UNEP live, the UN Environment Programme’s new web platform for sharing information about the environment” – during which, in remarkable contrast to your video above, Geoff, McGlade almost makes sense:

    P.S. Geoff, although the UNEP antics and accretions may be somewhat new to you, as I’m sure Alex can confirm, I’ve been following them for the better part of the almost 5 years of this blog’s existence!

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