NEWSFLASH: Action on climate change still at very bottom of world’s priority heap

In June of last year, I had stumbled across a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) survey which took note of the fact that:

There’s been something really important missing in the way we at the United Nations and at the global level have been deliberating and deciding on issues over the last decade, and that something has been you — people all over the world,” he told correspondents, adding that the era of making decisions about global issues behind closed doors with little citizen involvement was coming to an end. [emphasis added -hro]

YMMV, but it seems to me that this admirable “end” has not yet been reached within the ever-expanding maze of the United Nations. Least of all by those responsible for the production of the so-called “gold standard” Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s Assessment Reports. Or, for that matter, by the head honchos of the IPCC’s “parents” i.e. the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)’s Achim Steiner or the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)’s Michel Jarraud.

Notwithstanding the best efforts of Steiner and Jarraud (and their respective voices of doom and gloom), when I last looked at this UNDP survey, in May of this year, “action on climate change” was still at the bottom of the world’s priority heap.

As you may (or may not) know, in Lima, Peru there is yet another annual gathering of the great and the good (aka COP-20) which began on Dec. 1, to the oh-so-inspiring exhortations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)’s head honcho, Christiana (aka “tinkerbell“) Figueres, who:

encouraged delegates to draw inspiration from these ancient and indelible mythological symbols to “carve crucial lines of action” towards, inter alia: drafting a new universal agreement; achieving progress on adaptation; and strengthening the financial capacity of the most vulnerable.

During the opening ceremonies …

Minister of Environment of Peru Manuel Pulgar-Vidal was elected as the COP 20/CMP 10 President by acclamation. Pulgar-Vidal said COP 20 should increase trust, create space for dialogue between state and non-state actors, and lay ground work for a new climate agreement through a draft text balancing climate action and sustainable development. [emphasis added -hro]

Wow! Just look at that linkage, folks: “climate action” could not get much closer to “sustainable development”, if it tried! Have you ever seen two such meaningless phrases in such close proximity?! Amazing, eh?!

For some reason, when I read the above report from the IISD, I thought I’d take a look at the current results of the UNDP survey. And here’s what I found:

Global results as of Dec. 3, 2014

Global results as of Dec. 3, 2014

Well, look at that, folks! “Action taken on climate change” is still at the very bottom of the priority list for 1.2 million+ respondents, and it didn’t even make the list of six priorities chosen by almost 4.6 million respondents.

Perhaps the time has come for powers that be at the UNDP to tell those at the UNEP (and its ever-growing army of affiliates) that – despite the billions spent on flogging their very best efforts for the last twenty years or so – they’re simply barking up the wrong tree!

Seems to me that a good start for the delegates in Lima would be to tell the powers that be at the UN to stop worrying about that which does not even fall within its chartered purview (and which consistently ranks at the very bottom of the world’s priority list). Perhaps it’s time to immediately reallocate some of the almost US$10 billion pledged to the coffers of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to where such funds are really needed:

UNHCR urges immediate support for suspended WFP food aid programme for Syrian refugees
Press Releases, 1 December 2014

GENEVA — The UN refugee agency Monday called for urgent international support to the World Food Programme, which earlier announced it had been forced to suspend food assistance for more than 1.7 million Syrian refugees because of a funding crisis.

“This couldn’t come at a worse time,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres. “Winter is already an extremely difficult period for Syrian refugees, but the suspension of food assistance at this critical juncture is going to be devastating. It will impact tens of thousands of the most vulnerable refugee families who are almost entirely dependent on international aid. I urgently appeal to the international community – support WFP now, don’t let refugees go hungry.”

Earlier in Rome, WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin said the agency’s Syria emergency operations are in critical need of funding, including $64 million in December alone for refugee food assistance in host countries surrounding the war-torn nation. Since the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011, WFP has met the food needs of up to 1.8 million refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.

If new funding arrives, WFP said it could immediately resume assistance for Syrian refugees through an electronic voucher system that enables them to buy food in local shops.

The food aid suspension could be particularly devastating in Lebanon, where more than 1.1 million Syrian refugees – one-quarter of the country’s entire population – are scattered across some 1,700 communities. There are no formal camps, and many of the refugees live in makeshift settlements, sheds, garages and unfinished buildings. […]

YMMV, but at the very least, it seems to me that what the UN calls “the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era” should take a much higher priority than worrying that “2014 might be 0.01C warmer than 2010”.

In light of all the above, surely such a reallocation of resources would be the right thing for these delegates in Lima to do, would it not?

11 thoughts on “NEWSFLASH: Action on climate change still at very bottom of world’s priority heap

  1. Seems that there are echo chambers that only resonate within the established high churches .1 or even 3 degree’s of warming would be the preferred outside of that chamber but I fear that reality will have mush greater statics to consider when it comes down to warm and cold . Europe is about to become a victim of another church’s echo chamber . The Importance Of The Cancellation Of South Stream

    By Alexander Mercouris

    “December 03, 2014 “ICH” – “The Saker” – – The reaction to the cancellation of the Sound Stream project has been a wonder to behold and needs to be explained very carefully.

    In order to understand what has happened it is first necessary to go back to the way Russian-European relations were developing in the 1990s.

    Briefly, at that period, the assumption was that Russia would become the great supplier of energy and raw materials to Europe. This was the period of Europe’s great “rush for gas” as the Europeans looked forward to unlimited and unending Russian supplies. It was the increase in the role of Russian gas in the European energy mix which made it possible for Europe to run down its coal industry and cut its carbon emissions and bully and lecture everyone else to do the same.

    However the Europeans did not envisage that Russia would just supply them with energy. Rather they always supposed this energy would be extracted for them in Russia by Western energy companies. This after all is the pattern in most of the developing world. The EU calls this “energy security” – a euphemism for the extraction of energy in other countries by its own companies under its own control.” http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article40381.htm Should the fears become a reality I suspect there may be a very big crisis for the UN to address that will be measured in full numbers and not measly % of a point .

    • Hi Terry,

      I had considerable difficulty giving credence to the above article by Mercouris, as I found it to be somewhat convoluted – and he doesn’t appear to have provided any sources for his claims.

      Furthermore, if the U.K. Telegraph‘s Assistant News Editor, Murray Wardrop is to be believed, it seems that some time prior to March 16, 2012 “Barrister Alexander Mercouris falsely claimed Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, President of the Supreme Court, kidnapped and blackmailed him”.

      Sorry, but I don’t have enough knowledge of most of the members of the U.K. House of Lords to be able to say with any certainty whether or not this is the same Mercouris – nor whether Wardrop’s account is valid.

      Perhaps other U.K. readers can confirm and/or elaborate?!

      In the meantime, in light of the above – and in the absence of anything to confirm Mercouris’ claims – perhaps a few hefty grains of salt might be in order;-)

  2. The theory goes that all those people are in denial and need somebody else to make their decisions for them. They’re so scared of the enormity of climate change they’re burying their fears with petty concerns like a job, good health or a roof over their head.

  3. The fact that the most urgent issue facing humanity ranks at the bottom means that “the climate community has failed to get its message across”. There will appear some peer-reviewed articles early in the New Year that maintain that the only way to say the planet is by increased funding of the climate experts.

    • “the climate community has failed to get its message across”

      Indeed. Gone are the good old [pre-Climategate] days when they could hang their hats ‘n hopes on the “overwhelming [so-called scientific] consensus” as proclaimed by these legions of [so called] “experts”!

      Seems to me that this “overwhelming consensus” was a buzz-phrase that kept them at the top of the heap for quite a while. However, for the last 5 years, they’ve been desperately seeking a replacement buzz-phrase that will return them to their “Nobel Peace Prize” winning days of glory!

      The mileage of some may well vary, but I very much doubt that even “balancing climate action and sustainable development” – two utterly meaningless phrases that they have not even defined – are likely to cut the credibility mustard, so to speak!

  4. Hilary,
    Instead of reviewing the failed PR campaigns, should we not imagine what the PR campaign would be like if “climate science” had been successful? Some pointers.
    1. There would be much boasting about the short-run predictive successes. For instance warming accelerating after 1998 in line with accelerating carbon emissions. Or hurricanes getting worse after Katrina. Or Acceleration of polar ice melt or sea level rise.
    2. In Lima at the moment, countries would be persuaded to adopt emissions policies modeled on successful policies already in place .
    3. Climate models would have been refined, giving a much tighter range of scenarios.
    4. “Climatology” would be clearly defined, with quite separate subjects of policy analysis and policy implementation.
    5. There would a move to improve the quality of the data, and the development of procedures to remove bias.
    6. Where climate predictions had failed, or where there had been policy failures, there would be initiatives to learn from these, to reduce the frequency and magnitude of these errors.
    Certainly, if the climate change movement were able to point to some of these positive aspects it would be in a lot better shape than it is at present.

    • You make some excellent points (as always) manicbeancounter.

      It seems to me that – apart from mistakenly assuming that their academic credentials will shield them from any and all criticism – their biggest failure was their collective inability to grasp and acknowledge the virtual lifeline handed to them by, IMHO, the only** post-Climategate “report” deserving of consideration – i.e. that which the IPCC succeeded (for the most part, over a period of approximately two years of bafflegab) in ignoring: the 2010 report of the InterAcademy Council.

      ** A notable exception, IMHO, was the appendix to the Muir Russell writing team’s report by the Lancet’s Richard Horton.

    • That’s a very interesting and worthwhile thought experiment to make – as is often the case, it’s what we’re NOT seeing or hearing that tells us something.

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