UNEP’s trillion-dollar questions

It’s been somewhat challenging to keep up with the soporifics emanating from the various and sundry UN gatherings of the great and the good as part of the run-up to the annual December Dance of the Dynamos (aka the UN’s Conference of the Parties, in this instance COP21) being held this year in Paris.

As usual during the run-up to such COPs (and MOPs – Meeting of the Parties), there are many “great expectations” on the part of the Paris organizers, albeit perhaps not quite as great as those that were touted prior to the dismal Copenhagen carbonfest of 2009.

That particular United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) flop was held during the (more recent abruptly – but at long last – terminated) reign of the Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Rajendra K. Pachauri. This recently fallen “star” has succeeded in getting himself into a spot of hot legal water – perhaps presaged by his recently withdrawn 2010 pot-boiler “novel”, Return to Almora.

For some strange reason, the Western press has chosen not to follow Pachauri’s pirouettes and progress as he attempts – by various and sundry twists and turns** of the most unbelievable kind – to extricate himself from the hot-spot on which he’s landed. Donna Laframboise has documented many of his early exploits on this particular front. Furthermore, Pachauri’s porkies are not exactly a new-found medium for him.

** My thanks to DennisA who has kept me apprised of Pachauri’s latest and greatest antics and protestations, as reported by the (IMHO considerably less than informative) Indian press. These include a nine-day trip to the US, purportedly for the funeral of a relative. As well as further interrogations by the designated police representatives, evidently limited to two hours because of … wait for it … Pachauri’s “advanced age”!! Details, scant as they are, can be found here and here, while an account of Pachauri’s latest and greatest legal wriggles can be found here.

But I digress … I’m going to skip the confluence of “climate conferences” held in the past week or so. There was one in Toronto (featuring no less a luminary than Al Gore) and another one in Paris, as I had noted in my previous post. Let’s talk about the “trillions”, folks!

The UNEP’s head honcho is Achim Steiner. An empire builder, if ever there was one, whose greatest claim to fame (IMHO) is his facility in tossing up word-salads of the most inane kind! Believe me, I’ve listened to, watched and/or read (far too) many of his speeches and – on the word-salad front – he never disappoints. Steiner has two dressings for his word-salads: “doom and gloom” or off in la-la-land (and occasionally, he even succeeds in combining the two!)

Consider, for example, the following excerpts from his latest and greatest: Steiner’s July 16 994-word “case” for the need for trillions, published via one of the environmentalists’ best friends forever, the RTCC (all emphases are mine -hro):

The trillion-dollar question: How do we create sustainable development?

Making the financial system work for the world’s poor is about more than just sending more money, says Achim Steiner

Small-scale solar systems can be owned by households,  communities or businesses (Pic: Department for International Development/Flickr)

Small-scale solar systems can be owned by households, communities or businesses (Pic: Department for International Development/Flickr) -via RTCC

Our global and complex economy does many things well, but achieving equitable and sustainable outcomes, or in other words ‘sustainable development’, has not been one of its strengths.

From climate change to the need for inclusive, sustainable societies, the absence of even the smallest signals leads to investments that degrade the natural systems on which our economy vitally depends.

Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result holds little promise if we are to achieve the ‘future we want’. We simply cannot rely on ‘business-as-usual’ to build sustainable development.

We need, instead, a very much ‘business unusual’ approach to find and invest the estimated US$90 trillion required between now and 2030 for critical infrastructure in countries that are modernising their economies.

We will also need tens of trillions more annually to invest in people, and the millions of small and medium sized business that represent the world’s primary source of employment.

To reach this goal, we must bridge a very wide gap. The UN Commission for Trade and Development estimates the annual financing gap for developing countries is at least US $2.5 trillion

OMG! A “business unusual” approach?! How original and inspiring is that, eh?! It almost matches “the future we want”, doesn’t it?! Where do I send my money?! But back to the trillions … and the purported “case” as articulated by Steiner:

In a year such as 2015, when securing financing for sustainable development, including climate related actions, is such a critical theme and ambition, the innovation landscape identified by UNEP’s Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System and the practical policy solutions it has highlighted and is now codifying for broader use, shows clearly that the opportunity exists to go beyond identifying ‘additional resources’ for sustainable development, to evolving the contours of an international financial system fit for the needs of an inclusive, sustainable 21st century economy.

The Inquiry, in a word, is a new global initiative exploring what will potentially be one for the most important changes in our international economic landscape: the reshaping of the global financial system such that it plays a productive and scaled up role in financing sustainable development.

Don’t bother following that link, folks. My mouse and I tried it and, sad to say, it merely takes you to a generic page where one finds the:

official platform for [the UNEP’s] research content and knowledge products.

The repository gives open access to UNEP’s publications, technical and assessment reports, guidelines, newsletters, journal articles and other types of information material. The repository complies with interoperability standards and supports optimal content search.

It aims to improve access to and the visibility of UNEP’s body of published work among governments, scientists, NGOs, the private sector, students and the public.

By providing knowledge products online and in digital format, UNEP is delivering on its commitment to enhance access to environmental information and knowledge for a sustainable future.

So I plugged in the title of this “innovation landscape”, and got zip, nada, zilch in return. But did you happen to notice in the above excerpt from Steiner’s word-salad:

In a year such as 2015, when securing financing for sustainable development, including climate related actions, […]

Notice how “climate change” – far from being the “greatest threat to the future of the planet”™ – has been virtually subsumed by the amorphous and all-encompassing “sustainable development”.

And the poor little oh-so-dedicated climateers – some of whom claim to be victims of (I kid you not!) “pre-traumatic stress disorder” – are all in tears as Australia’s Tony Thomas recently reported.

See what you’ve done, now, Steiner with your undocumented claims and word-salads?! You could have given these poor little lambs an inspiring message of hope and change. Instead you may well have increased the ranks of dopes on a rope – not the least of whom is Michael <how dare you question my hockey-stick> Mann!

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