Durban climate agreement threatens to unravel

Figueres does her "Humph" face

From the fantasy world of the ABC’s balanced reporting to the fantasy world of climate talk-fests, as the chances of globally agreed action on climate change have slipped further into the mire, with even the flimsy Durban deal looking shakier still:

CHINA has accused Australia of working to undermine negotiations for a new international agreement to cut global carbon dioxide emissions.

A new war of words between developed and developing countries over who should be responsible for cutting carbon dioxide emissions has threatened to derail talks on the so-called Durban platform being held in Bonn in Germany.

The dispute means high hopes for talks on a new, legally binding agreement that includes the US, China and India, agreed to in Durban, have descended into infighting between developed and developing countries at the first hurdle.

The Bonn talks were scheduled to appoint key officials and agree on procedures to negotiate a new agreement by 2015, to take effect by 2020.

Institute of Public Affairs spokesman Tim Wilson said: “A bad outcome at Bonn will have a huge impact on the attitudes and enthusiasm for an outcome later in the year and beyond.

“It seems clear that in Durban everyone agreed that something needed to be done but the hard point was the detail and there has been no resolution of the detail.

“If this is the outcome at Bonn it bodes very poorly for any substantive outcome at Qatar later this year for the detail of a second Kyoto commitment period which will cascade into problems for the Durban platform and a post-Kyoto agreement as well.” (source)

Even the Guardian cannot spin the failure.

India: "no binding commitment to reduce emissions"

Emissions to continue rising

Acres of newsprint have been wasted over the past week trying to convince everybody that Durban really did achieve something, namely that for the first time, China, India and the US have agreed to binding emissions cuts by 2020.

Despite the fact that Australia will have a carbon price for many years before the rest of the world, Julia and Greg have spun this to somehow justify Australia’s unilateral actions.

Graham Lloyd in The Australian falls for the line, in a piece yesterday:

The significance of setting a timeframe for a legal agreement that covers both developed and developing nations – with talks to conclude by 2015 and an agreement to take effect from 2020 – should not be understated. For the first time, large emerging economic powers such as China, India and Brazil agreed to legal constraints on their emissions.

“That would have been unthinkable” at the previous two big UN conferences in 2007 and 2009, says Anthony Hobley, head of climate change at London-based legal firm Norton Rose. “It’s a recognition of the reality of the shifts in global power.” (source – paywall)

But that’s not how India views the deal post-Durban:

Days after the Durban Climate Summit, Government today insisted that India has agreed to no legally-binding commitments to reduce its emissions in absolute terms in 2020. 

Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan told Parliament that India has already announced a domestic mitigation goal of reducing the emissions intensity of its output by 20-25 per cent by 2020 in comparison with 2005 level. 

“This goal is relative in nature and allows India’s emissions to grow as the economy grows,” she said in identical suo motu statements in both Houses. 

She insisted that the decision of the Durban meet “does not imply that India has to take binding commitments to reduce its emissions in absolute terms in 2020.” (source)

The reality is, that whilst they may have vaguely committed to reducing emissions intensity (per unit GDP), they have made no commitment whatsoever with regard to absolute emissions, which will continue to rise. Similarly, China is building dozens of new coal-fired power stations every year, and there is no way on earth that China will bind themselves to reduce emissions, except (perhaps) in terms of intensity.

Which means, in short… emissions will continue to rise. Which means, in short, there will be no effect on the climate (assuming a climate sensitive to CO2 as the alarmists contend), which most of us were under the impression was the main aim.

So far from being a bold agreement to “save the planet”, Durban is a watered-down compromise which will see emissions continue to rise for the foreseeable future, and which will ensure that Australia’s tiny 5% cut by 2020 will be well and truly lost in the noise.

Australia’s unilateral action is pointless and damaging, will send our industries offshore and, thanks to rapidly spiralling energy costs, will consign many to poverty. And by the way, it won’t save the planet either.

Aussie carbon tax "a trip to the moral high ground" – Guardian

Totally screwed. Thanks, Labor.

When even the Guardian thinks that you’ve screwed up, you know you’ve REALLY screwed up. Julia, Greg, Kevin, Penny and all you other Labor no-hopers and no-brainers, read this editorial, bemoaning the fact that Durban achieved essentially nothing:

Bold unilateral moves like the Australian carbon tax, due to take effect from July next year, now look like a trip to the moral high ground at the expense of international competitiveness. 

Gee, who’d a thunk it? Answer: anyone on planet Earth with a couple of functioning brain cells (which excludes most of the ALP). Even bivalve molluscs washing up on Bondi beach have more intelligence than the average Labor MP and could have worked this out.

Let us all take a moment to despair at the depths to which our great country has sunk. Time to get angry.

Read it here (and weep).

Lomborg: emissions cuts are futile

© Scientific American

Climate sense

I agree with much of what Bjørn Lomborg writes, even though we might disagree on the magnitude of the problem we face. I also agree that investment in research into alternative energy sources, so that they might become genuinely competitive in the market, is far preferable to punishing energy use through carbon dioxide taxes – the carrot as opposed to the stick approach.

In the Wall Street Journal, he states the painfully obvious fact that, like Kyoto before it, any global deal to cut carbon dioxide emissions will have an almost imperceptible effect on the climate, and that a simple cost/benefit analysis would always favour adaptation over mitigation.

The Durban pit-stop in the endless array of climate summits has just ended, and predictably it reaffirmed the United Nations’ strong belief that the most important response to global warming is to secure a strong deal to cut carbon emissions.

What is almost universally ignored, however, is that if we want to help real people overcome real problems we need to focus first on adaptation.

The Durban agreement is being hailed as a diplomatic victory. Yet it essentially concedes defeat, leaving any hard decisions to the far end of the decade when other politicians will have to deal with it. For nearly 20 years, the international community has tried to negotiate commitments to carbon cuts, with almost nothing to show for it.

Even most rich countries don’t want to cut fossil fuels, because the alternatives are considerably more expensive. China, India and other emerging economies certainly do not want to, because putting the brakes on growth means consigning millions to poverty.

But even if such intractable issues could be magically resolved, any deal would have a negligible impact on climate. Even if we were to cut emissions by 50% below 1990-levels by 2050—an extremely unrealistic scenario— the difference in temperature would be less than 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit in 2050.(source)

(h/t Hockey Schtick)

Durban: Phew, planet saved. What's next?

Durban nightmare

Only in the fantasy world of UN climate negotiations could anyone seriously believe that agreeing a piece of paper that shifts money around will “save the planet”. OK, perhaps in the fantasy world of journalism as well.

At 3 in the morning, a few exhausted and desperate delegates hammer out a “deal” which, when examined carefully, appears to be little more than an agreement to agree in the future (which is legally unenforceable), containing more loopholes than a battered old cardigan

As predicted yesterday, the moonbat media (Sydney Morning Herald, UK Telegraph etc) are crowing about this “historic” deal:

The world is on track for a comprehensive global treaty on climate change for the first time after agreement was reached at talks in Durban in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Negotiators agreed to start work on a new climate deal that would have legal force and, crucially, require both developed and developing countries to cut their carbon emissions. The terms now need to be agreed by 2015 and come into effect from 2020. (Guardian)

A new deal to “save the planet” will force the world’s three biggest emitters the US, China and India to cut carbon emissions for the first time, although scientists fear it will come too late to stop global warming. (Telegraph)

THE world’s heaviest greenhouse gas emitters, including China and the US, have forged a plan to unite all major nations under a legally binding pact to slow climate change.

The last-ditch deal, reached yesterday at the end of the United Nations climate conference in South Africa, is the first time developing nations such as China and India have agreed to work towards emissions reduction targets that have ”legal force”.

Australia’s Climate Change Minister, Greg Combet, called the agreement ”a significant breakthrough in tackling global warming”. (Sydney Morning Herald)

The excitement is clearly too much, as, in a throwback to an earlier era, both the Telegraph and Greg Combet oddly refer to the issue as “global warming” again – a full two revisions back from the phrase du jour, “climate disruption”. How last decade.

Notice how nothing is binding, just that the world is “on track”, or “forging a plan”, or “working towards” something which we will put off until later because it’s too hard right now. I wonder what will change to make it so much easier in 2015? A few years of global cooling or another few thousand Climategate emails would make it interesting…

Naturally this is the kind of vague wording that keeps everyone happy. The developing countries and the rent seekers (stand up, Maldives: “Our islands are sinking!! But we’re building multiple new airports for all the tourists anyway…”) believe they have a deal, and China, India and the US know full well it’s worth less than the paper it’s written on. An awful lot can change in the world before 2015, and even more before 2020.

Once again, and as always with the UN, it’s more about the appearance of progress than something tangible – and an excuse for more taxpayer funded jollies to luxury resort destinations in future years. Which is clearly good for those of us that believe that any global treaty on climate change will do precisely nothing, exactly like Kyoto has done precisely nothing.

Chris Horner, writing at Watts Up With That, summarises:

The annual “historic agreement” to meet again later — wait, sorry, that’s “to save the planet” — has been agreed, to the also-annual teary-eyed hugging and standing ovations by EU delegates, at “COP-17”, the negotiations to replace the expiring (after 2012) Kyoto Protocol.

On its face, the summary is that the rest of the world agreed to let Europe continue binding itself until some later date. Yesterday, ClimateWire reported that a fund was established to administer the fund agreed in Copenhagen two years ago. Oh.

AP tells us that “a separate document obliges major developing nations like China and India, excluded under Kyoto, to accept legally binding emissions targets in the future”, meaning in a separate document China et al bound themselves to bind themselves later. [So….uh, they bound themselves for later? No. They bound themselves to bind themselves later. THIRD BASE!]

Oddly, no one seems too proud of this latest “breakthrough”, described as countries binding themselves to bind themselves later. The UN isn’t providing what the Telegraph tells us is a whopping two-page text. Takes awhile, you see.

The State Department doesn’t seem too keen on trumpeting their latest “historic agreement”, either, but the home page’s Daily Press Briefing does offer “New Photovoltaic Project Inaugurated At U.S. Embassy in Athens” and “Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves Receives South-South Cooperation Award for Partnership”.

So whatever it was it was less historic than these advances. Or no one wants to draw too much attention.

As Chris mentions, the document isn’t available on the UN website yet, so we don’t know exactly what it says, but (again thanks to WUWT), it looks even less of a breakthrough than we thought, as Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace International Executive Director, explains:

“The grim news is that the blockers lead by the US have succeeded in inserting a vital get-out clause that could easily prevent the next big climate deal being legally binding. If that loophole is exploited it could be a disaster. And the deal is due to be implemented ‘from 2020′ leaving almost no room for increasing the depth of carbon cuts in this decade when scientists say we need emissions to peak.”

Phew, planet saved, then. From climate lunacy, that is.

Durban Tweet of the Day

Twitter was brilliant for watching the chaos unfold live, I have to say. Tweetdeck with live updating was actually quite riveting. Almost like watching a soccer match: “Noooo – UN have scored with agreement between EU and India, Yesss – failure back on the cards as Russia pulls the plug…” All it needed was the live commentary from John Motson, yes indeed.

Anyway, you can bet that tomorrow the moonbat media will be hailing the wonderful new UN agreement that will “save the planet” (translation: syphon trillions of dollars from developed to developing countries and do nothing for the climate) or perhaps not, but at least one Twitterer captured the reality:

The reality of the Durban agreement

So when everyone wakes up tomorrow morning with hangovers and bad breath, they will for the first time face the grim realisation of what exactly they have agreed to… How long do you reckon it will last?

Durban descends to a playground huddle

Rather like school children exchanging trinkets, the talks at Durban descend into a huddle of negotiators, desperate to reach some agreement:

Swapping sweeties in the playground

Except it isn’t sweeties, it’s billions of dollars which will be flushed down the proverbial in a futile attempt to control the climate. Ludicrous.

Shambolic Durban limps into extra day

Durban nightmare

As usual, the delegates at the latest pointless climate gab-fest in Durban are desperate to confect a silk purse out of a tugboat-load of sow’s ears. Drama ensued when a new set of documents had to be drawn up at the 11th hour as a rebellion of developing states threatened the entire proceedings.

So, as seems to be the normal routine, the talks will limp feebly on into the weekend in a frantic push to deliver a meaningless piece of paper which will claim to be able to control the climate by taxing everyone more.

The Guardian (UK) is running live updates here (if you can stand it).

UPDATE: Here’s the opening of the new “document” (which barely struggles onto a second page):

“Recognizing that climate change represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet and thus requires to be urgently addressed by all parties…”


"Rights of Mother Earth": barking madness from Durban

Durban nightmare

This is what you get if you fill a room full of extreme greens – total nonsense. It would be funny if it weren’t so dangerous. Here are some of the key points from a draft (or should that be plain “daft”) document from Durban, and a glimpse at the kind of world we may inhabit if the lunatics ever get to run the asylum:

  • A new International Climate Court will have the power to compel Western nations to pay ever-larger sums to third-world countries in the name of making reparation for supposed “climate debt”. The Court will have no power over third-world countries. Here and throughout the draft, the West is the sole target. “The process” is now irredeemably anti-Western.
  • “Rights of Mother Earth”: The draft, which seems to have been written by feeble-minded green activists and environmental extremists, talks of “The recognition and defence of the rights of Mother Earth to ensure harmony between humanity and nature”. Also, “there will be no commodification [whatever that may be: it is not in the dictionary and does not deserve to be] of the functions of nature, therefore no carbon market will be developed with that purpose”.
  • “Right to survive”: The draft childishly asserts that “The rights of some Parties to survive are threatened by the adverse impacts of climate change, including sea level rise.” At 2 inches per century, according to eight years’ data from the Envisat satellite? Oh, come off it! The Jason 2 satellite, the new kid on the block, shows that sea-level has actually dropped over the past three years.
  • War and the maintenance of defence forces and equipment are to cease – just like that – because they contribute to climate change. There are other reasons why war ought to cease, but the draft does not mention them.
  • A new global temperature target will aim, Canute-like, to limit “global warming” to as little as 1 C° above pre-industrial levels. Since temperature is already 3 C° above those levels, what is in effect being proposed is a 2 C° cut in today’s temperatures. This would take us halfway back towards the last Ice Age, and would kill hundreds of millions. Colder is far more dangerous than warmer.
  • The new CO2 emissions target, for Western countries only, will be a reduction of up to 50% in emissions over the next eight years and of “more than 100%” [these words actually appear in the text] by 2050. So, no motor cars, no coal-fired or gas-fired power stations, no aircraft, no trains. Back to the Stone Age, but without even the right to light a carbon-emitting fire in your caves. Windmills, solar panels and other “renewables” are the only alternatives suggested in the draft. There is no mention of the immediate and rapid expansion of nuclear power worldwide to prevent near-total economic destruction.
  • The new CO2 concentration target could be as low as 300 ppmv CO2 equivalent (i.e., including all other greenhouse gases as well as CO2 itself). That is a cut of almost half compared with the 560 ppmv CO2 equivalent today. It implies just 210 ppmv of CO2 itself, with 90 ppmv CO2 equivalent from other greenhouse gases. But at 210 ppmv, plants and trees begin to die. CO2 is plant food. They need a lot more of it than 210 ppmv.
  • The peak-greenhouse-gas target year – for the West only – will be this year. We will be obliged to cut our emissions from now on, regardless of the effect on our economies (and the lack of effect on the climate).
  • The West will pay for everything, because of its “historical responsibility” for causing “global warming”. Third-world countries will not be obliged to pay anything. But it is the UN, not the third-world countries, that will get the money from the West, taking nearly all of it for itself as usual. There is no provision anywhere in the draft for the UN to publish accounts of how it has spent the $100 billion a year the draft demands that the West should stump up from now on.

You just can’t make this stuff up, unless you’re in a hermetically sealed eco-bubble disconnected from reality, just like Durban in fact.

Read it all.

And whilst you’re over at Climate Depot, read the “A-Z Climate Reality Check” (65 page PDF).

Durban alarmism: permafrost – again

It's all over, pal

Funny, isn’t it, that when a stack of emails is released just before a climate conference, revealing climate scientists behaving badly, it’s regarded as malicious, whereas those very same climate scientists are perfectly happy to release alarmist research in an attempt to bolster that very same climate conference. Oops, I forgot for a minute – this is the mainstream media, where double standards are simply par for the course.

Today’s dose of alarmism, courtesy of the Sydney Morning Herald (currently battling it out with the ABC for top spot in the climate hysteria stakes):

The threat to climate change posed by thawing permafrost, which could release stocks of stored carbon, is greater than estimated, a group of scientists say.

By 2100, the amount of carbon released by permafrost loss could be “1.7-5.2 times larger than those reported”, depending on how swiftly Earth’s surface warms, they said.

In volume terms, this is about the same as the amount of greenhouse gases released today from deforestation, they say.

But the impact on climate could be 2.5 times greater, as much of the gas will be methane, which is 25 times more efficient at trapping solar heat than carbon dioxide (CO2), they say.

Deforestation today accounts for up to 20 per cent of total greenhouse-gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

The study, published in the British journal Nature, coincides with a 12-day UN conference on climate change, unfolding in Durban, South Africa.

It touches on one of the biggest sources of concern, but also a major area of uncertainty, in climate science.

Permanently iced land covers around a quarter of the land in the northern hemisphere.

In essence, it is a carbon store, holding in icy stasis the organic remains of plants and animals that died millions of years ago.

The worry is that as temperatures rise, the soils defrost, microbes decompose the ancient carbon and release methane and CO2 to the atmosphere. (source)

This is obviously a dumb question, but why didn’t this happen in any of the recent phases of the climate that were warmer than today? And if it did, well, we’re still here aren’t we? That’s the obvious logical flaw in all of these tipping point arguments – if the planet is balanced so precariously on a knife edge, fearful of even the tiniest nudge, how come the climate system hasn’t toppled over and spiralled towards either permanent snowball or permanent hot-house in the last few million years, from which recovery was impossible? Answers on a postcard (from Durban).

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