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.

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