The Vortex of Chaos

Image Credit : Dr Martin Rodger, Take Global Warming Seriously

We are at the very cusp of the edge of the verge of a swirling vortex of Climate Chaos, and all the United States of America can think about is protecting their business interests at the Cancun United Nations talks.

Yes, there can be “technology transfer” from the US to “emerging economies” (read : China), but “intellectual property rights”, as owned by private companies, must be protected.

Yes, there can be “Climate finance” from the USA to the Least Developed Countries (read : Long Dirt-poor Colonies), but the banks need to get their pound of flesh profit, so the money will be in the form of loans.

Yes, there can be “Reduced Deforestation” (what ? Not “totally reduced deforestation” ?), as long as American firms can still import a certain amount of tropical and sub-tropical wood for making toilet paper and construction beams.

Yes, there can be commitments to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions, but the paranoid Americanos want to enforce satellite verification and inspection teams for monitoring – yet more business opportunities.

China (and Russian and India and Brazil) are never going to agree all this. This is V. O. C. territory – on the Verge of Chaos.

From an exchange on the MediaLens Message Board :-

“Cancun Climate Talks : Get a grip or we are all V. O. C. K. D…You know – as in D. I. S. C. O.”

“Really, we are all seriously V. O. C. K. D. unless somehow the world’s energy companies are convinced to stop mining”

http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/06/climate-change-igniting-deep-peatland-fires-study-says/

“Climate Change Igniting Deep Peatland Fires, Study Says…Climate change is causing Alaskan wildfires to burn more fiercely, liberating vast stores of soil-based carbon dioxide that will further accelerate warming, a new study has found…“There is no way these systems are serving as a net carbon sink anymore”…”

“Personally, I blame the Americans. Well, there’s got to be *someone* to blame, hasn’t there ?”

To which there was this telling reply :-

“Why do people continue to believe international talks intended to develop meaningful treaties are the appropriate response to climate change?”

And so we tip into the grip of Vortex of Utter Chaos…

http://members5.boardhost.com/medialens/thread/1291727322.html

Holy Mother Market !

Video Credit : Democracy Now

Of all the macroeconomic proposals put forward over the last two decades for consideration by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the most ridiculous has to be Carbon Trading.

To imagine that a market can be created for something that the industrialised country economies are highly dependent on is an hallucination.

Carbon Dioxide emissions are in lock-step with economic growth, the creation of liquidity, if not wealth. To try to price Carbon Dioxide emissions would be to attempt to give a negative value to a positive commodity. It just won’t work. Nobody will want to buy it. And if they’re forced to buy it, they won’t want to pay much for it. And nobody can think of a way to force the developed countries to pay for their Carbon Dioxide emissions.

Even before the “serious” negotiating week of Cancun begins, the Kyoto Protocol has been pronounced dead on arrival :-

http://www.democracynow.org/2010/12/6/climate_talks_in_jeopardy_as_industrialized

Nobody ever said the “KP” was perfect – it only committed countries to a very small level of emissions cuts. Some commitment ! Few of the countries in the KP have taken their responsibilities to cut emissions seriously. And if they have, they’ve just outsourced them to China.

But the Son-of-Kyoto Post-Kyoto Protocol Protocol could have been something, you know, if the industrialised countries admitted they needed to back down significantly from rising and large emissions profiles – if developed nations had not tried to lean on the “flexible mechanisms” that effectively legalised offsetting their emissions with emissions reductions in other peoples’ countries.

But, no.

It appears from Wikileaks that the United States of America have been scuppering the United Nations’s best efforts :-

http://www.democracynow.org/2010/12/6/bolivian_un_ambassador_pablo_solon_reacts

“Secret diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks have revealed new details about how the United States manipulated last year’s climate talks in Copenhagen. The cables show how the United States sought dirt on nations opposed to its approach to tackling global warming, how financial and other aid was used by countries to gain political backing, and how the United States mounted a secret global diplomatic offensive to overwhelm opposition to the “Copenhagen Accord.””

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/dec/03/wikileaks-us-manipulated-climate-accord
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/dec/03/us-basics-copenhagen-accord-tactics

It wasn’t China’s fault, (or only China’s fault) as Mark Lynas and many other commentators have asserted :-

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/22/copenhagen-climate-change-mark-lynas

If, as reports state, the United States are continuing to use any leverage they can to push countries to accept the doomed Copenhagen Accord, there can be no progress on Climate Change.

We may have just found the real Climategate.

You cannot buy or sell the atmosphere.

There is only one solution – that is to displace High Carbon Energy with Low Carbon Energy and that means goodbye to Tar Sands, Shale Oil, Tight Gas, deepwater Petroleum, dirty Petroleum, Coal, Coal-to-Liquids, anything that you can dig out of the ground and burn.

We have to stop mining for energy.

And that has serious implications for a number of international energy corporations and state energy enterprises.

Unless this basic issue is addressed, we are all heading for hell and high water.

The Climate Change talks have been window dressing for unworkable hypothetical macroeconomic policies, and continue to reduce chair people to tears :-

Cancun Day #2 : American Bullies

Image Credit : TF1

It’s not that developing countries and emerging economies are being picky. The problem lies with the United States of America, desperate to cling on to its geopolitical leverage :-

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUS273211516320101129

“U.S. Call to Preserve Copenhagen Accord Puts Climate Conference on Edge : By Stacy Feldman at SolveClimate : Mon Nov 29, 2010 : Many poor countries want to scrap the three-page Copenhagen agreement that the U.S. wants to preserve : CANCUN, MEXICO — The United States said Monday it would not back down on its plan to turn the unpopular Copenhagen Accord into a final global warming deal, setting the first day of already fragile UN climate talks in Cancun on edge. “What we’re seeking here in Cancun is a balanced package of decisions that would build on this agreement … [and] preserve the balance of the accord,” Jonathan Pershing, lead U.S. climate negotiator in Cancun, told reporters at the talks…”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/nov/30/cancun-climate-change-summit-america

“Cancún climate change summit: America plays tough : US adopts all-or-nothing position in Cancún, fuelling speculation of a walk-out if developing countries do not meet its demands : Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent, guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 30 November 2010 : America has adopted a tough all-or-nothing position at the Cancún climate change summit, fuelling speculation of a walk-out if developing countries do not meet its demands. At the opening of the talks at Cancún, the US climate negotiator, Jonathan Pershing, made clear America wanted a “balanced package” from the summit. That’s diplomatic speak for a deal that would couple the core issues for the developing world – agreement on climate finance, technology, deforestation – with US demands for emissions actions from emerging economies and a verifiable system of accounting for those cuts. In a briefing with foreign journalists in Washington, the chief climate envoy, Todd Stern, was blunt. “We’re either going to see progress across the range of issues or we’re not going to see much progress,” said Stern. “We’re not going to race forward on three issues and take a first step on other important ones. We’re going to have to get them all moving at a similar pace.” In the run-up to the Cancún talks, Stern has said repeatedly that America will not budge from its insistence that fast-emerging economies such as India and China commit to reducing emissions and to an inspection process that will verify those actions. The hard line – which some in Washington have seen as ritual diplomatic posturing – has fuelled speculation that the Obama administration could be prepared to walk out of the Cancún talks…”

An “inspection process” ? Agreeing to the same use of satellite snooping and the threat of the penalties of economic sanctions as applied to the fabled Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and the current pincer on Iran ?

I can’t quite see China agreeing to that.

If we’re thinking about paranoia, who should be monitoring whom ?

The Clean Development Mechanism should have been more closely monitored, but it wasn’t, and it’s collapsed in a big pile – fake credits, false accreditation, poor success rate. Where has the verification process been, there ?

New schemes for “climate finance” will essentially involve creating debt for Climate Change mitigation and adaptation projects in developing and emerging economies. Why more debt ? To prop up the ailing industrialised economies. And allow the Bank sharks to feed.

And “technology transfer” ? That’s all about intellectual property rights – America owning all the rights, and China and India and so on owning nothing, of course. What great technologies have parasitical American companies been keeping hidden away up their sleeves to sell to the Chinese under a Climate deal ? Or are they just rubbish deals, like expensive and untested Carbon Capture and Storage ?

“Deforestation” ? Virtually all proposed schemes under the REDD banner (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) include an element of emissions trading – just the kind of offsetting that large, dirty American companies want to buy to justify carrying on with Business As Usual. Protecting the rainforests ? Nah – just finding another way to make money for the Carbon Traders, and protect the Oil, Gas and Coal industries of the industrialised regions.

What is needed is for the industrialised nations to commit to domestic emissions reductions, not continued attempts to coerce other countries to make cuts that can be traded.

Nobody has learned anything in the last year. The same ridiculous non-options are on the table, and nobody’s biting.

Chin Up, George Monbiot !

George Monbiot looks back in regret at Copenhagen :-

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/sep/20/climate-change-negotiations-failure

“…The closer it comes, the worse it looks. The best outcome anyone now expects from December’s climate summit in Mexico is that some delegates might stay awake during the meetings. When talks fail once, as they did in Copenhagen, governments lose interest. They don’t want to be associated with failure, they don’t want to pour time and energy into a broken process. Nine years after the world trade negotiations moved to Mexico after failing in Qatar, they remain in diplomatic limbo. Nothing in the preparations for the climate talks suggests any other outcome…”

Copenhagen was never seriously going to deliver, and I don’t think most of the protesters on the streets in Copenhagen thought so. Activist demands, including from activist nations, were always going to be ignored, The solutions really didn’t come to the conference, and the problems really lay elsewhere.

But there’s no need to utterly despair, George !

Continue reading Chin Up, George Monbiot !

IPCC : Could Do Better ?

[ UPDATE FROM JOABBESS.COM : GOOD LINKS FOR MORE INFORMATION : http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/08/ipcc-report-card/ AND http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100831/full/467014a.html AND http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2010/09/01/ipcc-review-by-interacademy-council-iac/ AND http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs/2010/100830_IPCC.doc.htm AND THE SLIGHTLY NEGATIVE http://www.economist.com/node/16941153?story_id=16941153 ]

Entropy versus Order – the central battle of the Universe.

Also the struggle within the realm of Science, trying to make global sense out of a very disparate, creative spectrum of study on Climate Change.

Here, at the very hub, we find the bubble of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC – a wide variety of people with a wide variety of knowledge and viewpoints all trying to establish a common perspective.

The management of this enterprise has been under review, and thought to be found partially wanting :-

http://reviewipcc.interacademycouncil.net/ReportNewsRelease.html

“InterAcademy Council Report Recommends Fundamental Reform of IPCC Management Structure : UNITED NATIONS — The process used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to produce its periodic assessment reports has been successful overall, but IPCC needs to fundamentally reform its management structure and strengthen its procedures to handle ever larger and increasingly complex climate assessments as well as the more intense public scrutiny coming from a world grappling with how best to respond to climate change, says a new report from the InterAcademy Council (IAC), an Amsterdam-based organization of the world’s science academies. “Operating under the public microscope the way IPCC does requires strong leadership, the continued and enthusiastic participation of distinguished scientists, an ability to adapt, and a commitment to openness if the value of these assessments to society is to be maintained,” said Harold T. Shapiro, president emeritus and professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University in the United States and chair of the committee that wrote the report. Roseanne Diab, executive officer of the Academy of Science of South Africa and professor emeritus of environmental sciences and honorary senior research associate at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, served as vice chair of the committee, which included experts from several countries and a variety of disciplines…These assessment reports have gained IPCC much respect including a share of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. However, amid an increasingly intense public debate about the science of climate change and costs of curbing it, IPCC has come under closer scrutiny, and controversies have erupted over its perceived impartiality toward climate policy and the accuracy of its reports. This prompted U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and IPCC chair Rajendra K. Pachauri to issue a letter on March 10 this year requesting that the IAC review IPCC and recommend ways to strengthen the processes and procedures by which future assessments are prepared…”

http://reviewipcc.interacademycouncil.net/OpeningStatement.html

Continue reading IPCC : Could Do Better ?

Christiana Figueres : The Elusive Saucepan

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWsQscb6lfM

http://unfccc.int/files/press/news_room/application/pdf/100806_speaking_notes.pdf

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has just held its regular half yearly conference to further the working parties of the Kyoto Protocol :-

http://unfccc.int
http://unfccc.int/2860.php

A number of Press commentators have been critical of proceedings, indicating that there has not been much progress at Bonn, and in fact the conference could show some ground having been lost :-

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/c9213b40-a180-11df-9656-00144feabdc0.html

Continue reading Christiana Figueres : The Elusive Saucepan

Unpicking Kyoto (5)

Unpicking Kyoto
Jo Abbess
20 June 2010

PART 5

CONTINUED FROM : Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4

Linking Climate Change to other Environmental Problems

The Greenhouse Gas Carbon Dioxide (CO2) from humankind’s activities is accumulating very rapidly in the Atmosphere, and this is why the international Climate Change negotiations and Climate Change Science focus on it so heavily.

The warming response of the Earth’s surface correlates strongly with the rise in Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere, so Global Warming can be treated almost entirely as the Earth system’s reaction to rising levels of this one gas.

Other Greenhouse Gases, such as Methane (CH4) and high level water vapour (H2O), are increasing in line with the rise in Carbon Dioxide.

Logic and experiment dictates that they are doing this in response to the rise in Carbon Dioxide, so their rise is a feedback effect in the Earth system – a reaction to rising temperatures – caused by the warming due to increasing airborne Carbon Dioxide.

However, Carbon Dioxide is not the only Greenhouse Gas that humankind is pumping into the Atmosphere in excess of natural levels – a rather famous example being that growing numbers of livestock are belching Methane that is adding to the up-tick on concentrations of Methane in the Atmosphere.

There are still high levels of various gaseous industrial pollution, some of which is in the form of Greenhouse Gases.

In addition, Global Warming is not the only environmental problem, although it is exacerbating other environmental problems.

Climate Change is an added stressor on natural habitats that are being degraded by pollution, bad land management and deforestation.

It seems obvious to take a step back to the Rio Earth Summit of 1992 and mesh together once more the environmental threads of the United Nations conventions : on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Desertification.

Continue reading Unpicking Kyoto (5)

WBGU : Equity, Today : Agreement, Never

File under : “That’s never going to ever happen if the United States of America have anything at all to do with it”.

The illustrious German Advisory Council on Global Change, the WBGU, or “Wissenschaftliche Beirat der Bundesregierung Globale Umweltveraenderungen” in longhand, have done some excellent work on proposals for a global Carbon framework.

As part of their 2009 paper entitled in English “Solving the climate dilemma: The budget approach” they came to some useful conclusions, but also some startlingly unworkable recommendations :-

http://www.wbgu.de/wbgu_sn2009_en.pdf
http://www.wbgu.de/wbgu_sn2009_en.html

Continue reading WBGU : Equity, Today : Agreement, Never

So Solid Climate Policy

Really groovy global policy on Climate Change would be more clever and more accurate than assumptions on averages that were foundational to the hep cats who wrote the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Kyoto Protocol.

Why keep up the narrative that there are “developing” nations and “developed” nations ? Some formerly “developing” nations have emissions profiles quite like some “developed” nations today.

Also, why are we taking national averages ? There is stratification of society : the urban and merchant classes in many countries have a much higher Carbon Dioxide emissions count than the poorest in society, even if the countries are wealthy on average.

The wealthy are high emitters, no matter what region of the world they come from. Continue reading So Solid Climate Policy

The Major Hitters Forum

Much as, in principle, progress could be made in having an 80% majority push through commitments on Global Warming, as part of the United Nations Climate Change negotiations process, some commentators feel highly uneasy that important voices from the international community, based around the emerging Science, could be drowned out by these “big hitters” :-

http://cleanenergyministerial.org/

“July 19-20 2010 : The first-ever Clean Energy Ministerial will bring together ministers and stakeholders from more than 20 countries to collaborate on policies and programs that accelerate the world’s transition to clean energy technologies.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jul/22/un-bid-international-deal-climate-change

“UN in fresh bid to salvage international deal on climate change : Campaigners welcome plans to amend the way Kyoto protocol resolutions are passed : The Guardian, Thursday 22 July 2010…If the UN’s [United Nations] suggestions are adopted, decisions will be forced through if four-fifths of the protocol vote in favour, after all efforts to reach agreement by consensus have been exhausted. The amendments would come into force after six months…”It is surprising and a big, big deal that the UN is suggesting such considerable reforms as a change in the consensus rules,” said [Mark] Lynas…In a further attempt to galvanise the climate change body into motion, the UN also suggested that countries could be forced to opt out of any amendments, as opposed to the current arrangement whereby they must explicitly agree to any decisions tabled…The amendment, which will be presented in Bonn in August, reads: “An amendment would enter into force after a certain period has elapsed following its adoption, except for those parties that have notified the depositary that they cannot accept the amendment.”…But Lynas warned that any changes to the current consensus situation would cause “fury, angst and consternation”. It could, he said, exacerbate the deep mistrust between rich and poor countries that has already bedevilled the global climate talks.”… Continue reading The Major Hitters Forum

Unpicking Kyoto (3)

Unpicking Kyoto
Jo Abbess
20 June 2010

CONTINUED FROM PART 1 AND PART 2

PART 3

Linking Climate Change to Trade

America and China are both “Carbon Intensity” first-movers – competing to make commitments that their economic production has falling associated Carbon Dioxide Emissions. The United States, China and Canada all continue to claim that their commitments on Climate Change amount to reductions in “carbon intensity”, rather than actual reductions in levels of emissions. This is a piece of policy propaganda, as proposed by linguistic strategists. A reduced carbon intensity of production would still allow countries to follow a path of economic growth, and increase carbon emissions overall. What is clear is that lower carbon intensities is not enough.

Behavioural economists, who look at both individual behaviour and collective social responses, have concluded a number of useful facts about humankind and its uses of resources. A good summary of what we know is provided by John Gowdy, writing in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 68 in 2008, “Behavioral economics and climate change policy” :-

http://www.sciencedirect.com

Some of his policy “clues” point the way.

Continue reading Unpicking Kyoto (3)

Unpicking Kyoto (1)

Unpicking Kyoto
Jo Abbess
20 June 2010

PART 1

Introduction

The governments of the world are, by and large, well-informed about Climate Change by their trusted scientific advisers and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). However, there is a disconnect between this knowledge and concrete policy action. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has not been successful in achieving control of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions through the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. Plus, annual negotiations have not reached a form of an agreement to succeed Kyoto, as evidenced by the inconclusive round of talks in December 2009 in Copenhagen. Suggestions of a way forward include a radical re-think about the formulation of the Kyoto Protocol, and the connection of Climate Change to other global concerns.

Kyoto Isn’t Working

For a period during the late 1980s and early 1990s, the world economy appeared to reach a stable point, whereby Carbon Dioxide emissions per person (per capita) levelled off. Many of the world’s major economies were switching fuels – from coal to Natural Gas. And some heavily industrialised countries were going through revolutionary change, and reducing their Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions as a result of the ensuing loss of industrial output.

Continue reading Unpicking Kyoto (1)

Colin Challen to Chris Huhne

Ex-Members of Parliament and ex-Ministers of Government usually have a lot to say about Climate Change and Energy. Colin Challen, formerly MP for Morley and Rotherwell, is a prime case in point.

What the world needs now is a new world order – a global framework for carbon emissions control – and that framework is Contraction and Convergence. Colin Challen has written a powerful statement to Chris Huhne MP, the new Minister for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, and would like us all to co-sign it :-

http://www.gci.org.uk/politics.html

Naturally, I have already signed this letter, because I know that Contraction and Convergence has to be at the heart of future international negotiations on Climate Change :-

http://www.joabbess.com/2010/04/30/the-price-of-carbon/

I hope you can all co-sign the letter with me.

Climate Change : Robust Findings

Image Credit : SkepticalScience.com

It should come as no surprise that the United Nations (under UNFCCC) commissioned a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), way back in 2007.

The revelation is that very few people appear to have read any of it.

So I thought I would present just a little about the “robust findings” of Working Group 1 (WG1 or WGI) of the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4). I think the IPCC’s science needs a wider public readership, and so I hope that this post in some way enables that.

The unpacking of the Working Group 1 report “Climate Change 2007 : The Physical Science Basis” could begin by looking at the Technical Summary, or the overall AR4 Technical Summary, or the Synthesis Report, or their respective Summaries for Policymakers.

Continue reading Climate Change : Robust Findings