A tale told by an idiot.

Ban Ki-moon (UN Secretary General) said that yesterday’s climate change summit was a success.
Obama said that the US (under his presidency) has done more than any other country about climate change.

My words fly up, my thoughts remain below:
Words without thoughts never to heaven go.

Hamlet III.3

Out on thee! ſeeming! I will write againſt it:

Much Ado IV.1

On Monday ~300,000 people marched in New York (and tens of thousands in other cities) protesting climate change. On Tuesday the UN held a day-long summit. This was billed as the “Last Chance” to prepare for the Paris COP 21 conference in December 2015 which is the “Last Chance” for the UN process to do any good. (I’m not sure why we are ignoring COP 20 in Lima this year).

Of course, there have been plenty of “Last Chance”s in the past, and presumably there will be plenty more in the future. No one is willing or able to commit to the needed changes.

The hope was that world leaders would come to Tuesday’s conference and make all sorts promises about reducing emissions and giving money to the poor countries who will (probably) suffer the most from climate change (like being entirely drowned as the sea level rises) but have been the least responsible.

Nothing of the sort happened. No one made any new emissions pledges. The US refused to give any money to the poor, and only a few European countries and Mexico actually did so. Nothing that was desired was achieved.

The Green Climate Fund was conceived at Copenhagen as a way of transferring money from the rich to the poor. It is supposed to have $100bn/year after 2020. Currently it has ~$2.3bn total. That’s not per year, that’s ever. It is laughable.

On the other hand they did come up with a new policy on reforestation. Um. I thought they did that at Copenhagen 5 years ago? And this new policy was established without consulting Brazil — the country with the biggest chunk of rainforest?

Maybe they need a new forest policy because REDD (the last one) didn’t work? Is there any reason to believe that this one will be any better?

One of the other few “major” commitments of the summit was to put a price on carbon. Of course the US did not agree. Nor did one of the countries soon to be underwater.

In spite of this Obama had the gall to make a speech claiming the US under his presidency had done more than any other nation on climate change, and then he volunteered to “lead the international community”. This from the man partly responsible for the disaster at Copenhagen, who has done practically nothing at home about climate change, and who made no commitments yesterday.

He led his regiment from behind
(He found it less exciting).

The Gondoliers, W.S. Gilbert

Personally I think there is a high chance that any policies Obama has promulgated will be rolled back in two years if the Republicans win the presidency. And really what has he done? All I can think of is that after 5+ years he has got the EPA to make proposals for limiting emissions from power plants. Important, yes, but only one small aspect of the problem is addressed. The US has decreased its CO2 emissions in recent years, but that has only been because natural gas has become cheap. But peak natural gas will probably happen next year. I expect the decline will slow and turn to an increase again soon…*

This is the graph which matters more than any words we heard yesterday:

The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere continues to increase, and the rate of increase is accelerating. Nothing we have tried in the last 20+ years has changed that basic fact. Nothing said yesterday will change that.

We continue to betray ourselves.

Pogo: We have met the enemy and he is us.


* Well, I did not expect my prediction to be borne out so soon, but a month after I wrote this the EIA announced that US emissions rose in 2013 at the steepest rate ever recorded. So even with cheap natural gas we aren’t doing well.

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2 Responses to “A tale told by an idiot.”

  1. Adger Says:

    And you didn’t even talk about methane… I did more than a double-take when I heard the Obama claim. What on earth is he thinking? Is he oblivious to German solar power, to pick one random example?

    • georgeruns Says:

      That is a immediate thought. It is possible that if you look at the total fall in emissions for any one country over the last 5~6 years then maybe the US has lost more than any other nation. (Ignoring per capita, or percentage) Let’s see… between 2008 and 2012 inclusive the US dropped its power plant emissions by ~550 million metric tons of CO2, but I can’t find comparable data for Germany, probably because Germans had already reduced emissions from power plants. The world bank data set suggests both countries’ emissions have increased…

      It’s hard to find good data, and I’ve got to run now…

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