It has been a bad start to the new year for those who are concerned that action needs to be taken now to forestall the impact of climate change in the future. The `warmists`` – those who are convinced that the science of “closed”, that the action plan has to be massive reductions in CO2 emissions globally coupled with a strong push for green energy - are in retreat.
First, Climategate –the affair of the leaked emails from the University of East Anglia – refuses to die down. The emails are being used in a law suit against the Environmental Protection Agency to try and prevent it from enacting regulations to control CO2 emissions. As more and more people work through the emails, more and more issues are brought to the surface. Al Gore’s protestations about them as being “irrelevant to the real issue” is no longer heard, as many now see other issues with the data and the quality of the science.
Second, the implications of the debacle at Copenhagen rumble on. The UN is sidelined in follow-up discussions as the US, China and India seek to cut a deal before the G20 meeting in Canada this coming summer, ignoring the position taken by the EU and the UN as well as the developing world. The “major polluters” want control of their fate. This is not what others had in mind.
Third, the US is backing off commitments made at Copenhagen to work to find $100 billion to support developing world’s climate change adjustment. Secretary of State Clinton is suggesting that little of this $100 billion will be ``new` money and the developing nations are crying `foul``.
Fourth, the Chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been accused of a major conflict of interest with his business dealings in green technology companies benefiting from the position the UN takes on climate change and the need for clean energy. While Dr Rajendra Pachauri is not paid for his UN work (other than travelling expenses), he is increasingly using his position to advocate policies which directly benefit companies he is a director of. The IPCC summarises the science of climate change, its impacts, and possible countermeasures. It enables politicians to make informed decisions. The IPCC is not permitted to recommend any course of action. Dr Pachauri, a railyway engineer, denies the conflict but the evidence is mounting that it is real. The fact that Al Gore, Chairman of an investment company that directly benefits from climate change, gets away with similar duplicity does not make the conflict of interest any less serious.
Fifth, and its only early in the new year, the UN IPCC is backtracking on a major claim. In its fourth assessment released in 2007, the IPCC claimed that the Himalayas could be ice-free by 2035 due to global warming. This has been used by many as an example of why action is needed urgently, as has the `sinking of the Maldives`. The ice free by 2035 claim is not supported, in turns out, by any peer reviewed science and most scientists who have studied the glaciers in the region completely disassociate themselves from this claim. Yet the IPCC defends it.
The claim is based on a comment made in a newspaper. Yet whenever the IPCC is under attack, the defence is always that everything it reports is based on peer reviewed science. Clearly not the case. It is the case, however, that author of this comment is a colleague of Dr Pachauri and they have together sought to raise significant funding on the basis of this claim.
Yesterday, however, Dr Pachauri began to distance himself from his own past statements. In an email to Reuters he said "We are looking into the issue of the Himalayan glaciers, and will take a position on it in the next two or three days." `This follows the release of a major study by the Indian Government suggesting that they could find no link between global warming, CO2 emissions and the state of the glaciers in the Himalayas. A messy situations – one that connects the conflict of interest issues with the quality of science issues raised by Climategate.
Finally, in President Obama’s agenda in the period between now and the mid-term elections in November, climate change and energy security (these two policies are inextricably linked) is being pushed further away from the floor of the Senate. While the Environmental Protection Agency is pushing ahead with its regulation of CO2, the cap and trade legislation and other components of the climate change bill are so far from everyone’s mind as to be almost forgotten. The debacle at Copenhagen was a taste of what is to come in the Senate.
This time last year, the `warmist` were riding here, predicting great success at Copenhagen and refusing to debate the `science``, which they claimed was settled. It clearly is not and now there is a vacuum in terms of policy and action plans. Many campaigners believe that progress is being made, but the evidence to support this view is hard to find. It will be interesting to watch what happens next in the global fight against climate change.