Monday, December 01, 2014

A Jamboree in Lima - Climate Change GabFest Number 20

They are at it again. Around 10,000 public servants, climate activists and hangers on are in Lima for the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP20) engaged in the UN’s doomed climate change agenda. The aim: to develop the draft of an agreement which will be signed off at COP21 in Paris next year.

There is a feeling among some that the game has changed. China and the US reached a climate change agreement in November which many are hailing as a “landmark” deal. In fact, it simply reiterates commitments previously made by both parties and changes nothing.

This agreement commits China to capping emissions in 2030 after it has deployed all of its planned coal fired power plants and when demographers predict China’s population growth will flatten or fall. The US promise is to cut emissions by 26% of 2005 levels by 2025 – long after Obama is gone from the Whitehouse and in a nation where Republican’s reject this deal. To cap it all (no pun intended), the deal between the US and China is not legally binding or enshrined in any treaty. It’s a political commitment – like closing Guantanamo or liberalizing Chinas film industry. Neither China or the US plans to tax carbon, but to take direct action – in China’s case, building nuclear power plants and in the US phasing out coal and replacing coal fired power plants with shale gas.

Aren’t we forgetting India in all of this? India’s population is set to outgrow that of China at some point around 2025. India is also seeking to move more and more of its population out of poverty and into the fast growing blue collar and middle class. To do so it needs economic growth of some 7-9% annually and to achieve this, it needs energy. Prime Minister Modi has made clear that he is no fan of emissions controls and carbon tax. Instead, he has reached agreements on nuclear power with the US and sees this as a renewable energy which will help reduce the reliance on fossil fuel power. India will pursue energy efficiency and seek to integrate renewables on the national energy grid.

The key challenge for COP20 is the lack of compelling data that demonstrate that the predictions made from the 70+ climate models are correct. While the talking-points emphasis has shifted from CO2 and warming to extreme weather events, even this is far fetched given the compelling scientific evidence that there is no established connection between such events and climate change (at least according the UN’s own scientific body, the IPCC). But we gave up on real science some time ago and started this COP process as a proxy for “serious” (sic) conversation.

There will be lots of hot air, with wind blowing in the sails of climate fearmongering and extreme scientific claims. But little else will be achieved. Remember COP15 in Copenhagen when we had “just days to save the planet”? Will this is largely the same group of people having the same conversation for no apparent reason. It needs to stop.

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