On this week’s show: The Bonn talkfest, Lindsey Graham’s flip-flop, Respect the EPA’s authority, Biodiversity at the UN, Lawyers don’t do science, and the skeptic debunk of the week.
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AS UN climate negotiators meet in Bonn, Germany, this week to pick up the pieces of last year’s failed climate talks in Copenhagen, outgoing UN climate chief Yvo de Boer has said that the chances of a deal this year were virtually nil. Speaking last week, he said the best that could be hoped for was a new international climate agreement in South Africa at the end of 2011.
Meanwhile, an inside account of the Copenhagen talks reveals that de Boer blamed the collapse of the talks on the Danish presidency of the event, in particular on Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen. Against de Boer’s advice, Rasmussen distributed a draft compromise agreement before the talks began.
According to de Boer, the document was “unbalanced” and heavily biased in favour of western nations. “The Danish paper destroyed two years of effort in one fell swoop,” de Boer wrote in a memo shortly after the conference ended.
Developing countries were today shocked by new UN data showing that rich nations will be able to increase their carbon emissions by up to 8% if they take advantage of a series of major loopholes in their pledges.
Instead of reducing emissions by a minimum of 30-40% by 2020 and holding temperatures to a rise of 2C – as many campaigners hoped the Copenhagen climate summit in December would achieve – many rich countries would not need to make any domestic cuts to stay within the legal limits of a new global climate deal being negotiated at resumed UN talks in Bonn this week.
Rich countries led by Russia, Australia and the EU have been accused of trying to cheat their way out of reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by creating “dishonest” forestry accounting loopholes.
By seeking to change the rules that govern the offsetting of emissions from planting trees and ignoring those that are created by felling them, these nations would give the impression that they were acting to preventclimate change – but a growing number of developing countries and environmental groups say that in reality they would be undermining genuine cuts.
Rich countries will raid existing aid budgets, double-count promises and convert grants to loans to avoid paying the $30bn (£21bn) they pledged last year to poor countries to help them adapt immediately to the climate change they did not cause, a leading international watchdog group has warned…
But the EU has refused to reveal details of each member state’s contribution, and insisted that the money pledged would be “fresh” rather than “new and additional”.
Lindsey Graham Flip Flop
On Tuesday, South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham told reporters that he would vote against the climate bill he helped author. Now he’s going one step further. Graham, one of the few Republicans who claimed to care about climate change, now says global warming is no big deal…
Reporters asked Graham several times about why he was supporting Lugar’s bill, when just a few months ago he had argued that the Senate shouldn’t pass a “half-assed” bill that lacked hard restrictions on carbon emissions. Graham replied that he now doesn’t think pricing carbon is that important. “The science about global warming has changed,” he noted, offhandedly. “I think they’ve oversold this stuff, quite frankly. I think they’ve been alarmist and the science is in question,” Graham told reporters. “The whole movement has taken a giant step backward.”
I followed up with him. “Can you clarify that statement that the science on global warming has changed?” I asked.
“The public acceptance about global warming has changed,” he said.
- Graham: “The idea of not pricing carbon, in my view, means you’re not serious about energy independence. The odd thing is you’ll never have energy independence until you clean up the air, and you’ll never clean up the air until you price carbon.“
- Lindsey Graham: “Every day that we delay trying to find a price for carbon is a day that China uses to dominate the green economy”
- Stick a fork in the energy-only bill: Lindsey Graham (R-SC) slams push for a “half-assed energy bill”
A Senate vote yesterday narrowly allowed the Environmental Protection Agency to monitor and regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles. There has been a lot of spin and furor over this vote, but in the end I think that this was heavily (though not totally) influenced by a political (and heavily partisan) denial of climate change.
Biodiversity at the UN
Representatives from close to 90 countries gathering in Busan, Korea, this week, have approved the formation of a new organization to monitor the ecological state of the planet and its natural resources. Dubbed the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the new entity will likely meet for the first time in 2011 and operate much like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
In essence, that means the IPBES will specialize in “peer review of peer review”, says Nick Nuttall, a spokesman for the United Nations Environment Programme, which has so far hosted the IPBES birth process. Its organizers hope that its reports and statements will be accepted as authoritative and unbiased summaries of the state of the science. Like the IPCC, it will not recommend particular courses of action. “We will not and must not be policy prescriptive”, emphasized Robert Watson, chief scientific advisor to the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and a vice-chair of the Busan meeting. “That is critical, or it will kill the process.”
A cross examination of anthropogenic global warming
Peter Sinclair on the reliability of the temperature record
Here is what actually did happen.
In its latest report, the IPCC has predicted up to 59 cm of sea level rise by the end of this century. But realclimate soon revealed a few problems.
First, although the temperature scenarios of IPCC project a maximum warming of 6.4 ºC (TableSPM3), the upper limit of sea level rise has been computed for a warming of only 5.2 ºC – which reduced the estimate by about 15 cm. Second, the IPCC chose to compute sea level rise up to the year 2095 rather than 2100 – just to cut off another 5 cm. Worse, the IPCC report shows that over the past 40 years, sea level has in fact risen 50% more than predicted by its models – yet these same models are used uncorrected to predict the future! And finally, the future projections assume that the Antarctic ice sheet gains mass, thus lowering sea level, rather at odds with past ice sheet behaviour.
The Skeptic Debunk of the week
Lindzen’s analysis has several flaws, such as only looking at data in the tropics. A number of independent studies using near-global satellite data find positive feedback and high climate sensitivity.