UNFCCC

UN Climate Delegates Agree on Something: Geo-engineering Is No Solution

The UN's annual climate meetings wrap up in Doha today, and though the feckless agreements are a “delight to no one,” there is one silver lining. Geo-engineering, that grand, scary global experiment of last resort, won “scant enthusiasm” from the vast majority of participants.

“Let's face it, geo-engineering has a lot of unknowns,” Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the U.N.'s panel of climate scientists, told Reuters.

Christiana Figueres, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, agreed, emphasizing the need to focus on actual greenhouse gas emissions reductions and mitigation strategies first. “Let's first use what we know,” said Figueres. “There are so many proven technologies we know exist that are tried and true that have not been used to their maximum potential,” she told Reuters. “To begin with, the simplest is energy efficiency.”

Advocates of geo-engineering strategies – which range from tinkering with the planet, the oceans or the atmosphere itself to force cooling in an effort to combat climate change – claimed a breakthrough in the international negations arena in the Cancun climate talks back in 2010. “The taboo is broken,” Paul Crutzen, a Nobel Prize-winning atmospheric scientist who has published on geo-engineering, then told The Associated Press.

That enthusiasm from 2010 seems to be on the wane as opponents of these strategies – including those at the highest levels of leadership in the U.N.'s climate bodies – highlight just how unproven all of these concepts are. Many advocates of real climate change mitigation are also wary of how rich nations could implement these massive, world-changing engineering efforts, the impacts of which are entirely beyond prediction.

Canadian Youth Delegation: Tar Sands Creating "Commitment Issues" for Canada at COP18

Canada's leadership is failing to uphold international commitments to reduce the country's emissions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This failure on the global stage is the direct result of Canada's domestic policies, according to the Canadian Youth Delegation to COP18's recent report “Commitment Issues.”  

Canada's determination to develop Alberta's tar sands constitutes the nation's primary obstacle to progress on climate action. Bitumen extraction in the region “invalidates Canada's commitment to limit global warming to 2 degrees celsius since pre-industrial times and sets a dangerous global precedent for extreme extraction,” the report states.
 
The Canadian government has participated in several significant international agreements and treaties aimed at reducing global levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, given the country's aggressive oil and gas development, these agreements only serve to highlight Canada's disregard for, rather than participation in, international efforts to prevent dangerous global warming.

Heartland Double Standard: Institute Tried to Scam Greenpeace for Internal Documents

A Heartland Institute front man* phoned a Greenpeace activist and lied about his identity in an effort to get her to turn over UN climate conference documents to which he had no legitimate access. Heartland senior fellow James Taylor then boasted about the scam in a press release decrying what he described as Greenpeace's preferential access to UN information.

Now, in a belated act of optimism, Greenpeace's Cindy Baxter has written a letter to Heartland (attached below) requesting an explanation for the double standard. Baxter is asking, in effect, why Heartland thinks it's completely okay for them to misrepresent themselves, repeatedly, and to celebrate the misrepresentations of others who are attacking climate scientists, but then gets all righteous when someone suckers them into handing over their entire budget and fundraising policy for 2012.

The Heartland misrepresentation about which Baxter is now complaining occurred in 2007 at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference in Bali. The Heartland caller phoned Baxter at four in the morning (Bali time), claiming to represent a U.S. environmental organization and asking if she would hand over the UNFCCC media list - which Heartland clearly had failed to secure through legitimate means.

Baxter demurred, after which Taylor sent out a press release, recounting the conversation, linking to a (possibly illegal) recording that Heartland had made of the phonecall, and “exposing” the fact that Greenpeace has a better working relationship than Heartland with just about everyone in the climate, diplomatic and scientific communities.

Climate Denier Marc Morano Praises "George W. Obama" at COP17

If the jury was still out on President Barack Obama's climate policy accolades (a huge “if”), consider the verdict now in, and from a surprising character at that: Marc Morano.

Morano jubilantly referred to the President as “George W. Obama” in an interview with Democracy Nowhost Amy Goodman at COP17, stating: 

They [the Obama administration] have kept the exact same principles and negotiating stance as President George Bush did for eight years. Obama has carried on Bush’s legacy. So as skeptics, we tip our hat to President Obama in helping to crush and continuing to defeat the United Nations process. Obama has been a great friend of global warming skeptics at these conferences.

Watch:

Canada Hides 20 Percent Tar Sands Annual Pollution Increase from UN

The Canadian federal government deliberately excluded data documenting a 20 percent increase in annual pollution from Alberta's tar sands industry in 2009. That detail was missing from a recent 567-page report on climate change that Canada was required to submit to the United Nations.

According to Postmedia News, Canada left the most recent numbers out of the report, a national inventory on Canada’s greenhouse gas pollution. The numbers are used to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions and prevent catastropic climate change. It is certainly not the first time that Canada has dragged its feet on its international climate obligations, but omission of vital information is a new low, even for them.

Why The U.S. Department of Defense Should Fight A War Against Global Warming Instead Of People

U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres warned militaries this month that they should be spending more money to reduce carbon emissions. According to her, one of the biggest threats to nations right now is global warming. 

President Obama recently asked Congress for $671 billion for the Department of Defense’s budget for fiscal 2012. The proposed budget (although currently facing cuts) allotted billions of dollars to fund wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and billions more were requested for procurement; research, development, test and evaluation; operations and maintenance; military construction; personnel; family housing; and revolving management funds. While the Department of Defense has recently focused some attention on global warming, it’s time they start focusing a lot more.

Christiana Figueres’s biggest concern is that a growing food crisis, water stress, and weather damage will result in an international migration, regional conflicts, and ultimately a “climate chaos that would demand a defense response that makes even today’s spending burden look light.” Instead of investing in more weaponry, Figueres urges generals to invest in reducing carbon emissions. 

Cancun Showdown: Results at the UN Climate Talks More Important Than Ever

The United Nations Climate Change talks kicked off yesterday in Cancun.  For many, the mood began much more sombrely than last year.  Copenhagen attracted celebrity clout, world leader buzz, and a sense of optimism for a binding agreement.  For all Copenhagen promised, however, those who hoped for a fair and binding global deal left empty handed.  

Along with analysts, pundits and the blogosphere, the U.S., UK and EU are already downplaying the chances of a deal being reached in the next fortnight.  And as Desmogblog reported today, those fears may not be in vain with threats that the U.S. may pull out of the talks early

The talks during the next two weeks are going to focus largely on forests and finance, but also on questions about the legal status of a future agreement and emissions targets, which are expected to be tackled beginning next week when ministers arrive.

The sense of general pessimism around the talks has led some to question the viability of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to deliver, and has led others to manufacture doubt over the scientific basis for action.  A new report released by Oxfam argues that despite the disconsolate atmosphere, a year of extreme weather conditions demonstrate more than ever that a binding climate agreement under the UN auspices is imperative.  The report, More than ever: climate talks that work for those that need them most, presents the weather events that have devastated much of the planet in the last year, and the even more harrowing costs of climate inaction.  

According to the report, at least 21,000 people died due to weather-related disasters in the first nine months of this year – more than twice the number for the whole of 2009.  “This year is on course to experience more extreme-weather events than the 10-year average of 770. It is one of the hottest years ever recorded,” wrote Tim Gore, Oxfam’s EU climate change policy adviser and report’s author.

UN Chief Urges Industrialized Nations to Release Promised Funds To Poor Nations For Climate Change Aid

Outgoing United Nations climate chief Yvo de Boer sent an urgent message to wealthy industrialized nations on Tuesday reminding them about previous promises to help the world’s poorer nations to adapt to a changing world due to global warming.  Without a firm show of funds, he said the pursuit of a global climate agreement would remain a question mark for many as the December COP-16 talks in Cancun grow closer.

de Boer urged the industrialized nations to quickly present the $30 billion in aid they have pledged to deliver over the 2010-2012 period to help poor nations fight climate change impacts such as increasingly severe droughts and floods.

“Times are harsh, especially in Europe, but $10 billion a year for three years from all industrialized countries is not an impossible call,” he said.

Mother Jones CopenPrimer

Anyone looking to understand the intricacies and implications of the Copenhagen climate summit would be well advised to start with David Corn’s introduction on MotherJones.com.

These meetings are generally filled with two kinds of people:

1. professional bureaucrats and NGO hangers-on who are so steeped in the process that they seem to speak a foreign and completely unintelligible language; and

2. Climate dilettantes who drop in to these events infrequently and struggle to understand even the most elemental aspects of the complicated architecture of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Corn, the Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones, seems to have spent enough time paying attention that he understands many of the finer points, and yet he has not forgotten how to speak a version of English that the uninitiated can still understand.

Everyone loves Canadians; it's Canada they hate

After 6-minute press conference: no wonder

Canada has, in certain circles, been getting a lot of respect hereabouts. UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer was quoted this week praising Canada for working “very constructively” during the talks and a Danish negotiator (to remain nameless) was positively fullsome on the level of ambition and quality of the contribution that individual Canadians have been making to the process.

Yet Canada is consistently derided by Environmental NGO’s monitoring the talks and it is a clear leader in the Fossil of the Day awards given to the country most guilty of obstructing the likelihood of a fair, ambitious and binding agreement.

A hint as to the reason for this apparent contradiction arrived today in the form of Canadian Environment Minister Jim Prentice. In a late-in-the-day press briefing COP 15 President Connie Hedegaard celebrated the early arrival of ministers from around the world, saying that, as the ministers arrive, so does the good will. Prentice may mark the exception.

Pages

Subscribe to UNFCCC