Our Politicians Failed Us in Copenhagen and Will Soon Regret It

Read time: 2 mins

World leaders failed to deliver a legally binding deal in Copenhagen that will begin to reduce the world’s greenhouse gas emissions that are the cause of climate change.

It’s that simple.

While we can point to the attempted happy face that politicians are trying to put on the so-called “Copenhagen Accord” that came out of this two-year negotiating process, the bottom line is that what has been delivered here is a promise to do something later on down the road.

Politicians love to make commitments to commit to action later. This “let’s strike a committee” technique allows them to look like they’re doing something while doing nothing at all.

Outside of anything politicians did over the last two years in this negotiating process, there were a few bright lights.

First was the coming together of disparate groups behind the single issue of climate change. Whether it is human rights groups, environmentalists or anti-poverty campaigners, almost the entire body known as civil society has now made climate change an important mandate within their organization. This has galvanized a worldwide movement that will put immense pressure on world leaders in the coming months.

The second bright light is an outcropping of the first.

I have never had so many people I know, everyday people who are normally not interested in the issue, want to talk about climate change. The everyday person has woken up to the issue of climate change and is interested in not only learning more about it, they are starting to question the lack of concern and desire for immediate action on behalf of they’re elected officials.

Combine these two bright lights: the galvanization of a worldwide movement and the concern of everyday people and you have a formula for success. If I were a politician, I would be sweating today because the days of platitudes and pretty “green” photo-ops is over. Failure to deliver an international treaty in the coming months will see a lot of grumpy voters in forthcoming elections. 

So our politicians have failed us here in Copenhagen and anyone who says they have not needs to take off their rose-colored glasses and take this failure for what it is: an opportunity to fight like never before with the support of more ground troops than any time in history.

There is a coming storm on the issue of climate change.

Get DeSmog News and Alerts


I have been skimming through the gleeful giggling of the trolls and thinking, you don’t get it, do you? Copenhagen failed to get a treaty, but in that very failure it has struck a spark. The politicians are so far behind on this, they can’t even begin to apprehend the coming tsunami of public outrage.

of the END..

Climategate will sink popular opinion, count on it. Nothing like finding out that Enron type crooks are behind the whole scheme.

Let’s see the American Enterprise Institute’s email. And CATO’s. And Fraser Institute’s. You guys are such losers.

I’m sure if you looked at those e-mails you would find organizational ethics and integrity exemplified. This copenhagen deal is a good first step for everyone.

It doesn’t plunge the world into the carbon darkages and it gives some time to perform the needed scientific reseach in areas of AGW that are faulty or lacking. This will also give vlimate science a chance to cleanse itself of the Jones and Mann’s of their profession and enter into a new era of openness and accountability.

The chase of the American Dream by a few has pushed many in the world into a living nightmare.

But of course most of those pursuing happiness are doing so in blissful ignorance, or denial, of the reality.

Why this is so is spelled out well by Susan Jacoby in ‘The Age of American Unreason’. And before you Yanks jump up and down, this unreason has also been exported to other parts of the developed world with the UK becoming included, as well as Australia and Canada.

Oh! Well!

Will the last one to leave Earth please turn out the lights.

I’m not so cynical.

The trolls are busy here because this site is a threat to them.

Accept that the trolls just don’t care about anything except maintaining their narrative.

Some of these characters do know that AGW is very real. They just think that we should go on doing whatever we want, and let the chips fall where they may.

Yes, they assail our institutions as well, but our institutions are resilient, and play the long game better.

as you seem to be on a different planet.

Climategate only to the Delingtrolls of the world, more like Vapourgate in reality.

You do realise that each of the trolls chattering points are built upon false premise don’t you?

Canadians are very concerned about climate change and when you look at polls in the US, issues very closely linked to climate change solutions, like jobs and energy independence are top of mind.

Well, that’s at odds when the issue was brought up on CTV’s Question Period. People the poll say, and more concerned with the economy. Not climate change. And in fact, the numbers drop even more when asked if people are willing to pay a lot more for energy and loss of lifestyle. Support drops to near zero.

Submitted by JR Wakefield on Sat, 2009-12-19 15:23.

Is that a prediction? What if that doesn’t happen? Then what? After all, environment is way down on the list of priorities today.

Hey JR,

What you folks consistently seem to fail to get is that we are PART of the environment. You all seem to imagine it as something remote, out there, maybe somewhere you go on vacation.

Well that’s simply not the case. If you personally wish to decouple from the environment, fine, but you might like to consider this first:

Without the environment you would have no drinking water or food.

The supplies of both do not fundamentally depend on the opening hours of Walmart, but, primarily, upon there being a benign environment.

I would therefore suggest that the environment should be right at the top of your list of priorities - unless dying of thirst or starvation somehow appeals to you!

Cheers - John

Hey JR,

Unfortunately, the converging issues of Peak Oil and Climate Change (in that order of appearance) will probably influence both rather more effectively than any Government of any persuasion could do. Not only has this flawed model of infinite growth brought us climate change, it has overshot the runway so badly that it’s killed the goose that laid the golden egg!

Cheers - John

This is another Lomborgesk argument and displays similar narrow thinking.

What the earth cannot support is 7+ billion living the life style of the average american, let alone the Bill Gates, Rush Limbaughs and Sarah Palins of the world. Note to Al Gore - reduce your carbon footprint too.

Here we are racing towards big trouble, given that the CO2 is currently ahead of temperatures which will have to rise to stabilise the earth’s heat budget at current CO2 levels let alone those that will be the case when feedback from permafrost and clathrates kick in big time, to mention but two.

I think you are correct, Femack; they sowed the wind and they will reap the whirlwind.

What we need to do now is shame our governments into making changes at home, and to keep negotiating. Did you read George Monbiot’s column about Steven Chu’s speech? Why don’t Canada and the US have better energy efficieny technology? Why are we so far behind Europe? Who else can we learn from? Remember that kid in Africa who built a windmill? http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbiot/2009/dec/14/us-technological-race-climate-change

The failure has struck a spark? It’s kind of early to say that isn’t it? There might be a “tsunami of outrage” here at desmogblog but you’re not thinking clearly if you think there will be a wave of climate believers elected in 2010 to the US Congress, or in the UK in 2010, or in Australia in 2011, or here in Canada whenever the next federal election in Canada is. The public is going the other way right now; less people believe in a man-made global warming crisis than last year and as climategate rolls on, the numbers are still fading for the AGW proponent side.

As bad, and depressing, as it is, there is a silver lining. I think most countries, especially third world countries, will now realize the UN will never solve this, and they will come up with new approaches to deal with the problem. Everyone has been waiting for Copenhagen for two years, and that was where all the effort was placed.

Well, it didn’t work, and I don’t think countries are going to get back on that track again. This might even be the beginning of the end for the UN. If countries start to make new alliances and cooperate in new ways, they could completely bypass the UN and make it obsolete. The cold war is over, after all.

I believe many of the smaller and poorer countries feel the UN is the only place where their voices can be heard. If the UN was gone, where could they turn?

To themselves. I wrote a while back that climate change might be the impetus for more unity in third world countries, especially Africa. I can see Pan-Africanism getting a real boost from this:


But mostly, if the UN isn’t working, third world countries can simply ban together and make their own policies. Individually they are weak, and subject to intimidation, threats or bribery. But if they stick together they have a lot of power. What if they stop selling oil to the west? What if western companies are kicked out, or nationalized? The third world holds a bigger stick than most people realize, and I think we’ve reached the point where they are going to start sharpening it.

They need to unite in a worldwide organization… Hey! Like the UN!

There is nothing against a PanAfrican Union or whatever. But there has to be a forum where rich countries sometimes have to shut up and listen to poor countries.

I never said a worldwide organization. Far from it. The point is for countries to organize themselves into blocs that represent *their* interests so that they can take action, as a whole, to advance and protect those interests. After all, what does it matter if the rich countries have to listen, if they don’t do anything about it?

Think Allies vs Axis, or the Cold War. I didn’t want to repost my blog article from earlier today because I already posted it in another thread, but you can read more details about what I mean here: http://www.selfdestructivebastards.com/2009/12/beyond-copenhagen.html

You seem to be a global warmer with some common sense. It’s good to see that there are a few of you left. In regards to the UN you are absolutely right it has outlived it’s usefulness.

Look, seriously, the whole left vs right thing on global warming doesn’t make any sense. Science is science, it’s the same for everyone. It used to be the Republicans that condemned the Soviets for jailing scientists and not following scientific consensus. As for political opinions, those are fair game. We *should* have opinions about what we feel is important. But science isn’t up for debate, it’s about evidence. Anyone can take part, if they have the knowledge and skills. Now I do expect people on the left and right to have strong, emotional arguments about how to *solve* the problem (regulation vs free market, etc.), but frankly, I never expected one side to deny it exists. Outside of the US, this is a rare position.

Also, I’m a bit tired of people in the US assuming, when I make a post about global warming, that I’m some “radical leftist”. Nothing wrong with being a radical leftist, but it makes me scratch my head and say, why do they think that? Even the Conservative government here in Canada, which has done little about global warming, doesn’t deny it, and, at least publicly, says it’s an important issue.

If anything the US is the backwards country when it comes to conservative values. How was the Bush administration conservative? They raised debt levels to unbelieveable levels, and restrained personal freedoms. Yet, the Liberal government in Canada (please make serious note of the upper and lower case terms “liberal” and “conservative”, they mean different things) got rid of the deficit and we had a surplus for 10+ years, and actually paid down the debt. Frankly, I was hoping you guys would elect Ron Paul. I disagree with him about health care, and he didn’t have a plan for global warming, but aside from that, I think he had the right idea.

We need to get back to debating the actual *issues*. Disagreement is fine, but painting someone with broad strokes as a “radical leftist” or a “fascist republican” isn’t going to help anyone. Argue the merits of your case! Please don’t go off on to tangents that have nothing to do with the issue, and in many cases, nothing to do with the personal beliefs of the poster.

Anyway, didn’t mean all of this as a specific comment about you CamMacKay, just something I thought that needed to be said.

It shouldn’t be a right vs left thing but the agressive global warming lobby has successfully turned it into that. Unbeknownst to themselves that political tactic will ultimately lead to it’s undoing.

There is some merit tot the AGW theory but it has become far overblown for what it really is. The press has exagereated claims as they do with every issue from Y2K to swine flu.

What is disturbing to me is that their has been a close linked political campaign within climaet science to hide or discredit new evidence contraryto their ideological beliefs. Since they can rewrite every book about geology regarding the midievil warming period they did the next best thing by getting censors on wikipedia and removing any reference to such evidence in new textbooks. The MWP has more evidence supporting it than AGW.

Climate scientists will say we can’t explain the increase in temperature in the last 30 years by natural events, so it must be c02. Kevin trenberth also points out the obvious in his e-mail to micheal mann that we can’t explain the last 10 years of cooling either. Obviously we are lacking knowledge regarding the climate of the earth an in no position to suggest public policy.

From the Hockey stick graph to the hide the decline scandal, it should be clear to everyone that global warming has serious flaws contained therin and is not a fully functioning theory. Any other reputable field of science would welcome new evidence contrary or not.

Climate science has been hijacked by evirnmental radicals. Anyone who has been at a university in the last ten years can see that. If climate science wants to have any kind of public acceptance in the future it has to shed the Jones and the Manns and leave public policy to politicians. Just do the research and keep out of the politics. Objective unbiased research excluded from suggesting public policy will serve to maintain the integrity of climate science. Right now I view climate science as just a simply a pseudo science where the scientific process doesn’t apply and any research is simply the means to justify the ends.

Cam, you have everything topsy-turvy.

The politicalization of this has been caused by industrial lobbyists. That’s what happens when industry and conservative foundations pour hundreds of millions of dollars per year into PR campaigns promoting their short-term interests.

“The MWP has more evidence supporting it than AGW.”

Absurb. Cite it.

And poorly thought-out. A *world-wide* MWP warmer than what we’ve seen doesn’t damage AGW theory because we know from direct observation that increased CO2 is causing increased amounts of longwave readiation to stay within the earth system. What a warmer *world-wide* MWP would mean is that climate is more responsive to forcing than we believe, which is a very bad thing, meaning that any uptick in forcing would have faster worse results than we think.

For those who don’t know, the Medievil Warming Period (MWP) is a warm period around 1000 AD once thought to be world-wide, but now understood to be regional in nature. It was once significant in demonstrating that our current warming is unusual, but as we now know that the greenhouse effect is happening, not so much.

“Climate scientists will say we can’t explain the increase in temperature in the last 30 years by natural events, so it must be c02.”

Half-truth. As I’ve said, we have direct observation and monitoring of the greenhouse effect in operation, and it’s growing.

“Kevin trenberth also points out the obvious in his e-mail to micheal mann that we can’t explain the last 10 years of cooling either.”

That’s not what Trenberth said. YOu have to read the paper he referenced in that email.

We haven’t had 10 years of cooling either. It’s been the hottest 10 years on the instrumental record – officially to be announced soon.

You just go on being political, and most inaccurate, Cam. Baseless assertions and straw men.


Chu, G., J. Liu, Q. Sun, H. Lu, Z. Gu, W. Wang, and T. Liu, 2002: The “Mediaeval Warm Period’ drought recorded in Lake Huguangyan, tropical South China. The Holocene, 12, 511-516.

Cook, E., T. Bird, M. Peterson, M. Barbetti, B. Buckley, R. D’Arrigo, and R. Francey, 1992: Climatic change over the last millennium in Tasmania reconstructed from tree-rings. The Holocene, 2, 205-217.

Goto, S., H. Hamamoto, and M. Yamano, 2005: Climatic and environmental changes at southeastern coast of Lake Biwa over past 3000 years, inferred from borehole temperature data. Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, 152, 314-325.

Holmgren, K., P. D. Tyson, A. Moberg, and O. Svanered, 2001: A preliminary 3000-year regional temperature reconstruction for South Africa. South African Journal of Science, 97, 49.

Holmgren, K., W. Karlen, S. E. Lauritzen, J. A. Lee-Thorp, T. C. Partridge, S. Piketh, P. Repinski, C. Stevenson, O. Svanered, and P. D. Tyson, 1999: A 3000-year high-resolution stalagmitebased record of palaeoclimate for northeastern South Africa. The Holocene, 9, 295-309.

Noon, P. E., M. J. Leng, and V. J. Jones, 2003: Oxygen-isotope (δ18O) evidence of Holocene hydrological changes at Signy Island, maritime Antarctica. The Holocene, 13, 251-263.

Polissar, P. J., M. B. Abbott, A. P. Wolfe, M. Bezada, V. Rull, and R. S. Bradley, 2006: Solar modulation of Little Ice Age climate in the tropical Andes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 103, 8937-8942

Tyson, P. D., W. Karlen, K. Holmgren, and G. A. Heiss, 2000: The Little Ice Age and medieval warming in South Africa. South African Journal of Science, 96, 126.

Zhangdong, J., S. Ji, W. Sumin, and Z. Eniou, 2002: The Medieval Warm Period in the Daihai Area. Hupo Kexue, 14.

Adhikari, D. P. and F. Kumon, 2001: Climatic changes during the past 1300 years as deduced from the sediments of Lake Nakatsuna, central Japan. Limnology, 2, 157-168.

What you now have to do now is explain why each paper matters in context of other papers. The problem is, the discussion isn’t whether there was a warming spike around 1000 AD – there was – but whether it was regional or global in nature, and more or less than of a spike what we are seeing now.

There is data showing warming for the MWP, but often not as significant as we see today. There is also data from that same era showing cooling. So what you need to do, is to do a meta-study… like this:

http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-chapter6.pdf <– see page 467 - 470

We see a MWP… but there’s less pronounced warming than what we see today.

What you have posted doesn’t do anything other than to cite without explanation. The Cook et al paper, for example, is quite old, and doesn’t support anything other than a mild MWP, nowhere near what we see today, so why are you citin it as it favours the IPCC position?

As I’ve said, if the MWP was hotter than today that’s just evidence that forcing can be more profound than we currently believe, and that’s scary. Iit does nothing to knock what we know: that those tailpipes are a problem.

From the last IPCC, conclusion on the MWP:

“The uncertainty associated with present palaeoclimate estimates of NH mean temperatures is signifi cant, especially for the period
prior to 1600 when data are scarce (Mann et al., 1999; Briff a and Osborn, 2002; Cook et al., 2004a). However, Figure 6.10 shows that the
warmest period prior to the 20th century very likely occurred between 950 and 1100, but temperatures were probably between 0.1°C
and 0.2°C below the 1961 to 1990 mean and significantly below the level shown by instrumental data after 1980.

In order to reduce the uncertainty, further work is necessary to update existing records, many of which were assembled up to 20
years ago, and to produce many more, especially early, palaeoclimate series with much wider geographic coverage. There are far from
sufficient data to make any meaningful estimates of global medieval warmth (Figure 6.11). There are very few long records with high
temporal resolution data from the oceans, the tropics or the SH.
The evidence currently available indicates that NH mean temperatures during medieval times (950–1100) were indeed warm
in a 2-kyr context and even warmer in relation to the less sparse but still limited evidence of widespread average cool conditions in
the 17th century (Osborn and Briff a, 2006). However, the evidence is not sufficient to support a conclusion that hemispheric mean
temperatures were as warm, or the extent of warm regions as expansive, as those in the 20th century as a whole, during any period in
medieval times (Jones et al., 2001; Bradley et al., 2003a,b; Osborn and Briff a, 2006).”

Those damn conspiratorial IPCC types calling for more research on the MWP!

There is no denial of a relative warming around 1000 AD compared to surrounding years. It’s whether it was global, and how much.

Finally, they didn’t have tailpipes in 1000 AD, and we have decades of satellite measurements showing us that greenhouse gases are increasingly doing their thing, with no end in sight. The MWP issue is really just a tempest in a teapot these days wrt AGW.

Let’s see. Who is head of the security council – Libia, the bastion of human rights and democracy. Why is the UN not getting involved in Darfur – China has big oil interests and has veto powers. How about the food for oil scandal in Iraq. Shall I go on?

The UN is nothing more than shell of what it was supposed to be. It has been hijacked for the self serving interests of the countries, and people, who control it. It’s utterly corrupt.

They had no support staff in Copenhagen. No policy experts or communication people. If it wasn’t for the NGO community, the AOSIS and G77 would have been ineffective. They cannot compete with the massive machines of the developed nations.

yeah vj that’s just what the third world needs, another food for oil program. how did that work out? be sure to ask Kofi. maybe ask the railroad guy. from the article i just read about him i think he is about as concerned for the third world as kofi was. do u own a jag?

…. that the UN is suffering from the exact same problem as most of the developed countries, democracy has been highjacked by corporate interests and huge egos.

I really think the best thing we as Canadians can do to help the democratic process is to get to work on cleaning up the problem we have in this country. Right now our biggest obstacle here is our minority governments totally indifferent position on emissions.

Prentice is now on record as saying that anthropogenic global warming science is “overwhelming” so someone has to ask him why he would be promoting emission targets so completely out of touch with what science says we need right now.

Time to get busy. If anyone has any idea of what an average Canadian like myself can do please, please let me know.

The clock is ticking and has been for too many years of inaction.

pretty easy - live in an unheated tent, fore go electricity, eat absolutely nothing except what you grow out of your own garden - trade your car for a bicycle. done!

What has also almost entirely escaped attention, however, is how Dr Pachauri has established an astonishing worldwide portfolio of business interests with bodies which have been investing billions of dollars in organisations dependent on the IPCC’s policy recommendations.

These outfits include banks, oil and energy companies and investment funds heavily involved in ‘carbon trading’ and ‘sustainable technologies’, which together make up the fastest-growing commodity market in the world, estimated soon to be worth trillions of dollars a year.


Well there’s a surprise!

Our politicians have NOT failed us. At the moment, Prime Minister Harper and Minister of the Environment Prentice seem to have fairly good, competent and honest advisors who really understand the science of global warming.

On the other hand, the pro-global warming movement seems to be rife with crookedness and corruption. For example, the first news I read this morning was that the Head of the UN’s climate change panel, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri is corrupt, that is IF we can believe this headline story published in the ‘Telegraph’ of today, December 20th:


So, now, besides ‘climategate’ we find that the head climate change proponent of the UN’s IPCC is also, allegedly, crooked.

“Dr. Pachauri is accused of making a fortune from his links with carbon trading companies.”

Do you still believe that the *science* supporting AWG is real? The pro-global warming bunch has a lot of explaining to do. When will Al Gore come clean?

That handy title reminded me to check SDA (haven’t been there for a long time) and she’s got those Bob Carter videos. The first 2 are very convincing. I forgot about him, but I think I’m a bit of a Bob Carter fan now.

If Hoggan PR could attract to Desmogblog even a portion of the readership that Kate brings to Small Dead Animals, this web site would actually mean something. You folks are too earnest by half and that makes you sitting ducks for trolls. But taking themselves too seriously is the constant failing of fanatics.

You Desmoggers need a new cause to galvanize the followers since the AGW scam has just about run its course. What about that swirling mass of plastic bags said to covers hundreds of square miles in the middle of the Pacific Ocean? Maybe Hoggan could despatch someone to take the first ever photos of it to prove it really exists.

Notice the True Believers have not commented about this, eh? Telling indeed. Cat got your tongue???

Next time you people reject a skeptic as being funded by big oil, I will definite bring this up as a counter.

And you all have the naive impression that no one is profiting from AGW. Right.

Hmmm, well, we have the smoking guns showing us how the various ‘private institutions’ like CEI and Heartland pay for and put together fake science and then run massive PR campaigns to propagate the falsehoods to the public.

You have… a possible conflict of interest, and an assertion that thousands of scientists are running a scheme spanning decades so they can make billions on carbon trading schemes. If only we had 10 years of key scientist emails, we’d see the intricate details of this plot. Oh, wait, we do have emails, but no plot.

Still waiting your replies, JR. Remember that ‘science’ you pointed us to that tried to claim the greenhouse gases don’t stop longwave radiation, and I relied with several decades of satellite data showing that it does?

Oh, and I see that the “sunspots cause global warming” theory, long know to be flawed, is now completely shot down with the author of the key paper agreeing that he was in error:


“Friis-Christensen now accepts that any correlation between sunspots and global warming that he may have identified in the 1991 study has since broken down. There is, he said, a clear “divergence” between the sunspots and global temperatures after 1986, which shows that the present warming period cannot be explained by solar activity alone.”

Some sunspots have shown up. We at the bottom of a long period of low activity from the Sun, and yet it looks like we still had the hottest decade on the instrumental record. Now, if the sun is about to pick up – we’ve had the longest lull in 100 years or so – things may start getting even hotter…

Now there is a highly regarded scientific source. Be sure to quote the Post in the climate science paper you will submitting for peer review. Quote them on financial analysis while you’re at it. And put on your credit default swaps for blinders. Brilliant.

Corcoran: “The epic stories in the emails, in any honest reading, do not produce any concrete results or conclusions regarding the state of the science.”

Or any plot.

What Corcoran is leaving out, is the very thorough debunking of McKitrck and McIntyre’s work over the years, including some embarrassing flaws.

Also left out, are the many reconstructions showing similar results to the Mann hockey stick, using many different data sets.

Also left out are the various papers looking at the tree ring issue.

“As recently as Nov. 28, a posting on the Mann-related website, Real- Climate.org,continues to claim the MWP and the LIA never happened.”

I can’t agree that what’s on RealClimate. Oh, please. A complete straw man. They simply argue that the MWP was not as hot as today, and that the LIA was, well, there, but, like the MWP, regional in mature. This is widely supported, but still under research.

We have established that they didn’t have tail pipes back then. Not too relevant to compare a natural event to a human-imposed one which is ongoing.

These are old issues, more relevant to AGW back in 1998 than they are now. We now watch AGW these days live from satellite and ground measurements. A warmer MWP would only demonstrate that climate is more sensitive to forcing than we think – a bad thing.

What “massive” PR campaign has the CEI and other outfits run? Advertising is worth hundreds of billions of dollars a year in North American.

Please don’t tell me (you are going to tell me) that a small outfit like CEI with some token funding from Exxon has somehow confused us?