As the world turns its attention to Copenhagen, the most asked question is “What do you think will be agreed?”. The reality is nobody knows what will happen but given the political announcements of recent weeks expectations are dropping. We have all been told that a “legally binding” agreement will not be completed in Copenhagen, but rather to expect a major step forward or a “political agreement”.
When all is said and done, Copenhagen will almost certainly represent a landmark in the progressive shift to a global low carbon economy. Whether the final agreement is reached there or 6-12 months later is of little consequence, provided clear direction comes in December. We shouldn’t forget that the signing of the Kyoto Protocol led to many years of discussion and that the agreement itself was not finally ratified until 2005, some eight years later. Although we cannot wait eight years this time around, a delay into 2010 to allow a more substantive agreement to be reached is acceptable, perhaps even desirable given the current state of deliberations in the US Senate on the cap-and-trade bill.
But much still needs to be achieved in Copenhagen.
First, the delegations must reach agreement on overall structure. This is really an essential part of the process, but gets very little coverage in the media. The Kyoto Protocol has no formal end so the discussion regarding future commitment periods continues to roll on, but of course without the USA. In parallel, the AWG-LCA (Ad-Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action) is negotiating a text which could be adopted as a new international agreement – but what of the Kyoto Protocol if that were to happen. Many developing countries have reacted negatively to its demise, but equally it is unsustainable in its current form given the small number of countries with specific targets. This may have seemed appropriate when discussions commenced in 1992, but it is not an appropriate fit for the reality of today.
But the Kyoto Protocol shouldn’t just be discarded. The key elements that lay the foundation for a market based approach need to be extracted and adopted into the new structure. Without this infrastructure the broader premise that carbon markets will be a key component of a future agreement will have no foundation. Nor is it likely that these will be recast from scratch – it will just take too long.
By the end of the Copenhagen meeting we may well have some sort of announcement regarding international action, but if it doesn’t include something about the Kyoto Protocol, it’s future and the framework within which a new agreement will sit, it is hard to see how that new agreement will emerge at future meetings. Hard though it may be, Copenhagen is the time and place to deal with this issue.
Second, there must be clear recognition that the end-game requires all parties to adopt absolute targets, which means the focus must be on the transition for developing countries from their current status to a future one bound by emissions limits. For some countries such a move can come in the near future, for others it could be some decades away. Transitionary financial and capacity building measures will be critical.
Finally, an emissions reduction pathway must be agreed and devolved to national / regional level. Today there seems to be broad agreement that a two degree target is where the world is going, but this isn’t a compliance based target. At best it is a loose guideline for domestic action, but it is wide open to interpretation. Like it or not, the only thing we can control is the amount we emit and nothing else. With that done comes an adpatation strategy. So an agreement that confirms the two degrees but does little to translate it into a global emissions pathway is of limited value.
The reality is that we know what has to be done, we know the timeline we have to do it in and although there remains much room for innovation we also know we have the necessary technology base to deliver the required reductions.
There is no impediment remaining other than self interest and nationalism. These will have to be set to one side in Copenhagen and beyond
It would be good if you acknowledged Climategate and that some scientists, in their zeal, have disregarded basic scientific principles.
Too many variables that have been omitted from the models, upon which the benefits of Cap and Trade are based, for me to be convinced that we know enough to proceed.
I think that the science now tells us more than enough to warrant action. Certainly there remain uncertainties, but not on the issue as a whole.
With regards the private e-mails posted on the internet, I think the story is a simple one and it could apply to any one of us. Think of all the e-mails you have written over the past 10 years. Now imagine that someone ciminally breaks into your e-mail account and downloads all of them, handpicks a few and posts them on the internet to cast you in a particular light. We could all be shown to be saints or sinners or anything in between.
Now look at what has happened with these scientists going about their work in much the same way anyone of us might attend to our job. Enough said.
Clearly, we must become better stewards of our planet. That is without question. My concern is based on the apparent disregard, in various models, for the role of the Sun in Earth’s climate. There is little disagreement that we are now in a solar minimum. Only time will tell if it is of the Dalton or Maunder class. Written history is sufficient from the 1600’s forward to document climate during previous minimums. I, for one, will be much more comfortable when studies include the Sun’s UV output in climate analysis. We would also do well to look back at climate and weather patterns during previous solar minimums before believing we can “stop” climate change. I feel we should be focusing on how best to adapt to and live with Earth’s normal cycles. Energy management is the key component.
David what happens to your paycheck as “Climate Change Adviser for Shell” when Shell realizes global warming is a fraud? I hope Shell’s management will quit wasting shareholder money on your fake “science”
Real scientists do not keep their data secret from the public.
Real scientists do not “hide the decline.”
All this talk about criminally breaking into whatever. I thought the left always loved a “Whistle-Blower”, you know those heroic types.
I still haven’t seen any factual documentation that the life generating gas that’s less then 1/10 of 1% of the atmosphere known as CO2 is an insulating “temp. trapping” gas, if it was it would be in between our window panes keeping us warm in winter, not in our soda pop. It’s just not an insulator.
The truth is CO2 rises after a temp. rise on this planet, and 99.999% of the planetary heat or loss of heat is regulated by sun activity.
“I think that the science now tells us more than enough to warrant action”
The science tells us the global warming advocates lie, falsify data, hide results, and commit criminal fraud.
It’s easy, not to mention a bit lazy, to attempt to whitewash “Climategate” (stupid name) as a case of cherry-picking a few emails. The fear, I think, is that this peek under the tent is just that: a peek. How can we know that this isn’t just the tip of the iceberg (the metaphors are flowing now)? How deep is the rabbit hole??? As Rummy might suggest, it’s the unknown unknowns that are troubling. Is it “enough said” because you say its is? Scientists and the science community get the respect they do (from me at least) because they are rigorous in testing their theories, are open to new ideas, and the process is transparent. I’m not convinced anymore that we are being told the truth. Has the debate been hijacked by a new global warming industry that doesn’t necessarily have my best interests in mind? The problem with the doom-and-gloomers is that if they’re wrong with their timetable (be it Armageddon, the end of the world, or global warming) they get continual do-overs until, well, enentually they get it right, just not for the reason they originally thought. Even a stopped clock is right twice per day.
With regards the private e-mails posted on the internet, I think the story is a simple one and it could apply to any one of us. Think of all the e-mails you have written over the past 10 years. Now imagine that someone ciminally breaks into your e-mail account and downloads all of them, handpicks a few and posts them on the internet to cast you in a particular light.
Not me captain.
And I thought whistleblowers were heroes to the left ? What happened to speaking truth to power ?
Shell has a ‘climate change adviser’ ? Oh capitalism how far you’ve fallen – I preferred the robber barons.
Unfortunately, the right cannot seem to tell the difference between whistle-blowers and smoke-blowers.
The establishment of the IPCC was a major step forward as it put science, and scientific evidence as a key, albeit not as the only driver, at the heart of the process to develop global policy responses to climate change. It has helped to clarify where scientific evidence converged. What is currently really worrying is that despite the need for realising accountability principles such as transparency also in scientific research (and we have worked extensively on accountability issues in research and global governance here at the One World Trust), there seems to be little regard for the important epistemological differences in the way different communities work and communicate with each other. It is not helpful to try to resolve the problem around the stolen emails and data from the UEA Climate Research Unit by applying the practices of a partisan and mediatised debate to it. The achievement of bringing scientific evidence into policy making to the degree that it has worked so far in climate change (more can and must be done), should not be undermined by those who are interested in their opinion, and not accountability.
What a wonderful, altruistic attitude for Shell to have wrt Climate Change.
But once we get a system in place requiring trade in carbon credits, how will that happen? Who will control the global market?
Oh, well, lookee here, Shell just happens to have a robust commodity trading platform all set to go!
Follow the money, boys and girls, follow the money….
uuuh… Smoke blowers are the ones who wrote the e-mails.
“The establishment of the IPCC was a major step forward as it put science, and scientific evidence as”
The IPCC puts forward only “POLITICAL” Science. It’s whole reason for being created was to make the argument for man made global warming.
I’m still waiting for that scientific proof of CO2 being an insulator of heat on this planet. It only takes up 1/10th of 1% of the atmosphere. Argon gas I do believe makes up less then 4% of the atmosphere and does not trap heat unless it’s between 2 panes of glass at 100% Argon gas. The planet dissipates heat all day and all night long as it’s done for millions of years. Climate change has not killed off polar bears over millions of years and will not kill off the human race.
The climate changes all the time, every day, we have 4 seasons a year.
The whole fiasco is moved forward by a society that has lost it’s mind due to the soft and rarified, air condition, squeamish cocooning, of all life’s difficulties.
Leaving us to worry about silly things like polar bears, in reality they drown every spring thaw as they have done for millennia.
We Need to MAN-UP on this climate change thing and just dress accordingly.