In a year which saw extreme weather rise up the political agenda and the consequences of a changing climate starting to sink into our collective psyche, action to actually address the issue of rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere remained limited.
With regards issue recognition and despite arguments about attribution, the Bloomberg Businessweek headline after Hurricane Sandy was a telling moment. But events such as this seem to have a short half life, so it remains to be seen how lasting this will be.
The principal policy instrument to trigger action, a price on CO2 emissions, did gain political traction and coverage, but its impact remained mute. Several jurisdictions introduced carbon pricing and others continued developing approaches and/or starting up schemes already in the pipeline. Notably, despite industry resistance, Japan introduced a modest carbon tax (although there has been a change in government since then so watch this space) and Kazakhstan leapt ahead of the pack by introducing an emissions trading system for startup this week. The Chinese trial systems began to take shape and there is now serious discussion about national implementation in the 2016 5-year plan. As of January 1st the California ETS is up and running, as is the Quebec system. The Australian carbon price mechanism started in 2012 and importantly the Australian Government passed legislation to link their system with the EU ETS. But fierce opposition forced the EU to take a step back with regards its plans to cover international aviation under the EU ETS.
The EU did however take one major step forward during 2012, in its recognition that a carbon market created as a result of an ETS may need some government intervention from time to time to keep it on track and relevant. Although the issue is far from settled, there is at least a proposal on the table aimed at supporting the weak market in the EU. The move also establishes an important precedent for the future, not just in the EU but probably in the minds of policy makers globally.
With global carbon prices remaining low, the one critical technology for actually rescuing the emissions problem, carbon capture and storage (CCS), struggled badly. Shell did announce an important project in its oil sands in Alberta, but other than this little else happened. At the end of the year the EU managed to deliver a damaging blow to the technology by not coming up with a single project to support with its NER300 CCS funding mechanism, despite having nearly €2 billion in hand to spend. Instead, the money went to some twenty or so small renewable energy projects. It’s hard to overstate the importance of CCS, yet it seems increasingly distant in terms of commercialization and deployment.
From a climate perspective, the year concluded in Doha with two weeks of talks that did a lot to tidy up the UNFCCC process, but hardly pushed the agenda forward at all. If the “holy grail” of a global deal really is to be agreed by 2015, then something remarkable needs to happen during 2013.
Happy New Year!
As your distinguished countryman, Christopher Monckton, pointed out to the assembled multitude in Doha, there has been no statistically significant warming over the past ~16 years.
There is no SCIENTIFIC linkage between “uncommon weather events” and the non-existent global warming of the past 16 years. Hurricane and tornado frequency and intensity are both well below historical maxima.
The model predictions of warming presented by the IPCC since 1990 show far greater warming than has actually occurred. (See below.) This demonstrates that the models and the hypotheses on which they are based are flawed.
It is probably a good thing that 2012 was a year of “limited action”.
Reductions in global annual CO2 emissions require massive investments in low/no emissions facilities and equipment, not massive taxation, which would merely add to the total societal costs.
Just for the record, I am Australian.
In terms of warming, we should be looking at the total atmosphere/ocean system.
My sincere apologies. 🙁
Sure, the best metrics of global warming is OHC (ocean heat content). This is quite stagnant as well. Somewhat more reliable measurements of the top layer (<1000m) are available only after 2005 when ARGO network is up and running. Needless to say, the network is unable to detect any runaway warming. The heat content is stagnant or growing very slowly at the worst. I would recommend to study the background a little. Go into the papers and try to understand.
I agree that the Bloomberg Business Week cover was geographically limited, parochial and stupid. 🙂