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Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Lame Duck Climate Debate

I read in the newspaper last week that El Nino’s temperament earlier this year will probably lead to a cold winter here in England, and I am over the moon with delight.  My surf skim boards, carefully collected over many snowless years, are ready to bash me down the snow-laden Mendips at bigh speed during my scheduled winter sabbatical.  

In my mind’s eye I imagine the snowy 1970s in Ohio when we had weeks off school due to snow and ice, so we sledged every day behind the city hall.  This year I am going to be able to relive it all over again here in Somerset without any guilt about not working.  With such bliss derived from bad weather, it seems crazy that more billions of dollars, euro and pounds sterling of our tax money will spent trying to control the climate and stop me having fun with my kids.  

Climate delegates’ ritual migrations by polluting planes to cities like Kyoto, Cancun, Copenhagen, Bonn and soon Paris, are liken to ancient priests claiming control over the sun and rain, and sacrificing humans to affirm their power.    To me this seems pure hubris, but I did have a giggle when the pope arrived at the White House in an energy efficient Fiat.  I also know that this political dance disguises a steely heart.

Part of the global climate negotiations to be settled in Paris is an attempt to lock away access to millions of acres of forests, and thus open the door to the privatisation of the carbon in their standing trees.   Keeping this carbon locked up and protected from people, including indigenous people, it is said, could reduce up to 20% of global carbon emissions.  Once again, community forests have become a global asset heading for the auction block.

Since the outset of climate discussions delegates have been continually wooed by the climateratti with promises to share cash if they vote them into power.  I remember at a press conference in Brazzaville in 2004 with the first President Bongo of Gabon, who when asked about the benefits to Gabon from his creation of 13 parks covering 30% of the country, chuckled in his deep voice, smiled and said: “They said we would be paid for our carbon, and tourists would come and spend their money … we are still waiting for that.”  Since then Gabon has earned its crust from crude oil exports.

Early reports from pre-Paris climate negotiations suggest that limited funds for southern governments will finally appear in voluntary national commitments, but the developed countries’ proposed voluntary emission targets in the final climate agreement will not unleash the long-hoped for flood of junk bond carbon cash.   Already in September there is broad consensus that none of the measures from Paris will have any discernible impact on the rate of climate warming, but the air tickets and hotels are booked and delegates are rehearsing their statements, so the French party is on. 


With such anticipation I hope they have as much fun as I will be having - if the climate forecasters are correct, in December this carbon based life form will be snow sledding here in Frome.