Nobody really wants a new climate treaty

So, it’s official: the possibility of a replacement being hammered out for the Kyoto Treaty now appears remote.

It will be “physically impossible” to have a detailed deal to tackle climate change by this December’s summit in Copenhagen, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer said on Wednesday in Bonn.

The “four tough nuts”, as he termed them, were proving extremely difficult to crack because, he said, the “delivery on four political essentials”, on which success in Copenhagen would depend, was turning out to be “impossible”.

The four essentials as defined by de Boer are: clarity on how much industrialised countries would reduce their emissions up to 2020; clarity on what developing countries would do to limit the growth of their emissions; stable finance from industrialised nations for the developing world to mitigate climate change and adapt; and a “governance regime”.

Mr de Boer is the chief of the UNFCCC, and if he says an agreement is impossible then it probably is. But he merely confirms what many of us have known for some time: preventing imaginary future damage from the bewildering, poorly-defined problem of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is too much effort and far too expensive during a financial crisis.

(As an aside, the fact that the reduction in global temperature will be too tiny to measure in less than about 100 years, even if all our emissions cease immediately, also discourages an agreement, but not everyone knows that.)

Nobody wants to come right out and say they don’t want an agreement, because it’s just so politically ‘correct’ to align oneself with orthodox global warming beliefs. To disagree with the consensus on global warming is the same as saying you don’t care about the environment, like throwing old oil off the back of your launch. It is to knock over your chair at a formal dinner, swear loudly at your host and stamp out. It is impolite. It is like announcing you will defecate in the city’s water supply. It is social and political suicide.

How did it come to this? Why should pollution and carbon dioxide be considered the same subject? But the issue has so much momentum that it must have been sneaking in for years. Everywhere one looks, there is some kind of activity based around man-made global warming. There are training courses, new diplomas, job vacancies. There are conferences, seminars, international trips. There are new books, studies, briefing papers, new lists of activities that emit carbon dioxide and other so-called warming gases. Every level of society is involved, including governments, local bodies, schools and universities, businesses, industries, power companies, airlines, unions, youth organisations and of course environmental bodies.

Even Oxfam, battling poverty, has redefined its objectives. Visit their web site and see their new alignment with the fight against global warming, yet what connection does it have with poverty? It’s now in the fabric of our society and it commands considerable resources for spreading the anti-fossil fuel message.

To ask people at this late stage whether the AGW activity in society is reasonable, or scientific, or justified, is to invite that certain look that asks: “Are you of sound mind? What kind of crank are you?”

But the question remains: “What is the theory of man-made global warming based on?” It’s a simple question. Try it out. Listen to the fury it stirs.

It’s lucky politicians don’t really want to fight global warming. Because just getting a new treaty signed could start a war.

Richard Treadgold

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