Cop19 – What Happened?

The ‘Conference of Parties’ to the U.N. Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC) 19th annual event, 2013, closed in Warsaw to controversy. There was a walkout of many of the world’s poor countries over refusal of compensation for supposed climate related harm arising from the West’s emissions of CO2. This was estimated at $350 billion a year by the 2070’s if action was not taken to halt emissions. Also, it would require some $100billion a year from the West to be given to the poorer nations for pre-emptive mitigation action. No doubt the disappointed environmental pressure groups were also expecting to obtain a large slice of that annual $100billion, too. However, this was altogether too much for even the EU, otherwise wholly committed to supporting climate change measures.

Connie Hedegaard, EU climate commissioner said:
The EU understands that the issue is incredibly important for developing countries. But they should be careful about … creating a new institution. This is not what this process needs,” She ruled out their most important demand, insisting: “We cannot have a system where we have automatic compensation when severe events happen around the world. That is not feasible.”

Yet, Hedegaard was insistent that the previously announced 20% of the EU’s budget will still go towards fighting climate change. This will provide €180 billion on climate spending between 2014 and 2020, to reduce emissions domestically and help developing countries adapt to climate change, at three times the previous budget. This is an extremely large and apparently impressive amount, but is most likely to be a political redefining or a reallocation of already committed funds.

Further, over the next seven years, €15 billion from the EU’s overseas development budget will be ring-fenced for climate spending. This is separate from what is provided each year by individual member states. For instance, the UK will provide £3.87bn of international climate aid between 2011 and 2015.

If Hedegaard really is taking funds from development budgets it will therefore be taking money away from pot entially useful projects such as education, better healthcare, clean water, sanitation, inoculations, and irrigation. In their place will be subsidised wind turbines, solar panels, green propaganda exercises, prime agricultural land used for bio-fuels, and yet more heavily attended international climate conferences.

There were some deals at Warsaw mainly to do with deforestation, emissions counting, financial pledges, and deadlines for emissions reductions targets, but not the big ticket headline-grabbing items so beloved of the pressure groups.

The Conservative response to the climate talks has not been supportive. Douglas Carswell, Conservative MP for Clacton, said:
We’re spending money that we don’t have to solve a problem that doesn’t exist at the behest of people we didn’t elect.”

In the same week, David Cameron, once proud to be in the ‘greenest government ever’, was reported to have exclaimed that it was “…time to get rid of all that green crap…”. Yet, we are still spending vast amounts on climate aid and no sign whatsoever that the UK will pull out of the talks, or attempt to inject reality into the proceedings.

Japan was recently added to the list of countries now pulling back from decarbonisation, further adding to the difficulty of reaching conclusions at the climate talks:

The country’s previous commitment, set in 2009, sought to reduce emissions 25 per cent by 2020 from 1990 levels. The new goal would represent a 3.1 per cent increase from 1990 if that year is used as the starting point, according to Bloomberg calculations.

In the UK the political machinations over energy costs continue with an announcement in George Osborne’s Autumn Statement to cut some green levies by £50 a year.

It is as if the climate, climate science, energy supplies, international bureaucracies, big gestures, and grandstanding, are some superior game played with arcane rules accessible only to the privileged few. This all ignores the real consequences of allowing politics to overrule practicality, which are high energy costs, increased risk of energy shortages, social damage, and failing economies.

The final word on this is best summed up by Oxfam director Winnie Byanyima:
“For the third year in a row the member countries have found a new way to
say absolutely nothing …”

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