Thursday, November 19, 2009

Copenhagen - a process that will do nothing

The Copenhagen Climate Conference Dec 8th - 15th is unlikely to come out with anything useful for the world. I wish it was a functionally useful as the Copenhagen Consensus, but that is highly unlikely.

The Kyoto Protocol was a very political document that was a compromise. It set goals, but placed them too far into the future, it was outside of normal timeframes elected governments think about. The Kyoto Protocol was not based on a science or economics. It was a highly flawed document. Defenders have said something is better than nothing, I have to disagree.

Kyoto defacto penalized jurisdictions that were low CO2 emitters and rewarded the countries that had the highest emissions. It also concerns me that the places in the world where emissions are increasing the fastest are not being pushed to reduce their CO2 emissions.

1997 was a very different time in climate science, what people thought was happening in the climate in 1997 has in a number of cases turned out not to be true. We are still studying what the implications are of different actions. We now know that large scale hydro is not greenhouse gas free. We know much more about forests and changes to them and how this impacts greenhouse gasses. We know more about what makes a carbon offset and what does not. We had targets set for countries to meet without having the knowledge infrastructure in place to measure the outcomes in a meaningful manner.

Can we expect anything better from Copenhagen? Honestly I have no hope that the process will lead to anything functional, it will once again be a political feel good document. I do not believe that the draft document has any hope of being ratified as it has been written, and rightly so, it is a huge step in the wrong direction globally.

The Copenhagen draft calls for $70 to 140 billion a year to be transfered from developed countries to developing countries by 2020, the intent is to convince newly industrializing nations not to increase their greenhouse gas emisions. See page 36 clause 33 for details. We are talking about a transfer of money from the major indsutrialized countries that is anywhere from 50% to 150% higher than foreign aid at the moment. I find the idea that this will happen highly unrealistic. I also have no idea how it will be decided who will pay, how much they pay, who gets it, and who decides what it should be spent on. I can see trade disputes arrising from this. Managing this money is going to be a nightmare.

There are some options considered for how to raise the money in the page 135 range of the document. Some of the ideas being proposed would cause a global recession that would put this latest one to shame.

Copenhagen also seems to create a new 'government'? A global government? I am not clear as to I reading it correctly, but it seems that the Copenhagen draft is looking at creating a global government to implement the Treaty. I bothers me already that we do not elect our representative to the UN, we will also not be allowed to elect people to this body. If it is to be a government, there has to be a mechanism to allow for people to directly chose the representatives. This new 'government' will be responsible for managing the $100 billion ballpark of money coming in by 2020.

The UN is renowned for one thing above all else, an inability to get value for money for anthing they do. I have no hope that a new body would be able to manage a budget in the range of $100 billion a year in responsible manner.

Meanwhile the effect of what the draft document talks about in 187 pages includes not one concrete thing I can point to that will have a meaningful impact on climate change. It is interesting to note that the Copenhagen Treaty is suggesting something in the order of twice as much money being raised per year than what the Copenhagen Consensus tried to prioritize for a four year period.

Meanwhile, how much is it costing to have this Copenhagen Climate Conference? I suspect that with all the meetings leading up to it, that the costs will exceed those of a winter Olympics and will have had less direct impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions than the 2010 Olympics will have.

The Copenhagen Consensus also measured 15 different possible climate change solutions and prioritized them here. It makes for interesting reading, it is some real thinking outside of the traditional pro and con people on climate change.

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