Low targets, goals dropped: Copenhagen ends in failure

The UN climate summit reached a weak outline of a global agreement last night in Copenhagen, falling far short of what Britain and many poor countries were seeking and leaving months of tough negotiations to come.

After eight draft texts and all-day talks between 115 world leaders, it was left to Barack Obama and Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, to broker a political agreement. The so-called Copenhagen accord “recognises” the scientific case for keeping temperature rises to no more than 2C but did not contain commitments to emissions reductions to achieve that goal.

American officials spun the deal as a “meaningful agreement”, but even Obama said: “This progress is not enough.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Climate Change, Weather, Denmark, Energy, Natural Resources, Europe, Globalization

17 comments on “Low targets, goals dropped: Copenhagen ends in failure

  1. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) says:

    There is no right way to do a wrong thing.

  2. Br_er Rabbit says:

    This outcome has been my proffered prognostication for the last four days. And, Bart Hall notwithstanding, there is one right way to do a wrong thing–DON’T DO IT.

    I had a dream: I dreamt that the world’s nations signed a pact for an agressive campaign to stop global warming at the cost of great sacrifice to the developed nations. Fifty years later, at the end of a great global cooling cycle, The names on the pact were villified in the history books.

    But that was just caused by gas pains.

  3. Bystander says:

    Isn’t a bit fallacious for humans to get the idea that they can control the sun, the only source of “global warming.” That control rests with only one–Great God Almighty. We are told in the last days that great signs and wonders will appear in the heavens. Also there will be a time during the Tribulation when a great heat wave will torment all men so that they will curse God. Apparently they will realize their limitations and recognize that God is the author of all things.
    The current generation of “leaders” apparently haven’t yet come to the same conclusion.

  4. Bystander says:

    Kendall will love this. In 1775, the Rt Rev Robert Smith of St Philip’s Church in So Carolina addressed the Colonial Assembly gathered in the church and spoke these word, entirely appropriate to what has happened in Copenhagen:
    “We form schemes of happiness and deceive ourselves with a weak imagination of security, without ever taking God into the question; no wonder then if our hopes prove abortive, and the conceits of our vain minds end in disappointment and sorrow. For we are inclined to attribute our prosperity to the wisdom of our own councils, and the arm of our own flesh, we become forgetful of him from whom our strength and wisdom are derived; and are then betrayed into that fatal security, which ends in shame, in misery and ruin.”
    Good and wise words from a man of God who went on to field a musket in the Revolutionary war. I wish I had known him.

  5. Nikolaus says:

    Another feather for Barry’s cap!

  6. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    “Copenhagen ends in failure”
    Sez the Grauniad. I am doubtful whether grand decisions by governments in expensive and wasteful meetings replete with chauffeur driven cars and vast amounts of food and drink are the whole answer.

    Whether you believe that climate change is affected by human actions as most Europeans accept [including myself having looked at the information that has been coming out of bodies like the British Antarctic Survey], or are doubtful or even think it is a conspiracy as so many Americans including many commenters who write here apparently do, as Christians I think that a careful and non-wasteful way of life is part of our stewardship of God’s kingdom.

    That is irrespective of the rights and wrongs of the debate, and if there is just a chance of being wrong, in my view one should err on the side of caution. There are a number of island nations which will in any event be under water shortly and coastal areas of the world [New Orleans!] who are exposed to the weather changes we have seen. Whether we are responsible or not, it is we who should take responsibility for making sure we we do what we can not to exacerbate things. This individual action aggregated is more likely to make an impact than all the grand numbers batted around in Copenhagen.

    As for what went on there, China is increasingly a major source of pollution from hydrocarbons given their breakneck industrialisation with 19th Century pollution patterns – the vast number of coal fired power stations they have brought online in the last few years, the factories, and the expansion in consumer demand.
    [blockquote]Obama hinted that China was to blame for the lack of a substantial deal. In a press conference he condemned the insistence of some countries to look backwards to previous environmental agreements. He said developing countries should be “getting out of that mindset, and moving towards the position where everybody recognises that we all need to move together”.[/blockquote]
    Well yes, but that is the way the Chinese do things. It comes from having been out of contact with the West for 40 years in the 20th Century. When coming out of that isolation, they would revert to the last documents and deals they had done, often going back to the 1940’s, grounding themselves in that and then working their way forward if a convincing case was made. Infuriating, until one understands what they are doing and the mindset and fear engendered by such a long period of isolation. There is no alternative but to go back with them to the earlier agreements and then work forward with them, until they are confident and have reached a consensus amongst themselves. This is a slow process not amenable to a week or two in Copenhagen and inflammatory rhetoric. But once they have moved, they will in general stick to an agreement, whereas others will sign up, and do nothing.

    I am also unconvinced that spending large sums of money will necessarily produce change. Once again it is hearts and minds on the ground.

    Oddly enough the thing most likely to affect the pollution generated by China, India and elsewhere is not Copenhagen, but the global recession which is affecting us all.

  7. Septuagenarian says:

    As a young lad growing up in the 100°+ summers of West Texas, I learned that, while I could not control the output of the sun, I could control the personal effects by such expedients as sitting under a pecan tree, running through the sprinklers, going swimming, etc.

    We can, of course, bury our heads in the sand like ostriches and ignore the melting polar ice caps and glaciers, dying coral reefs, the increasing number and severity of cyclonic storms, etc. In 2060 history books may vilify our stupidity, selfish greed and inaction.

    It is, of course, hard to think of global warming in December.

  8. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) says:

    Sep … except that the warming is not really happening.

    What strikes me in the whole climate thing is that none of the [i]RAW[/i] data show any warming. None. Every bit of recent “warming” shows up in the [i]adjusted[/i] data, but the people doing the adjustment are unwilling to share either their adjustment algorithms — Al Gore Rhythms ?? — or their raw data.

    The Russians have just taken a dump all over the East Anglia people for profound distortions of climate data and dendrochronology (tree rings) from Siberia. The Russians claim that East Anglia built its entire Siberia warming case on one highly anomalous tree, while dismissing thousands of other data points demonstrating the opposite effect. Huh? This is science?

    As a guy who used to do wet-chemistry analysis down to the one-tenth part-per-million (100 ppb !) level, weighed out reagents, by hand, to 1 ten-thousandth of a gram, and worked statistical calculations down to seven decimal places … my honesty and discipline has been betrayed by people pretending to work as scientists, but in essence operating as a subset of a socio-political agenda.

    Check out [url=http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/assets_c/2009/12/GlobalAdjustments81.php]this graph[/url]. It’s one of many, but is a great illustration of the difference between real data and “adjusted” data. Take a look at how the adjustment factor increases with time, thereby making the temperature appear to increase as well. Except it did not.

    If the data really showed a problem — they do not — and the Vostok ice cores showed that CO2 was a leading (or driving) factor for the temperature spikes — instead of showing an 800 year [i]LAG[/i] — I’d be as fervent in my support as I now am in my opposition.

    I’ve done ancient carbon analysis myself, and I’ve done the same type of oxygen isotope analysis used in evaluating the Vostok (Antarctica) ice cores. Very briefly put, there are naturally-occurring variants of oxygen that are heavier than the predominating type. Ocean water contains this oxygen in its natural proportions. Rain and snow do not. Hello GSMOW for any specialists out there.

    The warmer ocean water at a given time, the more of the [i]heavier[/i] stuff will evaporate. It falls as snow in Antarctica. Bingo. You can work back from how much of the heavier oxygen is in the ice to what the ocean temperature was when it snowed way back when.

    Snow is also full of air. As it collapses into ice that air is trapped in little bubbles. You can capture that ancient air, determine the CO2 content, and then use 14-C analysis to determine the [i]age[/i] of that ancient bubble air.

    What angers me is the really miserable excuse for science increasingly demonstrated to have been a widespread and mostly intentional distortion of reserach and data — designed to drive a particular conclusion.

    Furthermore, the continual stonewalling by the warming druids who have stated (now publicly) their intention to block scientists wishing to replicate the work and actually examine raw both raw data and adjustment algorithms … is nothing short of scandalous and deeply repulsive.

    This is way long already, but glaciers? There was a study published this week demonstrating that the growth and reduction of glaciers is closely correlated to — ta da! — the amount of sunshine reaching earth. Sunshine. Not temperature. And the greatest collapse of Swiss glaciers? 1947. Not 2007. Whodathunkit?

  9. Crabby in MD says:

    Yes, I am a global warming skeptic. BUT, pageantmaster and sep, I DO believe in good stewardship of the planet that God has made for us. Clean water and air, less trash, etc. The thing that gets me about Copenhagen is that it is driven by folks out to grab power in this world, using “science” as their tool. That’s the “wrong”. And I pray they NEVER get it right!

  10. Chris says:

    any event that consists at least in part of giving the likes of Mugabe, Chavez, Gore, an audience is quite simply not worth a thing. not a thing.

  11. Chris says:

    “When your attempt at recreating the Congress of Vienna with a third-rate cast of extras turns into a shambles, when the data with which you have tried to terrify the world is daily exposed as ever more phoney, when the blatant greed and self-interest of the participants has become obvious to all beholders, when those pesky polar bears just keep increasing and multiplying – what do you do?”


  12. Br_er Rabbit says:

    [blockquote] algorithms—Al Gore Rhythms [/blockquote] One free pass to the Laffin’ Place for Bart Hall.

  13. Katherine says:

    Pageantmaster, I can agree with you here: “…as Christians I think that a careful and non-wasteful way of life is part of our stewardship of God’s kingdom.” Actions to reduce actual particulate pollution emissions are wise and helpful. No argument there.

    The problem is that more and more serious scientific questions are emerging on whether CO2, human-emitted or otherwise, is the cause of observed warming trends. It is unwise to take steps to drastically alter (and damage) the world economies based on a theory which is questionable.

    Actual pollution controls, yes. “Carbon trading,” no.

  14. Br_er Rabbit says:

    [blockquote] Sep … except that the warming is not really happening. [/blockquote] I’m not so sure. Regardless of what the raw temperature data may or may not say, there is macro-data that hints that something is happening on at least a sub-global scale. The amount of navigable water in the Arctic ocean peaked a couple years back–or not. A few more years of observation is needed to tell if we’re going to have an ice-free Arctic Ocean in the summer.

    The number of glaciers in unusual retreat far exceeds the number of glaciers in unusual growth (are there any?). This may mean something–or not–but it is a piece of macro-data and deserves attention.

    Is global warming in progress? The verdict is still out. We need a few more years of observation. Current conditions may reflect a brief oscillation.

    Is global warming anthropogenic? Probably so. I would guess that human activity is at least an 0.1% factor in global warming, perhaps as much as 1%.

    What can we do about it? Ah, there’s the rub. It really doesn’t matter whether global warming is anthropogenic or not. The questions are 1) Is global warming in progress? 2) Is it of a scale that substantially threatens human populations? 3) Is there anything that humans can reasonably do that will alleviate the threat?

    My suspicions about the scientists involved revolve around the third question. Bart Hall pointed out the questionable assumptions of cause-and-effect linking carbon dioxide and global warming. What if we drove our economies back into the middle ages and found out that co2 was a lagging indicator?

    The current furor at least wakes us to the reality that our globe is more variable than has been perceived. Low-lying nations need to factor that into account. Wealthy nations should have contingency plans to assist the populations of island nations that may disappear under the sea.

    Or maybe this was all a nightmare related to intestinal gas.

  15. Septuagenarian says:

    So it is a power grab by the Bilderbergers or whatever conspiracy theory you want to adopt. It is also true that a good deal of the opposition science is funded by the coal, oil, gas and related corporations who presumably have something to lose (like $150+ per barrel oil).

    As we recently saw when oil prices peaked before the Great Recession of 2008-9, our economy (not to mention our national security) is very much in peril as a consequence of our extravagant use of fossil fuels. And we do know that this also poses threats to our environment and even health. And we really do not know the current costs of this, much less the long term costs.

    Reducing our dependence on fossil fuels does not necessarily result in our economy being driven back to the Middle Ages. That is just as much a scare tactic as the vision of Long Island under the Atlantic–perhaps even more so. Developing alternative sources of energy and conservation can create jobs (particularly if we keep the production here in the U.S. rather than importing it–as we currently do–from Japan, France, Spain and China). It could also lower the cost of energy–or at the very least ameliorate what is sure to be ever increasing costs of energy derived from fossil fuels.

  16. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) says:

    Sep — apart from nuclear electricity, and metric loads of it at that, there [i]is[/i] no “alternative energy.” I first worked with wind and solar over 30 years ago: they are not viable options at any cost that wouldn’t make $150 oil look very reasonable.

    At $150 the Alberta / Saskatchewan oil sands are phenomenally profitable. They’ll come on line long before that, and by some estimates those reserves surpass the rest of the world, combined.

    At $150 oil could also see di-methyl ether from coal used as a motor fuel, especially to replace diesel in trains and trucks. It requires only off-the-shelf adaptation.

    Remove monumental government subsidies and you’ll see ethanol, wind, and solar shrivel like new grass in July.

  17. Septuagenarian says:

    I don’t know much about wind power, other than the fact that there are already large wind farms operating here in Texas–I drive through one of them when I visit my cousin in San Angelo–and more are in the works. I doubt that they are unprofitable; it seems unlikely that the new ones in development are expected to be unprofitable. The major difficulty with Picken’s plan was the lack of infrastructure to deliver power from the Texas Panhandle to major metropolitan areas where the electricity is needed. Of course, updating our outdated electrical grid is one of the national priorities which much be addressed.

    The reality is that $150+ oil is in the future as the international economy recovers and China and other bid the price up (and, God forbid, the Middle East either exploits their advantage or falls into chaos). And the only long term solutions are to develop alternatives which may seem to be unprofitable suddenly become reasonable. But no matter what is done, we will be paying more and more for energy in the future.

    Of course, we could do some things like reduce the government subsidies of oil. It may already be happening. People around here are screaming bloody murder because the Texas government is cutting back on highway and expressway construction to reduce the state budget. The result is the increasing construction of toll roads and rapidly increasing tolls on existing toll roads. You mean I have to pay to burn gasoline on Texas ruads? The very idea!