Bali round up

Just to remind you, my prediction was that Bali was going to be a waste of time. But I’m open-minded, and happy to be persuaded otherwise. I rather suspect that any benefits are going to be hard-to-analyse-or-see, though possibly no less real for all that.

Its time to look through the usual suspects for their views. And then I’ll put up my initial reaction. I’m slightly heartened to hear Bush condemning the deal, which suggests it might be worth something.

Eli has a fine example of an Anti-Bali rant, but doesn’t venture his own opinion; perhaps pondering in his burrow over a carrot or two.

David Appell unequivocally regards Bali as a failure.

Desmog calls it a cop-out and says that Europe blinks.

None of my other usual suspects have commented so far. Come on, wimps. I suppose this means I’ll have to actually read the agreement myself. Or maybe not, I never read Kyoto.

[Update: mt calls is a non-failure -W]

Time asks Who Won and Lost at Bali and says In the end, the U.S.’s total isolation was too much for even it to bear. “We’ve listened very closely to many of our colleagues here during these two weeks, but especially to what has been said in this hall today,” said lead American negotiator Paula Dobiansky. “We will go forward and join consensus.” Boos turned to cheers, and the deal was essentially sealed. Thats what I heard from R4 on the Beeb. I thought it sounded rather puzzling – the idea that the poor dear US negotiations felt so lonely they just had to give in is not plausible. Indeed if they went past their allowable positions they would just get repudiated anyway. The Bali roadmap contains no specific commitments or figures on the emissions reductions that developed countries will need to take, beyond language that “deep cuts” will be needed. Earlier in the week the EU fought hard to include a specific target of 25 to 40% cuts for developed nations by 2020, and a need to halve global emissions — two figures cited by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) latest assessment of global warming science. Neither made it into the final text, thanks largely to determined opposition from the U.S., although a footnote points to the IPCC report. Hmm, that sounds rather more likely; it also sounds like success for the US and failure for the climate to me (should I put in a bit here pointing out that by the “US” I mean “the Bush administration”; they are the people deciding what happens, after all. The Germans sound happy, in what appears to be a common European-govt-type take.

The UN says “delegates have agreed on both the agenda for the negotiations and a 2009 deadline” to which I say hmpf, so what: translated, that means another 2 years of junketing, what delegate would vote against that? “The text does not specify or mandate emissions targets, but it does say that deep cuts in emissions will be needed” – but “deep cuts” is an obviously meaningless phrase.

Oxfam don’t call it success or failure, but make the obvious point that the US etc are going to respond to what their citizens demand.

I find myself a little dismayed that the best analysis I’ve found so far comes from NewsBusters, who combat liberal media bias. Oh dear.

One minor snippet from the UNFCCC press release is that Parties agreed to recognize that the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the most comprehensive and authoritative assessment of climate change to date. [read more]. Presumably that includes the US, and if true would represent quite a shift. For which reason I doubt its true, or if it is, that they’ve thought it through.

And finally we get down to the Bali (In)Action Plan. And it says… well, read it yourself: its not long and mostly blah. I’m sure every word was fought over fiercely, but the end result looks largely null to me. Anyone who likes it is invited to pick out the bit that means something.

The Famous Footnote occurs thus: Recognizing that deep cuts in global emissions will be required to achieve the ultimate objective of the Convention and emphasizing the urgency1 to address climate change, where (1) is “Contribution of Working Group III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Technical Summary, pages 39 and 90, and Chapter 13, page 776.” because this cuts straight to one of the things I keep banging on about, to everyoes irritation: what do things like “urgent” mean, how do we balance costs etc, and what does the actual science tell us about urgency? WGI, of course, is silent on the issue.

OK, so off to the AR4 WGIII we go, not a place I’m familiar with. p39? Don’t understand the relevance. p90? Ummmm… Ch13 p776? Errrm. Well, perhaps one of my readers will be kind enough to point out the bit there justifying urgency.

OK, I’ve seen enough for now: initial reaction is: prediction: confirmed; junketeers: happy; result: waste of time.

Comments

  1. #1 Phil
    2007/12/15

    “Reaffirming that economic and social development and poverty eradication are global priorities…”

    Once again, “economic development”, that wonderful euphemism for global environmental destruction, is the top priority.

    Nothing to see here, move on.

  2. #2 Magnus W
    2007/12/15

    Well I’m convinced that this is a brake through, US was determined to not talk about cuts and dates and ways forward but where forced to do so. I don’t think that any one really expected that US will do something “for real” until a new president is at place any way… (guess you read the post on RC about the “science advisor” at the conference.)

    This has put a frame for the forthcoming presidential debates in US and sort of it will make it much harder to just duck the question which is what I think many was prepared to do.

  3. #3 mugwump
    2007/12/15

    Once again, “economic development”, that wonderful euphemism for global environmental destruction, is the top priority.

    No, economic development means people lifting themselves out of grinding, hopeless poverty. No first-worlder has the moral authority to tell a third-worlder they must remain impoverished for the sake of the environment.

  4. #4 Eli Rabett
    2007/12/15
  5. #5 Timothy Chase
    2007/12/16

    Honestly I wasn’t expecting much out of Bali — and while the United States is the main culprit, it certainly isn’t the only one. There was news coming out regarding how Canada might try to sabotage it…

    Leaked Negotiating Instructions Show Canada Set to Block Negotiations in Bali
    CLIMATE ACTION NETWORK CANADA December 8, 2007
    http://canadiandimension.com/articles/2007/12/08/1473/

    … Australia was cooperating with the US earlier this year in trying to sabotage things…

    EU slams United States, Australia on climate change
    02 Apr 2007 13:54:24 GMT
    By Jeff Mason
    http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L02314556.htm

    … hardly any country (at least in the EU) managed to live up to its Kyoto obligations…

    Europe falling behind in Kyoto carbon targets
    Bruno Waterfield, Brussels
    June 16, 2007
    http://www.theage.com.au/news/world/europe-falling-behind-in-kyoto-carbon-targets/2007/06/15/1181414548676.html

    …, etc.. At some point I think we will get serious about climate change, but I also think it will be too late for a lot of people. But as I view it, however long it takes, chances are it would be a great deal worse if it took even longer.

    Here is one bit I liked, though:

    Time after time, just as an agreement on emissions reduction targets had drawn near, the US delegation submitted amendments or new texts that threw the process into disarray. It was these tactics that eventually saw them get their way and have the emissions target figures removed.

    They might have won even more concessions had it not been for a last-minute outburst from Kevin Conrad, head of Papua New Guinea’s delegation, who won mass applause when he told the Americans yesterday: “We seek your leadership, but if you cannot lead, leave it to the rest of us. Get out of the way.”

    It was after this that America finally yielded and offered a deal.

    From:

    December 16, 2007
    Bali’s crying shame
    The drama of the UN climate change talks caught the world’s attention, but critics wonder whether they will secure its futureJonathan Leake in Bali
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3056722.ece

  6. #6 crandles
    2007/12/16

    Page 90 and Ch13 776 seem to be references to IPCC emission reduction rates required to reach stabilization levels. eg

    “Under most equity interpretations, developed countries as a
    group would need to reduce their emissions significantly by 2020 (10-40% below 1990 levels) and to still lower levels by 2050 (40-95% below 1990 levels) for low to medium stabilization levels (450-550ppm CO2-eq) (see also Chapter 3).”

    I did wonder whether this was a matter of leave a vague reference to a target in as they couldn’t get agreement on putting a target in the document rather than justifying ‘urgently’. However when you combine it with p39, the way these references are being used to justify ‘urgently’ seems clear enough: There is a table on p39 that includes things like to hit a 490-535 CO2-eq concentration (ppm), then peaking year for CO2 emissions needs to be 2000 – 2020.

    If not much had to be done by 2020 then it probably wouldn’t be considered urgent but if we have to ensure emmisions have peaked by 2020 then this is significant and it is urgent.

    [This may well be the correct interpretation, but it then leaves open the question of *why* these cuts are urgent. Or, put another way, if that footnote is the best they can do to justify urgent, then Bush has nothing to worry about -W]

  7. #7 bigTom
    2007/12/16

    I think the alternative could have been worse. The US could have tried to preempt the next POTUS by agreeing to minor reductions. That might have made it more difficult for the next administration to propose substantial reductions. Agreeing to wait two more years gives time for the US to become non-obstructionist. We might even change as dramatically as Australia.

  8. #8 windansea
    2007/12/16

    ahhh, US bashing and BDS, lovely

    One would think that countries that signed the Kyoto treaty are doing a better job of curtailing carbon emissions. One would also think that the United States, the only country that does not even intend to sign, keeps on emitting carbon dioxide at growth levels much higher than those who signed.
    And one would be wrong.

    The Kyoto treaty was agreed upon in late 1997 and countries started signing and ratifying it in 1998. A list of countries and their carbon dioxide emissions due to consumption of fossil fuels is available from the U.S. government. If we look at that data and compare 2004 (latest year for which data is available) to 1997 (last year before the Kyoto treaty was signed), we find the following.

    * Emissions worldwide increased 18.0%.
    * Emissions from countries that signed the treaty increased 21.1%.
    * Emissions from non-signers increased 10.0%.
    * Emissions from the U.S. increased 6.6%.

  9. #9 windansea
    2007/12/16

    Some more info from the same data the American Thinker used:

    http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/tables/07s1317.xls

    The Top 16 emitters produced 74.19% of the CO2 emissions from burning carbon fuels.

    Excluding the U.S. , the next 15 emitters produce 52.33% of the worlds CO2 from burning fossil fuels.

    The top four emitters were U.S., China, Russia, Japan and India in that order, and only the U.S. and Japan would have been required to control emissions under Kyoto.

    Excluding the U.S., the top 15 emitters increased CO2 emissions by 25% since Kyoto.

    Only 3 Countries in those top 15 outperformed the U.S. since 1997:

    Germany at -1.63 %
    U.K at 3.39%
    France at 6.21%

    Top increases since 1997 from the top 15 emitters:

    China at 55% currently the no 2 emitter
    Russia at 15.61% currently the no 3 emitter
    India at 27.45% currently the no 5 emitter
    Iran at 39.31% currently the no 13 emitter.

    Top European offenders were:
    Italy at 15.53% increase since 1997 at no 10 on the list
    Spain at 37.81% increase at no 18.

  10. #10 Nathan Rive
    2007/12/16

    Nice bit of plagiarism there, windansea:
    http://tinyurl.com/33nxnp

    The Kyoto has a lot of weaknesses and failures of compliance, but a few comments:

    “Signing” the Protocol does not reflect any commitment to the emissions caps, only ratification does:
    http://tinyurl.com/2cthnz

    Furthermore, the analysis you cite is conveniently limited. The growth numbers for countries that “signed” the treaty includes both Annex I and non-Annex I countries. The latter are not bound by emissions caps under Kyoto.

    The original author also failed to note countries that had both ratified the Protocol, and had lower CO2 emissions growth than the US in that period: United Kingdom, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Poland, Switzerland, and Iceland (among others). Source: CDIAC

    But then, I’m guessing this is all falling on deaf ears.

  11. #11 Hank Roberts
    2007/12/16

    > deaf ears
    Post the criticisms to the place he copied his posting from. They won’t appear until the original author hears you.

    Windansea: Quotation marks were invented for citing sources. Use them. Sources lend you credibility only if you cite them.

  12. #12 Nathan Rive
    2007/12/16

    windansea: My apologies – when I wrote the comment, I only saw your first posting. My comment was held up for moderation. But you should really be citing properly with links and quotations.

    Hank: I would do, if they offered a place for comments.

  13. #13 windansea
    2007/12/16

    yep, I copied and pasted, dispute the numbers please

    I am just a messenger

    typical behavior though

  14. #14 Hank Roberts
    2007/12/17

    Lots of ways to look at it. Use them all for perspective.
    By country looks one way:
    http://gristmill.grist.org/images/user/8/hansen_letter_4.jpg

    But look at the “Per capita responsibility for climate change … based on cumulative national emissions. The United Kingdom has the highest per capita responsibility …. Recognition of these facts is not an attempt to cast blame. Early emissions of CO2 occurred before the climate problem was recognized and well before it was proven. Yet these facts are worth bearing in mind.”
    http://gristmill.grist.org/images/user/8/hansen_letter_6.jpg

    Look at the easy stuff not being done and ask why.

    All the utility pole transformers need replacement. (PCBs?)

    These stay in service 40 years, maybe longer.

    US Energy Dept. says utilities are wrong to ask for an efficiency rule, there’s no value in reducing waste of electricity.

    Utilities sue for better regulation. State joins: San Francisco Chronicle, 12/12/07
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/12/12/BA1FTSBR2.DTL&hw=transformer+lawsuit&sn=002&sc=388

  15. #15 Adam
    2007/12/17

    “This may well be the correct interpretation, but it then leaves open the question of *why* these cuts are urgent. Or, put another way, if that footnote is the best they can do to justify urgent, then Bush has nothing to worry about”

    So we don’t need to worry about whether stabilisation levels are under, or above 550ppm then?

    [Of course we do. But we also need to justify that urgency. Your task is to find some IPCC text that does justify urgency -W]

  16. #16 Adam
    2007/12/17

    “Your task is to find some IPCC text that does justify urgency”

    Well if we’re relying on me, then we’re buggered. However, firstly, is there some text in that does? Because *if* we do need to worry (I’m not denying it BTW), shouldn’t the IPCC text say we do? If it doesn’t, why doesn’t it? Is that a failing of the process?

    [Not necessarily. “urgent” could be considered more a political word outside the IPCC scope -W[

    Because if the IPCC reports can’t be used to justify it, it seems to me that you’d be hard pressed to come up with some justification before the next one.

  17. #17 Hank Roberts
    2007/12/17

    Pity the IPCC specifically did not say much about polar change and sea level rise this last time.

    They don’t do any interim reports, do they?

  18. #18 Gareth
    2007/12/18

    [Of course we do. But we also need to justify that urgency. Your task is to find some IPCC text that does justify urgency -W]

    WG2 report? Has no-one bothered to read it – at least the SPM?

    Worries me, at least.

    The need for urgency is straightforward. The stuff we do over the next ten years will be relevant to what happens in 30-40 years time. If you look at WG2, you’ll see that the impacts expected within the climate commitment period are already pretty bad – and they will get much worse if we do nothing – or not enough – to mitigate.

    The current news (ice, SLR) makes it look as though we’ll be into the bad stuff before mitigation has a chance to work.

  19. #19 Hank Roberts
    2007/12/18

    IPCC in the news as ‘very conservative’ in estimates.
    BBC News for Monday, 17 December 2007

    —-excerpt——
    The world’s sea levels could rise twice as high this century as UN climate scientists have previously predicted, according to a study.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change proposes a maximum sea level rise of 81cm (32in) this century.

    But in the journal Nature Geoscience, researchers say the true maximum could be about twice that: 163cm (64in)….

    The results join other studies showing that current sea level projections may be very conservative.
    ——-end excerpt——-

    I’m guessing this one:

    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/ngeo.2007.28.html
    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/fig_tab/ngeo.2007.28_ft.html
    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/extref/ngeo.2007.28-s1.pdf

  20. #20 JamesG
    2007/12/18

    The problem is that the wrong issue was being discussed. Even if people sign up to cuts they won’t do it because they have to face reality. Cuts are just trying to get the tail to wag the dog anyway. Yes economic development can mean environmental destruction but yes it can also mean people lifting themselves out of poverty so casting this as left versus right, or moral versus immoral is just wrong-headed. If the conference was about conservation or alternative energies we’d have had agreement. After all, what do we really want? Clean, safe, cheap energy, an end to world poverty (which should lead to population reduction) and less destruction of the planet. Now how do we best achieve all that? Are mandated CO2 cuts really the best way we can think of? How about starting with an incandescent lightbulb ban, or a soot ban, or an anti-deforestation plan or seriously subsidising alternative energies, eg. getting governments to actually buy them for their own use, hence encouraging mass-production. Bugger carbon credits and carbon trading; if ever there was a vehicle for mass corruption that’s it!

  21. #21 crandles
    2007/12/18

    Any thoughts on whether agreement will be reached by the end of 2009 or on betting on this?

    See comment at http://julesandjames.blogspot.com/2007/12/another-bet-on-not-so-much-climate.html#comments

  22. #22 David B. Benson
    2007/12/18

    “Economic development”:

    Coral reefs are on the ropes

    Unfortunately, only a few understand why coral reefs are important to everybody’s well-being…

  23. #23 JamesG
    2007/12/19

    “Unfortunately, only a few understand why coral reefs are important to everybody’s well-being…”
    However if you knew that the real damage to coral reefs is being done primarily by trawlers and secondarily from direct pollution perhaps you’d want to tackle the real problems and you’d then perhaps realise that reduction of CO2 would do virtually nothing to save the coral. The only pristine coral in the Caribbean is around Cuba; because Castro doesn’t allow fishing boats. It’s just the same silly CO2 argument for so many environmental disasters like droughts, floods, fires, extinctions, etc, where in fact, yes humans are definitely causing many of them but CO2 increase is way down the list of causes. Unfortunately these more mundane anthropogenic issues cannot attract funding the way the CO2 circus can.

  24. #24 john
    2007/12/31

    The US could have tried to preempt the next POTUS by agreeing to minor reductions. That might have made it more difficult for the next administration to propose substantial reductions. Agreeing to wait two more years gives time for the US to become non-obstructionist.

  25. #25 cen
    2007/12/31

    f not much had to be done by 2020 then it probably wouldn’t be considered urgent but if we have to ensure emmisions have peaked by 2020 then this is significant and it is urgent.