Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Christopher Booker, one of Britain’s most prominent climate skeptics, has written a brilliant expose about the shambolic leadup to the Paris COP21 conference. One of the most striking features of Booker’s expose, is just how little money countries have pledged towards the “$100 billion” green fund.
According to the Australian Financial Review;
At the end of this month 40,000 politicians, officials, green activists, lobbyists and journalists from 195 nations will converge outside Paris – at Europe’s largest airport reserved only for private jets – for a conference they hope will change the world.
Their declared aim is to agree on a treaty that commits to such a massive cut in greenhouse gas emissions that the earth’s temperature is prevented from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius higher than when the climate began naturally warming again two centuries ago.
The chief obstacle to such an agreement is exactly the same as it was at Kyoto in 1997, and at that last mammoth conference at Copenhagen in 2009, which so signally failed to get Kyoto renewed. The vast majority of countries have argued all along that, if man-made CO₂ is causing a problem, the fault lies with those “developed” nations that became rich before everyone else by burning fossil fuels to power their industrial revolution.
It is therefore up to the developed countries of the West to make the most drastic cuts, leaving the still “developing” nations to catch up. They say they are prepared to make some contribution to reducing CO₂, but only if they are paid to do so out of a $100 billion a year “Green Climate Fund”, financed by the rich countries that originally created the problem.
And what about that Green Climate Fund, supposed by 2020 to be dishing out $100 billion every year to help developing countries to “adapt to climate change”? Firm pledges received so far total just $700 million, leaving $99.3 billion still to go.
Obviously $700 million is a lot of money – but consider the cost of hosting the great Paris climate Jamboree.
40,000 politicians and flunkies, being hosted for a
week 11 days. I’m assuming they won’t be going for the budget end of Parisian accommodation, and no doubt enterprising Parisian hoteliers will be putting their prices up, in anticipation of the expected influx of guests. So lets allow $1000 / night, for 7 nights.
That immediately puts our budget up to 40,000 people x 11 nights x US $1000 = $440 million dollars.
Of course, we have to add meals to the total. I’ve been to Paris, you can order a decent meal for a restaurant for about US $40, but we know these conference types on an expense account are unlikely to opt for the budget option. Many of the delegates will be armed with big expense accounts, which their host countries will expect them to use to win influence for their agenda. So I don’t think its unreasonable to suggest meals will cost an average of US $500 / day / person.
Cost of food: 40,000 x 11 days x $500 = $220 million dollars.
Then of course there is the cost of flights. This is a little harder to pin down, but its reasonable to assume airlines will see an opportunity to make a quick profit, from such a large influx of people, and that many of the delegates will be arriving on private jets from remote locations. Even if you can’t swing your own private jet, if you have enough pull to get a seat at the COP21, it seems unlikely you will be travelling cattle class.
Shall we say an average of $2000 / delegate, to fly to and from Paris?
Cost of flights: 40,000 x $2000 = $80 million dollars.
And of course, there is the cost of limousine hire. Limousine drivers, like everyone else, will undoubtably charge a premium from their well funded conference clients.
Say $800 / day / delegate
Cost of limousines: 40,000 x 11 x $800 = $352 million dollars.
Finally, there is, how shall we put it, entertainment. France prides herself on her social liberty, the social acceptability of transactional activities which are sometimes frowned upon in stricter countries. What happens in Paris might stay in Paris – but the cost of any nocturnal journeys of personal discovery will undoubtably make its way onto various taxpayer and donor funded expense accounts.
Lets assume that only 10% of the delegates decide to partake on any single night. I think it reasonable to assume that they are unlikely to choose the budget option, so lets say a rather conservative $1000 / night.
40,000 x 11 x $1000 x 10% = $44 million dollars.
There are other costs, such as the cost of hiring the conference facilities – but I doubt that comes to much, compared to the other expenses I’ve identified – lets say $10 million.
Total cost: $1146 million
Its possible some last minute pledges, possibly from delegates who have been especially well lubricated with the most sophisticated entertainment facilities Paris can offer, may drive the green pledge commitment total up a little. On the other hand, perhaps I have underestimated some of the costs – the excitement of all that frantic late night negotiation might drive delegates to expensive excesses far beyond my rather conservative estimates.
And of course, even firm pledges of green cash may wither, if other parties hesitate to fulfil their pledges, or if a change of government forces a reassessment of the budget options.
If you accept my model parameters, it seems no exaggeration to suggest that the cost of hosting the Paris COP21 party conference may match or exceed, the actual money raised for any UN green fund.
EW – The official dates of the Paris conference are November 30th to December 11th, so the calculation has been updated to use 11 days rather than 7 in the costings…