By Michael Kile,
Another year, another conference. After a quarter of a century of trying to find a way to justify the greatest wealth transfer in human history, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) still wants to impose a “climate reparations” regime on the world as part of its sustainability ideology; despite increasing skepticism from researchers outside the UN echo chamber about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest alarmist report and related claims.
So there you have it. An implausible conjecture backed by false evidence and repeated incessantly has become politically correct ‘knowledge,’ and is used to promote the overturn of industrial civilization. (Professor R Lindzen, Annual GWPF Lecture, London, October 8, 2018)
UNFCCC’s twenty-fourth Conference of the Parties – COP24 – will pursue this objective again early next month in Katowice, southern Poland. Thousands of delegates and activists are expected to descend on the city for another annual ritual. Controlling human influence on the planet’s climate, however improbable, remains for them the most urgent task of our time.
So expect a whiff of millenarianism in the Upper Silesian air, a commitment to transforming society into a sustainable utopia. As one UN climate bureaucrat said in early 2015: “we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally – within a defined period of time – changing the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years.”
But there is now a big catch, a climate Catch-22. In Joseph Heller’s 1961 novel, B25 bombardier John Yossarian put it like this:
There was only one catch and that was Catch-22…He would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he were sane he had to fly them. (J Heller, Catch-22, 1961, p. 56, ch. 5) video
A climate Catch-22 is a similar dilemma. It arose recently with the realisation that it is financially impossible and technically impractical to prevent allegedly dangerous anthropogenic climate change or global warming. So it includes what Lindzen called “unfathomable silliness”; namely any attempt to modify or eradicate an atmospheric phenomenon.
After such an epiphany one would think an agency would be crazy to have more conferences, but sane if it gave up the catastrophist game. Think again, dear reader. Climate Catch-22 is not on the COP24 agenda.
Consider the first impediment: finance. We are told that a great deal of money has to be deposited into the UN Green Climate Fund (GCF) as a matter of urgency, at least an annual US$100 billion from 2020.
Indeed, António Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, issued an ultimatum a few weeks ago. He warned on September 30 of the “threat of runaway climate change” – whatever that is – by 2020 if nothing is done.
Someone has decided – not determined – that the bogeyman of our age is apparently “moving faster than we are”; or at least faster than dollars are moving from developed economies to the GCF.
If we do not change course by 2020, we risk missing the point where we can avoid runaway climate change with disastrous consequences for people and all the natural systems that sustain us…..We are careening towards the edge of the abyss. It is not too late to shift course. But every day that passes means the world heats up a little more, and the cost of our inaction mounts.
Someone also has to pay the many thousands involved with this international boondoggle, including those who design creative ways to spend it; “rebadging” projects using the vague jargon of UN climate-speak is popular. One can include almost anything: from replacing cooking stoves in Bangladesh to sponsoring “gender responsive” drinking water ventures in Ethiopia.
Be sure to take a “climate-proof” approach in your funding application. Be optimistic too. However remote your project might seem from atmospheric turbulence, whether allegedly anthropogenic or merely the random act of some god or goddess, you still have a chance.
And who could possibly deny that growing numbers of the “world’s poorest and most vulnerable” are already facing nasty climate impacts? Or that they urgently need assistance to tackle this “problem that they did not cause”?
So why all the fuss when the solution is so simple? To restore global atmospheric equity and deliver greater developing country “climate resilience”, all the developed world has to do is deposit its fair share of “climate reparations” into the GCF and ignore the elephant in the greenhouse.
Now consider the second impediment. Cheap fossil fuel-based energy – a key driver of modern prosperity – somehow has to be replaced by renewables in little more than a decade according to the IPCC. More on that later.
The weather forecast for Katowice in early December: expect daily temperatures around 0℃ with occasional rain, perhaps some snow too. Inside the venue, of course, there will be hotter air, presumably consistent with runaway climate change.
The key objective of the meeting is to adopt the implementation guidelines of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. This is crucial because it ensures the true potential of the Paris Agreement can be unleashed, including ramping up climate action so that the central goal of the agreement can be achieved, namely to hold the global average temperature to as close as possible to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
What could be nobler than promoting the hope that a group of people of variable expertise and gender from 195 countries can take over the task of manipulating the global thermostat from Russian hackers and produce a Goldilocks climate for everyone everywhere and forever? Yet even the IPCC is unable to confirm whether Gaia has hidden it in a cave in southern Novaya Zemlya, somewhere in Baluchistan, or in a restroom in Geneva.
Don Quixote only tilted at windmills in Spain. He did not attempt to build them. Still, the prospect of “ramping up climate action” with other people’s money to save humankind surely would have made him dust the cobwebs off his lance and ride with the carbon cowboys to the next big deal.
A quarter of a century is a quite a while. No surprise, then, to learn that each UNFCCC conference strives to come up with a unique signature, theme or cri de coeur, such as “we can save the world”. The agency’s media relations team generally manages to take something excruciatingly banal and recast it into something excruciatingly manipulative.
In December 2009, for example, it put “the HOPE into Hopenhagen” (Copenhagen, 2009, COP15). Twelve months later, it was all happening again, this time on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Over 15,000 packed into the Moon Palace Hotel for an opening night of tropical treats, salsa, karaoke, twanging guitars, stilt walkers in sombreros, and naturally tequila. They danced the night away to the COP16 theme song – “Let’s put the CAN in Cancun!”
Katowice is likely to be more a subdued affair. The mood is gloomier today. If there is a theme song, it will not be: “Let’s put more COAL into Katowice!” Whether the home of Europe’s largest coal producer is going green is unclear, but presumably UNFCCC chose this location because it would like you to think so, or vice versa.
Every developing country has put its oar into the climate-change cesspool at some stage. For they all want a slice of the promised magic pudding. Easier said than done, however, as shown in the minutes of the GCF Board meeting held in early July this year.
The Pacific islands have been rowing hard in this pool for a long time. They are all members of the Alliance of Small Island States. This alarmist group accounts for almost 20 per cent of the total UN vote. There were only 51 member countries when the agency was formed in 1945, now there are 193. Tuvalu, the world’s fourth-smallest country (26 sq.km.) with about 11,000 inhabitants, has the same vote as China.
Fiji will be visible at COP24 too, leading the “high-level political phase” of its Talanoa Dialogue for climate ambition. Talanoa is a Fijian word that “describes a process of inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue through the sharing of stories and ideas.” Good luck with that exercise.
With several military coups, racial tension and periodic media restrictions, Fiji probably has a lot to contribute to such a process. It will focus on three questions: “Where are we? Where do we want to go? How do we get there?” How, indeed?
Meanwhile, spare a thought for the 91 authors of IPCC Special Report 15 (SR15). They have managed to conjure up a document whose turgid complexity is surpassed only by the gravitas with which its controversial conclusions are presented to the public.
Prepared in response to an invitation from the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the UNFCCC in December 2015, SR15’s full title is:
Global warming of 1.5C: An IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty.
When the UN had its first Yossarian Moment is unclear. It presumably knew at some stage that it would have to pull a large rabbit out of its collective hat to ensure the band played on. It also had to provide the COP24 Talanoa Dialogue with a justification for turning up the heat on the developed world over funding. If that rabbit is SR15, we are the bunnies.
Be that as it may, of all the ceremonies held throughout the world few are less inspiring than an IPCC meeting to sign off on its latest findings. Consider, for example, its 48th session held early last month in Incheon, Republic of Korea. (video; opening address).
The fate of the habitable world apparently hangs in the balance, yet one struggles to deduce it from the demeanour of the delegates. Perhaps it was jetlag or apocalypse fatigue. Perhaps they were still struggling with the gobbledygook from SR15 computer models, such as MAGICC and FAIR.
The IPCC requires us to accept this premise: that only its cast of thousands can unlock the secrets of “climate change”. When the IPCC Chair, Hoesung Lee goes on about how many comments (42,000) its three Working Groups and various drafts received in his opening address (at 8 min.), he implied that this convoluted process brings us closer to the truth. The more the gloomier. Truth in science is a tricky business. Generally, however, it depends more on a law of nature than a show of hands. Too many cooks tend to spoil the broth.
Was it worth all the effort? After three years of analysis by hundreds of scientists, Jim Skae, Co-Chair of Working Group III, made this frank admission last month:
The key message is that we can’t keep global warming below 1.5C. It’s possible within the laws of physics and chemistry. But it will require huge transitions in all sorts of systems – energy, land, transportation. But what the report has done is to send out a clear message to governments that it is physically possible. It’s now up to them to decide if they want to take up challenge. Video link (26 seconds)
The laws of physics and chemistry? What about the laws of politics, economics, self-interest, survival and so on? Did Mr Skae not answer his own question? It’s physically possible, but practically impossible.
The media release did not mention the dark secrets in the alarmist attic. Here is one of them from the report:
Uncertainties in projections of future climate change and impacts come from a variety of different sources, including the assumptions made regarding future emission pathways (Moss et al., 2010), the inherent limitations and assumptions of the climate models used for the projections, including limitations in simulating regional climate variability (James et al., 2017) (SR15, page 61)
Dr John Constable, energy editor of the London-based Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), has done an impressive analysis of SR15. He concluded that:
SR15, if thoughtfully read, should oblige policy makers to conclude that the obstacles to limiting global warming to 1.5℃, and indeed even to higher temperatures, are not just arbitrary blockages, rocks in the road to be removed, but fundamental and structural problems with the policy options currently available, which are almost certainly more harmful than the climate change they set out to mitigate.
He also gives a damning critique of specific clauses. The numbers refer to SR15’s headline statements.
C2.6 examines the scale of energy-related investment to deliver the 1.5℃ limit. The authors suggest energy-related mitigation investment would have to be reach an average annual total over the period 2015 to 2050 of around 900 billion USD in 2015 prices, with a range of 180 billion to 1,800 billion. Reference to the main study itself, see 2-84, provides the relevant gloss: “Estimates and assumptions from modelling frameworks suggest a major shift in investment patterns and entail a financial system effectively aligned with mitigation challenges (high confidence)”.
Translation: The entire world’s finances must be dedicated to climate mitigation, and this is unlikely.
Both UN agencies seem unaware of the current precarious state of global financial markets, with some experts predicting a serious crisis by 2020, if not sooner.
As for the global renewable energy outlook, Constable made the following observation.
C2.2 notes that significant energy demand reduction is required, “including through enhanced energy efficiency”, implying that some straightforwardly coerced conservation of energy will be needed. In addition, not only would a “faster electrification of energy end use” than that needed for a 2℃ limit be required for 1.5℃, but renewables would have to rise to supply 70–85% of global electricity in 2050, with gas fuelled electricity generation, equipped with carbon capture and sequestration, limited to 8% in 2050, and coal falling away to nothing. On this remarkable vision the authors comment:
While acknowledging the challenges, and differences between the options and national circumstances, political, economic, social and technical feasibility of solar energy, wind energy and electricity storage technologies have substantially improved over the past few years (high confidence). These improvements signal a potential system transition in electricity generation.
Translation: Even assuming the best for renewables and energy storage, the required global electricity sector transition is still no more than a theoretical possibility.
One question Constable did not answer was how UN Team Climate managed to get reality so wrong. Did the creators of MAGICC and FAIR have a few bad days at the office? Was the SR15 exercise shrewdly designed to be a curtain-raiser to COP24, as mentioned earlier?
New Nobel laureate William Nordhaus, a climate economist, has reached a similar conclusion: limiting global temperatures to 2℃ above so-called preindustrial levels is economically and practically impossible. He too argues that the SR15 report significantly underestimates the costs of getting to zero emissions.
At some stage in the life-cycle of a bureaucracy its perpetuation can become more important than the task it was established to carry out years, decades, or even centuries earlier.
Some entities know when to call it a day. Others are forced to retire, due to competition or market failure. There will, however, always be a market for catastrophism and the promise of redemption.
Hence the Zeitgeist – including much of the world’s political class – insists the COP circus must go on; at least until the money runs out, or humankind succumbs to the French-fry fate we are told incessantly awaits us without urgent “climate action”.
At the IPCC’s 41st session in early 2015, a decision was taken to produce yet another assessment report. AR6 is scheduled to be completed in the first half of 2022. It presumably will be followed by other reports, ad nauseum. Catch-22.
18 November 2018