Friday, October 30, 2009

China, India vitiate Copenhagen discussions

With less than two months to go before the big Copenhagen Conference on global warming, two major nations have said "no thanks" to the no-growth agenda. For that reason alone, so should we.

Following a deal signed late Thursday between China and India, anything we might agree to do in Copenhagen is likely moot anyway. The two mega-nations — which together account for nearly a third of the world's population — said they won't go along with a new climate treaty being drafted in Copenhagen to replace the Kyoto Protocol that expires in 2012. They're basically saying no to anything that forces them to impose mandatory limits on their output of greenhouse gas emissions. Other developing nations, including Mexico, Brazil and South Africa, will likely reject any proposals as well.

The deal was already in trouble. Three weeks ago, the Group of 77 developing nations met in Thailand to discuss what they wanted to do about global warming. Their answer: nothing.

William Hawkins, writing in the American Thinker, quotes a piece in China's Science Times journal that sums up how China — and other developing nations — feel: "Why do the developed countries put an arguable scientific problem on the international negotiations table?" the article's author, Wang Jin, asks. "The real intention is not for the global temperature increase, but for the restriction of the economic development of the developing countries."

They see clearly what the rest of us seem to miss — that, for all its bad science, the Copenhagen Conference is about the world's Lilliputians tying down its Gullivers, not about global warming at all.

So, thanks to China and India, Copenhagen is dead — just as Kyoto was when it was signed in 1992, though no one knew it at the time. Without them, no global treaty on climate change will be workable. The two nations are not only the world's most populous (with, together, more than 2 billion people), they are also the fastest-growing major countries. China is now the world's No. 1 emitter of greenhouse gases, and India is catching up fast.

Even with their participation, Copenhagen should have been a non-starter for the U.S. Indeed, the main reason for the greenhouse gas deal, all but admitted to by its major participants, is to cripple the U.S. economy — the most successful economy in the world.

True enough, as green critics keep saying, we produce nearly 20% of the world's CO2 and other greenhouse gases with just 5% of the world's population. But our GDP of roughly $14 trillion is nearly 25% of the world's total — in line with our gas output. We provide jobs and consumption not just for Americans, but for tens of millions of people overseas whose livelihoods depend on satisfying the massive American market.

In case you're still worried about warming, stop. Since 1998, the data show global temperatures have fallen. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says this can't be happening. None of the IPCC's models shows a possibility of rising CO2 output and declining temperature. But even Paul Hudson, the pro-warming-theory BBC climate correspondent, recently had to admit: "For the last 11 years, we have not observed any increase in global temperatures. And our climate models did not forecast it, even though man-made carbon dioxide, the gas thought to be responsible for warming our planet, has continued to rise."

Yet, the IPCC estimates that "remediation" of the warming trend will cost about 1.7% of world GDP. In the U.S., that's about $240 billion a year. For the entire world, it's about $1 trillion a year — or $71 trillion over the next 70 years or so.

Proposals to slash CO2 won't work anyway. Department of Energy estimates indicate that 97% of all CO2 emissions would continue even if humans didn't exist.

Even so, climatologist Chip Knappenberger estimates that laws like the recent Waxman-Markey bill would, if fully enacted, reduce future warming by just 0.2 degrees Celsius by 2100 — not enough even to measure accurately.

Can the world really afford to give up $71 trillion in the coming decades to solve a phantom problem? Given the shoddiness of the science behind warming claims and the refusal of the biggest CO2 emitters to play along with the climate change sham, it would be economically ruinous for the U.S. to do anything other than wish the rest of the world a nice day, and go about our business.



China's busy climate change diplomacy has become increasingly feverish weeks before crucial talks that could forge a new pact to fight global warming, or end in rancour that could rebound onto the world's biggest emitter. President Hu Jintao told U.S. President Barack Obama last week that China wants a successful outcome in Copenhagen when the world gathers from Dec. 7 to wrangle over the proposed new climate pact, and the topic is sure to feature when Obama visits Beijing in mid-November.

Recent weeks have brought a flurry of meetings between China and other big hitters in the negotiations, including India. Global warming will feature too at a China-European Union summit late in November. But Chinese diplomats and advisers doing footwork for the negotiations have echoed growing international gloom, warning the Copenhagen talks could end with a feeble agreement that evades key issues or even fails to reach a deal. "The real negotiations will be after Copenhagen," Yi Xianliang, a Chinese Foreign Ministry official involved in the climate talks told a meeting in Beijing last week. "Copenhagen will be a starting point, not an ending point."

Hopes negotiators will agree on a firm goal to halve worldwide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 compared to recent levels appear dim, said Pan Jiahua, an expert on climate change policy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

As a coal-dependent behemoth with output of greenhouse gases likely to rise for many years yet, China could bear much of the brunt of any backlash if the talks fail to produce a solid deal. That could spill over into greater tensions over trade.

"With China such a big emitter, it wants to avoid becoming the scapegoat if negotiations are unsuccessful or even fall apart," said Wang Ke, who teaches environmental policy at Renmin University in Beijing. "We feel it's already game-over. Copenhagen will be a rough compromise," he said. "China wants to take the initiative so it avoids being blamed if that's called a failure."

China's emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas generated by human activity, reached 6.8 billion tonnes in 2008, a rise of 178 percent over levels in 1990, according to the IWR, a German energy institute. U.S. emissions rose 17 percent over this period to 6.4 billion tonnes.

China is often denounced by Western critics as a stumbling block to agreement, because it argues developing countries should not submit to binding international caps on emissions while they grow out of poverty. In turn, China and other developing countries have said the rich countries have done far too little in vowing to cut their own greenhouse gas output, and in offering technology and money to the Third World to help cope with global warming.


India to the USA: You first

In India, Left, Right and Green think the developed nations should do the cutbacks

The political cost of a shift on climate change negotiations increased for the UPA government with the Left, BJP and the green lobby standing on common ground to oppose any political drift before the crucial Copenhagen climate talks in December. While the RSS voiced its opposition to any dilution of India's stand in its mouthpiece `Organiser', CPM took out a resolution warning the government against bending to accommodate the US on the issue.

A group of key green groups have also written a strong letter to the PM warning, "Civil society in India would oppose any moves to change India's negotiating position in the direction being suggested by the minister of environment and forests."

The flurry of political action also marked a leap for environment as a subject on the political sphere. CPM, in its resolution, said, "India should firmly resist pressure from the US and other advanced countries to abandon the Kyoto Protocol and UNFCCC framework and stick to the principle of common but differentiated responsibility."

Indicating that the UPA government's proposal to move a law on greenhouse gas emission reduction in the winter session of Parliament may not see smooth sailing, CPM warned, "India should take up and announce measures for control and reduction of growth rates of emissions not unilaterally but only conditional upon the US and other advanced countries undertaking the deep emission cuts as called for by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change."

The RSS said in Organiser's latest edition, "The developing countries led by India till have held their position in trying to make the rich nations accept responsibility for the poison they spew. By suggesting that India should change its stand on Kyoto Protocol... the minister has attempted to break the spirit of the developing nations."

The missive from a chunk of green and development NGOs, including Action Aid, Tata Institute of Social Sciences and grassroot organisations, to the PM also echoed the political consensus emerging from the Opposition benches. However, observers pointed out that some important NGOs had kept off the list, clearly showing that divisions still existed in the green brigade.

Sunita Narain, director of Centre for Science and Environment and member of the PM's Council on Climate Change, said, "We want an effective climate deal at Copenhagen, not a bad deal or a cop out. India is asking for its right to development, not the right to pollute."

With environmental issues ratcheting up on the political scene ahead of the Copenhagen meet, the UPA government will find it tough to make concessions without seeking trade-offs at the negotiations, observers noted.



"AP IMPACT: Statisticians reject global cooling". This is an interesting headline. We thought the debate is over global warming. Apparently, not. Last week, a poll by the Pew Center for the People and the Press showed that there has been an erosion of the percentage of American's who think that the earth is heating up. And now, the AP's Seth Borenstein is out there trying to find out whether or not the earth is cooling!

How things have changed during the past 10 years. Borenstein had been hearing so much recently about the possibility that the earth has been cooling that he decided to go out and find some statisticians that could analyze the earth's temperature history and give him some insight as to what has been going on: In a blind test, the AP gave temperature data to four independent statisticians and asked them to look for trends, without telling them what the numbers represented. The experts found no true temperature declines over time.

Hmm. Why go to all the bother? This analysis has already been done numerous times. A recent example that clearly lays out the ups and downs of current temperature trends was posted about two weeks ago at the blog The figure below is taken from that post. It shows the current temperature trends from 5 to 15 years in length from all available global temperature datasets.

Figure 1. Each point on the chart represents the trend beginning in September of the year indicated along the x-axis and ending in August 2009. The different colored lines represent different temperature datasets as indicated. The trends which are statistically significant (<0.05) are indicated by filled circles. The zero line (no trend) is indicated by the thin black horizontal line, and the climate model average projected trend is indicated by the thick red horizontal line. By judiciously selecting the time period and the dataset, you can make a case or cooling, warming, or neither.

Borenstein quoted John Christy who pretty well summed up the situation: "It pretty much depends on when you start," wrote John Christy, the Alabama atmospheric scientist who collects the satellite data that skeptics use. He said in an e-mail that looking back 31 years, temperatures have gone up nearly three-quarters of a degree Fahrenheit (four-tenths of a degree Celsius). The last dozen years have been flat, and temperatures over the last eight years have declined a bit, he wrote.

In other words, over the last dozen years, the earth's average temperature has remained relatively steady during a time period when the globe should be warming rapidly as a result of human greenhouse gas emissions -or at least that is what all of the climate models are projecting should be happening.

While you would think this would be headline news-"Global Warming Is Not Proceeding According To Plan"-instead, Borenstein opts to run a story primarily focused on various people struggling to explain why the decline in the earth's temperature over the past 8 years really isn't global cooling.

This biggest message from Borenstein's article is that global warming proponents are starting to get irritated at the earth's lack of cooperation. Especially with big national and international negotiations taking place on actions aimed at reducing the rate of global temperature rise. If the earth's temperature isn't rising along with greenhouse gas emissions as expected, then why all the bother?

This desperation is none more obvious than in remarks made by NASA's Gavin Schmidt, as quoted by Borenstein: NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt predicts 2010 may break a record, so a cooling trend "will be never talked about again." That's pretty wishful, but unrealistic, thinking. After all, 10 years ago, the year 1998 smashed all previous global temperature records and yet today everywhere you turn, as evidenced most recently by Seth Borenstein's article, you are greeted by discussions of global cooling.

It is hard to see how one year would end such talk forever.



"...unlikely that the Arctic will experience ice-free summers by 2020."

But they do say that "first ice-free summer expected to occur between 2060 and 2080?. By then there will be nobody that remembers this forecast. Yet on the same day, bumbling Arctic explorer Pen Hadow says in a UK Telegraph interview: "To all intents and purposes the Arctic will be ice free in a decade. I do find the implications of this happening in my lifetime quite shocking.".

Gosh, who to believe? Somebody that fakes biotelemetry data or somebody that won't hand over climate data for replication studies? From a Met Office press release on October 15th:
The extent of Arctic sea ice has been decreasing since the late 1970s. In 2007 it decreased dramatically in a single year, reaching an all-time low. At the time it was widely reported that this was caused by man-made climate change and that the rate of decline of summer sea ice was increasing.

Modelling of Arctic sea ice by the Met Office Hadley Centre climate model shows that ice invariably recovers from extreme events, and that the long-term trend of reduction is robust - with the first ice-free summer expected to occur between 2060 and 2080. It is unlikely that the Arctic will experience ice-free summers by 2020.

Analysis of the 2007 summer sea-ice minimum has subsequently shown that this was due, in part, to unusual weather patterns. Arctic weather systems are highly variable year-on-year and the prevailing winds can enhance, or oppose, the southward flow of ice into the Atlantic. Consequently, the sea ice has not declined every year, but has shown considerable variability - both in extent and thickness.

The high variability has made it difficult to attribute the observed trend to man-made emissions of greenhouse gases, although there is now enough data to detect a human signal in the 30-year trend. The trend and observed variability, including the minimum extent observed in 2007, is consistent with climate modelling from the Met Office.

About half of the climate models involved in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change fourth assessment report, show that ice declines in steps - failing to recover from extreme years. The observed temporary recovery from the 2007 minimum in 2008 and 2009 indicates that the Arctic ice has not yet reached a tipping point, if such exists. We expect Arctic ice to continue to decline in line with increasing global temperatures. If the rate of global temperature rise increases then so will the rate of Arctic sea-ice decline.


Australia: Conservative politicians lose faith in Warmist laws

LIBERAL Party frontbenchers have begun to dump their support for carbon emissions trading after receiving party research showing voters are increasingly skittish about putting a price on carbon. Despite Malcolm Turnbull's ongoing attempts to broker a deal with Labor that would clear the way for Kevin Rudd's proposed ETS, political hardheads among the Liberals are moving closer to the Nationals' view that endorsing carbon trading is political poison. They are now urging the Opposition Leader to take a harder line in negotiations and to reject Labor's legislation unless the government accepts the Coalition's proposed amendments in full. And they believe their best chance in next year's election is to attack Labor's proposals as leading to higher costs for consumers.

The shift has been on for the past few weeks and has gained pace since Liberal MPs were briefed on Tuesday on party research indicating voters overwhelmingly want action on climate change but do not understand the detail of the ETS proposals. Several sources said party director Brian Loughnane told the meeting that when interviewers explained the implications of an ETS to survey respondents, they were negative about the proposed scheme.

News of the shift emerged yesterday before today's launch by Liberal ETS opponent Cory Bernardi of a highly critical assessment of the European Union's emissions trading scheme which estimates it has cost consumers up to E116billion ($190bn) since 2005, with little environmental benefit.

The study, prepared by Britain's Taxpayers' Alliance, says climate change policies there form 14 per cent of household electricity prices and that electricity generators have made windfall profits at the expense of low-income earners and the elderly.

The Coalition has been negotiating with the government for more than a week on proposed amendments to the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. Kevin Rudd told parliament this week the bill would be introduced in the Senate on November 23, before the UN's global climate change conference in Copenhagen in December. If it is rejected the Prime Minister can use the Senate vote as the basis to call a double-dissolution election for both houses of parliament next year.

Mr Turnbull, a strong supporter of the need for a properly designed ETS, wants the government to amend its scheme to provide greater support for industries affected by a shift to carbon trading to adjust to the change.

Yesterday, the government rejected a Coalition bid to force an early vote on the scheme in the House of Representatives.

While Mr Loughnane refused to comment on party research yesterday, accounts of his briefing to MPs were broadly similar from sources on all sides of the ETS debate, with their differences relating to conclusions about the meaning of the findings. Some said the research made clear that the party should not back Labor's legislation unless the government embraced all of its amendments -- an unlikely prospect. "There is a move afoot in our party, depending on what happens, to say we should actually dump an ETS as a policy and go with something better and more effective," one source said.

But another shadow cabinet source said the research demonstrated that the party could not afford to accept the Nationals' approach of an outright rejection of carbon trading, and therefore must press hard for its amendments. "The message he was sending was that this is a dangerous zone but that because of the public acceptance that something must be done on climate change, doing nothing is simply not an option," the MP said.

Whatever the interpretation, Liberal frontbenchers who previously supported the idea of passing an amended ETS and then holding the government accountable for the outcome have shifted their view, insisting that only a "wholesale capitulation" from the government to Coalition demands would stand any chance of winning Coalition backbench endorsement.

Senior Liberals are now saying the party polling, and public polls, show increasing concern about the costs of an ETS. They believe the best political option is to run a campaign against the government based on increased costs to households and industry. Another MP said voters were starting to doubt the seriousness of climate change. It is also understood backbench pressure is growing from marginal seat holders who fear they will lose their seats. The Taxpayers' Alliance says the EU's ETS "has failed to perform and is imposing serious costs on ordinary families".

According to the EU's own figures there were only minor reductions in most European countries in greenhouse gas emissions between 2005 and 2008. Senator Bernardi, who is leading the Liberal revolt in the Senate and running a direct opposition campaign, said yesterday the British report showed an ETS was "a massive economic impost that has no real environmental benefits". "An ETS in any form is bad for business, bad for families and bad for our economy," he said. "With clear evidence of how ineffective and expensive it has been in the European Union, there is no way an ETS should be introduced in Australia."

Last night the author of the report, Matthew Sinclair, said from London that the European ETS had failed to "produce a stable carbon price, leaving consumers with an unpredictable addition to their bills".

Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce said he was not surprised by the Liberals' research, which reflected his long-standing position.



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1 comment:

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