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The Three Rings of the Climate Circus

Late next month the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will begin releasing its massive Fifth Assessment Report (AR5 in the trade), starting with the report of Working Group I, on the science of climate change.  The reports of Working Groups II and III will dribble out in 2014.  In previous assessment reports, the entire report with the findings of all three working groups came out at once.  I suspect this change may be an attempt to be sure there are three chances to make headlines, especially since the media is losing interest in the subject.  Power Line will be all over the report when it comes out.  As we’ve reported here before, this next IPCC report will have to do some fancy footwork to explain the increasing anomalies of recent temperature trends.  I’m sure they’re up to the job.

In the meantime, if you want to understand the farce the entire climate change crusade has become, have a look at the UN’s own summary of the process and results of climate diplomacy over the past 20 years.  What you will find here is a real world example of Woody Allen’s old gag about looking for a framework to turn a concept into an idea.

The process of climate diplomacy was more or less borrowed off the shelf from the trade liberalization process (GATT, leading to the WTO), with a dollop of arms control added in.  In any case, if you add up the results listed, the annual climate meetings have reached 322 decisions, and adopted 23 resolutions.  You’d think that many decisions and resolutions would surely have saved the world by now!

It appears the chief purpose of these meetings is to agree to meet again and produce yet another “plan” of action that world governments will then proceed largely to ignore in reality.  (Forget all the political rhetoric about “green energy;” no serious government has actually embraced or attempted to implement the real emissions targets that come out of the UN process.)  As you can see from scrolling down the list, so far the UN process beginning in 1995 has produced the Berlin Mandate, the Geneva Ministerial Declaration, the Kyoto Protocol (this is was the one that was supposed to fix everything of course), the Buenos Aires Plan of Action, the Bonn Agreements, the Marrakech Ministerial Declaration, the Delhi Ministerial Declaration, the Nairobi Framework, the Bali Road Map and Bali Action Plan (Bali must rate two declarations in one year because it is so nice a place to meet), the Copenhagen Accord, the Cancun Agreements, and the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action.  (There are links to all of these at the UN site if you are an insomniac.)  With this many agreements and action plans, no wonder global warming has stopped!

Pretty clear that it is a matter of prestige for host cities to get their name attached to a UN resolution.  The chamber of commerce no doubt loves these things, and it’s great for the hotels and restaurants when the climate circus comes to town (though I have heard the climateers are terrible tippers, which comes as no surprise).  So it seems to me we ought to be able to look forward to years of sequels.  I nominate the Canberra Codicil, the Miami Memorandum, the Santiago Statement, the Port Huron Statement (oh, wait. . .), the Manchester Mandate, the Brussels Blunderbuss, the Cairo Commitment, the Riyadh Resolution. . .  (Everyone can join in this game: you too can be a climate negotiator!  Cue William Shatner here.)

By the way, just what has been the carbon footprint of all these meetings?  When the climate circus last met in Bali, for example, the airport ran out of room for all the charter jets that flew there.

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