Paying the price of UNFCCC failure
I have been somewhat pre-occupied with the task of ending my unemployment recently. However, I found myself pondering the above subject on my drive home from a couple of job interviews in London yesterday.
I know I have blogged about the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) before (and the Kyoto Protocol to which it led in 1997); and – in particular – how we (all human beings on this planet) are now so clearly in breach of Article 2 of the UNFCCC:
The ultimate objective of this Convention… is to achieve… the… stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.
However, driving from London to my home in the NW of England yesterday on part of the UK’s motorway network, I was astonished to see almost every single river valley covered by floodwater. Some parts of the UK have been very wet this year (bringing to an end a record-breaking 18-month drought). However, on the 180-mile journey home yesterday, I was really impressed by the fact that – as the BBC have reported - this flooding is now affecting such a large part of the country.
Meteorologists and climate scientists have a phrase for what we are witnessing – it’s Global Weirding. I believe James Hansen spoke for the majority of reputable climate scientists when, in August this year, he provided irrefutable historical statistical evidence for a reality that atmospheric physics has made inevitable:
I think all decent human beings owe it to their children and grandchildren to face up to the facts of history; and accept the nature of reality:
So-called “climate sceptics” (i.e. those ideologically prejudiced against admitting human activity is responsible for any and all environmental degradation) have dismissed the warnings of climate scientists over several decades as attempts to justify and perpetuate research funding. In a vain attempt to prevent having to pay for the environmental cost of its pollution, the fossil fuel industry, like the tobacco industry before it, has denied that it is the cause of the problem for decades… They have sought to perpetuate doubt and uncertainty; and have even accused climate scientists of crying “wolf”… However, the truth of the matter is that much more money has been spent denying science than has been spent on research and, just as it did in the morality tale, the wolf has now turned up.
What I really object to is that my children and grandchildren are going to be the main ones that have to pay the price for the shortsightedness of fossil fuel executives who have succeeded in ensuring the UNFCCC has achieved absolutely nothing.
Over the last 20 years of UNFCCC meetings, there has been a great deal of talk and very little action. Despite Hurricane Sandy and President Obama’s fine words on the night of his re-election this month, I suspect COP18 in Doha (starting next week) will be no different: Sadly, I think real action will only start to be taken when events like Hurricane Sandy become an annual occurrence.
Therefore, although I do not wish such things on anyone, I suspect I may look forward to concerted action becoming a reality before the end of this decade. By then, as any decent insurance company will admit to you, it is now very likely that we will all be paying the price of the failure of the UNFCCC process.