Saudi Arabia has complained that Cancún was lousy with NGO representatives and hence they had to waste time talking to them. The Saudis, of course, aim to see that Cancún does not result in any diminution of the use of oil.
The place is also lousy with representatives of fossil fuel and forestry industries, who aim to make a buck out of the whole thing.
Giles Parkinson’s latest report tells of wholesale rorting at Cancún in how emissions and carbon credits are counted.
The UN Environment Program issued a detailed report last week that said accounting rorts from “hot air” from eastern Europe and land use rules could add up to more than two billion tonnes by 2020. The EU has complained they could undermine the entirety of their emission reductions since 1990.
A study by Simon Terry, the executive director of the New Zealand Sustainability Council, goes further. Terry says that by adding in aviation and shipping – which are not accounted for under the Copenhagen Accord – the pledges may turn out to produce an increase in global emissions of 3 per cent from 1990 levels, rather than an advertised fall of up to 18 per cent.
The UN has been concerned that the Copenhagen Accord commitments will yield an “emissions gap” against what is needed to remain within a 2C temperature rise. This gaps means we could be headed for 3-4C instead of 2C. Factor in the latest games being played and we are heading for 6-7C. That is ‘end of civilisation as we know it’ territory.
The article is worth reading in full to ascertain the full calumny of what is being gamed. One of the bottom lines is that these games are being allowed in order to preserve the hope of concluding an agreement in Durban next year.
Our Greg Combet, it seems, will bravely fight to retain the ‘Australia clause’ on tree clearing negotiated by Robert Hill in Kyoto, even though that makes a mockery of our measly targets.
Larger rorts include the counting of so-called ‘hot air’ from the rust belt industries that were belching out carbon in Eastern Europe and Russia, which later collapsed. Palm oil plantations are counted as forest. Logging countries are being allowed to set their own baselines so that they can claim credits for not doing logging they never intended to do. Air travel and shipping are not counted, nor, apparently, the draining of peat lands.
There was a little rort about HFCs used in refrigeration plant in developing countries. Some shysters were producing plans to manufacture HCFs for no other reason than that they could be paid under the CDM not to go ahead. This rort was suspended for a while, but unaccountably seems back in vogue.
Simon Terry says that only a very few people, and only a handful of negotiators, fully understand issues relating to land use and forestry emissions. Number me among them. A new study finds that forestry may only account for 15% of emissions as compared to 20% recently. But there are problems in the counting, surprise, surprise. I would point out two things. First, the 15% is of a higher number. Secondly, Stern pointed out that forestry must decline proportionately over time as the world’s forests are cleared. You can’t knock a forest down twice. But you might be able to save it twice, or more.
The veneer of an entente-cordiale that has been carefully cultured in the first week of talks in Cancun, Mexico, is showing signs of strain, with the EU lashing out at countries for showing a lack of ambition and engagement, and appearing to not understand the science.
I wonder how our Mr Combet would go on a test in the science.