Thursday, December 3, 2009

Jim Hansen pre-emptively bombs Copenhagen

Copenhagen climate conference
Copenhagen climate change talks must fail, says top scientist

Exclusive: World's leading climate change expert says summit talks so flawed that deal would be a disaster

I might have expected this, although I wouldn't have guessed it would make the front page.

I'm not sure Jim is right about the politics.

I am sure he's right about the science.

Including trading. Although I helped pioneer some fairly creative uses of offsets in Maine (bundling Maine Housing energy efficiency improvements to gain offset income), that was perhaps hypocritical on my part because I've never really believed a trading regime would work that well in large scale. The main reason I wanted the offsets was because they were required for us by the ACUPCC, and was durned if I was going to pay for traffic lights in Portland Oregon, which was what another Maine college chose to do.

In this case, though, I think we need to get our first international climate agreement behind us. Climate treaty policy is going to be for the first decades of the 21st century what the General Agreement on Tarrifs and Trades (GATT) was for the last of the 20th century, all high level negotiations that set the terms of the balance of trading power throughout the world, and like the many rounds of the GATT, we need to get in the habit of having one.

There's another article that's interesting, too, an editorial by Sachs, headlined "Time to let the experts lead."

I liked his paragraph summary of what serious climate problem solving looks like:

"Here, then, is a proposal for the post-Copenhagen attempt to square up national and global policies so they add up to something more than more years of empty promises. Let's start by recognising that most of the human-made crisis emerges from a few pivotal human activities: how and what we grow to eat; how we mobilise and distribute energy; how we transport ourselves and our freight; and how we build our buildings and lay out our cities. Each related sector requires its own intensive strategy – to identify the kind of research and development activities, public infrastructure investments and public policy to accompany a positive price on carbon emissions, through permits or taxes. Countries would have a lot to share – for instance in new technological options – and a lot that would distinguish them, according to geography, resource base, development level, and more."


"...Copenhagen should be the end of negotiation by politicians with technical issues kept in the shadows or ignored. Let's get scientists, engineers and ordinary citizens involved in a true discussion about our common future, and especially the tradeoffs, costs and choices. Together we can prove that our world is still capable of reaching long-range agreements when our children's lives and wellbeing hang in the balance."

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