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After Durban – First Thoughts

Posted By Geoff Sherrington On December 14, 2011 @ 1:32 pm In Big-Government,Global Warming | Comments Disabled

Geoff Sherrington analyzes the words in the Durban agreement, and finds a telling tale of politics, money and influence, but not one of probability, maths, food, shelter or freedom (which do not appear at all). The word science appears 6 times in 21,313 words. It’s the mere token excuse that underlies everything else. This is a legal style document, so it is to be expected that it’s dominated by “parties” and “reports” but given the uncertainties involved in predicting the climate, a rational document, designed to serve the people, would surely include statistics, cost benefits, and mentions of probabilities. But then, we always knew that the big greenhouse scare was not about the emissions or the atmosphere, but about status, power and money. — Jo


By guest author Geoff Sherrington.

The killing fields of Durban have produced agreement by many countries to one of the more extraordinary and preposterous documents one could read. It is so contrived by the UN that it is hard to know if it is the correct document, or maybe an unadopted working draft in progress.

The winners and losers at Durban were? The losers were the John and Joan Citizens of the World, who became poorer as the curtain fell on Durban.The winners, a group of wealthy, heartless individuals, many with (shall we say, to avoid libel) interesting backgrounds.The political war was won by the early placement of key people in positions where, after 2 decades of promotion, many became influential enough to dominate the political numbers. Of course, this tactic took money, because the common driver was money. The wealthy seek to drive change because more money can be made during change than in the quiet periods between.

Alas, at Durban, the science was not discussed in this document. Discussion was overtly political and the outcome overtly communist in the worst sense of that word. The word ‘science’ appears 6 times in this document of 300KB and 56 pages with a count of 21,313 words.

Here is one of the paragraphs about Science from the Durban document, with 2 of the 6 uses of the word ‘science’ from a total count of 21,313 words:

“(Previous work) recognizes that climate change represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet, and thus requires to be urgently addressed by all Parties, Recognizing that deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions are required according to science, and as documented in the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, with a view to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions so as to hold the increase in global average temperature below 2 °C above preindustrial levels, and that Parties should take urgent action to meet this long-term goal, consistent with science and on the basis of equity;……”

In the meantime, here is a simple word analysis of the content of the Durban document. For comparison, the word count use gives ‘and’ 175 times and ‘the’ 381 times.

Words that miss out completely.

  • Food, Clothing, Shelter, Security, Freedom
  •  Law, Legislation, Justice
  •  Punishment, Penalty
  •  Excuse, Reason
  •  Probable
  •  Proof
  •  Wrong, Dissent, Doubt, Refund, Rebate, Reversal
  •  Profit, Loss (of invested money)
  •  Vote
  •  Democracy, Democratic, Liberal – but see Social (14)
  •  Withdraw
  •  Goodwill, Reward, Donate
  •  Experiment, Physics, Chemistry
  •  Statistics, Statistical, Mathematic, Mathematical
  •  Sceptic, Skeptic, Skepticism

Next, some words that are used rarely.

  • Voluntary(1) as in Participation  in  the  registry  shall  be  voluntary
  •  Improve (2) as in improve the financial flow mechanism; and improve design of paperwork
  •  Poverty (3), typically as in poverty eradication … overriding priorities of developing countries
  •  Scientific (12) used in Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (9); and alone (3)
  •  Urgent (6)
  •  Sustainable (9)

Some that we might expect to see more often:

  • Experience (25) dominantly in the context of gaining experience with paperwork and procedures
  • Environment (14), Environmental (4)
  • Knowledge (12), but often as knowledge gained in handling paperwork and procedures
  • Consequence(s) (11)
  • Programme(s) (24)
  • Document (21)
  • Greenhouse (31) sometimes in the title of past reports
  • Private (15) mostly as a sector, a source of more money, but not so much in decision making.

Finally, to the 0ver-40′s, where the heart of the report is found.

In no particular order:

  • Submit(s) etc (43)
  • Body (34), Group (42), Secretariat (54)
  • Decide(s) (50) often pre-decided
  • Consider(s) (69)
  • Convention (33)
  • Agree (39) mostly as in agree to adopt procedures
  • Reduction (50) but compare with Increase (6)
  • Decide (63), Decides(s) (50)
  • Consider(s) (69)
  • Request(s) (85)
  • Provide (83)
  • Mitigation (81) but almost always of pollution rather than of hardship
  • Action(s) (67) mostly as in ‘you vill enjoy taking these actions’
  • Mitigation (81)
  • Finance (26) + Financial (67)
  • Information (143)

And the most prevalent word in an ad hoc search? There are 2 that almost dead-heat.

  •  PARTIES has 377 mentions.
  •  REPORT(s)(able)(ing) (228). Compare this with the most used English word, “the” at 381.

One can read into this word count analysis, informal though it is, that there is agreement to set up bodies to report to each other and to transfer money.The head bodies will get the lesser bodies to do the hard work, but they will remunerate themselves high in the distribution chain. It is the wet dream of the bureaucrat.

It is far less clear what they want to do with these reports and information, but some paragraphs have hints.

In Annex II, “The overall objectives of the International Assessment and Review process are to review the progress made in achieving emission reductions and assess the provision of financial, technological, and capacity-building support to developing country Parties, and to assess emissions and removals related to quantified economy-wide emission reduction targets under the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI), taking into account national circumstances, in a rigorous, robust and transparent manner, with a view to promoting comparability and building confidence.” What if a donor is underperforming? ” (a)  Any  Party  may  submit  through  the  Secretariat  written  questions electronically to the Party concerned in advance of the international assessment; (b) The Party under assessment should endeavour to respond to those questions, through the secretariat, within two months. The secretariat will compile the questions and answers and publish them on the UNFCCC website.”

This is a mild blackmail, using the “name and shame” procedure. It is not revealed if many bureaucrats will be needed to administer this mechanism.

“17.      Each  Annex II  Party shall  provide information on  the  financial support it  has provided, committed and/or pledged for the purpose of assisting non-Annex I Parties to mitigate GHG emissions and adapt to the adverse effects of climate change and any economic and social consequences of response measures, for capacity-building and technology transfer in the areas of mitigation and adaptation, where appropriate. To that end, each Annex II Party shall provide summary information in a textual and tabular format on allocation channels and annual contributions for the previous two calendar or financial years without overlaps with the previous reporting periods, including, as appropriate, to the following:

(a)  The Global Environment Facility, the Least Developed Countries Fund, the Special Climate Change Fund, the Adaptation Fund, the Green Climate Fund and the Trust Fund for Supplementary Activities;

(b) Other multilateral climate change funds;

(c) Multilateral financial institutions, including regional development banks;

(d) Specialized United Nations bodies;

(e) Contributions through bilateral, regional and other channels; (etc)

“Welcoming the fast-start finance provided by developed countries as part of their collective commitment to  provide new and  additional resources approaching USD  30 billion for the period 2010–2012,

Recalling that developed country Parties commit, in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation, to a goal of mobilizing jointly USD 100 billion per year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries,” (etc)

So, the money goes to funds. But how much money? What cut is taken by the “Specialized United Nations bodies”? What is the source of these monies? It is not all from Annexe I countries (the rich) to non-Annexe I countries (the poor). It also involves the private sector. The poor countries are required to report on the performance of private incoming funds, such as those involved in carbon markets. See Annex VIII-

“Criteria to be used to evaluate and select the host of the Climate Technology Centre and Network and information required to be included in the proposals includes several factors of equal weight, one of which is “(c) Demonstrated capability to build capacity and facilitate the transfer of technology and technology diffusion in developing countries;” (etc)

 This could carry implications for international patent protection or its lack of protection in underdeveloped countries.

Other analysts will produce their interpretations of the meaning of this miserable document, but most will have to conclude that it was designed by bureaucrats, will feed bureaucrats and will manage to let a residual of money collected under duress get through to the poorer countries – or else.

Unfortunately, all of this has very little to do with climate change. Have you ever seen a customary, credible, first-principles graph that links man-made greenhouse gas concentrations in the air to a change in climate, especially in temperature?

It is not my aim to discourage further, proper science and analysis. This has to continue at high quality. However, it seems that the general populace has to taste the bitter fruits of this Durban experiment to help them tell good science from contrived science in the future.

This takes time.


 Disclaimer: Views expressed in a guest post are those of the author.

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