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In Lima, success IS the junket, the headlines, the “voluntary” soft option

Posted By Joanne Nova On December 15, 2014 @ 5:12 pm In Global Warming | Comments Disabled

So Lima produced another “accord” of late night unenforeceable nothingness. They pumped out gloom and doom, and trumpeted the $12 billion in funds pledged to the Green Climate Fund. But only a few years ago in Cancun they were aiming for $100 billion. A grand failure as the world grows more skeptical.

But as long as these UNFCCC mega-junkets occur at all, it is still a win for the Green Blobby.  Blob-science and the renewables industry still got $12 billion more than skeptical scientists. And 11,000 potential lobbyists got a two week junket in South America, mixing with friends, and hearing how virtuous and important they are. That’s bound to pump up the science-activists — at the very least, they’ll be motivated to make sure they don’t miss out on next year’s two-week junket, or the year after that…

For scientists, this is rock star treatment. Is there any other branch of science which gets a regular paid two-week long international trip to an exotic location year after year? In what other career could B-grade researchers — whose computer simulations fail on every measure — get the red carpet rolled out and lauded as people “trying to save the world”?

Meanwhile the headlines rolled around the world, repeated variations of the last 20 years of pro-forma alarm. How much did each western government spend to make this glorious Olympic junket occur? No one seems to be able to tell us, but it’s pretty clear the amount of private money is negligible and all dollars were involuntarily given. Time to shut down the UNFCCC.

Beware the voluntary soft option

Obama is aiming for a “politically binding” agreement instead of a legally binding one, which he cannot do because US voters didn’t vote for representatives like Obama. So he promised in August that he would try to get around Congress to get a global Climate Accord in Lima. Voluntary agreements sound so pointless, but in the end there is no global police force to enforce a legal agreement (and we pray there never will be), so all agreements legal or not, are subject to the political will of the players. Is there much difference between political and legal deals on this international scale?

What are the options if Spain owes Russia billions at the end of the day and won’t pay? That depends on who has the biggest army and willingness to use it, and the most friends, just like international treaties, deals and agreements always have. Will a country support trade embargoes as a punishment? That depends on political will.

So the soft option is to ask everyone to agree to something voluntary, which seems fairly easy to agree too, then ramp up the political pressure after the deal is done. In its wildest dreams the UN would prefer the legal type of deal, but a “voluntary” deal is still worth a lot of PR, scores headlines, and provides leverage for hounding and hassling weak nations later.

If the citizens of the free world hate the deal, it’ll be ignored and all that political pressure will amount to nothing in the face of the vote-killing potential. But PR like this softens up the citizens; if they are not paying attention it helps create the belief that global carbon deals are inevitable. If domestic politics is distracted by other issues (and that’s the case in nearly every opinion poll in the West) then voters may elect soft governments who use the voluntary deals to justify their moves.

 Obama’s plans are shamefully undemocratic

NY Times Aug 26, 2014 WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is working to forge a sweeping international climate change agreement to compel nations to cut their planet-warming fossil fuel emissions, but without ratification from Congress.

In preparation for this agreement, to be signed at a United Nations summit meeting in 2015 in Paris, the negotiators are meeting with diplomats from other countries to broker a deal to commit some of the world’s largest economies to enact laws to reduce their carbon pollution. But under the Constitution, a president may enter into a legally binding treaty only if it is approved by a two-thirds majority of the Senate.

Note the punishment is to “name and shame”:

To sidestep that requirement, President Obama’s climate negotiators are devising what they call a “politically binding” deal that would “name and shame” countries into cutting their emissions.

 Naming and shaming only works if people buy into it. It falls apart if people laugh at the labels.

But it has already begun:

A Climate Accord Based on Global Peer Pressure

NY Times

… the driving force behind the new deal was not the threat of sanctions or other legal consequences. It was global peer pressure. And over the coming months, it will start to become evident whether the scrutiny of the rest of the world is enough to pressure world leaders to push through new global warming laws from New Delhi to Moscow or if, as a political force, international reproach is impotent.

“If a country doesn’t submit a plan, there will be no punishment, no fine, no black U.N. helicopters showing up,” said Jennifer Morgan, an expert on climate negotiations with the World Resources Institute, a research organization.

Instead the architects of the plan, including top White House officials, hope that the agreement will compel countries to act to avoid international condemnation.

“It relies on a lot of peer pressure,” Ms. Morgan said.


 The structure of the deal is what political scientists often call a “name-and-shame” plan.

Under the Lima Accord all countries must submit plans that would be posted on a United Nations website and made available to the public

What do we take from this? We have to keep up the information campaign direct to voters and politicians. We need to name and shame the unskeptical scientists and the freeloader financials and industrialists who profit from the scare. But we especially need to name and shame the gullible journalists — the media IS the problem. If we had a better media we’d have better policies and better politicians.

It makes the new media and channels of communication all the more important. We need the blogs, letter to editors, and emails to representatives. Peer group pressure works. The difference between skeptics and unskeptics is that the one  side has logic and data, and the other has billions of reasons.


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