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Christiana Figueres:  What’s £1 trillion between friends? (Lisbon Council CC-BY-SA-2.0)

It is a rare sign of realism among the faithful of the global warming cult that they acknowledged, even before it had begun, that COP21, the climate change conference in Paris, would fail to deliver concrete results. Their pious hope was that a policy framework would emerge to allow a coalition of the willing to create enormous capital flows from rich nations to enable the poor to decarbonise their economies while continuing to climb out of poverty. This hope is surely a vain one.

More than 40,000 delegates, politicians, scientists, green lobbyists, self-publicists and journalists (10 per cent of the total) crammed into a purpose-built complex at Le Bourget, the old aerodrome outside Paris now used, ironically, for private aircraft only. The French government, which hosted COP21, is coy about the cost of this monstrous boondoggle: one estimate puts it at $1.1 billion, and that is without factoring in the carbon bigfoot-print of all those air flights.

COP21 sounds like a Philip K. Dick novel, but it actually stands for the 21st meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the 1992 Rio Framework. Rio was the first held under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. UNFCCC signatories agreed in principle to limit climate change by reducing the output of carbon dioxide, which in practice meant reducing the use of oil, gas and coal.

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol set out legally binding emissions reduction targets for developed countries but not the poorer nations. The United States did not ratify it, and China, the world’s emerging industrial superpower, ignored it. Nevertheless the conceptual framework was accepted by the European Union, which began a major shift in power generation to subsidised renewable energy.

In the 12 years between Kyoto and Copenhagen in 2009, the popular mood in most of the developed world moved firmly in favour of carbon reduction. Al Gore’s powerful but meretricious film An Inconvenient Truth typified the propaganda that held centre stage during these years. Large parts of the media, including the BBC, began to treat the theory of man-made climate change as revealed truth. It was nearly impossible for politicians to question the theory or to avoid implementing the mitigation strategies demanded by environmentalists. But COP15 at Copenhagen was a colossal failure, with attempts to impose a top-down solution falling apart in a series of hysterical late-night meetings.

Paris was supposed to be different, relying on voluntary agreements and a great deal of good faith now and far into the future. Each country was invited ahead of the meeting to submit an Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC — this process is one of the all-time great acronym generators). By the opening of the Paris conference 158 INDCs had been submitted. All express the required pieties but none commits unequivocally to the kind of radical action that would be needed — according to the high priests of climate science — to restrict global warming to a range of 1.5-2.0°C above the pre-industrial level (itself a matter of uncertainty).

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Robin Tudge
June 17th, 2016
11:06 AM
Define subsidy, though. The North Sea hydrocarbon lot won't get out of bed unless there's a tax break on the table.

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