Environment Forum

from UK News:

Are you losing faith in climate science?

climatechangeWhile attending a meeting of prominent climate sceptics during the U.N. Climate Conference in Copenhagen in December (an anti-COP15, if you will), I listened to each of the speakers put forward their theory on why conventional evidence on the primary causes of climate change should be dismissed as, for lack of a better phrase, complete hokum.

Among their denunciations of widely-accepted truths regarding global warming, greenhouse gases, melting glaciers and rising sea levels was the assertion that a change in attitude was afoot; the public may have been duped into believing the mainstream scientific assessment of climate change, but not for long.

There was something in the air, the sceptics said, and soon people would begin to question their trust in the majority view.

I’m no scientist and am in no position to comment on the validity of any of the evidence on show; as journalists we were there to make sure both sides of the argument were being heard. This group of climate outcasts were in every sense on the fringes of COP15, but after a series of controversies in recent weeks it seems they were right about one thing at least -- the public conviction about the threat of climate change is slipping.

Well, it is in Britain anyway. An Ipsos Mori poll of over 1,000 UK adults found that the proportion of people who believe climate change is definitely a reality dropped from 44% to 31% in the past year.

Carbon trading and a new climate deal

(Updates with comments from Karen Alderman Harbert)


A key component of a prospective climate deal coming into Copenhagen has been the targets for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

Targets would help put a “price” on carbon emissions that could then be bought and sold under a cap and trade scheme. (Click here for a related article.)

Proponents of the potentially lucrative market say it provides clear incentives to reach targets or even overshoot them, while opponents say the system would give big polluters a way around any targets.

Packing while Copenhagen burns

Bella1The talks were supposed to be over, “family photo” taken, and slaps on the back given all round.

So all the 193 countries and many RINGOS, BINGOS, YOUNGOS, banks and others who had set up temporary Copenhagen offices had been told to have them packed up by Friday evening.

The rest of the plan has fallen apart, with world leaders crammed into conference rooms desperately trying to salvage something from two weeks of fruitless talks.

from Mario Di Simine:

At COP15, the waiting is now the hardest part


You go for walks, maybe stretch out on an open couch, perhaps stand in long lines for a luke-warm bite to eat. You make numerous trips to the vending machines, munch on biscuits, chat with colleagues. Life in the fast lane of the COP15 Climate Conference in Copenhagen has slowed down to a crawl, and the waiting is most certainly the hardest part.

On the final day of the conference, the media -- and everyone else -- is looking forward to an outcome, any outcome of a two-week marathon that was supposed to lead to cuts in greenhouse gas emisions and a 2010 deadline for a legally binding treaty.

The world leaders gathered here and their negotiators are still working on the cuts, but that deadline is now out in the cold. What kind of deal will finally emerge? No one here, not the media at least, has an answer to that yet.

The strange spectacle of too many heads of government

COP15picThere are around 120 heads of government at the Copenhagen climate talks, so many that it’s hard to keep track of the exact number.

Their presence has been trumpeted as a sign of the world’s commitment to tackling climate change. But in return for showing up, they all want a chance to address the conference – and by extension the world.

To fit all the dignitaries in, organizers have slots limited to five short minutes, which would probably be barely enough to cover their introduction back home.

Auxiliary verbs at 10pm and the scarcest resource – sleep

CO2tonneThe issues are global and urgent, but the bureaucracy can sometimes be mind-bogglingly slow and petty.

After a day of stalled talks, the 193 nations at UN-led climate talks finally met for a plenary to discuss one of the main drafts floating around the summit, just two days (and two hours) from the deadline for a deal.

First on the agenda – auxiliary verbs. There was a discussion of should vs shall, before an appeal from the chair.

Can you trust the science?

Today we pose the question to our virtual panel of experts, “How far can we trust the science of climate change?”

Join the debate and leave your comments below.


Bjorn Lomborg, statistician and author of “The Skeptical Environmentalist”:

The vast majority of climate scientists tell us that increases in carbon dioxide cause higher temperatures over time. We know that this will mean changes in rainfall, melting of snow and ice, a rise in sea level, and other impacts on plants, wildlife, and humans.

There is still meaningful and important work going on looking at the range of outcomes that we should expect–it is wrong to suggest that “all of the science is in”– but I think it is vital to emphasize the consensus on the most important scientific questions.

from UK News:

Clashes and queues raise temperature in Copenhagen

climate talks protest

With the clock ticking for world leaders to clinch a climate deal in Copenhagen, the last place you want to be is stuck at the back of a long queue.

But for thousands of delegates meeting in the Danish capital, that is exactly where they have spent endless hours this week.

They stood in the cold, braving the odd snow flurry, for hour after hour, waiting to be allowed into the conference centre on the edge of town where 193 countries are trying to thrash out a new deal on climate change.

Are the Copenhagen climate talks failing?

COP15picIn the last few days it has seemed like the only thing everyone can agree on in Copenhagen is that time is running out.

The heads of state start arriving today and descend in full force on Thursday.

Negotiators say they don’t want their leaders arguing over the placement of a comma or a set of brackets, and so everything needs to be tied up by Friday morning.

That leaves just over two days, and more than 190 countries gathered in the conference hall can’t even settle on a draft text to argue over.

from Mario Di Simine:

Stunts, pins and pamphlets: Getting the word out at COP15

aliens2When you're one of thousands of people trying to get a message out at once, you need an edge.

In Copenhagen during the COP15 conference a plethora of nongovernmental organizations, environmental groups, country delegations and even businesses have gone to sometimes unusual lengths to get their word out, and hopefully into the newspapers, or onto the Web and television.

The more adventurous -- and humorous -- the better your chance of catching a journalist's eye.  Some have had members dressed up as aliens, holding up placards reading "Take me to your 2015 peak year".  The aliens, brought to us by the environmental action group Avaaz,  have been a presence at the Bella Center for pretty much the whole conference to date.