Can emissions be tackled without Copenhagen deal?

October 27, 2009

Even if a deal is reached among political delegates at the upcoming United Nations Climate Conference in Copenhagen, it is unlikely to set out specific emission targets, says Mike Hulme, author of “Why We Disagree About Climate Change” and a professor at the University of East Anglia in Norwich.

“What we’ve done with climate change is to attach so many pressing environmental concerns to the climate change agenda that trying to secure a negotiated multilateral agreement between 190 nations is actually beyond the reach of what we can achieve,” he argues.

Hulme, who will take part in a debate hosted by the Institute of Economic Affairs in November about carbon emission policies and economic activity before he heads to the Copenhagen conference, discussed his views with Reuters.


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There are so many disputed “facts” regarding global warming (if in fact it exist today) that it’s hard to know where to begin this discussion.Is global warming actually occurring? Can humans really have any significant role in changing and regulating the climate? Can we construct global climate models that actually explain the thousands of years of climate during which man has existed in any numbers?These and allied subjects are like intersecting “Towers of Babel,” with scientists of differing specialties disagreeing substantially concerning the content and the meaning of the available data. Modeling theories are broadly divergent. Until the various sciences can agree on the data, and can jointly construct models which enjoy a broad consensus, and can be tested with agreed-upon real world data, it is an exercise in futility to attempt to come to a reasonable conclusion on the questions surrounding “global warming.”

Posted by mike | Report as abusive

The whole climate change/global warming industry – is one massive confidence scam, perpetuated by a wide variety of interests, some genuine for fear of actual global change, some purely from self interest or for financial or industrial reasons, but each major element in total opposition to others claiming the same banner. With all the so called science being quoted, how is it that the Oregon Petition, signed by over 32,000 scientists, stating that they cannot see a proven scientific case, is so studiously ignored.The basic answer is money and politics. I don’t know how much this ‘Industry’ in now worth world wide, but it certainly has politicians all over the world clamouring for a slice of the action. The idea that restricting emmissions produced by the UK population can affect even the naturally produced level of global emmissions is nonsense, when you look at that as a percentage of the natural or global emmissions – but look at the vast amount of money being used for this purpose – never mind that being demanded as a right. We in the UK cannot afford to continue to fund this hysterical lobby of self interest.It is obvious that windpower is a total waste of money, you cannot have a so called power source which is so uncontrollable in its output, that it requires a complete secondary source of power (coal, oil, gas or nuclear) to provide backup in case it is not available when needed, this is pure ‘head in sand’ technology – but look at the amount of money being used in the UK alone – never mind worldwide – to propagate this useless technology – and the individuals involved collecting fortunes from it.The only proven technologies that can be widely utilised on a global scale, are the ones mentioned above, Coal, Oil, Gas, Nuclear. In specific geographical areas, Tidal power, Hydroelectric, Thermal, Solar, Waste incineration, all have a potential part to play, given that the latest technology is taken into account and not swamped by the voiciferous minority screaming outrage, for example in the case of Waste incineration, damming valleys for Hydroelectric, or the danger of Radon Gas in Thermal.If you wish to assess the ‘Danger’ of Global warming – or Climate change as its now called – following the discovery that the ‘Globe’ was not necessarily warming up, try reading the past. Read Samual Pepy’s diaries for a daily weather report of the 1660’s, read the Victorian diarists at the time when the Thames was frozen over to a depth of many feet, such that buildings were erected on the ice around Tower Bridge, read about the frost in the 13th Century that lasted from September through to April, look at the winters in the 1940’s and 1950’s – on a global scale, the weather cycle owes little or nothing to Man’s puny efforts – so lets face up to reality, shut down this great expensive talking shop that is taking up so much time and money that careers are being made out of it. For those that wish to still scream and shout – please do so – but on your own time and funded by your own money – not MINE.

Posted by Brian | Report as abusive

Even though we are far from being able to predict the effects of climate change, it is becoming evident that it will occur in the near future.As a result we can expect that food prices will increase, which will also combine with rising fuel prices. And that weather conditions will worsen in certain areas of the planet.While most nations are attempting to cut emissions, this is only thinking in the long term.Even if we were able to cut emissions by 50% by 2025, which is already unlikely, all we will do is halve the rate of climate change. It certainly will not reverse the current changes, or even avoid the changes which will occur in the next fifty years.I believe that this is in part due to the effective scare campaign of the climate change lobby. They have campaigned long and hard, trying to present the idea that we can halt or reverse climate change in the near future.Now we are spending too much time trying to reverse climate change, and not enough time preparing to live in a world where climate change is already happening.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive

[…] October)  As part of their Great Debate Mike Hulme is interviewed by Reuters UK – discussing climate change and the Copenhagen […]

Posted by Do we need a deal at Copenhagen? | Mike Hulme | Report as abusive

Anon identified the problem with current thinking about emission cutting halting any climate change.In addition to (or in place of) his suggestion to prepare for a changed world, I push for advancement in atmospheric scrubbers that can actually reduce the greenhouse gasses in the air.

Posted by drewbie | Report as abusive

Facts have been disputed throughout history. Jews were tortured into confessing to poisoning wells causing the plagues of Europe. Hitler blamed them for everything from Bolshevism to Capitalist banking excess. Galileo proved the Copernican theory of the solar system’s workings. He was tortured almost to death and forced to recant. He was then placed on house arrest for the rest of his life.Global warming cannot be measured by archival weather reports from regions around the world. All mass extinctions have been accompanied by global warming. The accurate means of determining climate temperatures globally is the ratio of atmospheric CO2 and it’s relation to oxygen levels. This can be done many ways throughout geologic time. Infrared technology can be used in real time to measure changing levels of oxygen and CO2. In fact it has been done continually since the late 1950s and early 1960s. The science is not out. There is no dispute.See; find the facts for yourself everyone.There are three stages to the truth.1. It is ridiculed.2. It is violently opposed.3. It is accepted as self evident.

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive

Brian, you print a lie. There are not 32,000 scientists who claim global warming/climate change hasn’t been proven. Unless their field of expertise is something other than physics, geology, oceanography, biology and related atmospheric and chemistry studies. You are simply passing propaganda as fact that conservative members of congress were provided by industrial lobbyists.You are correct about one thing though. When U.S. politicians are involved corruption abounds.

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive

Climate change is a ruse to redistribute the wealth of the western world and distribute it to the poor countries. It is gobal control by the un to insure an equality for all in a secularize utopia.I do not think the ruling dictators of the world will agree to this.Anyone remember about El Nino, the Pacific current, that causes all kinds weather patterns across the world.Also look to Rome; the Poper, the whore of Babylon , issued a 150 page encyclical , july 10, 2009, calling for an World Political Authority, to rule the wealth of the world. Funny 30 fianance ministers about three weeks ago in Mexico city agreed to form a World Governing Tax authority to tax the western societies. Climate change is a lie just like cap and trade along with health care it is all about control of your freedom and free markets.

Posted by ron thomas | Report as abusive

If you do not believe global warming is not happening, just look around you, in US especially. our winters have definitely become warmer gradually over the past 20 years. North and South poles are melting and on and on and on. the evidence is clealy visible. What is not, is the impact on the human race.

Posted by beverley dana | Report as abusive

If you do believe global warming is not happening, just look around you, in US especially. our winters have definitely become warmer gradually over the past 20 years. North and South poles are melting and on and on and on. the evidence is clealy visible. What is not, is the impact on the human race.

Posted by beverley dana | Report as abusive

Obviously, Mike doesn’t seem to read the scientific literature or understand that a broad consensus within the scientific community has occurred about 5 years ago and it is only in the popular media, which plays largely to scientific illiteracy among the general public where there is any controversy with regard to global warming. He simply chooses to remain in denial and expects to continue to further confuse the already confused.Just as Mike doesn’t understand the evidence that has led to a firm consensus in the scientific community that global warming IS occurring (and much more rapidly than scientists had predicted earlier), he also can’t explain where all the glaciers have gone. However, with the next decade, now that permanent ice is a thing of the past, when the consequences of methane venting in the high arctic and shifts in ocean circulation become more pronounced even the slow will have finally caught on that that the world is warming and warming quickly.

Posted by Stuart | Report as abusive

One should not confuse the existence of global warming as to weather (sic) it is induced by modern society as to whether we can actually survive in this mess much longer:- Let’s take greenhouse emissions out of the picture, but let’s not forget interactions and interdependencies.That would leave land and water masses. Land has become toxic through human intervention, the worst the persistent attempt by scientists to blow the Earth to pieces with massive bombs. Water has become toxic through human intervention, the worst, if all else fails, let’s dump it in the water. We are in for a big hiding, one of these days we will have to live off preserved preservatives.Anubis, an intra-galactic explosion destroyed most species +- 450 million years ago. Mike, the Tower of Babel is somehow still standing in Iraq. I don’t care about rising sea levels as I live 2000 meters above sea level and enjoy massive electric storms.We lack a grand unified environmental formula to concurrently model air, land and water contaminators i.s.o. faffing around with this atmospheric accounting and arguments. Brian, you might be right and wrong at the same time, maybe we should give it all a total miss and redirect alternative energy dreams to cancer research. Boy, are we in need of that.

Posted by Casper | Report as abusive

“Limited Compulsory Licensing as an Solution to Patented Green Technologies”The article “Hot Debate Over Technology Issues” by Martin Khor (The Star newspaper, Malaysia–26th Oct 2009 at page N43) raised a crucial discussion concerning the issue of patented green/climate-friendly technologies.Several notable leaders have raised pertinent concerns over the barriers posed by patented green technologies which should not be subjected to criticism in the first place because the whole objective of the patent system is to provide incentive towards wealth & knowledge creation in the area of sciences & technologies as guaranteed under the TRIPS Agreement i.e. Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.The proposal that patented green technologies be exempted from patent protection is tempting but legally destructive in the long-term period as this run counter to private R&D market demand which calls for strict adherence to full patent protection granted under the respective national patent law.Further proposal that such patented green technologies be considered as ‘global public goods’(GPGs) is also an anti-thesis to the objectives of a global patent system even for green technology. If accepted at all, the other equally problematic issue is in identifying what constitutes GPGs taking into view the fact that there is currently no global consensus pertaining to the characterization and scope of such GPGs even within developed bloc.Another issue raised by proponents for relaxation of patented green technologies is the possible use of Compulsory Licensing(CL) under the patent law in the respective country by the government. If this issue is raised at the upcoming Copenhagen Conference (Dec 2009), which is highly possible, the counter-argument is that such patented GPGs can only be acquired by the government if it can proved that the patented GPGs in question has not been made available to the public at a fair price and that there is a national emergency that necessitate such compulsory acquisition, which is an onerous burden indeed notwithstanding such allowance under national patent law.Although limited compulsory licensing is possible, it is not to be considered as an effective solution at all due to equal legal protection granted to patent rights holder during the CL period.These are amongst the contentious issues that must be resolved if there is to be any real progress towards a more sustainable agreement in carbon reduction and global climate salvation.………………………… …..Jeong Chun Phuoc*

Posted by JEONG cHUN PHUOC | Report as abusive

Climate change is happening. This is an indisputable fact. The only reason the facts seem obscured is because there are many people with a vested interests (who stand to profit), in keeping the global warming issue on the back burner.In the 70’s a whole in the ozone layer was discovered. This ozone hole was attributed to CFC’s. CFCs combine with ozone to create O2, and release chlorine gas which destroys even more ozone.In the 70’s the hole was barely noticeable. Now that barely noticeable hole covers the ENTIRE CONTINENT of Antarctica. So asking if this is really happening is a moot point.Even if we as human beings only contributed to a small fraction of the problem, it still doesn’t change the fact that we are now living in it. And as human beings we have the responsibility of doing what ever we can to make things right.But this whole sorry attitude on the part of die hard profiteers will get us no where. We are facing a very serious problem where we live. We have no other planets to run to. So we would do well to put our heads together to find a solution that will allow us to continue on.

Posted by Benny Acosta | Report as abusive

Just because you can observe climate change doesn’t mean it is driven by human activity. What DRIVES climate, co2 or solar activity?For those who make the “obvious” claim regarding global warming, isn’t it also obvious that when the sun is on the other side of the earth that you experience cooling? Yet still you insist that the warming and cooling trends you observe are driven by humans and co2 (which you breathe out, perhaps you should die)?”Mike doesn’t seem to read the scientific literature or understand that a broad consensus within the scientific community has occurred about 5 years ago”You must be referring to the IPCC, most of which are not climatologists, but various other types of bureaucrats and scientists.I’m sorry, why can’t solar activity explain glacier activity?Why does it have to be anthropogenic and why must we pay taxes on someone else’s profits for still another’s profit?

Posted by SHANNON | Report as abusive

[…] of a U.N. summit in Copenhagen next month, scepticism is growing that an agreement will be reached on a global climate treaty to replace the Kyoto […]

Posted by A freakonomic view of climate change | Going Green | Report as abusive

“A Holistic Deal for Everyone at Copenhagen”The Kyoto Protocol is history now, but it helped raised global attention on the need to focus real commitments to a level where both parties ie developed bloc and the developing countries can co-exist to tackle climate change, GHCs etc.A real deal, if any at the upcoming Copenhagen is a deal where everyone is able to work at a comfortable environment that ensure compliance with both domestic ie -political- reality and international obligations.If a holistic deal cannot be achieved, it is time for all representatives to take a break and catch the movie 2012 and have a good laugh together………………..Jeong Chun phuocLecturer-in-Law[Strategic Environmenting]

Posted by Jeong Chun phuoc | Report as abusive

[…] of a U.N. summit in Copenhagen next month, scepticism is growing that an agreement will be reached on a global climate treaty to replace the Kyoto […]

Posted by A freakonomic view of climate change  | Report as abusive

“Develop Islamic Environmental Framework in Climate Change Control”It is hope that the organisers and countries representatives (particularly from muslim bloc) at the upcoming Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen Dec 2009 will take cognisance of the Syariah provisions relating to the protection, conservation and protection of the environment-which is unlikely- given the stalemate at the recent Bangkok Climate Proceedings 2009.The appropriate platform would be for OIC to table it within OIC Region for implementation within Islamic countries realm. Western Europe, US and developed bloc will not be able to understand the implication of Islamic environmental protection requirement within the context of the Syariah.However, if properly executed, it may be a viable alternative/solution that may be adopted at the forthcoming Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen Dec 2009 (see introduction speech by Yvo de Boer, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen(COP 15), at

Posted by Jeong Chun phuoc | Report as abusive

” Malaysia must take initiative to re-define Climate Change Roadmap at the upcoming Copenhagen Conference 2009″The article “Dark Cloud over Climate Talks” by martin Khor (The Star, 12.10.2009) painted a rather dark pessimistic color to the mood at the recently concluded Climate talks in Bangkok, Thailand.Developed nations perceived abandonment of their current commitment under Phase One of the Kyoto Protocol (KP) is a clear indication that there is a need for a more conducive approach in addressing climate change specifically relating to greenhouse gas emissions(GGE) dilemma.This perception must not be viewed with pessimism or seen as a negative change of attitude by developed countries. Developing countries are also part of the problematic GGE equation apart from the Kyoto Protocol’s perceived rigid implementation platform.There is no denying that the Kyoto Protocol imposed binding obligations upon developed bloc. However, corresponding non-commitment/inactions by developing countries are also a collective issue.All signatories to the KP must therefore take the cue that if co-operation cannot be effected under the current KP, there is an urgent need to modify the ‘mitigation commitments’ by developed countries vis-vis the ‘mitigation actions’ on the part of developing countries. Such modification can be perceived as fair as it takes into view national interests and acceptable GGE achievement.What is of crucial importance is the underlying commitment by all members towards total, if not gradual reduction, of GGE emissions on a global scale so that 2nd Phase of the KP can be initiated without major glitch in 2013.Malaysia as a developing country, having achieved several milestones in its effort to implement GGE objectives, must therefore take the initiative to promote, re-ignite and re-define those ‘commitments’ in a form that are mutually acceptable to both developed and developing countries within the KP framework which is in fact, open to international modification and national interests alignment.

Posted by Jeong Chun phuoc | Report as abusive