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Climate conference 'set to fail'

Justin Rowlatt | 15:37 UK time, Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Copenhagen will fail - it's official. At least that is what United Nations climate change chief Yvo de Boer told the Financial Times on Tuesday.

Mr de Boer told the newspaper that the Copenhagen climate change conference will not produce a new international treaty to replace the Kyoto treaty.


Since that is precisely what the Copenhagen conference was intended to do this is a significant admission from the man whose job it is to bring December's negotiations to a successful conclusion.

"A fully fledged new international treaty under the [UN framework] convention [on climate change] - I do not think that will happen." He said. "If you look at the limited amount of time remaining to Copenhagen, it's clear."

So where does that leave the negotiations?

The truth is that Mr de Boer is just expressing what has become clear to most observers of these complex talks.

Managing expectations

The original ambition for the Copenhagen conference was to put in place a legal architecture for enforcing an international agreement on emissions reductions.

That is what the Kyoto treaty did in 1997. It expires in 2012 and the idea was that Copenhagen would draw up its replacement.

But it has become increasingly clear over recent months that the world is just not ready to sign up to a sweeping accord of this nature.

Mr de Boer's interview is designed to scale back expectations.

The need now, he said, is to "concentrate on the political imperatives that make it clear how countries are committed [to tackling climate change] and engaging in cutting emissions, and what co-operative mechanisms they need to put in place".

What that means in practice is that he will be happy if the UN comes away from Copenhagen with a series of commitments from individual countries about how they intend to cut or stabilise their emissions.

These commitments will only have force in national law.

The UN has not given up on the goal of a legally binding international agreement, however.

Mr de Boer told the FT that he wants to see a decision on a long-term target for emissions cuts.

He wants ministers to "decide a deadline by which that architecture can be negotiated into something comprehensive".

High stakes

Nevertheless, what is clear from the interview is that what is agreed at Copenhagen is likely to fall so far short of original expectations.

Let's not forget what is at stake here. The Copenhagen conference is reckoned by many to be pretty much the last chance the world has to begin to cut greenhouse gas emissions before catastrophic climate change becomes inevitable.

So how is it that a deal has been derailed before the world's environment ministers have even sat down at the table?

I hope I will be able to find some answers to that question over the next couple of weeks because the Ethical Man team is returning to the United States.

In the last weeks before the Copenhagen conference begins we will be exploring the role the world's most powerful nation has played in the run up to the talks and asking if the US is responsible for the likely failure of negotiations.

Sign up here to follow our journey or sign up to my Twitter account for regular posts on our travels.


  • Comment number 1.

    Is 'set to' the same as 'will'?

    Anyway, interesting, as I read this the same day, coincidentally in the FT

    Obama could go to Copenhagen, but only if the talks go well

    I'm guessing that might mean a 'with regrets' RSVP then?

    No photo-op, no President? All those Nobel gestures in vain, too.

    When expectations get pre-managed too much, the outcome seems seldom optimal.

    I am sure that if he passes he will be sorely missed, especially by our PM.

    Enjoy the trip to America.

  • Comment number 2.

    Well it's pretty obvious what they need to do, award President Obama for his achievements in fighting Global Warming. Though he hasn't actually done anything yet to fight Global Warming, it will inspire him to be more vigelent, maybe even pushing for sweeping reforms in the United States just in time for Copenhagen.

    Problem Solved!

  • Comment number 3.

    No need to worry about global climate change. Jesus is going to come soon and make it all better ...
    We have a responsibility for one another. 'This last commandment I give unto you, love one another.' There is a reason that there are very few New Testament Christians. It is very hard. Responsibility and action to back it up. If you are waiting for Christ to return you can make it happen right this very second by taking action to help other people. Stop waiting for the sky to open up and start living like you care about other people. We cannot stop the global changes that are coming but we might be able to slow the process and correct some of the damage if we work together as people who love one another. Action, real action that will cost you personally and will change the way we all live. Darn the luck. The alternative seems pretty hideous.

  • Comment number 4.

    Irrational expectations - Americans (and westerners in general) will drive smaller cars, and less far and fly less and use their air conditioning less - fat chance!

    If we in the West are not even prepared to take the medicine over the credit crunch and simply want to continue doing what we have always done there is almost no possibility that we will be prepared to cut our living standards and reduce our 'lifestyle' on the off chance we may save a few countries that we have never been to from vanishing from the face of the planet or a few 100 million people from starving - the price is too high. We are too selfish.

    No politician gets re-elected if he sets out to punish the electorate. (Or, it's the economy -stupid!)

    Don't get me wrong, we should do these things - travel far less, fly almost never, live in walking distance of work, drive less, live in better insulated houses and generally cling together to keep warm, share baths and not travel abroad several times a year on holiday, but these things are so against our culture, and nobody dares to force us to change. Those in change say that they can deliver a continued constant climate without pain, but they are lying - on both counts.

  • Comment number 5.

    Sigh. Of course Copenhagen is doomed to fail. It would fail even if the most sweeping emission changes were unilaterally (or perhaps "magically" is the better word) enacted around the globe. This is because no-one has publicly acknowledged that climate change is not the overriding problem. Yes, it's a problem, but it's not THE problem, which is that there is too much of what produces climate change in the first place. No, it's not coal, it's not oil and it isn't CFCs. It is...wait for it...US. As in, there are too many people on the planet, and have been for a long time now. The world's population is expanding faster than its ability to deal with such expansion's consequences, and as a result, there will be somewhere around 9 billion people on the planet (and rising!) by 2050. And with populations ever expanding, devouring natural resources and wiping out species after species of plants and animals, things are simply not going to get better, if we maintain the status quo on population control. THAT is what's truly needed...population control. The herds need to be culled, if the herds are to survive in the long run. And yes, I sadly am well aware of what the implied requirements: slaughter on such a gargantuan scale that it would make World War II look like a tea party by comparison. Will it happen? Probably not...and as a result, it would not surprise me at all if the next series of wars in high likelihood will be fought over what will be remembered as the "basics" for all like food and water, which will become luxuries for the few. Great legacy we've left, huh? Boy, the world will certainly not miss us when we're gone...

  • Comment number 6.

    No treaty at Copenhagen? Good! The planet's climate has changed many times before and will again in spite of man's puny efforts to sweep back the tide. The whole climate change thing is nothing more than a convenient excuse for groups and governments to grab power and money at the people's expense.

    We should be more interested in alternate power sources from an energy independence and pollution reduction standpoint than from worries about "carbon footprints", an invented term whose meaning depends largely on who is doing the calculating and what their agenda is. For example, proponents of electric vehicles love to brag about the carbon saved by not burning oil to power them but do they ever they talk about the carbon footprint of the car's batteries from mining to manufacturing to maintaining to final disposal? If they do I've missed it.

    The carbon limits people seem bent on forcing us all to be content with less. Perhaps that's good for us, perhaps it isn't; but we're not allowed to debate it since any challenge to their views is rigorously repressed by name calling and ridiculing the unbelievers. The bright spot in the whole scheme is that if they succeed in making us be content with less we may be able to squeeze a couple billion more people onto the planet before the issue of overpopulation becomes impossible even for politicians to ignore.

  • Comment number 7.

    (A note to the moderators. I'm aware that this post may be considered a violation of house rules depending on one's interpretation. But I hope that you'll see I'm attempting to raise a legitimate ethical question with Ethical Man rather than 'encourage unlawful activity' as some might think from just a superficial reading. The ultimate decision however, of course, rests with you.)

    The MET Office's most recent forecast is for a 4 degree Celsius increase in temperature by 2060.  And of course, the reason why the IPCC set a limit of 2 degrees is to avoid having natural positive feedback take over as the primary driver of global warming, at which point it will be impossible to then stop a further increase of 6-10 degrees.

    Such a scenario would see large areas of marginal land now under cultivation rendered useless, tropical diseases like malaria will become endemic at new latitudes, millions will face water shortages with the disappearance of glacier fed rivers, rising sea levels will inundate low lying costal areas and result in increased salinization of the water table.  Those most vulnerable, who live on already marginal land, will suffer first; however, as global warming progresses, so too will the numbers affected. Wars will be fought over diminishing resources, famine will be more widespread, and those living in more fortunate northern latitudes will take a defensive posture against migration from the hardest hit regions to the south.

    Politicians are typically a conservative bunch, ever mindful as they are of prevailing public opinion - which generally is considered a good thing in a democracy.  However, if the public are too poorly educated to elect politicians that will properly address the threat of global warming then perhaps they shouldn't be in control.  Perhaps it's time for a military coup to take over government for 20 years or so, to enact legislation by decree - rather than consensus - that will allow us to hopefully dodge the worst of global warming.  I don't suggest this lightly. Dispensing with democracy is not something to be done simply on a whim.  But with the lives of hundreds of millions at stake, and a collective heritage of some 5,000 years of civilization under threat, a temporary suspension of democracy may be a price worth paying; for I fear, by the time consensus is built, it may well be too late. 

    What say you then Ethical Man? Would it be 'ethical' to suspend democracy in order to safeguard the lives of millions? Is it more 'ethical' to leave the fate of civilization to the fickle crowd?

  • Comment number 8.

    #7. bushouhige-murph wrote:

    "Would it be 'ethical' to suspend democracy in order to safeguard the lives of millions"

    The problem with your proposition is that you imply that the Dictator so 'appointed'(?)( How, by the way?) will do the right thing. Dictators have no better a track record of doing the right things than any other forms of government - indeed they quite often tend to go off-the-rails. I fear that you would get the worst of all worlds - no prospect of policy changes that will(?)/(may) tend to improve the prospects of moderating climate change and at the same time lost any, even minor and tangential, means of changing things. (Although, I am open to correction by a scholar of Roman history - was this exactly the reason that the Roman Empire ceased to appoint Dictators in times of national peril?)

    The virtue of democracy is that the temporary dictators so anointed can be removed without bloodshed.

    I can't see any realistic mechanism (biological, planetary-engineering, or political) that will have the slightest prospect of moderating climate change - this is why, it is my regrettable conclusion, that we should do our best to globally reduce the worst effects of any change rather than whistling in the wind and not doing anything at all!

  • Comment number 9.

    'One man's 'right thing' is another's...'?

    Sadly an acceptance many 'passionate advocates' of certain views and actions seem to be unwilling to accept.

    The virtue of democracy is that the temporary dictators so anointed can be removed without bloodshed.

    Love it! Yours? If so, go to the top of the Quotes Tree!

  • Comment number 10.

    1)Do 'Climate-Changers' (nee Global Warmers) ever look at both sides of the story? For those of you who can't remember - in the mid to late 1970's the 'fear' was of global cooling - look it up.
    2) LAShutterbug - Should we start by 'culling' you. Any time I hear such nonsense, it is always 'the other group' that needs to be controlled because 'my' group is too important.
    3)Scott0962 has the right of it - another attempt to control people's lives. In America we have Algore crying about carbon and then blocking any effort to use nuclear power to work as part of a transition. Of course he can afford a solar powered houseboat to reduce the carbon footprint he is creating by flying all over the world screaming about global warming (oops-climate change).
    4) Of course there is a need to be sensible. No one needs another Love Canal, Lake Erie, or Chernobyl. But it is pretty silly to deny better homes, better transportation, better medical care, better food production (all of which require more power use)to millions because of unproven climate models.
    5) Oh, and by the way, lest we forget - the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883 had a greater impact on the entire earth than all the supposed impact of man. - How are we to stop volcanoes?

  • Comment number 11.

    With regards to the 5 points made by MenippusOGadara, if I may, I'd like to reply point for point.

    1) Took your advice and googled the 1970's global cooling 'fear'. Guess what I learned: a recent review of the literature found that between 1965 and 1979, 44 peer reviewed scientific papers predicted warming, 20 were neutral, while 7 predicted cooling. Yes, predictions of cooling received more media attention, but the majority of scientists predicted warming. And it was soon shown that those minority of papers that predicted cooling had overestimated the cooling effect of aerosol pollution while underestimating the warming effect of CO2. Your implied argument - that they were saying one thing then and now they are saying another now, therefore you can’t believe anything they say - is flawed at best, some might suggest disingenuous, but I suspect just lazy.

    2) On this point, I couldn't agree more. People who advocate culling their fellow man should be volunteered to go first. However, a one child policy similar to China's would be a good way to bring the global population back down to a more sustainable - yet with still a high level of material comfort - 2 to 3 billion mark.

    3) I hear ya chief. Seat-belt laws, work safety regulations, maximum pesticide residue levels - all just nasty government attempts to restrict your freedom of choice to become a human projectile, keep a full count of digits and limbs, and from enjoying the full bodied taste of chlorpyrifos on your apples. Now they want to regulate CO2 just like they did with the big SO2, NOx and CFC regulating scams back in the '80s. Acid rain? Bah! Ozone hole? Humbug! Scientist always making up new problems to get public funding, eh?

    4) Who wants to deny people better homes (eg ones that can stand off the grid), better transportation (eg high-speed rail and lightweight efficient vehicles), better medical care, and better food production (eg with minimum food miles)? Where do these accusations come from?

    5) Two points. FIrst - Krakatau was the second largest eruption in modern history. The massive amount of tephra ejected into the atmosphere resulted in the formation of a large veil of acidic areosols and volcanic dust that acted as an atmospheric shield reflecting enough sunlight to cause global temperatures to DROP by several degrees. Second - According to the U.S. Geological Survey, all the world’s volcanoes - both subaerial and submarine - generate some 200 million tons of CO2 annually. Contrast with human CO2 emissions which equal upward of 25 billion tons annually. Furthermore, while atmospheric CO2 levels have risen steadily year after year, there are no spikes in the data as one would expect if periodic major volcanic eruptions contributed any significant percent of atmospheric CO2. Clearly then, emissions from human activity dwarf those of volcanoes. Again your argument doesn't stand up to scrutiny. The facts are out there, literally at your fingertips. So are you being disingenuous or just lazy?

  • Comment number 12.

    11. At 04:40am on 23 Oct 2009, bushouhige-murph wrote:
    With regards to the 5 points made by MenippusOGadara, if I may, I'd like to reply point for point.

    Now that's how to engage in debate.

    Some fair points, well made. Though links always help (mind you, one man's proof of concept link is another's proof of conspiracy). Now it is for others to accept or counter.

    If only a tad less effective for, IMHO, dragging in the personal on top (and back and sides). And I must say I remain uncomfortable still at the 'I'm/we're right, so maybe it's time to suspend freedom of speech and democratic process' notions being floated.

    I'd prefer folk stuck with persuasive argument rather than self-conviction driven coercion.

  • Comment number 13.

    eg: Foreign Secretary David Miliband accuses public of climate change apathy

    Not getting the feedback he might perhaps have hoped for?

    The wrong kind of audience maybe?

    So perhaps they should be... 'circumvented' by some means?

  • Comment number 14.

    Re #7: "a temporary suspension of democracy "

    Is there such a thing?

    And what makes you think that those who seized power (and their successors, and their successors' sucessors) would share your agenda?

  • Comment number 15.

    “The virtue of democracy is that the temporary dictators so anointed can be removed without bloodshed.” Well said. However, as Churchill keenly remarked, “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” Put another way, the popular vote often reflects the truth of the old adage “garbage in, garbage out” (to wit I refer interested readers to post 10 above). At present, sadly, adhering to the laudable goal of building democratic consensus means that little is getting done.

    For those uncomfortable with the notion of suspending democratic process, I truly sympathize. Admittedly, dictatorship has its inherent dangers and is far from an ideal form of government, but it does have the distinct advantage, when time is of the essence, of being able to take decisive action. One illustrative example from history, where the absolute authority of a dictatorship helped to avert disaster, is the Tokugawa shogunate in Japan, which was able through strict edicts to reverse the sever deforestation and attendant environmental problems that had by then come to afflict much of the country.

    Today, an overwhelming majority of the world’s best scientists agree that global warming is largely driven by human activity, and that without prompt and significant changes in our behavior we risk dire consequences. The Pentagon - that bastion of tree-hugging lefties - has been war-gaming global warm scenarios for a while now - they take the threat seriously. Do we have time to wait for consensus? How long do we politely wait for accumulating evidence and awareness campaigns to change the minds of the most willfully obstinate? A recent article in the journal Science indicated the last time atmospheric CO2 levels were at 400 ppm - which we are now rapidly approaching - was back some 20 million years ago, when there was no Antarctic ice sheet, temperatures were 3-6C higher, and sea level some 25-40m higher. Do we wait until its too late for fear of offending people’s delicate sensibilities and democratic ideals? Again I ask, what say you Ethical Man?

    As for practical questions such as how to appoint a dictator, obviously a public appeal would be nice but for obvious reasons impractical. No, power would have to be seized by the military, as it's unlikely to be relinquished willingly. For a coup to be successful the troops must have extreme loyalty to and complete confidence in its leaders, so the nominal head of any coup would have to be one from a small clique of senior officers. However, recognizing that their speciality is primarily logistics and military strategy, any new military government ought to assemble a council of leading scientist from a broad number of disciplines and give them unfettered right to set new policy towards establishing a carbon neutral society.

    Of course, as this is a global problem, such interventionist action cannot be confined to one country alone, but would have to happen in a number of key states whose economic clout would be enough to persuade other nations to bring their policies in line.

    As for policies that might help mitigate the worst of global warming, I’d imagine a heavy investment in and subsidy of renewables, a Manhattan Project like push for fusion, temporary restrictions on commercial aviation, some form of carbon pricing, rethinking urban planning with a focus on energy efficiency, a phase-out of conventional heavy-framed internal-combustion vehicles, and perhaps most controversial a one child per couple policy like that of China until global population is perhaps closer to a more sustainable 2-3 billion where we can all enjoy a high standard of living.

    Naturally, democratic control ought to eventually be restored (see, I’m not some completely megalomanic bad guy - I do prefer a healthy participatory democracy, but I'd stress that this is an uncommon threat). I imagine it would take some 20-40 years for the transition to a carbon neutral society and for many of these lifestyle changes to be accepted as natural by the general population. However, once that mindset was in place, and greenhouse gas levels have been stabilized at ‘safe’ levels, then democratic control could be safely restored to the citizens to whom it rightly belongs.

    What makes me think that those who seized power would share my outlined agenda, and later benignly step aside? Well, the whole scenario proposed is premised on the idea of the military, impatient and disgusted with political paralysis, seizing power specifically to address the threat of catastrophic global warming and taking preventative action. That's a given then for this scenario. Now, would the military abdicate power once mission is accomplished or does absolute power corrupt absolutely? Depends on the moral character of the individuals in power. But one has to ask what are the alternatives? We seem incapable of acting to avert tragedy until it's near full upon us. How long do we wait? And, should the worst come to pass, will democratic institutions survive a Fortress Europe and Fortress America mentality as they brace themselves against the chaos of failed states to the south? Which are you more comfortable taking your chances with, a preemptive military coup that may be reluctant to later relinquish power, or waiting for political consensus that may materialize too late to avert catastrophic global warming and the wars it will inevitably spawn?

    Again - and for the last time (do I hear a sigh of relief?) - I ask, what say you Ethical Man?

  • Comment number 16.

    #9. JunkkMale wrote:

    "The virtue of democracy is that the temporary dictators so anointed can be removed without bloodshed.

    Love it! Yours?"

    Ans:- Yes, afraid so, but I have made this point several times before using slightly different language.

  • Comment number 17.

    16. At 7:56pm on 23 Oct 2009, John_from_Hendon wrote:

    Fear not. A masterful addition to the lexicon.

    Speaking of great orators:

    President Obama won’t talk climate change in Copenhagen

    And back on topic I clocked this:

    Only 57 per cent of Americans believe that there is strong evidence that the world has grown warmer in recent decades, down from 71 per cent a year ago,

    Which I guess as much goes to the way the situation is outlined (there are still many AGW climate pessimists who see merit in persisting with 'global warming' as sensible a rallying cry as the equally meaningless 'climate change' ).

    Hence my ongoing conviction that the current crop of messengers are woefully inadequate to the task presented by a possibly vital message.

    Especially when it seems that their solution to inadequacies in persuasion seem to be seeing merit in suppression or coercion. Er... temporarily.

    I think I'll add 'deferred democracy' and 'postponed freedom of speech' to the list starting with 'a little bit pregnant'.

    Admittedly, dictatorship has its inherent dangers

    Ya think?

    If history is my guide, I might not need to go back far, or look at many recent examples to feel this might, at the very least, be a cure being advocated that might have more immediate, and negative effects to a great deal, including climate-polluting greenhouse gas emissions.

    Saddam started some nifty bonfires, as I recall. And I'm pretty sure WW2 wasn't carbon neutral.

    Jaw-jaw, not war-war, please. Though I do advocate some better folk doing the talking. Quick.

  • Comment number 18.

  • Comment number 19.

    Have to wonder at the last para of this:

    Why Don't More Americans Believe Climate Change Is Real?

    So perhaps part of the solution is to stick with the phrase "climate change," at least in public discourse

    They do say that where America leads, the Uk follows. And yessiree-bub, certainly getting the 'A' team on the message front, though from reading the rest some aspects of flawed strategy might be seeping through. If not to many in our 'green' leadership.

    Did Gordon attend the launch with the Milibands too? His 50-day count-down and the £6M ad assist certainly seems to have worked its magic so far.

    I'd say it's time to fly to the USA and show them where they are going wrong! Again. And catch up with Darryl by chance on the train... again.

  • Comment number 20.

    15. At 12:47pm on 23 Oct 2009, bushouhige-murph wrote:
    Again - and for the last time (do I hear a sigh of relief?) - I ask, what say you Ethical Man?

    I think, like so many others looking out for us, he is currently busy.. elsewhere.

    Looks lovely.

  • Comment number 21.

    17. At 09:44am on 24 Oct 2009, JunkkMale wrote:
 "If history is my guide, I might not need to go back far, or look at many recent examples to feel this might, at the very least, be a cure being advocated that might have more immediate, and negative effects to a great deal, including climate-polluting greenhouse gas emissions. Saddam started some nifty bonfires, as I recall. And I'm pretty sure WW2 wasn't carbon neutral."

    For one who champions honest debate, your examples of the retreating Iraqi's scorched-earth policy and of WWII's carbon footprint as arguments against a ‘green coup’ are hardly analogous, and rather smack of sophistry - I had expected more from you. Perhaps the 2006 coup in Fiji would be a better analogy if you wish to draw cautionary conclusions about good intentions unilaterally imposed.

    While your tireless patience and willingness to engage in endless debate is to be commended, in this instance I fear it may prove maladaptive. With most nearly every other issue of contention, persuasive discourse is clearly the preferred means of resolution. But unlike, say, a certain segment of the population’s obstinate rejection of evolution (for which there is overwhelming evidence, yet its lack of universal acceptance is hardly the fault of those communicating the scientific position), the continuing lack of public accord on global warming threatens the lives of hundreds of millions.

    Just today it was reported by the BBC [ that warming oceans will likely mean a devastating loss of coral reefs before the end of the century, and scientist are now seriously proposing the extreme measure of freezing coral samples in liquid nitrogen to be reintroduced at some distant point in the future. The demise of vast swaths of coral reef is not some trivial matter. Yes, extinction is part of natural processes, but we do ourselves no favours by hastening the extinction of other species upon which we rely for both food and income.

    Debate is all well and good, but how long do we allow the political agenda to be hijacked by those with neither the education nor the analytical tools to form cogent opinions? How long do you propose we coddle the ignorant, and give equal weight to their opinion as to those of specialists? How long do we allow those with vested interests in the status quo, for whom polluting the atmosphere is a convenient externality, to cry poor at the mention of regulation or the creation of a pollution market? Think back to the collapse of the northern cod fishery. For years the warnings of traditional fisherman and scientist went unheeded, with the Canadian government wary of intervention for fear of upsetting various stakeholders who perceived ecologists as overstating their case and complained that too stringent regulation would result in excessive costs. Now the fishery is all but gone, yet to return despite years of a fishing moratorium.

    Waiting too long can prove costly. How much longer do you suppose we have the luxury of idle debate before the power to shape events slips from our hands? Disagreeable as it is, sometimes top down decision making is necessary.

  • Comment number 22.

    bushouhige-murph #15.

    "As for practical questions such as how to appoint .."

    a lottery perhaps? it could hardly result in a worse selection than our present "ruling class".

  • Comment number 23.

    21. At 1:21pm on 26 Oct 2009, bushouhige-murph wrote

    Your views on my debating style noted, if from where I'm looking mainly for being opinions you hold that you seem to feel others must too. Ironically. Meanwhile, back from the personal to the discussion:

    Disagreeable as it is, sometimes top down decision making is necessary.

    Well, I guess if it comes to pass those doing the business can always say they were only obeying orders. Speaking of scorched earth governance, in the UK at least, given who at the top here is currently trying to drag everyone down but them (the EU government seems a seductive 1st Class only lifeboat to our failed national political classes), forgive me, but I think I'll pass. Hence reaching back through centuries to a Japanese shogunate as a topically applicable example of a rarely successful enviro-dictatorship still seems... [one of those big phrases you used for 'not good'].

    So to repeat, trying to 'make' me defer in the terms you seem to be espousing is unlikely to help the planet much, especially in the near future which, if I read Mr. Brown right (and in a rare instance agree), is when it really matters.

    Stuff needs doing, but the current crop have yet to show me they have a clue what, other than in areas of special self 'interest', rampant hypocrisy, cowardice, blinkered dogma or plain misguidedness. Hence I am pretty much unimpressed with just about all they are setting out and am hence still seeking more viable alternatives and competent proponents. If human nature makes that impossible in an idealistic sense, then I must accept in this day and age that we require pragmatic compromise. And there is a long time to work that one out.

    But short term, should you still be unclear, when folk start telling me I need to submit to their views... or else... I will resist. And when enough feel the same way that usually results in some carbon getting spilled, and I don't mean on Jeremy Clarkson's driveway.

    Like many, your arguments are failing to persuade me. And that you think the time has come, on your terms, to move other instruments, smacks of unfortunate historical precedent.

  • Comment number 24.

    22. At 1:59pm on 26 Oct 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    Sorry, just re-read the para you have also had cause to ponder, and realised it was probably all a wind-up and I really could have spared myself and others the defence of democracy attempt.

    Rather begs the question on blogs as to who is coming from where, whether it's for real or just misleading.

    It would be hard to imagine such posts serving one set of interests well, whilst in fact helping another, totally different one.

    If so, too subtle for me I fear, and I can but reply as one who - and you can trust me on this; I'm a blogger - champions honest debate. Sadly the online chamber removes much that can assist with provenance, and so words alone, and not how they are spoken, or by whom, are all we have to work with.

  • Comment number 25.

    JunkkMale #24.

    "..the question on blogs as to who is coming from where.."

    know the feeling, I often right-click on tag to read through their (recent) BBC posts.

    ironically, I can sort of see where bushouhige-murph is coming from (even agree with some of his/her assessment) but, to be honest, any more fascism and I'll lose the will to live.

  • Comment number 26.

    What is the real reason that a deal on climate change wont be reached?

    It's not because finding alternative renewable clean energy is hard or expensive. In fact 20% of the sites possible for Geo-thermal energy in the world are easily accessible now with today's technology, and these sites alone convert to 4000 times the energy currently used by the whole planet per year.

    It's not because the public don't want change, and its not because politicians don't want change.

    It's down to money. But not because changing to greener power will cost to much, in fact its quite the opposite.

    The reason the price of oil is sky rocketing is because it is a limited resource and the world currently depends on it. So oil companies want to keep it in demand, as it gets scarcer and scarcer so the price goes up and up and they make more and more money.

    The reason we are not already completely powered by green, renewable energy is because its unlimited. The oil companies can't regulate the cost of it, and introducing it would push down the value of oil because people would become less dependent on it.

    So to the real reason there wont be a meaningful resolution at the conference. Politicians don't listen to the people or the scientists, they listen to the businessmen. The businessmen that run the biggest businesses in the world including oil companies. The same businessmen that funded their campaigns to office, and the businessmen claiming that cleaning up the economies will end up damaging them. Lets not forget that some of the biggest oil companies are have bigger income than that of entire countries.

    It's not the government trying to control us here it's the businesses.

  • Comment number 27.

    23. At 3:23pm on 26 Oct 2009,

    And when enough feel the same way that usually results in some carbon getting spilled, and I don't mean on Jeremy Clarkson's driveway.

    On a previous thread I talk about 'the bunny gets it' and lo, there's a piece next day about bunny bio-fuel.

    Now this:

    Greenpeace dumps 18 tonnes of coal at Swedish govt offices

    Still, it could have been worse. I doubt they use manure in the office composter... yet.


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