Every time there’s some big international gabfest with celebrities, politicians, fancy food and private jet contrails, the expectation is that this one will do the trick, definitely for sure. And when it fizzles out, there are immediate calls for another one that will really do the trick blah blah blah. Which is extraordinary because, for instance, they just had one and like the proverbial tree in the forest, it fell and made no sound. Go on. Where was it? Answer: Bonn (and Neverland). And what was it for? To prepare for more talks. As Climate Home News put it, and even this assessment could be accused of unwarranted optimism, “The sense of urgency that emanated from Cop26 continued to fizzle out this week, as the climate diplomacy hardcore gathered in Germany for the Bonn climate talks.” The Financial Times was blunter: “UN climate talks end in acrimony and accusations of betrayal”. So let’s do it all again in Sharm el-Sheik, huh guys? Right? This time for sure. Or the next. Or something.
It actually is the plan. COP27 will convene at that Egyptian luxury resort in… 2022. From November 7-18. Because there’s so much to say that has not yet been said. Such as, as, um… how high the expectations are for COP28 in the UAE in 2023, from November 6-17. Even if emissions need to turn down before 2023 or we will all be prostrated from heat stroke or done in by non-nutritious veggies or some such.
To anyone still swilling the high-end Koolaid the problem is very obvious. The people involved in this process repeatedly intone that the science is settled, though things are worse than expected, and that they know exactly what to do, though nothing they do ever works. And because they have the support of almost every government, the smart set, most big corporations and so on, there’s no obstacle to doing it over and over again except… it never works because they don’t know what to do, or how, and if they really tried hard to do what they claim to think is as urgent as it is essential, the resulting economic disaster would cause a huge public backlash.
The Guardian whined that “Few countries have produced the plans on tougher emissions cuts they promised in November at the Cop26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, and finance and help for poor countries to adapt to the impacts of climate breakdown are still lacking.” Prompting Judith Curry’s tart tweet “Hard not to see this one coming…”. But the Guardian didn’t see it coming, and still doesn’t have a clue why it came, and neither did the people making the promises. Or rather, the Guardian has the wrong clue, the one-size-fits-all blaming of any stubborn problem on a lack of will by privileged white people:
“European governments have been accused of seeking to exploit the fossil fuel reserves of the developing world, while failing to help them tackle the climate crisis. Campaigners made the charge as the latest round of UN climate negotiations ended in stalemate on Thursday night in Bonn, Germany.”
Climate Home News did allow that:
“Climate-vulnerable developing countries tried to inject some urgency. Instead of a three-year ‘talking shop’ on how to arrange funding for climate disaster victims, they demanded a funding facility be set up by Cop27 in Egypt this November and the issue be on the agenda. But that was too much for the EU and others, who blocked those proposals. Publicly, they say they want to improve existing aid systems rather than setting up a whole new finance architecture. Privately, they’re not sure how much cash they can get out of their finance ministers back home.”
Moreover, “Rich countries like to say that the quicker emissions are reduced, the less loss and damage climate change will cause. On this territory, they were much more comfortable in Bonn trying to pressure China into more emission reductions by trying to include references to ‘major emitters’ in informal notes. That didn’t fly with Beijing.”
In short, nobody wanted to do anything to cut emissions because anything they could do looked like a lot of pain for little or no gain. And while poor countries wanted free money which would be all gain for no pain, rich countries said no because it would be the opposite for them. And of course such a transfer would have no impact on emissions in either rich or poor countries so delegates were openly squabbling over something not even they thought mattered. Just as cutting emissions in wealthy, relatively energy-efficient countries would do nothing to reduce global emissions enough to affect the model projections of temperature in 2100 if China and others keep on increasing theirs, and the Politburo hasn’t the slightest intention of reducing their economy’s appetite for energy, including coal power, because of its ambition to weaken the West and defeat it and its scorn for climate alarmism except as a tool for that ambition.
It’s a grubby business, to put it mildly. And yet somehow people manage to invest great hopes in it. For instance a week before its fizzle verdict Climate Home News had said of Bonn:
“Rich countries have repeatedly refused to accept liability for their historic responsibility in causing the climate crisis. On finance for loss and damage, they have stalled for three decades. But how long can this last? The issue is set to dominate this year’s climate talks and vulnerable nations won’t be easily convinced to go home empty handed once more.”
Which was fatuous since they didn’t have to be “convinced” because they had no leverage over rich countries, not even a promise to sweeten the tone, since the rhetoric is as stale as the policy failure. The air of unreality was palpable here as everywhere else.
Oh well. Off to Egypt. Then the UAE. And onwards and in circles. This time for sure.