Cop 17: Discontent grows with US

2011-12-01 08:55

Durban - Leading American environmentalists complained to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that her negotiators at UN climate talks risked portraying the US as an obstacle to fighting global warming because of its perceived foot-dragging on key issues.

Separately, European delegates and the head of the African bloc at the 192-party talks on Wednesday also denounced US positions at the talks, which are seeking ways to curb the ever-expanding emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

"Developed countries as a whole are not taking climate change seriously as a global issue," Seyni Nafo, of Mali, told AP.

"Look at the US. We use and we welcome their leadership on democracy, on access to markets, on human rights issues.

"We would want to have the same leadership to tackle climate change, because for us in the developing world the biggest threat, the biggest enemy, is climate change."

Irreversible damage

Discontent directed at Washington came as the UN's top climate scientist, Rajendra Pachauri, warned the conference's 15 000 participants that global warming is leading to human dangers and soaring financial costs - but that containing carbon emissions will have a host of benefits.

Although he gave no explicit deadlines, the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change implied that the world only has a few years before the Earth is irreversibly damaged by accumulations of carbon in the atmosphere.

The letter to Clinton signed by the chief executives of 16 major non-profit groups also stressed the urgency of finding solutions to the world's emissions of carbon dioxide, mainly from burning fossil fuels for energy, industry and transportation.

"This is a critical meeting, and we are rapidly running out of time to avert the worst impacts of climate change," it said.

It reminded Clinton of President Barack Obama's presidential campaign pledges to move the US back into the forefront of global co-operation on global warming.

"Three years later, America risks being viewed not as a global leader on climate change but as a major obstacle to progress," said the letter.

It was signed by the heads of the Environmental Defence Fund, the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defence Council and other major environmental lobby and activist groups.

US not favourable to $100bn fund

Anger was directed at the US conditions for negotiating a deal that would legally bind all countries to limit their emissions, and for holding up discussion on how to raise $100bn earmarked for poor countries to develop low-carbon economies and deal with the effects of global warming.

Instead of a binding agreement, the US has said it favours voluntary pledges by countries to do as much as they can to control emissions.

At the last climate conference a year ago in Cancun, Mexico, some 80 countries listed the actions they were taking to reduce emissions or at least lower their rate of growth.

Jonathan Pershing, the US delegate, told reporters this week he did not believe those pledges would change in the near future. The US has promised to cut its emissions by 17% from 2005 levels by 2020.

Taken together, those voluntary pledges amount to about half of what scientists say is needed to avert potential climate disaster, said the European Union's chief negotiator, Artur Runge-Metzger.

"Those who seem to think that it is enough for current pledges to stay as they are up to 2020 seem to be overlooking those facts," he said.

"The longer you wait, delaying action, the more expensive and disruptive it will be and the greater the risk" of missing the target set by Pachauri's IPCC after compiling years of studies and projections.

Obama govt in difficult position

Runge-Metzger acknowledged the US delegation may be hamstrung by the domestic political scene, where climate change is perceived as an unpopular issue.

"The US could set a good example, but we all know the situation of the US at home. It's very hard for the Obama administration to move forward with climate change because of the situation in Congress."

In his briefing to the convention, Pachauri outlined the dangers science anticipates unless carbon emissions are curbed.

Heatwaves currently experienced once every 20 years will happen every other year by the end of this century, he said.

Coastal areas and islands are threatened with inundation by global warming, rain-reliant agriculture in Africa will shrink by half and many species will disappear. Within a decade, up to 250 million more people will face the stress of scarce water.

Disasters ‘could be avoided’

Increasingly frequent weather disasters have imposed heavy financial burdens, with some poor countries running up 90% of their national debt to deal with the aftermath of storms, droughts and floods, he said.

But the Indian scientist said "many impacts can be avoided, reduced or delayed" by reducing emissions.

To stabilise carbon concentrations in the atmosphere would slow economic growth by 0.12% per year, he said, but those costs would be offset by improved health, greater energy security and more secure food supplies.

  • Ernst - 2011-12-01 10:05

    So the whole world should be doomed beacuase of a few people in the US congress (Mainly Republicans) that think that the earth is 5000 years old.

      Robin - 2011-12-01 12:36

      Ernst. You don't have much of an idea on the processes of science do you? Quite right, science, no science, is never 'settled' but I fail to see when there is a contradiction. Alarmist hype can hardly be called science since it is so fudged it cannot be tested.

      Ernst - 2011-12-01 13:24

      @Robin: You point to "science" to prove your point. Yet you say that science is never settled. So the "science" that you are pointing to is also not settled.

  • Robin - 2011-12-01 10:09

    Bravo USA and Bravo Canada!

      Ernst - 2011-12-01 10:40

      Your previous assertion that science is never "settled" is quite amusing. By the same argument, the "science" you refer to is then also not settled. So you are contradicting yourself.

  • TaSaqz - 2011-12-01 10:44

    What makes me so mad is the idea that South Africa might make an uninformed pledge to slap the SA coal mining industry with a carbon tax, the proceeds of which will go to the pockects of the corrupt lot, not investing in green energy. The other thing, coal mining has very little or nothing to do with global warming. Global warming/cooling is a natural phenomenon and it is irreversible. Yes, bravo USA, Canada, China.

  • ludlowdj - 2011-12-01 10:50

    The climate change debacle is based on a lie and so it doesn't matter what the outcome is anyway. The only thing science has taught us is that it actually doesn't know anything anyway and everything we accept as fact is simply conjecture until something comes around to disprove it. The US has never be a signatory of the Kyoto protocol so whether they sign this time or not doesn't make much difference. The only truth is that climate change is a naturally occurring cycle that man will never stop and the reasons for the sudden acceleration this time around has nothing to do with human intervention, although to admit to that they would also have to admit to coming Pole shift. they cannot do this as they would then have to admit to having been aware of the pole shift causes and results since 1995. "The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth becomes the greatest enemy of the State." (Dr. Joseph M. Goebbels)

      Ernst - 2011-12-01 11:22

      Yeah, and the tooth fairy exists and the earth is 5000 years old.

      Ernst - 2011-12-01 11:25

      Here is a rudimentary list of prestigious scientific organizations that, based on PEER-REVIEWED research, endorse Anthropogenic Global Warming: Scientific organizations endorsing the consensus The following scientific organizations endorse the consensus position that "most of the global warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities": American Association for the Advancement of Science American Astronomical Society American Chemical Society American Geophysical Union American Institute of Physics American Meteorological Society American Physical Society Australian Coral Reef Society Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society Australian Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO British Antarctic Survey Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society Environmental Protection Agency European Federation of Geologists European Geosciences Union European Physical Society Federation of American Scientists Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies Geological Society of America Geological Society of Australia International Union for Quaternary Research (INQUA) International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics National Center for Atmospheric Research National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Royal Meteorological Society Royal Society of the UK Please provide citations, to PEER-REVIEWED prestigious scientific journals, that backs up what you are saying.

      Robin - 2011-12-01 12:33

      @ Ernst. Peer revue is a joke - ask any reputable scientist. Been there myself more than once!

      Ernst - 2011-12-01 13:26

      @Robin: Oh really Robin? So have a PHD in climate science?

      myles.thies - 2011-12-01 13:32

      You're quoting a Nazi who's twisted ideology was the backbone of the Holocaust!? Whether climate change is as a result of human actions or not it is STILL happening.Anything that we can do to at least slow the process or lessen its affects should be given every chance of succeeding

      Soetdoring - 2011-12-01 13:46

      @Ernst. I would not put too much weight behind the opinion of government funded laboratories or labs somehow sponsored by Big Oil. Rather look for independant labs. A good starting point would be I can recommend this site.

      Mark - 2011-12-01 13:52

      I made a special video for the climate-change skeptics, and please read the text below the video...

      Ernst - 2011-12-01 15:21

      @Soetdoring: Is the link you provided based on Peer-reviewed research?

      Ernst - 2011-12-01 15:30

      @Soetdoring: Whether goverments fund research or not is irrelevant. As long as the research is peer-reviewed. Your assumption that goverment funded research is somehow always corrupt is pathetic. You forget that the PC that you are typing your claims with is there becuase of goverment funded research. The Apollo programs were also funded by goverments and the list goes on. Fact is, climate science is expensive because satelites and space technology are necessary to obtain accurate readings. It is very often impossible for an individual to take the risk or raise the necessary captital to do these kind of things. So stop referring to conspiracy theories and back your claims up with peer-reviewed research, published in prestigious academic journals.

      Robin - 2011-12-01 16:05

      @ Ernst - again! Oh wouldn’t you like to know! Seems you have some fixation on peer-review as being the criterion on whether a scientific paper is bogus or not. Well let me tell you once again – peer review (or in the case of alarmist global warming, peer-revue!) is a complete laugh a minute farce. If you know any scientists go ask them. Go read: and then look at the seven warning signs of bogus science, which exactly fit your alarmist hype, at

      Ernst - 2011-12-01 16:14

      @Robin: But i am a scientist and I have published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, so what do you know?

      Ernst - 2011-12-01 16:27

      @Robin: You are contradicting yourself once again. You point to scientists that have behaved badly and now you are generlizing that all scientists are bad and that the peer-review system is flawed. Well then what about the research that you are pointing to? That, by the same argument, is also flawed isn't it? You have no experience with the peer-reviewe process, you have never published in an academic journal, yet you have the audacity to call it a farce.

      Robin - 2011-12-01 17:19

      @ Ernst - So, you think you know who I am, what I am, what I do - what a joke. Do you have crystal balls perhaps? Yes I have published, more than once and in some of the top scientific journals. End of story - this is becoming a stupid exchange

      Ernst - 2011-12-01 18:09

      @Robin: Robin so you are a scientist. You said earlier that all scientists are corrupt and dishonest, so, applying your logic, you are also corrupt.

  • Michael - 2011-12-01 13:53

    Stop global warming. then PLANT trees! Lots of trees.

  • Jan - 2011-12-01 15:02

    Where and when did Pachauri, the UN's top climate scientist, obtain his science degree?

      Soetdoring - 2011-12-01 15:23

      I did not know that a railway engineer is considered as qualified enough to be a climate scientist.

      Ernst - 2011-12-02 14:25

      Pachauri has over 41 peer-reviewed publications in Journals such as: Nature, Science, Atmospheric science letters, Sustainability science, Environmental and Pollution etc. For further (shocking) details see:

  • George - 2011-12-01 16:20

    Climate change is happennig,when i was growing up,in Joburg, it rained EVERY Afternnon without fail in the Summer for about a hour, i havent seen that happen in years....average temps have been going up without doubt, i dont think as some writers have said here, that this is natures way. Ten thousand years ago(being very conservative here) and im no scientist....there where maybe 5 million "humans" what was the new milestone the other day , some how many billion people, in a short time....who fart, belch , pollute , burn.consume ..etc........ It is our problem at the end of the day....just my 2c as a concerened citizen.....

  • flysouth - 2011-12-04 16:06

    Nothing of the opposing point of view is shown in this article - the view that says,quite rightly,that the entire issue of climate change is as yet not proven in terms of causality and in fact those proponents of the view which states adamantly that the cause is man have, in terms of credibility, been seriously undermined by the fraudulent statements and actions of a number of leading researchers and research institutes, intent on manipulating facts to show their position in the best light. Hardly surprising that many countries, largely those who are expected to plough hundreds of billions into third world countries to subsidise the fight against climate change, see things somewhat differently and do not tend to go along with the panic! No agreement will come out of COP17 - just as no agreement has come out of all the previous such conferences - and I suspect that no agreement will ever be reached amongst nations on this subject. The simple truth is that the pauper nations of the third world are eagerly hoping for a massive gift of major funding which can be siphoned off - the West and America is well aware of this fact.

  • Pat - 2011-12-07 20:32

    Rajendra said that scientist devote TIME to assess, and have PEER-INTERVIEWS and then the experts COMPARE and EVALUATE those findings... The US has one paid man with a Science degree...say "NO, that's a hoax." and the paid-off Politicians say.... Yes, Yes, I believe that man...not the "voice of science." I'm ashamed.

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