carbon-tax-now I largely ignored Copenhagen (the conference, not the city, I hasten to add: very nice place I’m sure and I mean no disrespect) and chose instead to push for Carbon Tax Now, though I felt obliged to read a little bit of what they had to say. But now we have Cancun. What to say about that, other than rather unoriginal puns?

Nothing but the obvious really: it was a total failure and it would have been better if it had never occurred. Cancun was the triumph of the negotiator-class: the parasites encouraged by all the process: yet another waste-of-time conference designed purely to generate paper (you can get a feel for this by reading some of the stuff that the otherwise sane Ben Hale blogged. The aura of “why did I bother turn up” is palpable. Probably, someone gave him a grant). HT has quite a nice article which attempts to smile through the gloom:

Although it’s not everything we need, the agreement on the table puts the UN negotiations back on track after the shambles of Copenhagen last year. Expectations were lowered in the run-up to Cancun and completing the final agreement was never a possibility… when it became obvious that a deal had been crafted, there was such a palpable feeling of relief… the Bolivian Climate Change Ambassador complained that governments had not gone far enough in agreeing emissions cuts. He is right, but for almost all the governments, the deal on the table is a good step forward, and all that could be achieved…. The emissions reduction pledges in the Copenhagen Accord were merely noted in this Cancun agreement. They fall woefully short of the level of ambition required to avoid dangerous climate change… the good news is that, for the first time in the agreement, there is recognition of the inadequacy of the pledges…

The main touted success appears to be the establishment of a $100 bn Green Climate Fund, which has a lot of people licking their lips over a nice big barrel of pork. Lots of well-paid Western Negotiating Types are going to get a pile of very well paid jobs out of it, and if there is any money left over a number of Developing Country types may get some Pork (for some odd reason Turkey gets its very own special Pork: para 142). But given the real amounts in play, and the rather slim chances that the $100 bn will ever materialise (This headline-grabbing promise, however, is not part of the UN process and is merely an aspiration of rich countries), the West gets off cheaply and is happy.

You can read Outcome of the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention, though I’d bet you probably won’t. But who could fail to agree when they affirm that enhanced action on adaptation should be undertaken in accordance with the Convention; follow a country-driven, gender-sensitive, participatory and fully transparent approach, taking into consideration vulnerable groups, communities and ecosystems; and be based on and guided by the best available science and, as appropriate, traditional and indigenous knowledge; with a view to integrating adaptation into relevant social, economic and environmental policies and actions, where appropriate?

Around para 50 I started skipping heavily. Around paras 80-100 I thought I was losing the will to live, but then up came para 102:

Decides that the Green Climate Fund shall be designed by a Transitional Committee… shall have 40 members, with 15 members from developed country Parties and 25 members from developing country Parties, with: (a) Seven members from Africa;
(b) Seven members from Asia; (c) Seven members from Group of Latin American and Caribbean States; (d) Two members from small island developing States; (e) Two members from least developed countries;

No pretence that membership will be decided on merit then. Incidentally, the $100 bn is written in, as

98. Recognizes that developed country Parties commit, in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation, to a goal of mobilizing jointly USD 100 billion per year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries

But that certainly doesn’t sound very binding. After that the text seemed to rather fizzle out and I found nothing worth quoting or mocking. If you find any good stuff in there, please leave a comment.

So I think it has now become perfectly clear that the entire giant international process has stopped being a way to negotiate meaningful cuts in CO2 emissions and has become – well, has been for years, I’m not sure when this first happened, it was a gradual process I suppose – subject to capture by the negotiators, as these things so often are. Far too many people now have far too much of their energy wrapped up and invested in lobbying this bloated zombie process. It needs to die.

Where to go from here?

First off, recognise that it (the current process) has failed and needs to be thrown away. It was a nice try, but gets no cigar. Saying “but it is the only game in town” won’t work. The reason all these long years of negotiations have failed to produce anything meaningful is because there is no real heart available from the politicians to do so – which in turn means lack of heart from the public, since politicians on the whole aren’t the sort who stand up for Principle above Votes, and those who do tend to become Ex Politicians and Lessons. Trying to negotiate a global deal is just too difficult, the only way forward is more local agreement. And as far as I can see the best option is revenue-neutral carbon taxes, honestly applied (which means stuff like no dumping on nukes just cos you don’t like them – or if you must, don’t do it under the guise of a carbon tax. Of course, stopping subsidising the coal mining industry would be a thing to do first, if at all possible). As far as I know, this isn’t a change of heart by me. If you can find me an earlier quote from me contradicting any of this, I’d be interested and you might well win a Valuable Prize of up to $100 bn.

So I shall start my Carbon Tax Now! campaign (in a token attempt to do some research I found this but didn’t of course read the associated pdf). I’ve done the first essential step – I’ve made a logo. I hope you like it. Feel free to “join” me. yes, I know there are Vast Insurmountable Policital Hurdles to overcome. Fear not – I have no interest in them. I’m not a practical politician, you may have noticed. Anyway, this is but the post about Cancun – the post about Carbon Taxes vs Cap-n-Trade is still to come.

This is all The Politics, of course. It doesn’t affect The Science in the least.


* France unveils carbon tax?
* mt – “You don’t run a ship with six big captains, a dozen less influential captains, and a hundred and forty minor captains”
* Yes, agreed, carbon tax now!
* Nature, unable to admit the truth
* Cancun: A reason for optimism? – no, but worth reading anyway.