Monday, January 29, 2007

IPCC and US lobbying - smoke and mirrors?

Hard to know what to make of this Guardian article:

US answer to global warming: smoke and giant space mirrors

For maximum impact the article starts by talking about how the US is asking scientists for last-ditch climate change solutions such as large mirrors in space or throwing up tonnes of reflexive particles into the atmosphere.
Scientists have previously estimated that reflecting less than 1% of sunlight back into space could compensate for the warming generated by all greenhouse gases emitted since the industrial revolution. Possible techniques include putting a giant screen into orbit, thousands of tiny, shiny balloons, or microscopic sulphate droplets pumped into the high atmosphere to mimic the cooling effects of a volcanic eruption. The IPCC draft said such ideas were "speculative, uncosted and with potential unknown side-effects".

What is more interesting though is the part of the article that suggests that the IPCC is being pressured by the US government to change the report because .... well, because they want it to be changed.

The US has also attempted to steer the UN report, prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), away from conclusions that would support a new worldwide climate treaty based on binding targets to reduce emissions - as sought by Tony Blair. It has demanded a draft of the report be changed to emphasise the benefits of voluntary agreements and to include criticisms of the Kyoto Protocol, the existing treaty which the US administration opposes.

The final IPCC report, written by experts from across the world, will underpin international negotiations to devise a new emissions treaty to succeed Kyoto, the first phase of which expires in 2012. World governments were given a draft of the report last year and invited to comment.

It is good to see that at least the US response recognises the possible contribution of Economists. Spot on. I just hope they pick a good sample of economists.
The US submission is based on the views of dozens of government officials and is accompanied by a letter signed by Harlan Watson, senior climate negotiator at the US state department. It complains the IPCC draft report is "Kyoto-centric" and it wants to include the work of economists who have reported "the degree to which the Kyoto framework is found wanting". It takes issue with a statement that "one weakness of the [Kyoto] protocol, however, is its non-ratificiation by some significant greenhouse gas emitters" and asks: "Is this the only weakness worth mentioning? Are there others?"

US response can be found HERE.

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