COP 24 2018

OPINION: Shocking and reprehensible? A colossal betrayal of anyone but their rulers’ own narrow industrial support base?

There are no words strong enough with which to condemn the behaviour of the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait at COP24 after they refused to welcome the key scientific report on global warming commissioned by the United Nations following the Paris Agreement, which warned that the world has 12 years in which to ratchet down greenhouse gas emissions or face global temperature rises greater than 1.5°C, and, therefore, catastrophe.

These people – who every day use complex technology which relies on science – say they do not believe the science behind global warming. The ability to hold two contradictory ideas in your head at the same time was called by George Orwell in his novel 1984, “doublethink”.

Actually, I don’t think these people think at all, or, if they do, only about themselves and their political power.

Political power is based on reputation and theirs is rapidly going down the chute. That the leaders of the two former superpowers of the world could betray the world and its future is a colossal abdication of their responsibility.

And what about Australia? It remained silent during the debate on whether to “welcome” the United Nations report held in Katowice, Poland over the weekend.

The blocking by these nations, despite the fact that most of the world’s countries fiercely opposed their position, meant it took two and a half hours to reach a compromise statement on the document.

Dr Bill Hare, the managing director of Climate Analytics and a lead author on previous IPCC reports, said “Australia’s silence in the face of this attack yesterday shocked many countries and is widely seen as de facto support for the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait’s refusal to welcome the IPCC report.”

The country’s carbon emissions continue to rise, and even the rate at which they rise is increasing.

There is no doubt that the climate scepticism expressed by Trump is encouraging other leaders to turn their back on the science because it suits them. Even the COP’s host nation, Poland, which is 80 per cent reliant on coal, is extremely reluctant to give up its dependence on the industry without significant compensation.

And Germany is struggling to give up its reliance on coal and may miss its 2020 greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.

The conference has failed to adopt the key scientific report, and Brazil’s soon to be sworn in right-wing president, Bolsonaro, has announced that he is going to follow Trump in reviewing Brazil’s position on the Paris Agreement.

Could it be that greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are making politicians even more stupid than they were before? Is there something about the build-up of their concentration that is sapping the concentration of their minds?

Airlines around the world are refusing to do anything about their own emissions: perhaps it’s because they are closer to the blanket of greenhouse gasses around the planet, inhaling them and muddying their thinking?

The world as a whole is still nowhere near meeting its own climate goals. New financial research from UK think tank InfluenceMap shows that the world’s largest asset management groups – with a combined $40 trillion in capital market assets – have increased the holdings of thermal coal reserves in their funds by more than 20 per cent.

While the vast majority of politicians around the world actually do support the Paris Agreement, as do, of course, 99.999 per cent of scientists (the ones who haven’t had too much nitrous oxide), it is part of the tragedy of the commons that it takes just a few morons to screw it up for everybody else.

These party poopers are in their own bubbles. You would think they would pay attention to businessmen, especially Trump, when the largest ever group of global investors – 414 institutional investors with $31 trillion under management – call for more action to meet Paris targets, saying that coal is a 19th century industry and you can’t use 19th-century industries to solve 21st-century problems.

Meanwhile, there is far more money to be made from low and zero carbon investment than there is from coal.

But it’s no secret that when we finally get to see the US president’s tax returns we’ll discover that, like everything else he touches, his life is one big con and he is no better at business than I am. He’s just a big bully, who encourages other bullies.

And you know what, we have to stand up to them. We cannot let this cabal of right-wing dictator types have their own way.

Scientists have to be objective and democrats have to be democratic, but there’s nothing democratic about letting yourself be pushed around by loud-mouthed ignoramuses.

The yellow jackets in France may be rioting against rising fuel duty that would benefit the fight against global warming, but their tactics are what is required to persuade politicians everywhere to tax the carbon polluters, with a realistic carbon tax, and invest the money in reducing everybody’s fuel bills and energy efficiency to get even those sceptics onside.

It’s time to stand up to the carbon bully-boys once and for all. This is war, and the stakes could not be higher.

David Thorpe is the author of Passive Solar Architecture Pocket Reference, Solar Technology and Sustainable Home Refurbishment

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