December 10th 2011

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY / EDITORIAL: Mining tax will hit Australian industry and super

CANBERRA OBSERVED: PM Gillard buys herself some breathing space

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Treasurer Swan's budget cuts hit unwaged mothers

QUEENSLAND: Labor's dying wish: to bury marriage once and for all

WATER: Time to protest over second Basin plan

NEW ZEALAND: John Key's National Party increases its vote

GLOBAL WARMING: Durban conference switches tack on climate change

EUROPEAN UNION: EU's options for tackling the eurozone crisis

UNITED STATES: Sarah Palin castigates congressional corruption

RUSSIA: What Russia's presidential election portends

FAMILY LAW: Labor and Greens creating a fatherless society

SOCIETY: Social engineering and the abuse of children

YOUTH AFFAIRS: Schoolies week excesses: public debate needed

ABORTION: Deceptive advertising of the abortion industry

CINEMA: A ringing affirmation of fatherhood

BOOK REVIEW: Forbidden reading

BOOK REVIEW Dickens: the early years

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Durban conference switches tack on climate change

by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, December 10, 2011

The 2011 UN Climate Change Conference is meeting in Durban, South Africa, to try to get international agreement on cutting emissions of CO2.

However, after the failure of earlier conferences in Copenhagen and Cancún (Mexico) to establish mandatory targets, there is no expectation that the Durban conference will set any such targets, particularly as the largest emitters — the United States, China and India — have refused to do so.

One issue which will loom large is the proposed “Green Climate Fund”, adopted in 2010 in Cancún, under which developed countries have promised to donate $100 billion a year by 2020, to assist poorer countries in financing emission reductions and adaptation.

There was no agreement in Cancún as to how the $100 billion was to be raised, although an elaborate structure was established to administer the fund. In light of the fact that President Obama and the Democrats do not control the US Congress, and the eurozone economies are in deep trouble, there is little prospect of significant money coming from either of these quarters — or from anywhere else.

The “Green Climate Fund” is, in summary, a mirage which would only be supported by the likes of a Julia Gillard.

This is not the only example of the widening gap between the rhetoric of UN climate change conferences and what is happening on the ground.

At the 2010 Cancún conference, the signed agreement stated that deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions were required to ensure that the increase in global average temperature did not exceed 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

The agreement also notes that addressing climate change requires a paradigm shift towards building a low-carbon society.

Since then, CO2 emissions have declined in the EU and the US, but only because of the economic downturn in those countries. Everywhere else, CO2 emissions have been rising steadily.

The 2010 Cancún agreement also called on industralised countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, as pledged in the Copenhagen Accord, and for developing countries to plan to reduce their emissions.

However, the US Energy Information Agency (EIA) forecasts a 12.5 per cent rise in emissions in the coming decade. By 2020 economies around the globe are expected to be putting 4 gigatonnes more CO2 into the air than they were in 2010, with 90 per cent of that increase coming from developing countries, notably China and India.

It is interesting that while the Federal Government has established a new carbon tax, supposedly to reduce CO2 emissions, state Labor governments have been accelerating the development of coal export facilities, leading to the production of more CO2 in countries such as India and China.

The Queensland Labor Government is trumpeting the fact that in 2011 it expects to export 184 million tonnes of coal, which is 50 per cent higher than a decade ago. (ABC Radio National’s PM program, November 22, 2011).

The Durban conference comes at a time when, despite increasing CO2 emissions, there has been no net increase in global temperatures since 1998.

Rather than admit this fact, climate alarmists have now switched to another line of argument: that extreme climate events are “proof” of global warming.

Last month, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a report titled, Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation.

It claimed that climate change will likely lead to global increases in extreme weather along with heightened risks to livelihoods, human health and infrastructure, both today and in the future.

It claimed that “extreme weather is on the rise around the world”, that extreme weather and climate disasters are deadly and expensive, losses are increasing, a warming world will likely be a more extreme world, and that “greenhouse gas pollution is likely driving some of these trends”.

However, long-term research over the past century in the United States shows no such trend. It is one of the few countries where such research has been conducted.

Examining a century of hurricane damage, a 2008 research paper from the University of Colorado concluded that “there is no long-term trend of increasing damage over the time period covered by this analysis. Even Hurricane Katrina is not outside the range of normalised estimates for past storms.” (Normalised Hurricane Damage in the United States, 1900-2005).

The BBC’s environment correspondent, Richard West, recently published a summary of the draft IPCC report which contradicted the final published summary.

The IPCC draft said, “There is ‘low confidence’ that tropical cyclones have become more frequent, ‘limited-to-medium evidence available’ to assess whether climatic factors have changed the frequency of floods, and ‘low confidence’ on a global scale even on whether the frequency [of floods] has risen or fallen.” (BBC News, November 13, 2011).

This suggests that the final report, which was produced by politicians and bureaucrats, was deliberately modified to produce a politically-acceptable result prior to the Durban conference. 

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