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National Editorials & Columns

UN climate delegates accept blame for natural disasters

Delegates at the recent United Nations climate conference in Warsaw decided that one billion dollars a day, the amount currently being spent across the world on ‘climate finance’, is not enough. Far greater funding is needed to save the world from what UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calls the “greatest threat facing humanity.” That climate science is highly immature and global warming actually stopped 17 years ago was never mentioned.

Here’s what our representatives just agreed to.

Starting in 2014, the UN’s Green Climate Fund, a plan to divert an additional $100 billion per year from the treasuries of developed countries to those of developing nations to help them “take action on climate change”, will commence operation. 

A timetable was accepted to pave the way towards the establishment of a new international treaty in 2015 that will force developed countries to spend untold billions more to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The fine print in the negotiating text includes an out-clause for developing nations, indicating that CO2 emission targets that their governments agree to will not be enforced. Developed nations do not have this escape clause.

The rules governing how developing countries will be financially rewarded, at our cost, for reducing deforestation were also established. 

But this is only the tip of the financial iceberg we will soon face. Last minute concessions by our representatives have set us up for a potential liability of trillions of dollars. They agreed to the establishment of a new institution under the UN’s legal framework: the “Warsaw international mechanism for loss and damage associated with climate change impacts”. 

In so doing, the door has been opened to requiring that we compensate developing countries for the impact of extreme weather events that are supposedly our fault. No one knows to what extent the charges against us will be retroactive, but for the first time ever, the costs of extreme weather events all over the world are about to be added to our bill.

This happened because developed countries did not challenge the scientifically-flawed notion that anthropogenic climate change is known to be responsible for causing extreme weather events. Consequently, Ban Ki-moon faced no opposition from delegates when he unjustifiably blamed the recent typhoon in the Philippines on man-made global warming. 

Rather than accepting such mistakes, here are the sorts of things our representatives to UN climate conferences must bring up.

Extreme weather has always been an integral part of the Earth’s climate system. It is not within human control and there has been no worldwide increase in such phenomena. 

The UN’s own science body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), stated in their March 28, 2012 Special Report on Extremes: “There is medium evidence and high agreement that long-term trends in normalized losses have not been attributed to natural or anthropogenic climate change.” In their September 2013 assessment report, the IPCC had only “low confidence” that damaging increases will occur in tropical cyclones (typhoons and hurricanes) due to global warming. 

The Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change agreed, asserting in their most recent report (September 2013): “In no case has a convincing relationship been established between warming over the past 100 years and increases in any of these extreme events.”

UN delegates also must ask critical questions of their leaders.  For instance, extreme weather events occurred with about the same frequency during the 1945 to 1977 global cooling period as they do today, yet no climate scientist pointed to human activity as being responsible in the earlier period. What is different now? 

Why has the Secretary General not answered the 134 skeptical climate experts who told him in their November 24, 2012 open letter: “current scientific knowledge does not substantiate your assertions…Global warming that has not occurred cannot have caused the extreme weather of the past few years.” 

To maintain political pressure for the new climate accord, there will be additional UN negotiations this coming spring, summer, and autumn, the latter hosted by the Secretary General himself. Our negotiators must introduce the findings of real science at these meetings. Otherwise, we will soon be responsible for trillions of dollars in compensation for natural phenomena that impact rich and poor nations alike. 

The right response is to help vulnerable people adapt to extreme weather events, to the degree we can afford. The idea that we cause them and can prevent them from occurring is science fiction.

Tom Harris is Executive Director of the International Climate Science Coalition ( Dr. Madhav Khandekar, a former Research Scientist with Environment Canada, was an Expert Reviewer for the UN’s IPCC 2007 Climate Change documents and contributed to the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change. 

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