Contrary to what you may have heard, the just-concluded Copenhagen climate change conference was a huge success.
So suggested United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, when he met with reporters at the UN headquarters in New York on Monday, and gave a very upbeat assessment of the conference. He claimed that “the decisions made in Copenhagen fulfill in large part the benchmarks for success that I had laid down at the September 2009 Summit meeting here in UN headquarters.”
In support of that dubious claim, the Secretary General cited the so-called Copenhagen Accord, a toothless and vague set of aspirational goals brokered by President Obama in the waning hours of the conference with China and other major industrialized and emerging nations.
Even as he tried to put on a happy face, Ban Ki-moon did not deny that the negotiating process under UN auspices was unwieldy or that the Copenhagen Accord lacked any commitments on emission reductions and international verification procedures to ensure that countries like China were even meeting their voluntary targets.
I asked the Secretary General about the role that he personally played in trying to facilitate a deal. In his usual self-effacing manner, Ban Ki-moon said that “I think everybody has played an important role, not necessarily [just] myself.” He singled out President Obama for playing “a very important role at the last minute when this negotiation was stuck on important issues like verification and other mitigation target issues.” Of course, in reality the negotiations are still stuck on those very issues. All that was accomplished was a last-minute face-saving gesture.
One major advance of the Copenhagen conference, at least in Ban Ki-moon’s mind, was the ramping up of funding commitments by the developed countries to the developing countries. In a “show me the money” type of statement, the Secretary General said that “the deal is backed by money and the means to deliver it. You know that already $30 billion have been committed until 2012, and after that $100 billion annually up to 2020.”
It’s hard to spin this as a success, however. Wealth transfer of even a greater magnitude than this is all that China and the developing countries have been after, not truly solving in a practical manner any problems caused by global warming. This is on top of the billions of dollars of annual development aid going to many of these same countries. Their position is that, since the industrialized nations created the mess and benefited the most from the use of fossil fuels, the rich nations should make amends to the rest of the world that is supposedly suffering the consequences. What they don’t mention is that much of the world has been given a free ride on the technological advances paid for and developed in the West that have saved millions of lives and improved the standard of living all over the world.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is an earnest, well-meaning man who truly believes in the scare-mongering forecasts of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. However, we now know that those forecasts were based on manipulated data and one-sided analyses that excluded any dissenting views.
The science of climate change is far from settled. There is no cause to panic and destroy our economy to address problems that remain very much in dispute. And to claim, as Ban Ki-moon has, that the Copenhagen conference was a success is ultimately as false as much of the data that its participants have relied on to make their case.