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In Petersberg, near Bonn, heads of state and government are discussing the future of international climate policy. Angela Merkel has been forced to recognise that the fretfulness about global warming catastrophe is being replaced by sensible pragmatism. Only the benefactors of climate hysteria still resist.

At other times, when climate catastrophism was still a booming enterprise, a climate conference such as this would have attracted massive media attention for days on end. The leaders of 45 countries are meeting at the Hotel Petersberg near Bonn from today until Tuesday.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and Mexican President Felipe Calderon have invited to the conference. It focuses about the preparation of the next climate summit in December in Cancún, Mexico, in which a new climate framework is supposed to be adopted, because the old Kyoto Protocol is running out.

But now even professional climate strategists no longer bet on success in Cancún. The positions of key countries are simply too wide apart, as the failed summit in Copenhagen in late last year showed.

Even within the European Union there is little willingness to shift billions of euros in subsidies and transfers to poor countries for the complete reconstruction of the world economy that would be necessary for decarbonisation.

In addition, public fear about climate catastrophe has been waning steadily, no matter whether pollsters asked in Germany, the UK, USA or Australia – not least because various scares by climate scientists have been exposed as insupportable horror scenarios that have undermined credibility as a result of scientific sloppiness.

Yvo de Boer, the head of the UN Climate Secretariat said publicly that he no longer expects any breakthrough in Cancun. There will be no agreement in which the major industrial and emerging nations consent to binding targets to cut CO2 emissions. Weeks ago de Boer drew his conclusions of the new situation and announced his resignation in July.

The wind in the climate debate has changed direction – and it is becoming much weaker. As it stands, Angela Merkel is therefore looking to discreetly abdicate from her throne as the world’s climate saviour on which she can no longer shine and on which no leader can gleam anymore. The discussions at Petersberg summoned by Merkel in order to sort out the mess after the Copenhagen and to show a way forward, however, are purely informal.

Excessive alarmism

The public is not allowed. This is only one of four major international conferences on climate taking place in Bonn this year alone – in addition to many others in other places. Bonn will remain the Climate Change Capital not least because it is Bonn where the United Nations Climate Secretariat is based.

But the aura of world salvation, which was supposed to start from Germany’s former capital is no longer being noticeable and is unlikely to rise again in the foreseeable future. Regarding the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, nations will decide independently of each other. They are unlikely to become more ambitious as a result.

Not only Angela Merkel and the Christian Democrats, other parties have recognized the shrinking opportunities of climate policy since 2007 when the IPCC were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and when politicians still believed they could shine in its glory. In the meantime, the Swedish Academy of Sciences, which is in charge of warding the science-related Nobel Prizes has distanced itself from the decision because it regards a narrow limit on man-made climate change, which is driving climate alarmism, as unbalanced.

Now that the spell of agitation in the climate debate has given way to a more sober assessment, cooler heads can look at reasonable developments of renewable energy, without the “obsession” of illusory CO2 reduction targets, as President Obama’s climate negotiator once accused the Europeans.

Something, however, has mushroomed in recent years, something that stands in the way of common sense, something that risks losing huge amounts of money and a lot of influence: There are now many hundreds of climate research institutes (new ones surface on a daily basis) many of which yield very limited new knowledge – and an industry that is relying on substantial green subsidies in the name of climate protection will ensure that the doomsday mantra of the ‘end of the world’ will continue to bellow – unremittingly.

Die Welt, 2 May 2010