The basic truth about Durban, the latest and 17th Feydeau farce passing as serious UN climate talks, is simple: the BASIC countries – Brazil, South Africa, India, and China – played a blinder.
They outwitted comprehensively the ever-zealous, naive, and hypocritical EU to ensure that they achieved their fundamental goals, which were to delay any agreement on a replacement for the failing Kyoto Protocol until at least 2015, and any actual action to cut emissions until at least 2020. And, of course, by then, the plate tectonics of world politics may have altered even more radically, so that further delays will be eminently possible, or the global warming narrative – we can only hope – will have withered away permanently into perennial greenhouse history.
I watched their basic tactics with growing admiration. First it would be China, then India, to raise objections, while South Africa, the host nation, often seemed to lack “urgency” or “ambition”, as certain commentators bemusedly observed.
Meanwhile, the US simply tagged along, playing the game to adapt the BASIC strategy to their own advantage. In the end, the BASIC countries got precisely what they wanted, and, in doing so, saved us all from the immediate imposition of billions of dollars of further debt. We owe them a lot.
Of course, the BBC and other media with a basic global-warming agenda have tried to ‘Pangloss’ and ‘Polyannaerise’ the whole debacle, although even they have had a harder job this time round, so comprehensive are the built-in delaying mechanisms achieved by the BASIC bloc.
Moreover, these COPs, these appalling-named Conferences of the Parties of up to 15,000 hangers-on, seem increasingly ludicrous against the backdrop of what is happening with the world economy, and with respect to what is really occurring with carbon emissions.
The hypocrisy of the UK is staggering. Figures for 2010 on 2009 give a provisional estimate for the UK of 491.7 million tonnes, up 3.8% on 2009. On a world scale, 2010 figures indicate a provisional rise of 5.9% on 2009, and 4.5% on 2008. What is more, while emissions rose by 5.9%, the world economy only grew (yes, some places are still exhibiting growth, thank goodness) by 5.1%, thus even indicating a rise in global carbon intensity.
So much for the effectiveness of the Kyoto Protocol. Why anyone would want another protocol is beyond me!
Ship of Fools
Regrettably, the global-warming Ship of Fools carries so many spouting Kyoto-like nonsense; witness the barmy desire of Oxfam and the WWF to add further economic burdens in the name of reducing greenhouse gas emissions onto international shipping, the very agent for trade and growth in the developing world. I confess to have given up entirely on global-warming embracing charities like Oxfam and Christian Aid. I thought that they were about preventing poverty.
But, above all, there is the UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, the absurdly-dire Chris Huhne, who is more and more worthy of Swiftian parody and scorn.
Unfortunately, Huhne is beyond a mere joke, because his energy policies could well cause lasting damage to UK competitiveness, and to life on this island.
We must devoutly hope that, like one of his overly-expensive turbines, he goes down very soon in flames, as the winds of change blow dramatically over the global warming madness.
But, at least, we now have the BASICS in place to build a defensive wall against such suicidal policies.
Philip Stott is Emeritus Professor of Biogeography in the University of London, and a member of the GWPF’s Academic Advisory Council.