UN Climate Pow-Wow Much Ado about Little

The twenty-third Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-23) concluded in Bonn, Germany on November 17th after hundreds of meetings, events, and briefings over two weeks. I didn’t attend this year, but the news reports I’ve read and the e-mails sent to me broadly agree that it was a lot of time spent on achieving nothing much. Here are a few highlights.

Marc Morano of the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and Climate Depot welcomed climate hustlers to the Greenpeace boat docked on the Rhine in Bonn.  He pointed out that the boat may have sails, but is actually powered by diesel engines. Watch the video here, and read about it here

The low-level United States delegation held a side event on “The Role of Cleaner and More Efficient Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Power in Climate Mitigation,” which was interrupted by singing demonstrators. Emily Holden and Kalina Oroschakoff reported on the protest in Politico. Rupert Darwall commented on it at National Review Online.

Canada and the United Kingdom launched an alliance of twenty or more countries that vow to stop using coal by 2030. Oregon, Washington, and five Canadian provinces have also joined the Powering Past Coal Alliance. Most of the members don’t use much coal now. 

On the other hand, it was reported that global greenhouse gas emissions will increase by 2% to a record high in 2017, after three years of flat emissions. And it was revealed earlier this fall that Germany expects to fall short of its target of reducing emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2020 by a wide margin. Chancellor Angela Merkel this week refused to set a deadline for ending the use of coal in Germany.   

A number of Democratic governors and senators and other local elected officials attended COP-23. They held side events at the huge but unofficial U.S. pavilion, which was paid for by Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg and California Governor Jerry Brown released a report by America’s Pledge, the coalition of American states, cities, and businesses that have vowed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

My CEI colleague Chris Horner has obtained records through state freedom of information laws that show that a parallel organization of governors, the U.S. Climate Alliance, is funded by private donors and staffed by private organizations. It seems that some of the governors involved have been shy about reporting the assistance (including travel expenses to UN global warming meetings!) they are receiving on their disclosure forms. Valerie Richardson reported on what Chris has discovered in the Washington Times this week.     

According to an Associated Press report, Pope Francis in a message to COP-23 “rebuked those who deny the science behind global warming and urged negotiators at climate talks in Germany to avoid falling prey to such ‘perverse attitudes’ and instead accelerate efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions.”

COP-23 was in Bonn, but was hosted by the Fiji Islands. Poland will host COP-24 in Poland.