Tuesday, June 2, 2015
NATURE Magazine Warns Scientists Over UN Climate Change Treaty threat to Scientific Integrity
The UN Climate Change Treaty (also known as the Kyoto Protocols) had a a very simple premise-----if all the countries on earth would sign a UN treaty to reduce their CO2 emissions, then future global warming could be ameliorated. The UN climate change treaty process was set up in a clever way---first would come a "practice" treaty, where countries would accept voluntary, non-binding targets for CO2 reduction and then, after they'd gained experience in reducing CO2 would come a binding treaty where countries would be required to reduce their CO2 emissions and be subject severe penalties if they failed to keep their treaty obligation.
The UN Treaty signed in Kyoto was the "practice" treaty, while the binding treaty was supposed to be signed at the UN meeting in Copenhagen in 2010. But after President Obama feuded with the Chinese delegation in Copenhagen and the new treaty was shelved, a decision was made to shift the UN treaty process in an entirely new direction. Rather than targeting CO2 emissions, any new UN treaty would instead set as its target a limit of 2° on the amount that the Earth would be allowed to warm and further stipulate that there would be no penalties or binding agreements on emissions. As NATURE puts it:
The negotiations' goal has become what is politically possible, not what is environmentally desirable. Gone is a focus on establishing a global, 'top down' target for stabilizing emissions or a carbon budget that is legally binding. The Paris meeting will focus on voluntary, 'bottom up' commitments by individual states to reduce emissions.
In addition to warning that the new UN treaty negotiation are on the verge of failing, NATURE is expressing concern that scientists and their integrity are coming under assault in defining the new 2° C warming target. The problem is that while the goals of the old Kyoto style treaty were clear and simple to define ---- reduce CO2 emissions----the new target of keeping the world below a 2°C warming target is putting unanticipated pressure on scientists and government scientific advisors. Nature says:
There is another casualty: scientific advice. Climate scientists and economists who counsel policy-makers are being pressured to extend their models and options for delivering mitigation later. This has introduced dubious concepts, such as repaying 'carbon debt' through 'negative emissions' to offset delayed mitigation — in theory.
Scientific advisers must resist pressures that undermine the integrity of climate science. Instead of spreading false optimism, they must stand firm and defend their intellectual independence, findings and recommendations — no matter how politically unpalatable.
Climate researchers who advise policy-makers feel that they have two options: be pragmatic or be ignored. They either distance themselves from the policy process by declaring that it is no longer possible to stay within a 2 °C-compatible carbon budget, or they suggest practical ways to dodge carbon-budget constraints.
In other words, politicians are demanding that scientists and govermental scientific advisors lie. The politicians want scientists to affirm that what is likely to be weak, ineffective climate change treaty will stop global warming, even though the scientists know this isn't the case.
Of course, this kind of thing is exactly why the world will eventually need planetary geoengineering to stop global warming. It might be possible for politicians to fool the public and the news media about the effectiveness of a sham climate treaty, and it might even be possible to find scientists who will join in fooling the public, but a sham climate deal won't stop global warming. You can't fool Mother Nature.