FT Climate Experts Forum, 18 December
IPN Opinion article
Financial Times (Energy Source blog)
Financial Times: Who is responsible for today’s summit in Copenhagen being as chaotic and uncertain as it is?
Julian Morris: The chaos - and possible failure - of the Copenhagen summit is largely a consequence of the narrow focus on carbon control as the main instrument to address climate change. This in turn has been driven by five groups: NGOs, business interests, climate scientists, government officials and intergovernmental agencies.
Each group has a financial interest in promoting carbon control: NGOs derive their revenue from donors whom they must keep in a state of constant fear concerning the future state of the planet and thereby clamorous to be led to safety by those very same NGOs. Business interests, such as steel producers and oil companies that hold hundreds of billions of dollars worth of carbon credits, plus carbon traders, “renewable” energy companies, Nuclear power companies, and ethanol producers, all stand to benefit from future restrictions on carbon. Climate scientists have an interest in perpetuating the concern that carbon emissions are causing potentially catastrophic global warming - because it is easier to justify funding research into phenomena that might imperil humanity.
Last but by no means least, government officials see combating climate change as a justification for their own existence, as well as for the imposition of revenue raising measures (such as taxes on fuel). Finally, intergovernmental agencies, especially the World Meteorological Organisation, the United Nations Environment Programme, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (a joint project of the WMO and UNEP), and the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, each have an interest in promoting carbon control because it suits their bureaucratic interests in a way that, say, decentralised adaptation through market processes would not.
Julian Morris is an economist, author and director of The International Policy Network.