In the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference just completed in Bonn, Germany, the underlying assumption was the same as usual-a man-made climate crisis is looming. To stop it, we need to revolutionise the way we generate energy.
No country's delegates dare contradict this, a central theses of all UNFCCC events. After all, "the science is settled", they say. United States Special Envoy for Climate Change, Todd Stern said in December that the UNFCCC's Cancun Agreement, on which the Bonn meeting built, is "very much consistent with US interests and will help move … the world down a path toward a broader global response to changing-to stopping climate change".
As will be shown at the sixth International Conference on Climate Change in Washington DC (June 30 to July 1), this stance is ridiculous. We can't stop climate change anymore than we can stop sunrise or gravity. Climates change naturally on all planets with atmospheres. And we don't know the future of our own planet's climate any better than we know the weather two weeks from now. The science is simply too immature.
That the UNFCCC would be blind to this is to be expected. After all, it was another branch of the UN -- the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) -- that assembled the reports that concluded we have a human-caused crisis on our hands. It was IPCC officials who chose the most frightening parts of the reports to publicise. It was the IPCC that proposed the solutions. It is the UNFCCC that brokers international climate treaties and will run the $100-billion Green Fund to funnel money to developing nations. And finally, UN agencies will monitor national emissions, as well as orchestrate enforcement.
It is a serious problem when one organisation, even one as big as the UN, has such intense involvement with entire process, from initial science findings to final enforcement.
Imagine if the police had such broad controls. Law enforcement officers would then decide on desirable social behaviour. The police would create laws and then conduct research to determine the causes of crime and whether the laws should be changed or more strictly enforced. Police would enforce laws and bring lawbreakers before the courts, also run by law enforcement officers. Then police would run prisons and rehabilitation programs, or, for crimes considered severe enough, conduct executions.
That obviously flawed scenario is analogous to the way in which the UN controls today's climate agenda.
The IPCC was created "to assess scientific, technical and socio-economic information relating to climate change". Instead, the organisation has become one of the strongest advocates of climate alarmism in the world today. That alone should lead to its disbandment.
However, a more fundamental concern is that the IPCC is part of the UN, an organisation that already wears too many hats on the climate file.
The IPCC must be replaced by neutral entities, each taking a different tack on the science and each reporting its findings in an open and transparent fashion. Only then will we be able to trust the scientific findings on which the UNFCCC, and indeed most governments, base their climate policies.
Until then, the UNFCCC should stop pressuring nations to spend hundreds of billions of dollars trying to "stop climate change". Instead they must focus only on the one climate issue we know we can positively impact-the need to help vulnerable peoples adapt to inevitable variations in climate. The failure to properly adapt to climate change, especially cooling, led to the downfall of many societies throughout history. This need not happen today if we get our priorities straight.
Tom Harris is Executive Director of the International Climate Science Coalition (climatescienceinternational.org/)