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Leaders Meet to Discuss Responses to Global Climate Change

Today marks the start of a two week Climate Change conference in Durban, South Africa, with political leaders from over the globe trying to work towards a global agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

This Climate Change Meeting, COP17 (The 17th Conference of the Parties), falls just before the end of the timeframe for targets from the Kyoto Protocol, signed in 1997. This is the only legally binding global carbon agreement, so there is pressure on the participants of COP17 to reach a legally binding agreement.

An important potential outcome from the conference is a more formal agreement on the “Green Climate Change Fund”, a $100bn fund for adaptation towards climate change, particularly for poor countries. This was promised in the Cancun conference (COP16) last year, and the hope is that the implementation of this fund will be formalised during these talks at Durban.

Global Pessimism

Many leaders, including David Cameron, have expressed concerns about the potential for COP17 to create a legally binding agreement, and many are saying the world will have to wait until 2020. Recent information from the IEA though, suggests that by that point it will already be too late to keep below the 2° target, which is often cited as the limit before catastrophic climate change.

There have been talks of a potential global recession following OECD predictions, and many countries are likely to prioritise their domestic issues. European countries are particularly distracted by the continuing sovereign debt crisis and its political repercussions. The US is also distracted by their upcoming presidential election.

Why don’t they simply renew the Kyoto Protocol?

Although this seems like a potential solution, the Kyoto Protocol was created in a very different economic and geopolitical situation. Only developed countries were obliged to sign up, which at the time made more sense as developed countries were the highest polluters. The biggest polluter now is China, who did not sign up to the Kyoto Protocol.

Some countries who signed the Kyoto Protocol, such as Russia and Japan, are refusing to sign any new agreement unless other countries, particularly China, also sign. The US, who never signed the Kyoto Protocol, will also refuse to sign any agreement without the rest of the world’s major economies also signing.

This geopolitical dilemma is making global climate agreement difficult, and there seems to be slow and insufficient progress. This is leaving many people in many countries in a situation of high risk of climate disaster. The Alliance of Small Island States has voiced its opinion on this matter, and has suggested that it may “Occupy” the Durban talks.

Do we really need a new agreement?

David King, the former chief scientific advisor to the UK government, has made the argument for voluntary agreements and targets taking the place of global climate agreements (The Guardian: Is a global agreement the only way to tackle climate change?). Some of these have been particularly successful, such as China’s movement towards renewable energy, but as Achim Steiner, deputy director-general of the UN, points out in the article, these voluntary agreements are by definition not globally binding, and may be thrown aside when more pressing domestic issues take precedence.

Effects on Environmental and Thematic Investment

Even without an explicit global agreement on greenhouse gas reduction, countries are still continuing their own programmes, over 80 countries have explicit targets for carbon reduction, along the lines of the voluntary targets discussed by David King. Potential methods of “bridging the gap” between emissions and emissions targets, include energy efficiency, improved waste disposal methods and more productive agriculture (BBC: Carbon emissions divide 'can be bridged'). These are all themes in some of the investment funds listed on Worldwise Investor. As the world changes and adapts to the threat of climate change, investment opportunities will rise in these areas, and any global agreement would emphasise this phenomenon further, especially as companies with gain a degree of certainty of policy.

Fund context:

The funds in the Worldwise Investor Theme sections may focus on one of these areas specifically, an example of this is Sarasin New Power, which focuses on renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Other funds take a multi-thematic approach such as Henderson Industries of the Future, which includes 5 environmental themes: clean energy, efficiency, environmental services, sustainable transport and water management, together with 5 social themes such as health. There are also funds that specifically look at Climate Change, and the investment opportunities that come with mitigation and adaptation. These include Schroder Global Climate Change and Jupiter Climate Change Solutions.


Related funds:

Henderson Industries of the Future
Jupiter JGF Global Ecology Growth
Sarasin New Power
Schroder Global Climate Change

Useful links:

UN Framework Convention on Climate Change: COP17 home

The Financial Times: Climate Change Insight - Durban

New York Times: At Meeting on Climate Change, Urgent Issues but Low Expectations

Business Green: Is the Durban Summit deadlocked before it has even begun?

The Telegraph: Climate Change - Are we all in this together?

The Guardian: Is a global agreement the only way to tackle climate change?

The Guardian: Rich nations 'give up' on new climate treaty by 2020

Comments (5)

  1. It is to be hoped that COP17 delegates will find some time to read “CFACT nuclear physicist calls on UN to conduct due diligence in Durban” Dr. Kemm, a qualified physicist, speaks out against the UN's Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Change (CACC) nonsense (http://us1.campaign-archive1.com/?u=87b74a936c723115dfa298cf3&id=05c1f0a60d&e=4c1c38a620).

    Anyone who researches the claims made by the power-hungry, the politicians, envirnmental activists and the renewable energy industrialists recognises very quickly that the scare-mongering propaganda coming out of the UN's IPCC and other politically motivated organisations is based upon seriously flawed pseudo-scientific analyses.

    After the UN's COP15 Catastrophe in Copenhagen and its COP16 Caper in Cancun I eagerly anticipate a COP17 "Disaster in Durban" putting an end to this series of Climate-change Official Propoganda (COP) extravaganzas.

    Maybe then due attention can be paid to helping the world’s poor and deprived peoples to adapt to whatever changes in the different global climates Mother Nature decides to throw pour way. Billions have been wasted in order to promote the politically driven CACC propaganda, resources that should and could have been used to improve the living conditions of the truly deprived.

    Of course that would mean no more shindigs in places like Copenhagen, Cancun and Durban, but surely a small sacrifice for our politicians and their hangers-on to make for the good of the world’s less fortunate.

    Best regards, Pete Ridley

    By Peter Ridley on Dec 01, 2011 at 10:36 PM

  2. Hi Louise, thanks for posting my comment, even though it challenges you reasoning. I see that you hope to graduate next summer with a degree in Mathematics and Economics from London School of Economics and Political Science. I wish you success but may I also offer a little advice from someone who has been around for many decades, advice that I have given my children and am giving my grandchildren. Do not believe everything that others tell you.

    You appear to have accepted the propaganda relentlessly pushed at us from the power hungry (e.g. Al Gore, Maurice Strong, George Soros), the politicians (globally), the environmental activist organisations (e.g. The Green Party, Greeenpeace, Friends of the Earth, etc.), tree-huggers (e.g. Polly Higgins - http://www.treehugger.com/corporate-responsibility/trees-have-rights-too-a-call-for-a-universal-declaration-of-planetary-rights.html) without spending any time looking at the pseudo-science they are using to justify their claims.

    I appreciate that for the moment your time will be taken up with preparations for your chosen career but that really is no excuse for adopting the position that many otherwise intelligent people do that “The scientists tell us and they are experts”. No-one is expert in the processes and drivers of the different global climates and understanding of these is progressing slowly. CO2 is an essential life-supporting substance like water, not a pollutant that is causing catastrophic changes to our climates.

    You say thag “Recent information from the IEA .. suggests that by (2020) it will already be too late to keep below the 2° target, which is often cited as the limit before catastrophic climate change”. Why believe that the IEA is correct and support action that is directly damaging to developed global economies and indirectly damaging to the underdeveloped ones? The paleo-record (e.g. http://www.climategeology.ethz.ch/education/climatehistory/2011_proxiesB_HS11_full.pdf) suggests that during the past 1M years the earth has swung between glacial and inter-glacial numerous times without hitting a tipping point leading to catastrophe.

    Please start being more sceptical about what you are told about CACC.

    Best regards, Pete Ridley

    By Peter Ridley on Dec 02, 2011 at 11:10 AM

  3. Dear Peter,

    It is always good to get different views about climate change, what is causing it and how best to deal with it and its effects and if indeed it is happening. I have to admit I do not personally spend much time reading into the science to try and understand exactly what the issues are and necessarily rely on people more qualified than I to make those calls. I also did chuckle when you talked about 'shindigs' because just after you posted your comment I received an email inviting me to a drinks reception in Durban with Greg Barker.

    I found the article by Kelvin Kemm that you posted a very level approach. And it raises some good points about how society has in the past made mistakes and gone down routes based on premises which later proved false. However, you do seem to be quite angry and one sided in your comments, the very bias that you accuse of the environmentalists and policiticians.

    I went and googled CFACT to find out about them and imediately found that Exxon have been financial supporters since 1998 and they have taken a very pro President Bush, anti climate change stance for over ten years. You also seem to believe that world leaders (excepting George Bush of course) are motivated not from concern about the consequences of consensus science, but from a power hunger. I personally have not met any members of Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth who have been so motivated, nor is Polly Higgins on a power drive. I am sure if you had met her also you would not suggest that. However, I am not sure I could say the same for oil men, who have a somewhat tarnished reputation when it comes to acting in the public good either in relation to the environment, or in relation to human conflict.

    I don't think anyone in the science community has ever said that there have not been periods of warming and cooling in the past. It is rather the potential speed of this process in geological terms which is sparking a huge amount of fear. As I understand it scientists consensually agree that it is highly likely that this change is being caused by human activity. It is thus not pseudo science as you call it. On the other hand as Kelvin points out it would not be the first time science has got it wrong. This does not mean though we should ignore science in the way that we direct industry to try and mitigate the impact this could have on future generations. The route the politicians in Durban are trying to take is commendable because the policies suggested actually go against business as normal and are the hard option to take not the easy option.

    Society should of course continually review the science, but to ignore it as you seem to suggest, would be foolish indeed. I should also like to point out that the International Energy Agency (IEA) are not an environmental agency and happen to be quite a conservative and internationally respected body.

    Best Regards, Mark Hoskin

    By Mark Hoskin on Dec 02, 2011 at 04:26 PM

  4. Hi again Louise, sorry that I had to dash off then but she who must be obeyed was calling. I just wish to add a comment about the UK’s 45-strong delegation to COP17. I haven’t been able to identify among them a single scientist who is recognised as having expertise in the processes and drivers of the different global climates. We have:
    - Chris Huhne, financial and economic journalist turned politician,
    - Gregory Barker, graduated in History, Economic History & Politics, .. over ten years experience of working in the City of London. .. trained as smaller companies analyst .. an Associate Partner of the leading financial public relations firm .. head of International Investor Relations for Sibneft, .. director of Bartlett Scott Edgar .. recruitment advertising business, .. turned politician
    - Duncan Brack, Editor (journalist/author?)
    - John Ashton, Cambridge University .. read Natural Sciences specialising in theoretical physics. Graduated in 1977 .. spent a year as a research astronomer .. joined HM Diplomatic Service .. Deputy Political Adviser to Governor Chris Patten .. his interest in the environment drew him towards the diplomacy of global climate change.

    then another 41 “hangers-on” who are responsible for ensuring as far as possible that the UK’s interests are protected at this international shindig. This would be a joke if it wasn’t for the damaging economic consequences that would ensue if the UN, UNEP, the WMO and their IPCC were allowed to have their way.

    Despite estimated atmospheric CO2 content having continued increasing the estimated mean global temperatures having been at best static for the past 12 years. With the next several decades predicted to bring much colder conditions as a result of the Sun entering a quiet period as it did in the 1940 – 70 period (http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcrut3/diagnostics/HadCRUT3_bar.png from http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcrut3/diagnostics/comparison.html) by 2020 those who supported this CACC nonsense will be a laughing stock.

    Please take this message back to your fellow students and your lecturers at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

    Hi Mark, thanks for responding to my comment. I see that you studied History and became a Chartered Accountant. Have you studied science, particularly physics? I don’t disagree with your “ .. tackling climate change boosts the economy, increases national and energy security, promotes health and clean environment. .. ” (http://www.worldwiseinvestor.com/news/article/202/Carbon-Nation-produce-a-climate-change-solutions-movie) but that is totally different from trying to control the different global climates. That’s in the hands of Mother Nature, not humans’.

    Life on earth has always had to adapt to climate change but cannot influence or control beyond very limited local areas. As for the claim that our use of fossil fuels is leading to Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Change (CACC), there is no convincing evidence for that.

    I can understand why you are so eager to support the CACC hypothesis, after all, are you not “ .. a keen advocate of climate change investment, producing Holden & Partners Guide to Climate Change Investment, which he believes offers investors the opportunity of superior equity returns over the next 5 years .. ” (http://www.climatechangeawards.org.uk/static/judges).

    A wise old bird in Australia wisely encouraged me to “follow the money” whenever I was puzzled by someone’s arguments.

    Best regards, Pete Ridley

    By Peter Ridley on Dec 02, 2011 at 06:46 PM

  5. Hi again Mark, I couldn’t resist looking at more of your efforts to persuade others to put their hard-earned money into “climate change” investments (no doubt you see a nice little earner there). Your comment about Jonathon Porritt’s Forum for the Future’s report “A framework for a sustainable economy” made me laugh “ .. The report makes some interesting observations - How is it in today's world that the government support for fossil fuels in 2008 could be as high as $557billion? Or that a society which recognises climate science and the problems we face can oversubscribe to Coal India's initial public offering by 15 times to raise $52billion.
    The answer I think is that capital markets, despite all the evidence and noise, has chosen to ignore the evidence. .. ” (http://www.worldwiseinvestor.com/blogs/article/97/Why-wouldn't-you-invest-sustainably?).

    Would you be good enough to advise what evidence you are talking about, but please don’t include anything produced by the “crystal ball” computer models – only real evidence please.

    Talking of Forum for the Future, I was present at their 2009 “Masters in Sustainability” awards event and had to be held down in my seat when Sara Parkin said of CACC “ .. all the scientists tell us .. ” (or words to that effect).

    My wife and daughter had threatened me with excommunication if I dared to get involved in the Q&A session.

    Best regards, Pete Ridley

    By Peter Ridley on Dec 02, 2011 at 07:13 PM

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Louise Fallonall articles

Louise Fallon starting working for Worldwise Investor as an intern over the summer and has written a number of articles during that time.

Louise is studying for a degree in Mathematics and Economics BSc at London School of Economics and Political Science, and graduates next summer.

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