OTTAWA – OPINION – Prime Minister Harper made a serious mistake announcing that Canada will contribute to the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund (GCF). The GCF promises to be one most expensive boondoggles in history, a trap that we must not follow the United States into. It will have essentially no impact on climate while helping pave the way towards the creation of what in effect will be another Kyoto Protocol when the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meets in Paris in 2015.
Harper should instruct our representatives to Thursday’s GCF High-Level Pledging Conference in Berlin to withdraw all Canadian support of the program.
The GCF was created at COP16, the 16th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in Cancun, Mexico in 2010. It was officially launched the following year at COP17 with a goal “to combat climate change.” By this, the UN generally means mitigation, the attempt to stop climate change. But, as Carleton University earth sciences professor Tim Patterson explains, “The only constant about climate is change; it changes continually. We certainly have no chance of stopping this natural phenomenon.”
The GCF is designed to help fulfil “the ultimate objective” of the UNFCCC. And what is that objective? It is no less than “stabilization of greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic [human-caused] interference with the climate system,” according to the UNFCCC treaty.
But climate science is far too immature to know what, if any, GHG concentrations would cause “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” In fact, according to Professor Bob Carter, former Head of the Department of Earth Sciences at James Cook University in Australia, “Science has yet to provide unambiguous evidence that problematic, or even measurable, human-caused global warming is occurring.”
So the UNFCCC and anything derived from it such as Kyoto, the agreement currently being concocted for Paris, and the GCF are all based on an illusion. It is the mistaken idea that the science is sufficiently advanced that we know we can control global climate merely by tinkering with our GHG emissions.
This led to the development of a strategy by developing world negotiators that appears on the surface to make cunning sense—extort ‘guilt money’ from developed countries to pay for climate change and extreme weather that is happening now. The strategy was summed up well by Lucille Sering, vice chairperson of the Philippines’ Climate Change Commission, when she said at COP19 in Warsaw last year, “If the developed countries had shown the leadership to reduce greenhouse gases at the onset of this convention, we, the most vulnerable, would not have to adapt. We would not have to ask or push for adaptation support….In the face of historical emissions of developed countries, and concurrent inaction, we demand the institutionalization of a mechanism that can help our countries face the losses and damages that climate change will bring.”
So that is exactly what COP19 negotiators did. First, they set the GCF price tag at $100 billion per year that is to eventually be transferred from developed to developing nations to pay for our supposed climate sins. Next they created the “Warsaw international mechanism for loss and damage associated with climate change impacts” which opens the door to trillions of dollars in compensation for the impact of extreme weather events that are allegedly our fault. If developed country governments continue to go along with this, we may soon be sued by small Pacific island nations experiencing coastal problems because Canada’s oil sands are supposedly causing their local sea level to rise. A precedent was set for such action in 2011 when Micronesia took legal action against the Czech Republic for contributing to sea level rise due to its plans to expand a coal-fired power station.
Most people get the impression that the Green Climate Fund is focused almost exclusively on adaptation to climate change, a worthwhile endeavour to be sure. But the GCF states “The Fund will strive to maximize the impact of its funding for adaptation and mitigation, and seek a balance between the two.”
This is the sort of thing the UN said at COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009. There, they advocated a 50:50 split between mitigation and adaptation funding. That was naïve. Mitigation projects generate huge profits for alternative energy corporations, carbon traders, and others while the ‘boots on the ground’ approach typical of adaptation initiatives are far less lucrative. So, not surprisingly, of the roughly one billion U.S. dollars being spent every day across the world on climate finance only 6% of it goes to adaptation. The rest is wasted trying to stop the planet’s climate from changing.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott refused to buckle under U.S. pressure to contribute to the Green Climate Fund. Our representatives to this week’s GCF pledging conference must be given the green light by Harper to also make it clear that Canada will no longer play this game.
While we should always help vulnerable people adapt to climate change to the degree we can afford, the motivation must be a humanitarian one, not one based on climate guilt.
Tom Harris is Executive Director of the Ottawa-based International Climate Science Coalition (www.ClimateScienceInternational.org).