Former UN official says climate report will shock nations into action

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The next United Nations climate report will ”scare the wits out of everyone” and should provide the impetus needed for the world to finally sign an agreement to tackle global warming, the former head of the UN negotiations said.


Yvo de Boer, the UN climate chief during the 2009 Copenhagen climate change talks, said his conversations with scientists working on the next report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggested the findings would be shocking. 

“That report is going to scare the wits out of everyone,” Mr de Boer said in the only scheduled interview of his visit to Australia. “I’m confident those scientific findings will create new political momentum.”

The IPCC’s fifth assessment report is due to be published in late 2013 and early 2014.

Before then is the next end-of-year UN climate meeting in Doha, Qatar. Delegates will discuss a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, the only legally binding accord to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Last December nations agreed in South Africa to work on a binding agreement that would cover all countries. That work is expected to continue until 2015.

Mr de Boer, who is now special global advisor on climate change for KPMG, said the best prospect may be for nations to settle on targets that they write into their national laws, rather than a binding international deal.

Written By: Peter Hannam
continue to source article at theage.com.au

30 COMMENTS

  1.   The next United Nations climate report will ”scare the wits out of everyone” and should provide the impetus needed for the world to finally sign an agreement to tackle global warming, the former head of the UN negotiations said.

    While denialists have been howling “exaggeration” and “It’s not happening”! quite a few recent studies have shown various changes happening faster than predicted.

  2.  That’s one reason I’m not optimistic that any new report will mean much to the people in the US. There is just such an irrational anti-science, anti-fact bias right now I wonder if anything can change their beliefs. I hope I’m wrong but if I were a world leader I would be thinking about ways to do things about climate change that marginalize the US. The only thing that will really work is to hit the people making the propoganda where it hurts in their wallet with international sanctions, tarrifs, etc. that penalize countries and corporations who don’t start addressing climate change.

  3. Trouble with being told you have ‘Terminal Cancer’ is it is unlikely to shock you into quitting smoking,  if it’s terminal may as well keep on going.  

    Every solar panel I see going up on someone’s roof kindles a little hope, every little step towards common sense a little more. 

    Unfortunately my government seems to be clawing as fast as they can to dig up even more coal, more coal seam gas and flog it off as quickly as they can get it out of the ground. 

    They’ve been told they have cancer it may not be terminal if they give up now instead they’re smoking as much as they can before it’s really serious.

  4. Hmm, yes, fear. Very good. Fear is historically a great motivator in scientific endeavor. Hmm, yes, shock and awe.

    Well, whatever gets the biovats fired up. Meat grown in test tubes doesn’t fart methane, or cause suffering. Fuel from e.coli doesn’t cause wars.

  5. Red Dog
    That’s one reason I’m not optimistic that any new report will mean much to the people in the US.

    That depends on which people in the US you are talking about!  Many in California seem to have recognised that clear desert skies are a bounteous power source for solar thermal and photovoltaic generation

    California Solar Power Tower Gets Final Green Light –
    http://www.solarthermalmagazin
    SolarReserve, a U.S. developer of utility-scale solar power projects, has received a final decision from the California Energy Commission (CEC) for construction and operation of the Rice Solar Energy Project.
    This approval, the key state-level permit for the 150-megawatt solar power tower project, was achieved in the record time of less than 13 months from the initial application, a testimony to the state’s commitment to solar energy and other renewable energy solutions in California.

    http://www.solarthermalmagazin

    First U.S. “Power Tower” Lights Up California

    Turning the sun’s heat into electricity–by concentrating it with thousands of mirrors onto a tower – http://www.scientificamerican….

    In southern California’s Antelope Valley, 24,000 silver-bright mirrors have been positioned to reflect light on two 50-meter-tall towers. And at 11:08 A.M. local time Wednesday, this concentrated light
    heated steam in those towers to turn a turbine—the first “power towers” in the U.S. to convert the sun’s heat into electricity for commercial use.

    Dubbed Sierra SunTower, the power plant can produce five megawatts, enough to power roughly 4,000 local homes at full capacity—and provide the modular blueprint for larger plants in California and New Mexico, according to eSolar, the Pasadena start-up behind the power plant.

    “We call this a commercial demonstration,” says eSolar senior vice president of engineering Craig Tyner. “A 46-megawatt commercial design will incorporate 16 of these towers, two of which we have at Sierra” as well as more than 200,000 mirrors capable of generating at least 90 gigawatt-hours of electricity per year.
    http://www.scientificamerican….

    The power-towers provide heat to run normal turbine generators.

    There are other types of solar power in this Wiki article below.

    Some which include heat storage systems can operate 24/7.

    Solar thermal energy -  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S
    Since a solar power plant does not use any fuel, the cost consists primarily of capital cost with minor  operational and maintenance cost.

    If the lifetime of the plant and the interest rate is known, the cost per kWh can be calculated. This is called the levelised energy cost.

  6. Red Dog
     That’s one reason I’m not optimistic that any new report will mean much to the people in the US.

    You might also be surprised at where some of the testing of new systems is being carried out!

    Turbines Off NYC East River Will Provide Power to 9,500 Residents – http://energy.gov/articles/tur

    As part of the Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy project, 30 turbines are being installed along the strait that connects the Long Island Sound with the Atlantic Ocean in the New York Harbor. The project, led by Verdant Power, Inc., is the first ever commercially licensed tidal energy project in the United States.

    The turbines are scheduled to be fully installed by 2015 and will use the flow of the river and tides to generate 1,050 kilowatts of electricity — this power will be delivered to 9,500 New York residents.

    Free Flow System turbine being installed in East River, New York, NY (Dec 2006). | Image Credit: Kris Unger/Verdant Power, Inc.

    http://energy.gov/sites/prod/f

  7. People who don’t believe or acknowledge climate change are already ignoring the huge weight of  scientific evidence.

    They will in all probability dismiss this as blatant and increasingly desperate scaremongering by fanatics, based on the time-old tradition of accusing your opponent of your own failing in order to avoid being  accused of it themselves, as this makes your opponent sound like a sulky seven-year-old if they try to respond

  8.  Perhaps California had a unique exposure to the problems of pollution. In the 80s one could not see the mountains from the Valley in San Jose. As a direct result of smog laws, we can see the mountains again. There is no way to say that with enough intensity. The fucking mountains were gone (!!!), and now we can see them again. It’s nice… really really really fucking nice to be able to see the god damned mountains.

    It’s hard for people who live on flatlands, where air-pollution is swept away instantly, to appreciate such problems. I live by the SF Bay, and all of our smog gets washed away by Pacific currents, but it wafts and collects in nearby valley areas that are known for their toxic atmospheres, political corruption, crime, and desperate poverty. The people who live in these areas have no power to influence environmental laws for their own benefit. I argue that economic prosperity is needed to popularize environmental concerns.

    That depends on which people in the US you are talking about! Many in California…

    Yes, those of us that are rich.

  9. @rdfrs-ac813758aaddac228f677a9a36b5573e:disqus 
    There always has to be a fly in the ointment, darn it.  A few years ago I read about a negative
    impact on the surrounding environment of solar in the desert.  Quick search  - it’s tortoises ~
    http://news.heartland.org/news

    From Solar Thermal Mag link:  project has a purchase agreement with PG&E, 
    same company in ‘Erin Brockovich’

  10.  No, really- don’t set your hopes too high.
    He’ll still be fighting the Barbarians who vowed to not give him an inch. The opposition simply won’t let anything go through (if they could help it).

    If there were justice, the Rethuglicans would someday pay for their ignorance and childlike stubbornness- but there’s not.

  11. Canada has much complicity in the Climate Change issue, with our ‘Dirty Oil’ Tar Sands being the worst problem.
    We are also, per capita, top energy users, water wasters & trash producers, but our land is so big we have ignored those facts.  Canada also withdrew from the Kyoto Accords a year ago.
    http://dirtyoilsands.org/thedi

  12. If the report is scary enough, the reasonable governments will take action. It may eventually include setting severe restrictions on others doing business with environmentally disastrous US companies. Also, if hurricanes keep pounding the American continent frequently enough, some may slowly take notice. And perhaps then even some of the denialists will realize that killing the planet is bad for business.

    Anyway, by then it will be too late to save the somewhat organized societies we now have. But the species will survive, under a chaotic anarchy. Everything is privatized, no social justice can be upheld, only the strong and lucky survive. The remnants of former nations will be reduced to small tribes competing for the scarce resources.

    Isn’t that exactly the republican dream, the ideal society of any right winger? So why would they not embrace the wonderful blessings of the climate change?

  13.  

    This Is Not A Meme
     Perhaps
    California had a unique exposure to the problems of pollution. In the
    80s one could not see the mountains from the Valley in San Jose. As a
    direct result of smog laws, we can see the mountains again.

    In the UK the farmers down wind of coal fired power-stations, were being paid compensation by the generators, for the reduction in crop yields caused by the pollution from their chimneys.

    Cities like London were known for their smogs and respiratory diseases, prior to the smokeless fuel regulations. 
    The US polluters managed to prevaricate for longer after other countries had cleaned up.  Some of them have moved overseas to carry on polluting in the third world.

  14. bluebird
     There always has to be a fly in the ointment, darn it.  A few years ago I read about a negativeimpact on the surrounding environment of solar in the desert.  Quick search  - it’s tortoises ~http://news.heartland.org/news… 

    You should be careful in selecting only honest organisations claiming “environmental credentials” when they are disparaging green power systems.

    The Heartland Institute – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T

    The Heartland Institute is an American conservative and libertarian[2] public policy think tank based in Chicago, which advocates free market policies.[3][4][5][6] The Institute is designated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit by the Internal Revenue Service and has a full-time staff of 40, including editors and senior fellows.[7]

    The Institute was founded in 1984 and conducts research and advocacy work on issues including government spending, taxation, healthcare, tobacco policy, hydraulic fracturing[8] global warming, information technology, and free-market environmentalism.

    In the 1990s, the group worked with the tobacco company Philip Morris to question the science linking secondhand smoke to health risks, and to lobby against government public-health reforms.[9][10][11]

    More recently, the Institute has focused on questioning the science of climate change, and was described by the New York Times as “the primary American organization pushing climate change skepticism.”[12] The Institute has sponsored meetings of climate change skeptics,[13] and has been reported to promote public school curricula challenging the scientific consensus on climate change

    These people are NOT environmentalists!  They are opportunist propagandists hypocritically posing as environmentalists to disparage green energy!  Look at their track record (above).

    Green Power Myths

    Daniel Simmons, director of State Affairs for the Institute for Energy Research, says Ivanpah illustrates the often overlooked environmental costs of solar power.

    “Located in the ecologically fragile Mojave Desert, the Ivanpah facility covers a mammoth six square miles but
    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
    only has 400 megawatts of capacity when the sun is shining at its brightest.
    Covering six square miles with solar panels entails a high environmental cost as cacti and other plans are cut down so that they do not interfere with the panels,” Simmons explained. 

    A “MAMMOTH” SIX SQUARE MILES – from the whole Mohave Desert!!!!!  Where vegetation is sparse and spaced out!

    (Mojave Desert square mile area?????  – http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Moja… –

    Answer: – Mojave Desert, USA – about 25,000 square miles.)

    “The Ivanpah plant is a good reminder that all sources of energy have tradeoffs, and with solar power it means disturbing a lot of land in some delicate ecosystems,” said Simmons.

     

    Indeed!  Sites should be carefully selected to avoid environmental damage, but all developments have some environmental cost.

    He explained, “In just a couple of years the federal government has given a few solar power companies access to 21 million acres of the public’s lands—more than it has allowed for oil and gas exploration in the past decade.

    Ah!  A call from their carbonaceous sponsors!

    And all for power that is less reliable, much more expensive, and has a significantly greater environmental impact than conventional alternatives.

     

    There is no evidence that solar thermal is less reliable than carbon based generation.

    The claim that it has “a significantly greater environmental impact than conventional (CO2 polluting)  alternatives”, is clearly just a propagandist big lie!
    – Just like the earlier ones for the tobacco industries.

    It is probable that there is more damage to the desert from off-road vehicles racing around for amusement, than from solar generation.

  15.   “Green Power Myths”

    Daniel Simmons, director of State Affairs for the Institute for Energy Research,
    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
    says Ivanpah illustrates the often overlooked
    environmental costs of solar power.

    So let’s look at the supposed “experts” quoted by Heartland!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I… - 

    The Institute for Energy Research has a political arm, the American Energy Alliance, which is responsible for multi-million dollar television advertising campaigns that have attacked energy policy, ideas and positions of the Obama Administration that are contrary to the those held by IER.

    The American Energy Alliance is run by Tom Pyle, a former lobbyist for Koch Industries. According the its website, the
    Alliance engages in “grassroots public policy advocacy and debate” regarding energy.[8]

    Both IER and the American Energy Alliance are partly funded by the Koch Brothers and their donor network, according to Politico’s research, sources – and to reports by Koch-controlled charitable foundations themselves.

    The American Energy Alliance, as a matter of policy, does not disclose the names of its donors.

    So we have the mouth pieces of the carbon industries criticising the (very local) environmental impacts of solar power!

    These people are the AGW deniers’ equivalent of “YE creationist scientists”!

  16. Yes, USA is ironically in many ways quite a forerunner with regard to solar technology and other alternative energy sources. In much the same way as much of the research with regard to stem cells and biological evolution is conducted in American universities. Nonetheless the American people is highly ignorant and even hostile towards these issues. As we have seen in the recent elections though there seems to be a progressive movement that is getting stronger especially among the younger strata of the population. We can only hope that these people will more actively start pressuring the government and corporations into new policies and sustainable development. I have to say I’m pessimistic. I have been around long enough to see initiative after initiative fail. Everyone is waiting for the others to do something first, which results in general apathy. 

  17. Yeah yeah yeah.  For as long as Exxon rule the world we’ll never have green energy. We’ve just entered the golden age of oil with China and India discovering cars and prices being higher than ever.

  18. @rdfrs-ac813758aaddac228f677a9a36b5573e:disqus 
    I linked that page only because it is current – it aligns with older and various sources I read about tortoises and solar.

    all developments have some cost

    Appalachian mountain top leveling for coal breaks my heart (home of the cerulean warbler). 
    It angers West Virginians, and the affected area resembles a nuclear bomb blast.
    I would definitely side with solar, but I can still mourn the critters, as I mourn bird and bat deaths via wind turbines.

    Thanks for answering – knowledge is power :)

  19. bluebird
    Thanks for posting the link.  Asking questions,  gives people the chance to see where the disinformation is being generated.
    I do not doubt that the tortoises are an issue.  The question is one of scale and getting things in proportion.

    However the tortoises prefer desert washes (subject to flash floods) where ground-water maintains vegetation longer between rains.

    It is just my opinion, but I would not build a solar power-station on a flash-flood delta or a wash, when other areas are available.

    Habitat
    Use and Food Preferences of the Desert Tortoise, Gopherus agassizii, in the Western Mojave Desert and Impacts of Off-Road Vehicles –

    http://www.tortoise-tracks.org… 
        Desert vertebrates and their habitats are vulnerable to and negatively affected by ORVs (Busack and Bury, 1974; Bury et al. 1977;
    Luckenbach, 1982; Webb and Wilshire 1983). The desert tortoise is not exempt from these effects (Berry et al., 1986). In the western Mojave Desert where the use of ORVs is prevalent, tortoise populations have undergone steep declines, compared to relatively undisturbed desert tortoise populations and in habitat in the eastern parts of their geographic range (USFWS, 1994).

    Hills and washes are favored in the western Mojave Desert for use by ORV recreationists (U.S. Bureau of Land Management, 1980). Four major ORV recreation areas with hills, washes, and canyons are adjacent to the Desert Tortoise Research Natural Area (Rand Mountains) or are within 50 km (Jawbone Canyon, Dove Springs, and Spangler Hills). The users of motorcycles, trail bikes, all-terrain vehicles, and other four-wheel vehicles prefer the washes, washlets, canyon bottoms, and hilly country for riding (see Goodlett and Goodlett, 1993 for an example of trail densities in flats, hills, and wash habitats). They gradually widen trails and create more individual tracks and trails, which damages or destroys increasing amounts of habitat.

    Strange that the carbon industry spokesmen have just discovered a problem and suddenly become “environmentalists” AFTER  solar generation arrived!

  20. Alan4Discussion “The US polluters managed to prevaricate for longer after other countries
    had cleaned up.  Some of them have moved overseas to carry on polluting
    in the third world.”

    I hear word of mouth (friends who travel there) that the atmosphere in China’s cities is extraordinary. Perhaps this is in large part due to the US manufacturers you refer to.

    Germany underwent a radical improvement in air pollution with reunification. The Eastern communist half was producing a lot of coal pollution. It is believed it eliminated snowfall in the rest of Germany for many decades, replacing it with acid-rain in the winter (reminds me of data in recent climate thread on rain in Arctic desert). I’m glad to say it starting snowing again, about a decade ago, in areas it had been absent. Germany is another case where air pollution is concentrated in areas other than the source, making estimations of impact more complex. It’s also an example of how rapidly improvements can come, suggesting a very dynamic and mutable system. The simple act of hooking a population up to a reliable power-grid restored snowfall (admittedly a correlation argument ;p).

  21. Thanx Alan.

    I was wondering who the Heartland group was, but didn’t think it mattered. Thanks for sussing that out. I didn’t expect it to be worthwhile. It just looks like some wacko’s page, preying on people who don’t know how to use the internet. I never would have thought they were such well financed and connected wackos. Why didn’t they attempt to make it look like a real group of some kind? Is it 419 tactics, where it is intentionally crude and childish so as to better hone in on naive marks?

  22.  

    This Is Not A Meme
    I hear word of mouth (friends who travel there) that the atmosphere
    in China’s cities is extraordinary. Perhaps this is in large part due to
    the US manufacturers you refer to.

    There is a huge local area of “Global Dimming” as a result of their CO2, smoke, & SO2 pollution.
    It was discussed here:-
    NOAA study suggests aerosols might be inhibiting global warming – http://old.richarddawkins.net/… 

    This has been reducing global temperatures short-term, but increasing CO2 and temperatures long term.

  23. Stafford Gordon
    And there on the same page an advert for ExXon Mobil; a tad ironic?

    Let’s hope the tankers taking the new short-cut through the Arctic Ocean ice, are better managed than the Exxon Valdez.

    It is fifteen years since the devastating Exxon Valdez oil spill, which saw 11 million gallons of oil pouring into a pristine wilderness area in Prince William Sound, Alaska. 
    US oil giant ExxonMobil should come clean about the true state of the site of the spill as new research shows that the Sound is still suffering from adverse effects of the massive oil pollution. – http://www.greenpeace.org/inte

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