An editorial in the NYT Sunday morning alerted me to the fact that Al Gore was expected to speak at the hastily convened UN summit on climate change today, and I posted the following in the Monday Newsbucket early this morning:
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Al Gore and the leaders of some 80 nations converge on the U.N. on Monday for a summit on the warming Earth and what to do about it.
The unprecedented meeting comes just days after U.S. scientists reported that melting temperatures this summer shrank the Arctic Ocean’s ice cap to a record-low size.
“I expect the meeting on Monday to express a sense of urgency in terms of negotiating progress that needs to be made,” said the U.N. climate chief, Yvo de Boer.
Since I have a UN ground pass, I’m heading there now to see if I can get in to the event.
Well, I did make it – through massive security. But did not get to hear Al speak. I managed to get to the Opening Session in the General Assembly – you can see video of the various speeches during the opening session – including Arnold – in the above link. It turned out that Al would speak at the luncheon – to a limited crowd.
After the GA Opening Session, the summit moved on to four ‘Thematic Plenaries’. Very important sessions – of which you can view Webcasts here (that is, if you are in the diary this afternoon – I will update with video links later – if such are posted by the UN).
Unfortunately, I did not have the credentials required to enter these sessions in the basement conference rooms – tried, but was turned away.
So, what was the purpose of this hastily called summit? I think it was to upstage President Bush’ own meeting scheduled for coming Thursday and Friday – though UN sources deny this. And why was this an important and necessary move?
His focus instead is on his own gathering of leaders in Washington later this week, a meeting with the same stated goal, a reduction in the emissions blamed for climate change, but a fundamentally different idea of how to achieve it.
Mr. Bush’s aides say that the parallel meeting does not compete against the United Nations’ process — hijacking it, as his critics charge. They say that Mr. Bush hopes to persuade the nations that produce 90 percent of the world’s emissions to come to a consensus that would allow each, including the United States, to set its own policies rather than having limits imposed by binding international treaty
Regulars at Booman Tribune have seen the discussion on the Intragovernmental Panel on Climate Change – IPCC and their three reports this spring, covering:
- The Physical Science Basis
- Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability
- Mitigation of Climate Change
(full reports at the IPCC-link).
What is missing is the “Synthesis Report” – where all the findings of the previous reports will be merged. Now, the IPCC-reports were seriously watered down by ‘certain industrialized and emerging nations’ (see final 2 quotes in this entry – and observations this summer strongly suggest that the IPCC-reports did not go far enough, by any means.
The below educated comment was made in late April – just as the IPCC-reports were being released:
Arctic sea ice is melting at a significantly faster rate than projected by even the most advanced computer models, a new study concludes.
The shrinking ice may actually be about 30 years ahead of model predictions, meaning the Arctic could be ice free in the summer earlier than the IPCC’s predicted timeframe of 2050-2100.
Today, we know that the Arctic Ice Cap reached its lowest summer extent this September of 2007 – by an extreme margin.
The Arctic ice cap has collapsed at an unprecedented rate this summer and levels of sea ice in the region now stand at a record low, scientists said last night. Experts said they were “stunned” by the loss of ice, with an area almost twice as big as Britain disappearing in the last week alone. So much ice has melted this summer that the north-west passage across the top of Canada is fully navigable, and observers say the north-east passage along Russia’s Arctic coast could open later this month. If the increased rate of melting continues, the summertime Arctic could be totally free of ice by 2030.
The new figures show that sea ice extent is currently down to 4.4m square kilometres (1.7m square miles) and still falling. The previous record low was 5.3m square kilometres in September 2005. From 1979 to 2000 the average sea ice extent was 7.7m square kilometres. The minimum extent of sea ice usually occurs late in September each year, as the freezing Arctic winter begins to bite.
OK – so IPCC’s prediction of a potentially ice free Arctic by 2050 has already been discredited. A few months later only, and scientists now seriously believe that Arctic will be ice free during summers already in 2030.
No doubt – we are at a critical crossroads; climate change is a fact, it is caused by human activity – releasing way too much CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The Kyoto Protocol was never a success; major emitters such as the US and Australia never ratified the treaty – and large development nations such as China and India were given exemptions – after all, they had not significantly contributed to the emissions previously. The rapid increase in living standards in these nations is, however, becoming a major environmental threat.
The Kyoto Protocol is coming to an end in 2012 – the IPCC-reports of this year will form the basis for successor arrangements.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is convening a High-Level Event at UN Headquarters on 24 September 2007 to accelerate a global response to climate change. The Secretary-General hopes that the Event will send a powerful political signal to the negotiators at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali in December that “business as usual” is no longer an option and that they are ready to work jointly towards a comprehensive multilateral framework for action after 2012, when the emission targets under the Kyoto Protocol expire.
The IPCC Synthesis Report will provide the framework for the Bali Summit and it is exceedingly important for all of us that the initiative remains under UN and IPCC auspices. Hence, the importance of today’s summit.