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Failure of 'Super Greenhouse Gas' Deal Raises Stakes in Copenhagen

By David Sassoon

Nov 11, 2009

At little noticed talks last week in Port Ghalib, Egypt, climate advocates were hoping to seal a global agreement for the phase down of super greenhouse gases and give next month's Copenhagen climate talks a can-do running start. But the annual meeting of the 198 nations of the Montreal Protocol began on a note of contention that five days of discussions could not overcome.

The 22-year-old Montreal Protocol has delivered an unbroken string of successes in the battle against ozone depletion, accomplished with comity and cooperation, but now observers say it has caught the climate virus. Rhetoric trumped getting down to business, as an agreement to rid the world of HFCs, enormously potent global warming gases, was postponed for at least another year.

"We're approaching tipping points fast, and we missed an opportunity to take action this year," said Durwood Zaelke, president of the , who attended the talks in Egypt.

The central issue on the table was what to do about "super greenhouse gases," a popular term for hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs. In previous years, the Montreal Protocol had anointed HFCs as replacement gases for ozone destroying chemicals commonly used as refrigerants. Though HFCs do not harm the ozone, it turns out they are lethal global warming agents, thousands of times than CO2 at warming the planet.

With rising prosperity in developing nations, HFC use is expected to . Left unchecked, their build-up in the atmosphere could essentially negate current efforts to reduce carbon dioxide to safe levels by 2050.

It a serious matter that has gotten precious little attention.

The U.S. delegation at the talks in Egypt was pushing to amend the Montreal Protocol to allow for an HFC phase-down and was shocked to find its effort soundly rebuffed. Negotiating with less than full support from the administration at home, the U.S. team was also blindsided by simmering resentment among developing nations. It proved no match against the Chinese and Indian delegations. Largely for monetary reasons, both sat stubbornly opposed to the amendment and prevailed.

Even though the stakes for the global environment are very high, the meeting ended with no amendment and no binding decision on HFCs. Instead, 41 out of 198 countries signed a weak "declaration of intent."

Advocates are doing their best to put a happy face on the outcome, but the failure to act on phasing down HFCs is a disappointment, and it provides a preview of an outcome that many fear may be repeated on a larger scale in Copenhagen.

The U.S. had introduced an amendment to the to include HFCs in the list of gases the treaty could regulate. The proposal would have allowed the treaty's well-established working mechanisms to be deployed against the HFC emergency within the larger climate and greenhouse gas emergency.

"It provided the tantalizing prospect that the nations of the world are going to take the most significant action on climate mitigation possible in the near term," said Sam LaBudde of the non-governmental Environmental Investigation Agency.

While the U.S. amendment was supported by Canada and Mexico and buttressed by an even stronger proposal from Micronesia and Mauritius and other island nations, two conflicting positions emerged on Day 1 of the meeting.

The European Union occupied a middle ground. Though not opposed to a phase-out of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol, the EU was not in favor of action that could disturb upcoming climate negotiations under the Kyoto regime prior to meetings in Copenhagen.

Hacked E-Mails Controversy Irrelevant in Copenhagen

Hacked E-Mails Controversy Irrelevant in Copenhagen

One of Denmark's leading businessmen and philanthropists, speaking privately at a reception here earlier this week, voiced a sentiment about the hacked e-mail controversy shared widely among attendees from around the world at this global climate conference.

"How can a few e-mails — which were stolen after all — have such an influence upon what Americans believe about global warming? The science is so consistent and deep. It is astonishing this is possible in the richest nation in the world."

A U.S. NGO representative offered an explanation: It is the unfortunate effectiveness of a right-wing propaganda machine in the U.S. that is able to manipulate the beliefs and passions of a sizable segment of the population and render them embarrassingly gullible.

The BIG UN Scam

The UN’s Copenhagen Conference will not reach any significant agreement on curtailing our use of fossil fuels because the entire fiasco is based upon propaganda using political distortion of science. The evidence is becoming increasingly available. What a reaction there has been to the alleged disclosure of E-mails and other data leaked from the UK’s University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit. This information has been flying around the Internet since 19th and if genuine it potentially blows the lid off the all of the propaganda that has been promulgated about The (significant human-made global climate change) Hypothesis. Despite this there apparently has not been a word from any political party member or broadcaster about it and I see no mention of it on your blog either. Why no news coverage or political reaction? Never mind, nothing much escapes the Internet.

In an article on this subject in the UK’s Daily Telegraph (Note 1) mention is made of John Daly. It says QUOTE: One of the alleged emails has a gentle gloat over the death in 2004 of John L Daly (one of the first climate change sceptics, founder of the Still Waiting For Greenhouse site), commenting: “In an odd way this is cheering news.” UNQUOTE. This alleged E-mail is presented more fully elsewhere (Note 2).

It is important to remain sceptical about the validity of this “leak” of information and await the results of a thorough investigation. (Is anyone in the news media doing something along these lines?). Despite this, there is a saying “there’s no smoke without fire”. It is interesting to see that there appeared to be an exchange of E-mails between John Daly and Phil Jones back in 2001 (Note 3). This item starts with QUOTE: After several requests by visitors to this website for details of the two emails which were sent by Phil Jones of CRU, demanding withdrawal of the articles about recent errors in CRU hemispheric temperatures, the following exchange of emails was made via a very large CC (110 addressees), with both of Jones' emails signed in his official capacity as professor at CRU. UNQUOTE. It is followed by an apparent exchange of E-mails between John Daly and Phil Jones.

I leave you to read them and draw your own conclusions. While you’re at it, have a read of the comments at Wattsupwiththat (Note 2). There are some interesting comments about that site favoured by supporters of The (significant human-made global climate change) Hypothesis, Realclimate (Note 4). It leads off with an article spinning the motivations behind what appears in the E-mails followed by some uncharacteristic defensive responses to readers’ comments by Gavin Schmidt.

Another interesting commentary on this is at ClimateAudit (Note 5). Try it for enlightenment.

1) see
2) see
3) see
4) see
5) see

Pete Ridley, human-made global climate change agnos(cep)tic

Perhaps necessary change is in the offing before it's too late..

We hear the Copenhagen Climate Conference will be a failure. No binding international agreement will be made. The last best hope for humanity to sensibly address climate destabilization has been turned into a steppingstone to nowhere.

A colossal tragedy is in the making. Father Profit wins again and again. Mother Nature loses.

Now for some good news: "THE(only)GAME(in town)" is in the bottom half of the ninth inning and, therefore, not yet over for Mother Nature.

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