Tag Archives: IPCC

April 19th… Cannibalism, sackings and People’s Climate Conferences…

Mostly it is one “event” per day on this site. Sometimes (like today) it is hard to choose. So-
soylentgreen1973 – “Soylent Green”, the first Hollywood film to reference (very briefly!) global warming, is released.

2002 – The Bush/Cheney regime succeeds in ousting the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – “April 19, 2002 (ENS) – Transatlantic divisions over climate change were reconfirmed today when Dr. Robert Watson, the outspoken chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC), was ousted with American support but against European wishes.”

2010 – In the backwash of Nopenhagen, “The World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth Cochabamba

 

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April 18th, 1990 – White House conference on “science and economics research related to global change

George Herbert Walker Bush (like his son after him) made promises about climate change while on the presidential campaign trail that became ‘inoperative’ once he was elected.  Bush Snr had said, for example, that he’d hold a climate conference at the White House within the first year of becoming President.  Fifteen months later, and presumably over the objections of the troglodytes around him, it happened.  Oh, but look who didn’t get invited. Funny that.

Shortly thereafter President Bush invited representatives of the 20 most influential countries in the world to a White House conference on science and economics research related to global change (17-18 April, 1990, in Washington). Even though the [IPCC First Assessment Report] would soon be completed and was intended to serve as the basis for negotiating a climate convention, no invitation to attend the conference was extended to the IPCC. I was surprised and sought an explanation through my contact in the USA (Dr Robert Corell) and I was soon thereafter invited to attend. For the first time I sensed that the IPCC messages might be disturbing the formulation of a US policy about these matters.

(Bolin, 2007) Page 59-60

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Feb 10, 2010: Dutch scientists try to defend the IPCC

Open letter to Netherlands parliament by Netherlands scientists on climate change and IPCC

“Errors in the IPCC climate change report are being seized by some to discredit climate science. In the Netherlands parliament climate scientists have recently been depicted as ‘swindlers’ and ‘climate mafia’. Such allegations are not supported by the facts and are unwarranted. The fact that IPCC is not infallible does not make its key findings untrue or biased. Still, IPCC should become more generous in acknowledging errors rapidly and openly.

“With this open letter from the Netherlands scientific community, we aim to adjust the image that has emerged. We ask to keep the public debate more in accordance to the facts. We discuss the key messages from climate science, the IPCC procedures and the quality control mechanisms of the IPCC. Finally we explain what we will do next to contribute to improvement of the IPCC practice and to the restoration of the tarnished trust in climate science.”

Context: 

You’d think the Dutch would freak out most about climate change, given the sea level rise implications…

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Feb 2, 1996: On “Groundhog Day” a #climate change ‘not happening’ letter is published…

Fred Singer, (for it is he), had a letter in Science, months ahfeb21996ead of the much-anticipated Second Assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Singer “presented a litany of complaints” (Oreskes & Conway, 2010: 205) and “charged that the most recent IPCC assessment ‘presents selected facts and omits important information.’” Gelbspan, 1998: 227)
It all blew up in July, when Ben Santer got smeared.

Meanwhile, here’s Dunlap and McCright and “anti-reflexivity”.

And for anyone who doesn’t know – “Groundhog Day.


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Jan 30, 1989: new US Secretary of State makes a positive speech about climate action.

At the Department of State, Bush family consigliere James Baker, talking to Working Group 3  (Response Strategies)of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, made all the right noises.  It soon went badly wrong, of course…

Context:

George HW Bush had beaten Michael Dukakis in the 1988 election, for a variety of reasons (thanks Lee Atwater!). Bush had, as his son did after him, made some of the “right” noises about climate change, which had burst onto the public agenda in the summer of ’88.

Here’s what William Nitze had to say –

“Ironically the administration initially positioned itself well on the issue with Secretary of State Baker’s endorsement of the “no-regrets” approach to climate change in his first official speech on January 30, 1989.  But after it became apparent that Governor Sununu was strongly opposed to the spirit and much of the substance of that speech, Baker reversed himself on the issue in early 1990 and withdrew from the field.”
Nitze (1994) Page 192-3

Here’s more on Baker, and “no regrets”

He told the National Governor’s Association (26 Feb 2010) that no regrets meant “… while the United States continues to support scientific research into the greenhouse effect, [we] are prepared to take actions that are fully justified in their own right and which have the added advantage of coping with greenhouse gases. They’re precisely the policies[we] will never have cause to regret.”

Future Generations and International Law eds Agius E., Busuttil, S. (eds) 1998) Abingdon, Oxon: Earthscan

footnote 45, Chapter 9 Precautionary Principle and Future Generations by James Cameron, Will Wade-Gery and Juli Abouchar

No regrets” is one of those phrases that has a delightful ambiguity (“basic research” “balanced approach”) and we will return to it when talking about the wondrous climate policies of John Howard, Australian Prime Minister from 1996 to 2007.


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Jan 15, 1990: 3 Australian men have lunch. Hilarity doesn’t ensue

On 15 January 1990 two senior Australian opposition politicians met with a senior environmentalist, hoping that the green movement would be “neutral” in the impending election.  Ooops.

Context:

On 15 January 1990, Peacock and Puplick met with ACF’s Philip Toyne for lunch at an Italian restaurant in Melbourne. This discussion has passed into Liberal folklore as a great deception. Peacock and Puplick say that Toyne told them that the ACF would not be actively advocating a vote for either of the major parties in the House. It would be supporting the Democrats and the minor parties in the Senate. Peacock and Puplick left with a misplaced optimism. The political truth is that there was no way that Labor’s investment in the greens would be denied. The entire ALP was confident that it would have the green’s [sic] backing. It is idle to think that Toyne was unaware of these realities.

Toyne said later that he told Peacock and Puplick that he personally believed the ACF should not support political parties but that he gave no promise on ACF’s behalf. Toyne’s ‘Pontius Pilate’ defence is that the decision rested with the ACF council of which he was not even a member….

The Liberals were humiliated by the greens. After Hawke called the election the ACF council voted overwhelmingly to direct its preferences towards the ALP. Peacock later told Hewson that Toyne had broken his word and that the Liberals had been misled and ‘dudded’. The Liberals were left bitter and frustrated. The ALP- green alliance, crafted by Richardson, was firmly intact for the 1990 election.

Kelly, P. (1994) The End of Certainty: Power, Politics and Business in Australia. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin page 543

 The Australian Labor Party had won the 1983 and 1987 federal elections in part thanks to the green movement (this is in the days before the Green Party). The Liberals were desperate to neutralise that threat in the 1990 election. Puplick had even managed to get the Liberals to have a stiffer carbon emissions reduction target than Labor.  It was all for naught though….

Joan Staples, in her impressive PhD thesis on how environmental movements fared under the Hawke, Keating and Howard governments does not use this anecdote, which is curious. She does however explain very well the dilemma for environmental movements more generally. Once they are seen as being “of” a political party, they lose their bargaining power both with the other parties and the one they have aligned themselves to. What is to be done? Well, don’t get too bogged down in state processes. That is, of course, far easier said than done. And how far is too far?

Staples, J. (2012) Non-government organisations and the Australian government: a dual strategy of public advocacy for NGOs , PhD Research thesis, UNSW. Click here for PDF. 

Other things that happened on this day:

1992 – Australian Coal Association rep at Guangzhou meeting of the IPCC tries to scupper things. Fails.

The carbon club reserved its attack on the bottom-line statement for late in the meeting. It was not Don Pearlman, but a newcomer from the Australian Coal Association, David Hughes, who fronted the bid for a home run.

“Given all the uncertainties over estimates, based on ozone depletion and sulphate aerosols suppressing warming and the rest, surely we can no longer justify this statement, Mr Chairman.”

“This form of words has been commented on by many referees,” John Houghton said stiffly.

Just like Exxon’s Brian Flannery at the key IPCC scientists’ meeting in 1990, Hughes found no support outside the carbon club.

page 76-7 of Leggett, J. (2001) The Carbon War  [As best I can tell, this would have been 15th January 1992].

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