A special report on the Copenhagen Climate Conference
The great and the good met in Copenhagen as they have met before at many agreeable locations around the globe. Giant jetliners, 140 private planes and cavalcades of over 1200 black limousines, few of which were electric or hybrid, have filled the days with the movements of these powerful people. Here was a chance to meet leaders who might reshape the globe or, a less Herculean task, reshape the atmosphere. But surrounded by their food-tasters, hairdressers and lesser functionaries and an impenetrable conference organisation it was not to be.
So in the manner of Hunter S Thompson who in 1974 chose to report on “The Rumble in the Jungle" between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman from a floating chair in his hotel pool rather than attend the stadium, a report from the comfort of an armchair and a television guide will have to do.
The most remarkable statistic from the conference was how the 15,000 representatives of governments were clearly outnumbered two to one by the non representative environmental green groups. The result was a signal to noise environment that required quite acute filtering to find the message.
A central issue for the debate was whether to limit temperature rises to 1.5 or 2 degrees centigrade. The former apparently insured the survival of the Pacific island states while the latter would do them and some of Bangladesh irreparable damage (or not if a large enough sum was transferred to the peoples of the threatened states, many of which have an outstanding record in financial management). This discussion seemed to ignore the uncertainty of at least plus or minus 1 degree centigrade in the IPCC reports. It is just as well that none of these people ever get to discuss let alone assess pharmaceutical clinical trial results.
It is claimed that somewhere there is a tipping point for climate change. I suspect that it is as ill defined as the “tippling point” that must have been reached in the United States for Prohibition to become the law. Perhaps we should all follow the wise words of Walter Matthau, who had drug problems during the Clinton years but said that he never exhaled.
The burning issue, if one can use that term in these circumstances, is what role did our Prime Minister play in these great events, After his invitation to join Felipe Calderon the Mexican President as a Friend of the Chair can we expect a climate meeting in Canberra after the Mexican meeting next year?
But our Prime Minister is committed to saving Australia for our children and grand children. So as we approach Christmas it is worth remembering that Father Christmas is normally resident at the North Pole. However what is to happen should all the ice vanish from the Arctic Ocean? Where will the reindeer be stabled and how can the mail be delivered? (There may also be some problems with the release of kryptonite that has been stashed away from Superman or Batman by Lex Luthor and others).
It was thought that the Prime Minister was stopping in Rome on one of his frequent trips to Australia. Some thought that if he could not work a miracle at Copenhagen at least he would urge the Pope to give Mary MacKillop the benefit of the doubt for her own work. Others thought he might ask the Pope to act against Tony Abbott for his heretical views on climate change. But the real reason was to propose a relocation of Father Christmas to the South Pole. The Prime Minister had sought the advice of the ANU Climate Institute and they had assured him that at an altitude of 2800 metres, Father Christmas would be safe from any sea level rises. Further with an average temperature of -25 degrees centigrade any global warming would have little effect although in the long term with continental drift the Pole might move towards the Equator.
It remains for me to wish you all a Merry Christmas and remind you that fairy stories continue to be a major contribution to the world from Copenhagen