IPCC Confirms: We Do Not Know If The Climate Is Becoming More Extreme

Source:  Climate policy network

CCNet –  29 March 2012
The Climate Policy Network

IPCC Confirms: We Do Not Know If The Climate Is Becoming More Extreme

The full IPCC Special Report on Extremes is out today, and I have just gone through the sections in Chapter 4 that deal with disasters and climate change. Kudos to the IPCC — they have gotten the issue just about right, where “right” means that the report accurately reflects the academic literature on this topic. Over time good science will win out over the rest — sometimes it just takes a little while. –Roger Pielke Jr, 28 March 2012

FAQ 3.1 Is the Climate Becoming More Extreme? [...]None of the above instruments has yet been developed sufficiently as to allow us to confidently answer the question posed here. Thus we are restricted to questions about whether specific extremes are becoming more or less common, and our confidence in the answers to such questions, including the direction and magnitude of changes in specific extremes, depends on the type of extreme, as well as on the region and season, linked with the level of understanding of the underlying processes and the reliability of their simulation in models.–IPCC Special Report on Extreme Events and Disasters

There is medium evidence and high agreement that long-term trends in normalized losses have not been attributed to natural or anthropogenic climate change… The statement about the absence of trends in impacts attributable to natural or anthropogenic climate change holds for tropical and extratropical storms and tornados… The absence of an attributable climate change signal in losses also holds for flood losses.  –IPCC Special Report on Extremes, Chapter 4

Plans to force companies to declare the size of their greenhouse gas emissions have been put on hold and could even be abolished, the environment secretary will tell parliament this week, raising fresh questions over the government’s commitment to fighting climate change. –Kiran Stacey, Financial Times, 28 March 2012

Did you know that Poland blocked new European Union emissions targets at a recent meeting of EU environment ministers? Are you aware that there is growing support among Eastern European governments to block any new unilateral climate targets permanently? The reason you may not have heard of this growing rebellion in Brussels is simple: climate policy is no longer a big item on the EU’s agenda and the climate mania is gradually coming to an end after almost 20 years. In the past, Poland’s intractable hostility to green unilateralism was greeted by universal protestation in capitals around Europe. Today, it is hardly noticed by the media while green campaigners have become elderly and limp. Other and more pressing concerns are taking precedence and are completely overriding the green agenda. It looks as if a new political ice age has ascended over Brussels. –Benny Peiser, Public Service Europe, 28 March 2012

QUEENSLAND Premier Campbell Newman has ordered Anna Bligh’s husband to begin dismantling green energy programs he helped create, as the new LNP government moved to slash environmental spending to offset the federal carbon tax. The showpiece of the Gillard government’s $1.5 billion Solar Flagships Program is now in jeopardy, after Mr Newman yesterday pulled the plug on $75 million in state funding pledged for the $1.2bn Solar Dawn solar thermal project near Chinchilla, west of Brisbane. –Natascha Bita,The Australian, 29 March 2012

They are responsible for some of the [Australian] government’s most important policies – but staff at the Department of Energy and Climate Change are too ashamed to admit where they work. Staff morale is so low the government has spent almost $175,000 on consultants to lift staff’s flagging spirits. The Sunday Telegraph, 25 March 2012

Rich deposits of gas have been discovered under the rolling countryside of Melton and the Vale of Belvoir.Shale gas, a natural gas contained in rocks hundreds of millions of years old, has been found by geologists at the British Geological Survey (BGS), just over the Leicestershire border at Keyworth, in Nottinghamshire, as part of ongoing geological survey work. –Leicester Mercury, 28 March 2012

1) IPCC Confirms: We Do Not Know If The Climate Is Becoming More Extreme – Omnologos, 28 March 2012
2) The IPCC & A Handy Bullshit Button On Disasters and Climate Change – Roger Pielke Jr, 28 March 2012
3) Cold Feet: UK Government Halts Plan To Force Reporting Of GHG Emissions – Financial Times, 28 March 2012
4) Benny Peiser: Green Debate In Europe Has Reached ‘Deadlock’ – Public Service Europe, 28 March 2012
5) London Debate: EU Climate Policy – Priority or Backseat? – European Centre for Energy and Resource Security
6) Australia’s Green Agenda Unravelling – The Australian, 29 March 2012
7) Ashamed Of Their Work: Depressed Green Bureaucrats – The Sunday Telegraph, 25 March 2012

1) IPCC Confirms: We Do Not Know If The Climate Is Becoming More Extreme
Omnologos, 28 March 2012
The IPCC’s SREX report is out in full.
FAQ 3.1 | Is the Climate Becoming More Extreme? [...] None of the above instruments has yet been developed sufficiently as to allow us to confidently answer the question posed here. Thus we are restricted to questions about whether specific extremes are becoming more or less common, and our confidence in the answers to such questions, including the direction and magnitude of changes in specific extremes, depends on the type of extreme, as well as on the region and season, linked with the level of understanding of the underlying processes and the reliability of their simulation in models.–Full report here

2) The IPCC & A Handy Bullshit Button On Disasters and Climate Change
Roger Pielke Jr, 28 March 2012
The full IPCC Special Report on Extremes is out today, and I have just gone through the sections in Chapter 4 that deal with disasters and climate change. Kudos to the IPCC — they have gotten the issue just about right, where “right” means that the report accurately reflects the academic literature on this topic. Over time good science will win out over the rest — sometimes it just takes a little while.
A few quotable quotes from the report (from Chapter 4):
“There is medium evidence and high agreement that long-term trends in normalized losses have not been attributed to natural or anthropogenic climate change”
“The statement about the absence of trends in impacts attributable to natural or anthropogenic climate change holds for tropical and extratropical storms and tornados”
“The absence of an attributable climate change signal in losses also holds for flood losses”
The report even takes care of tying up a loose end that has allowed some commentators to avoid the scientific literature:
“Some authors suggest that a (natural or anthropogenic) climate change signal can be found in the records of disaster losses (e.g., Mills, 2005; Höppe and Grimm, 2009), but their work is in the nature of reviews and commentary rather than empirical research.”
With this post I am creating a handy bullshit button on this subject (pictured above). Anytime that you read claims that invoke disasters loss trends as an indication of human-caused climate change, including  the currently popular “billion dollar disasters” meme, you can simply call “bullshit” and point to the IPCC SREX report.
You may find yourself having to use the bullshit button in locations that are supposed to be credible, such as Nature Climate Change and the New York Times. This might may feel uncomfortable at first, because such venues are generally credible, but is absolutely necessary to help certain corners of science and the media to regain their credibility. The siren song of linking disasters to human-caused climate change exerts a strong pull for activists in all settings, but might be countered by the widespread and judicious use of the disaster and climate change bullshit button.

3) Cold Feet: UK Government Halts Plan To Force Reporting Of GHG Emissions
Financial Times, 28 March 2012
Kiran Stacey
Plans to force companies to declare the size of their greenhouse gas emissions have been put on hold and could even be abolished, the environment secretary will tell parliament this week, raising fresh questions over the government’s commitment to fighting climate change.
Caroline Spelman will say she has not made a decision on whether to introduce mandatory reporting requirements on companies’ carbon emissions, missing a deadline that has been in place for the last four years.
According to the Climate Change Act, passed in 2008, the environment secretary has to announce new rules requiring directors to report how much carbon is released by their company’s activities, or explain why she is not doing so.
Officials at the department have told the Financial Times Ms Spelman will issue a written statement saying she is not ready to introduce such rules as she has yet to decide what form they should take, or whether they should even be brought in at all. The announcement comes a year after she first launched a consultation into the matter, which laid out four alternative proposals.
Anthony Field, a senior officer at the UK arm of WWF, the environmental group, said: “It’s amazing that, after four years and with widespread public, political and business support for mandatory carbon reporting, the government still can’t make a decision.”
Environmentalists have for months accused David Cameron’s coalition of backsliding on its commitment to be “the greenest government ever” as economic priorities have increasingly appeared to take precedence over efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
Mr Spelman’s expected statement on carbon reporting comes a week after George Osborne, the chancellor, used his Budget to announce a review and possible overhaul of the government’s carbon reduction commitment, which forces companies to pay for their emissions.
Full story

4) Benny Peiser: Green Debate In Europe Has Reached ‘Deadlock’
Public Service Europe, 28 March 2012
It is almost inevitable that we will see the evolution of a more pragmatic and less zealous approach to tackling climate change and energy policies – claims think-tank


Did you know that Poland blocked new European Union emissions targets at a recent meeting of EU environment ministers? Are you aware that there is growing support among Eastern European governments to block any new unilateral climate targets permanently? The reason you may not have heard of this growing rebellion in Brussels is simple: climate policy is no longer a big item on the EU’s agenda and the climate mania is gradually coming to an end after almost 20 years.
In the past, Poland’s intractable hostility to green unilateralism was greeted by universal protestation in capitals around Europe. Today, it is hardly noticed by the media while green campaigners have become elderly and limp. Other and more pressing concerns are taking precedence and are completely overriding the green agenda. It looks as if a new political ice age has ascended over Brussels.
Poland together with allies from southern and Eastern Europe is seeking to block efforts by environmental ministers and non-governmental organisation to introduce new, unilateral CO2 targets. Opponents, however, demand that EU climate policy should be tied to international climate policy. Given that any global climate agreement is not even envisaged until 2015 – if it ever materialises – Poland claims that it would be “premature” to decide on Europe’s future climate policy today. Member states agreed, in 2008, to cut carbon emissions by 20 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020. The European Commission had drafted a proposal to slash emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 – in effect, to levels that would essentially prohibit the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity.
Opposing governments argue that any new targets should be conditional on other major industrial nations agreeing to similar cuts. As a result of the Brussels deadlock, climate and green energy policies face a severe crisis. There is a growing risk that the EU’s unilateral strategy is hampering the economic recovery and, consequently, the future of European competitiveness. The whole green agenda is becoming increasingly unpopular. Voters and energy intensive industries are increasingly hostile to climate policies because they are inflating energy bills and heating costs. European leaders themselves are now seriously considering whether to continue with unilateral decarbonisation in the absence of an international agreement.
In its draft report on its Energy Roadmap 2050, the commission warns that “if coordinated action on climate among the main players fails to strengthen in the next few years, the question arises how far the EU should continue with an energy system transition oriented to decarbonisation”. In light of global disagreement over the future of climate policy, hardly any European government is clamouring for green leadership. Even Germany and France no longer want to go it alone. Many European governments simply refuse to go beyond the 20 per cent emissions target.
Europe’s conventional climate and energy strategy faces both huge challenges and new opportunities. It is almost inevitable that we will see the evolution of a more pragmatic and less zealous approach to climate and energy policies. This in itself would be greeted with much relief by a public that is increasingly concerned about the disproportionate burden the climate mania has inflicted European economies.
Dr Benny Peiser is the director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation

5) London Debate: EU Climate Policy – Priority or Backseat?
European Centre for Energy and Resource Security
The European Centre for Energy and Resource Security (EUCERS) cordially invites you to the third of a series of six roundtable discussions on European energy security topics co-hosted by the European Commission Representation in the UK and Konrad Adenauer Foundation in London
EUcers Energy Talks:
EU Climate Policy – Priority or Backseat?
17 April 2012, 13.00 – 15.00 (with a reception following)
Seminar Room K 0.20 (ground floor King’s Building), King’s College London Strand Campus, London WC2R 2LS
We would like to cordially invite you to a workshop the European Centre for Energy and Resource Security (EUCERS) organizes together with the European Commission Representation in the UK and Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) in London.
Paolo Caridi, DG Climate, International and Inter-institutional Relations, European Commission and Dr Benny Peiser, Director Global Warming Policy Foundation will give the introductory statements before we embark on a roundtable discussion. A reception from 15.00 will follow.
We would like to invite you to join and contribute to the discussion at King’s College London on 17 April 2012 and to profit from your insight and expertise in the subject.
In order to attend please register to carola.gegenbauer@kcl.ac.uk

6) Australia’s Green Agenda Unravelling
The Australian, 29 March 2012
Natascha Bita
QUEENSLAND Premier Campbell Newman has ordered Anna Bligh’s husband to begin dismantling green energy programs he helped create, as the new LNP government moved to slash environmental spending to offset the federal carbon tax. The showpiece of the Gillard government’s $1.5 billion Solar Flagships Program is now in jeopardy, after Mr Newman yesterday pulled the plug on $75 million in state funding pledged for the $1.2bn Solar Dawn solar thermal project near Chinchilla, west of Brisbane.
Resources Minister Martin Ferguson yesterday suggested the federal government might withdraw its own $464m contribution, promised only last month. “If the new Queensland government chose to breach the existing financial commitment to the Solar Dawn project, the Australian government would naturally need to consider its own position,” Mr Ferguson said.
Mr Newman yesterday declared his LNP government would axe seven other green schemes, on the grounds the carbon tax would make them redundant. “We now have a federal government that is imposing a great big carbon tax on us and the rest of the country that is meant to solve all these (environmental) problems,” he said.
Mr Newman has given the job of dismantling the programs to the bureaucrat who set them up – Greg Withers, who is married to Ms Bligh.
“We want him to unravel those programs ’cause he’s the bloke who set them up,” Mr Newman said. “There are rumours going around that he’s packed up his office. I want to say very clearly that is news to me; he is, as far as I’m concerned, an employee of the Queensland government, and we would like him to do a few things for us at the moment.”
Mr Newman, a long-time lord mayor of Brisbane, was forced to fend off accusations of “jobs for the mates” after he spent his second day at the helm removing six departmental heads and replacing them with City Hall contacts and LNP allies. They include Michael Caltabiano, a former state Liberal MP and party president, who was yesterday made director-general of the Department of Main Roads and Transport, and Brisbane City Council infrastructure manager Barry Broe, appointed State Co-ordinator-General with a mandate to fast-track infrastructure.
Mr Newman praised his appointees as “highly professional individuals that are well-qualified to do the job”.
“I accept that criticism could be there and I’m saying to all Queenslanders these are people who’ll do a fantastic job,” he said.
“(The Labor government) appointed people who didn’t have a clue what they were doing.”
Mr Newman denied his government was trying to manage out Mr Withers, an assistant director-general who set up the Office of Climate Change when his wife became premier in 2007.
Mr Withers stands to receive a six-figure payout if he is dumped, as he renewed a three-year contract, with a further two-year option, on his $220,000-a-year package in December. “Nobody has taken any action against Mr Withers,” Mr Newman said.
“The rumours of us making some sort of move against him are untrue and unfounded. Since he’s the head of these various carbon reduction programs that we pointed out are now irrelevant . . . His brief at the moment will be to actually unravel those quietly.
“He has got a job if he wants one.”
Mr Withers did not respond to The Australian yesterday.
Mr Newman announced the closure of the $430m Queensland Climate Change Fund, which provides $30m a year for climate change initiatives, and the $50m Renewable Energy Fund, which supports the Geothermal Centre of Excellence.
Full story
see also: Jo Nova: There go those gravy trains in Queensland & Victoria

7) Ashamed Of Their Work: Depressed Green Bureaucrats
The Sunday Telegraph, 25 March 2012
They are responsible for some of the [Australian] government’s most important policies – but staff at the Department of Energy and Climate Change are too ashamed to admit where they work. Staff morale is so low the government has spent almost $175,000 on consultants to lift staff’s flagging spirits.
A negative public image of the department, changing environmental policies and lack of internal support had left them feeling miserable and disengaged, an internal report has found.
The report was conducted by consultants Right Management in July 2010 when the department was under the responsibility of Finance and Deregulation Minister Penny Wong.
The portfolio has since been taken over by Greg Combet.
The department is responsible for carrying out some of the government’s most critical and controversial policies, including those relating to global warming, carbon emission reduction and promoting energy efficiency.
The findings of the report are so damning the government only released it nine months after it was first requested by the Opposition under Freedom of Information laws.
The report, which also includes a survey of 788 people, found the department to have “low levels” of employee engagement. Staff held a poor view of the department, felt a lack of purpose, were uninformed about changes to policies and procedures, and worried about their future employment.
“Many reported having to think about whether they would tell people where they worked because of the department’s negative image,” the report said.
Opposition Climate Action, Environment and Heritage spokesman Greg Hunt said the report exposed the level of incompetence within the department.
“I think most taxpayers would be staggered to know that more than $250,000 has been spent to fix up the internal mismanagement of a department under the stewardship of now Finance Minister Penny Wong,” he said.
A letter to the Opposition attached to the documents said the identified issues had been addressed and initiatives introduced to improve staff engagement within the department

 

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