The intolerability of tolerance

From The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley in Bonn

The UN?s international climate conference here in Bonn has decided that the wealthier nations among the 192 States Parties to the UN Convention on Climate Change should make plenty of taxpayers? money available to hold two additional weeks of pre-negotiation negotiations between now and December, when the legally-binding World Government Climate Treaty is to be signed in Cancun, Mexico.

Dr. Yvo de Boer, who will shortly retire as secretary to the Conference of the States Parties to the Convention, told observers here in Bonn yesterday that the extra time was essential so that details which could otherwise wreck the negotiations could be sorted out before Cancun.

There will also be a meeting of Heads of Governments at the Peterberg Hotel, near Bonn, in June. The purpose of that meeting is to allow the UN to identify potentially recalcitrant heads of government and mount a charm offensive in their direction between June and December.

Dr. de Boer said he was not sure that a legally-binding Treaty would be agreed upon at Cancun: he thought a further year might be necessary. He said he hoped the negotiators would take the approach that had worked during the discussions that led to the Kyoto Protocol: they should keep the Treaty short and to the point, establishing general principles and allowing the details to be worked out once the Treaty was in force.

The world-government faction at the UN faces a dilemma. If the bureaucrats push the process too fast, as they did in the run-up to the Copenhagen meeting last December, the train will come off the tracks. However, if they slow things down to allow the caboose to catch up with the locomotive, the passengers may start to notice that the climate is not in fact changing anything like as rapidly as the UN?s climate reports have been predicting.

There is a possibility that the UN may try to surprise everyone by persuading the Heads of Government to reach full agreement on a binding Treaty as early as the Peterberg meeting in June. The priceless advantage of this, from the world-government wannabes? point of view, is that the Treaty could then be put before the US Senate while President Obama still has a strong majority there.

Everyone here is keenly aware that the Obama experiment has not been seen as successful in the eyes of voters in the US, and that an increase in the Republican presence in both Houses of Congress will, in practice, make acceptance of any climate Treaty ? especially one that reactivates the now-ditched world-government proposals of last year?s draft ? unlikely.

The US Senate has the power to ratify Treaties, and no Treaty can pass unless it receives 67 of the 100 available votes. This two-thirds majority will be difficult to achieve as things now stand: most serious observers reckon it will be impossible after the US mid-term elections this December, at the same moment as the Cancun climate conference.

For the world-government group among the UN?s bureaucrats and fellow-travelers, therefore, Cancun is too late. And, if Mr. de Boer is right that an agreement will not even be reached there, another year?s delay will make it still more obvious to voters in those countries lucky enough to have universal suffrage that the climate is not behaving as ordered.

In short, the climate train is about to tip into the gulch, and almost everyone here knows it. There are still some true-believers who have drunk too deeply of the Kool-Aid. One of these came up to the CFACT stand at the conference and conversed with me quite pleasantly until I mentioned that the science behind the IPCC?s documents is collapsing. He instantly changed his demeanor. His smile vanished, and he stumped off in a huff.

There is an interesting difference between the First and Third Worlds in the behavior of the delegates. The delegates from Western countries tend to be far less willing to question the science and economics underpinning the UN?s case for its own glorification, expansion and enrichment, and they tend to be considerably less polite than their counterparts in the Third World.

The African delegates, in particular, exhibit a charming, old-world courtliness that used to be universal in the West and is now loutishly absent. One of them, the Permanent Secretary of the Environment Department in his country, was fascinated to hear that a tiny fraction of the money wasted on the non-problem of ?global warming?, if spent on addressing real problems, could help to rid Africa of starvation and disease. He had not previously thought about the opportunity cost of not spending the money thrown away on the climate in a manner that would be more likely to do real good.

CFACT?s policy of diverting some ? or preferably all ? of the cash now spent on the climate towards spending on real societal and environmental problems, such as deforestation or overfishing, won a number of supporters. Very few of those we have spoken to were wholly against it, and most of those gave indications that they were on the extreme Left politically. For the Left, belief in the wickedness of CO2 and of the filthy capitalists who emit it is at the very center of their credo, and anyone who disagrees with them is treated with contempt.

There have been some comic moments, though. At Dr. de Boer?s meeting with observers at the Bonn conference, two messily-dressed ladies of uncertain age, with untidy hairdos and a hectoring, bossy manner, asked why it was that ?those climate skeptics? had been given the best display booth in the conference center, right next door to the entrance to the conference hall.

Mr. de Boer, far more urbane at this conference than he had been at Bali, Poznan, or Copenhagen, purred that any recognized non-government organization, whatever its views, was welcome to attend UN conferences, and neither he nor his staff had given any thought at all to the question which NGO should occupy which display stand. The two ladies quivered with displeasure at this answer. To them, tolerance was intolerable.