Climate Change Conference & Judith Curry’s Analysis of Sea Levels
It was great to discover at last Wednesday’s Christmas drinks at Treasury (in Canberra) a number of “oldies” who said they were enjoying my Commentary and in particular the scepticism about the dangerous warming nonsense. While I resigned from Treasury in 1987 I later hoped that, with the danger thesis becoming more widely reflected in government policy both here and overseas, Treasury would publish analyses as John Stone and others had done on various controversial economic subjects during my time there. In fact, I edited a couple including one on the New International Economic Order(NIEO), which had an aim similar to one adopted by believers in the dangerous warming theme viz “save” developing countries by providing squillions of aid which would allow them to substitute costly fuel sources for cheaper fossil fuels.
But such a published Treasury analysis post 1987 was apparently regarded as too “difficult” politically, particularly in circumstances where, after his defeat of Tony Abbott, Turnbull as PM regarded climate change action as one of his main policy objectives. Now that Turnbull has been defeated his successor Scott Morrison has not made it clear what his policy is, although he appears to retain Turnbull’s Paris agreement of reducing emissions by 26-28% by 2030 even though this agreement is non-binding. By stark contrast Opposition Leader Shorten endorses a target of 50% emissions reduction by the same date.
Our main hope for change has been that some prominent world leaders and/or scientists would pour cold water on the danger theme and that this would lead to a reduction in emissions targets. A start has been made with the presidents of Czechoslovakia (Vaclav Havel) and the USA (Trump) rejecting the thesis and an increasing number of scientists exposing the flaws. Trump has indicated the US will formally withdraw from the Paris Agreement made in 2015.
Reports of the climate change conference being held in Poland (due to have finished but still going last night as the 24th COP) suggest the US attitude has reduced support for action. This reduced support is reflected in
- A reduction in world leaders attending. In fact, media reports on the conference do not quote any world leader. With Turnbull gone, the Australian rep is newly appointed Environment Minister Melissa Price and few other countries seem to have sent their leaders. Most noticeable is the absence of French President Macron who boasted of France as a leader of climate change action by imposing a fuel tax and has now had to withdraw it because of yellow-vest protests across France. While these protests are not only being made in support of sceptics of the warming thesis, they send a message to leaders that it would be unwise to adopt the Macron approach of initiating specific policies to reduce usage of fossil fuels. It appears that big producers of fossil fuels, mainly Russia and Saudi Arabia, have supported the US during the conference;
- A pro-fossil fuel event was held at the conference by the Trump administration and, according to ABC news, the only non-American panellist at the event was Australia’s Ambassador for the Environment, Patrick Suckling. “Fossil fuels are projected to be a source of energy for a significant time to come,” Mr Suckling said (see ABC on CChange Conference);
- The refusal of some countries to include in the communiqué a “welcome” to the last special (sic) IPCC report and instead to make that simply a “note” of the report. However, one report says the communiqué will not include any reference to that report (see BBC on CChange Conference 15/12);
- UN chief Antonio Guterres warning that a failure to reach a satisfactory conclusion would be “suicidal,” a point reportedly echoed by small island states fearing for their existence as rising sea levels render their homes uninhabitable.
While Guterres will doubtless attempt to wind up the conference with a communiqué saying that a “consensus” was reached on the need to reduce emissions, any such consensus is unlikely to have the post-conference political support its predecessors felt they had. Also, it will be less difficult politically to justify changes in policies which involve less aggressive action to reduce emissions and provide a longer time frame for continued use of fossil fuels, as Australia’s Ambassador for the Environment implies .
Such possible changes in Australian policy are supported by The Australian’s decision to publish an article on sea levels by US climate scientist Judith Sloan. She assesses estimates of “the maximum possible global sea level rise by the end of the 21st century range from 1.6m to 3m, and even higher, ” as “extreme values of sea level rise … regarded as extremely unlikely or even impossible. Nevertheless, they are driving policies and local adaptation plans”. She also argues that
“climate model predictions consider only human-caused warming and neglect changes in natural climate processes, such as variations in the sun’s output, volcanic eruptions and long-term changes to ocean circulations. These natural processes are expected to have a cooling effect in the 21st century” (see Judith Curry: Alarmist Sea Level Predictions Not Likely to Occur).
Curry’s analyses are of particular importance because she has changed sides. As pointed out in my letter published by The Australian, “after careful research, she became a sceptic and her analysis has been recognised as suitable for publication after peer review” (see CChange Letters 13/12). Other letters published also support Curry and her implicit support for an energy policy which is not based on predictions “regarded as extremely unlikely or even impossible”.
The conclusion in my letter is that “If the Morrison government were to recognise this it could justify lowering Australia’s target for reducing emissions and adopt a policy based on reducing electricity prices”. That would be a potential winner for next year’s election.