I didn’t even bother to try and follow the goings on at the Doha climate talks, as I assumed business as usual. In other words talks that go nowhere and the usual beach front ironic protests from Green groups. Indeed if I posted at all to discuss these talks it would have been to question the sanity of flying thousands of people to an air-conditioned fridge in Qatar and discussing the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions.But, then up pops this suggestion that it would be put into the draft text that the West will accept some financial responsibility for the financial costs of adapting to climate change (already described as “damage aid”). e.g. if some Island in the Pacific gets swamped by rising seas or Bangladesh looses a large chuck of if farmland and fresh water supply (which is a possibility) then the US and Europe will have to pay some of compensation to the victims, and one assumes take in a number of the refugees. This proposal has sent the Climate Denial right wingers into full fanatic freak mode and thrown down the gauntlet to newly re-elected president Obama. And none of this is particularly surprising. As the Stern report made clear, and as discussed in a recent assessment by the World Bank (hardly a bastion of fluffy treehuggers!) the financial implications of even a modest level of climate change are enormous.
Regularly the right wing media has complained about the huge costs of switch to green energy. But the costs of paying for the consequences of climate change (just within the UK mind) will be substantially higher. The costs of paying for even some small amount of the impact on other countries could bankrupt the West several times over.
And should anyone in the BRIC’s (Brazil, Russia, India and China) be looking smug, remember that these countries are now major emitters of greenhouse gases. While the bulk in the atmosphere at present is from the West, a few more decades worth of emissions and they too will count as the major culprits of climate change, and with this precedence of “compensation” in play, they will also probably be obliged to pay. And again, anybody who knows how to use a calculator (unfortunately as denier sites like this one show, there’s rather a lot who don’t!) the costs of paying for the damage caused by climate are vastly higher than the costs of fixing the problem now.
Consequently if this “damage aid” statement does make it into the final text (it appears to have been watered down at the time of writing, but its still there) it creates the possibility that even a fairly right wing US president (or UK Prime Minister) of the future will still have a very strong financial incentive, regardless of how skeptical he is of climate change, to do something about it. As installing a couple of wind turbines will be vastly cheaper and more palatable to voters…than accepting hundreds of millions of climate refugees! (Run that by you’re average Daily Mail reader and watch him turn green!).
Of course, I find it highly amusing that the normal stalwarts of the climate change denial brigade are so dead set against this. I mean, if we take them at their word they believe climate change isn’t happening (or is a natural phenomenon that will reverse itself soon). I mean why are they so worried? If climate change isn’t happening, we can promise the third world countries that we’ll pay them a gazillion dollars and we’ll merely be writing a cheque which will never get cashed. Do I sense a seed of doubt in the minds of deniers?