UN official: World failing over climate change (Update)

Sep 17, 2013 by Raphael Satter
Halldor Thorgeirsson, right, a senior director with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and researcher Brian Hoskins take questions during a press briefing at London's Imperial College on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013. Thorgeirsson said international leaders are failing to fight global warming, appealing directly to the world's voters to pressure their politicians into taking tougher action against the buildup of greenhouse gases. (AP Photo/Raphael Satter)

(AP)—International leaders are failing in their fight against global warming, one of the United Nations' top climate officials said Tuesday, appealing directly to the world's voters to pressure their politicians into taking tougher action against the buildup of greenhouse gases.

Halldor Thorgeirsson told journalists gathered at London's Imperial College that world leaders weren't working hard enough to prevent potentially catastrophic climate change.

"We are failing as an international community," he said. "We are not on track."

Thorgeirsson, a senior director with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, was speaking with two years left to go before the world powers gather in Paris for another round of negotiations over the future of the world's climate, which scientists warn will warm dramatically unless action is taken to cut down on the emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.

One of the main points of contention is how to divide the burden of emissions cuts between industrialized nations and emerging economies such as India and China, the world's top carbon polluter. The lack of progress in recent years has fueled doubts over whether a binding deal is possible at all.

Halldor Thorgeirsson, right, a senior director with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and researcher Brian Hoskins take questions during a press briefing at London's Imperial College on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013. Thorgeirsson said international leaders are failing to fight global warming, appealing directly to the world's voters to pressure their politicians into taking tougher action against the buildup of greenhouse gases. (AP Photo/Raphael Satter)

Thorgeirsson seemed to strike a pessimistic note Tuesday, talking down the idea that Paris—or any other conference—would produce a grand bargain that would ensure the reductions needed to prevent a dangerous warming of the Earth's atmosphere. He even seemed to suggest that a global solution to the issue wasn't likely until the effects of climate change came barreling down on peoples' heads or flooding into their homes.

"I don't think that an international treaty will ever be the primary driver for the difficult decisions to be made," he warned. "It's the problem itself that will be the primary driver—and the consequences of that problem."

Quizzed on the repeated failure of the international community to organize a global deal on greenhouse gases, he said that the politicians involved had to be held to account.

"This is a question that needs to be asked at the ballot box," he said. "This is a question that needs to be asked of leaders at all levels."

Thorgeirsson was in London for the launch of a joint study by Imperial's Grantham Institute for Climate Change and its Energy Futures Laboratory of the estimated cost of halving the world's carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.

Explore further: Study shows no lead pollution in oilsands region

More information: www3.imperial.ac.uk/climatechange

3 /5 (10 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Clock ticking on 2015 climate talks deal: EU

Sep 06, 2013

Countries around the world need to act with a sense of urgency if the 2015 UN climate change talks on cutting emissions are to have a credible outcome, a top EU official warned Friday.

IEA: Energy emissions rose to record high in 2012

Jun 10, 2013

The world's energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rose 1.4 percent in 2012 to a record high of 31.6 billion tons, even though the U.S. posted its lowest emissions since the mid-1990s, the International ...

US, China agree to end 'super greenhouse gases'

Jun 08, 2013

China agreed Saturday with the United States to scale back production of "super greenhouse gases" used in refrigerators and air conditioners in a joint bid to fight climate change.

Climate science alarming, irrefutable: Kerry

Sep 02, 2013

US Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday the evidence for climate change was beyond dispute but it was not too late for international action to prevent its worst impacts.

US state, Chinese officials announce climate deal

Sep 14, 2013

(AP)—California Gov. Jerry Brown and China's top climate negotiator on Friday signed the first agreement between a U.S. state and China that seeks greater cooperation on clean energy technologies and research meant to reduce ...

Recommended for you

Study shows no lead pollution in oilsands region

15 hours ago

New research from a world-renowned soil and water expert at the University of Alberta reveals that there's no atmospheric lead pollution in Alberta's oilsands region—a finding that contradicts current scientific ...

User comments : 10

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

VENDItardE
1.4 / 5 (19) Sep 17, 2013
total and absolute bullsh*t, just like most everything the UN says.
Grallen
4.1 / 5 (9) Sep 17, 2013
Yes: You are way smarter than the top minds in the world... Oh wait, you're not.
HannesAlfven
1.3 / 5 (15) Sep 18, 2013
Re: "This is a question that needs to be asked at the ballot box," he said. "This is a question that needs to be asked of leaders at all levels."

Um, perhaps the first step would be to ask the question of grad students. More specifically, before instituting such profound legislation, we should invite and encourage grad students around the world to argue against the models. For those of us who have followed the existing critiques of the graduate programs, it's become clear that the system does not actually permit such things. And this calls into question the meaning of the consensus itself ...

Jeff Schmidt has covered this in his scathing critique of the physics PhD program titled Disciplined Minds. More recently, we have a grad student who basically corroborates most of Schmidt's points in a letter of resignation just a few months before the program's end ...

http://crypto.jun...gnation/
HannesAlfven
1.3 / 5 (14) Sep 18, 2013
At the heart of the debate over climate change is a very different debate about what it means to be a "professional scientist". It would seem that the two concepts are in some very important regards completely contradictory. Professionals are simply obedient thinkers who know what to do under certain circumstances, whereas society ascribes a very distinct role for scientists. When you hear in the news that the universities are now doing more "corporate science", it's not just that students are doing more science for corporations. They are more importantly learning how to do science within the context of a very large organization. This is important to realize, because large organizations typically aren't looking for mavericks or critical thinkers.

This has been going on for many, many years now. Many people go into grad school not realizing any of it. The public is largely ignorant of the manufacturing of consensus that is happening within our universities right now.
triplehelix
1.6 / 5 (14) Sep 18, 2013
Vote?

I can go to a mental hospital and get a vote on what colour grass is.

If I get a majority answer blue does this mean grass is blue? No, it isn't.

Global warming is a science issue, not a letigious issue requiring votes and politicians.

Of course, global warming (man made and ever increasing temperatures) is bullshit, so of course, the only way to enforce it is voting, and use of politicians.

Didn't see many politicians voting for whether we want to find the higgs boson at CERN. Maybe because that's a real science.

Gmr
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 18, 2013
[A staggering migration observed. Here, herds normally confined to grazing areas well outside this range migrate across the broad landscape, denuding it of much of any sustenance it might have had at one point. It is a barren wasteland that remains.]
triplehelix
1.3 / 5 (12) Sep 18, 2013
downvoting is a genuine problem at physorg. Mainly because 99% of the people commenting are basically, readers of popularised science, and not actual scientists. Ironically, the IPCC's staff number is pretty much the same, with a handful of genuine scientists, that they paraphrase very carefully to get the needed statements for their big documentation rollouts of how the planet is going to die a thousand deaths in fire and lava (Though now it is going to be encased in ice now they've admitted it's cooling down and not warming up).

Few people make written rebuttals, and when they do generally just use some wikipedia quote.

decades we were told "warming, warming warming"

1997-2013, cooling.

"Yes, well, with our models, this can happen as well, we do expect this"

Right. So basically it doesn't matter whether it warms or cools, you have both options covered. This isn't science. How people can consider it science is beyond me.
arq
4 / 5 (1) Sep 18, 2013
@triple helix,

Were they AGW scientists who said earth was cooling from 97-03?
runrig
5 / 5 (1) Sep 18, 2013
downvoting is a genuine problem at physorg. Mainly because 99% of the people commenting are basically, readers of popularised science, and not actual scientists.


The language of the asylum. So because you are in the minority - it is the majority who are wrong? That the "readers of popularised science" ( read consensus science) are misguided and the happy few who have seen that the Emp[eror is naked and know the truth are usurped of their rightful position of King of the hill?
Do me a favour - the way things work is most assuredly not that. By the way, I was "an actual scientist" - Meteorologist ( 32 yrs with UKMO - retired ). Who'd ave guessed it?
shavera
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 18, 2013
If you don't believe in AGW, what would it take to make you believe? I'll believe your anti AGW stance the moment you can demonstrate a better model than existing models that doesn't show AGW. What would you need to see to believe in AGW?