The United Nations should get out of the climate science business

Blog, Climate Change, Commentary, Energy, Environment, Regulation, Tom Harris

Delegates’ reaction to climate realism shows that the UN wears too many hats on climate file

At the UN Climate Change Conference in Doha Lord Christopher Monckton, Viscount of Brenchley, Chief Policy Advisor, Science and Public Policy Institute, and an advisor to the International Climate Science Coalition, told delegates (click here for video):

“Thank you very much, Mr. President. As-salaam alaikum [Arabic for “Peace be upon you”]. Our new council has two small concerns about this process. First, that in the 16 years now that we have been coming to these events there has been no global warming at all. And secondly that, even if we were to take action to try to prevent global warming, the cost of that would be many times greater than the cost of taking adaptative measures later. So, our recommendation therefore is that we should initiate very quickly a review of the science to make sure that we are all on the right track. Shukran iktir. [Arabic for “Thank you very much”].

So how did the assembly react to this common sense approach?

As Lord Monckton writes:

“As I delivered the last of my three points, there were keening shrieks of rage from the delegates. They had not heard any of this before. They could not believe it. Outrage! Silence him! Free speech? No! This is the UN!”

Of course, one reason they were upset was his obvious breach of protocol by addressing a plenary session of national delegates even though he was only accredited as an observer. Monckton points out that it was right at the end of the closing plenary, after all others who had wished to speak had done so, but admits that he was, nevertheless, out of line.

However, there was a more fundamental cause of their outrage.

The underlying assumption at all such UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) events is that a man-made climate crisis is looming and nothing less than a revolution in the way we generate energy is urgently needed to “save the planet.” No matter what direction science and technology is actually headed, no UN delegate dare oppose this, the UNFCCC creed.

Enshrined at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, and unaffected by scientific advances since then, the mandate of the UNFCCC remains cast in stone. As laid out in Article 2 of the Charter:

“The ultimate objective of this Convention and any related legal instruments that the Conference of the Parties may adopt is to achieve, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Convention, stabilization of greenhouse gas [GHG] concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”

That we have no idea what GHG level would cause “dangerous interference with the climate system”, or whether such interference is even possible is of no importance to UN negotiators. “The science is settled”, they tell us. We must take extreme action to prevent “global temperature” from rising more than 2 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The fact that we may very well be above that, mostly for entirely natural reasons, is immaterial. UNFCCC delegates enshrined this, the so-called “King Canute Clause”, in the Cancun Agreements that constitute the basis of all negotiations.

Outside of the fantasy world of UN group-think, climate science is actually a highly immature discipline.  Despite recent advances, we are only beginning to understand our planet’s exceptionally complex climate system.  We have even less understanding of possible future climate states.

That UNFCCC negotiators would be, perhaps intentionally, blind to the actual state of climate science is not in the least surprising.  After all, it was another branch of the UN (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)) that assembled the highly politicized science reports that concluded we had a human-caused crisis on our hands.  It was the UN’s IPCC officials who chose the most exciting parts of the reports to publicize in order to frighten the world into action.  It was the IPCC that proposed the solutions. Then, the UNFCCC created the “roadmap” for the world to follow.  It is the UNFCCC that brings national leaders together to address the supposed problem and then brokers major international climate change treaties. Of course, the UNFCCC will run the $100 billion Green Fund to funnel money to projects in developing nations. And finally, agencies in the UN will monitor the developed world’s emissions, and some of that from developing countries, as well as orchestrate enforcement of GHG emissions.

All this would put the UN firmly in control of much of the world’s energy usage and so much of humanity’s activities in general. All justified based on the findings of one UN agency, the IPCC.

With the UN having such all-encompassing control throughout the whole process, from initial science findings to final enforcement of “solutions”, this is a problem.  After going so far down the road towards final international agreements to solve the “problem”, there is virtually no chance that the UNFCCC/IPCC branches of the UN would be open to the possibility that there was no significant man-made climate change at all. This would invalidate much of the rest of the process to which thousands of UN delegates have devoted a large fraction of their careers.

While their overall involvement in the climate change issue is a question beyond the scope of this article, there is no question the UN should be completely removed from climate science investigations and reporting.  The IPCC should be immediately disbanded and neutral agencies, entirely independent of the UN, should be tasked with coordinating the fundamental science reviews and then reporting on them in a completely open and transparent fashion.

Of course, it will never be possible to completely remove bias from any science process but the current UN-directed scientific evaluation has been shown to be rife with corruption and self-deception.

No wonder Lord Monckton’s statements, entirely correct though they were, were unwelcome.


Tom Harris is Executive Director of the International Climate Science Coalition – and an advisor to the Frontier Centre for Public Policy in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.