Rupert Read’s Guardian letter

Left Foot Forward’s Rupert Read has a letter in today’s Guardian. Rupert suggests that “Copenhagen cannot end the climate crisis … A pretence of effective action is worse than no action at all.” We publish the letter here in full:

Your article (Leaked draft deal widens rift between rich and poor nations, 9 December) underlines the view that an increasing number of us have: that a mediocre and unjust agreement at Copenhagen – which is all that we could possibly get now – would be worse than no agreement at all. It is important to understand why what is on offer at Copenhagen cannot end the climate crisis. The “solutions” are almost exclusively based around carbon offsets and carbon trading. These would make no meaningful contribution towards tackling the climate crisis for all sorts of reasons, but most crucially because they would mean that, just as with Kyoto, there is no “hard” cap on total emissions. A carbon trading system that allows offsets against emissions – which allegedly would have happened without the system being in place – even if it works, offers no guarantee at all that overall emissions will fall, let alone fall at the rate that they need to if we are to have a chance of keeping the world to within 2C of overheat.

Thus it may be serendipitous that the Copenhagen talks seem likely to fail. In this connection, the CRU hack at the University of East Anglia may even have a silver lining. For, though it is utterly ludicrous to claim that the “revelations” from these illegally hacked emails cast any substantive doubt over the facts and the science of global overheat, nevertheless we can be grateful to the deluded hacker if his/her actions undermine the prospects of a – useless – agreement emerging at Copenhagen.

A pretence of effective action is worse than no action at all. Rather than pursuing the chimera of an agreement based on carbon trading, it is time to fight for an agreement that would actually be worth having, such as the brilliantly designed Contraction and Convergence scheme, which includes a “hard” cap. We should all do our best – in person or remotely – to bring the talks this week to a standstill if the alternative is allowing our leaders to sign up to an agreement that offers only the shadow of securing our common future against climate chaos.

Dr Rupert Read

School of philosophy, University of East Anglia

4 Responses to “Rupert Read’s Guardian letter”

  1. Anon E Mouse

    Will – I actually find myself agreeing with Rupert Read for once…

    …I’m off for a lie down – I think I need it…

    Do we really need a picture of him with that inane grin though Will? 😉

  2. Rupert Read

    [One man’s inanity is another man’s sanity…]

    Cf. also my letter in yesterday’s INDY, on a related theme:
    http://rupertsread.blogspot.com/2009/12/cru-hacks-real-name-my-letter-in-todays.html

  3. Anon E Mouse

    Rupert – I N A N E – Inane – Not insane…. *sigh*

    I’m going back to bed…

  4. Rupert Read

    [I read what you wrote, oh brave Mouse, and wrote what I meant to write. SIGH…]

    Also this one from me, earlier in the week in the Telegraph: scroll down for my letter:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/letters/6753637/Unreachable-emissions-targets-distract-attention-from-adapting-our-way-of-life.html

    Now compare the original slightly longer letter that I actually sent them:
    TO THE DAILY TELEGRAPH:
    Sir;
    I find it disturbing that in your news coverage you are now using the term ‘Climategate’, the term preferred by those who deny the existence of manmade climate change, to refer to the recent hack into the email systems of the Climatic Research Unity at the University of East Anglia. I also find it surprising. For this term seems to mean to suggest that there is some serious doubt raised about our knowledge of the world’s warming climate by the emails that have been made public: but (as you yourselves point out in your leader column of the 4th December), our knowledge of the dangerous climate change that greenhouse gases are creating is largely consensual and uncontroversial. Furthermore, the use of ‘Climategate’ being promoted by manmade-climate-change-deniers to attack mainstream climate science is extremely ironic, in that it appears to ignore the central parallel between so-called ‘Climategate’ on the one hand and the Watergate scandal on the other: that both are scandals about criminal theft operations in which innocent people have been targetted and abused for political purposes – Nixon’s Democrat opponents, in Watergate, and leading environmental scientists, in ‘Climategate’.
    Faithfully,
    Dr. Rupert Read

    Can you spot the difference?…

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