There seems to be general acceptance of fact that the average temperature of the world is indeed increasing. The hard evidence is there: melting glaciers, shrinking ice cover at the North and South poles.
However, there appears to be an increasing doubt among the public that man-made CO2 is or is likely to be the main cause of this increase in world temperatures and therefore climate change, and that the prediction by scientists that we are heading for a disaster is either untrue or is greatly exaggerated.
A typical example is the following summary of the opinion poll carried out by the BBC in 2009 and repeated in 2010.
Question: Do you think that the Earth’s climate is changing?
2009 / 2010
YES: 85% / 75%
NO: 15% / 25%
NET: YES 60% / 50%
There has been a drop of 10% in people believing that climate change is taking place.
Now, in 2010, only half the population believes the climate is changing.
Of the 'was 85% now 75%' who believe the climate is changing:
Question: Which of these three statements is nearest the truth?
- It is an established scientific fact that the climate change is largely man‐made.“This statement is nearest the truth” 2009 50% 2010 34% DOWN 16% OR
- Climate change is largely man‐made but this has not yet been conclusively proved. This statement is nearest the truth” 2009 39% 2010 50% UP 11% OR
- Man‐made climate change is environmentalist propaganda for which there is little or no real evidence. “This statement is nearest the truth” 2009 9% 2010 14% UP 5%
The changes in the opinions between the two years reveal the public’s growing skepticism of the environmentalists’ case. Now, in 2010, less than half the public believe that it is a proven fact that man-made CO2 is causing climate change.
THE SKEPTICS’ CASE
The arguments of those scientists who oppose the environmentalists’ “man-made CO2 is to blame”, the Skeptics, can be summarized as follows:
- The admitted changes in measured temperatures are part of the natural cycle
- There is no conclusive evidence that climate change is happening
- Even if part of these the changes are human induced, the scale is not sufficiently large to make substantial cuts in greenhouse gas emissions necessary
- The economic impact of making substantial cuts in greenhouse gas emissions on the scale suggested by the IPCC is certain to cause hardship; such steps are unjustified and unnecessary.
- The dire predictions of global warming rely on computer models based on unproven assumed values of the large number of variables those models entail.
- Those models don't include the highly relevant variations in the Sun’s output.
- Over the last 100 years atmospheric CO2 has risen by a third, but the average world temperature has risen by only 0.75ºC.
- Historically, the human race has benefited from, not been harmed by, global warm periods
THE CANCUN SUMMIT ON CLIMATE CHANGE
In November/December 2010, there was a 12 day Summit Conference in Cancun, Mexico. Nearly 200 countries took part. The aim was to make progress on several issues in the hope of re-instilling faith in the IPCC’s recommendations. The principle objective was for all counties to enter into legal and binding treaties to reduce their CO2 emissions to a specified annual output by the year 2020 so that global warming is kept to less than 2ºC above pre-industrial (1950) levels.
The outcome was a general agreement, but NOT the adoption of legal and binding treaties, to achieve the objective cuts. It has been said that one of the reasons that the results hoped for by the environmentalists was not achieved was the recognition by the delegates of the public’s increasing doubt of the need for drastic measures to be adopted.
CARBON TRADING SCHEMES
Carbon Trading Schemes (sometimes called ‘Cap-and-Trade’) have been operating for several years. The objective of these schemes is to reduce the volume of CO2 released to the atmosphere by commercial companies. In 2007 European Union introduced the largest of such schemes, the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme.
(for details see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EU_carbon_trading_scheme)
Some other countries have or are planning to introduce similar schemes. USA, the largest producer of CO2 has no Federal scheme but several of the States have introduced their own schemes.
Carbon Emissions trading has been steadily increasing in recent years. According to the World Bank’s Carbon Finance Unit, the quantity of carbon dioxide exchanged through projects in 2005 showed a 240% increase relative to 2004 which was itself a 41% increase relative to 2003. In terms of dollars, the World Bank has estimated that the size of the carbon market was $11 billion in 2005, $30 billion in 2006, and $64 billion in 2007.
Climate Exchanges have been established to provide a spot market in allowances, as well as a futures and options market. Currently there are five exchanges trading in carbon allowances: the Chicago Climate Exchange, European Climate Exchange, Nord Pool, PowerNext and the European Energy Exchange. Managing emissions is now one of the fastest-growing segments in financial services in the City of London; in 2007 the market was estimated to be worth about €30 billion. With the creation of a market for mandatory trading of carbon dioxide emissions, the London financial marketplace has established itself as the center of the carbon finance market. The head of environmental markets at Barclays Capital predicts that “Carbon will be the world’s biggest commodity market, and it could become the world’s biggest market overall.”
For an explanation of how the carbon market works see:
There is considerable criticism of how the existing schemes work. Carbon trading schemes have tended to reward the heaviest polluters with ‘windfall profits’ when they are granted enough carbon credits to match historic production. Carbon trading encourages business-as-usual as expensive long-term structural changes won’t be made if there is a cheaper source of carbon credits. Cheap “offset” carbon credits are frequently available from the less developed countries, where they may be generated by local polluters at the expense of local communities.
So far I have been unable to find any evidence that these schemes have, in fact, brought about a world-wide reduction in CO2 emission. Some calculations show that there has even been a slight increase. Whether carbon trading schemes are having the desired result or not, certainly a new financial industry, Carbon Trading, has developed and the carbon market’s brokers are enjoying increasingly large incomes.
Government initiatives to eliminate harmful gas emissions sometimes have unintended consequences. Here is an example. In the USA chemical makers are paid as much as $100,000 or more for every ton they destroy of a potent greenhouse gas, HFC-23. The price for destroying it is based on its being 11,700 times more powerful as a climate-warming gas than carbon dioxide. But that gas is a byproduct of an ozone-friendly refrigerant, HCFC-22, which those chemical makers also are paid to produce under the U.N.’s ozone treaty. Environmentalists say there is so much money in getting rid of HFC-23 that the chemical makers are overproducing HCFC-22 in order to have more of the byproduct to destroy!
“The evidence is overwhelming that manufacturers are creating excess HFC-23 simply to destroy it and earn carbon credits,” said Mark Roberts of the Environmental Investigation Agency, a research and advocacy group. “This is the biggest environmental scandal in history and makes an absolute mockery of international efforts to combat climate change.