Compilation: COP19 Warsaw UN Climate Summit 2013: Betrayal of Life

Contents (click links to jump scroll)




2013’s big, annual international climate summit, COP19 (the 19th Conference of the Parties and 19th consecutive year of inaction!), saw two weeks of heated negotiations, acrimony, deepened distrust, and the first-ever walkout protest by most civil society groups in the coal capital of the Universe, Warsaw, Poland (Nov. 11 – 23, 2013).

Talks were focused on process, framework and finance toward a (supposed) major agreement in 2015 that would not be implemented until 2020(!), which is, to be blunt, immoral, ecocidal, biocidal, genocidal, progenycidal (future generations), suicidal (have I missed any?), because the longer action is delayed, the (even) more deadly, and closer to irreversible, climate breakdown (disruption, destabilization) will become.

The closest thing to a non-bullshit statement in UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres‘s final press brief summary was:

“It does not put us on track for a 2-degree (Celsius) world.” (video)

Where to begin. Despite the fact that the actual negotiated goal is not to be “on track for” (peak at), but to AVOID, a global average temp increase of 2ºC (compared to preindustrial time), given the DIRE EMERGENCY of the climate (energy / population / democracy / justice) crisis and the severe impacts already observed / suffered by the most vulnerable / least culpable peoples / species, a rapid return to a less than +0.85-degree Celsius (our current, 2013, already out of energy balance) world is what is required to attempt to restore the more stable climate that enabled us to evolve / civilization to develop.

A more accurate thing to say would have been: The corporate-captured / hijacked / corrupted, rich nation-dominated, endless, unsustainable economic growth and consumption-reliant, short-term profit and delay-motivated, market mechanism-biased, fossil fuel-addicted / greenhouse gas intensive orthodoxy / pathology that insists incremental ‘progress’, not emergency transformation, is the most that can be expected — now, in 2015, in 2020 and beyond — can’t, and will not, result in even the same time zone of the ballpark of action necessary to prevent the very possible demise of organized civilization / most life THIS century, perhaps even by 2060 or sooner.

Ms. Figueres again:

“…it is not possible to ‘solve’ climate change with one meeting, with one COP, with one negotiation. It is imperative that every single one of the climate talks, of which we have one a year, is a very firm step forward in the right direction, and we have been doing that over the past few years … and so those are the two realities that we are always confronted with: How do you balance the urgency of the science and the boundaries that that science imposes on us with respect to greenhouse gas emissions … with an international policy evolution process that is necessarily a gradual and progressive process and not one magical solution over night?”

Oh, right. Except that such logic, every squirmy word of it, couldn’t be more twisted because the whole point is that the climate crisis is an EMERGENCY and must be responded to as such. The very unpredictable nature of the threat — the rapid pace of climate breakdown (disruption, destabilization); the uncertain influence of feedback mechanisms / imminence of multiple tipping points; the danger of irreversible, ‘runaway‘ momentum and potential sudden, abrupt climate shifts; the prevalence of underestimated science and the necessity to incorporate the principles of precaution / risk aversion; and the clear, present, acceleration of dangerous impacts that ALREADY displace millions / KILL hundreds of thousands each year, and compromise the lives of billions RIGHT NOW — dictates that negotiations cannot be “necessarily a gradual and progressive process”, but must be tackled / confronted FULL-time as *the* most urgent global priority of ALL time.

To say, that was the best we could do this year, everyone go home, do your homework and we’ll see you again next year (which she did), is not less than the collective engagement of the richest, most powerful nations in the greatest BETRAYAL of public trust and (what *should be* considered) the highest crime against humanity, most life and most future life EVER.

To expose this betrayal is the broad stroke focus of this compilation. For conference details and nuances (articles, posts, reports, COP19 post mortem) and Canada-specific info, check out the comprehensive resources toward the bottom of this post. To jump scroll, click here.


6 reasons why the current approach to UN climate negotiations renders them incapable of confronting the scale, scope and urgency of the climate crisis


1) The IPCC science that negotiations are informed by and limited to is underestimated

Epic in their scale, scope, consensus-based standard and method of scrutiny, and often line-by-line intergovernmental approval, since inception, the IPCC reports (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) have been the primary basis for policy makers, politicians, governments and business leaders in the development of corporate strategies, all international (United Nations) climate negotiations and, now, toward a (supposed) new agreement in 2015.

But there’s a lot that’s more than a little problematic about the IPCC‘s cautious, conservative, flawed, consensus / lowest common denominator-limited conclusions.

For the most part, they continue to be the accepted international parameter of consideration for most of the entities noted above, despite considerable evidence, both modeled and observed, that: the rapid pace of climate breakdown (disruption, destabilization); the uncertain influence of feedback mechanisms / imminence of multiple tipping points; the risk of irreversible, ‘runaway‘ momentum and potential sudden, abrupt climate shifts; and the clear, present, acceleration of dangerous impacts RIGHT NOW, is far more dire than the IPCC presents.

Contrary to the profound alarm that many well-intentioned participants in the panel process feel and seek to communicate, their cautious, conservative, flawed, lowest common denominator and, in large part, outdated by the time of publication conclusions (based on the boundaries of their mandate, the cut-off date for submissions, political / corporate pressure / influence, denier intimidation, and decisions to exclude key feedback, or self-reinforcing, potential ‘runaway‘, mechanisms in their calculations — like the hyper-potent threat posed by accelerated methane release from permafrost melt, for example) have served as useful impediments to delay the emergency action at emergency speed necessary to confront the climate crisis.

And the IPCC’s primary focus has been on methods of adaptation and mitigation, NOT the essential principles of precaution and risk aversion. Watch this video that went viral a few years ago for a brief (9:34) tutorial that sums up the importance of this point pretty well.


“We came here with optimism that the world would act. In the wake of the (2013) IPCC report that shows (the) climate crisis is escalating, in the wake of the Philippines tragedy and many other climate catastrophes increasingly around the world, we had hoped that our governments would act.  We walk away from here in horror, in shock, in frustration, and in anger. We know that we have to take drastic action. Both the people of the north and the south are united in our call for transformative policies that will reduce emisions, provide the finance for the most vulnerable, and that they share the technology that gives the world a fighting chance.” ~ Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation (video, press release)

…to be honest, nobody over here is paying any attention to science.” … “…most of the discussions that are taking place over here are really focusing narrowly on short term politics…very narrow interests…” ~ Video: Interview with Rajendra Pachauri, Head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Democracy NOW! Dec. 7, 2011


2) The 2°C ‘danger threshold’ and ‘global carbon budget’ CON JOB

Not to mince words but, to characterize the situation in terms of a ‘global carbon budget’, and based on the supposed, long-pervasive, incorrect, political, arbitrarily chosen, profit and delay-motivated 2°C (3.6°F) ‘danger threshold’, is utter, crack-smoking Mayor of Toronto-level nonsense because it ignores / miscommunicates the very nature of the climate crisis: Its unpredictability!

Again, given: The rapid pace of climate breakdown (disruption, destabilization); the uncertain influence of feedback mechanisms / imminence of multiple tipping points; the danger of irreversible ‘runaway‘ momentum and potential sudden, abrupt climate shifts; the prevalence of underestimated science (as noted in item 1) and the necessity to incorporate the principles of precaution / risk aversion; the imperative for a (somehow) rapid return to a less than 0.85-degree Celsius (our current, already out of energy balance) world; and the clear, present, acceleration of impacts that ALREADY displace millions / KILL hundreds of thousands each year / compromise the lives of billions RIGHT NOW

There is, already, NO ‘budget’ because it can no longer be considered safe to emit greenhouse gases (GHGs) in any amount, AT ALL. And even if climate breakdown (disruption, destabilization) WAS a ‘budgetable’ phenomenon, which, again, is insane, we’ve ALREADY broken the bank and are WAY over / eyeballs deep in ‘debt’.

With due respect to all involved, and the many incredible, devoted, well-intentioned folks who advocate around ‘climate math‘, Bill McKibben et al (informed by this 2009 study, and, now, the 2013 / 2014 IPCC AR5 report), to interpret and communicate the predicament within a ‘budget’ frame, let alone with figures THIS flawed / overestimated, is just, pardon the slang, batshit false.


“Two degrees (+2ºC) is not enough – we should be thinking of +1.5ºC. If we are not headed to +1.5ºC we are in big, big trouble.” … “The argument I am making is not about feasibility but an argument of social justice. We can’t have as our goal something that we already know does not guarantee the survival of low-lying states and sub-Saharan Africa. If we already know that, in my book there is no way we can stick to the goal we know is completely unacceptable to the most exposed [countries].” ~ UN Chief, Christina Figueres, challenges world to agree tougher target for climate change, Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, June 1, 2011

“…at today’s level of carbon dioxide, and not much above the current temperature, the world has experienced sea-levels 5 to 25 metres higher than at present! … It is hard to argue that anything above the Holocene maximum (of around +0.5ºC above the pre-industrial temperature) can preserve a safe climate, and that we have not already gone too far.  The notion that +1.5ºC is a safe target is out the window, and even +1ºC looks like an unacceptably high risk.” ~ Re-thinking a “safe climate”: Have we already gone too far? David Spratt, Climate Code Red, interprets Hansen research, Jan. 23, 2011

And one other pesky thing that, for some mysterious reason, never seems to get mentioned: A major scientific update to the 2007 IPCC report that was conceived in the lead up to the Dec. 2009, COP15 Copenhagen climate summit — the Scientific Congress on Climate Change Synthesis Report (March, 2009) — concluded that (due to the 30-40-year latent heat lag in the climate system) an increase of +2ºC to +2.4ºC was already locked in (page 18). But that was several years ago. I’m sure things are *much* better now. (Of course they aren’t.)

More about the 2ºC (3.6ºF) danger threshold / carbon budget CON JOB coming soon in parts 2 and 3 of the first link (part 1) below.



3) The most ambitious pledges not even in same time zone as the ballpark

Even if all countries fulfilled their greenhouse gas emissions reduction commitments (when cows fly!), the world would heat up far beyond 2°C to 4°C or more (some suggest as much as 7ºC!) THIS century (see 2015 Climate Interactive Scoreboard), which would not only be catastrophic, but incompatible with organized civilization, or worse. (See: Compilation: +4C by 2060s or sooner.)

Without naming names, here’s five weasel governments — Japan, Poland, Australia, Canada, U.S. — with a penchant for obstruction and back-tracking. And here’s why middle-power pariahs like Canada and Australia matter a lot more than you would think.



4) Rate of negotiation ‘progress’ (delay) far too incremental to be effective

The purpose of international climate negotiations is to “prevent ‘dangerous’ anthropogenic (human) interference with the climate system“.

Delegates understood the urgency in 2007, when the IPCC stated that global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must peak by 2015.

On Nov. 17, 2007, head of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachuari, warned:

“If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment.” (CP post)

And that was based on IPCC (AR4, 2007) conclusions that are now considered to have been VERY underestimated at the time, as is the latest IPCC AR5 2013 / 2014 report. (See: Compilation: IPCC reports, the 2°C (3.6°F) danger threshold / carbon budget CON JOB.)

In 2008, Dr. James Hansen testified to the U.S. Congress:

“We have reached a point of planetary emergency… Elements of a perfect storm, a global cataclysm, are assembled… the oft-stated goal to keep global warming less than +2ºC (+3.6ºF) is a recipe for global disaster, not salvation.”

Also in 2008, John Holdren, senior advisor to Barack Obama on science and technology:

“…the (climate) disruption and its impacts are now growing much more rapidly than almost anybody expected even a few years ago. The result of that, in my view, is that the world is already experiencing ‘dangerous anthropogenic interference in the climate system’… The question now is whether we can avoid catastrophic human interference in the climate system.”

And back to (Nov. 10) 2007, U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, stated:

“This is an emergency and for emergency situations we need emergency action.” (Reuters)

Momentum peaked after 2007 and a significant breakthrough was expected at COP16 (Copenhagen, 2009) toward a new agreement in 2012. BUT, of course, that didn’t happen. Then, somehow (I’ll spare you details), 2015 became the new agreement date. BUT, *if* implemented, it would not be until 2020. And the latest, again, VERY conservative IPCC report (AR5, 2013 / 2014) now says global GHG emissions must peak in 2020, NOT 2015, as it’s VERY outdated on arrival science had suggested in 2007 — I guess because things have improved *so much* since then?

Negotiation by delay. Acceptance that the process can’t function with an emergency mandate that requires immediate action. Even if ambitious, a 2015 ‘deal’ that would not take effect until 2020 would be far too little, far too late, which makes it all too clear that, in their current state of dysfunction, UN negotiations will not be able to motivate anywhere near the scale, scope and urgency of global action necessary to prevent ‘runaway’ catastrophe.



5) The UN process captured / hijacked by corporate interests / influence


“…rich industrialized countries have effectively held global action on climate change hostage in the interests of their big, dirty energy corporations.  To do so while thousands of people are facing unspeakable tragedy in the Philippines following the super-typhoon, Haiyan, and whilst hundreds of thousands of people are dying each year because of the impacts of climate change such as droughts, famines, and severe storms, is not only callous, but shows a total disregard for the climate science.” ~ Asad Rehman, FoEI (video, press release), Nov. 22, 2013

“…and our political leaders have the temerity to tolerate the fact that we are called hooligans when in fact the real hooligans are the CEOs and the big bosses of oil, coal and gas companies that have completely captured our governments and have completely captured this negotiating process. It is an insult to us that in fact this COP is largely sponsored by the coal industry. … This action is a clear statement that this particular COP is a complete betrayal to the sense of urgency that is needed.” ~ Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace International (video, COP19 page, press release), Nov. 22, 2013

“Big business, industry and finance, keen to set the agenda and shape the rules in the interests of their profits – and at the expense of climate justice – have infiltrated COP19. Corporate capture on the scale that is exhibited at COP19 runs the risk of rendering the UN climate negotiations not merely ineffective, but counterproductive to tackling climate change. It is time for the UN and the international community to open its eyes to corporate spin and powerful vested interests, and work towards real alternatives that embody the principles of social, environmental and climate justice.” ~ Report – The COP19 guide to corporate lobbying: Climate crooks and the Polish government’s partners in crime, Rachel Tansey, Corporate Europe Observatory, (32-page PDF)



6) Our economic system is incompatible with the action necessary

The urgency with which we must transform away from burned, carbon-sourced energy is incompatible with the ‘business as usual‘, endless, unsustainable growth and consumption-reliant, short-term profit and delay-motivated, market mechanism-biased, fossil fuel-addicted / greenhouse gas-intensive global economic paradigm / orthodoxy / pathology that both the IPCC and UN climate negotiation process have been beholden to reinforce.

Excerpt from: Post – Scientists call for a war on climate change, but who on Earth is listening? David Spratt, Climate Code Red (Note: For clarity, intros, segues, link descriptions have been altered, bold and quotation marks added.)

David Spratt quotes from: Article – A new paradigm for climate change, Kevin Anderson, Alice Bows, Nature Climate Change

“We urgently need to acknowledge that the development needs of many countries leave the rich western nations with little choice but to immediately and severely curb their greenhouse gas emissions. But academics may again have contributed to a misguided belief that commitments to avoid warming of 2°C can still be realized with incremental adjustments to economic incentives. A carbon tax here, a little emissions trading there and the odd voluntary agreement thrown in for good measure will not be sufficient…

Acknowledging the immediacy and rate of emission reductions necessary to meet international commitments on 2°C illustrates the scale of the discontinuity between the science (physical and social) underpinning climate change and the economic hegemony. Put bluntly, climate change commitments are incompatible with short-to medium-term economic growth (in other words, for 10 to 20 years).

Moreover, work on adapting to climate change suggests that economic growth cannot be reconciled with the breadth and rate of impacts as the temperature rises towards 4°C and beyond — a serious possibility if global apathy over stringent mitigation persists. Away from the microphone and despite claims of ‘green growth’, few if any scientists working on climate change would disagree with the broad thrust of this candid conclusion. The elephant in the room sits undisturbed while collective acquiescence and cognitive dissonance trample all who dare to ask difficult questions…

At the same time as climate change analyses are being subverted to reconcile them with the orthodoxy of economic growth, neoclassical economics has evidently failed to keep even its own house in order. This failure is not peripheral. It is prolonged, deep-rooted and disregards national boundaries, raising profound issues about the structures, values and framing of contemporary society.

This catastrophic and ongoing failure of market economics and the laissez-faire rhetoric accompanying it (unfettered choice, deregulation and so on) could provide an opportunity to think differently about climate change… Reinforcing the view that we may be on the cusp of a paradigm shift are the fundamental disagreements between orthodox economists as to how to respond to the crisis…

It is in this rapidly evolving context that the science underpinning climate change is being conducted and its findings communicated. This is an opportunity that should and must be grasped. Liberate the science from the economics, finance and astrology, stand by the conclusions however uncomfortable. But this is still not enough. In an increasingly interconnected world where the whole — the system — is often far removed from the sum of its parts, we need to be less afraid of making academic judgements. Not unsubstantiated opinions and prejudice, but applying a mix of academic rigour, courage and humility to bring new and interdisciplinary insights into the emerging era. Leave the market economists to fight among themselves over the right price of carbon — let them relive their groundhog day if they wish. The world is moving on and we need to have the audacity to think differently and conceive of alternative futures.

Civil society needs scientists to do science free of the constraints of failed economics…”

David Spratt writes: If that has whetted your appetite, there are two must-watch short videos of recent Kevin Anderson public presentations here and here. Honest, brave, fearless: these are not to be missed.

It is now obvious to Blind Freedy that our society’s structures are incapable of facing and resolving the climate threat. The problem is now so big, and the scale and urgency of the solutions required so great, that it is impossible to talk about them within the current public policy frame. The business and political spheres have horizons too narrow and too limited in time to be able to deal with the challenges and complexities of global warming.

We have achieved a collective cognitive dissonance where the real challenge we face is excluded from discourse. There is no solution within the politics-as-usual frame; and there is no developed frame outside of it.

Earlier this year I described the choice (in, Post – Re-thinking a safe climate: Have we already gone too far, David Spratt, Climate Code Red):

What needs to be done cannot be achieved in today’s neo-conservative capitalist economy, because a rapid transition will require a great deal of planning, coordination and allocation of labour and skills, investment, and materials and resources, that can’t just be left to markets and pricing;

There is a choice between two dystopias: some very significant social and economic disruptions now while we make the transition quickly, or a state of permanent and escalating disruption as the planet’s climate heads into territory where most people and most species will not survive: our task now is to chart the “least-worst” outcome;

► So this will not be painless, and the mass of the population will need to actively understand and participate in some personally-disruptive measures, but they will do so because they have learned that the transition plans are both fair and necessary, and the other choice is unspeakable.

David Spratt quotes from: Post – Forbidden planet, George Monbiot,

Humankind’s greatest crisis coincides with the rise of an ideology that makes it impossible to address. By the late 1980s, when it became clear that manmade climate change endangered the living planet and its people, the world was in the grip of an extreme political doctrine, whose tenets forbid the kind of intervention required to arrest it.

Neoliberalism, also known as market fundamentalism or laissez-faire economics, purports to liberate the market from political interference. The state, it asserts, should do little but defend the realm, protect private property and remove barriers to business. In practice it looks nothing like this. What neoliberal theorists call shrinking the state looks more like shrinking democracy: reducing the means by which citizens can restrain the power of the elite. What they call “the market” looks more like the interests of corporations and the ultra-rich. Neoliberalism appears to be little more than a justification for plutocracy.

Preventing climate breakdown – the four, five or six degrees of warming now predicted for this century by green extremists like, er, the World Bank, the International Energy Agency and PriceWaterhouseCoopers – means confronting the oil, gas and coal industry. It means forcing that industry to abandon the four-fifths or more of fossil fuel reserves that we cannot afford to burn. It means cancelling the prospecting and development of new reserves – what’s the point if we can’t use current stocks? – and reversing the expansion of any infrastructure (such as airports) that cannot be run without them.

But the self-hating state cannot act. Captured by interests that democracy is supposed to restrain, it can only sit on the road, ears pricked and whiskers twitching, as the truck thunders towards it. Confrontation is forbidden, action is a mortal sin. You may, perhaps, disperse some money for new energy; you may not legislate against the old.”





Excerpt from: Interview with Naomi Klein, The Guardian:

“…we are already showing a brutality in the face of climate change that I find really chilling. … we are with full knowledge deciding to allow cultures to die, to allow peoples to disappear. We have the ability to stop and we’re choosing not to. So I think the profound immorality and violence of that decision is not reflected in the language we have.

You see that we have these climate conventions where the African delegates are using words like “genocide,” and the European and North American delegates get very upset and defensive about this. The truth is that the UN definition of genocide is that it is the deliberate act to disappear and displace people. What the delegates representing the North are saying is that we are not doing this because we want you to disappear; we are doing this because we don’t care essentially. We don’t care if you disappear if we continue business-as-usual. That’s a side effect of collateral damage.

Well, to the people that are actually facing the disappearance it doesn’t make a difference whether there is malice to it because it still could be prevented. And we’re choosing not to prevent it. I feel one of the crises that we’re facing is a crisis of language. We are not speaking about this with the language of urgency or mortality that the issue deserves.”

Based on scientific fact and the laws of physics, here’s the ‘language’ climateye uses:

Difficult as it is to communicate, absorb, process, accept, and as shrill / alarmist as it may sound, our shared atmosphere is on an accelerating course to reach a state of potentially unsurvivable, global climate extremes during the lives of today’s children and teens.

Clear, present impacts ALREADY displace / KILL millions each year, and compromise the lives of billions RIGHT NOW.

No less than the fate of all generations of all peoples and most species hangs in the balance TODAY.  And only emergency international action at emergency (world war-time) speed FAST *may be* proportional enough to confront the scale, scope and urgency of what is ALREADY the greatest crime against humanity, most life and most future life EVER. (Compilation: Betrayal of Life.)

In their current form, UN talks are a charade dominated by the systemic corruption of global politics / economics by rich, corporate lobbied / captured / hijacked / controlled, growth and consumption-reliant, short-term profit and delay-motivated, market mechanism-biased, fossil fuel-addicted / greenhouse gas-intensive nations that threaten our fragile, finite world with their immoral / ecocidal / biocidal / genocidal / progenycidal (future generations) / suicidal pathologies.

If this umbrella peril is not tackled fast, the consequences — already grave compromises to fresh water availability / quality, food / agriculture production / supply / security and multi-regional insecurity / instability (as a threat multiplier) — will make it impossible for us to address ALL other global issues and causes, let alone to thrive or survive.

The leaders of rich nations and the economic and other entities they aim to appease must alter humanity’s current, ‘business as usual’ course. Instead, they must take the choice and moral imperative to value, prioritize, preserve and defend life — and all that is necessary in nature to sustain it — over short-term politics, narrow interests, wars and profit NOW. FAST. TODAY. Before it’s too late.

To deny this is to deny reality. But if we take the decision / path to see AND face the true, existential wickedness of our now-shared, undeniable, inescapable predicament, there will at least be possibilities.





10 most important / informative COP19 videos

Selected articles and posts


Previous Summits

climateye’s most essential info