Monday, December 17, 2007

Bali Hype?

Further to the kick-off last week, I thought I'd start here: Key climate summit opens in Bali

I'm sure there'll be more (posts, that is. And, thinking on it, summits, too).

I hadn't appreciated this thing went on for almost 2 weeks!

Update 1:

Reuters - "Naughty" nations in a coal lot of trouble in Bali - Hard to imagine this is the first I have come across. And I am not sure this tactic will work too well.

Reuters - Indonesia plants trees to offset Bali emissions - Better than nothing, I guess, but how about not cutting down millions of acres of mature ones? Just a thought. Party on, doods.

Update 2:

Indy - Diplomats warned that climate change is security issue, not a green dilemma - Waking up to...?????! Guess that's why they get the big bucks.

Guardian - High hopes for Bali - Altogether now: 'Everyone's got high hopes, they got...' I wonder how he's finding it there? Still, he has had but three replies to date, and one was a duplicate. So maybe they are in the minority.

Update 3:

The Economist - Getting serious in Bali - '..expectations for Bali are low, and were being managed downwards before the meeting..' At least a few tens of thousands of folk had a nice break, though. Seriously.

Update 4:

Times - Americans 'must change their lifestyle' for the sake of planet - Just the Yanks? Phew! For a minute I thought we might all need to pull together. This will really get them onside.

Times - Atheists, agnostics and religious leaders are as one in their belief in the need to save the world from Man, they say in a joint statement. Which was nice.

Indy - Demonstrations across the globe mark Bali summit - at least they got a nice day for it. No, really. But stuff like this... "We're doing this in solidarity with the women around the world who are already suffering the effects of climate chaos" do make me sigh. I have zero in common with this mindset.

Latest Update 5:

Guardian - US balks at Bali carbon targets - One has to wonder what would be 'helpful' in this day and age. That said, there is a slight sense that the US is getting dumped with the role of saying no on behalf of a few less honest brokers, too.

Guardian - Q&A: Bali climate change conference

Guardian - Bali diary - Not exactly a great bit of journalsitic input, really.

'For all I have got out of this circus so far by way of information and/or insights and/or inspiration, and suspect I will get out of it as the consequence of a collection of 'all the talents' in global statespersonship lobbing up for the last few days of several, I ain't holding my breath.

But, as you say, it has to be held somewhere. So it may as well be lush. Hope it was worth the trip.'

Latest Update 6:

Gaurdian - UN calls for (my italics) 40 per cent cut in emissions by rich countries - equal billing to a 'it's for the penguins' plea. Let's see which one works.

BBC - Editors Blog - Environmental briefing

BBC - Key climate summit opens in Bali

Latest Update 7:

BBC - Tackling climate change - Bali summit - This link came from, it's fair to say, a less than climate supportive blog. Thing is, I have to say that certain aspects were a real gift to them:

'Matthew Price went to Boston'
'Nick Higham met them'
'Roger Harrabin went to the United Arab Emirates to meet...'
'Sanjoy Majumder visited Pawan and Sangeeta Kamra at their home in south Delhi.'
'Quentin Sommerville went to meet them.'

You can imagine what the obvious question was. On top of this, I simply wonder if this investment in time, money and energy got beyond being tucked away in the back of the BBC website to have any real value at all. Beyond the quality of the reports, that is.

I do despair. Hope Rog enjoyed the UAE en route to/from Bali. But, of course, he has to do this as it's his job.

Gaurdian - UN chief: World 'must act now' on climate change

Guardian - Progress at Bali

Indy - Bali conference close to deal on saving forests

Times - Act now on climate change or face oblivion, warns UN chief - say it often enough, and...

Times - Carbon stand-off puts climate talks at risk

Latest Update 8:

Reuters - EU-U.S. climate impasse in Bali easing - Encouraging headline, at least!

Guardian - US proposal threatens climate change deal - then again...

Sometime later, a last minute flurry resulted in... something.

BBC - Climate deal sealed by US U-turn - I'm never quite sure in the new media speak, but in a negotiation I'd have thought conceding a point to get closer to agreement was heading towards a compromise; not a U-turn. In fact one can see how these days, when faced by such an 'interpretation' by the media, some may feel the need to dig in to avoid such an accusation.

Latest Update 9:

Well it's all over, bar the shouting. And there has been a lot. At least in the papers I have read. Depressingly, there seem to have been some very partisan positions immediately taken almost immediately. In many ways I see the process to have driven some further apart, though there is a glimmer that the result may have moved a smidge to something 'better'.

I am not sure I can be bothered to add the links to the various newspapers, as the takes they have, and the views on their blogs, pretty much fall into predictable areas. Maybe I'll wait 'til tomorrow and let the Sunday's do a summary and then drop it.

What I will say is I just watched Richard North on the BBC, now called 'environmental commentator' (whatever that actually means), in an exchange with Richard Simmons I think in the studio. And the views were to my now weary, cynical mind pretty balanced. My favourite was that the 'green lobby' isn't helping much and needs to be sidelined. That'll go down well in the corporate boardrooms of a few eco-activist charity/not-for-profits I'll be bound!

I would welcome more such pragmatic reporting and/or commentary in future. In fact, if I see it I may share it in favour of some from such as the Indy, Guardian or Daily Mail which now seem to have frankly little to do with the issues and more with the prejudices of the editorial staff and the readerships, all circling their wagons and just feeling cosy with their mates either lobbing out whatever they fancy that serves, or going for a group hug when one from the other side lands in their midst. The quality of debate has sure dropped to near zero, along with much chance of objective information sharing.


Yes, they're just from one paper (I'm not sure I saw much, if anything, from any others. Moving on), and one with a fairly entrenched standpoint, but I think these make fitting, if depressing postscripts to it all. I really doubt I will be moved to look for or share much else.

Guardian - US pours cold water on Bali optimism

Guardian - We've been suckered again by the US. So far the Bali deal is worse than Kyoto

Ah well, if nothing else, at least the rest of 'us' can blame the US. No fault anywhere else, from UK pols who say one thing and do another, to enviro-gurus whose job requires them to do what the rest of us must, in their terms, avoid.

Were it that easy.

Guardian - Road to nowhere? - So it was all worthwhile, then? Hmmn.

A tale of two entitities

Our media (well, one* of 'em): Britain's carbon strategy 'up in smoke'

Our government: (DEFRA) Success at Bali talks

What is a boy to think?

The best I can come up with is that talk is now so cheap, at least from almost any representative body we have acting , at least in theory, for the public interest, it is all less than worthless. It simply gets in the way.

* Addendum - as there was the opportunity, I was moved to reply.

I'm afraid to say the only 'strategy' I can discern from Mr. Brown is to say, or preferably have said by remote, whatever the next entity in line wants to hear, even if it is totally contradictory to the previous or subsequent statement. And simply assume that something 'out there' will stick, if repeated enough. When it comes to actually doing, or not, the hope then seems to be that by not being able to be pinned to anything the whole silly issue will go away. Not sure that's working too well here, or pretty much across any issue of high government.

As to 'relying' on 'more' renewable energy sources.... of course! But only if the enviROI works out. The minute I sense that this is all just a box-ticking, fine-avoiding, lobbyist-rewarding, interest-group-conceding exercise in making life easier on a political level now at the expense of my kids' futures, then the whole sorry lot will get the full force of my vote.

But I need credible, trustworthy numbers to make an assessment upon. Not a load of hype, spin, smoke and mirrors from the usual suspects of government, other pols, commerce and activists who inevitably pop up and are given voice by a less than challenging media, who are these days more interested in knee-jerk 'campaigns' and short-term, contention-driven ratings than balanced argument and/or objective reporting for the long term.

Rebuilding the stable door?

There was a piece on floods just now.

In it a pub was featured that had suffered £250k in damage, that had only just been put to rights.

Thing is, there was no mention of what preventative measures might have been put in place to help prevent a simple repetition of this process.

We have not yet been flooded here, and with luck will not be. But I am seriously looking at ways to allow for this possibility. Readers may recall an attempt I made at the time of the last floods to ask the authorities for guidance on how to avoid being a victim and claimant by simply protecting against it with suitable defences.

I still await any replies. Maybe compensation is deemed easier than cure?

The royal 'we'.

And 'we' are not amused.

I just watched a BBC Breakfast News piece about food, supermarkets and 'us'.

What a surprise; to debate this issue we were presented by representatives of two rather entrenched viewpoints - the FoE and the British Retailers Something - who proceeded to tell us what we were asking for and/or feeling.

The retail lady was indeed pretty much 'not us, guv', and they were only giving 'us' what 'we' demanded, which rather validated the point of the FoE lady that 'they' need to be forced to change... by government.

However, what really grated on me was this self-appointed guardian of 'me' constantly saying 'we must'. It really came across much too much as them being a slightly more equal we than others, and a group who see their agenda to be the only one and the rest of us must get in line, if for our own good, with them.

The net result of all this was, as always, a sense that I was caught between two extremes, neither of whom represented me at all, but who were invoking my mandate as if it were god-given, and given free rein by a media who only want a quick slot before moving on. A rather neat example of which was a subsequent piece where we were treated to the joys of having your own personal shopping assistant to help you buy such essentials as snow made from stuff you add water to. Nice.

ps: But it's OK, they have flown out to Africa to show us the great work Land Rover is doing to offset emissions. It really is washing all over me as just so much conflicting 'noise'.