December 5, 2010

AP Reporters Try to Breathe Life Into Moribund UN Cancun Climate Conference

I do hope that Associated Press reporters Arthur Max and Charles J. Hanley are finding some recreational time while they are reporting from Cancun about what’s happening at the “United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.”

The pair’s bosses ought to be asking them how much real attention they are paying to the festivities since they began. For example, as far as I can tell from two reports by Mr. Max (here and here), he seems to have missed the opening prayer to the pagan goddess Ixchel; Ken Shepherd at NewsBusters took note of it from thousands of miles away.  We’d understand if you were really at the beach, Arthur.

Hanley’s report early this morning also seems quite oblivious to what’s really going on in Cancun:

Plodding climate talks stepping up to higher level

The slow-moving U.N. talks on combating global warming took a step forward Saturday with revised proposals for a $100 billion-a-year climate aid fund and other issues for debate by the world’s environment ministers this week.

Despite that advance, the chairwoman of key closed-door negotiations warned the open conference that obstacles remain to what delegates hope will be a package of decisions next Friday on financial and other side matters under the U.N. climate treaty.

“Progress has been made in some areas,” Zimbabwe’s Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe said. But she said the talks were “going backwards” on important issues. “We need to redouble our efforts.” [1]

Environment ministers began flying in Saturday for the final days of the annual two-week climate conference, hoping to put new life in the U.N. talks. [2]

… Some parties, for example, want the world to reduce emissions of global warming gases so that temperatures don’t rise more than 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) above preindustrial levels, beyond which scientists say serious damage from climate change would set in. Others want to aim even lower, at 1.5 C (2.7 F) above preindustrial levels – a position favored by island states and others most threatened by warming’s impacts, such as sea-level rise. [3]

The Zimbabwean’s revised text eliminated the 1.5-degree option, drawing an immediate protest from the Bolivian delegation at Saturday’s open meeting, a sign of the contentiousness sure to mark the coming days.

… At last year’s climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, richer nations promised $100 billion a year by 2020 to help poorer nations reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change by, for example, building coastline protection and shifting crops to cope with new precipitation patterns. [4]

… Firmly establishing a green fund at Cancun is a priority for developing-world delegations, who generally want a U.N. body overseeing disbursement of climate funds, rather than, for example, the World Bank, which is controlled by developed nations. [5]


  • [1] — Yo, Charles. If you’re going to get a quote from someone, I would suggest you consider getting it from someone not representing an authoritarian regime whose economy is such a basket case that its residents have often been reduced to eating cow dung to survive.
  • [2] — Do I dare ask how these “environmental ministers” flew in? Commercial or private jet? What’s the carbon footprint of a privately-jetted passenger compared to someone who flies commercial? And where is Webex when we need it?
  • [3] — Gosh, where to begin? Let’s leave it at this: The earth isn’t warming, and the seas aren’t rising. Though there is no shortage of competition, Christopher Booker characterizes the latter as “the greatest lie ever told.”
  • [4] — Sorry, Charles. Last year in Copenhagen, “richer nations” promised nothing meaningful. What about “Non-binding accord” (from the UK Guardian, no less) don’t you understand?
  • [5] — I know it’s way too much to ask, but Hanley should have reminded readers of how well the last major “U.N. body overseeing disbursement” of funds performed. That would be Oil for Food, where untold billions (this CFR report claims that it’s about $12 billion) disappeared down an unaccountable rat hole. The idea that at U.N. fund for climate change would be any different is utterly lacking in evidentiary support.

News consumers would probably have been better off if Max and Hanley really had spent their time at Cancun’s beaches all week. At least we’d have been spared the pretense packaged as objective reporting.

Cross-posted at



  1. Speaking of Cancun, there was a group that claimed in a report that natural disaster deaths have doubled in 2010 from 2009. But than at the end of the report they casually state that it is impossible to tie any individual disaster with warmer temperatures.

    (rolls eyes) You can see what we are dealing with here. How else do they want to waste our time?

    Comment by zf — December 5, 2010 @ 12:26 pm

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