Student - 1 december 2011

Proposition: The UN climate conference is a charade. No firm agreements will be made.


For & against

Marlies: I am afraid that you might be right about the conference, but I do hope that they will make new agreements after all. Because in spite of the crisis, climate change is just going on, with all that that entails (floods, desertification, increasing drought and the resulting lower harvests). It looks all too likely, however, that two of the countries with the biggest share in greenhouse gas emissions - China and the Us - will not want to commit themselves to agreements. And I am afraid that many other countries will also consider their short-term economic interests more important than long-term interests. I hope, though, that everyone who attends this climate conference with do their very best to reach an agreement. We should also give some thought to what our great grandchildren are going to think of us if they get landed with a mess.
Jillis responds: Yeah yeah, what will our great grandchildren think? Not really relevant. I could say a thing or two about several previous generations. Of course that doesn't mean that I think environmental pollution on the present scale is just fine, but we have to look at it in a more businesslike way. Eventually rising energy prices should lead to real improvements.
Jillis: Ah yes, off we go again, nice and climate-friendly in dozens, if not hundreds, of aeroplanes from all corners of the world, to do a lot of talking and little else. As usual, the issue is between the big polluting countries and the small, poor countries. China, the US and India will not want to be tied to rules that can only harm their economies, so the small, poor countries will be the victims yet again. And steering a course between them is naïve, idealistic Europe, wanting to come top of the class. Once Europe has preached its gospel, nothing will change in the end. That's the cynical reality. But it is no cause for panic. Although there certainly remains a lot to achieved in terms of environmentally friendly production, I don't much believe in the IPCC lies told to get funding for the climate lobby. The story that CO2 emissions change the climate seems more like a myth than an established fact, for the present.
Marlies responds: It is true that it is not possible to establish precisely what impact humans have on climate; climate is far too complex for that. But a large majority of climate scientists think that it is very likely that humans really do have an impact on climate. Denying this, when so many specialists agree on it, is a typical example of wishful thinking, if you ask me - because this certainly isn't a palatable truth.