Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fletch Czech President's Speech to the UN

As Andrei talked about in his recent post, the President of the Czech Republic gave an excellent (if hardly reported) speech re: climate change. I thought it worth reprinting the whole thing here. Sorry about any formatting issues.

Notes for the speech of the President of the Czech Republic at the UN Climate Change Conference *
Václav Klaus

Distinguished colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
As responsible politicians, we know that we have to act when it is necessary. We know
that our duty is to initiate public policy responses to issues that could pose a threat to the people
of our countries. And we know that we have to form partnerships with colleagues from other
countrieś when a problem cannot be confined to national boundaries. To help us doing it is one
of the main reasons for the existence of institutions such as the United Nations.
However, the politicians have to ensure that the costs of public policies organized by
them will not be bigger than the benefits achieved. They have to carefully consider and seriously
analyze their projects and initiatives. They have to do it, even if it may be unpopular and if it
means blowing against the wind of fashion and political correctness. I cońgratulate Secretary
General Ban Ki-moon on organizing this conference and thank him for giving us an opportunity
to address the important, but until now one-sidedly debated issue of climate changes. The
consequences of acknowledging them as a real, big, imminent and man-made threat would be so
enormous that we are obliged to think twice before making decisions. I am afraid it is not the case now.

Let me raise several points to bring the issue into its proper context:

1. Contrary to the artificially and unjustifiably created worldwide
perception, the increase in global temperatures has been – in the last years, decades and centuries – very small in historical comparisons and practically negligible in its actual impact upon human béings and their activities.

2. The hypothetical threat connected with future global warming depends exclusively upon very speculative forecasts, not upon undeniable past experience and upon its trends and tendencies. These forecasts are based on relatively short time series of relevant variables and on forecasting models that have not been proved very reliable when attempting to explain past developments.

3. Contrary to many self-assured and self-serving proclamations, there is no scientific
consensus about the causes of recent climate changes. An impartial observer must accept the fact that both sides of the dispute – the believers in man's dominant role in recent climate changes, as well as the supporters of the hypothesis about their mostly natural origin – offer arguments strong enough to be listened to carefully by the nonscientific
community. To prematurely proclaim the victory of one group over another would be a tragic mistake and I am afraid we are making it.

4. As a result of this scientific dispute, there are those who call for an imminent action and
those who warn against it. Rational behavior should depend on the size and probability of the risk and on the magnitude of the costs of Its avoidance. As a responsible politician, as an economist, as an author of a book about the economics of climate change, with all available data and arguments in mind, I have to conclude that the risk is too small, the costs of eliminating it too high and the application of a fundamentalistically interpreted "precautionary principle" a wrong strategy.

5. The politicians – and I am not among them – who believe in the existence of a significant
global warming and especially those who believe in its anthropogenic origin remain divided:
some of them are in favor of mitigation, which means of controlling global climate changes
(and are ready to put enormous amounts of resources into it), while others rely on adaptation
to it, on modernization and technical progress, and on a favorable impact of the future
increase in wealth and welfare (and prefer spending public money there). The second option
Is less ambitious and promises much more than the first one.

6. The whole problem does not only have its time dimension, but a more than important
spatial (or regional) aspect as well. This is highly relevant especially here, in the UN.
Different levels of development, income and wealth in different places of the world make
worldwide, overall, universal solutions costly, unfair and to a great extent
discriminatory. The already developed countries do not have the right to impose any
additional burden on the less developed countries. Dictating ambitious and for them entirely
inappropriate environmental standards is wrong and should be excluded from the menu of
recommended policy measures.

My suggestions are as follows:
1. The UN should organize two parallel IPCCs and publish two competing reports.
To get rid of the onesided monopoly is a sine qua non for an efficient and rational debate.
Providing the same or comparable financial backing to both groups of scientists is a
necessary starting point.

2. The countries should listen to one another, learn from mistakes and successes of
others, but any country should be left alone to prepare its own plan to tackle this
problem and decide what priority to assign to it among its other competing goals.
We should trust in the rationality of man and in the outcome of spontaneous evolution of
human society, not in the virtues of political activism. Therefore, let's vote for adaptation, not for
the attempts to mastermind the global climate.

2 comment(s):

Andrei said...

The only adult in the house - To tell the truth Fletch I reckon the majority of those privately agree with this assessment but it is much more useful for their personal power to go along with the garbage.

What do you think our descendants will make of all this?

Alan said...

Snowed in the south island yesterday, and also at Woodville,
Dannivirke and Norsewood in the
North Island. Global warming
is having a big effect obviously.

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