A collaborative blog for Current Affairs and Policy Debate

Not Quite The Climate Scandal

In Uncategorized on December 5, 2009 at 1:11 am

By Stephen Wan

The imaginatively named ‘ClimateGate’ scandal caught me a little by surprise when a friend of mine pointed it out to me on the BBC website. Whilst being absorbed in the world of History Coursework deadlines and Oxford Interview preparations, I’ve neglected to keep up on current affairs. In hindsight however, I realise I could have easily predicted this news story many weeks back; the scientific debate on human effects on climate change have been going on for a very long time indeed.

So, how could I have possibly predicted this? The answer is very simple – the Copenhagen summit. This is supposdly going to be the start of a new global agreement on how to tackle climate change; 192 countries participating for two weeks is no mean feat. There is definitely a real prospect for coordinated action here, with the US, China, the EU and India all around the same negotiating table.

“I genuinely believe an agreement will come about; one that doesn’t go far enough, and one that doesn’t satisfy anyone entirely, but one that will build on Kyoto and lead to a new global consensus on climate change.”

Ok, but what does Copenhagen have to do with the ClimateGate scandal? The ClimateGate scandal is the accusation by scientists sceptical of climate change accusing scientists who support climate change of manipulating or editing the data. I hate to say this, but a scandal like this comes out every few months or so, albeit buried by the other popular news of the day. The only reason ClimateGate is big now is because the Copenhagen summit is literally next week.

What the scandal does add to the debate, although this is nothing new, is an excuse for countries to ignore climate change, and delay changes to the way their economies develop. Saudi Arabia has already jumped on this, talking about the huge impact this will have on the talks, and the possibility of derailing the talks on limitations for greenhouse gases for good. Any surprise, considering Saudi Arabia’s main export? Yep, you guessed it; Oil.

Of course, Saudi Arabia isn’t exactly the only government with an ulterior motive. To take the most cynical view of governments possible, the UK government is only doing this to win the green vote, the US thinks this is the best way to restrict the growth of India and China, and the EU wants to look like the big player in world politics now by hosting fancy summit like these, and then speaking on behalf of all their little nations.

I’m not quite that cynical though, though I’m sure some of those reasons come into play. I genuinely believe an agreement will come about; one that doesn’t go far enough, and one that doesn’t satisfy anyone entirely, but one that will build on Kyoto and lead to a new global consensus on climate change. When else, after all, has the US administration taken climate change so seriously? I certainly hope, for my own generation’s sake, this will mark the turning point in our history, and humanity’s relationship with the environment.

  1. shouldn’t interview preparation include current affairs? 😉


    • Umm…yes, I suppose so :P. Well, now I’ve caught up and written a blog on it, so I feel up to speed :). No thoughts on my analysis? Bad Conscience makes an interesting analysis, but I don’t know why he’s focusing on the US as the game-changer; its China, as the most polluting country in the world, that is the real contender here.

  2. I think the admittedly tongue-in-cheek post by Paul Sagar is somewhat unhelpful in one respect: the “you die” rhetoric, if taken seriously, merely adds fuel to the sceptics’ fire.

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