China announced yesterday that it had set a target to slow the growth of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, but according to environmentalists, it's nothing to cheer about. From today's NY Times:
The Chinese propose, by 2020, to reduce so-called carbon intensity or the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per unit of economic output by 40 to 45 percent compared with 2005 levels. By that measure, emissions would still increase, though the rate would slow. That falls far short of what many in Europe and other nations had hoped for an increase in energy efficiency of at least 50 percent.
The Chinese government's announcements comes a day after President Obama announced he will attend the international climate negotiations in Copenhagen next month, and that the U.S. is committing to reduce its emission of greenhouse gases to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.
This news has been also meet with muted support from environmental groups. But the big news on the global warming front has been the sensation report about emails that were hacked from the Clinical Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, that global warming skeptics says are filled with evidence of manipulated data from the author's of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports.
With the U.S. Senate expected to soon debate an energy bill that includes controversial cap and trade measures already passed in the House, critics are seizing on this report.
In Wall Street Journal Kimberly Strassel's column today, Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe declares about the Senate's proposal after this recent news, "Ninety-five percent of the nails were in the coffin prior to this week. Now they are all in."
Inhofe declared earlier this week that he would conduct hearings about UN climate change research, telling the Washington Times that his hearings would look into "the way they cooked the science to make this thing look as if the science was settled, when all the time of course we knew it was not."
Other journalists and academics are saying that this is much ado about not that much.
In the London Guardian, in a piece called, "Pretending the climate email leak isn't a crises won't make it go away," blogger George Monbiot writes:
The handling of this crisis suggests that nothing has been learnt by climate scientists in this country from 20 years of assaults on their discipline. They appear to have no idea what they're up against or how to confront it. Their opponents might be scumbags, but their media strategy is exemplary.
The greatest tragedy here is that despite many years of outright fabrication, fraud and deceit on the part of the climate change denial industry, documented in James Hoggan and Richard Littlemore's brilliant new book Climate Cover-up, it is now the climate scientists who look bad. By comparison to his opponents, Phil Jones is pure as the driven snow. Hoggan and Littlemore have shown how fossil fuel industries have employed "experts" to lie, cheat and manipulate on their behalf. The revelations in their book (as well as in Heat and in Ross Gelbspan's book The Heat Is On) are 100 times graver than anything contained in these emails.
But the deniers' campaign of lies, grotesque as it is, does not justify secrecy and suppression on the part of climate scientists. Far from it: it means that they must distinguish themselves from their opponents in every way. No one has been as badly let down by the revelations in these emails as those of us who have championed the science. We should be the first to demand that it is unimpeachable, not the last.
Climate change advocates should heed the advice. Despite proclamations by Senator Inhofe and other critics, the Senate hasn't taken up the climate change legislation yet in large part because they've been focused so much on health care reform, not because it's dead on arrival. But it will come up early in 2010, and there probably are a few GOP Senators who are open minded about supporting a bill (though it's true that many centrist Democratic Senators may not be).