I’m in Cancun, Mexico, at the 16th UN Climate Change Conference. Like last year at the 15th Conference in Copenhagen, I am representing Labour as its climate spokesperson; I paid my own way to get here; I am part of the delegation from the International Trade Union Confederation (thanks to Helen Kelly and Sharan Burrow).
I wonder what would be the reaction if a National MP turned up at an international forum as part of a business lobby group?
I’m here to support efforts to get an ambitious, binding, global deal to limit the problems that we are all likely to face as a result of human-induced climate change, and to support a just transition to the different world we are all to shortly going to find ourselves living in.
There will be no binding deal at Cancun. Cancun will make progress in a number of areas but no one expects a binding deal.
So why am I here? Well, just because the media isn’t talking about it so much doesn’t mean that the issue isn’t just as serious as it was last year. My aunts’ home in Tahiti, 6m from the high tide line, is no less likely to be washed away by rising sea levels than it was last year.
This is th part which I think is ridicolous scare-mongering – I expect it from ill informed people, but not from the official Labour Spokesperson on climate change.
The IPCC 4th report had a number of scenarios. In the most optimistic the mean sea level rise by 2100 would be 18 cm and the most pessimistic would be 59 cm.
So the IPCC have said the worst case scenario is that by 2100 the sea level may have risen 10% of the 6 metres above high tide.
If that rate kept up, Charles’ auntie’s place will get swept away in the year 3000. Now regardless of sea level change, Tahiti is also sinking or subsiding at around 25 cm every 100 years. So in fact around 2700 or so it might get hairy.
Of course by then it will be 18 generations or so on from Charles and his aunt.
I’ve often said politicians who scare-monger like Charles are in fact very damaging to their own cause. Such ridicolous statements (which strongly implied that a six metre rise could happen in his aunt’s lifetime) just provide ammunition to sceptics.
[UPDATE: Several commenters have pointed out that a more likely meaning is that the house is 6 metres along the beach from the high tide mark. If that is the case, then it all depends on the angle of the beach. If the angle is more than 9 degrees, then it still isn’t until 2100 that you get problems.
The projected rate of sea level rise is not dramatic (it is undesirable though). The increase per decade last century has been 1.8 cm/decade. From 1993 it has been 3 cm/decade and the IPCC projects the worst case scenario is 6 cm/decade up until 2100.]