How China Wrecked Copenhagen

A very interesting story courtesy of the Australian ABC from an insider at the Copenhagan COP15 climate change talks:

He says Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and other Western leaders were visibly upset when China started “removing all the numbers that mattered” in the final talks, including emissions cuts by developed countries of 80 per cent by 2050. ‘Why can’t we even mention our own targets?’ demanded a furious [German Premier] Angela Merkel. Australia’s prime minister, Kevin Rudd, was annoyed enough to bang his microphone. Brazil’s representative too pointed out the illogicality of China’s position. Why should rich countries not announce even this unilateral cut?

Before anyone gets any thoughts that this is someone from a rich country trying to pass the buck, the person in question was Mark Lynas who was attached to the Maldives delegation, who have probably the most to loose from this. Mark has written more in an article in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, saying:

Copenhagen was a disaster. That much is agreed. But the truth about what actually happened is in danger of being lost amid the spin and inevitable mutual recriminations. The truth is this: China wrecked the talks, intentionally humiliated Barack Obama, and insisted on an awful “deal” so western leaders would walk away carrying the blame. How do I know this? Because I was in the room and saw it happen. China’s strategy was simple: block the open negotiations for two weeks, and then ensure that the closed-door deal made it look as if the west had failed the world’s poor once again. And sure enough, the aid agencies, civil society movements and environmental groups all took the bait. The failure was “the inevitable result of rich countries refusing adequately and fairly to shoulder their overwhelming responsibility”, said Christian Aid. “Rich countries have bullied developing nations,” fumed Friends of the Earth International.

It was basically gutted at their behest:

China, backed at times by India, then proceeded to take out all the numbers that mattered. A 2020 peaking year in global emissions, essential to restrain temperatures to 2C, was removed and replaced by woolly language suggesting that emissions should peak “as soon as possible”. The long-term target, of global 50% cuts by 2050, was also excised. No one else, perhaps with the exceptions of India and Saudi Arabia, wanted this to happen.

So there we go, it’s probably futile to try and get a deal in the near future, and longer than that (saving a miracle) probably means we’re stuffed.

The ensemble contained 17 model runs, and of these 13 showed a global average temperature rise of 4Β°C or higher by the 2080s.

My gut feeling that humans are too stupid to survive this one seems to be correct – I only wish that it wasn’t going to be at the expense of so many powerless people.

Moving from VPAC to VLSCI

After almost six and a half years working at VPAC it’s time to move on, in January I’ll be taking up the position of Senior Systems Administrator in the University of Melbourne for the Victorian Life Sciences Computational Initiative (VLSCI). For those who’ve not come across the VLSCI it describes itself thus:

Under the Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative, The University of Melbourne will host a $100 million supercomputing program and facility, with $50 million provided by the State Government. The goal of the initiative is for Victoria to retain its standing and enhance its leadership in world life sciences. This will lead to major improvements in public health outcomes in the areas such as cancer, cardiovascular and neurological disease, chronic inflammatory diseases, bone diseases and diabetes.

Their ambitions aren’t what you could call small, they want to be a supercomputing facility ranking in the top 5 in life sciences world-wide. It’s going to be a fun ride and a lot more than just going from a 4 letter acronym to a 5 letter one. πŸ˜‰

I’ve really enjoyed my time at VPAC over the years and I’m really going to miss the people there, but it’s gotten to the point where I want to be able to focus on running large HPC systems without distraction and the opportunity at VLSCI was too good to ignore!