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« Dealing with The Heretic | Main | Stocker in Action »

Worse than we thought

The wires are beginning to buzz with the news that a new set of climate talks are about to begin in Berlin. The reports are all breathless with the news that UNFCCC Climate boss Christiana Figueres reckons that it's worse than we thought.

As UN climate chief Christiana Figueres urged all states to turn political pledges into concrete action to save the planet, observers and developing states insisted the rich world should commit to tougher reduction goals.

Figueres cited new research which predicted Earth's temperature rising by as much as five degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial levels on current pledges, instead of the 2 C limit being targeted.

It may be, however that it is Ms Figueres' mathematics that is "worse than we thought".

H/T Mike.

[Updated to correct Figueres' affiliation]

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Reader Comments (51)

5°C = 41°F? Up to a point, Lord Copper. Or should that be le Duc de Cuivre?
Note that this is from France’s semi-official TV news station. Note also that the new Socialist president François Hollande has an embarrassing agreement with the Greens to cede up to 60 winnable seats in the forthcoming parliamentary elections - an agreement made when the Greens looked like gaining 10% of votes, instead of the 2% they scored in the recent presidential election. Add the fact that Hollande is going to upset his future parliamentary allies by not closing down France’s nuclear plants, and you have a lot of reasons for the incoming government to make friendly green noises via compliant news media to their electorally useless partners.

May 14, 2012 at 8:22 PM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

Ms.Figueres hasn't quite digested the economic meltdown biscuit yet and still thinks ordinary people, who are ordinary voters, still give a flying foo-foo about her hyperbolic, sky is falling rants.

People are concerned now with jobs, economic security and fiscal stability, not the Kool Aide Ms. Figueres is selling.

May 14, 2012 at 8:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterFred from Canuckistan

Interesting also that the Germans have now decided to join us in the brisk march over the cliff:-

I'm tipping they have blackouts even before us!

And from the same source:-

What they don't say (here) is the number of lignite power stations they are building. Seventeen was it?

But anything the EU gets involved in seems to turn to dross. The coprophiliac version of the Midas touch.

May 14, 2012 at 8:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

The real "worse than we thought" will be the difficulty she finds buying votes when all the checks she writes bounce.

May 14, 2012 at 8:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterSean

Oh dear. A left-luvvie arithmetically-challenged UN insider with a career of "service to humanity" mapped out for her by her daddy. Her nauseatingly hagiographic Wikipedia entry says it all.

May 14, 2012 at 9:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

A sample:

"She has been trained and authorized by Al Gore to deliver his presentation An Inconvenient Truth."

May 14, 2012 at 9:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

Its Bonn I think, not Berlin.

The UN link-

May 14, 2012 at 9:09 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

(5 * 9/5) + 32 = 41 .... if you are trying to convert weather Celsius to weather Fahrenheit.

Otherwise I think it is (5 * 9/5) = 9F

As an example, the US has been cooling at -0.85 degF / Decade = -.65C per decade.

"from pre-industrial levels"

Seems unlikely. The summer of 1676 was 2C WARMER than the summer of 2011.

And the winter of 1686 was 2,1C WARMER than 2012.

May 14, 2012 at 9:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

Be fair, Your Grace and Chris M. It wasn’t Ms Figueres who got her sums wrong, but a cub reporter at France 24 who looked up 4°C for the benefit of Anglo Saxons and came up with 41°F. Scientific illiteracy among journalists and politicians is one part of the problem. The fact that someone like Ms Figueres can be described as “UN climate chief” is another part. Both parts need resolving, but they shouldn’t be confused.

May 14, 2012 at 9:21 PM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

"....observers and developing states insisted the rich world should commit to tougher reduction goals."

So China, being the richest nation on the planet, is going to bear the brunt of financing climate change politics. The EU and US are not rich anymore. We are bankrupt.
and about thr observers... have they been watching Fringe by any chance?

May 14, 2012 at 9:23 PM | Unregistered Commenteralex

In March 2010, Christiana Figueres replaced Yvo de Boer as the new Executive Secretary to the UNFCCC, De Boer moved to KPMG and "an international role working with KPMG member firms in advising business, governments and other organizations on sustainability issues.”

Figueres’ website carries her proud claim to have been “Trained and authorized by Al Gore to deliver his presentation The Inconvenient Truth.”

She was heavily involved in Carbon Trading before her current job and was a member of the Executive Board of the Clean Development Mechanism of the UN FCCC, the mechanism used for transferring wealth from industrialised nations to developing nations such as India and China.

From 2008 to 2010, she was Vice Chair of the Rating Committee of the Carbon Rating Agency, a subsidiary of IdeaCarbon, who say about themselves, “our unique access to some of the most influential decision-makers in the carbon and environmental community, gives us the possibility to foresee important regulatory and market trends and thus allow clients to have unparalleled views and advice on climate issues and debates.” IdeaCarbon is based in the Isle of Man, a tax haven.

They boast of their highly influential management team and ratings committee: “which includes ratings experts, financial market professionals, UN climate change negotiators and former senior managers from development agencies such as the World Bank, a combination which ensures that the full range of risks facing carbon projects are taken into account by the ratings process.”

Idea Carbon includes amongst its advisers Lord Stern (2006 Stern Review), Chairman of LSE Grantham Institute, who joined IdeaGlobal, the parent company, in 2007, as Vice Chairman. The Grantham Institute was set up in 2008 by Jeremy Grantham, chairman and co-founder of GMO, a $140 billion global investment management company based in Boston with offices in London, San Francisco, Singapore, Sydney and Zurich.

Fellow adviser at IdeaCarbon is Dr Samuel Fankhauser, a colleague of Lord Stern at the LSE Grantham Institute as a Principal Research Fellow. Fankhauser is on the UK Climate Change Committee and its Mitigation sub-committee. He participated in the 1995, 2001 and 2007 assessments of the IPCC and is Chief Economist to Globe International.

Christiana Figueres was also a Senior Advisor to C-Quest Capital, “a carbon finance business dedicated to originating and developing high-quality emission reduction projects around the world. We invest in carbon assets that generate not only superior returns but also concrete benefits to the environment. Founded by Ken Newcombe and Matthew Mendis in 2008, CQC is headquartered in Washington, D.C. with offices in Australia and Malaysia and a presence in India.”

They need a global price on "carbon" of at least $25 per ton to make all this work.

There is more here:

A Nest Of Carbon Vipers

High Level Climate Finance

May 14, 2012 at 9:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterDennis A

SO she thinks 5C extra is the same as 41F extra warming

oh dear.. an extra 5 Celcius converted to farhenhiet is an extra ~ 9F

Is anyone going to tell her, will she understand...
ie that is so obvioulsy wrong, yet no-one picked up on it.

May 14, 2012 at 9:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

But the peasants won't be revolting and the middle classes won't get off their arses, the the big green lie will just keep rolling on!

May 14, 2012 at 9:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterFarleyR

What, you expect accuracy reporting Fahrenheit numbers from a French news agency?

As for the 5 degree C number, what we have here is a room full of UN kleptocrats scratching their heads, trying to come up with a Big Scary Number that is not so Big and not so Scary that it just looks ridiculous.

It is ridiculous, of course.

But, hey, if they can get a few more years living the high life on the UN dime, who cares?

May 14, 2012 at 9:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterJEM

EU = UN? Does she report to Rajendra Pachauri or the other way around?

May 14, 2012 at 9:48 PM | Unregistered Commentercurious george

There's a lot of doubling down going on in the CAGW crowd at the moment.

May 14, 2012 at 9:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-record

I think the problem is journalists where "thinking" has been replaced by Google

May 14, 2012 at 10:01 PM | Registered CommenterAndy Scrase

Ms. Figueres is a member of the international alarminati, for whom observed climate data is merely an 'inconvenient truth' that can be swept under the IPCC carpet. Fortunately, as their predictions continue to diverge from reality, public awareness will eventually pull that very costly carpet from under their feet.

May 14, 2012 at 10:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Maloney

Meanwhile, Germany's electrical power grid is about to implode, thanks to green energy and banning of nuclear power:

May 14, 2012 at 10:20 PM | Unregistered Commenterdrcrinum

what we have here is a room full of UN kleptocrats scratching their heads, trying to come up with a Big Scary Number ..........But, hey, if they can get a few more years living the high life on the UN dime, who cares?
May 14, 2012 at 9:28 PM JEM

Yup - climate kleptocracy is the family business chez Figueres.

Her brother Jose (whose presidency of Costa Rica was overshadowed by an unfortunate misunderstanding about a $900k "commission" from Alcatel) now heads up Branson's "Carbon War Room".

Needless to say, he's a darling of the Guardian reading classes -

But not so much with his ex-citizens -

Strange how "misunderstandings" over large sums of moolah seem to plague these dedicated transnational public servants.

He says in his Graun piece that he was heavily influenced by Maurice Strong - who, of course, had to relocate to Beijing following his own little "misunderstanding" over the little matter of $1m in a cardboard box from Saddam Hussein -

It's a funny old business - saving the planet.

May 14, 2012 at 11:06 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

Figueres cited new research which predicted Earth's temperature rising by as much as five degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial levels on current pledges, instead of the 2 C limit being targeted.

New research, or recycling old research?

Article: Key Issues in the Cancun Climate Conference 30 Nov 2010
Top climate scientists in a new UN Environment Programme report show how disastrously off-mark such a voluntary system can be.
These pledges, together with the figures from announcements made by some developing countries, show that the world is moving in the direction of a global temperature increase of between 2.5 to 5 degrees celsius before the end of this century, according to the UNEP report. This is far removed from the 1.5 or 2 degree “safe limit”, and is a recipe for catastrophe.

May 14, 2012 at 11:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterFred Streeter

>>This is far removed from the 1.5 or 2 degree “safe limit”, and is a recipe for catastrophe.

Catastrophic bollocks, I think you'll find.

May 15, 2012 at 12:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterShelf-stacker

Chistiana Figueres....A "Better than I thought".....Real Climate Clown to add to my list of CLIMATE CLOWNS.

May 15, 2012 at 2:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterMaurice@TheMount

Foxgoose -
thanx for the family history!

with Rio coming up as well, expect a plethora of new reports:

we are earth’s “bad houseguests”:

14 May: MSNBC: Stephanie Pappas: Report: Global biodiversity down 30 percent in 40 years
Freshwater tropical species hardest hit, says World Wildlife Fund
Colby Loucks, the director of conservation sciences at WWF, compared humanity to bad houseguests.
“We’re emptying the fridge, we’re not really taking care of the lawn, we’re not weeding the flower beds and we’re certainly not taking out the garbage,” Loucks said. [ 50 Amazing Facts About Earth ]
Related: Most mammals won’t flee climate change fast enough…
But humanity is essentially in debt to Mother Earth, conservationists find…
In other words, it takes the planet 1.5 years to restore what humanity burns through in a year. (The organization Global Footprint Network marks “Earth Overshoot Day” every year to draw attention to how fast humans use natural resources…
In order from most to least, the top 10 greediest resource users per capita are: …
Many of the group’s proposed solutions to humanity’s out-of-control resource use center around Rio+20, the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development set for June 20, 2012…

15 May: ABC: Australia seventh-worst polluter on Earth: report
Conservation group World Wildlife Fund (WWF), which compiled the report, says the spiralling global population and over-consumption are threatening the future health of the planet...
The report comes ahead of June’s Rio+20 gathering, the fourth major summit on sustainable development since 1972…
But the group says the immediate focus must be on drastically shrinking the ecological footprint of high-income countries, particularly their carbon footprint…

May 15, 2012 at 7:15 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

This meeting (like so many others!) may well turn out to resemble a three-ring circus. From the conference website:

The 36th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), the fifteenth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA), the seventeenth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) and the first session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) takes place concurrently from 14 to 25 May. All sessions are held at the Maritim Hotel in Bonn.


According to the quasi-official rapporteur at all these meetings, the IISD, as of the end of Day 1, it seems that:

a feeling of anticipation regarding the post-Durban process, including the newly established ADP. Many commented that they were looking forward to commencing work under the new ADP on Wednesday; however, few seemed to have a clear sense of the timeline and substance. Meanwhile, the various new bodies were generating new dynamics in the process, ripe with rumors that nominations were proving difficult. This was confirmed in the evening, with the SBI plenary finishing business for the day without having resolved the process of how nominations for the various bodies should be considered.


technology was very much on the agenda. Along with the ubiquitous iPads and iPhones sported by delegates, technology permeated conversation in the corridors with delegates expressing different views on the host of the CTC. The importance of resolving the issue came up in the SBSTA, SBI and a press conference with UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres. Some delegates favored the Caribbean as host, others emphasized the need for the CTC to be in a developing country, while one recommendation noted the Republic of Korea as an option due to their technological advancements. Whatever the case, technology will remain a key part of the climate conversation in Bonn. [emphasis added -hro]

Read all about it at: where the IPCC gets a few honourable mentions!

This "CTC" that they're competing to host is the "Climate Technology Centre" (a new kid on the block, evidently).

I have to hand it to these IISD rapporteurs ... I don't know how they manage to keep all the acronyms straight ... and I wonder how the delegates manage to keep up, as well!

May 15, 2012 at 7:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterHilary Ostrov

C. Figueres, Exec. Sec'y, UNFCCC - not EU
IPCC and UNFCCC - shell-game sisters, under UNEP

May 15, 2012 at 7:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn R T

Just shows the importance of using the correct terminology...

It's perfectly true that 5°C=41°F. It's also true that 5C°=9F°.

Sadly, the use of °C and °F instead of C° and F° is very common indeed.

May 15, 2012 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterScottie

- Excellent news since they will be in Germany : will they being doing a tour of the sites that show the success of Germany's green-"science" ?
: The huge windfarm in the North Sea not connected to the grid, the unused stockpiles at bankrupt solar panel factories, the factories closing due to green taxation, the banks which are forbidden to lend to green energy projects cos windfarms etc. have no collateral value, the construction sites of the new lignite plants, and the old closed down nuclear plants that are probably not any safer shut down than if they had been kept going.

- Meanwhile in Japan the local government of Oi wants to turn back on the local nuclear reactors now that they have passed their stress safety tests, so the workers can go back to work

May 15, 2012 at 9:35 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

I found a lead on Christiana Figueres and Oil and Gas rich Costa Rica and it poor nieghbour Nicaragua

It seems she could use this Conferance to stop Nicaragua from getting control of offshore Oil and Gas drilling rights in a disputed part of the Caribbean Sea place called Block 11

She could puts on Oil and Gas Exploration limits
Just like her family Elite dynasty have done in their own country Thats how much oil rich they are
Nicarargua had a bad civil war President Regan,Bishop Oscar Romero, Oliver North, Contras Sandinistas
Nicaracua its people 2nd poorest in south America after Peru
And Figureres want to keep them and the rest of us that way

May 15, 2012 at 10:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

Oh come on Andrew,

It's fine to comment and analyse the content, but picking up on what is obviously a simple journalistic mistake, and attributing it to Figueres is just a bit silly.


May 15, 2012 at 12:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoug McNeall

How I love Hilary Ostrov's link to the 'three ring circus'....
Wouldn't you just love to be a fly on the wall as these bozos bore each other to death - especially those on the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action................ Sorry, nodded off there for a minute....

May 15, 2012 at 2:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

If the meeting is held in Bonn, at least all the European attendees can show willing and go by train...

May 15, 2012 at 3:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Chappell

Doug, claiming the earth will warm by 5C is NOT a "simple journalistic mistake". It is grotesque fear mongering and makes chicken little look sane.

Summer temperatures for HADCET have been rising at .009C/decade, a measly .33C or so warmer than the 1650s ... except 2011 is actually below the mean and colder than it was in 1659!

May 15, 2012 at 3:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

All over the world, the left is coming to power. Looks like the fascist one-world order will truly come into being in my lifetime, sad to say. Is a one-world order inevitable, in terms of evolutionary theory? Maybe we are destined to become a single social "organism". The only problem is that with people like Al Gore and David Suzuki as the "brains", this new social organism won't survive for very long.

May 15, 2012 at 4:11 PM | Unregistered Commenterphil

Thanks to Foxgoose and Dennis A for their sleuthing. What an unsavoury bunch they are.

And Hilary, the amazing thing is that this is not parody. Highly paid people at expensive international meetings take this crap seriously every day, and not just in relation to climate issues.

The common features are platitudes, in-group acronyms and people who are not paying their own expenses as they buzz from one resort to the next.

May 15, 2012 at 4:25 PM | Unregistered Commenterjohanna


Thanks for the data. A couple of things.

a) I was referring to the 5 degC = 41 degF mistake.
b) HadCET is useful, but not representative of global temperature change, as far as I am aware.
c) I suspect that there is ample room for lost-in-translation messages here. It would be interesting to see what was said at the meeting, rather than just the journalist's report. Lots of 'could' and 'up to'.
d) 5 degC warming (remember, compared to pre-industrial, we're already 0.8K in) by end of century looks to be on the high side, but I imagine difficult to rule out, given current uncertainties in climate sensitivity and future forcings. Have a look at this paper, by Richard Betts, and other of my colleagues.



May 15, 2012 at 4:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoug McNeall

Hmm, html fail. Apologies.

Here is that link again.

May 15, 2012 at 7:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoug McNeall

Your Grace, Your Grace

You correct her affiliation, but not her math simple arithmetic.
And you, further, fulminate not against her (familial) lack of financial morals.
Fie, to what cometh the episcopacy?

May 15, 2012 at 7:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterEvil Denier

Doug: "compared to pre-industrial, we're already 0.8K in"

.33K over 350 years is NOT .8K in.

Jan/Dec NH is colder now ... than periods in 1930 and 1800s.

It all depends where you look. The great global warming sausage maker has smoothed out the chaotic temperatures and tried to con us into thinking temperatures only fluctuate by a very small amount when fluctuations of 3C or more within a year or 3 were normal.

May 15, 2012 at 7:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

Dr McNeall

You link to Betts et all(2011) (When could global warming reach 4°C?), being a MET Office colleague of the lead author. How do their conclusions stand up against the reported reduction in the estimation of climate sensitivity (ECS ... whatever)? Harder(2011) (How much CO2 really contributes to global warming?) is probably most aggressive, but there are at least two others. All (IIANM) peer-reviewed.
Does this not (at least) question the conclusion? The very basis of alarmism?

Could the Millikan effect be at work? Again?

May 15, 2012 at 8:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterEvil Denier

et al.
My bad.

May 15, 2012 at 8:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterEvil Denier

That's hilarious - and I bet Bruce's first post was correct - I can just see some smart staffer or editor typing What is 5 degrees Celsius in Fahrenheit? into google and using the relative temp conversion that appears.

May 15, 2012 at 8:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryMN

Link for (some of) my references:

My apologies for the 'denialist' 'skeptical' tone of the website.

May 15, 2012 at 9:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterEvil Denier

Doug McNeall

The CET is undeniably the worlds longest baseline recorded temperature record. We should celebrate and honour that with considerably more credence and pride than we do. There are more 'lots of 'could' and 'up to's and uncertainties in Bett's paper than a Greek stock investment brochure, but notwithstanding all that modelling, he may be right, or may be wrong, but we annoyingly enjoy determining our own conclusions, from our own analysis of the data.

May 15, 2012 at 9:50 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

How do we save the planet from "the Greens"?

May 16, 2012 at 8:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

The Climate delegates in Bonn relaxing in their 5 star luxary hotels will need this link after a hard days negociating

May 16, 2012 at 8:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

@Bruce @Pharos,

Most of the IPCC literature in the past has presented projections of *annual* temperature *trends*, so I agree that it could do a better job of communicating the interannual variability that you might expect. Would save lots of confusion, and possibly lower unrealistically high expectations on model/observation agreement. Bruce, I don't think they were trying to con you.

We love the CET too, but the maritime, midlatitude climate of this sceptered isle won't be a very good guide to what is going on in, say, the Arctic.

Evil Denier, I can't find the Harde (2011) paper published anywhere (apart from WUWT). Any ideas?



May 16, 2012 at 10:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterDoug McNeall

Dr McNeall

I'm afraid I've only worked off the abstract (as, it seems, have most of the [skeptic] commentariat). I used it only to illustrate a tendency. You probably know better than I how Geophysical Research Abstracts work.
(first link)

It does ignore feedbacks (CS for CO2 alone) but illustrates a trend in the estimation of CS.
What does intrigue sceptics is the fact that (I probably exaggerate here!) alone of the IPCC's estimations, the CS remains essentially constant, through FAR/SAT/TAR to 4th AR (and probably the 5th as well - that's not a prediction, mind - more in the nature of an ... um ... projection ... ah, I have it, scenario). The understanding of everything else (clouds, aerosols &c., even the existence of the MWP & LIA, the snows of Kilimanjaro, Himalayan glaciers and vulnerability to drought in the Amazon) advances apace, but the median value of CS and the 'fat tail' remain much the same. Some sceptics would (unkindly) note that both are essential to any narrative ending in catastrophe.

If it is published at WUWT, do your religious principles forbid you getting it there?

Oh, and sorry about the Harder/Harde error, but I see you picked it up.

May 16, 2012 at 1:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterEvil Denier

The more the climate diverges from the IPCC predictions, as it must, the more necessary it becomes to pile the scare stories high, thick and fast. The greater the hysteria generated the less likely the target audience are likely to bother to take notice of awkward facts like temperatures failing to rise when commanded by politicians.

May 16, 2012 at 2:52 PM | Unregistered Commentercerberus

Doug, I think they are trying to con people.

I live on the west coast of Canada and the BEST data shows the west coast cooling from around 1983-1985.

21 US states have a cooling trend from 1921. 48 from 1998.

I get into arguments online, show people the data, and they run away.

Global Warming is a myth. Regional Warming and Regional Cooling exist. Its possible some of the world warmed until the 1980s and 199s, but it depends when you start.

The JJA CET data shows long term summers in the UK are not warmer. Winters are a little warmer, but in reality that is probably UHI.

May 16, 2012 at 6:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

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