So the gathering of climate politicians in Doha, also known as COP19, has come to an end with a whimper. Some will cheer the renewal of the Kyoto Protocol, hoping no-one will notice that less than a quarter of all nations have signed up. It means some bureaucrats will remain employed for a few more years - which is probably a good thing, because otherwise they would have to return to their native land where, no doubt, they would regurgitate all the nonsense about global warming that has been keeping them employed since 1992.
But probably the greatest win will be the demise of a number of NGO's. They have been an enormous force in the global warming debate. They achieved their power by a form of blackmail. Companies confessing to emitting carbon dioxide found it was cheaper to pay the NGO's than to make large cuts in their emissions. Small cuts, by improving their efficiency for example, brought them some relief from the blackmail and actually improved the bottom line slightly. But, of course, the NGO's kept asking for ever larger cuts, so the blackmail increased. It was disguised as "social payments", which reduced the company's bottom line but looked good in the annual report. Overall the shareholders were impoverished but the NGO's got richer and richer.
The net result, however, was that the only people who could afford to go to meetings like the gathering in Doha were the NGO's. I saw this in Durban two years ago. There were a few businesses, but they were relegated to 'side events'. Municipalities gathered round the fringe, countries had stalls close to the heat of action, and the NGO's were there in the thick of things, usually as official delegates.
Not surprisingly, the real decision makers have become fed up with this charade. They jet in for the last few days of such meetings, almost expected to rubber stamp the NGO's decisions reached in dark rooms. They refuse to play ball; the meeting breaks up acrimoniously and late, and achieves nothing, zilch, nada. This has been the pattern of the last four meetings, and the only result has been ever shriller cries from the NGO's. A few wimpish countries have made hand-waving promises, which has partly mollified the shrill, but achieving a lower carbon world is far removed.
The US has been mercifully sane in much of this. It refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. It stuck to business-as-usual. And guess what - it has achieved what Western Europe and Australia, with all their carbon taxes and Clean Development Mechanisms and carbon trading and you-know-what have failed to do. It has reduced its emissions to below 1992 levels by the simple application of appropriate technology. As a result, it now has some of the cheapest energy in the world, and Western Europe is screaming that it can no longer compete on world markets.
So if we tend to laugh at Dohaha, it is with a strong sense of schadenfreude. Lower carbon emissions are not achievable. Development has trumped ecological scaremongering. Breathe deeply - CO2 is good for you!