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Who to Ignore at COP21

Some “experts” in Paris are there only to poison the well.

As crucial as the U.N. climate negotiations are for combating climate change, they are equally complex and difficult to decipher.

For all the mind-numbing acronyms (What’s the ADP? Or these INDCs we keep hearing about?), there are just as many “experts” in Paris working to spin the story of COP21. Or trying to subvert the entire process.


So, out of the cacophony of commentary and claims that will be beamed out of the U.N. venue at Le Bourget, who in Paris should we ignore? Here’s your guide.

Bjorn Lomborg

”Renewables pave a path to poverty.” Credit: Simon Wedege on Wikimedia Commons

Danish political scientist Bjorn Lomborg heads a U.S.-registered think tank called the Copenhagen Consensus Center.

Lomborg isn’t a climate denier, but the darling of the “delay and do little” crowd on climate change. For years he has worked to denigrate renewable energy and has attacked policies to cut greenhouse gas emissions as multitrillion-dollar wastes of money.

Lomborg recently published research claiming that the emissions reductions pledges made by more than 170 countries in the lead-up to Paris would have only a tiny impact on global warming. His research was heavily criticized, mainly because in arriving at his conclusion, Lomborg figured that after the year 2030, countries would revert to business as usual.

Yet a key aspect of the Paris negotiations will seek to avoid exactly that kind of backsliding by mandating that future pledges cut emissions even more. Practically speaking, if countries are meeting emissions goals, that is because they have deployed the clean energy technology to reach them, so reverting to business as usual wouldn’t even be an attractive option.

Lomborg has also argued frequently that the developing world needs fossil fuels and to deny them coal and oil is immoral.

Marc Morano

”I'm not a scientist, but I play one on TV.” Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Morano is the head of communications at the conservative think tank the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, where he runs the Climate Depot fountainhead of misinformation. Morano works tirelessly to convince the world that the science linking fossil fuels to dangerous climate change is largely a scam.

In Paris, Morano will premiere a “documentary” film, Climate Hustle, which promises the same old cast of climate science denialists employing the same long-debunked arguments.

Morano, who claims that fossil fuels are the “moral choice” for the developing world, is the former adviser to Republican Senator James “global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on America” Inhofe.

As Morano admitted in the 2014 documentary Merchants of Doubt, “I’m not a scientist, but I play one on TV.”

Lord Christopher Monckton

Called climate activists “Hitler Youth.” Photo credit: DeSmogBlog.com

What is there to say about the oddball views of hereditary British peer Lord Monckton? He calls himself the “high priest of climate scepticism.”

Monckton claims that the U.N. climate talks are a cover story for a global socialist grab for power.

Monckton has no qualifications or education in climate science, but this has not stopped him from making bold claims about it and demanding that actual climate scientists be “locked up.”

While genuine scientists point out that Monckton has absolutely no expertise in the field, Monckton is a favorite of conservative commentators.

At previous U.N. talks in Copenhagen, Monckton described young climate campaigners as “Hitler Youth.” A couple of years later, in Qatar, he was banned from all future talks after sneaking onto the conference floor and assuming the seat of the delegate from Burma to again question the link between fossil fuel emissions and global warming.

Monckton will be part of a delegation at Paris being coordinated by conservative group the Heartland Institute, which will also include Morano’s CFACT.

Big Coal

The enemy of the human race. Photo credit: Petr Štefek on Wikimedia Commons

Coal is the biggest contributor of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, but for a decade now, the coal industry has been promising that the era of “clean coal” is just around the corner.

Industry groups such as the World Coal Association and companies like Peabody Energy show up at the U.N. meetings to claim that “clean coal” is the future, if only the industry has more time to develop the unproven technologies of carbon capture and storage. Big Coal will be in Paris fighting for its life, with the false promise of clean coal and the cynically empty claims that only coal can lift the world’s poor out of “energy poverty.”

Patrick Moore

”Clear-cutting is good for forests.” Photo credit: Friends of Europe

The Canadian climate science denier will also be joining the Heartland contingent and is scheduled to speak at the denial-filled event at the beginning of the second week of talks.

Moore is often described as a “former leader of Greenpeace.” Though he was with the organization in its very early days, he has spent the past 30 years promoting nuclear energy, GMOs, and fossil fuels.

Last year Moore gave an interview on French television to defend the herbicide glyphosate, which the World Health Organization describes as a “probable carcinogen.” Moore said it was possible to “drink a whole quart” of the “probable carcinogen” and it would not harm you.

When the interviewer offered Moore a glass to drink, Moore refused, saying, “I’m not an idiot.”

Moore also claims that fossil fuels are good for the planet and the atmosphere needs more carbon dioxide.

Denialist Media

Not fair. Not balanced.

In recent years, the climate science denial industry has managed to develop and foster its own media outlets and cultivate journalists who are willing to parrot anti-science claims.

Most will not turn up among the 3,000 accredited official media at the Paris talks, but they’ll still have a lot to say over the next two weeks.

Outlets such as Breitbart, The Spectator, the Daily Express, Fox News, Daily Caller, and many commentators in Rupert Murdoch’s stable of media have been all too willing to uncritically repeat the unfounded claims of the climate science deniers.

Bob Carter

Author of “probably the worst paper ever published on climate change." Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Bob Carter is a retired Australian geologist who works as an “adviser” to about 10 climate science denial groups around the world.

Carter is scheduled to be in Paris, where he will repeat his long-worn claims that there is no evidence to link raised carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere to dangerous global warming.

Carter likes to tell people that climate models don’t work. He is also the author of what one London School of Economics researcher called “probably the worst paper ever published on climate change.”

The Black Bloc

Not interested in your nonviolence pledge. Photo credit: Jason Hargrove

They’re the anarchists and anticapitalists who always show up to ruin a nice peaceful protest. The Black Bloc already has stirred up aggression and clashed with police in Paris, causing some unfortunate headlines and photos that completely betrayed the peaceable demonstrations of roughly 10,000 climate activists on the eve of COP21.

Environmentalist Hoda Baraka, of 350.org, described the group in Paris as “a small group of protesters unaffiliated with the climate movement” who “arrived at Republique and began to clash with the police there, violating the nonviolent pledge that every group involved in the climate coalition here in France has agreed to.”

The Black Bloc seems not to want a fair, ambitious global climate deal. A climate of chaos seems more their thing.

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