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'Postpone Kyoto successor', urges climate boffin

Doing nothing is better than doing something stupid in Copenhagen

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The chances of an international climate agreement being made at Copenhagen in December were already looking unlikely - but Japanese scientist Dr Syun Akasofu thinks we may as well call it off completely.

The Copenhagen Conference is where the successor to the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty to reduce CO2 emissions, is due to be signed. It's big business for climate quangos - one of the preliminary conferences in Poznan attracted 10,000 attendees, and that was just one of several preliminaries 'on the road to Copenhagen'.

Akasofu reasons that because the USA and China will be developing coal for some years, until they can build out their nuclear energy capacity any promises to make cuts will be what he calls "rhetorical". India has already politely declined Western advice to de-industrialise (before it's barely begun to industrialise), and has rejected calls for CO2 emissions targets.

"Is it useful to have any more conferences on global warming?" he asks in a paper published on Tuesday, adding that "such conferences are useless, although they are better than a world war".

Akasofu accepts the hypothetical effects of CO2 to cause global warming, but says the observations point only a weak correlation (the rapid release of CO2 into the atmosphere since 1946 hasn't created a disaster) and absolutely no evidence of causation - so more science must be done.

"Temporary or not, there must be unknown forces and causes to suppress the CO2 effect or even overcome it. In science, unlike in politics, a minority can be right," he adds.

Akasofu was founding director of the International Arctic Research Center in Alaska, and is a former director of the Geophysical Institute. He was in a majority of scientists in a report for the Japanese Energy Commission which questioned the idea that industrial greenhouse gas emissions are primarily responsible for climate change, and which we partially translated here. You can download his paper here (pdf).

After another preliminary (this time in Bonn) ended last week, the EU's information website EurActive reported that: "Observers are now toning down their expectations for Copenhagen, as a complete agreement seems to be slipping out of sight in favour of a basic framework that could then be filled with substance in the course of 2010."

In June, Russia said it would release 30 per cent more greenhouse gases by 2020, with President Dmitry Medvedev stating: "We will not cut off our development potential."

With China and India backing him, economic growth could be the big winner in Copenhagen. ®

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