By TONY THOMAS
Lord Tennyson with his “tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean” has been an inspiration to Christiana Figueres (left). She was secretary-general of the top-level UN climate body UNFCCC (2010-16) and spruiked doom on Stan Grant’s Matter of Fact show on ABC-TV on October 9.
Figueres is billed as the architect of 2015′s Paris Accord which commits China, India, and now the US, to nothing. Meanwhile the West is supposed to transfer $US100 billion a year to Third World leaders, such as the PNG politicians who’ve just ordered 40 Maseratis and three Bentleys.
The $US100b is actually small change by Figueres’ standards. A year ago she challenged Principles of Responsible Investment signatories, with $US70 trillion under management, to put 1% into renewables by 2020. If I’ve got all the zeroes down pat, she’s talking $US700 billion.
Snuffles and sobs accompany her listing of future climate horrors unless we spend $US38 trillion on renewables during the next 16 years. That’s nearly half of current world GDP. I was disappointed that she stayed dry-eyed during the encounter with the ever-affable Stan Grant while delivering her litany of climate fictions and forecasts. She also accused the commendably sceptical Grant of using “infantile arguments”.
Are any recent graduates of ritzy St Catherine’s in Sydney’s Waverley reading this piece? Girls, remember her addressing your 1000-strong assembly in 2015. She had a box of Kleenex handy, and bare moments into her speech she told you, “I have tissues here because it always pains me … [a pause] to see [a suppressed sob] … the evidence of what we’ve done.” She explained later to a worshipful SMH reporter, “I always have emotional moments when there are children in front of me…Unfortunately the painful evidence is upon us, there is no country in the world , not one single country, that has not had some extreme weather event that is related to climate change.”
The alarmist Climate Home News has noted, “Her passion for tackling climate change has many times spilled over into tears.” At Cancun in 2010, for example, she dabbed her tissues as she told kids she “had inherited a severely diminished planet [sobs] .. I just can’t look my daughters in the eye and not do what I can [more sobs].” I doubt her two daughters, now aged 30 and 29, will really do it tough. They’re both graduates from top universities (Yale and London School of Economis) and globe-trotting finance/gender/climate consultants.
One tear-jerking oration involves Figueres in the Costa Rican jungle as a kid to see the golden toad, which from 2004 became the supposed first casualty of climate change. Her two daughters would never see one, she mourned. Nice anecdote except that better research has now attributed the apparent loss of the toads to natural El Nino cycles, not global warming.
Palace-raised Figueres is from the ruling dynasty of Costa Rica (pop. 5m). Her father was president for three terms and more than 12 years, while her brother, Jose Figueres, was president for four years. Her mother was a parliamentarian and ambassador to Israel and her half-sister an ambassador to the US. At the UN and later, her politics have been champagne-socialist. She achieved perpetual quotability with this ripper from February 2015, which I’ve taken from the official UN press release:
“This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution.”
She views a halt to growth in the West with equanimity. “Industrialised countries must stop growing— that’s fine. But developing countries must continue to grow their economy in order to bring their people out of poverty … We’re saying: “Okay, you guys, you can continue to grow, you can bring your people out of poverty — but you can’t do it with disgusting fossil fuels that those guys use’.”
After the severe flooding in Somerset and on the Thames in 2014, aggravated by maintenance and dredging failures, Figueres tastelessly found a silver lining: “It’s unfortunate that we have to have these weather events, but there is a silver lining if you wish, that they remind us solving climate change, addressing climate change in a timely way, is not a partisan issue.”
Her ideology was also on view in 2014 when she praised the Chinese dictatorship for “doing it right” with its can-do approach to climate “because its political system avoids some of the legislative hurdles seen in countries including the U.S.” Representative democracy, it’s such a pain!
A year ago, Scientific American headlined her profile: “The woman who saved the planet”. Sub-head: “By harnessing ‘female energy’, Christiana Figueres convinced humanity to take on climate change.” We also read that she has “warded off global catastrophe” by opening the Paris talks not just to governments but “to the private sector, the spiritual community, the scientists.” (Curious, who she puts last, isn’t it? She should also have mentioned the Paris hordes of green NGOs). She claims she created “a surround-sound effect” so that no matter where governments turned, they heard “a chorus of yes, yes, yes. Yes, we can go forward with ambition, yes, this makes economic sense, yes, the technologies are there, yes, the science is there, yes, the morality is there.” But no, Ms Figueres, the $US100 billion a year for the Third World isn’t there and the Green Climate Fund meetings have fallen into farce.
Figueres must stagger under all her honors and awards. They include the Shackleton Medal, the Grand Medal of the City of Paris, the Legion of Honor, the German Great Cross of Merit, the Guardian Medal of Honor, the 2015 Hero of El Pais award, the Global Thinker Award, Four Freedoms Award and the Solar Champion Award from the woke folk of California. She was No 7 on Fortune’s 50 Greatest Leaders in 2016, and a Top Five Most Powerful Women in Science last year. Quite a haul for someone who is yet to discover that weather isn’t climate.
Her flagship role today is convenor of the Mission 2020 activist lobby, which in 2017 was claiming humanity had only three years to stop the planet evolving into hothouse earth with “devastating heat extremes and unmanageable sea level rise”. Mission 2020 just wants us to spent $US1 trillion a year by 2020 on renewables and coal phase-outs, thus saving the planet.
Figueres in the run-up to the Queensland election late last year was lobbying against the proposed $1 billion concessional rail loan to Adani for its Carmichael coal project. (Who needs Russians?) She claimed the loan would trash Australia’s reputation internationally and undermine the Paris Accords, as if China and India aren’t doing a good job of that already.