28 September 2009

Climate Policy Can Decrease Tropical Cyclone Disasters?

It is silly season for climate policy debate. UN FCCC Chief Yvo de Boer points to flooding in the Philippines from Tropical Storm Ketsana and says that an agreement in December can reduce such disasters. Apparently no one has told him that global tropical cyclones are at a 30-year low.

"Time is not just pressing, it has almost run out," said UN climate head Yvo de Boer, who broke down in tears of frustration at talks in Bali two years ago, when world governments drew up the "road map" to the Copenhagen deadline.

After two years of haggling, the world is still trying to thrash out a draft text for December's talks, with major disagreements on the two key issues of cutting carbon emissions and meeting the associated costs.

"There is no plan B, and if we do not realise plan A the future will hold us to account for it," de Boer said in his opening speech to around 2,500 government delegates and representatives from business and environment groups.

De Boer said that devastating floods in the Philippines at the weekend which have killed at least 140 people further highlighted the need for action.

"One of the reasons why countries have gathered here is to ensure the frequency and severity of those kinds of extreme weather events decreases as a result of ambitious climate change policy," de Boer said.

Here is data from Ryan Maue's Tripcal Cyclone page at FSU which shows that the frequency of hurricanes is at a very low level:
Maue observes that " the number of tropical cyclones with intensity greater than 34-knots has remained at the 30-year average (83 storms per year)." So it is hard to understand de Boer's invocation of Tropical Storm Ketsana as a reason for an agreement on emissions other than a crass effort to exploit some political advantage from the misfortune of those who suffered tragedy this week, such as those pictured above.