After a deal was reached at the UN climate conference in Durban, South Africa this weekend, Fox News immediately began distorting the agreement. Fox inexplicably reported on preliminary proposals instead of the final agreement and falsely portrayed adaptation assistance for poor countries as "reparations" that will cost Americans as much as "we spend on our own defense."
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Fox Wrongly Announces "International Climate Court Of Justice"
Fox's Peter Johnson Jr. Falsely Claimed UN Agreement Creates "International Climate Court." From the December 12 edition of Fox & Friends:
PETER JOHNSON, JR, FOX NEWS LEGAL ANALYST: What the UN came up with this week - and it was a very well thought out proposal, 138 pages -- to come up with an international climate court of justice, whereby the United States and Europe and a few other countries would pay billions of dollars over time to underdeveloped countries because of the crime of climate change.
Later in the segment, Johnson repeated this claim, saying that the UN summit resulted in a "138-page document that calls about an international court of climate justice." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 12/12/11]
Final Agreement Contains No Mention Of A Climate Court. The proposal in question is from an earlier document produced by the UN Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action as "an amalgamation of the draft texts emerging from the work of the informal groups." The provision was not included in the UN's final agreement. [UNFCCC, 12/7/11 & 12/10/11]
Johnson's Source Is Apparently Lord Monckton. The source of Johnson's "climate court" hysteria appears to be a report from vocal climate contrarian Lord Christopher Monckton. Monckton's report was promoted by ClimateDepot.com, which is a project of CFACT, where Monckton is an adviser. [Climate Depot, 12/9/11]
- Monckton Previously Called Climate Activists "Nazis." Monckton, who has falsely claimed to be a member of the House of Lords and a Nobel Laureate, is not a scientist and does not hold a degree in science. In December 2009, after 50 student activists interrupted Monckton's webcast from Copenhagen, Monckton called them "crazed Hitler youth" and "Nazis." Monckton's most recent stunt was jumping out of a plane to protest the climate talks in Durban. [DeSmogBlog, accessed 12/12/11] [Carbon Brief, 12/7/11]
FoxNews.com Admitted Climate Court Claim "May Be Far-Fetched." Following Monckton's report, FoxNews.com published an article titled "U.N. Floats Global 'Climate Court' to Enforce Emissions Rules." Towards the end, the article concedes that "the idea of a climate court anytime soon ... may be far-fetched":
[T]he idea of a climate court anytime soon -- particularly one that the United States and other big carbon emitters would agree to -- may be far-fetched. One environmental law expert, professor Jonathan Verschuuren at The Netherlands' Tilburg University, wrote in an online column that the court "will certainly not materialize." [FoxNews.com, 12/10/11]
Fox Misrepresents Green Climate Fund
Doocy: "The United Nations Is Proposing That Americans Pay Off ... Climate Debt." Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy introduced a segment on the UN climate negotiations by saying:
STEVE DOOCY: Just when you thought people were paying enough taxes, the United Nations is proposing that Americans pay off what they call the climate debt of the world's undeveloped countries. That deal would distribute billions of dollars a year to poor countries based on the view that developed countries, like the United States, owe underdeveloped countries for our climate change. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 12/12/11]
Johnson: UN Deal Mandates "Reparations" Amounting To "The Costs That We Spend On Our Own Defense." On Fox & Friends, Johnson claimed that under the UN agreement the U.S. would pay "reparations":
JOHNSON: [T]he United States and Europe and a few other countries would pay billions of dollars over time to underdeveloped countries because of the crime of climate change -- that we would pay reparations, we would pay economic damages to those countries in the amount of the costs that we spend on our own defense. So for violation of mother earth, there would be reparations paid by the big, rich U.S. of A. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 12/12/11]
Green Climate Fund Aims To Help Poor Countries Adapt To Climate Change. The Durban agreement laid the groundwork for a future Green Climate Fund, which is designed to assist those countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The New York Times reported:
The delegates also agreed on the creation of a fund to help poor countries adapt to climate change -- though the precise sources of the money have yet to be determined -- and to measures involving the preservation of tropical forests and the development of clean-energy technology. The reserve, called the Green Climate Fund, would help mobilize a promised $100 billion a year in public and private financing by 2020 to assist developing countries in adapting to climate change and converting to clean energy sources. [New York Times, 12/11/11]
U.S. Defense Spending Dwarfs Potential Green Climate Fund Contributions. The $100 billion Green Climate Fund would be financed by the U.S., the European Union, and other developed nations, in addition to private funds. While America's financial obligations to that fund have yet to be determined, they certainly could not exceed our defense budget. According to The Economist, the U.S. spent nearly $700 billion on defense last year, which is more "than that of the next 17 countries combined" and seven times larger than the proposed climate fund. [The Economist, 6/8/11]
Fox Falsely Claims U.S. Is Going It Alone In Climate Obligations
Johnson: China And India "Are Not Going Along" With Climate Deal. From the December 12 edition of Fox & Friends:
JOHNSON: They finally came to a deal in Durban, South Africa, with some modest changes. But there's a lot of countries that are not going along - China, India.
DOOCY: Big polluters!
JOHNSON: So we say - and other folks say - well what is China going to be doing? What is India going to be doing? Because when you look at the amount of coal process that goes in China, if climate change really is the result of that, then what is China doing? Are they doing the same things that we're doing to reduce those emissions? [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 12/12/11]
In Fact, China And India Made The Same Commitment That U.S. Made In Durban. Bloomberg reported:
The decision yesterday by China and India to move toward an agreement with the "legal force" to limit their fossil fuel emissions marked the first step toward treating developing nations the same as industrial ones when it comes to reducing pollution.
"The U.S. saw an opportunity to push China into accepting the same rules as everyone else and took it," said Andrew Light, coordinator of climate policy at the Center for American Progress, a research group in Washington with White House ties. [Bloomberg, 12/12/11]
New York Times: Durban Sets The Stage For An Agreement That "Treats All Countries ... Equally." The New York Times reported:
The deal on a future treaty renews the Kyoto Protocol, the fraying 1997 emissions agreement that sets different terms for advanced and developing countries, for several more years. But it also begins a process for replacing the Kyoto agreement with something that treats all countries -- including the economic powerhouses China, India and Brazil -- equally.
The United States never signed the Kyoto treaty because it did not accept its division between developed and developing countries. Todd D. Stern, the chief American climate negotiator, said he was hopeful that talks in coming years would produce a more equitable arrangement. [New York Times, 12/11/11]
Fox Blasts A Nonexistent Shipping Tax
Johnson: UN Is Trying To Impose A "Worldwide Tax On Shipping And Aviation Fuel." Johnson went on to say that one of the things "the UN is really trying to do" is establish "a worldwide tax on shipping and aviation fuel." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 12/12/11]
Reuters: Shipping Tax Proposal "Faced Such Opposition It Did Not Survive." Reuters reported over the weekend that a "proposal last week to generate cash from charging international shipping for the carbon emissions it generates faced such opposition it did not survive in the final text." [Reuters, 12/11/11]
Fox Once Again Obscures Evidence Of Manmade Climate Change
Johnson: Climate Change Science Is "Deep, Deep In Dispute." From the December 12 edition of Fox & Friends:
STEVE DOOCY: But we are talking about climate change, and climate change, is it settled science? I know there are a lot of people who say "absolutely," other people -
JOHNSON: Of course it's not settled science. It's deep, deep in dispute and that sends some people off the edge --
DOOCY: So shouldn't we wait?
JOHNSON: -- when folks actually say that here on the Fox News Channel. I mean, they have a mental breakdown when you say it. I mean, there - it is highly in dispute.
DOOCY: Right. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 12/12/11]
National Research Council: Human-Induced Climate Change Is Based On "Strong, Credible Body Of Evidence." In a 2010 report comissioned by Congress, a scientific panel of the National Research Council reviewed the state of climate science and concluded:
Science has made enormous inroads in understanding climate change and its causes, and is beginning to help develop a strong understanding of current and potential impacts that will affect people today and in coming decades. This understanding is crucial because it allows decision makers to place climate change in the context of other large challenges facing the nation and the world. There are still some uncertainties, and there always will be in understanding a complex system like Earth's climate. Nevertheless, there is a strong, credible body of evidence, based on multiple lines of research, documenting that climate is changing and that these changes are in large part caused by human activities. While much remains to be learned, the core phenomenon, scientific questions, and hypotheses have been examined thoroughly and have stood firm in the face of serious scientific debate and careful evaluation of alternative explanations.
Scientific evidence that the Earth is warming is now overwhelming. There is also a multitude of evidence that this warming results primarily from human activities, especially burning fossil fuels and other activities that release heat-trapping greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere. Projections of future climate change indicate that Earth will continue to warm unless significant and sustained actions are taken to limit emissions of GHGs. Increasing temperatures and GHG concentrations are driving a multitude of related and interacting changes in the Earth system, including decreases in the amounts of ice stored in mountain glaciers and polar regions, increases in sea level, changes in ocean chemistry, and changes in the frequency and intensity of heat waves, precipitation events, and droughts. These changes in turn pose significant risks to both human and ecological systems. Although the details of how the future impacts of climate change will unfold are not as well understood as the basic causes and mechanisms of climate change, we can reasonably expect that the consequences of climate change will be more severe if actions are not taken to limit its magnitude and adapt to its impacts. [National Research Council, 2010]