None of the lobbying has been more telling than a statement issued by 259 investment organisations, controlling "collective assets totalling over $15 trillion" – including major banks, insurance companies and pension funds. These are the bodies calling most stridently for "government action on climate change", because they are the ones who hope to make vast sums of money out of it. They are desperate for a treaty of the type they failed to get at Copenhagen – even more so since the collapse of the US cap and trade bill – because they see their chance of turning global warming into the most lucrative fruit machine in history dwindling by the month.
Top of their wish list is "a rapid time-frame" for implementing the UN's REDD scheme, which would enable them to make hundreds of billions of dollars by selling the CO2 locked up in the world's tropical rainforests as "carbon offsets", thus allowing firms from the developed world to continue emitting CO2. Under this scheme, for instance, environmental bodies including the WWF hope to share in the $60 billion which they estimate as the "carbon value" of the Brazilian rainforest.
But nothing better betrays their gloom about any result from Cancun than that they at least want it to give "a clear mandate" for the adoption of "a legally binding agreement" at the UN's next conference, due in South Africa next year. This year, next year, sometime… With so much money at stake, they won't give up. But as the climate scare dies, the sound of whistling in the dark grows ever louder.