The Non-Binding Paris Deal And Its Implications

hansenThe real battle about the implications of the Paris climate agreement has just begun. The fuzzy and essentially aspirational deal suits most governments and allows them to declare a victory. Its woolly and non-committal form, however, poses a serious challenge to the EU’s and Britain’s climate policy framework. The Government has been clear that the UK may revise the fourth carbon budget in light of developments in the EU. If member states refuse to turn the 2030 pledge into nationally binding targets, we can expect Mr Osborne to finally achieve what he has been trying for years: to revise the UK’s 2025 target to more modest commitments. –Benny Peiser, The Daily Telegraph, 14 December 2015

It’s is a fraud really, a fake. It’s just bullshit for them to say: ‘We’ll have a 2C warming target and then try to do a little better every five years.’ It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises. As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned. –James Hansen, The Guardian, 12 December 2015

At the Paris climate conference, China has won praise for pledging to stop the growth of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, largely by reducing its use of coal. But these reductions are being undercut as Chinese state-owned companies, backed by state loans, build coal-fired power plants across the developing world despite concerns about global warming and air pollution. Once complete, the 92 projects will have a combined capacity of 107 gigawatts, more than enough to completely offset the planned closing of coal-fired plants in the United States through 2020. Coal-fueled power plants account for 68 percent of the electrical generation capacity built by China in the rest of Asia, and that figure is set to rise. –Michael Forsythe, The New York Times, 12 December 2015

The UK’s global network of climate diplomats is facing the chop days before negotiations on a new UN deal to tackle global warming open in Paris. More than 100 posts are under threat, with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) set for 25-40% resource budget cuts by 2019-20 under a spending review due out on 25 November. “The rumours ‚Äì so we have been told ‚Äì are they are going to axe the climate posts once the COP [Paris climate summit] is over,” said Barry Gardiner, Labour’s shadow climate minister. –Ed King, Climate Home, 1 December 2015

The green movement hopes that [the Paris deal] mwill produce real change, but those hopes seem likely to be disappointed. Developing countries can and will excuse their inaction by pointing to the absence of that $100 billion slush fund, and, in any case, the governments of many developing country are surprisingly indifferent to the views of first-world NGO scolds. Much as the last great Malthusian panics (the population bomb and peak oil) quietly fizzled out, the panicky, Chicken Little aspects of the green movement are likely to fade over time. The economy of the future will produce more abundance and leave a smaller footprint than the economy we have today. It will be capitalism and innovation that we have to thank for that; fortunately, United Nations climate diplomacy isn’t humanity’s line of defense against eco-catastrophe. –Walter Russell Mead & Jamie Horgan, The American Interest, 13 December 2015