Paris Agreement A Disaster For The Greenies
By Paul Homewood
So that was it! They need not have bothered going.
As I predicted a few weeks ago, the Paris summit has produced very little of substance, and has been both hailed as "the end of the fossil fuel era" and condemned as a disaster.
The Telegraph give what seems to be a decent summary:
1. A long-term goal to limit global warming to 2C, or 1.5C if possible
The agreement aims to limit the increase in global average temperatures to “well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels” – the level beyond which scientists say we will see the worst extremes of global warming.
It also aims to “pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change”.
In order to actually limit warming to that level, the aim is to “achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century” – in other words, net carbon emissions to be zero.
To get there, countries should aim to “reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, recognizing that peaking will take longer for developing country Parties, and to undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with best available science”.
French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius (2ndR), President-designate of COP21, puts his hand over his heart after his speech as he stands with French President Francois Hollande (2ndL), French Ecology Minister Segolene Royal (L Rear) and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (R) at the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) in Le Bourget, north of Paris, France, 12 December 2015
2. National pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the 2020s
Ahead of (and even during) the Paris summit, countries have made so-called "Intended Nationally Determined Contributions" (INDCs) – pledges setting out how they plan to limit their greenhouse gas emissions during the 2020s.
Some 158 submissions covering 185 countries (the European Union submits one pledge covering all its member states) and covering more than 90 per cent of global emissions were made. These were not up for negotiation during the talks.
These pledges will become Nationally Determined Contributions at the time each country ratifies the agreement and the proposed deal commits countries to “pursue domestic mitigation measures with the aim of achieving the objectives”.
3. A plan to make countries pledge deeper emissions cuts in future, improving their plans every five years
The emissions cuts pledges made so far still leave the world on track for at least 2.7C warming this century. A key part of the deal is therefore the mechanism designed to make countries pledge to deeper emissions cuts in future.
The non-binding decision text asks countries to come back before 2020 and to revisit the pledges they have made, and to then make new pledges every five years thereafter.
The binding deal – covering the period after 2020 – also commits countries to “communicate a nationally determined contribution every five years”.
Each country’s pledge must “represent a progression” on their previous one “and reflect its highest possible ambition”.
4. Rich nations to provide funding to poorer ones – ‘mobilising’ $100bn a year until 2025, and more thereafter
The agreement requires that “developed” nations – as defined by the UN Framework in 1992 – will continue to help developing countries with the costs of going green, and the costs of coping with the effects of climate change.
The thorny question of how much money rich nations must give has now been moved into the non-legally binding ‘decision text’. Currently, developed countries are obliged to ‘mobilise’ $100bn a year of public and private finance to help developing countries by 2020 – a target set in Copenhagen in 2009.
The draft Paris decision says they "intend to continue their existing collective mobilization goal through 2025", in order words continue the $100bn and then by 2025 set a new goal "from a floor of $100bn".
Finance has been one of the biggest rows of the talks, with developing nations demanding more cash (and arguing that developed nations haven’t even met their $100bn pledge). Although many poorer countries wanted increased finance to be a legally-binding requirement, the US made it clear it would never ratify such a deal.
Developed nations meanwhile have been arguing for an end to the crude 1992 definition – which sees six of the 10 wealthiest counties in the world classed as “developing” and under no obligation to contribute. They were pushing for a wording suggesting other countries “in a position to do so” should also contribute (especially as some, such as China already are in practice). But developing nations resisted this wording and the final agreement there is a much weaker commitment that non-developed nations are “encouraged to provide or continue to provide such support voluntarily”.
5. A plan to monitor progress and hold countries to account
There is to be a global “stock-take” in 2023, and every five years thereafter, to assess progress toward the aims of the agreement and to help encourage countries to make deeper pledges (see point 2).
The text sets out plans for a new transparency framework to see whether countries are actually carrying out their pledges, in order to hold them account and inform the stocktake. Countries will have to disclose an inventory of their emissions and information to track their progress in hitting their national target, while developed countries should also give information on the finance they are providing or mobilizing.
This will be subject to a “technical expert review” to check their progress and highlight areas where improvement is needed.
1) There is no binding agreement to cut, or even limit, emissions. Where this leaves the EU is anyone’s guess, as it has already indicated it may drop its own legally binding targets if the rest of the world did not follow. Certainly there will be pressure from the likes of Poland to relax those targets.
Meanwhile, Obama is able to avoid the need to get a binding treaty ratified by Congress.
2) The existing INDC’s, as we know, will almost certainly result in a sizeable increase in emissions by 2030. All Paris has achieved is to kick the can down the road, and hope that political leaders in ten years time can do what they have failed to do.
3) The goal to limit warming to well below 2C is pure political grandstanding. Nothing in the agreement will make the slightest difference to global temperatures, even if you accept what the scientists say.
4) Money! As predicted, very little progress has been made to put together the first tranche of $100bn by 2020, let alone the annual $100bn thereafter. The wording, as the Telegraph reports it, is ambiguous, but seems to suggest that the first tranche will not be increased until after 2025.
Most significantly, however, the issue of how much money is paid out has been left as part of the non-legally binding part of the agreement.
Also as predicted, China, India and the Arab states will not be obliged to contribute. It seems there has been a clear trade off here – they won’t be forced to pay if the developed world is not let off without a binding agreement.
5) Stocktaking. As I also anticipated, there is an agreement to stocktake GHG every five years, but this will not be done independently. Instead, each country will be responsible for its own count.
Two items from the Telegraph rather sum up everything rather neatly:
While Friends of the Earth don’t seem quite so happy!
The draft Paris agreement puts us on track for a planet three degrees hotter than today. This would be a disaster.
The reviews in this agreement are too weak and too late. The finance figures have no bearing on the scale of need. It’s empty.
The iceberg has struck, the ship is going down and the band is still playing to warm applause.
Friends of the Earth International’s spokesperson at the Summit in Paris, Asad Rehman