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A Worthless Piece Of Paper

December 13, 2015

By Paul Homewood 




There have been many media reports that the Paris Agreement is a legally binding one, at least in part.

It is therefore important to understand which bits of it are.


There are many administrative clauses in the Agreement, but the ones that are of any significance and are legally binding appear to be:


Article 4




The existing INDC’s are already agreed to become formal NDC’s once the Agreement is ratified, so effectively this refers to future plans, which are agreed to be made every five years.




It is also agreed that support be provided to developing countries, but there is no specific amount mentioned, or timescale.




We then come on to GHG stocktaking, which crucially is up to the countries themselves, and not independently verified.







So we find two basic areas where there is some sort of legally binding agreement:


1) Submitting of new Nationally Determined Contributions every five years.

2) A five-yearly GHG stocktake, which will commence in 2023.



Although in theory there is an obligation that each future plan should reflect a progression on the previous one, this will in practice stand for very little, as countries are free to come up with whatever plan they like, and plead extenuating circumstances.

The bottom line is that there is no provision to fine or otherwise punish any country that fails to meet its targets.

  1. knutesea permalink
    December 13, 2015 9:57 pm

    Thanks for doing that work.
    Made my Sunday far more enjoyable.

  2. December 13, 2015 10:37 pm

    Thanks, Paul.
    Good work. I appears like we carbon-based creatures will live to see another day.

    • December 14, 2015 2:31 am

      I meant to write:
      It appears like we carbon-based creatures will live to see another day. Sorry.

  3. sensferguson permalink
    December 13, 2015 10:42 pm

    so the concept of a court of climate justice has disappeared?

  4. Coeur de Lion permalink
    December 13, 2015 10:47 pm

    Hooray hooray – we’re saved!

  5. December 13, 2015 10:54 pm

    What concerns me are thermonuclear explosions allowed at a threshold value of any sort? And are they credited to the country deploying the nuclear device or the country it lands in? And if borderlands are under dispute, whicjh country gets the credit? Or if discharged from international waters do all signatories share equally? Or according to their population? Or their area? Or to a handicap by class, like a sailboat race? I think we need to have a clarification meeting…pretty soon….

    • Joe Public permalink
      December 14, 2015 7:47 am

      The clarification meeting is already arranged. COP22 in Morocco, next year.

  6. December 13, 2015 11:15 pm

    Paul, an addendum. The ‘stocktaking’ name and shame provisions depend on ‘transparency’. Despite being enshrined in 4.8, transparency is effectively gutted by Preamble paragraph 27. Undoubtedly China’s contribution. So your seond point is neutered by the Preamble, unless some country,is stupid enough to submit an actually transparent INDC. (US, UK, and Germany may be. As you preciously posted, probably nobody else.)

    And for the remaining ‘Shall’ new INDCs every five years, may I suggest a brief, succinct, and inexpensive submission: NOTHING. It fits the treaty’s requirements. And can never be named and shamed under those treaty provisions, as long as nothing is actually attempted. So that works, too. Easy peasy.

  7. BLACK PEARL permalink
    December 13, 2015 11:31 pm

    What a stupid waste of time & money imaginary game they are playing

  8. markl permalink
    December 14, 2015 12:20 am

    Bottom line is no country is willing to give up their sovereignty. And why should they? What we’ll see is a continuation of country shaming followed by CO2 goals that have either already been met, there’s no way of attaining them, or there’s no attempt at attaining them. I don’t see this stupidity ever ending until we are weaned from fossil fuels through normal attrition and technological advances. In the meantime unintended consequences will negatively impact human kind far more than any change in climate could.

    • macha permalink
      December 14, 2015 1:10 am

      We all should be grateful for fossil fuels. It reduces poverty and extends lifespan. End result is reduced population growth and that is how sustainability is improved….no need for imposing draconian measures nor blaming it on man made CO2.

  9. December 14, 2015 4:39 am

    Yeah, went through it with a yellow marker. The only problem we have is the same as the non-committment by China (“cap emissions about 2030”): the green groups and MSM are either too ignorant to recognize what they have just read, too lazy to read it, or too agenda-driven to admit what was written, and so will claim large committments to decarbonizing our planetary energy systems and giving bags of money to the developing world.

    The agreement is to do whatever you end up doing. The developing world, the UAE, China, India and Malaysia are explicitly not doing anything other than business as usual. We can’t expect Russia and the ex-Soviet, Russian-ally states to do anything. So that doesn’t leave many who could do something, and even less who, if they did something, would have an impact.

    Fortunately it all means next to nothing in terms of actual climate change, so it doesn’t matter …. except for the speechifying and taxing and tying skeptics to poles and setting them on fire when the “green” leaders don’t actually do anything (it can’t be Obama’s or Gore’s fault, can it?).

  10. Gerard permalink
    December 14, 2015 5:50 am

    It is not a worthless piece of paper – it will cost us heaps – and create huge bureaucracies

    • knutesea permalink
      December 14, 2015 6:01 am

      It shall cost us heaps, for now. It is likely that the current economic boom that has lasted for over 30 years is due for a mighty readjustment. During lean times, bloat gets cut and realignment of priorities occurs. It could very well be that the cyclical cold climate shows its head at the same time.

      There are significant changes afoot. I’m content, but not happy … just like you, that the shalls are kept to a minimum and natural variability will awaken us from our confusion.

      Hope and change of a different variety.

    • macha permalink
      December 14, 2015 6:51 am

      Agree..the lost opportunity cost is saddening.

  11. Richard111 permalink
    December 14, 2015 7:49 am

    Doesn’t matter how good or bad the agreement is, it is simply confirmation that the World Government exists and is working hard to protect all peoples of the world. /sarc

  12. December 14, 2015 11:10 am

    What’s interesting is that George Monbiot agrees with you, which can’t be said very often. On twitter he says:

    “I’m sorry to disappoint you, but the Paris deal is bullshit”

    “Long on self-congratulation, short on action. The #COP21 outcome is a cop-out.”

  13. December 14, 2015 8:37 pm

    And of course there is the little matter that any country can resile from the whole thing anyway, simply by giving one years notice. No penalty.


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