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James Hansen Slams Paris Agreement As “Wishful Thinking”

October 11, 2016

By Paul Homewood 




Eco-loon Hansen has been at it again.

From Eco Watch:


Many hail the Paris agreement—set to cross the threshold this week to come into effect—as a panacea for global climate change. Yet tragically, this perspective neglects to take into account the scientific reality of our climate system, which tells a much different story.

Our latest research, Young People’s Burden: Requirement of Negative CO2 Emissions, appeared Monday as a "Discussion" paper in Earth System Dynamics Discussion, and outlines how—if national governments neglect to take aggressive climate action today—today’s young people will inherit a climate system so altered it will require prohibitively expensive—and possibly infeasible—extraction of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Global temperatures are already at the level of the Eemian period (130,000 to 115,000 years ago), when sea level was 6-9 meters higher than today. Considering the additional warming "in the pipeline," due to delayed response of the climate system and the impossibility of instant replacement of fossil fuels, additional temperature rise is inevitable.

Continued high fossil fuel emissions place a burden on young people to undertake "negative CO2 emissions," which would require massive technological CO extraction with minimal estimated costs of $104-$570 trillion this century, with large risks and uncertain feasibility.

Continued high fossil fuel emissions unarguably sentences young people to either a massive, possibly implausible cleanup or growing deleterious climate impacts or both, scenarios that should provide incentive and obligation for governments to alter energy policies without further delay.

The paper provides the underlying scientific backing for the Our Children’s Trust lawsuit against the U.S. government, which argues that climate change jeopardizes the next generation’s inalienable rights under the U.S. Constitution to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The paper offers an opportunity to examine the current state of the planet with respect to climate change. Four key takeaways include:

1. The Paris Climate Accord is a precatory agreement, wishful thinking that mainly reaffirms, 23 years later, the 1992 Rio Framework Convention on Climate Change. The developing world need for abundant, affordable, reliable energy is largely ignored, even though it is a basic requirement to eliminate global poverty and war. Instead the developed world pretends to offer reparations, a vaporous $100B/year, while allowing climate impacts to grow.

2. As long as fossil fuels are allowed to be held up as the cheapest reliable energy, they will continue to be the world’s largest energy source and the likelihood of disastrous consequences for young people will grow to near certainty.

3. Technically, it is still possible to solve the climate problem, but there are two essential requirements: (1) a simple across-the-board rising carbon fee collected from fossil fuel companies at the source, and (2) government support for RD&D (research, development and demonstration) of clean energy technologies, including advanced generation, safe nuclear power.

4. Courts are crucial to solution of the climate problem. The climate "problem" was and is an opportunity for transformation to a clean energy future. However, the heavy hand of the fossil fuel industry works mostly in legal ways such as the "I’m an Energy Voter" campaign in the U.S. Failure of executive and legislative branches to deal with climate change makes it essential for courts, less subject to pressure and bribery from special financial interests, to step in and protect young people, as they did minorities in the case of civil rights.


He is, as some of us have been pointing out, spot on about the Paris Agreement. (Precatory, by the way, means “ referring to a wish or advisory suggestion which does not have the force of a demand or a request which under the law must be obeyed”).

He goes further:

President Obama seems not to understand that as long as fossil fuels are allowed (to appear to the user) to be the cheapest reliable energy, they will continue to be the world’s largest energy source and the likelihood of disastrous consequences for young people will grow to near certainty. Obama proudly states that his EPA regulations can actually produce a greater emissions reduction than would his initial nearly-worthless proposal of a cap-and-trade “scheme”.  Obama salves his conscience by noting his agreement to share information with China on carbon-capture-and-storage, which neither nation will ever employ at the scale needed to deal with the climate problem, and his plans to be a climate ambassador in his old age.

Not for the first time, he claims he can cure all ills with his carbon tax, conveniently ignoring that there is no practical alternative to fossil fuels in the foreseeable future. Such a tax would, in any event, need to be draconian to have any noticeable effect.

He salves his conscience by suggesting that the tax revenue be returned to the people via other tax cuts. However, since the whole objective of a carbon tax is to eliminate the use of fossil fuels, there would soon be little revenue left to redistribute. Instead, everybody would be stuck with expensive renewable energy.


We would be able to dismiss all of this as the ramblings of a mad man, but for the fact that Hansen’s paper provides the underlying scientific backing for the Our Children’s Trust lawsuit against the US government, which argues that climate change jeopardizes the next generation’s inalienable rights under the U.S. Constitution to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.


His paper finishes:

G. Funding for worldwide carbon sequestration and trace gas reductions.

Young People’s Burden makes clear that rapid reduction of fossil fuel emissions is the most important requirement to assure prospects of young people, but it is not enough.  It is also necessary to have a large drawdown of atmospheric CO2 via improved agricultural and forestry practices, and to have multiple actions that limit the growth of or even achieve a reduction of other trace gases.  These actions will need to occur nearly worldwide, especially in developing countries, and, even though there are some local benefits of many of these actions, substantial resources will be needed to see their realization.

Here is where legal action is almost surely required.  Just as the tobacco industry was required to pay compensation to the public for health damage of smoking, so the fossil fuel industry should be required to pay, in view of the great largesse it has received from the public and the damage it is inflicting on young people and worldwide.  Administration of these funds should be such as to continually evaluate and reward those countries that are most successful in taking the needed actions that store carbon and reduce trace gas abundances, thus avoiding graft and funds misuse.


His threats to fossil fuel producers are part of a wider political campaign, and pose a real threat to the US economy.

While he’s busy fining and taxing US oil and coal companies, what does he propose doing with producers in the rest of the world? Is he going to take the Saudis or China to court?







Punishing Big Oil might satisfy Hansen’s socialist urgings, but will do little to alter global emission trends, and will certainly damage US economic interests. 

  1. TonyM permalink
    October 11, 2016 5:43 pm

    Didn’t Hansen say in a blog awhile ago that he “would not rest until the U.S. was reduced to a 3rd world country”? You have to hand it to radicals-they never give up. Under the current U.S. Administration and the potential for a Clinton win in the coming election, both of whom advocate the elimination of fossil fuels, we could be well on our way to Hansen’s 3rd world utopia.

  2. Broadlands permalink
    October 11, 2016 6:04 pm

    It is a puzzle that Dr. Hansen and his followers have either not done their homework on the reality of carbon mitigation or have chosen to ignore it. As I have tried to say earlier, no reduction of either emissions or atmospheric CO2 can possibly make any real difference in any plausible time frame. The amounts of CO2 involved are simply much too large. Just ONE ppm of CO2 is two BILLION metric tons. Current emissions are around 25-30 billion tons per year. And even after reaching zero emissions (in how many years?) the world is supposed to then follow Hansen and lower the atmosphere to 350 ppm… capture and store 50 ppm, 100 billion tons? Has anyone challenged them on this problem? Has anyone requested that the IPCC carbon mitigation team do the appropriate math? Have those who do the cost analyses of CCS, carbon capture and store, done the math?

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      October 12, 2016 8:41 am

      I still haven’t seen any published evidence that says CCS is feasible in the real world. And if it is has anyone solved the problem of guaranteeing its security and people’s safety?

      Do they understand what effect a sudden release of CO2 can have — and there will be one sooner or later? Given the choice between having to live next door to a CCS store and a nuclear waste store I know which one I would choose!

      And that is before we ask whether 400ppm or even 1000ppm can have the effect that Hansen would like us to believe. Time to stop the scaremongering. If only!

      • Broadlands permalink
        October 13, 2016 3:04 pm

        Mike… the “safe” plans are to either convert 100 billion tons of CO2 into useful products for re-sale (see or to manufacture carbonate rock for burial…. somewhere? Neither is feasible. 100,000 million tons is simply too much. NASA’s chief should have started back in 1987 when we were already at his 350 ppm target?

        The whole idea is absurd..stuffing carbon back into the ground? To even think that humans can do what took nature millions of years to do? We are Lilliputians trying to tie down a 100 billion ton Gulliver? Historians in the future will scratch their heads.

  3. Harry Passfield permalink
    October 11, 2016 6:23 pm

    Hansen can’t control the weather, and if he could, could he do it for 30 years? And claim it was climate? Idiot man.

    • Broadlands permalink
      October 11, 2016 6:57 pm

      Good point Harry. Hansen’s last research was based on a couple of 2300 ton boulders that he found in the Bahamas and concluded that they could only have been moved by a giant wave from a super-hurricane type weather event in the Holocene. You know, one of those increasingly extreme events “they” forecast… when it isn’t a tsunami?

  4. October 11, 2016 6:47 pm

    So no evidence whatsoever to show that “global warming” is caused by human emissions of carbon dioxide then. An evidence-free lawsuit.

  5. October 11, 2016 7:34 pm

    Hansen is out there with Bill McKibben – delusion on stilts with elevator heels.

    I find less and less differentiates these people from say…. Jehovah’s Witnesses as time passes Quite why they have any traction in the MSM should be the question – rather than challenging the BS they constantly babble.

    Pointing out ludicrous BS is not a waste of time – but this stuff repeatedly escapes into mainstream media without *any* challenge at all – until something really goes titsup as a consequence of allowing this stuff to be peddled without well evidenced challenge – and as we know there’s plenty of evidence…..

  6. October 11, 2016 8:14 pm

    It’s the old problem – attribution. There are no proofs, only assertions, so we just end up with endless playground-style squabbles.

  7. October 11, 2016 9:52 pm

    Oldbrew, I agree. its assertion without proof. If the southern hemisphere had warmed at all in December the posited greenhouse effect would be at least plausible but it hasn’t warmed at all and the lack of warming indicates that the greenhouse hypothesis lacks substance. Here is the data:
    and more simply:

    While there is little understanding of natural climate processes the situation is open to exploitation. I am trying to do my bit here:

  8. October 11, 2016 10:16 pm

    Slightly OT but Whacko Wadhams is at it again.

    This is the text of an email I sent him today. I await his reply.

    Dear “Professor” Wadhams.

    Here you go again, reiterating your failed predictions.

    There are only two possible explanations for your behaviour.

    1) You are a shameless charlatan, more concerned with your own personal publicity, rather than the actual science.
    2) You have my sympathy as you are clearly delusional and require medical and/or psychiatric treatment.

    By the way my last bet, which you did not respond to, still stands.
    I bet you £2000 that Arctic sea-ice extent will not fall below 1 Wadham* at its lowest next year (2017).
    (* 1 million square kilometers)


    Dr D Keiller.

  9. Gerry, England permalink
    October 11, 2016 11:02 pm

    Peddling the great big oil tax subsidy lie again at the end.

  10. tom0mason permalink
    October 12, 2016 12:19 am

    Hansen been polishing his crystal balls again.

    He is trying hard to get the young generation against their parents and grandparents, and to some degree he has seen success in this endeavor. He appears to be a hit with certain green youth organizations.

  11. October 12, 2016 2:33 am

    Dear Mr Hansen.
    Do you have any empirical evidence that warming is related to fossil fuel emissions?

  12. John F. Hultquist permalink
    October 12, 2016 2:41 am

    This is interesting: “Just as the tobacco industry was required to pay compensation to the public for health damage of smoking, so the fossil fuel industry should be required to pay, …”

    Circumstances have crippled the coal industry in the USA – the fuel that did produce much actual pollutants. The claim was made (maybe true but not known yet) that Soros shorted coal company stocks and when they tanked, his Funds had to cover that short position. The companies can disappear – the money has been made, and he moves on.

    Note that in the context of the quote above, as relates to coal, the companies can’t pay because they will be gone. In the case of the tobacco industry the companies continue to function, make money, and pay.

    This is different. Still, the climate doesn’t care.

    • October 12, 2016 8:48 am

      Good point John

      How on earth can big oil pay all these trillions out, if they are stopped from drilling and their assets made worthless?

      • Gerry, England permalink
        October 12, 2016 12:47 pm

        If you understand economics you can’t be a socialist and therefore wouldn’t believe in AGW.

  13. Graeme No.3 permalink
    October 12, 2016 3:32 am

    “Global temperatures are already at the level of the Eemian period (130,000 to 115,000 years ago)” – that would be the time when there were elephants, giraffes, lions and hippos in the Thames Valley, as confirmed by fossils found there.

    • tom0mason permalink
      October 12, 2016 4:07 am

      Apart from London zoo there appears to be an excess of large mammals in the form of (subsidy) predator types in the House of Commons, and even more in the House of Lords (take a bow Lord Deben aka John Gummer).


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