A reader posted a comment so stupid it demands a response to counter the mindless hyperbole that touts the Paris treaty to the world as a good thing.
The comment is just a cut-and-paste from CBC on key points of the Paris agreement, but it contradicts the crucial point of my earlier post—that the Paris agreement requires the signatories to submit to just two undemanding tasks. So it’s time to seriously check the words of the treaty, not merely the anodyne IPCC blandishments about the treaty.
For 24 years the United Nations has tried to coerce countries into a binding agreement to “fight climate change”. But they still haven’t managed it.
The CBC article echoes constantly-repeated and utterly wrong statements about the Paris agreement. It’s obvious that neither Haydn Watters, then a journalism student working for CBC News, nor Dennis Horne, who cited the article here, is aware of what the agreement itself actually says.
What are the five points and what is the truth? Follow—or correct!—this discussion with the original agreement at your elbow. That page contains only the orthodox UN feel-good summary with copious naive assertions about the future, beyond which no journalist seems prepared to go. But you may prefer to collect the English pdf linked there and learn what has actually been agreed. (NOTE: Nations that sign the agreement are called “Parties” to the agreement.) Here’s the original CBC version of the five points:
- Limit temperature rise ‘well below’ 2 °C
The agreement includes a commitment to keep the rise in global temperatures “well below” 2 °C.
Scientists consider 2 °C the threshold to limit potentially catastrophic climate change.
- First universal climate agreement
- Helping poorer nations
Help … poorer countries combat climate change and foster greener economies. The agreement promotes universal access to sustainable energy in developing countries, particularly in Africa. It says this can be accomplished through greater use of renewable energy.
- Publishing greenhouse gas reduction targets
The agreement … says that each country should strive to drive down their carbon output “as soon as possible.”
- Carbon neutral by 2050?
The deal sets the goal of a carbon-neutral world sometime after 2050 but before 2100. This means a commitment to limiting the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity to the levels that trees, soil and oceans can absorb naturally.
1. Limit temperature rise ‘well below’ 2 °C
Yes, Article 2 says the Agreement “aims” to strengthen the response to … climate change, … including by “holding the increase in … temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C.” Whatever that means. What does “aim” mean? What does “pursuing efforts” mean?
2. First universal climate Agreement
No, it’s not universal, though it can be called an Agreement, if you overlook the crucial parts that are self-determined.
3. Helping poorer nations
This Agreement is all about developed nations handing money to developing nations. Note that China is called a developing nation, though I have no idea why. Oh, wait: that’s simply what China wants, and who would say no to them?
4. Publishing greenhouse gas reduction targets
In Article 4, paragraph 3 says: “Each Party’s successive nationally determined contribution will represent a
progression beyond the Party’s then current nationally determined contribution and reflect its highest possible ambition.” So they can go up but not down.
However, in paragraph 11, it says: “A Party may at any time adjust its existing nationally determined
contribution with a view to enhancing its level of ambition.” Does this signal a potential watering down of the determination for NDCs ever to rise? It’s easy to imagine a nation saying: “We reviewed our NDC with a view to enhancing our level of ambition in accordance with paragraph 11, but the parlous state of our economy forces us to revise our NDC downwards. Sorry.”
There would be no punitive action whatsoever.
5. Carbon neutral by 2050?
Yes, Article 4 says: “In order to achieve the long-term temperature goal set out in Article 2, Parties 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, so as to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century.”
But this is not an agreement; it is not even a partial agreement. This resembles the agreement of the sun to be circled by the earth—there’s no choice here. No matter how determined its “aim” or intention, no nation can achieve a “global peaking” of all nations’ greenhouse gas emissions, and thus achieve the “balance” of sources and sinks. It’s impossible.
This is a piece of verbiage intended to pull the wool over green, hopeful eyes.
Article 23 ensures a safe exit, without explanation, from difficulty, embarrassment or change of heart.
At any time after three years since this Agreement entered into force for a Party, that Party may resign on a year’s notice.
There is no mention of sanctions, legal, political or military, in the case of non-compliance. In any case, sanctions against non-compliance are completely abandoned by Article 15, which establishes an expert-based committee that is “to facilitate implementation of and promote compliance” with the Agreement but, fatally, is to function in a manner that is “transparent, non-adversarial and non-punitive.”
God bless us all. The UNFCCC couldn’t slap a non-compliant nation with a wet bus ticket, much less (say) imprison the head of the army. So much for being legally enforceable, as some wide-eyed, breathless zealots are claiming.
And thank God, since, for now, this defends our freedom.