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Sunday, November 29, 2015

PARIS: COP21

It has been more than a week since I returned from my 65-day Global Around the World Adventure.  Aside for some Blue Revolution and air pollution postings, I've largely avoided reporting on current events.  

Today, I will review the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference to convene in Paris tomorrow.  First, some background:
  • This is COP21, standing for the 21st gathering of the Conference of Parties...the ANNUAL climate change meeting of all 195 United Nations members.
  • COP1 was held in Berlin in 1995, although it all kind of started in 1992, 23 years ago, with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
  • For the UN, things went quite swiftly, for COP3 was the monumental session in 1997 when the Kyoto Protocol was fashioned:
    • While 193 countries countries agreed to cooperate, the only countries refusing were Afghanistan, Southern Sudan (new country), Andorra, Vatican City (only an observer anyway), Taiwan (not a member of the UN) and the USA
    • Basically, the U.S. Senate detests international treaties that do not help the country.  Republican-controlled Senates, in particular, are paranoiacally suspicious.  Take something similar like the Law of the Sea Treaty, which came up for vote while I was working in the U.S. Senate a third of a century ago:
      • The green, blue and yellow agreed.
      • Red countries, like the U.S. refused to ratify.
      • This UN Convention remains in limbo.
    • However, all is not hunky-dory, for, returning to the top map, the blue countries above had no binding targets, while the purple and orange ones changed their mind.
  • Because of the Kyoto Protocol, the European Union actually reduced carbon emissions from the base year of 1990, while the U.S. only barely increased ours.  However, China quadrupled carbon emissions from 1990 to 2012 and India tripled.
  • While great for Planet Earth, Europe and the U.S. hurt their economies by being so conscientious.
  • Basically, for climate change remediation to work, ALL countries MUST agree to cooperate.
Okay, so what can we expect in Paris from November 30 to December 11?
  • 138 heads of state will show up, including Barack Obama, Xi Jinxing, Narendra Modi and Vladimir Putin.
  • There will be horrific traffic jams trying to get these leaders to the convention site.
  • Security will be stifling.
  • There will be 40,000 delegates...yes, 40,000 people involved with the sessions.
  • The primary goal will be to agree to measures such that our surface atmosphere will only warm by two degrees Celsius or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, which, if you think about it, is kind of high.
Let me tell you what will happen.  An agreement of sorts will be reached, but it will be so watered down that the effect, at this stage, will be meaningless.  It will be like asking me to run a hundred yard dash in an hour.  Sure I can do it, but...I guess you get the point.  The hope is to gain a sense of universality, this time including China and India, with some hope of the U.S. Senate even ratifying the treaty, that someday, the emission limits can be strengthened when truly monumental environmental catastrophes occur to scare the world to get serious.  Oh, there will be a COP22, and the current site is said to be Morocco.

Tomorrow I will post on Dengue Fever:  The Big Island of Hawaii is in the midst of this potentially serious mosquito transmitted disease.  This ailment is hardly new to the State, for I remember foregoing golf on the Windward side of Oahu because of incidents in Kaneohe.  Further, too, mainly because I accepted speaking assignments at energy conferences in Papua New Guinea and Reunion Island without doing any research on how safe it was, I got trapped in two other more severe mosquito-caused contagions:  malaria and chikungunya.

Later in the week, how truly serious is terrorism?  As this is mostly a blog site for sustainable resources, I will also attempt to insert a review of renewable energy.

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