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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

WAS THE PARIS CLIMATE CHANGE AGREEMENT THE WORLD'S GREATEST DIPLOMATIC SUCCESS?

It has now been nearly two months since 195 world leaders agreed in principle to what then was hailed as the world's greatest diplomatic success at COP (Conference of the Parties) 21 (COP 1 occurred in Berlin in 1995 and COP 22 will be held in Marrakech, Morocco from November 7-18 later this year), the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.  If nothing else, you've got to give some credit to France, for the 13 November 2015 terrorist attack in Paris had killed 130, with another 368 injured, throwing the city into turmoil.
  • Many had experienced the despair of Copenhagen 2009 (COP 15).  
  • Cancun for COP 16 could not even commit to a second period of the Kyoto Protocol, but there was a call for a $100 billion/year Green Climate Fund to help poor countries, something the U.S. Congress houses would have laughed out of their chambers. 
  • COP 17 in Durban was declared a success, but they actually did nothing.  
  • Russia, Belarus and Ukraine objected at COP 18 in Doha.
  • Nothing happened at COP 19 in Warsaw.
  • Nothing happened at COP 20 in Lima.
Thus, at COP 21 50,000 delegates awaited word Sunday night, 13 December 2015, 16 hours after the official close, not certain if anything was to come from their deliberations, when at 7:16 PM French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (second from the right, flanked by Secretary General Kim and President Hollande), announced the Paris agreement.  While hardly perfect, it was said that an important step was reached on a deal where the human race had joined in a common cause.  A bit wordy, but, heck, that was better than the chaos of Copenhagen.  This was said to be the largest gathering ever of world leaders on an environmental matter, including Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Narendra Modi and all European leaders.

Mind you:
But who are they?  New Internationalist from the UK tends to be pro-peace, anti-poverty, for women's rights, and, curiously enough, with Libertarian socialist-learning proclivities.  Breitbart is a Reagan conservative with Libertarian sympathies.  The American Spectator is a conservative publication.

Fortune indicated COP21 was a substantial success.  But they were quoting U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz.  More so, how real can control be when China says its coal use will not peak until 2030 and India will up ramp coal use by a factor of three over the next 15 years, and is opposed to phasing out coal by 2100.  The year 2100 is 84 years from now.

The New York Times tried to describe details of the agreement.  Science reported:
  • Major countries vowed to double clean energy R&D.
  • That $100 billion/year fund to help the poor countries might take until 2025 to reach any kind of reality.
  • Enhanced Transparency...whatever that means.
  • Loss and Damage:  those vulnerable countries were recognized, without any provision for compensation.
  • For binding agreement 55 countries representing at least 55% of carbon emissions will need to formally ratify the treaty by April of 2017.  If India and China continue to increase coal use, and the U.S. Congress remains Republican-controlled, you can forget any real agreement.  The U.S. Senate has yet to approve the Law of the Sea Treaty (which was my responsibility when I worked in the U.S. Senate more than a third of a century ago), but now and then signs off on innocuous fish   matters.
In any case, here are some graphics on what has to happen:
(Click on it to read the details.)  I am not optimistic.


Let me close with two more bits of info:
For something so obviously serious, if that Paris climate change agreement was the world's greatest diplomatic success, the world is in deep trouble.


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