Climate change

One cheer for the Paris agreement

International aviation and shipping emissions have been excluded from the Paris climate agreement

Article 31 (d) of the Paris Agreement requires parties to “provide an explanation of why any categories of anthropogenic emissions or removals are excluded.” Those who negotiated the Paris agreement should be held to account for giving aviation and marine transportation a get out of gaol free card  Effectively a “country” with the carbon emissions of the UK has secured exclusion …….

And effective action has been delayed – as Kevin Anderson explained graphically and eloquently at WTM last month we need to be reducing carbon emissions urgently now, we cannot risk waiting for cvhange by 2050, we are building up carbon pollution now and making the world a more hostile environment for us to live in.  Video

There has been some euphoria about the success of the COP21 negotiations in Paris. Obama has declared that it is “”the best chance we have to save the one planet we have”.  It could, he said, be a turning point. The language suggests that he is not sure that it will be.

I fear that he is right about that.

The outcome is certainly better than the results of Copenhagen in 2009 when negotiations ended in failure. The negotiations in Paris have secured an agreement that we should aim to curb global warming to less than 2C by 2100 and a very vague nation of endeavouring to achieve a 1.5C target – think about that in context: we’ve already warmed the earth by around 1C.

We have collectively agreed to achieve a degree of balance: to limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity to the same levels that trees, soil and oceans can absorb naturally, beginning at some point between 2050 and 2100. Plenty of wriggle room there.

Rich countries have agree to provide “climate finance” for poorer countries for adaptation and to finance a switch to renewable energy. Will the cash transfer be on a sufficient scale? The rich countries have agreed to provide a minimum of $100bn (£67bn) per year by 2020 – as usual the commitment will bind future politicians, most of those who agreed to this will be out of office by 2020 when the Paris agreement comes into effect.   Dr Ilan Kelman of UCL has pointed out that this $100bn is “under 8% of worldwide declared military spending each year.”

There is no effective enforcement in place – there is a commitment to review each country’s contribution to reducing carbon emissions. There will be an assessment in 2018 and further reviews every five years. The setting of emissions targets and regular review is legally binding but not the targets themselves.

The Paris Agreement can be downloaded here


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