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The Failure of Paris Summit

The Failure of Paris Summit

By Alfonso Elizondo

Created Wednesday December 16 2015

Almost all scientists have described the Paris summit as a fraud, displaying the huge gap between the main objective of the agreement, which was to maintain the increase of global temperatures below 2C and the efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 C e., as well as the lack of a roadmap for reducing emission by 2050. The sharpest rejection to the climate agreement signed by 196 countries in Paris was that of James Hansen, global pioneer in the study of climate change. 

According to the former NASA climatologist and professor at Columbia University, who’s been alerting the US Congress about the risks of global warming for three decades, this agreement is an excuse made by politicians to say that there is a goal of 2C and then says that we will try and do even better t every 5 years. He also criticized the fact that the countries which are the main cause of the problem weren’t mentioned and urgent measures were to be taken to de-carbonize the economy, because even thought it’s beyond doubt that carbon-based fuels are the cheapest one, it is also true that they are still used the most.

According to Kallbekken Steffen, director of the International Policy Center for Climate and Energy, although we are facing an alleged historical agreement with the ambitious goal of lowering the temperature of the planet, such agreement lacks specific means to start this mitigation. In order to reach the target of 1.5∞C we have to reduce % carbon gas emissions from 70% to 95% by the middle of this century. And these figures that existed before the beginning of the Summit climate control do not send a clear sign of change.

Myles Allen, a professor of geophysics at the University of Oxford, says that it will be a great challenge to maintain the target of 1.5C by 2050, the same thought is also shared by Jan Kelman from University College London, who thinks that the lack of numbers and commitments beyond the reference to temperatures indicates that nothing substantial will happen before 2020, because of the lack of specific objectives with a clear timetable after this date. On top of that, there is the possibility that governments might change their positions regarding this issue, as well possible failures to be ratified by some particularly parliaments, the US Congress in particular. Corenne Le Querre of the Tyndall Centre for the Investigation of Climate Change holds the opinion that the cuts announced by the countries attending the Summit are still insufficient to remember that the agreed 2.7C target is well above what Scientists consider the critical point.

However, we have observed that politicians and officials of the various nations present at the summit, which in most part are completely alien to science, are the main supporters of the supposed success reached with the Paris Agreement. One example is the economist from LSE London, Nicolas Stern, author of the report on the economics of Climate Change. The same has happened with Ba Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary General, who said last Saturday that the Paris Agreement was a personal victory, after a long road marked by the failure of the Climate Summit in Copenhagen in 2009. Its worth pointing out that Ba Ki-Moon will be in charge to open the ceremony of the signing of the Paris Agreement on April 22, 2016 and will be the one checking future actions of governments, businesses and civil society.

On his part, Barak Obama, the current president of the United States said he never expected Republican and Democrats lawmakers to agree, but he’d rather planned on using his executive powers through a decree to approve ambitious cuts in emissions of American industry by this summer. And last Saturday he defended the Paris Agreement while celebrating the leadership of the United States.

Obama said that since 2012 he had explained the virulence of Hurricane Sandy on the coast of New York due to the effects of climate change, but the Republican Party has maintained its rejection of any legislation related to cutting emissions.  He also pointed out that there is no shortage of legislators, or presidential candidates who deny the role of human activities as the main cause of global warming, whereas the federal government and the White House are now engaged in responsibilities usually assigned to the State. Within this context, the US must ratify the agreement signed in Paris by spring, while Congress will have to deal with the election campaign for presidency that started in February in the State of Iowa.

For its part, China has achieved its main goal in the Paris summit, as the final document of 195 countries have agreed to review their commitments to reduce emissions every five years, with the exception of those countries that had pledged to cut emissions by 2030, China being one of them. It is the first time that China is assuming any environmental commitments under the leadership of Xi Jinping, while boosting carbon-based energy projects in 27 Asian countries.

Last Saturday New York Times reported that the advantages s from cutting emissions in China could counteract that of those twenty countries, as Chinese state companies backed by loans from state-owned banks are financing at least 92 carbon-based power plants in 27 developing countries, regardless of the impact they may have on global warming. But it is notable that the attitude of China in Paris was very different than the one the country held in Copenhagen in 2009, when it opposed any binding agreement. At that time China was pursuing a growth model at any cost, but today this model is exhausted and protests among the Chinese public are increasingly on the rise due to ecological deterioration.

China was the main protagonist during the Paris talks as it is issuing nine billion tons of carbon dioxide per year and it is the main cause of pollution in the world. Although Beijing promised to cut emissions by 60 to 65% per unit of GDP by 2030 compared to 2005, and that it stated that by 2030 they would achieve a 20% increase in renewable energy sources and nuclear energy, we know that in 2014 this was only at 11.2%. Most of that energy increase will be generated by atomic energy, since China already has 21 reactors and it’s planning to install 28 more in the next six years, increasing production from 19.1 gig watts to 58 gig watts per year.

Addendum: Although politicians and officials who went to the Summit declared it was a great triumph, those who thoroughly know the truth about climate policy consider it a terrible failure.