What Does The Paris Climate Accord Actually Mean For The World?
As 195 nations have reached a landmark climate agreement in Paris, we stress that the deal has neither teeth to be enforced, nor legs to stand on…
Yet it is good to observe the sunny side of the deal, and observing that reason — here is our take of what this means in simple terms.
Let’s figure out what the Paris “deal” means — as if it were to be observed and followed — based on what is essentially a Gentlemen’s agreement without any Realpolitik muscle.
And as most of the Leaders around the world know far too well, “No Muscle – No Honey.” “No Money – No Honey” either. ANd that is the sad lot of COP21 in Paris. A junket in Paris for everyone, but well short of anything meaningful to send back home.
Still all participating politicians, after buying the requisite “Hermes” junk, they want to send a positive Christmas message back home, to appease the plebs and the common folk around the world who feel their lives upended — and thus are obliged to hail this uncapped french onion soup, as a success.
One more time we need to remember that the “Arab Spring” was a real wake up call as the first massive uprising due to Climate Change. But people don’t know that and think that the Internet or the FB and Twitter caused people to rise up and offer their very blood and lives in protest of the untainable prices of food.
With people it’s always about the food… If you can’t feed your family you go to hell fast.
And here in Paris we are reminded that not everything is as it looks on the menu photos of that nice little Parisian cafe called Le Bourget. This “French Cafe” full of silly waiters, where we’ve been eating sandwiches downed with luke warm beer, for what seemed like an eternity and a night is typical tourist trap. But there you have it. Even the coffee was bad … as was the constant lack of tea, but that’s another matter altogether.
Still around midnight Saturday we all erupted in cheers, because the sudden bang of a green little gavel yesterday, by the French Minister announced to the assembled representatives of 195 nations and about a hundred NGOs that we had reached a landmark accord that for the first time in history — shall commit nearly every country around the world, to lowering planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, in order to help stave off the most drastic effects of climate change.
Still the worst catastrophic effects of a warming planet will not be arrested yet…
The deal, which was met with an eruption of cheers and ovations from the tired thousands of delegates gathered in Le Bourget conference hall, and coming from around the world — represents a historic breakthrough on the issue of a fast warming planet, that has evaded three decades of international efforts…
For almost thirty years now we have failed to address climate change. Even though we had the makings of a deal back in 2009 and even later as side deals and “plan B” and other efforts to stem the tides.
Anyone remembers Copenhagen and COP15? We had another “Deal” then too. The Copenhagen Accord… Right?
So this is rehashed mashed potatoes, or rather reheated french fries — and you know how well that goes down.
Still we have to be positive about this achievement today because traditionally, such deals have required developed economies like the United States to take action to lower greenhouse gas emissions, but they have exempted developing countries like China and India from such obligations.
This one is a little different since the accord, which United Nations diplomats have been working toward for nine years, changes that dynamic by requiring action in some form from every country, rich or poor, small or large, developed or emerging…
But we have to address the issue of what does this Climate Deal might mean for the World at large.
We all know that this “Deal” is too weak — but it is a start towards more stringent measures…
The outgoing UN helm Ban Ki Moon had this to say: “This is truly a historic moment.”
The United Nations secretary general, also said: “For the first time, we have a truly universal agreement on climate change, one of the most crucial problems on earth.”
On the other end of the spectrum is NASA earth scientist James Hansen who went from being possibly America’s most celebrated scientist, to what is now probably its most prominent climate activist. He’s been arrested several times in protests outside the White House over mining and the controversial Keystone pipeline extension and has always led the march toward CLIMATE PROGRESS.
He is also an adjunct professor at Columbia University involved in a climate lobbying group and still undertaking the sort of rigorous scientific endeavor which helps maintain his worldwide gravitas.
One particular paper, released in July, painted a particularly bleak future for just about anyone living near the coast. Hansen and 16 colleagues found that Earth’s huge ice sheets, such as those found in Greenland, are melting faster than expected, meaning that even the 2C warming limit is “highly dangerous”.
The sea level could soon be up to five meters higher than it is today by the latter part of this century, unless greenhouse gases aren’t radically slashed, the paper states. This would inundate many of the world’s cities, including London, New York, Miami, and Shanghai.
“More than half of the world’s major cities, are at risk,” Hansen says. “If you talk to glaciologists privately they will tell you they are very concerned we are locking in much more significant sea level rises than the ice sheet models are telling us.”
“The economic cost of a business as usual approach to emissions is incalculable. It will become questionable whether global governance will break down. You’re talking about hundreds of million of climate refugees from places such as Pakistan and China. We just can’t let that happen. Civilization was set up and developed with a stable, constant coastline.”
His input is highly appreciated and hotly debated because as you might be well aware the canary on the mine role is not an easy one..
As for myself — I have this to say: This “deal” is small.
This deal is failing us and certainly failing our ambitions.
This deal is just an effort to a halfway house that appeases both polluters and the large energy companies and all of their affiliated commercial interests.
This deal excludes whole asset classes of Climate Destroyers, like the Shipping and Aviation industry, for example, that remain untouched even though they account for more than thirty percent of our emissions. And so untouched remains the deforestation industry.
And sadly there goes Justice and Equity…
So this Paris pastiche, is far from perfect deal, and it will not help us travel to a better place.
I’ve seen whole villages washed away in the Pacific in the Washington State and in Siberia. I’ve seen it in Alaska and in Chile. I’ve seen it in China and in Bangladesh.
This is not something for the future.
The future is already here.
Let’s face facts and be Real…
Yet these are the cards we are dealt and we might as well live with it.
So this “Paris Deal” might just have to become “the first good step forward” because as of now — we have given up the will to stop Global Warming, and instead are focused on making our continued survival a commercial exercise, or a technological leap forward. And as it stands we can only hope that technology and innovative science, will allow us to address catastrophic global warming.
But we all know that might be a prayer too far. The sixth great extinction is upon us and we are included in the menu… of despeciation.
And that is the Naked Truth.
We have to face REALITY sometimes…
Still we have no reason to get depressed about it, but instead let’s examine the bonds of our misery, and see where this might lead, because still the “Deal” has the potential to bring some measure of Goodness in the following much debated areas:
We could potentially avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change and thus stop the 4 degree Celsius Global Warming to a 2 degree rise, with complete ice sheets melting, coastlines flooding from the rising seas, and all types of extreme weather patterns mostly avoided — and perhaps we might manage to leave behind a livable planet for the generations to come.
The major oil producers and exporters like Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, and Nigeria, already weakened by the extreme slide in the price of oil, could shed further financial muscle, economic might, and geo-strategic projection power — thus making them more democratic and conversely making also the world a safer place.
The agreement strengthens pro-climate parties like the Democrats and their affiliates including the incumbent US President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry — who both lobbied hard — but it equally outrages many anti-climate parties like the Republicans and their affiliates who are skeptical of the extent of human-caused climate chaos and believe the deal favors environmental ideology over economic reality.
And although this deal is likely to be overshadowed in the current political environment because of heightened fears in regards to terrorism and economic uncertainty — the rising frequency of extreme storms, lengthy droughts, interchanged with massive floods, and severe chaotic and weird weather systems — many countries have raised concerns for ordinary citizens.
All these ambitious targets for limiting the rise in global temperatures may help countries and companies involved in renewable energy and energy efficiency by capitalizing the opportunities and expanding the renewable energy markets.
The “Paris accord” may make life difficult for some of the really big incumbent companies like the massive electric utilities and the oil, gas & coal producers, whose fuel burning releases the high levels of carbon dioxide that have caused the problem in the first place. Other green-house gas emitters like large animal farms will also be targeted because of methane release — that is 384 times more potent in impact on the atmosphere than CO2 — and which accounts for more global warming than all the cars moving around on the planet.
I fully expect more people to turn to a vegetarian life style in response, or as a political initiative, or an ideological and religious tradition, that promotes vegetarian eating as the climate friendly, life-style choice.
Ordinary people will notice greater emphasis in advertising and life-style campaigns for more efficient electrical products, homes, and vehicles, as well as dietary choices, and political personages.
Extraordinary people will create the products and the advertising campaigns that are climate friendly and thus become rather wealthy in the process of riding the wave of the Green Economy.
Many jobs could be created through the construction of a new energy infrastructure. From the new electrical grids with energy storage sites, to the deployment of massive solar fields, and wind arrays, all the way to the development of new transportation systems, and people moving utilities, that move away from dependence on the petrol gas pump, or the fossil fuel based massive grid systems.
Intelligence and New Green Economy will reign supreme and we shall see major Innovations on this field getting capitalized now. Indeed the Capital markets will finally accept the green issues…
Thus the much vaunted Green Economy will finally start taking off and we will create great new companies, billionaires and commercial concerns as well as economic superstars, and constellations, out of relatively poor countries, who happen to have an abundance of sun and wind, useful for renewable energy production.
That alone could bring some semblance of Equity in the disjointed agreement and it could further move the energy balance of power away from the fossil fuel exporting developing world and the First world companies of the industrialized countries, boosting technology-strong economies like the United States, European Union, and Japan — towards the emerging markets.
Capitalization of the new marketplaces should also advance the interests of the developing world and of the emerging markets as they develop homespun yet globally effective solutions for the generation, storage, and distribution of renewable energy.
Regardless of the possible and visible outcomes, by agreeing to the required regular reviews of emissions, every five years — this accord lays a foundation for stronger action in the future…
and it might lead to the creation of an Environmental Court to adjudicate these disputes that are certain to arise.
And to be truthful — in a nutshell, we are paving the way for a more energy-efficient and sustainable future for humanity as we embark on the first steps towards accepting and acting upon common sense and science.
Yet as a greenfield opportunity this agreement solidifies greenhouse gas pollution reduction targets from more than 190 countries accounting for more than 90 percent of global emissions.
It establishes transparency provisions to measure global progress and hold countries accountable, and it mobilizes financial support and private-sector investment to help developing countries adapt to the impacts of climate change and achieve sustainable economic growth.
President Obama, who regards tackling climate change as a central element of his legacy, spoke of the deal in a televised address from the White House. “This agreement sends a powerful signal that the world is fully committed to a low-carbon future,” he said. “We’ve shown that the world has both the will and the ability to take on this challenge.”
“The Paris agreement is testament to America’s ability to lead the world in building a clean energy future where no one is left out or left behind. And it was made possible in part by every person, business owner, and community in the United States and around the world that stepped up to prove we don’t have to choose between growing our economy and protecting our kids’ health and future, because it is now apparent that we can do both.
But we will only succeed if we redouble our efforts going forward to drive innovation, increase investment, and reap the benefits of the good-paying jobs that will come from transitioning to a clean energy economy. The next decade of action is critical—because if we do not press forward with driving clean energy growth and cutting carbon pollution across the economy, we will not be able to avoid catastrophic consequences.
We cannot afford to be slowed down by the climate skeptics or deterred by the defeatists who doubt America’s ability to meet this challenge. That’s why as President, I will make combating climate change a top priority from day one, and secure America’s future as the clean energy superpower of the 21st century.”
And for that I applaud President Obama, Secretary Kerry and our negotiating team for helping deliver a new, ambitious international climate agreement in Paris, because no matter what — this is a historic first step forward in meeting one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century: The global crisis of climate change and a fast warming planet…
Or as Miguel Arias Cañete, the European Union’s commissioner for energy and climate action, said amid the spirit of celebration that dominated the final hours of the negotiations, “Now the real work is finally ahead of us.”
Mr. Arias Cañete reminded delegates that the accord was the beginning of the real work. “Today, we celebrate,” he said. “Tomorrow, we have to act. This is what the world expects of us.”