By Robert A. Vella
As world leaders patted themselves on the back over the agreement reached yesterday by the Paris Climate Summit (COP21), notable scientists remain highly skeptical – and even scornful – that the deal will achieve its stated goal of averting catastrophic consequences to human civilization in the decades to come. Unfortunately, this is the nature of politics. When faced with serious intransigent problems, politicians will find something – anything – to agree to so that they can save their public reputations and careers. Perhaps we expect too much from them. The issue of climate change, compounded by entrenched economic interests, might be beyond our ability to effectively address. If so, human civilization – as it currently exists – won’t survive into the next century.
From The Guardian – World leaders hail Paris climate deal as ‘major leap for mankind’:
A historic, legally binding climate deal that aims to hold global temperatures to a maximum rise of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, staving off the worst effects of catastrophic global warming, has been secured.
The culmination of more than 20 years of fraught UN climate talks has seen all countries agree to reduce emissions, promise to raise $100bn a year by 2020 to help poor countries adapt their economies, and accept a new goal of zero net emissions by later this century.
Formally adopted in Paris by 195 countries, the first universal climate deal will see an accelerated phase-out of fossil fuels, the growth of renewable energy streams and powerful new carbon markets to enable countries to trade emissions and protect forests.
As the final text of the agreement was released, the French president, François Hollande, said: “This is a major leap for mankind. The agreement will not be perfect for everyone, if everyone reads it with only their own interests in mind. We will not be judged on a clause in a sentence, but on the text as a whole. We will not be judged on a word, but on an act.”
Climate scientists and activists cautioned that while the agreement was unexpectedly ambitious, the measures did not go far enough. “The cuts promised by countries are still insufficient, but the agreement sends a strong message to business, investors and cities that fossil fuels belong to the past,” said Corinne Le Quere, director of the UK’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.
Myles Allen, professor of geosystem science at Oxford, cast doubt on the 1.5C target: “Human-induced warming is already approaching one degree and is predicted to be at 1.2C by 2030, so 1.5C will be a challenge.”
Bill McKibben, founder of environment movement 350.org, said: “The power of the fossil fuel industry is reflected in the text of the agreement, which drags out the transition [to clean energy] so far that endless climate damage will be done.”
Also, from The Guardian – James Hansen, father of climate change awareness, calls Paris talks ‘a fraud’:
“It’s a fraud really, a fake,” he says, rubbing his head. “It’s just bullshit for them to say: ‘We’ll have a 2C warming target and then try to do a little better every five years.’ It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises. As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned.”
The talks, intended to reach a new global deal on cutting carbon emissions beyond 2020, have spent much time and energy on two major issues: whether the world should aim to contain the temperature rise to 1.5C or 2C above preindustrial levels, and how much funding should be doled out by wealthy countries to developing nations that risk being swamped by rising seas and bashed by escalating extreme weather events.
But, according to Hansen, the international jamboree is pointless unless greenhouse gas emissions aren’t taxed across the board. He argues that only this will force down emissions quickly enough to avoid the worst ravages of climate change.