Monday, December 14, 2015
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow: The Paris Agreement is a marvelous congregation of empty phrases: it is only a"partly legally binding" commitment to publicly plan to cut carbon emissions - and not to actually cut them. It is like saying you are going on a diet and the check back in five years to see how it's going. Or else. Or else what? Face public shame, along with the other 190+ countries that will also fail to live up to their carbon diet plans? Except for those who don't plan on dieting, like India... and the US, faced with Republican fantasies.
The signatories will "strive" to peak global carbon emissions "as soon as possible", and to keep global warming to 2ºC or maybe 1.5ºC by 2100 even though all the empty promises guarantee a 2.8ºC rise by then. Minimum. And reaching 5ºC pretty soon after, as various feedbacks kick in.
Little substantive will happen until 2020, while clear deadlines for specific targets are generally absent. "The text is vague on the overall ambition: it does not specify a date for the peaking of emissions, and specifies only that reductions should lead towards “greenhouse gas emissions neutrality” in the “second half of the century”.
Then there's the $100 billion a year in aid to developing countries to help them adjust to drowning. That's going to start in 2020, but quite who is in for how much remains to be settled.
There is absolutely nothing in this glorious victory that will actually address global warming. On purpose.
To actually address global warming on an effective time scale would require $16.5 trillion - most of which would be stolen by those in power and those behind those in power. But this is not a problem because the debt-saddled world cannot come up with such sums.
But none of this is going to happen. Exxon and the Saudis are not going gently into oblivion. Nor will Russia, Iran and all the Barons on Wall Street who have hundreds of billions tied up in the fossil fuel energy complex. If fossil fuels must be left in the ground, who gets left holding the bag on the billions, maybe trillions in bonds? Bailouts?
If this actual serious steps are to be taken to reduce the rise in global carbon emissions, the US must be an active leader; but the Republicans who control Congress are intentional know-nothings, who will block any attempt to cut emissions by crying "jobs, profits, economy" while kissing the Koch Brothers' rings.
Just this week Jeb! Bush suggested Congress eliminate the Obama administration’s regulation of carbon pollution, as a threat to jobs and profits.
Perhaps most telling is the fact that Canada is banning single-use plastic bags - a petroleum product - starting in 2018. If it takes a relatively environmentally sensitive country three years to do away with plastic bags, how long before we can outlaw air travel, gasoline and petro-profits?
The biggest omission in addressing a curtailing of emissions is any discussion of a global effort to reduce the population as quickly as possible. That there is no discussion of cutting the living standards of Americans, Europeans and other developed countries by 75 to 90% within a few decades is another indication of how hollow the exercise has been..
Global warming is a profit opportunity. Companies will line up to take public monies to do nothing. Other companies will figure out how to profit from protecting rich cities from disaster while letting island nations and third world seacoast cities slowly sink - the photos will make great promotional literature.
Only a global government with an effective and transparent global reach could solve this problem and, like the emissions cuts under the COP21 Paris Agreement, it ain't gonna happen.
Posted by Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III at 8:12 AM