COP 21 is Over – Now What?

With landmark climate accord, world marks turn from fossil fuels” reads the headline. The article from December 12, 2015 continues:

“By Alister Doyle and Barbara Lewis

PARIS (Reuters) – The global climate summit in Paris agreed a landmark accord on Saturday, setting the course for a historic transformation of the world’s fossil fuel-driven economy within decades in a bid to arrest global warming.”

Cautious hopes as UN adopts draft climate change deal” is the headline from AFP, a French news outlet. Their story continues:

“By Karl Malakunas, Mariëtte Le Roux
December 5, 2015 4:55 PM

Le Bourget (France) (AFP) – Negotiators from 195 nations agreed on a draft Saturday for a pact to save mankind from disastrous global warming, raising hopes that decades of arguments will finally end with a historic deal in Paris.”

Historic pact to slow global warming is celebrated in Paris” is the opener from the Associated Press.

“By KARL RITTER, SETH BORENSTEIN and SYLVIE CORBET

LE BOURGET, France (AP) — Nearly 200 nations adopted the first global pact to fight climate change on Saturday, calling on the world to collectively cut and then eliminate greenhouse gas pollution but imposing no sanctions on countries that don’t.”

There’s more, but apparently, we are supposed to believe the problem has basically been solved. We don’t have anything more to worry about. At least, that’s the attitude promoted by our reliable corporate press. Bill McKibben was less optomistic. “This didn’t save the planet,” Bill McKibben, the co-founder of 350.org, said of the agreement. “But it may have saved the chance of saving the planet.”

Jill Stein was the Green Party’s candidate for President in 2012, and she is seeking the position again for 2016. She is not at all enthusiastic about the agreement. She sent out an email with the subject line, “COP21 has failed, but we must solve the climate crisis.” It’s worth reproducing here:

“I wanted to report back to you after an intense week in Paris, where the global community was gathered for the COP21 UN Climate Summit.
Firstly, the recent tragic attacks in Paris, California and elsewhere weighed heavily on the week’s proceedings, so that the struggle against climate crisis was embedded in a landscape of terrorism and violence.

As global crises of climate, security, the economy, and democracy converge, we must redouble our efforts for transformational solutions to build a world of peace, justice, and human rights. I spoke about some of these solutions at a People’s Climate Summit conference on climate and militarism, which you can read more about here.

As the summit progressed and its final outcome took shape, it became clear that COP21 has failed to take the action necessary to prevent global climate catastrophe.

The voluntary, unenforceable pledges being produced by COP21 are entirely insufficient to prevent climate crisis. Scientific analysis shows that these pledges will lead us to 3 degrees centigrade global temperature rise – and that will be catastrophic.

Some of the pledges being touted as historic agreements could actually result in increases in emission of greenhouse gasses. Plans are adopting deceptive measures of success, such as reductions in the amount of carbon emitted per unit of GDP. Countries are claiming to be making progress when they are not reducing their actual pollution by a single ounce. Mother Nature doesn’t respond to such games. It is the real quantity of pollution that determines whether we will destroy the climate or save it.

Despite the seriousness of the threat, some of the major polluters remain committed to protecting the fossil fuel industry rather than taking serious action. I include in that group the United States, where President Obama’s promotion of the hydrofracking industry is leading to a spreading cancer of polluted groundwater and fracked gas pipelines. These pipelines, along with expansion of offshore oil drilling, have to be stopped if we are to make our required contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The United States and other industrial nations are failing to adequately fund transition and adaptation efforts in developing countries. It is the US and major industrialized countries that are primarily responsible for climate change. We have both a moral and legal responsibility to compensate other countries for the damages we have inflicted, and to enable them to find sustainable paths to development that will raise their standards of living.

One area of progress in Paris was growing recognition of the need to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees centigrade, rather than 2.0 degrees. It is now clear that many countries will experience catastrophic damage from the higher target. Unfortunately, the current agreements won’t even keep global warming below 3 degrees. However, the new international target of 1.5 degrees does provide a tool to push our local, state and national governments to accelerate the transition to 100% clean renewable energy as quickly as possible.

I had the honor of speaking to attendees of the Belong Forum in a program that included China’s deputy chief climate negotiator and other leading climate advocates. China has recently reoriented its economic planning to make climate protection a primary goal of its development plans. Also, as a result of its recent election, Canada has a government that is promising more vigorous support for climate protection.

The United States also needs to move forward.

The United States bears primary responsibility for killing hope for a binding international treaty to avert climate catastrophe. I will return to the United States determined to work to break the grip of the fossil fuel industry on Congress and the White House. Our country must begin to show the leadership the world needs at this critical moment in human history.

It’s time for the people of all nations – whose future is being sacrificed by the failure of COP21 – to demand that their leaders live up to their responsibilities for protecting us from climate change.

We must insist that the polluting engines of planetary destruction be replaced by the clean, sustainable, just economy that we truly deserve.

We must take our future into our own hands, and give our children a livable world.

It’s in our hands!

Jill Stein”

Jill is not the only dissenter: “Naomi Klein: We are going backwards, COP21 is the opposite of progress” Below is a portion of her December 11 interview. (“N” is Naomi replying to a question):

“F: Why would a climate deal be our best hope for peace?

N: The first part of it is simply that climate change is already driving conflict. So is the quest for fossil fuels. In terms of the Middle East, our thirst from fossil fuels is a major driver for illegal wars.

Do we think Iraq would have been invaded if their major export had been asparagus [as journalist Robert Fisk once asked]? Probably not. We wanted that prize in the west, Iraq’s oil. We wanted this on the world’s market. It was certainly Dick Cheney’s agenda. This destabilized the whole region, which was not particularly stable to begin with because of earlier oil wars and coups and support for dictatorships.

This is also a region that is one of the most vulnerable to climate change. Large parts of the Middle East would become unliveable on the emission trajectory that we are on. Syria has experienced the worst drought of its history in the run up to the outbreak of civil war. It is one of the factors that destabilized the country. There is no possibility for peace without very strong actions on climate.

What drew me to this issue was understanding that if we are going to take climate change seriously it is going to require a redistribution of wealth, of opportunities and technologies. In this book [presumably, This Changes Everything] I begin quoting Angelica Navarro who is a Bolivian trade and climate negotiator, talking about how climate change called for a Marshall Plan for planet earth. For countries that have their resources systematically plundered, like Bolivia and are on the front lines of dealing with the impact of climate change, it requires kind of a righting past wrongs, the transfer of wealth and turning the world right side up that I think are pre-conditions for a more peaceful world.

The conference has turned out pretty much as predicted by Ugo Bardi almost two weeks ago, at http://cassandralegacy.blogspot.com/2015/11/climate-walking-along-mountain-path.html . He said, “… the efforts of the conference of Paris appear unlikely to have a large effect, to say the least. The conference is not supposed to reach any binding agreement and there is little chance that it will arrive to an agreement sufficiently strong to ensure that temperatures will remain within the ‘2 C’ warming limits, even assuming that such a level could be considered ‘safe.'”

Illargi (the pen name for Raúl Ilargi Meijer, who writes at The Automatic Earth) was even more passionately disturbed by what he considers the farce of COP 21, which he calls “Con 21.” His conclusion, at the end of a detailed essay, is “To halt the demise of the planet, you can’t rely on the same people who cause it. Never works.” The essay, which is well worth reading, can be found at http://www.theautomaticearth.com/2015/12/con21/ .

jack and jill and climate change

So what do we do? Well, we certainly do not stop supporting and participating in all the activities opposing climate change that we were doing before COP 21. Our world “leaders,” elected or self-appointed, have certainly not solved the problem. They haven’t even come close. For the most part, they never even tried, although they did try to create some appearance of trying.

We should also consider working to replace the entire set of political “leaders” with people who take the varied issues of environmental destruction seriously, and are willing to do what needs to be done, even when that interferes with some established business models and sources of profit. How about finding candidates who support an effective carbon tax, instead of candidates who protest that it would hurt economic growth? Maybe it is time to phase out the fossil fuel economy, before it phases us out.

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One thought on “COP 21 is Over – Now What?

  1. Just how bad is “the deal” that resulted from the COP 21 Conference? Here’s a short quote from an article by Richard Heinberg:

    http://www.resilience.org/stories/2016-01-14/climate-holism-vs-climate-reductionism

    It is discouraging to see the degree to which blinkered reductionist thinking permeates the recently hatched COP 21 climate agreement. In a letter to The Independent – http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/cop21-paris-deal-far-too-weak-to-prevent-devastating-climate-change-academics-warn-a6803096.html – published on January 8, a group of top climate scientists lament that the COP 21 document fails to call for immediate systemic reductions in carbon emissions on a scale that would actually achieve the goal set forth—i.e., the limiting of global warming to 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius. Rather, the document’s authors “require carbon to be sucked out the air [at a later date]. The favoured method is to out-compete the fossil fuel industry by providing biomass for power stations. This involves rapidly growing trees and grasses faster than nature has ever done on land we don’t have, then burning it in power stations that will capture and compress the CO2 using an infrastructure we don’t have and with technology that won’t work on the scale we need and to finally store it in places we can’t find.”

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