Paris Pow Wow Heap Good

mouth Dr Roy tells it like it is3. Or perhaps you prefer James Hansen1, 6 as reported by JA?

“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 One True Answer is a carbon tax, of course. This has all the virtues of simplicity, transparency and efficiency, and is therefore hated by all the pols who, correctly, see that it leaves no place for their pointless grandstanding, special pleading, and pork-delivery to bribe their constituents with their own money2; Timmy is similarly unimpressed. Rich Puchalsky manages to be both hopeful and cynical at the same time. ATTP notes the 1.5 oC language, but is wise enough to add it’s impressive that they’re making such strong statements, but there is a concern that they could be meaningless. Bill McKibben is confused, having missed the point.

Nations Approve Landmark Climate Accord in Paris

Perhaps I should point out that not everyone shares my cynicism5. Even JA is prepared to consider the possibility that it might help a bit; the NYT goes for Nations Approve Landmark Climate Accord in Paris; Aunty, more restrained as you hope, cautiously notes COP21 climate change summit reaches deal in Paris". What does the NYT tell us?

Traditionally, such pacts have... exempted developing countries like China and India from such obligations. The accord... changes that dynamic by requiring action in some form from every country, rich or poor. So, that's good. Obama... said. “We’ve shown that the world has both the will and the ability to take on this challenge” - um, well. Fine words. The new deal will not, on its own, solve global warming. At best... it will cut global greenhouse gas emissions by about half enough as is necessary to stave off an increase in atmospheric temperatures of 2 degrees Celsius... The national plans vary vastly in scope and ambition — while every country is required to put forward a plan, there is no legal requirement dictating how, or how much, countries should cut emissions.. The NYT continues the deal could be viewed as a signal to global financial and energy markets, triggering a fundamental shift away from investment in coal, oil and gas as primary energy sources toward zero-carbon energy sources like wind, solar and nuclear power. I guess that's the hope. But the markets have heard words before, and take them for what they are, words4. I find interesting Negotiators from many countries have said that a crucial moment in the path to the Paris accord came last year in the United States, when Mr. Obama enacted the nation’s first climate change policy — a set of stringent new Environmental Protection Agency regulations designed to slash greenhouse gas pollution from the nation’s coal-fired power plants. Meanwhile, in China, the growing internal criticism over air pollution from coal-fired power plants led President Xi Jinping to pursue domestic policies to cut coal use. I've said before, China is suffering so badly from immeadiate pollution that they'll be forced to address that, and perhaps CO2 at the same time; and the other half is a poke in the eye for the denialists who say the US shouldn't bother try to lead. Poorer countries had pushed for a legally binding provision requiring that rich countries appropriate a minimum of at least $100 billion a year to help them mitigate and adapt to the ravages of climate change. In the final deal, that $100 billion figure appears only in a preamble, not in the legally binding portion of the agreement. Tough. That hybrid legal structure was explicitly designed in response to the political reality in the United States. A deal that would have assigned legal requirements for countries to cut emissions at specific levels... would have been dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled Senate.

And that's the strongly abbreviated version. So many words! But then, that's the point.


* Going Underground
* In answer to Vinny I can but offer the Christmas Head
* by Jeffrey Sachs: The Paris agreement and the supporting decisions are a diplomatic triumph. They are an act of true global co-operation of historic significance. Yet it is crucial to distinguish between diplomacy and implementation... Cynics will say the agreement is unenforceable. They are right. They will imply that the agreement is therefore irrelevant, or doomed to fail — but in this, they are wrong
* The Paris Climate Agreement Awards - Maribo
* The near-identical post- COP 21 pep talks in Science, The Nation, The Guardian, Nature, Grist and Mother Jones demonstrate that in Paris as Pyongyang, enthusiasm for the party line remains, compulsory... - VVUWT.


1. Richard W. Erskine thinks JH is wrong.

2. Even Hansen gets this wrong, with his ridiculous suggestion that we call it a "fee" instead, so people don't notice its a tax.

3. Thanks Gavin :-) who also points us to PARIS AGREEMENT — A GOOD FOUNDATION FOR MEANINGFUL PROGRESS by Robert Stavins. Who usefully says these aspirational goals – which come not from science (although endorsed by most scientists) nor economics, and may not even be feasible – are much less important than the critical components of the agreement: the scope of participation through the INDC structure, and the mechanisms for implementation. Which might even be true.

4. See also Robert Stavins impacts on businesses will come largely not directly from the Paris Agreement, but from the policy actions that the various Parties undertake domestically in their respective jurisdictions to comply with the Paris Agreement.

5. Wiki doesn't.

6. Or Kevin Trenberth

More like this

In a sense the rhetoric is strong and impressive. On the other hand, without something like a carbon tax, it's hard to see how - on the timescales required - alternatives (or something like BECCS) can play an increasing role. My personal intention is to try and be optimistic for a while (it's easy to be a critic :-) ) but I fully expect to be disappointed (okay, that might have been somewhat ironic, but anyway).

By ...and Then Th… (not verified) on 13 Dec 2015 #permalink

Does Hansen seriously believe an international carbon tax is even remotely possible?

Good luck getting that to apply in the US, where only Congress is allowed to impose new federal taxes, not the President. Plus, there's already enough derp in Congress. Just imagine if they got to use a UN climate-change tax as a political target. The UN and climate change all rolled into one. It'd probably be their wettest dream come true.

That he's not even willing to entertain that this deal is 1) far better than the last one; 2) does provide meaningful ways to hold countries accountable; and 3) is flexible enough that Obama only needs Congress' support for a portion of it and not the emissions reductions themselves, it just shows that Hansen's myopic approach makes him about as useful to making progress on the problem as nipples are on a clam.

By Miguelito (not verified) on 13 Dec 2015 #permalink

I can tell when it's humbug, when they talk about limiting "emissions" of carbon, instead of limiting taking it out of the ground. They always act like extraction is okay, as long as it's not "emitted". In reality, the UK could do more to combat global warming by shutting down the North Sea oil and gas operations, than by all the efficiency drives and alternative energy schemes ever.

"The One True Answer is a carbon tax, of course" sounds a bit like religious zeal, even Catholic. Surely, there must be more than one true answer to the question. There had better be. The faster you think emissions need to be reduced, the more you need an answer other than a carbon tax. The carbon tax has a near zero probability of existing in the five largest emitters in the next ten years. Why are you willing to wait?

By Paul Kelly (not verified) on 14 Dec 2015 #permalink

Woy sez ...

"Of course, Hollywood seldom uses such racial stereotypes anymore…unless they are of White Southerners."

Woy then has the gall to use 19th century stereotypes of Native Americans no less.

By Everett F Sargent (not verified) on 14 Dec 2015 #permalink

The Conference of Parties is the best news since the Diet of Wurms and Pope Urban II''s crossbow ban, and in just a few decades may even rival their combined climate mpact.

Woy sez ...

"yeah, so how’s that wind and solar working to make things better for ya? Only an idiot would look at the increases in longevity, prosperity, standard of living in the last 100 years and claim that inexpensive and abundant energy did not fuel it.

It would not have happened without fossil fuels."

Heap big medicine man gave us long life paleface. Heap big corporation man take our wampum and give mindless tinkle on us paleface raygun POTUS paleface. Paleface give us much land in desert paleface. Paleface killed millions of our brothers and sisters paleface. Paleface take funny pointy topped white costume out of closet and make heap big fun. Other heap big palefaces come out of closet in comments. Paleface still paleface.

[I didn't wish to imply that everything Roy said made sense -W]

By Everett F Sargent (not verified) on 14 Dec 2015 #permalink

So much to say. For now I will simply question the 1.5 C "aspirational" target. We're already at 1 C as of this year and there's another 0.5 C of warming commitment baked in.
Are they using a different baseline? Or are they looking toward a breakthrough technology in atmospheric carbon removal?

By Raymond Arritt (not verified) on 14 Dec 2015 #permalink

What a farce. Lowering the target to 1.5 C was done on purely scientific grounds I'm sure. Can we see the calculations? India GDP divided by hurricane power dissipation change 1970 - 2020 to the 3rd power times log of Sierra snowpack depth etc etc. Reality is that current analyses are pointing toward 1.5, so that even when nothing is done they can declare victory and justify the billons in squandered dollars. Cynical? Nah, not me.

Everett, it sounds like you might sympathize with the Indigenous Environmental Network's mission statement:

The Indigenous Peoples of the Americas have lived for over 500 years in confrontation with an immigrant society that holds an opposing world view. As a result we are now facing an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of all natural life.

(Well, the first bit, anyway. I can't remember whether you're an environmental eschatologist.)

But what do you make of IEN's pre-COP21 statement?…

On first reading it I thought IEN's condemnation of the 'scapegoating of migrants and refugees' and general pro-refugee position was a tad hypocritical - and even a tad racist - given the anti-immigrant tone of the mission statement but now I'm not so sure. What the mission statement is really talking about is not paleface immigration but paleface conquest and subjugation. The palefaces were immigrants - and many of them were 'fleeing violence and fleeing for their lives' - but it's what happened next that upsets IEN, and who can blame them?

But there's still the implied call for North American governments to welcome more refugees from Syria and elsewhere. Even the most anti-Islamist Muslim refugee has a worldview opposed to IEN's animist Mother Earth shtick. Does that collide with the mission statement? I'm undecided.

By Vinny Burgoo (not verified) on 14 Dec 2015 #permalink

Tom C writes:"Reality is that current analyses are pointing toward 1.5 ...."

In which alternate reality do you find "current analyses" that predict only another 0.5C of warming over the rest of the century?

You are aware we're at 1.0 already and fixed warming in the pipeline, yes?

By Kevin ONeill (not verified) on 14 Dec 2015 #permalink

A target rich environment. Dr. Spencer's membership in a middle eastern religious cult provides a get out of hell free card that cleans all his sins with the blood of G_D, so he is free take a dump on anyone, anytime, including the victims of the Paris massacre and the Native American victims of 19th century European genocide.

WRT COP20, "should" replacing "shall" means not over my dead body. Until we see an ice sheet collapse, nothing is going to get done.

The coal is getting burned. All of it.

The adult response is to try and clean it up. Instead, the deniers will fight all pollution controls because the only facets of Darwinism they believe in is social, environmental and toxicological. Meanwhile, the CAGW weenies will continue to stand athwart political reality, arm akimbo, finger wagging bleating Sthop.

Business as usual... AKA the worst case scenario. 8.5-W/m2... it's what's in fashion for 2100.

Reminds me sadly of
""biodiversity decline should be halted with the aim of reaching this objective by 2010"."

"By 2015, the multiple anthropogenic pressures on coral reefs, and other vulnerable ecosystems impacted by climate change or ocean acidification are minimized, so as to maintain their integrity and functioning. "
"By 2020, the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests, is at least halved and where feasible brought close to zero, and degradation and fragmentation is significantly reduced."
"By 2020 all fish and invertebrate stocks and aquatic plants are managed and harvested sustainably"

Words are just words.

By Quiet Waters (not verified) on 17 Dec 2015 #permalink