Paris Agreement: Twelve Days That Damned Our World?

Paris Agreement: Twelve Days That Damned Our World, boomer warrior

The world is ruled by those who show up. And world leaders did show up last December in Paris to sign the first climate agreement that would shape climate action for decades to come and perhaps to the end of this century. After 20 years of international climate negotiations, The Paris Agreement was formally adopted on December 12, 2015. So, will the Paris Agreement save the planet or has it damned our world?

“This is truly a historic moment…For the first time, we have a truly universal agreement on climate change, one of the most crucial problems on earth.” (United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon)

Like millions of others around the globe I got caught up in the euphoria of the moment; I was filled with hope and optimism. We have finally come to our senses I allowed myself to think. But then climate reality set in.

Now that the celebrations are over, now that the champagne has stopped flowing and now that the high-fives and congratulatory back-slapping for a job well done are over, it’s time to take a more sober look at what has really been accomplished.

Former NASA scientist James Hansen calls the agreement a fraud and a fake with “no action, just promises…..we’ll have a 2 degree warming target and then try to do a little better every five years. It’s just worthless words.” Hansen claims we are already at a level of emergency. We do not need more blue-sky pledges.

Paris Agreement has Damned Our World


Published December 5, 2015
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Naomi Klein, Canadian environmentalist and climate activist, has called the climate deal scientifically inadequateBill McKibben (350.org) stated that, “The world’s governments have now announced their intentions. And so the rest of us can hold them to those promises, or at least try. What, you want to build a pipeline? I thought you were going to go for 1.5 degrees. You want to frack? Are you fracking kidding me? You said you were going for 2 degrees at the absolute worst.”

Inadequacies of the Agreement

Paris Agreement: Twelve Days That Damned Our World, boomer warrior

Mock Eiffel tower at Le Bourget conference centre (credit: IISD/Kiara Worth)

Citizens Climate Lobby Canada points out four facts to keep in mind:

  1. It is not a formal commitment to a 1.5 oC limit–just a promise to pursue that limit.
  2. The actual plans from the 195 countries that took part in the Paris Agreement currently still commit the world to a temperature rise well above the two degree limit.
  3. In November 2015 the world hit the one degree rise above pre-industrial levels.
  4. Also in November 2015, humanity passed another ominous milestone: the last time anyone alive experienced global carbon dioxide (CO2) levels below 400 ppm. The scientific data strongly suggests that the safe level is 350 ppm. For over 10,000 years of human civilization, until the last hundred years, atmospheric COwas below 300 ppm.

Gap between evidence and promise

The gap between what is needed to make the planet livable for future generations and the tenuous promises of the agreement is shocking. Even if the 195 signatories to the deal attain their respective emissions targets, the agreement will lock us into a future of 3-4 degrees of planetary warming–a truly catastrophic and unimaginable nightmare.

Just before the start of the Paris talks, Dahr Jamail (Truthout Report) claimed that the Paris climate talks would be too little too late:

Well in advance of the Paris talks, the UN announced that the amount of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere has locked in another 2.7 degrees Celsius warming at a minimum, even if countries move forward with the pledges they make to cut emissions. Hence, even the 2 degree Celsius goal is already unattainable….The faux goal of 2 degrees Celsius continues to be discussed. Meanwhile, the planet burns.

Profit or the Planet

The Paris agreement will operate within an economic framework that fails to recognize the primary culprit of global warming and climate change–capitalism is inherently unsustainable. The deal continues to support an economic system that demands infinite growth on a planet with finite resources, a system which has already produced climate chaos around the globe.

We have twiddled with the temperature dial–1.5 or 2 degrees–while failing to address the real causes–a debt-bound economic system, the myth of progress and our millennia-long separation from wild nature on which we depend for everything.

Price on Carbon

Putting a price on carbon is recognized world-wide as the primary tool for reducing emissions and reaching a  zero-carbon reality sometime in the second half of this century. But the Agreement fails miserably to address carbon pricing. It includes murky semantics where carbon trading is referred to as “internationally transferred mitigation outcomes”Article 6 provides for an entirely new, UN-controlled international carbon market mechanism where countries will be able to trade carbon to help each other to achieve their own targets for emissions cuts. A CounterPunch article claims that Paris has set us up for failure:

Carbon markets basically function as a delaying tactic. It’s been that way ever since their first inclusion in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The EU-ETS for instance, the first, biggest and most significant of all trading schemes, simply hasn’t delivered. It took the best part of ten years for it to start after Kyoto, and once in action it was riddled by fraudcorruptionover-allocation of permits and perverse incentives for carbon offsetting – all contributing to the fact that the price for carbon is so low that nobody cares.

Two Untouchables

According to the U.N., livestock production is responsible for 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. And yet, animal agriculture and the consumption of meat have been largely ignored at the Paris climate talks leading up to the climate deal.

A University of Cambridge study finds that business-as-usual food consumption will eat up all of our global GHG budget by 2050, with nothing left for energy, transportation and other sectors.

The discussion surrounding “overpopulation” continues to be ignored. And yet, it is the proverbial elephant in the room. It is a taboo to even talk about this issue. By 2050, another 2 billion people will have been added to the planet putting even more strain on already depleting resources.

“Without pressure from ordinary people, world leaders would have gladly ignored this problem [global warming] entirely. It’s  pressure from people that will close the gap between what was signed today and the action we need“, wrote May Boeve of 350.0rg in a December email. I started this piece by saying that the world is ruled by those who show up. But change only happens when people on the streets take action.

That will happen in 2016.

*

RollyRolly Montpellier is the Founder and Managing Editor of BoomerWarrior.Org. He’s a Climate Reality leader, a Blogger and a Climate Activist. He’s a member of Climate Reality Canada, Citizens’ Climate Lobby (Ottawa) and 350.Org (Ottawa), the Ethical Team (as an influencer)  and Global Population Speakout.

Rolly has been published widely in both print and online publications. You can follow him on FacebookTwitterLinkedin and Pinterest.

10 Responses to Paris Agreement: Twelve Days That Damned Our World?

  1. Oh wow, good stuff Rolly, you pointed out all the right things for a person get a hold of our situation, thanks so much. You know if I were to give priority to climate action I would put it to adaptation. I believe that we’re gonna get slammed by climate change. We could maybe avoid it, but to do that would take way too much sacrifice for all us, not just rich people and the government. but All of us. Legislation and regulation are only a small part of what’s needed, the biggest need is that people, everyday people, change their lives dramatically. But that ain’t gonna happen cuz of too many people that are too comfortable and they are also the people in power to change things and that simply just makes for too much inertia.

    I don’t suggest we not continue mitigation, we need more of it in fact, but by now we should be talking 50 times more about adaptation. But we don’t, why? Cuz we’d be admitting where we are at “in reality” and that’s just too much for the folks basking in financial security and lovely homes. This is not complicated, if it were not for the happy living standards that those in power have, we’d be on the road to recovery. Just think about it. And btw, when I say “those in power” I ain’t just talking about politicians and corporate CEO’s. I’m talking about anyone who has a comfortable income and has purchasing power cuz it’s the market in our present world that determines policy and the nation’s direction. We are still living by that insane notion and until we give that up we are not gonna do anything signifcant to hald global warming.

    • Well Danny I’ve been part of that societal group with good living standards and thus part of the problem. But cultural shifts are slow – it takes at least one generation. Right now too many boomers do not want to give up the ‘good’ life. But whether we like it or not, all of us will be forced to make significant changes just to survive, as climate change continues to ravage our world. It’s just the beginning.

      Thank you for your support and frequent comments – much appreciated.

  2. Pingback: Paris Agreement: Twelve Days That Damned Our World? | Damn the Matrix

  3. Cultural shifts are even slower in the international system, which is still quite immature. Paris was a great achievement. If you don’t think so, just compare it to Copenhagen. If it’s 12 days that damned the world, then the world was damned regardless (I think this is probably true). Thanks for reminding us all of how far we still have to go and the steadily increasing urgency of action.

    • Thank you for your comments.

      I knew when I published this article that it’s a negative view of the Paris Agreement. But I must tell it like I see it. On the one hand it’s a great achievement to get 195 countries to agree that climate change is a problem that is existential – it’s about whether the human species can survive if we continue business as usual. And now we all agree that drastic changes are necessary. But the agreement does not encompass the kind of drastic changes that will get us there. Not even close.

      So yes “we still have to go and the steadily increasing urgency of action.”

  4. James Hansen is correct on the Global Warming part.

    We are headed for a human population crash from 7.5 Billion to 70 thousand or zero people some time between 2022 and 2040. We don’t have time for research or fooling around with renewables.

    Reference “Overshoot” by William Catton, 1980 and “Bottleneck: Humanity’s Impending Impasse” by William Catton, 2009. Catton says that we humans are about to experience a population crash. Population biologist William Catton says that the US is the most overcrowded country. Collapse from overpopulation could happen any time now.
    The Earth has 4.5 Billion too many people. An overshoot in population requires an equal undershoot. We overshot by 4.5 billion, and the consequence is an undershoot by 4.5 billion. The carrying capacity is 3 billion. 3 billion minus 4.5 billion is zero because there can’t be minus 1.5 billion people. This can happen even if there is enough food.

    Catton tells the story of an island with deer but no wolves. The deer population increased to ~3500. There was still plenty of food, but the population crashed to 35. The reason was overcrowding.
    Sharing kills everybody because you can’t survive on half of the required calories. 7 billion people is 4 billion too many no matter how you slice it. “We” didn’t make “Them” have too many children.

    We are living on “mined” water. When the aquifers run dry, the Earth’s carrying capacity will drop below 3 billion.

    IF there are survivors, they will number in the thousands, not billions. We have no idea who or where they will be. Most likely, they are still living in the stone age at this moment.

  5. Pingback: Paris Agreement: Twelve Days That Damned Our World? | educators climate alliance

  6. fred Lautenschlaeger Reply

    We know all the facts. What do you offer as implementation strategy for all people to adhere and for all politicians to agree to? Give us a list of the ‘drastic changes’ that are required and indicate the probability for their implementation. Then we have the real picture beyond just another analysis. Fred

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