Paris Agreement: Twelve Days That Damned Our World?

15 01 2016

An excellent article from Boomer Warrior.  May the looming crisis save us from ourselves, because the powers that be sure as hell won’t……

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.

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10 responses

15 01 2016
rabiddoomsayer

All of the above assumes civilization will last. Take any theory of collapse and apply it to today. Is there one that concludes that all is OK? Not counting the perennial “But we are different”

The comment on climate models is like seeing an out of control truck at the top of a hill and worrying that he might damage the bumper bar.

15 01 2016
davekimble3

> In November 2015 the world hit the one degree rise above pre-industrial levels.

No, that was just a prediction based on Jan – Sep, and as with all predictions when properly reported, was actually +1.02 ± 0.11 °C. So there is about a 50% chance we will not break through +1.0 in 2015, even if the weather forecasters are right about Oct – Dec.

> Also in November 2015, humanity passed another ominous milestone: the last time anyone alive experienced global carbon dioxide (CO2) levels below 400 ppm.

Again, that is just a prediction. In September 2015 the CO2 average at Mauna Loa was 397.5 ppm, so this is a prediction that by September 2016 the CO2 levels will have risen by 2.5 ppm. I would suggest there is only a 50% chance of that happening.

Take a selection of slight exaggerations here, some slight distortions there, all stated as facts, with encouragement to “pass it on”, is how these scary stories get established.

Rabiddoomsayer is right – this is all based on the prediction Capitalism continuing to succeed at growing the economy, but is that likely? It doesn’t look like it from here.

It is also based on there being the fossil fuels extractable fast enough to continue this mad growth push, but that is completely at odds with the Peak Fossils facts. To start on a massive transformation of our energy and transport infrastructure, which will take a VAST amount of energy to build, is even more short-sighted.

15 01 2016
Idiocracy

Yes Rabiddoomsayer is indeed right – but funnily enough, of all people, you’re the one now mincing words Dave! 🙂

Capitalism is just the economic system of this now globalised Civilisation.

Whether a culture adopts a planned socialist economy or a free market capitalist economy, one thing has always remained the same… forests precede Civilisations and deserts follow…

More than 32 have gone before us and we, the dominant culture the world over, are next!

If we were serious about saving ourselves (and the planet), we’d cut the crap and seriously start talking about what comes next… appropriate technologies, new tribal revolutions, future primitive states, etc. But, as we all know, virtually nobody is serious about this.

15 01 2016
mikestasse

You forger that the contribution of other greenhouse gases is pushing the total global heat forcing into the range of 485 parts per million CO2e.

I don’t think the 1 degree is a forecast. With 2015 being the hottest year on record, I think you’ll find it’s highly likely that the +/- 0.11 is definitely on the side of the + sign!

According to today’s report from Japan’s Meteorological Agency, global temperatures jumped by a ridiculous 0.36 degrees Celsius from the period of December 2014 — the previous hottest December in the global climate record — through December 2015 — the new hottest December by one heck of a long shot. http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/tcc/tcc/products/gwp/temp/dec_wld.html

15 01 2016
robertheinlein

Michael Mann wrote an article recently which showed that we may have already gotten to +1.2C above pre-Industrial. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-e-mann/how-close-are-we-to-dangerous-planetary-warming_b_8841534.html “We’re already close to 1.2C net warming for the Northern Hemisphere relative to a true pre-industrial baseline. If we were to suddenly halt all fossil fuel burning (and other human activities generating carbon emissions), then greenhouse warming would cease [interestingly, this is actually a consequence of two offsetting factors: there is future warming in the pipeline owing to the slow response of ocean warming to greenhouse gases, the so-called ‘committed warming’. Offsetting this potential for additional future warming, however, is the fact that the ocean begins to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, lowering CO2 concentrations. Recent work has argued that these two factors essentially cancel]. However, we would see another ~0.5C warming owing to the disappearance of sulphate pollutants, yielding 1.2C+0.5C = 1.7C total warming, perilously close to the 2C limit”

15 01 2016
davekimble3

> You forger that the contribution of other greenhouse gases is pushing the total global heat forcing into the range of 485 parts per million CO2e.

I think I know what you are trying to say, but you already know my answer to that – I haven’t forgotten anything, it’s all in the models already.

> I don’t think the 1 degree is a forecast. With 2015 being the hottest year on record, I think you’ll find it’s highly likely that the +/- 0.11 is definitely on the side of the + sign!

Absolutely NOT. It was a forecast, because it was made in November using September data about things that include October to December. The distribution of predicted outcomes around the mean of predicted outcomes is always a symmetrical distribution (the Normal Distribution). +/-N means 50% + outcomes and 50% – outcomes. Your bias is showing.

Robertheinlein, if fossil fuel burning was to stop now, there would also be a drop in particulate matter in the atmosphere, and an increase in the soot dropped on snow. There is no way a human can estimate the impacts of all of those competing factors. Only the models can work it out, with a measurable uncertainty.

If RCP-2.6 (with unrealistically high FF burning) predicts a maximum of +1.6C, then your +1.7 (with no FF burning) hasn’t been done by modelling, but by guesswork, and it’s wrong. It doesn’t matter how many other pundits say the same thing. Let them put the scenario through the models and then we can see.

16 01 2016
mikestasse

Models forecast the future……. I’m talking NOW! We are NOW at 1C above baseline. Not sometime in modelled future.

This is what Mark Cochrane just wrote on PP:

Given Kummer and Dessler’s (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqmw46Q4LdE) climate sensitivity estimate of 3C for a doubling of CO2, which matches with the paleoclimate record, I thought it would be fun to do a little ‘back of the envelope’ estimation.

2015 has been the warmest year on record (so far). Pre-industrial-revolution the carbon dioxide levels were about 290 ppm. Today they are roughly 400 ppm. Not very close to a doubling yet. That equates to about a 38% increase. If the temperature response were linear then we would expect an eventual warming of 1.14 C if we could magically hold the carbon dioxide levels constant at 400 ppm. As of August 2015, we were running only 0.88C higher so the warming still in the pipeline would be just another 0.26C. Nothing to sneeze at, but not catastrophic sounding.

The fly in the ointment is that CO2 is not the only greenhouse gas we have to be concerned about, it is only providing 61% of the current additional forcing that is warming the planet. Another 39% is coming from other gases like methane, nitrous oxide and CFCs. That means that we are really experiencing forcing from the equivalent of 470ppm of CO2. That puts us 62% of the way toward an actual doubling of CO2 in terms of forcing. It would imply that we are already committed to 1.86C of warming. That signifies that we have warmed less than half of what we’ve already got in store, IF WE STOP EMISSIONS NOW.

There is nothing magic in 2C but that is the line in the sand that countries are trying to avoid crossing for total warming. Given this simple calculation, and the rate at which we are adding more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, we have maybe 4 or 5 years until we are committed to greater than 2C of warming, whether we want it or not.

Of course the Devil is in the details. That 3C of warming for a doubling of CO2 is the value reached at ‘equilibrium’. Reaching equilibrium will take quite a while, as much of Antarctic slowly melts. Maybe we’d have time to develop something to suck the CO2 back out of the atmosphere in the mean time…..maybe.

Mark

16 01 2016
davekimble3

> Models forecast the future……. I’m talking NOW! We are NOW at 1C above baseline. Not sometime in modelled future.

No we are not.
The latest temperature data that has been collected and integrated into a global figure is not from 2016. The data that you referenced before was collected up to September 2015, and a forecast was made from that about where we are now. But over such a short prediction span, weather plays a big part, not climate trend.

We are probably at 1.02 ± 0.11°C, not 1°C.

Over and over again I explain these things to you, and point out where you are going wrong, and your response is to quote Cochrane at me! Cochrane does exactly the same thing with his overly scary, lying, twisted logic. He is a fraud, why can’t you see that? He clearly knows enough about statistics and probabilities and models to tell it properly, but he chooses to always present things in their worst possible light. And you, in your ignorance of these things, parrot them on, spreading his scary fraud further.

You are a pathological scaremonger.

16 01 2016
mikestasse

Really? How can you call Mark a fraud when he clearly states “As of August 2015, we were running only 0.88C higher”? He’s agreeing with YOU!

Of course, as a “pathological scaremonger”, it’s my duty to let people know things are moving rather fast……. like the fact it was 2C at the North Pole recently (22C above normal!), even though the sun doesn’t even rise there in winter…….. or that so far this winter (and I know a couple of months is not a trend, yet…) the reforming of Arctic ice is not happening, it’s been dead flat. If you’re not worried, you’re not paying attention…..

Tipping points happen out of the blue and unpredictably.

16 01 2016
davekimble3

If it took from 1850 to August 2015 to increase temperatures by 0.88°C, and it only took 5 months to get to 1.0°C, that would be a 54-fold increase in warming rate. So the 1.02 ± 0.11°C is likely to be on the – side, isn’t it?

Cochrane’s trick is to preface everything with “a little ‘back of the envelope’ estimation.” He then considers non-CO2 factors by simply adding them, when this a complex system, and factors can’t be simply added. It is also unclear whether, as well as including the + factors, he also includes the – factors. He has used that trick in the past, so I wouldn’t put it past him.

> it was 2C at the North Pole recently

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2015/12/30/freak-storm-has-pushed-north-pole-to-freezing-point-50-degrees-above-normal/
Freak storm pushes North Pole 50 degrees above normal to melting point

Freak storm, get it? It lasted 1 day. Weather, not climate. How many more times?

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