No binding commitments have been made; all the countries in the world (apart from Britain) are free to emit as much carbon dioxide as they choose; the only thing everyone has agreed on is that they really, really care about global CO2 levels and that one day, maybe tomorrow, maybe mañana, they might do something about it. In other words, the 150 leaders and 40,000 delegates really would have been better off staying at home.
That’s the pessimistic view.
The more optimistic view is that it was worth it just so we could all enjoy the wailings and lamentations of disappointed greenies, throwing their toys out of the pram.
Here’s James Hansen, NASA’s former in-house activist and the man who invented global warming hysteria:
“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.”
I never thought I’d say this but Hansen is totally right here. It was all bullshit. The words were all worthless. There will not be any action. And yes fossil fuels will carry on being burned a) because, as Hansen says, they’re the cheapest fuels out there and b) because, as he probably meant to say, fossil fuels are God’s way of telling us He wants us to be rich and warm, not cold and poor.
And here’s George Monbiot in the Guardian, also admitting that basically the talks were a failure:
While earlier drafts specified dates and percentages, the final text aims only to “reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.” Which could mean anything and nothing.
In fairness, the failure does not belong to the Paris talks, but to the whole process. A maximum of 1.5C, now an aspirational and unlikely target, was eminently achievable when the first UN climate change conference took place in Berlin in 1995. Two decades of procrastination, caused by lobbying – overt, covert and often downright sinister – by the fossil fuel lobby, coupled with the reluctance of governments to explain to their electorates that short-term thinking has long-term costs, ensure that the window of opportunity is now three-quarters shut. The talks in Paris are the best there have ever been. And that is a terrible indictment.
What Hansen, Monbiot and their ilk wanted, of course, was binding legislation.
Here, for those who are interested in such things, are the only parts of the agreement that actually are binding.
1) Submitting of new Nationally Determined Contributions every five years.
2) A five-yearly GHG stocktake, which will commence in 2023.
Translated into English, this simply means that countries can decide how much carbon dioxide they produce each year. No provisions have been made for punishing them if they fail to meet their targets so it makes no difference anyway.