The goal of COP-21 – the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 21st Conference of the Parties – in Paris at the end of November is to produce an international agreement to ensure greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by an amount necessary to prevent a 2 degrees Celsius rise in global average temperature this century. With that as a goal, the conference is doomed to failure. Three reasons why:


    1. Six of the top 10 greenhouse-gas-emitting countries, including three of the four countries with the highest carbon dioxide emissions, have not set goals to cut their emissions. Rather, China, India, and the Russian Federation have stated their emissions will continue to grow for at least the next 15 and in India’s case 35 years. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, even if all countries keep their climate pledges, the pledges would amount to only about half of the greenhouse gas emission cuts needed to stabilize warming below 2 degrees Celsius.
    2. Representatives of developing countries have said their signature on any climate agreement in Paris will depend on developed countries financing as previously promised a green climate fund, which, at the behest of President Barack Obama, developed countries agreed to support through technology transfers and financing at $100 billion per year beginning in 2020. Thus far pledges to the fund are less than $10 billion. The United States has not contributed a dime, with Congress vowing to deny Obama any money for the fund. India’s environment and forests minister, Prakash Javadekar, said, “... if [the] developed world doesn’t walk the talk on [the] issue of finance, there will be a problem for the Paris outcome.” Due largely to lack of funding commitments for the green climate fund, 134 developing countries rejected the draft climate agreement provided to them before the most recent round of negotiations in Bonn.
    3. The Obama administration, through Secretary of State John Kerry, has gone on record stating Paris will not deliver a legally binding treaty requiring countries to cut carbon emissions. Kerry stated, “It’s definitively not going to be a treaty. ... They’re not going to be legally binding reduction targets like Kyoto or something.” That’s the final nail in the Paris treaty’s coffin. As Thomas Hobbes stated long ago, “Covenants, without the sword, are but words and of no strength …” Without a binding law, the next president can walk away from, or Congress can choose not to fund, any climate commitments Obama makes in Paris, without penalty.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying there will be no agreement coming out of Paris. At the last minute, I fully expect countries will agree, at the very least, to keep the gravy train rolling. They will commit to sending thousands of delegates on various junkets to exotic locations throughout 2016 to negotiate a treaty around the same time next year, call it COP-22. As far as stopping climate change, however, COP-21’s agreement will amount to, in the immortal words of William Shakespeare, “a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

-- H. Sterling Burnett

SOURCES: Yahoo News; LiveMint; and Huffington Post

source: 13, 2015
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