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Aspirational Climate Agreement Lacks Teeth

December 18, 2015

Climate Change Weekly #196 The Paris climate agreement is an aspirational document, not a binding treaty.

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Climate Change Weekly #196

The Paris climate agreement is an aspirational document, not a binding treaty. While 184 nations have set individualized targets to reduce or cap carbon dioxide emissions by varying dates, none of those goals is enforceable internationally. Unless and until the individual countries actually enact the targets through domestic law, they aren’t even binding within the legal system of any individual country.

You don’t have to take my word for it. Secretary of State John Kerry stated on Fox News Sunday referring to the treaty, “It doesn’t have mandatory targets for reduction and it doesn’t have an enforcement, compliance mechanism.”

As Dennis Clare, a negotiator for the Federated States of Micronesia, told the Huffington Post UK, “We’ve agreed to what we ought to be doing, but no one has agreed to go do it.”

James Hansen, often referred to as the “father of climate change,” was even more scathing in his assessment of the agreement. He told the Guardian, “It’s a fraud really, a fake. … There’s no action, just promises.”

What about the much-ballyhooed $100 billion a year Green Climate Fund (GCF)? The fund was created to compensate developing countries for the damage supposedly done to them by the developed world’s historic greenhouse gas emissions and to allow them to adapt to future climate changes. In Paris, all countries supported GCF in principle, but no country’s leaders legally bound their nation to fund it in practice. Will it be fully funded, partially funded. or not funded at all? There are no sanctions for not ponying up. Several countries, including the United States and China, were adamant the agreement not contain an admission of wrongdoing for historic climate emissions that might be seen by international courts as justifying mandatory compensation to developing countries and low-lying island nations.

And then we come to the real Achilles heel of the Paris climate agreement.

To stop temperatures from rising by the targeted amount will require reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by up to 70 percent by 2050, and for countries to become fully carbon neutral by 2100. Yet the plans submitted by the 184 nations will result in less than half the greenhouse gas cuts required to halt temperatures at the upper limit of 2.0 degrees. In other words, even if the goals were legally binding, temperatures would still rise much higher than the United Nations says is critical to keeping climate disasters manageable.

Even if one believes human greenhouse gas emissions were the sole or even the primary motive force behind rising temperatures (I don’t), the details of more than a few of the participating countries’ commitments raise further questions about the ability of the agreement to halt rising temperatures. Looking just at China (the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter) and India (the fourth largest and one of the fastest-growing emitters), we find neither country actually commits to cutting emissions at all. Rather, both countries say at some time in the future they expect their greenhouse gas emissions to peak. China believes its emissions will peak in 2030, while India thinks its emissions will peak closer to 2050, though it could be later. Peak at what level? If emissions by China rise by just 15 percent before leveling off, that will swamp all the emission cuts promised by the United States and every other developed nation. If China’s emissions go higher, say double or even triple, then nothing the rest of the world can do will actually result in lower emissions. And India’s government has forthrightly stated it will build hundreds of new coal-fired power plants in the coming years, possibly quadrupling its carbon dioxide emissions before they “peak.”

And that’s just two developing countries. Does anyone truly believe the world will slash greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent by 2050?

-- H. Sterling Burnett

SOURCES: Washington Examiner and Yahoo News


IN THIS ISSUE …

Climate models still get El Niño impacts wrongConcern for scientific integrity at the National Academy of SciencesClimate alarmists are the new deniersCity falsely listed as committing to UN climate programBudget bill gives Obama climate funds


CLIMATE MODELS STILL GET EL NIÑO IMPACTS WRONG

New research published in the journal Nature Geoscience finds key climate models misunderstand the seasonal impacts of El Niño, a complex, irregular Pacific Ocean climate pattern with large impacts on weather, agriculture, fisheries, and air quality worldwide. Analyzing fossil corals and mollusk shells from the Pacific Ocean over the past 10,000 years, the study reveals there is no link between the strength of seasonal differences and El Niño. Each of the top nine climate models associate exceptionally hot summers and cold winters with weak El Niños, and vice versa, but the model projections are contradicted by the data. “The causes for prolonged periods of weak El Niño are either beyond the current models, or we’re missing an important piece of the puzzle,” said Julien Emile-Geay, assistant professor of Earth sciences at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and lead author of the study. “This points to deficiencies in the way these models simulate various aspects of tropical Pacific climate, from average conditions, to the march of seasons, to El Niño itself.”

SOURCE: Watt’s Up With That


CONCERN FOR SCIENTIFIC INTEGRITY AT THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES

In a letter to members of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, raises concerns over the fact NAS’s sole candidate for the presidency of the organization is Marcia McNutt, current editor-in-chief of the journal Science, who has shown herself to be intolerant of dissenting scientific points of view on issues with regulatory importance. Wood notes McNutt has played a significant role in three active controversies involving national regulatory policy including the active promotion of “the consensus model of climate change and exclu[sion of] any contrary views.” As Wood states:

... at some point the scientific community will have to reckon with the dramatic discrepancies between current climate models and substantial parts of the empirical record.

One can be a strong supporter of the consensus model and yet be disturbed by the role which Science has played in this controversy. Dr. McNutt and the journal have acted more like partisan activists than like responsible stewards of scientific standards confronted with contentious claims and ambiguous evidence.

Dr. McNutt has in her career found herself faced more than once with the challenge of what to do when an entrenched orthodoxy meets a substantial scientific challenge. The challenge in each case could itself prove to be mistaken, but it met what most scientists would concede to be the threshold criteria to deserve a serious hearing. Yet in each case Dr. McNutt chose to reinforce the orthodoxy by shutting the door on the challenge.

SOURCE: National Association of Scholars


CLIMATE ALARMISTS ARE THE NEW DENIERS

Climate alarmists are following the time-honored tradition of revolutions: The children of the revolution are cannibalizing their parents. In an article in the Guardian, Naomi Oreskes labels prominent godfathers of climate alarmism as Deniers. Their crime? At a December 3 press conference in Paris, James Hansen, Ken Caldeira, Kerry Emanuel, and Tom Wigley had the temerity to state if one really desires a quick and dramatic reduction in the use of fossil fuels to slow the rise in carbon dioxide levels, expanding renewable energy will not be enough; there must also be a large-scale expansion of the world’s nuclear reactor fleet.

In 2014, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, International Energy Agency, UN Sustainable Solutions Network, and Global Commission on the Economy and Climate each issued reports stating the world would need to double or triple the amount of nuclear energy produced to stabilize carbon emissions. For speaking the truth, Hansen et al. have the distinction of joining climate skeptics by being labeled “deniers.”

Oreskes warns there is a new, strange form of climate denialism to look out for, “one that says that renewable sources can’t meet our energy needs.” The new deniers insist “… the only way we can solve the coupled climate/energy problem is with a massive and immediate expansion of nuclear power … we need to be on the lookout for this new form of denial.” Critiquing Oreskes, Judith Curry writes, “If you accept the premise that human caused climate change is dangerous and that we need to rapidly stop burning fossil fuels, then I don’t see a near term alternative to nuclear. ... If the nuclear solution is unpalatable, then reconsider whether the proposed cure is worse than the hypothesized disease.”

SOURCES: The Guardian; Vertical Response; and Climate etc.


CITY FALSELY LISTED AS COMMITTING TO UN CLIMATE PROGRAM

The United Nations lists the City of Janesville as one of six Wisconsin cities committing to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. Janesville’s city government says it never made such a promise.

As part of the Lima-Paris Action Agenda, UN officials have encouraged cities, counties, and businesses to make climate change-related commitments, with the commitments being tracked by NAZCA (Non-state Actor Zone for Climate Action). According to NAZCA’s tally, 2,255 cities around the world have committed to cutting carbon emissions by specific amounts, with NAZCA listing Janesville as committing to cut emissions by 75 percent by 2050. When the city was contacted by the MacIver New Service to confirm its participation, Maggie Hrdlicka, a spokesperson for the city, said, “Nowhere is anyone familiar with the commitment … we have not made this commitment.” As Janesville was wrongly listed, one must wonder if other cities were wrongly placed on NAZCA’s list as well, and if so, how many and why?

SOURCE: MacIver Institute


BUDGET BILL GIVES OBAMA CLIMATE FUNDS

Despite Republicans claiming to be opposed to providing funding for the Obama administration’s climate efforts, the 2015 end-of-year budget bill allows the Obama administration to contribute to the UN’s Green Climate Fund (GCF), a pot of public money for helping developing countries prepare for climate change. Obama pledged last year to spend $3 billion on the fund by 2020, requesting Congress appropriate $500 million for it in 2016. While the final budget bill doesn’t explicitly appropriate funding for Obama’s GCF commitment, neither does it block such funding. The bill gives the president $170.7 million for a Clean Technology Fund and $50 million for a Strategic Climate Fund and allows Obama to move this funding to GFC if he so chooses.

SOURCE: The Hill

Author
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. is a Heartland senior fellow on environmental policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.
hsburnett@heartland.org