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Poland and the Failure of Paris Climate Commitments

January 11, 2019

Climate Change Weekly #310

Actions speak louder than words. And the actions of nations around the world show the 2015 Paris climate agreement, like the climate agreements before it, is not worth the paper it is printed on.

Environmentalists were discouraged at how little progress was made at the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) in Katowice, Poland, from December 2 to December 14.

Diplomats failed to either “welcome,” the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) September 2018 report on the costs of climate change or ratchet up the required greenhouse gas emission reductions beyond what was agreed to in Paris in 2015, as the IPCC’s report said they must to avoid serious environmental harm. Negotiators also failed to address funding for developing countries to grow economically while adapting to climate change. Instead, in a moment of unmerited self-congratulation, at the close of the conference, government bureaucrats in attendance gave themselves a standing ovation for developing an unenforceable rulebook for tracking and counting carbon dioxide emissions. That tepid accomplishment hardly merited a single handclap, much less the millions of dollars governments spent and thousands of tons of carbon dioxide they spewed sending their climate mandarins to Poland.

In 1992, 165 countries signed the UNFCC, agreeing to “stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.” To do so, 43 industrialized countries agreed to implement voluntary measures to stabilize their greenhouse gas emissions at 1990 levels by the year 2000. They missed that target badly.

Despite the 1992 agreement, carbon dioxide emissions increased. Therefore, in 1997, parties to the UNFCC negotiated a new treaty: the Kyoto Protocol. Under this treaty, the same developed countries agreed to legally-binding greenhouse gas emission reductions averaging 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

History repeated itself, with the parties to the Kyoto Protocol missing their greenhouse gas emission reduction targets by a wide margin—with no penalties forthcoming.

This brings us to Paris in 2015, when 196 countries agreed to cut or stabilize greenhouse gas emissions at levels necessary to prevent the Earth from warming as far as possible below two degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. The U.N. recently estimated this would mean cutting global greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2030 and producing net zero emissions by 2050.

No country is on target to meet those commitments. In fact, carbon dioxide emissions are increasing, not dropping. In short, the Paris agreement, for all the lofty words spoken in support of it in Poland, is all but kaput.

Here are just a few facts demonstrating why the Paris agreement is doomed to fail.

  1. Worldwide global carbon dioxide emissions increased by 2.7 percent in 2018 compared with 2017. China and India, the largest and third-largest emitters of greenhouse gases, grew their emissions by 4.7 percent and 6.3 percent respectively since 2017. Even if they stabilize their emissions at present levels by 2030, it would still mean higher greenhouse gas levels than the U.N. says is necessary to stabilize temperatures.
     
  2. To spread its geopolitical influence, the Chinese government formed a development bank that is financing hundreds of new coal fueled electric power plants across Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
     
  3. At COP24, saying, “we have to use what we have,” African countries defied green colonialists concerned with climate change, backing the African Development Bank’s decision to increase funding for coal, natural gas, and oil development to bring their nations out of poverty.
     
  4. Brazil’s new prime minister announced, contrary to expectations, his country would not host the next round of U.N. climate negotiations in 2019. Furthermore, he has stated his intention to follow President Donald Trump’s lead and withdraw Brazil from the Paris climate agreement and to increase timber production in Brazil’s rainforests.
     
  5. France, Germany, and Japan—among the countries pushing the hardest for tough emission reduction goals in international climate negotiations—have each increased coal use for electricity and have announced they will miss their mid-term carbon-dioxide emission reduction goals.
     
  6. Germany and several Eastern European countries nixed the European Parliament Environment Committee’s proposal to dramatically increase EU’s 2030 carbon dioxide reduction goals for the transportation sector.
     
  7. In response to four weeks of violent public protests, France’s government suspended scheduled increases in fuel taxes, electricity prices, and stricter vehicle emissions controls, which French President Emmanuel Macron claimed were necessary to meet France’s greenhouse gas reduction commitments under the Paris climate agreement.
     
  8. In 2018, in part as a backlash against Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s climate policies, global warming skeptic Doug Ford was elected as premier of Ontario, Canada’s most populous province. Ford announced he would end energy taxes imposed by Ontario’s previous premier and would join with the premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan in a legal fight against Trudeau’s federal carbon dioxide tax.
     
  9. This year, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was forced to resign in response to a challenge to his leadership over carbon dioxide restrictions he’d planned to meet the country’s Paris climate commitments. The new government announced reducing energy prices and improving reliability, not fighting climate change, would be its primary energy goals going forward. Subsequently, Australia’s deputy prime minister and environment minister announced the country would continue using coal for electricity and expand coal mining and exports.
     
  10. In the 2018 U.S. mid-term elections, liberal, green voters in Washington State rejected a tax on carbon dioxide emissions for the second time in two election cycles. Additionally, voters in Alaska and Colorado rejected initiatives that would have limited fossil fuel production in their states, and voters in Arizona resoundingly rejected an initiative to limit the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity. These defeats came despite supporters of the Paris climate agreement spending millions of dollars in each of these states by to get these climate initiatives passed.

Heads of government are being forced to acknowledge their constituents are unwilling to make the sacrifices to their welfare and living standards necessary to meet questionable climate goals. Regardless of Poland and future climate conferences, the reality is the Paris climate agreement is dead, and I (along with millions of others around the world) am not mourning its passing.

  • H. Sterling Burnett

SOURCES: Recharge News; Freedom Pub


IN THIS ISSUE …

Violent tornados absent in 2018Dangers of climate-induced sea level rise overstated … Wind farms causing warming


VIOLENT TORNADOS ABSENT IN 2018

2018 was notable among other reasons for being the first year since modern records were collected in which no violent tornadoes, storms ranked EF4 or EF5 on a 0 to 5 scale, touched down in the United States. Indeed, it was a relatively calm year for tornadoes overall, with below normal numbers of tornados forming in the United States during most months. The low number of tornados, and complete absence of violent tornados, is a big part of the reason the United States experienced a record low 10 tornado-caused deaths in 2018.

Modern tornado recordkeeping began in 1950. The previous record low for powerful tornados came in 2005, when only one formed in November. The two record low years coming in 2018 (0) and 2005 (1), is interesting in light of the fact climate alarmists claim human-caused climate change is increasing the number of and danger from extreme weather events. 2018’s lack of violent tornados is part of a long-term trend. The number of violent tornados has been falling since Doppler radar was fully implemented across the country in the mid-1990s and across the entire modern record keeping period beginning in 1950. The 15-year average for violent tornados was 13.7 in the mid-1970s. By 2019, the 15 year average has fallen to 5.9.

As the Concord Record notes, “Expanding to include all ‘intense’ tornadoes, or those F/EF3+, this year’s 12 is also poised to set a record low. The current record low for F3+ tornados was set in 1987 with just 15 F3+ tornadoes. As with violent tornadoes, this grouping is also exhibiting a short and long-term decrease in annual numbers, likely for similar reasons.”

SOURCE: Concord Monitor


DANGERS OF CLIMATE-INDUCED SEA LEVEL RISE OVERSTATED

A new report by climate scientist Judith Curry reaffirms what climate realists have long pointed out: the best research and hard data shows purported human-caused climate change is not causing an unusual increase in either the amount or rate of sea level rise. Curry’s paper shows oceans have been on a “slow creep” (her words) for the last 150 years, long before the increase in greenhouse gas levels post-1950 attributed primarily to human fossil fuel use.

Curry points out data shows sea levels in many regions around the world were higher 5,000 to 7,000 years ago than they are at present with the post -1950 increase being comparable to the rate of rise for the last several thousand years.

“After several centuries of sea level decline following the Medieval Warm Period, sea levels began to rise in the mid-19th century,” writes Curry. “Rates of global mean sea level rise between 1920 and 1950 were comparable to recent rates. It is concluded that recent change is within the range of natural sea-level variability over the past several thousand years.”

Indeed, much of the measured “rise” in sea levels is due more to land subsidence than to increasing water levels, with the subsidence often resulting from coastal development. For instance, the report shows more than half of the measured increase in sea levels in Galveston, New Orleans, and the Chesapeake Bay areas are due to land subsidence as a result of dredging, filling wetlands, and underground aquifer withdrawal.

“That’s really underappreciated, this whole issue of problems with coastal engineering that we’ve caused that have made things worse,” Curry told The Washington Times.

Curry concludes President Donald Trump was accurate when he claimed reports such as the National Climate Assessment hyped in the media are based on extreme, implausible, climate scenarios.

“There are numerous reasons to think that projections of 21st-century sea level rise from human-caused global warming are too high, and some of the worst-case scenarios strain credulity,” says the report.

“Trump, he said something about people talking about the extreme scenarios — well, they are,” The Washington Times reports Curry saying.

SOURCE: The Washington Times


WIND FARMS CAUSING WARMING

A new study published in the journal Joule from a team of engineers at Harvard University found the transition to wind power from fossil fuels is likely to exacerbate rather than decrease surface warming for at least 100 years or more. In addition, the research found replacing fossil fuels with wind and solar will disrupt much more wildlife habitat — requiring between five and 20 times more land — than previously estimated. According to the study, not accounting for any future growth in electric power demand, simply replacing existing demand met by fossil fuels with wind power would require enough wind turbines to cover 1/3 of the United States.

Using data from the U.S. Geological Survey and other U.S. government databases, the researchers found due to the way wind turbines mix the atmosphere near the ground and aloft, if the U.S. were to replace all the electricity supplied by fossil fuels with power supplied by wind, it would warm the surface of the continental United States by 0.24 ˚C, over the short to mid-term far exceeding the estimated reduction in U.S. warming achieved by decarbonizing the nation’s electricity sector this century, calculated at less than 0.1 ˚C. Although the warming effects of wind turbines are local and direct, any reduction in warming from cutting the use of fossil fuels would be indirect, with the temperature effects of reduced greenhouse gas concentrations being spread across the globe.

What is true in the U.S. should also be true of efforts to decarbonize and expand wind power around the world. Accordingly, as wind power grows globally, measured surface temperatures will rise rather than fall in countries where wind replaces fossil fuels for electric power.

As David Keith, one of the study’s authors, told the Harvard Review in a discussion of the report, “The direct climate impacts of wind power are instant, while the benefits of reduced emissions accumulate slowly. If your perspective is the next 10 years, wind power actually has — in some respects — more climate impact than coal or gas.” If this is the case, then some of the surface warming measured in the United States over the past three decades as wind farms have sprung up around the country can likely be attributed to the expansion of wind, not the growth in global greenhouse gas emissions.

SOURCES: Institute for Energy Research; Joule (Behind paywall)

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