After Paris — what now?

I decided that I would write nothing about the Paris Conference of the Parties (CoP) meeting until there was an outcome, on the ground that I am not a theatre critic, and that I was not in Paris. That outcome occurred over the weekend. My own expectations have been first, that nothing of consequence would occur and second, that whatever the outcome it would be hailed as an outstanding success. Indeed, no one voted against the Draft Proposal, which was adopted, so that was in line with my expectations. I’ve now read the Draft Proposal and the Annex. The Draft could be submitted to the Guinness Book of Records as the longest sentence in English, as it runs for 140 paragraphs before there is a full stop. Each paragraph begins with the verb, and there are 47 ‘decides’, 44 ‘requests’, 12 ‘invites, 6 ‘recognises’, 6 ‘notes’,  and then through ‘urges’, ‘encourages’ and ‘resolves’, down through seven other verbs to only 1 ‘acknowledges’. It is heavy going.

What do the Draft Proposal and the Agreement contain? Lots and lots of words that suggest that all countries are going to do the right thing, and then tell the rest what they are doing. The better off are going to help the worse off. There is no legally binding obligation on anyone to do anything, and any country can withdraw by giving a year’s notice. You could say that a lot of it isn’t really about ‘climate change’ at all, but a variety of other goals and objectives. You can infer this from the thick language. Here is most of section 5 of Article 7 of the Agreement, an Article which is actually about ‘adaptation’: adaptation action should follow a country-driven, gender-responsive, participatory and fully transparent approach, taking into consideration vulnerable groups, communities and ecosystems, and should be based on and guided by the best available science and, as appropriate, traditional knowledge, knowledge of indigenous peoples and local knowledge systems, with a view to integrating adaptation into relevant socioeconomic and environmental policies and actions, where appropriate.

Got that? I don’t know how a public servant would begin to advise a Minister, with this section as the guiding principle. It would allow almost anything. Maybe that’s the point, but I rather think that what has happened is that every ‘interest’ at the Paris meeting was determined to have its little oar in the final documents, and the rest gave in in order to hear that lovely word ‘consensus’.

Some months ago I picked up a sad but sober expectation about the Paris CoP outcome from CarbonTracker, a website that is gung-ho about the need to do whatever is needed. But Copenhagen had bruised the author: we were expecting far too much of international law from Copenhagen. We wanted a possible global treaty on climate change to achieve something it is not designed or equipped to do. So if this is the case, what is a global agreement good for especially if it is not going to be, in the classical international law sense, a legally binding one? What would ‘success’ mean? he went on to ask, and came up with a set of attributes. He thought it didn’t have to be legally binding, but needed to be ‘detailed and robust enough’ to evolve into  a legally binding instrument in time. There would have to be wider involvement than just governments, and the bottom-up approach would need to work, clean technology would need to be available, and so on. It’s an interesting piece, and you can read it here. I don’t know what CarbonTracker thinks about the outcome, but it is at least along his lines.

What happens now? Our Foreign Minister, Ms Bishop, used her words carefully in her final address, and I heard no hostages to fortune. The ABC, which had been carolling that ‘hopes were high’ in several news broadcasts throughout the Conference, made no analysis of the Agreement that I heard. It didn’t report that James Hansen, the father of contemporary warmism, has spoken rather impolitely about the outcome. According to the Guardian, “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.”

Nor did the ABC report, at least to my knowledge, that US Secretary of State John Kerry had pointed out the elephant in the room during the Conference — that it wouldn’t matter if all the industrial nations shut up shop tomorrow, because 65 per cent of ‘carbon pollution’ comes from the developing world. You can hear him say his little piece on YouTube here. He didn’t go on to say, but he could have, that doing so would not reduce global temperature by  anything that anyone could notice, unless you are able to notice a decline of a twentieth of one degree Celsius.

So, what happens now? Well, ‘climate change’ will go back to being a kind of faint background hum in the news. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull won’t have lost any support among the Climate Botherers (my new term at this Christian time of the year). Australia was there in Paris, even agreeing to help island nations, though with money that they were going to get anyway for other purposes. Heaven knows whether or not we do detailed inspections of what happens to our aid funding. But, again, the language of the Agreement is so all-inclusive and vague that tackling ‘climate change’ could mean almost anything. Except a carbon tax. That’s not there, though if someone wants to do it, well that’s up to them.

Two other bits of the Agreement caught my attention. All those verbs mean a lot of work for someone, and therefore a lot of money. The last three clauses in the Draft Proposal are somewhat plaintive, and here they are.

138. Takes note of the estimated budgetary implications of the activities to be undertaken by the secretariat referred to in this decision and requests that the actions of the secretariat called for in this decision be undertaken subject to the availability of financial resources;

139. Emphasizes the urgency of making additional resources available for the implementation of the relevant actions, including actions referred to in this decision, and the implementation of the work programme referred to in paragraph 9 above;

140. Urges Parties to make voluntary contributions for the timely implementation of this decision.

I hope Australia does not rush in to make a voluntary contribution, at least on my behalf. Actually, I imagine that voluntary contributions will be slow in coming forward.

And guess what! There’s going to be another such meeting in November 2018. I can hardly wait. CNN reported that there were 40,000 delegates in Paris. Did the meeting really need so many? Had the delegates considered the virtue of their going against the carbon footprint they would leave behind? And so on. There is such piffle in all this, and yet no one in public life seems able to say that the Climate Emperor is short a garment or two.

Join the discussion 14 Comments

  • Alan Gould says:

    Thanks, Don. The hope for disarming CB (Climate Bothering – I like your term) seems to lie in the document being unreadable. Long live Bureaucratic Consensualese!

  • Doug Hurst says:

    I read earlier today that the UN will be happy because this outcome ensures another meeting five years on and continued work for their legions of staff involved in climate matters. A positive for them, by there reckoning, but a negative for the world just like the rest of this farce.

    Hopefully, if Gaia refuses to warm for five more years, the rising tide of doubt will swamp even Al Gore and the next meeting will be the last.

    • JMO says:

      I am happy a deal has been signed, hopefully it will appease the climate catastrophists for a while. Imagine another Copenhagen, the climate catastrophists may have considered climate terrorism eg sabotaging or blowing up coal fired power stations or coal trains or attacking coal mines, taking hostages etc. I would not put it past them, speaking from personal experience these people can be vile, vitriolic and can be even violent.
      Now if the solar physicists are right, the sun should be reducing its activity around 2017 and, as in 1645, Gaia will be cooling. This will confirm the Emperor’s lack of clothing.

  • Doug Hurst says:

    For ‘there’, read ‘their’ in my previous comment.

  • Walter Starck says:

    CoP 21 was a great success. Everyone agrees to high aspirations and no commitment is required of anyone. What could be better?

    Am looking forward to next year in Marrakesh. I understand the food tours are a delight and it is said diverse less mentionable indulgences are readily available for more jaded tastes. Better still, the delicious righteousness of knowing you are there to save the planet will also be there to take the edge off any tinge of guilt.

    As for Australia, CoP 21 provides the rationale for almost anything a government might wish to do as being necessary to fulfill their international obligations under the agreement.

    Climate Change forever. How sweet it is.

  • PeterE says:

    The ABC TV news last night seemed to spend a lot of time on the jubilant celebrations and the shining eyes of those who now know that the world has been saved as they danced around a giant red tree (?). The logo of the conference, a circle with the Eiffel tower in it, bears an uncanny resemblance to the CND logo – just a coincidence. The world-wide propaganda demonstrations show the enormous organization that has gone into this wonderful achievement. As our Green representatives crowed, it means the end of coal, oil and gas. Oh, brave new world!

  • Dasher says:

    Bjorn Lomberg had some interesting things to say….essentially if everyone delivered on their commitments it would reduce CO2 emissions by 56 gigatonnes by 2030, but to arrest temperature increases to the magical 2 degrees celsius (where did that number come from?) would need 6000t. If that is correct or even close the outcome is a complete nonsense surely…any views?

  • Bryan Roberts says:

    In future, our IT-literate Prime Minister might consider advocating the virtues of video conferencing. But the lackeys probably demand a taxpayer-funded holiday to the next exotic location.

    Incidentally, why can’t these meetings be held in New York, which is, after all, where the UN is located?

  • Peter Lang says:

    Thanks Don. Good article.

    Some of you readers may be interested in my articile in ANGLE Journal:

    Why carbon pricing will not succeed http://anglejournal.com/article/2015-11-why-carbon-pricing-will-not-succeed/

    • David says:

      It is obvious this economics article was written by an engineer. But hey economics is a broad church, engineers are welcome. The first 20 paragraphs of your article inform the reader that a achieving a global agreement on climate change is going to be difficult. We get that.

      Then your argument falls in a heap.

      “…to deregulate the [nuclear] energy sector, to the extent justifiable, so that the cost of low-emissions energy can come down over time, …”

      What aspect of the nuclear market do you want to deregulate? Currently commercial producers of nuclear power in US are exempt from the full cost of insurance. If insurance premiums were deregulated, that would increase the cost of nuclear energy.

    • donaitkin says:

      Peter Lang is a geologist, of some renown.

  • beththeserf says:

    Bjorn Lomberg estimates that increase in energy costs will shave
    $1 -2 trillion per year from global GDP growth. So much for helping
    the poor, and making ourselves adaptable to whatever black swan,
    whether weather or other, may come out of left field…

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