We’re 10 months away and already United Nations officials are trying to walk back some of the rhetoric surrounding this year’s climate summit in Paris. As the Guardian reports, officials are attempting to downplay notions that the world will be able to chart a course to avoid the 2 degrees Celsius of warming scientists have warned could be catastrophic:
“2C is an objective,” Miguel Arias Canete, the EU climate chief, said. “If we have an ongoing process you can not say it is a failure if the mitigration commitments do not reach 2C.” […]In Brussels, meanwhile, the UN top climate official, Christiana Figueres, was similarly downplaying expectations, telling reporters the pledges made in the run-up to the Paris meeting later this year will “not get us onto the 2C pathway”.
The push for a Global Climate Treaty is culminating in France at the end of this year, and there’s a sense that this could be a make-or-break moment for that campaign. Global greens have been hard at work trying to forget the monumental failure in Copenhagen six years ago, and see Paris as a second chance to push their agenda: a binding international climate treaty.Already we’re seeing cold feet by some top UN officials, apparently now nervous about the fact that all of the GCT’s proverbial eggs are in one basket. And for good reason: though the joint emissions reductions announcements made by Washington and Beijing last fall may have gotten GCT hopes up, the fact remains that nations will always act in their own best interests.China has ulterior motives for its “green” target-setting, but another of the world’s biggest emitters—India—has been outspoken about its right to develop. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius acknowledged this recently when he said that “an agreement that would leave some countries to consider their growth hampered by its provisions will not be accepted.”Anyone expecting some groundbreaking outcome from the Paris climate summit is in for a disappointment. Even if an international consensus is reached, it won’t be binding—the U.S. Congress, for one, wouldn’t ratify it. In that case, all delegates would be left with is a green version of the Kellogg-Briand pact, and we know how effective that was.