mead berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn bayles
Limping to Paris
UN Pessimistic About Climate Future

A total of 146 nations have submitted national plans to curb climate change ahead of this December’s summit in France, but the message out of the UN is something of a buzzkill. As the FT reports, the UN doesn’t think those national commitments—called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs for short—go far enough:

[T]he pledges will not be enough alone to keep global temperature rises to less than 2C, an internationally-agreed goal scientists say should be met to avoid risky changes in the climate.

“The INDCs have the capability of limiting the forecast temperature rise to around 2.7C by 2100, by no means enough but a lot lower than the estimated 4C, 5C or more degrees of warming projected by many before the INDCs,” [UN climate chief Christiana Figueres] said.

Delegates seem to have left themselves quite a lot of work in Paris, then. The draft text for the conference, initially some 80 pages of hedging, was pared down to a shorter but heavily bracketed 20-page document earlier this month. That draft didn’t sit well with the developing world, however, and after meetings in Bonn earlier this week and last the document bloated anew to its final pre-Paris form, checking in at 34 pages. Carbon Pulse described this development as a “step backwards” for the Global Climate Treaty process, and it’s hard to read it any other way.

They say the hallmark of a good compromise is a result that leaves nobody happy, and if that’s the metric by which we judge the Paris summit, then perhaps greens might be able to claim some kind of victory this December. In reality though, all signs point towards an impending trainwreck. The developed and developing worlds are still miles apart, the only meaningful policy mechanism meant to bridge that divide—a climate fund paid into by rich countries to help poorer countries mitigate and adapt to climate change—remains woefully underfunded.

It’s too early to call, but there are a couple of certainties. First, whatever watered-down agreement negotiators finally agree upon will be derided by the environmental movement (ever incapable of assessing outcomes realistically) as too soft. Second, in order to get everyone to agree to the deal, it will not be binding or enforceable, making it little more than the eco-version of the Kellogg-Briand pact.

Features Icon
show comments
  • jburack

    This accord will be watered down and unenforceable for this simple reason. No one really believes for a second that scientists know how to fine tune the entire weather system to get it to stay under 2 degrees more of warming. Plus the simple fact that little or no warming is now occurring anyway – though the environmental alarmists play all sorts of games to convince themselves they know better. I wish American Interest would stop treating this game as if it had any point at all, other than a transfer of resources and power from one group to another. The idea in your quote that some correlation can be fixed between INDCs and temperature so as to claim that the current INDCs only limit the rise by 2100 to 2.7 instead of 2 is utterly laughable. Does anyone seriously think humanity could fine tune worldwide temperatures that way even if we had a worldwide dictatorship of the wise? No one is foolish enough to predict TOMORROW’S temperature high in any single locale to tenths of a degree precision. It beggars the imagination to wonder how naive people are to think the whole world’s temperature a century from now is knowable at all, let alone that precisely.

  • CaliforniaStark

    Meanwhile, on the global warming front, looks like it is going to take a while more for the southern polar ice to melt; in fact it is gaining ice. Below is an excerpt from a NASA article:

    “A new NASA study says that an increase in Antarctic snow accumulation that began
    10,000 years ago is currently adding enough ice to the continent to outweigh
    the increased losses from its thinning glaciers.

    The research challenges the conclusions of other studies, including the
    Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 2013 report, which says that
    Antarctica is overall losing land ice.”

  • Rick Johnson

    I love good news stories about the Greens’ shop-a-thon in Paris.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2017 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service