Tuesday, September 29, 2015

COP21 Will Fail Even If It Succeeds

In Paris later this year, global leaders will meet to thrash out a deal to reduce dangerous greenhouse gas emissions.

Janos Pasztor, United Nations assistant secretary general for climate change, said the task in Paris at the COP21 Summit would be to put mechanisms into the deal to encourage countries to ramp up their ambitions over time. Requirements for periodic reviews and fresh pledges are under discussion as a potential part of the agreement.

Greenpeace International executive director, Kumi Naidoo, said, "For the Paris agreement to be effective, according to the best available climate science, it will need to provide a long term vision and a clear trajectory from now through mid-century. All actions for climate by political leaders will be measured by this goal. Government leaders must not play games and offer competing long term directions which will only help the polluters to continue with devastating the planet and ruining the people's homes and lives. More and more cities, communities and companies are making commitments to 100% renewable energy: evidence that the global energy transformation is not only feasible but also an environmental and moral imperative."

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management (MIT Sloan) along with climate analysts with the nonprofit Climate Interactive released the latest findings that the world is still on track to experience "the worst impacts of climate change," according to a new report, as nations' pledges to reduce carbon emissions still fall substantially short of what's needed to keep warming levels beneath the 2°C threshold. Based on the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) put forward in advance of the UN climate talks in Paris this November and December—and assuming countries adhere to the non-binding measures—the planet still faces a global temperature increase of 3.5°C. Should nations continue along their current path, the study predicts that the Earth could see increases up to 4.5°C.

The emissions reductions must be paired with "further action," the groups warn, namely a cohesive plan to switch the global energy system from fossil fuels to a renewable energy supply. Andrew Jones of Climate Interactive added that the current barriers prohibiting such changes "are political and social." 

The SOYMB blog would doubt the honesty of any of the claims made by any of the governments who go to Paris this year. Not only are the pledges not enough, they're meaningless anyhow. Big Business always talks the talk, but never walks the walk. We see that with Volkswagen’s manipulation of their cars pollution data.

The political and social barriers referred to are formidable and it is hard to see how they can be overcome soon enough to avoid the worst impacts of climate change which are hard to define but could be unimaginable in scope. There are a number of countries with economies that are basically dependent on the exploitation and sale of fossil fuels. Then there are giant corporate and state-owned fossil fuel companies that are intent on staying in the fossil fuel business. And, there are millions of people employed in the fossil fuel industry and local economies that depend on these people having jobs. Also, there are poorer developing countries that cannot make a transition to renewable energy such as wind and solar without receiving large amounts of money from rich developed countries while politicians in these developed countries are wary of allocating such large sums of money to developing countries. We delude ourselves if we think the ruling elite cares all that much for the little guy.

The science is clear that, to maintain a good chance of avoiding catastrophic levels of warming, the world must keep the vast majority of its remaining fossil fuels in the ground. Governments and corporations will only address the crisis we face with negotiations that propose minor changes and sustain capitalism. They only divert attention away from the economic systems that created the crisis we face. The World Socialist Movement is based on the idea that it is up to the people "to say enough is enough.” and shift power back to our communities. There is no time to waste—our economic system must be transformed," the organizers state. "Through the power of people taking collective action we will build a future based on justice and sustainability and stop the climate crisis.

The environmental movement is at least 45 years old in the US – the first Earth Day was in 1970. In that time, tens of billions of dollars have been spent on environmental groups and issues. The Nature Conservancy alone holds assets worth over $20b. Since then, half the terrestrial species on the planet that were around then are now gone forever – extinct. The World Wildlife Fund have an annual budget of over $100 million. Yet things have been on an increasingly downward spiral all along and every bio-shere on the planet is currently under pressure. Lots of money raised and spent and little to show for it. By any measurement, it’s devastating failure. Germany does not get all its energy from solar as some contest. Germany has not reduced coal use, much less phased out coal. In fact, Britain, Germany, Italy, Japan and France have increased their coal burning by over 16% from 2009 - 2013.

California’s Governor Jerry Brown explains “We are talking about extinction. We are talking about climate regimes that have not been seen for tens of millions of years. We’re not there yet, but we’re on our way.”

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