Paris Climate Agreement: A review

The planet has now been saved – from a non-existent problem by an empty Agreement which promises nothing but the perpetuation of the Climate Community.

Paris Agreement

The Climate Community consists of about 20,000 – 30,000 people who are the Chosen of the God of Global Warming. They are elated at having secured their future jamborees. The politicians are all claiming great success in reaching The Paris Agreement. The unquestioning and gullible media – for the most part – are also effusive in their congratulations. I suspect that not very many have actually read and understood the Paris Agreement. I have been brought up to the view that an Agreement – to be an Agreement – consists of describing duties and obligations and with promised actions balanced by liabilities. This Agreement is devoid of any promises and accompanying liabilities. The Agreement is worth looking at – if only as an example of how to structure an empty document and still call it an Agreement.

COP21 Agreement 20151212

As I expected, the Paris agreement has no commitments – except to meet again and keep these meetings going. (One could ask, if COP21 was such a great success, why a COP22 and a COP23, and so on ad infinitum, are still needed?). But I am also very happy the parties have reached such an empty agreement. The harm it can do, for starting with a false premise (that global temperature can be controlled merely by reducing fossil fuel use), is limited by this very emptiness. In any event, all emissions reductions are voluntary and are not commitments. All developing countries will strive to reach a peak of carbon dioxide emissions – where defining the magnitude and timing of the peak is left to the judgement of each country. Developed countries will assist with money and technology to the extent they can. Any signatory can leave the agreement at any time after the first 3 years by giving one years notice.

The only binding things in the Paris Agreement is that while all parties are unbound, these UN jamborees of waste shall continue for ever. Nearly all decisions in the Agreement are about perpetuating the well-paid (and utterly useless) jobs of the Climate Community for ever.

The Paris Agreement is structured as a document in two sections. The first is entitled “ADOPTION of the Paris Agreement” consisting of VI parts describing what has been adopted. The second section is the Paris Agreement itself as an Annexe and consisting of 29 Articles.

The VI parts of the first section contains 140 paragraphs, of which 48 are “decides”. All the other paragraphs are “requests” or “takes note” or “recognises” or “invites” or “welcomes” or the like. I have extracted the “decides” and the self-serving manner in which they just protect the jobs of the Community is almost obscene.

The Decides of Paris

The “decides” are overwhelmingly about further meetings, or the setting up of committees, commissions and even champions. But the bottom line is that what has been achieved here is the perpetuation of jobs for the Chosen.

The main Paris Agreement is contained in the 29 Articles of the Annexe. There is nothing in any these 29 Articles which is a binding commitment by any country to reduce emissions by any specific amount or to provide any specific amount of funding.

I note particularly the following:

Article 20

  1. This Agreement shall be open for signature and subject to ratification, acceptance or approval by States and regional economic integration organizations that are Parties to the Convention. It shall be open for signature at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 22 April 2016 to 21 April 2017. ….

Article 21

  1. This Agreement shall enter into force on the thirtieth day after the date on which at least 55 Parties to the Convention accounting in total for at least an estimated 55 percent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession. ….

Article 28

  1. At any time after three years from the date on which this Agreement has entered into force for a Party, that Party may withdraw from this Agreement by giving written notification to the Depositary.
  2. Any such withdrawal shall take effect upon expiry of one year from the date of receipt by the Depositary of the notification of withdrawal, or on such later date as may be specified in the notification of withdrawal. …

A party which does not ratify the agreement is not even bound to the empty words even if it “has come into effect”. Any signatory can effectively leave the agreement at any time by giving one years notice. It is a binding agreement to be unbound.

But since the world has now been saved perhaps we will have a little less of the alarmist hysteria. What does it matter if the saving is by means of an empty agreement. As I have noted before, China and India can continue – quite unhindered – with their continued use of coal, oil and gas at their planned levels, while still meeting their pledges of reduction of emissions intensity (emissions/GDP).

The reporting of the “achievements” as seen by Indian eyes is telling

NDTVAsked why India made compromises, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar told NDTV, “To achieve big things you need to be accommodating without changing the meaning and thrust of agreement and that is success.”

Here is what India and the other developing nations had to compromise on:

  • The original UN convention had a stronger language on developed world providing climate finance. Experts say current text is weaker. It also leaves room for confusion on what can be counted as climate funding – for example, developmental aid or loans can be counted as climate finance. Mr Javadekar, too, said the agreement could have been more ambitious as the actions of developed nations are “far below” than their historical responsibilities and fair shares. Most civil society experts say the dilution was made following tremendous pressure from US – which is facing issues with domestic politics – and an umbrella group of developed nations.
  • Paris agreement says all parties — including developing nations — must take action to cut emissions. This means makes developing nations must take on additional obligations.
  • For developing countries, intellectual property rights barriers to transfer technology from rich countries were important. But the Paris text is more about cooperation in technology.
  • In terms of loss and damage, the text says these will not be seen in terms for liability and compensation, so developed countries will not have no real obligation.

This is what India and the developing nations achieved:

  • Managed to put back the important principle of equity and “common but differentiated responsibilities” in text, which India has been pushing for. The US and developed nations wanted to dilute this plank.
  • Though developed countries use fossil fuel — coal and gas — they wanted developing countries to cut emissions. It is still not clear if the developed nations will be forthcoming with funds and technology for clean energy or the modalities if they do.  
  • The big challenge met was ensuring the agreement established the idea of climate justice – acknowledging that industrialised nations have been the major emitters since 1850.
  • India also wanted a mention of sustainable lifestyle and consumption, which is there in the text.

Note that “the big challenge met was ensuring the agreement established the idea of climate justice – acknowledging that industrialised nations have been the major emitters since 1850”.

If the Paris non-agreement reduces the alarmist hysteria, it would have achieved a great deal. It could provide a better atmosphere and time for acknowledging the politically incorrect reality that man-made emissions are of little significance in influencing the climate. The Agreement does no good, but at least it does not do much harm either. A Feel Good irrelevance.

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One Response to “Paris Climate Agreement: A review”

  1. Ramesh Purohit Says:

    Hello K…., very good analyis. i only watched some news clippings which did not at all capture any of the points raised by you. That much for today’s media too…Thanks

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