Monday, December 14, 2015

'Toontime: Public Relations-In-Chief

More: According to one observer a technical error almost derailed approval of the agreement and a change had to be made from the podium to prevent the Repugnants in the US Congress from vetoing the agreement. The error would have made carbon reduction goals legally binding instead of just aspirational.  That provision would have made the agreement subject to a politically motivated veto by Repugnants in an election year.  The lack of legally enforceable emission standards is the biggest criticism coming out of the Paris negotiating marathon. Holding the world to a temperature rise of just 1.5℃ will be difficult without an enforcement mechanism. Such an ambitious goal will require more reductions than represented by the current post 2020 proposals put forward by 189 countries, recognized by the agreement itself in paragraph 17. The agreement contemplates follow-up "dialogues" to facilitate further reductions in Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC). A piece of good news is that the cost of renewable energy technologies is coming down very fast. For example, the cost of energy-efficient LED lightbulbs has shrunk from $5 each to a little over $1 in 17 months in India. Best of all the agreement represents a global "no" to the fossil fuel industry and their political handmaidens in Congress which has been doing their level best to sow doubt in the public's mind about the existence of climate change and dire consequences of unlimited burning of fossil fuels.

{13.12.15}Latest: A deal has been reached in Paris, but some critics say it is full of promises and very little action. James Henson, the former NASA scientist that irked the right-wing with his early climate change witness, told interviewers that the Paris agreement is a "fraud really, a fake, it's just bullshit..." According to Hansen without a universal tax or fee for burning carbon, the planet cannot avoid the worse ravages of global warming. He fully expects sea levels in some places to rise in excess of five meters putting half the world's coastal cities at risk of flooding because of the melting Antarctic ice sheet. In a July paper Hansen and his co-authors call the 2℃ target "highly dangerous". Other scientists are not so quick to dismiss the Paris accord. In is in fact a historic moment when 195 nations can come together and agree on anything, no less than refraining from using the world's predominant source of energy that has been fueling industrial development for 300 years. Hansen is obviously disappointed in his own country's leaders on both sides of the political divide.  He says Obama has not "been particularly good" at explaining to the public the need for a fee on carbon, while Repugnants like Donald Trump and Marco Rubio have been simply "embarrassing" Hansen adds, "after a while you realize as a scientist that politicians don't act rationally."  Hansen is pinning his hopes on China, whose air pollution problem is so bad their leadership, mostly trained as engineers, scientists, and technicians cannot ignore it.  The Paris accord can be a beginning to a sustainable tomorrow for Earth.  It may just be the planet's last, best chance, but the devil is in the agreement's implementation.

Update: The Current Occupant called his Chinese counterpart in an attempt to squeeze out a climate deal in Paris. Negotiators have switched to behind closed door sessions and put off a plenary session that could become uncontrollable. The deadline for an agreement is now Saturday when activists plan to hold more peaceful demonstrations in support of a global agreement to reduce warming. Despite the direct contact between the US and China, deep divisions reported remain between the US, India and China. The UK's Guardian newspaper identifies six key obstacles to an agreement.

Negotiators in Paris are working through the night in an attempt to finalize an agreement on limiting climate change. The draft has about fifty provision that remain to be negotiated, but French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, the climate conference chair, expressed confidence negotiators will be able to close the remaining gaps in the twenty-seven page draft. Some climate advocates are already disappointed in the proposal, saying it denies "climate justice" to poor countries. Others are more positive saying the agreement affirms the need for quantifiable funding goals for the years after 2020. It is hoped that a final agreement will be reached on Friday at a plenary session. Now is definitely not the time for half-measures as satirized in this cartoon because catastrophic climate change is as large a threat to global security as terrorism is.
credit: Brian McFadden, Daily Kos