I thought I’d read the New York Times writeup of the weekend’s arguably historic climate change prevention agreement, in hope of learning what our betters in New York feel about what our even-betters in Paris accomplished. Along the way, I hoped to learn how the agreement works, what it actually does.
For example, we do learn from Davenport’s story that every country in the world will take part in a scheme to “cut emissions by half the levels required to stave off the worst effects of global warming.” This is based on the assumption that climate change “has started to wreak havoc now, from flooding in Miami to droughts and water shortages in China.”
And surely, floods in a low-lying coastal city like Miami, or water shortages in China’s densely populated and mismanaged megalopolises, must be caused by carbon emissions. No other explanation is possible.
We also learn that “there is no legal requirement dictating how, or how much, countries should cut emissions,” even though Davenport’s very next sentence claims that there are indeed “legally binding requirements that countries ratchet up the stringency of their climate change policies in the future.” Somebody run the numbers for me: What’s zero times five again?
In all fairness though, the treaty — agreement, actually, but we’ll get to that shortly — might have some teeth to it, at least in theory. Davenport writes:
Countries will also be legally required to reconvene every five years starting in 2023 to publicly report on how they are doing in cutting emissions compared to their plans. They will be legally required to monitor and report on their emissions levels and reductions, using a universal accounting system.
And if countries fail to live up to their promises? They’ll be sent, as it were, to bed without supper. Verification rests on “a ‘name-and-shame’ system of global peer pressure.” To the cheaters then go the spoils in Le Bourget’s Brave New World Emissions Standards.
It seems almost unfair to point out Davenport’s slavish parroting of the claim that the agreement will cut in half the projected increase of “2 degrees Celsius,” without actually committing anybody anywhere to any hard requirements.
If Davenport’s writeup is a little short on specifics, well, so is the agreement. Countries set their own emissions goals, move towards those goals at their own speeds, and the enforcement mechanism amounts to “Bad China, bad, bad!” Where the report does get specific, and quite so, is in the domestic political angle, and why we have an “agreement” rather than a treaty covering such world-saving measures:
A deal that would have assigned legal requirements for countries to cut emissions at specific levels would need to go before the United States Senate for ratification. That language would have been dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled Senate, where many members question the established science of human-caused climate change, and still more wish to thwart Mr. Obama’s climate change agenda.
In Washington, this thing is as dead as the 1998 Kyoto Protocol.
Note please that at the New York Times, human-caused climate change is “established science,” and never you mind that this science has a predictive track record so feeble that it has its adherents searching in vain under the oceans for where the global warming went hiding. Also note that these Neanderthal Republicans — keeping in mind that Davenport’s story is reported as straight news — “wish to thwart” Obama’s “landmark accord.”
In Paris, however, our Even Betters seemed oblivious to American political realities:
There were few of those concerns at the makeshift negotiations center here in this suburb north of Paris. The delegates rose to their feet in applause to thank the French delegation, which drew on the finest elements of the country’s longstanding traditions of diplomacy to broker a deal that was acceptable to all sides.
You might celebrate, too, if you’re a minister of a poor country who just enjoyed world-class amenities on someone else’s dime for the privilege of negotiating a sham agreement which holds out the eventual promise of “$100 billion a year to help [poor countries like yours] mitigate and adapt” a crony economy to something with even more cronyism. The opportunities for graft take one’s breath away, which may account for all the breathless aplomb over Le Bourget.
One last item of note:
France’s European partners recalled the coordinated Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people and threatened to cast a shadow over the negotiations. But, bound by a collective good will toward France, countries redoubled their efforts.
Our Even Betters certainly would never allow 130 murdered Parisians to cast a shadow over the party event of 2015. Instead, countries redoubled their efforts to fighting a dubious future threat, while sipping champagne and ignoring the right-now threat of Islamic terrorism, which is killing people today in places like Paris, San Bernardino, and in every almost climate around the world.