Obama on Paris Agreement

December 12, 2015

UPDATE: Joe Romm in Climate Progress:

In a literally world-changing deal that was almost unthinkable just a year ago, some two hundred leading nations unanimously embraced a plan that will leave most of the world’s fossil fuels unburned.

As part of a concerted effort to avoid catastrophic climate change, the world unanimously committed to an ongoing effort of increasingly deeper emissions reductions aimed at keeping total warming “to well below 2°C [3.6°F] above preindustrial levels.” The full text of this Paris Agreementgoes even further, with the parties agreeing “to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.”

Already, global coal use appears to be plateauing, and global oil use will likely follow suit in the next decade as countries ratchet up their CO2 targets.

To get an idea of how challenging these negotiations have been, imagine trying to get a substantive agreement on any major topic in the U.S. Senate if the requirement for success were unanimity! Tragically, conservatives in Congress are doing everything that they can to undermine this deal, which is humanity’s best chance to avoid decades if not centuries of needless suffering for billions of people.

The economic and environmental implications of this deal for Americans are staggering. In the near term, it will unlock an accelerating multi-trillion-dollar shift in capital investment away from carbon-intensive coal and oil, which were the cornerstone of the first industrial revolution, into clean technologies like solar, wind, LED lighting, advanced batteries, and electric cars. It means far less harmful carbon pollution will be emitted in the coming years.

The agreement “sends a very powerful message to the business and investment community that the age of fossil fuels is ending,” explained the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Alden Meyer. Thus, “continued investments in high-carbon assets conflicts with their fiduciary responsibility.”

The Paris Agreement means the world may avoid many of the most catastrophic impacts. That said, a quarter century of largely ignoring scientific warnings has left the world unable to stop a number of very dangerous impacts, including sea level rise, ocean acidification, extreme weather, and Dust-Bowlification.

“I’m optimistic within a pessimistic framework,” said David Doniger the Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Climate & Clean Air Program. His words summed up how many of the people I spoke to feel here after two long weeks of negotiations.

At the same time, this deal is a vindication for the climate movement’s strategy to

  • mobilize a grassroots effort aimed at keeping carbon in the ground (as with Keystone XL);
  • get institutions and others to disinvest in dirty energy, while shifting capital to clean energy; and
  • push as hard as possible for a warming target below 2°C

The pledges by 186 countries big and small, developed and developing, in the months leading up to the Paris conference are an enormous first step. But these intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) will need to be reviewed and ratched up every 5 years for the rest of the century to preserve a livable climate — and that review and ratchet is a key part of the deal.

Now begins the great race between accelerating clean energy price drops and deployment on the one hand, and accelerating climate impacts on the other hand. The challenge to keep warming below 2°C — which requires essentially every country to have zero net fossil fuel emissions by century’s end — is enormous, as this chart from Climate Interactive makes clear:


As the graph shows, the INDCs flatten out global greenhouse gas emissions through 2030. Indeed, global CO2 emissions have plateaued the last two years, which suggests the multi-trillion-dollar global shift in investment from high-carbon growth to low-carbon has already begun. As the worlds’ nations deliver on their INDCs, and ratchet them up over time, this plateau may well get longer and longer — until it turns into a peak.

Change happens slow, until it happens fast. We have entered the fast phase.




32 Responses to “Obama on Paris Agreement”

  1. redskylite Says:

    Kudos to the hosts France and to all the organizers for getting a positive result, no mean feat in today’s world of division, conflict and self interest, how it all plays out is very easy for every person to follow, thanks to the post war wisdom of the 1950’s and Charles David Keeling (encouraged by Roger Revelle).

    1969 – C.D Keeling:

    “The rise in CO2 is proceeding so slowly that most of us
    today will, very likely, live out our lives without perceiving that
    a problem may exist.”

  2. omnologos Says:

    1992: voluntary agreement (Rio). 1997: binding treaty (Kyoto). 2009: no agreement (Copenhagen). 2015: voluntary agreement (Paris).

    Really, is this progress? The result of investment gone well? Moving forward? A world changing deal?

    If I were a warmist I’d be screaming from the rooftops at this scandal of a scam (the “agreements”). As a non-warmist I can only marvel in despair at seeing how we’re going to get the worst of both worlds.

    • redskylite Says:

      Well that’s a lot of progress. A label for Omnologos’s stance at long last he is a self-confessed “non-warmest”.

      Well I don’t like assigning labels to myself. I’ll keep looking at the Mauna Loa statistics from NOAA each month on atmospheric CO2 readings. If the efforts by very many sincere and hard-working people from all over the world pay off and I see the CO2 readings decline, and if the monthly temperature statistics issued by NASA, NOAA, JMA and the Hong Kong observatory respond (downwards) over time, then I’ll know I was right and you were wrong.

      Do you choose the sealed room with the gasoline fueled car Omnologos. ?

    • petermogensen Says:

      > “Really, is this progress?”

      The most obnoxious deniers are those who spend huge amounts of time trying to sabotage climate action and spreading misinformation.
      … and then later when actions turns out to be difficult and only comes in small steps mockingly points out that the process in ineffective.

      You cannot get morally more depraved than that.

      > “If I were a warmist I’d be screaming from the rooftops at this scandal ”

      None of us are fooling ourselves.

      • omnologos Says:

        James Hansen called it a fraud. Such an obnoxious denier, he. You seemingly post stuff you don’t read

        • petermogensen Says:

          You seemlingly answer posts you don’t read.

          • omnologos Says:

            small steps, one fraud at a time. if you’re happy, I’m happy too.

            In the meanwhile, Mann said COP21 is just “the beginning of a process.”

            23 years after Rio. 25 years after AR1. Beginning of a process. Yeah, right.

          • petermogensen Says:

            You’re sick… idiots like you are pushing the planet to catastrophe and you gloat over the slow progress there is to stop you.

          • omnologos Says:

            Another admirer giving me superhuman world destructive powers. Who knew.

          • petermogensen Says:

            There’s big fish, there’s small fish… and then there’s just useful idiots.
            But they all have a part of the blame.

          • omnologos Says:

            Like the criminals who write useless, content free comments in full knowledge it’ll cause emissions everywhere.

            In the meantime, the number of the underwhelmed campaigners acknowledging Obama’s folly with the rest of the world is increasing

          • petermogensen Says:

            I don’t envy you the prospect of having to explain your behaviour to you r grand children.

          • omnologos Says:

            The usual folly. Wonder what your granddad knew of the world of 2015 and if he could’ve done anything about it

          • petermogensen Says:

            Regardsless that his generation didn’t have nearly the same impact on earth as we do today, there’s one crucial difference: WE KNOW ABOUT IT!!
            …and people like you are advocating that we continue destroying the planet.

          • omnologos Says:

            Yes we know the future. Rrriiiighhht. Besides it’s been you mindless seers who’ve brought upon us destruction in in the form of corn ethanol and palm oil, plus misery of increasing energy prices for the elderly.

          • petermogensen Says:


          • omnologos Says:

            your lack of judgement, intellectual ability and arguments, shows.

          • petermogensen Says:

            It’s not hard to judge idiots who try to blame me for stuff I’ve been against all my life.

          • omnologos Says:

            But my example was about seers in the past who thought they’d save the planet with corn or palms

          • petermogensen Says:

            i don’t care… There’s not excuse for your behaviour… pointing to third party idiocy is not an exception.

          • omnologos Says:

            hahahahaha…that;s exacly what you have been doin

          • petermogensen Says:

            Do you now deny that you advocate against action to limit CO2 emissions as fast as possible?

          • omnologos Says:

            I advocate against idiotic choices hastily taken in the name of a potential possible could be happening in 50 years’ time catastrophe, when they mean certain suffering in the present. as for CO2 emissions, I am of course in favor of limiting them as fast as possible…who isn’t? Because the trouble is in the meaning of “possible”.

          • petermogensen Says:

            “… a potential possible could be happening in 50 years’ time catastrophe…”

            I feel confimed.
            This kinda idiotic nonsense was precisely what I meant.

          • omnologos Says:

            As I said…you are not the first Seer, and there have been very convinced, very mistaken people in the past who just KNEW what the future would bring. but lest you get agitated, if anybody can show something that can be done painlessly and cost-effectively now AND maybe will save the planet later, I am all for it. Again…who isn’t?

          • petermogensen Says:

            Yeah right… it starts by not denying the problem.

  3. andrewfez Says:

    First Solar’s stock price has been more aggressively decoupling from oil prices; I was hoping for a major dip to happen near the bottoming of WTI prices, but it’s not looking as promising.

    And on another note, every once in a while I like to look at what was happening in Alaska when energy prices got expensive (heating oil). One builder started building passive houses and high efficiency homes. He builds 12 per year. Cold Climate Homes Research Center started promoting REMOTE wall systems, which are basically a technique for highly insulating/tightening a home, developed in the 1950’s, and masonry stoves (high efficiency wood burning stoves), which are expensive to implement as a retrofit, as they require the services of a structural engineer, a specialty builder/welder, &c. Seemed like a particular subset of people were either taking second jobs to pay for energy, moving, or absorbing the cost. I’m familiar with the latter, for though I don’t use much energy to run my place, the cost of electricity has gone from 9 cents to 15 cents, to supposedly invest in clean energy, though there may be some cronyism happening as well, and I haven’t really done anything to figure out how to use less during this interval.

    My point is that how can we get folks motivated to use less energy in an environment of rising prices, be they from carbon taxes or from needed investments in new energy and replacements of old energy?

  4. dumboldguy Says:

    Another promising thread crapped up by the maunderings of the OmnoMoron. What a waste. The only result of ignoring DNFTT on this thread and paying him attention is that Omno’s ego is now puffed up like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon. Someone cut the ropes and let him float away—please.

    Best line in the whole piece is “I’m optimistic within a pessimistic framework.” On the one hand, it’s an achievement to get this agreement, but on the other, the figures are daunting—-it’s going to be an interesting 5 and 10 years as we see how it pans out.

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