Vetting the Paris Agreement
December 14, 2015
The Paris Agreement writes history.
The crucial Article 4 is: “In order to achieve the long-term temperature goal set out in Article 2, Parties aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, recognizing that peaking will take longer for developing country Parties, and to undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with best available science, so as to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century, on the basis of equity, and in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty. ”
In our assessment, the Paris Agreement rises to the challenge of limiting dramatic climate change. It sets the framework for a chance to limit multi-metre sea-level rise in the long-term. Individual post-2020 country targets put on the table before Paris are insufficient to the task of limiting warming to 2°C, let alone 1.5°C. The so-called INDCs have not been enhanced here in Paris (they were never meant to be enhanced here because the main focus was on the global agreement). Thus, there exists a big gap between INDCs and the global ambition needed. This will need to be bridged by upgraded mitigation contributions from countries in the years to come. In this article, we keep in mind those insufficient country INDCs but look at the Paris Agreement itself.
A well informed observer writes:
Also there is a private Barclay’s investor’s note that was written and sent to clients today coming off the back of COP21 – their closing takeaway: “Investor momentum around portfolio decarbonization will likely continue to build.”
Perhaps the most significant effect of the Paris agreement in the next few years will be the signal it sends to investors: the united governments of the world say that the age of fossil fuels has started drawing to a close. That does not mean that they are necessarily right, nor that the closing will not be much more drawn out than the Marshall Islands and other such states would wish. But after Paris, the belief that governments are going to stay the course on their stated green strategies will feel a bit better founded—and the idea of investing in a coal mine will seem more risky.
Cartoon in the Rupert Murdoch owned Australian. Again, Racism hand in hand with denial:
Joe Romm of ClimateProgress tells me he still stands by his September assessment:
The world appears to have bought itself a little time in the fight to avoid climate catastrophe, according to a new analysis.
Virtually every major country has made pledges to limit or reduce carbon pollution in advance of the Paris climate talks this December. These pledges generally end in 2025 or 2030, and so they only matter if the world keeps ratcheting down its greenhouse gas emissions in future agreements until we get near zero by century’s end. Otherwise we will blow past the 2°C line of defense against very dangerous-to-catastrophic global warming, and hit 3.6°C warming by 2100.
That’s the key finding of a new analysis from Climate Interactive and the MIT Sloan School of Business, tallying up the global pledges to limit carbon pollution leading up to the big Paris climate talks later this year.
Those pledges, called intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs), include the European Union cutting total emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, the U.S. cutting net greenhouse gas emissions emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 (including land use change and forestry), and China’s peaking in CO2 by 2030.
The good news, as you can see, is that the INDCs have bought us another five to 10 years of staying close to the 2°C path. I asked Andrew Jones, one of the systems-thinking savants behind Climate Interactive, if that was correct and he said, “Yep, about seven years.” By “staying close” I mean staying close enough to the 2°C path that it remains plausibly achievable — though (obviously) politically still very, very challenging.