The Paris climate talks have mostly wound to an end. There are still a few details to clean up over the weekend, but we’re being told that representatives from hundreds of nations have come together and are prepared to release their final agreement on how to save the world from climate change. Or maybe not: even as of this morning nobody seemed to be able to agree as to whether or not there was an agreement. (CNN)
“Obviously, nobody will get 100% of what they want,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Friday as he discussed the “balanced and as ambitious as possible” working document that will be voted on. “What I hope is that everyone remembers the message of the first day, when 150 heads of state and government came from all around the world to say, ‘The world needs a success.’ ”
Countries must agree by consensus. Organizers hope countries will adopt the proposal but there could be some nations that don’t go along. It will be up to the COP21 president to decide whether there’s an agreement.
After the vote in Paris, the countries that adopt the agreement will later have to ratify it nationally.
Still, there are specific goals coming out. Exactly how they plan on meeting them remains a mystery (at least in the fine details) but they supposedly will be releasing their target goals for all the nations to meet. Chief among these is the plan to hold the global temperature rise to less than two degrees Celsius over the rest of the century. (The Independent)
Ministers from more than 190 countries are expected to ratify a major new international climate change agreement – the details of which were announced at around 10:30am GMT (11:30am CET).
The final agreement would include a commitment to keeping temperature rises “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels with a target of keeping them at 1.5C. Ministers are meeting on Saturday afternoon to decide whether or not to approve the agreement.
Announcing the deal, French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said the potential deal aimed to show: “Our collective efforts are worth more than the sum of our individual efforts.”
The steps required to achieve such a lofty goal do, at least in general, appear to have nearly universal agreement among the people attending and voting. The world, we are told, will have to start seriously weaning itself off of all fossil fuels by 2050 and abandon them entirely by the end of the century. Those who can’t figure out a way to do that will need to engage in ruinously expensive methods of “burying” their carbon output and also filtering it out of the air in mass quantities. (Good luck getting China, Russia or India to actually go along with any of this beyond paying it simple lip service, by the way.)
Despite fears in some quarters that the conference’s final findings will be legally binding around the world, it’s really nothing of the sort. They can make all the “rules” they like, but absent some means of enforcement they really have nothing to say to sovereign nations whose governments don’t independently agree to go along. There’s already historical precedent for that, since Bill Clinton initially signed off on the Kyoto Protocol in 1998 but it was then rejected under G.W. Bush in 2001 and we never became an official signatory. A plan that essentially guts the oil and gas industry with no practical replacement for the energy on the horizon is never going to see the light of day in Congress. (Unless the world is now several orders of magnitude more insane than it even seems to be today.)
We’ll revisit this when the final details get a vote and everyone has a chance to look them over, but I expect this to primarily be a political bone for our presidential candidates to chew over next year. In terms of actual policy, I wouldn’t worry too much at this point.