by Judith Curry
The world’s leaders are touting victory as a result of the COP21 deliberations in Paris.
But, victory over what, exactly?
Here are a few good summary articles that I’ve spotted:
- HuffPo: Historic Climate Change Agreement Adopted in Paris
- Carbon Brief: The legal form of the Paris climate agreement
- Robert Stavins: Paris Agreement – A Good Foundation for Meaningful Progress
- The Conversation: Five things you need to know about the Paris climate deal
- Nick Mabey: Framing the Paris end game
- Walter Russell Mead: A manufactured success in Paris
- Fred Pearce: Landmark agreement on climate
With regards to ‘victory over what?’, it doesn’t seem to be victory over dangerous human caused climate change. The Huffpo article includes this insightful quote: The accord ‘saves the chance of saving the planet.’
Bjorn Lomborg’s take
Lomborg has written prolifically from Paris over the last two weeks; the title of his op-eds rather speak for themselves:
- We have a treaty, but at what cost?
- 1.5 degrees target: symbolism over substance
- Is climate change to blame for ISIS?
- What does the Paris Treaty look like from Ghana?
- Two incompatible thoughts on climate policy
- What’s the price tag of Paris climate summit? Don’t ask the politicians
- Climate aid gone wrong
- Which kills more people: fossil fuel or renewables?
I suspect that these are factors that will determine the overall outcome of this:
- Climate change in the 21st century will be on the low end of the IPCC projections, and that we will not see anything close to 4C warming (unless natural variability somehow conspires to produce substantial warming).
- Nearly all countries will act to promote their own economic self interest, with the possible exception of Europe and the U.S. (under a Democratic President). Ronald Bailey argues that Fast Growth Can Solve Climate Change.
- People don’t really care much about climate change, as per this UN survey [link]
- Development of new energy technologies (generation, transmission, storage) and possibly carbon capture and storage technologies are the only way to make progress on the Paris objectives. The initiative spearheaded by Bill Gates looks like an important step in this direction.
- Now that the world has declared ‘victory’ on the decades long process of getting a climate agreement, perhaps local communities and governments can start focusing attention and resources on reducing their current weather/climate vulnerabilities and improving their environmental quality.
- Also, with the declared ‘victory’ and the loss of relevance of climate science, it will hopefully become ‘easier’ for scientists to obtain funding to research natural climate variability and challenge the IPCC’s consensus.
It remains to be seen whether the Paris agreement has a long tail with consequences that reverberate long into the future. The most unpredictable aspect of this is the near term variability of the climate itself. If the hiatus does survive the ‘warmest year’, with temperatures lower for the next decade than climate model projections, then the will to reduce carbon emissions may lessen.
In any event, it looks like climate change will be a significant issue in the U.S. Presidential election, which is the next big thing to watch.