Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Charade of the Paris Treaty

The real problem with the global accord on climate change is that it would make no real difference

By Bjorn Lomborg in the WSJ.
"Based on current carbon dioxide emissions, achieving the target of 1.5 degrees[increase in temperature in Celsius] would require the entire planet to abandon fossil fuels in four years."

"The United Nations organization in charge of the accord counted up the national carbon-cut pledges for 2016 to 2030 and estimated that, if every country met them, carbon dioxide emissions would be cut by 56 gigatons. It is widely accepted that restricting temperature rises to 2 degrees Celsius would require a cut of some 6,000 gigatons"

"Even in an implausibly optimistic, best-case scenario, the Paris accord leaves the problem virtually unchanged. Those who claim otherwise are forced to look beyond the period covered by the treaty and to hope for a huge effort thereafter."

"The treaty commits nations to specific and reasonably verifiable (but nonbinding) cuts in carbon emissions until the year 2030. After that, nothing really is concrete"

"hopes for the accord’s success rely on heroic assumptions about what tomorrow’s world leaders will do. If what we need is a carbon diet, the Paris treaty is just a promise to eat one salad today, pushing all the hard self-restraint far into the future."

"In 1993, Mr. Clinton committed the U.S. to cutting emissions by 2000, but he ditched the promise seven years later. In 1992, the industrialized nations promised that they would lower their emissions to 1990 levels by 2000. Nearly every country failed. Before the Paris treaty, the Kyoto Protocol was sold as a key part of the solution to global warming, but a recent study in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management shows that it achieved virtually nothing."

"Just 0.6% of the world’s energy needs are currently met by solar and wind, according to the International Energy Agency. Even with implementation of the Paris treaty, solar and wind are expected to contribute less than 3% of world energy by 2040. Fossil fuels will go from meeting 81% of our energy needs to three-quarters."

"Claims of a rapid transition to a zero-carbon society are plain nonsense.

Though there are contexts in which solar and wind energy are efficient, in most situations they depend on subsidies. These will cost $125 billion this year and $3 trillion over the next 25 years, to meet less than 3% of world energy needs."

"even the climate scientist James Hansen, who advises former Vice President Al Gore, agrees: “Suggesting that renewables will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels in the U.S., China, India, or the world as a whole is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.”"

"A global pact in which governments promise to use more expensive energy ensures that the world economy will develop at a slower pace. This adds up to an immense expense: $1 to $2 trillion by 2030 and each year for the rest of the century, mostly in lost GDP growth. This represents $150 to $300 for every person in the world, every year."

"In developing countries with more immediate problems, there are definitely more productive ways to use the money. A global poll of almost 10 million people conducted by the U.N. finds that climate change is the lowest priority behind health, education, food and 11 other priorities. Work by the Copenhagen Consensus, which I oversee, has highlighted the many investments in nutrition, health and other areas that would help vulnerable communities much more than would any possible benefits from carbon cuts."

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