What really went down at the Paris climate conference? What are countries signing up to at the UN HQ since April 22? What is actually in the Paris agreement?
Let’s hear from a Professor of Contract Law, David Campbell of Lancaster University Law School, U.K.
Excerpted from his post at GWPF
Neither 2°C nor any other specific target has ever been agreed at the UN climate change negotiations.
Article 2 of the Paris Agreement in fact provides only that it ‘aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change … including by the holding the increase to well below 2°C’. This is an expression, not of setting a concrete limit, but merely of an aspiration to set such a limit. It is true that Article 2 is expressed in a deplorably equivocatory and convoluted language which fails to convey this vital point, indeed it obscures it. But nevertheless that is what Article 2 means.
Far from being an agreement to reduce global emissions, it was an agreement to allow their unbounded increase.
No emissions caps have ever been, are, or can be set on the developing countries, for the good reasons that this is what the Framework Convention, the Kyoto Protocol and now the Paris Agreement provide.
In the Paris Agreement, this disastrous position is actually strengthened by being made explicit. . . Article 4(4) of the Paris Agreement confines ‘absolute emissions reduction targets’ to the developed countries and distinguishes them from the ‘mitigation efforts’ the developing countries might undertake, which will not involve absolute reductions. This provides an explicitly legal permission for developing countries not to make any CO2 reductions and will be the legal basis of continued immense increase in China’s and India’s CO2 emissions.
Only developed countries are expected to limit absolute emissions. All others expect to grow economically to reduce their carbon intensities.
Carbon intensity is a measure of the amount of CO2 which must be emitted to obtain a certain increase in GDP. Broadly speaking, absolute emissions and economic growth are strongly correlated, but, with increasing sophistication of technology, the rate at which growth requires emissions, that is to say, carbon intensity, falls.
China’s growth targets, stated as its ‘strategic goals’ in the INDC, are such that Chinese reductions in carbon intensity will be made, not despite but because of a growth in absolute emissions. China will not retire existing generating capacity and replace it only with an equivalent or smaller capacity generated by lower intensity plant. It will retire older capacity in the course of an immense expansion of overall capacity. China’s extremely ambitious and apparently positive intensity targets actually represent a statement that the increase in its emissions will be vast.
Those committed to environmental intervention and those who believe Global Warming has been exaggerated can agree on one thing:
Stop wasting time and energy on treaties to mitigate CO2 emissions, and put the resources into adapting to effects of future climate and weather.
Campbell provides more context here:
The major industrialising countries (MICs), such as China and India, are classified as developing countries, which has effectively made global reductions impossible.
Article 4(7) of the UNFCCC provides that ‘the extent to which developing country parties will effectively implement … the Convention … will take fully into account that economic and social development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of the developing country parties.’ Since emissions reductions involve immense economic costs, this essentially means that no limits can be placed on the emissions of developing countries. Their responsibility to reduce emissions isn’t ‘differentiated’ so much as non-existent. Subsequent climate change negotiations have reinforced this position, and it is stated as forthrightly as it ever has been in China’s INDC. When the MICs’ refusal to adopt reductions targets became clear at the Copenhagen conference in 2009, people began to realise that directing criticism solely at the developed countries, particularly the US, as a result of its failure to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, was fruitless. But all the MICs have done is stick to what was agreed in 1992.
By insisting once again that they don’t have a responsibility to reduce emissions, China and India have ensured that the Paris conference will not reach the hoped-for agreement. Global emissions reductions have been impossible for more than a quarter-century and will continue to be impossible, for the very good reason that this is what was agreed in the original convention. Numerous near irrelevant agreements and declarations of intent will no doubt be made in Paris, obscuring the failure to reach any agreement on global reductions. International policy has so far been based on the premise that mitigation is the wisest course, but it is time for those committed to environmental intervention to abandon the idea of mitigation in favour of adaptation to climate change’s effects.