COP21 – Why are the media celebrating this bullshit?

I posted this comment here at “Climate Crocks” because it’s a damn good site that gets a whole lot more hits I do. But — dammit — I wrote it so I’m entitled to put it here too.


Gotta hand it you guys who were apparently able to read, digest & analyse the 31 pages of the Paris Agreement in 24 hours. It’s taken me 3 days.

  1. James Hansen is right: it’s a fraud.
  2. I feel utterly betrayed by the politicians, by the scientists who’ve failed to shout from the rooftops, “Poppycock!” and the press who are falling over themselves to avoid pointing out that the emperor is stark fucking naked.
  3. I made a list of decisions COP21 would have to take in order to maintain (achieve?) credibility :

– take enforceable decisions

– name a date for peak emissions

– call a halt on hidden subsidies to the fossil fuel industries

– call a halt on all exploration for new reserves of fossil fuels

– name an end date for the production of cars with internal combustion engines

– tax carbon and redistribute the revenue

I knew I was being optimistic, but Paris has done none of those. Not only that, but:

  1. There is no mention of the need to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
  2. There is no mention of the need to phase out petrol engined cars
  3. There is one passing reference to the need to achieve peak emissions “as soon as possible”.

And above all,

  1. There is §17 of chapter II, which reads:

Notes with concern that the estimated aggregate greenhouse gas emission levels in 2025 and 2030 resulting from the intended nationally determined contributions do not fall within least-cost 2˚C scenarios but rather lead to a projected level of 55 gigatonnes in 2030, and also notes that much greater emission reduction efforts will be required than those associated with the intended nationally determined contributions in order to hold the increase in the global average temperature to below 2˚C above pre-industrial levels by reducing emissions to 40 gigatonnes or to 1.5 ˚C above pre-industrial levels by reducing to a level to be identified in the special report referred to in paragraph 21 below;

And that, once you establish the context, is un-fucking-believable. In its 5th report, the IPCC established what you might call a survival budget. If we kept our CO2e emissions, from the year 1750 on, to a maximum of 1,000 Gt we might have a chance of avoiding the worst of the worst. “Might” was the operative word.

In 2013 we had already used up 53% of that budget and our emissions, which then stood at 36 Gt/y were still increasing at the rate of 3% a year. Let’s say we’re now at 600 Gt, or 60% of budget. In order to stay with the IPCC budget, we would need to reach peak emissions in 2018 and then reduce global emissions by 10% annually. That, by the way is only my calculation: the IMF says 2017.

So what does COP21 have to say about that? Fuck all!

COP21 appears to be delighted to announce that current INDCs will lead to emissions of 55Gt in 2030. Now anyone who’s able to use Excel even for basic arithmetic, like me, can easily work out that that means we go over-budget in 2024 and that by 2030 we’ll be at 1318Gt. True, the authors recognise that that might be a bit much, so they recommend a 2nd pathway resulting in a mere 40Gt of emissions in 2030. Great! That would mean a total of 1275Gt in 2030 and we would still burst the IPCC envelope in 2024.

  1. Worst of all, they have the effrontery to tell me that that 2030 target of 40Gt will guarantee that global warming stays below 1.5°C. Now, as I said, I’m no mathematician, much less a physicist, and I’ve no idea how to convert Gt of emissions into ppm of atmospheric CO2e, but I can spot a rule of thumb when I see one.

In 250 years we’ve added 600Gt of CO2e to the atmosphere and atmospheric CO2e has risen by 100ppm. Average surface temperatures have risen by 1° (and counting – we don’t know how the weight the inertia) and the observable effects are already severe, nudging catastrophic. So where’s the problem? Let’s go ahead and pump out another 700Gt over the next 15 years and soar haplessly to >500ppm. Why not?

My Excel spreadsheet is here :

Please, someone, tell me I’ve got it all wrong, that I’m a foolish amateur. But tell me why. Because for me Hansen is right and I’m thoroughly pissed off at being taken for a fool who can’t count.

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