It’s happening in slow motion, and the Biden honeymoon keeps the rose-colored glasses on. But make no mistake: the aspirational Paris Agreement of 2015 is becoming more untenable day-by-energy-day.
This international accord to limit emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) is going the way of the dead-and-forgotten Kyoto Protocol of 1997. It is “déjà vu all over again.”
“With each passing year the difficulty of meeting any fixed quantitative target increases progressively,” two MIT economists explained in The Energy Journal back in 1999. “Moreover, plausible estimates of when the Protocol would go into effect leave such a small window of time before the first commitment period that achievement of the Kyoto targets will eventually pass out of reach.”
Ditto for the Paris climate accord, finalized 21 years later with 196 sovereign nations agreeing to voluntarily cut emissions and report back every five years with something better. Meanwhile, the planet is about to die or already has, making any delay unacceptable to the alarmists.
Scientist/activist James Hansen, father of the climate alarm, called Paris “just worthless words … a fraud really, a fake.” In fact, if all of its goals for the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) were reached, the avoided global warming would be less than a degree Farenheight by year-2100. But emissions are going in the opposite direction—for good, worthy reasons.
Last month, UN Secretary-General António Guterres issued a “red alert” that world governments are “nowhere close to the level of ambition needed” to reach Paris’s climate goals. Instead of a 45 percent reduction from 2010 levels, the latest promises add to emission reductions under 1 percent by target-date 2030.
Climate Action Tracker reports 44 countries and the EU27 released new NDC targets (targets) in 2020, leaving 113 countries without updates. The world’s three largest emitters—the U.S., China, and India—have yet to submit new NDCs. Even within the countries that did submit, big emitters such as Australia, Brazil, and Russia have not raised their commitment. Business-as-usual improvements, economic greenhouse-gas reductions, are what these countries have in mind.
Russia’s new plan is really its old plan. India does not plan to submit a new NDC at present. China is in a delay mode. The last U.S. submission, in 2015 by President Obama, “barely threaded the needle” in order to meet Paris Agreement requirements.
When the Biden administration releases its new aggressive NDC next month, the gap between aspirations and performance will only grow. What consumers demand is the opposite of what government planners desire. Expect skepticism and ridicule, even in the mainstream media.
Futile policy has a way of destroying itself. The cause, in this case, is not fossil-fuel propaganda or climate-science “deniers.” It is the ubiquitous advantages of mineral energies over their dilute, intermittent, infrastructure-heavy alternatives.
Affordable, reliable energy is a staple of modern living and a determined goal for developing countries. Petroleum for transportation; natural gas and oil for space heating; and natural gas, oil, and coal for electrical generation, are century-old mainstays that remain superior. Only government mandates and taxpayer largesse are keeping wind power, (on-grid) solar power, and battery vehicles in the marketplace.
President Biden should reverse course. The administration’s climate exaggeration of “an existential threat” should stop. The unsalvageable Paris Agreement should be abandoned.
Expect a growing gap between aspirations and reality to cause dissension, verbal angst, and policy desperation at the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference later this year in Glasgow, Scotland. Reality does bat last.