Paris draft accord: will it deliver?

06 December 2015 8:02 am

The latest piece of news is that negotiators in Paris have produced a draft text of an agreement on climate change for ministers to finalise next week.

But there’s a lot of fine print to sort out. The Financial Times says that the problematic issues that have bedevilled climate change talks for the last twenty years have not gone away. They still have to be sorted out before there is any sort of agreement. For example, how much should wealthy countries pay poorer nations to help them lower emissions and how much should all countries collectively cut their carbon pollution to avert dangerous global warming?

It’s a huge issue. As The Guardian tells us, there is intense division over how the agreement is worded, in a way that would bind rich countries to specific continued investments, beyond the deal struck in Copenhagen for $US100 billion a year in public and private money to flow by 2020. The Saudis are blocking the idea that the commitments countries have put on the table in Paris – covering emission reductions between 2020 and 2030 – should be reviewed before that period commences.

Besides, if the Paris talks are serious about tackling the issue, why is the world preparing to build 2440 coal-fired power stations in eight countries like India, China, Indonesia and the European Union by 2030? Combined with already existing plants, their emissions make averting 2 degrees of warming past industrial levels impossible, and the respective countries’ national pledges aimed at curbing emissions are just misleading.

According to the Climate Action Tracker web site, if all coal plants in the pipeline were to be built by 2030 as planned, emissions from coal power would be 400 per cent higher than what is consistent with a 2°C pathway.

Which makes all the commitments out of Paris look ridiculous.

This is why campaigner Naomi Klein is saying Paris won’t deliver the kind of radical, transformative change needed to prevent catastrophic climate change.

"I refuse to leave our future in the hands of the world leaders cloistered in Le Bourget,” she said in downtown Paris. "We have left our messianic fantasies at home. We've done the math. We know politicians have come to the table with emissions reduction targets that will lead us to an extremely dangerous future, three to four degrees.”