The Paris Agreement – an important feel good failure

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The Paris Agreement is an important feel good failure.

The Standard, Scoop and the Greens believe everything has changed and that this is a great moment.

Let’s be charitable by suggesting they’ve all been caught up in the hype.

The realities of catastrophic climate change needs a facelift into a feel good determinism that we can change things with a few weeks here and there. NGOs and environmental protest groups understand that they need to make people feel like they can change things with a march or two and lots of signatures or else people switch off, so from the feel good factor the Paris agreement is important.

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We all like to feel that we can make some changes without threatening our standard of living.

The reality however is far more bleak.

Yes there is language to pursue temperature increases of less than 1.5 degrees but the truth is that the pledges amount to a rise of 3.7 degrees, as Reuters reports…

While scientists say pledges thus far could see global temperatures rise by as much as 3.7 degrees Celsius (6.7 degrees Fahrenheit), the agreement also lays out a roadmap for checking up on progress. The first “stocktake” would occur in 2023, with further reviews every five years to steadily increase or “ratchet up” those measures. 

…a 2 degree rise will decimate species and destroy vast tracts of farming land, 3.7 degrees will be catastrophic.

From a feel good perspective Paris is a success, from the reality perspective however, we are now seeing in real time climate change at a speed far faster than the IPCC has predicted. Frozen methane coming off the ocean floor, the thawing of permafrost, the slowing of the ocean current and the massive meltdown in Greenland and Antarctica required a response that puts the entire planets economy on a war footing, what we got from Paris was a twitter storm of self congratulation.

 

UPDATE: The Standard have taken a breath, actually read the document and have now accepted they may have been a tad hasty. Now waiting for Scoop and the Greens to start their back pedal. 

38 COMMENTS

  1. Great job guys. Top class planning for the future.

    Only further tech development and global geo-engineering can save us now.

    I’m still wondering what’s actually in the agreement?

    I heard a $100 billion price tag been thrown around?

    Cause sure as sheet America ain’t coughing up, and there the only ones that can do much on a global scale

  2. It was an important step forward, in that every country now agrees climate change is a real problem, and we need to work to stop it. Other than that is was of course lacking in substantial action, but it was still a small victory.

    • So, it’s a bit like if your house was on fire, and while you were shrieking hysterically and desperately attempting to rescue your children and pets, your neighbour pops his head out of the window and remarks, “Jeez, Wayne. Looks like your house is on fire.”

      The climate is changing drastically. Mother Nature is about to wreak a dreadful revenge on us for our hubris and stupidity. And the best we can do is mumble, “Uh, we need to do something to stop the bad thing from happening… Let’s have another meeting where we essentially repeat the same asinine platitudes about adhering to imaginary lines in the sand that we all secretly laugh at when we’re not actually attending one of these futile meetings.”

      Good going human race. You never cease to disappoint me.

  3. Yes, as expected, COP21 was a spectacular failure which is being touted by ‘the powers that be’ as a spectacular success in order to keep the masses docile and compliant.

    The reality most people seem to not understand and which TPTB have decided to ignore is that an industrial civilisation based on burning fossil fuels is completely incompatible with the human species (and most other vertebrate species) existing a few decades from now. Numerous self-reinforcing and mutually-reinforcing feedbacks have been triggered and continuing to pour CO2 into the atmosphere will reinforce those already triggered and very likely trigger new ones. There is no stopping at 1.5oC, 2oC, 3oC or even 5oC. We[ve known that for at least a decade.

    We are in the midst of the Sixth Great Extinction, and four out of five of the previous great extinction events were due to massive shifts in the chemistry of the atmosphere which resulted from volcanic activity. However, this time round it is the rapid burning of hundreds of billions of tonnes of sequestered carbon by humans that is causing geochemical systems to be disturbed, and at a faster rate than at any time in geological history going back 600 million years! Continuation on the same path [of burning coal, oil and gas] will result in accelerating meltdown: we are not talking about nowhere for polar bears to live but are talking about temperatures too high for industrial agriculture to persist and eventually too high for humans to maintain body temperature by perspiring.

    Back in 2004 Sir David King, scientific advisor to the Blair government, talked about Antarctica being literally the only habitable land mass by the end of the 21st century….and he was ignored, just as everyone else who has pointed out reality over the past decade or so has been ignored.

    The corporations and money-lenders who rule this planet via their bought-and-paid-for lackeys have decided corporate profits come before a habitable planet and clearly intend to keep the current game going until they can’t.

    Pity the next generation.

    • This sort of extreme position is possibly one of the reasons it is difficult for those wanting immediate action on tackling climate change to get any traction. Anything that Mr Bradbury raises as a concern can be easily trumped with a more extreme scenario postulated by someone such as the commenter above and the supposed fact we are all doomed anyway.

      • What ever goose. Coal fired power plants in NZ are finished (closing down) that’s the biggest problem with you. You say imaginary stuff that has no bearing in reality, just an ideological delusion.

        Honestly bae, has any of your predictions ever come true?

      • While you may view these comments as “extreme”, there is sufficient of the inconvenient truth in them. Sad thing is that most do live in a mental and emotional space founded on delusion. Perhaps take a tour around the globe and visit the many spots where things are changing rapidly already, and with the present commitments made in Paris, we will have continued warming for years to come.

        At present, in many parts of Europe, it is many degrees warmer than usual for this time of year, and we are only just over a week away from Christmas, the start of winter there.

        New Zealand is not as affected as many other regions in the world, given it is so isolated, so far away from the main centres of human habitation and with that pollution. It is enjoying a moderate to partly subtropical oceanic climate, that does not fluctuate as much as weather does now in most continental areas.

        So while we are actually heading into serious droughts caused by El Nino again, most seem to notice only small if any change, and being subjective beings, they only hear and read about climate change disasters happening elsewhere, faraway.

        That deludes many into thinking, it will not affect us much, while sea levels can rise significantly and flood parts of Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Auckland and so forth, making many homes there unsuitable to live in in the future.

        It is better to take a precautionary approach, and the shift by the Greens to move towards the “centre”, and already being softer on the farmers, of whom dairy cow keepers are responsible for close to half of all greenhouse emissions in this country, they are at risk of losing some credit, by not sufficiently raising the issue with transport pollution.

        Our government and Labour and Greens seem to try and tell the car loving majority, nothing much needs to change, we will simply use more electric cars in future. If they do that, where will all the electricity come from? Where will the electricity for value added production, for industry, for lights, washing machines and more in homes come from, when the bulk will go into driving cars?

        Maybe you do favour the first nuclear power plants to be built here, the next (not best) alternative, that is besides of wind, more hydro and geothermal and solar energy, that will though not be enough to fuel all cars.

        • That’s totally incorrect when you say the Greens say to people nothing much needs changing – do have a look at their policies – they provide more alternatives than any other party in terms of what we can do to reverse climate change… e.g.. they tried to get better deals for solar power, electric cars, public transport (in line with Gen 0), tax carbon usage on the businesses that do this. It’s no coincidence that Mana and the Internet party followed and deferred to the Greens at the last election on climate change policies. I suggest you do your homework before attempting a positivist and incorrect statement like that.

      • We are!
        Get over it and Party Gosman. Don’t be a total numpty all yer life.
        I accepted many years ago that it wouldn’t be viable for my children to breed. They are now adults who yearn to parent. None of them have. That is the reality for our best and brightest. they are now following their mother’s advice to adopt children instead. Kia Ora. Wake up and get real!.

  4. We have seen how effective many UN resolutions, conventions and whatever other agreements often are, they are ignored, at times with blatant disregard. Just look at how many governments in the world (few are truly democratically elected, and our one is becoming less of that also) respect human rights and the environment and also social needs of their populations?

    Indeed, I fear this is yet another celebrated agreement by professional diplomats and negotiators, and leaders of some lobby and interest groups, who will start compromising much of what they agreed to as soon as they arrive back home.

    We are far beyond repair already, and the planet continues to be looted, and we will continue to have the news and government agendas be dominated by talk about the need for “growth”, more free trade agreements, more business and so forth. Let us not forget, the RMA is going to be changed soon, that is on the agenda, Auckland is being prepared to have a population of 2.5 million, the immigration based GDP and consumption growth is celebrated by this government, and they have appointed a rather ignorant new Minister to look after climate change.

    On a global scale populations continue to increase, albeit maybe slower, needing more food, more housing, more fuel and energy, and to simply talk about high level agreements to replace all fossil energy with clean energy, that is a major project that I cannot see being implemented on a significant, needed scale any time soon.

    They are merely kicking the can further down the road, hoping to not have to address it all that soon, it rather seems.

  5. Time will tell on this one…unfortunately it’s time we don’t have.
    They should of had this summit back in the 80’s, then we may have had a real chance.

  6. The Standard, Scoop and the Greens believe everything has changed and that this is a great moment. Let’s be charitable by suggesting they’ve all been caught up in the hype.

    The Greens blew it here clearly.

    Greens had a golden opportunity to take the high moral ground on serious action for climate change mitigation as the second biggest carbon emitter “TRANSPORT” which was identified even by several key NZ experts and mentioned during the last two days on Radio NZ National as one of the most serious issues for all governments to address alongside energy.

    One such expert was Ralph Chapman was a negotiator of the Kyoto Protocol for the NZ Government, and has worked on climate change policy since 1988.

    hear him warning that transport is a major emitter of carbon and needs addressing now.

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/player/201782624

    Then this morning ShonKey says we will need to work hard to address the targets set here on carbon emissions…..

    All this while Key is overseeing the shutting all our regional rail freight and passenger rail services down and turning the rail tracks into either golf cart tours or key cycle ways while he is encouraging a massive 12% increase of truck use around NZ every year now, seen now as his only answer to the low carbon transport way forward.

    What a chump he is, as our roads are now becoming loaded with heavy dangerous bigger longer heavier trucks while rail dies at his hands.

    These new heavier trucks now have double the old 18 wheeler traditional truck had with up to a whopping 34 wheels which now consume even more energy and oil to produce, while they also emit dangerous aromatic chemicals into the air we breathe in the form of “Tyre Dust which is a clearly known cancer causing dust.

    Clever work Key and his his clones.

    Victoria University Environmental expert Professor Ralph Chapman says without serious transportation changes and the lowering use of heavy emitting truck carbon emissions we will not reach our targets now, that were historically set at the final day in December 2015 at this Paris climate change agreement, Professor Chapman said a low Carbon transport system is the most serious to be addressed issue along with low carbon energy.

    Answer = Get freight on rail then folks please so we can meet these targets.

    • Meh. Plunging oil prices have done what the Greens have been trying to do for decades. Which is kill big oil. At $35 dollars a barrel, tare sand oil is production is coming to a stop, key stone oil pipeline has stopped. To rent an oil tanker costs 100k per day (which means less oil on the oceans at a time)

      Peak oil has arrived

    • +100..CLEANGREEN…the NZ Green Party ,as distinct from serious green environmentalists, seem to have been more interested in changing the flag ….and to Red Peak ( the green corporate lemon not many NZers voted for )

      or any other flag option…bugger the fact the existing flag is wanted by many NZers because it represents the Treaty and our history

      …and upholding the statusquo …rather than being active on KiwiRAIL and public transport

      …in the meantime jonkety Nact is bringing in even bigger trucks and more expensive motorways( who has shares in these roading companies?)…and the NZ Green Party is silent

  7. They were telling us this in 1922:

    The Arctic Ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot, according to a report to the Commerce Department yesterday from Consulate, at Bergen , Norway. Reports from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone. Exploration expeditions report that scarcely any ice has been met as far north as 81 degrees 29 minutes.
    Soundings to a depth of 3,100 meters showed the gulf stream still very warm. Great masses of ice have been replaced by moraines of earth and stones, while at many points well known glaciers have entirely disappeared. Very few seals and no white fish are found in the eastern Arctic, while vast shoals of herring and smelts which have never before ventured so far north, are being encountered in the old seal fishing grounds. Within a few years it is predicted that due to the ice melt the sea will rise and make most coastal cities uninhabitable.”

    Is it true? I don’t Know! I instinctively don’t believe anything the Liars and bought and paid for Politicians say, why should I trust what they tell me about Global Warming,when they they lie about nearly everything else. I mean what are they doing smiling and congratulating themselves on reaching an agreement on so called climate change while we are very likely on the verge of WW3 and nuclear disaster. (It only needs one mistake) They presumably don’t really give a stuff and are quite happy to play around with peoples lives. Why am I getting these feelings of Deja Vu?

    As for the climate Scientists? which ones? the ones that believe in Global warming or the ones that don’t. There are plenty that don’t, and in my opinion they talk more sense.

    I believe the biggest problem for the world is over population, without over population Climate change would hardly be be on the agenda.

    • +100…”I believe the biggest problem for the world is over population, without over population Climate change would hardly be on the agenda.”

      ….yes and the third world and patriarchal sexism ( lack of women’s rights to education , jobs , contraception , abortion)… and the Pope have to take responsibility for this

  8. I take note of the ‘Update’ re A. Robins’ new post on TS. Yes, one day it was celebration, the morning after the truth becomes clear. Just like is is after a drunken party, the hangover sets in, and all things look a bit different again, not all that great.

    I have followed the news and some interviews on Radio NZ, I watched a bit on Al Jazeera, heard the BBC and followed some media online. Indeed, we have just experienced another great example of the MASSIVE DISCONNECT that we have, which exists between diplomatic negotiators, between various political “leaders”, also leaders of parties in government, their vested interest following business sector supporters, some professional NGOs and some more “mainstream” scientists on one side, and the ones that to scrutinise every word and agreement in details.

    What Paris brought is a mix of some “legally binding” reporting requirements and so, with a the more discretionary liberty of governments to try and reach their vows or aspirational goals, which they may or may not achieve.

    We have already had at least an average one degree warming since pre industrial times, and there will be more warming to come in following years. 5 yearly reviews may only present us an impression of where the various signatory states have got to, they may though also reveal that anticipated goals could not be met.

    So what will happen when a fair number of states fall short of what they voluntarily committed to as targets to reduce carbon emissions and the likes? There is NO mandatory system in place, so we are at risk of more muddling through, of more kicking the can ahead of us, into a disastrous future, that will lead to massive droughts, heat waves, deluges of rain and snow in other places, and possibly hundreds of millions of climate refugees, all heading into territories where they may not be welcome.

    What is needed is ACTION NOW, and we must start with changing the economic model, the social order and realities, and have a binding agreement between developed, developing and totally underdeveloped nations, to take actions at all fronts.

    Perhaps people start getting real at home, leave the car in the garage more often, and walk, cycle and car share, but I see damned little of that here in NZ.

    As long as too many in the middle class only want to keep their air conditioned bungalow, perhaps nice town house or apartment and two car garage lifestyles, and feel they can dream about the next jet flight holiday overseas, and continue to listen to ridiculous chat shows on radio and TV, where the pampered other middle class “opinion makers and leaders” chat about the “great Paris agreement”, and how be can “tackle climate change”, deluding themselves that it can be done with leisure from their comfy armchairs, we are heading towards the climate change cliff.

    • Bloody well put Mike in Auckland and Martyn.

      We are in a sinking ship being run by fools who will destroy us and our kind while they fiddle like they did while Rome burned, so we haven’t learned from history have we?

  9. Just to make sure this isn’t a complete echo chamber for global warming alarmists, I’ll post a few links that should (but probably won’t, in the same way posting contradictory information about religion has no impact whatsoever) make interesting reading for the few that are still able to remain impartial/sceptical about this whole issue:
    http://www.express.co.uk/news/science/616937/GLOBAL-COOLING-Decade-long-ice-age-predicted-as-sun-hibernates
    http://notrickszone.com/2015/11/20/german-professor-examines-nasa-giss-temperature-datasets-finds-they-have-been-massively-altered/#sthash.ibiNW4TW.YCmTIUjt.dpbs
    http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/opinion/miranda-devine-perth-electrical-engineers-discovery-will-change-climate-change-debate/news-story/d1fe0f22a737e8d67e75a5014d0519c6
    http://a-sceptical-mind.com/the-rise-and-fall-of-the-hockey-stick

    The second link, especially, should be MASSIVE concern. But naturally, it won’t faze any of the believers here. The 3rd link suggests that the very maths behind climate change models might be exaggerating the effects of CO2 on temperatures by up to 10x. But don’t let any of that sway you of course.

    • Can’t you at least post some new links that actually have some validity?

      Funny how you deniers claim “the models are wrong” but you put your faith in a model of the Sun’s behaviour and David Evans has got the modelling right and all the others are wrong. That’s fantastic! It’s so fantastic it’s almost unbelievable.

      But that Ewert guy seems pretty cool, showing that the warming is much less than claimed. He’d be a great guy to travel round the world assuring the people suffering heatstroke from unprecedented temperatures that they’re really just suffering some psychosomatic effects.

  10. Are the targets binding or voluntary to all signatory nations? If voluntary we have just witnessed another pantomime.
    What has the Kyoto agreement achieved?

  11. gee..!..i wonder if all those pointing fingers and blaming and handwringing are willing to do the one thing they could do in their own lives to make a difference..

    ..namely stop eating fucken animals..?

    ..will they fuck..!

    ..hypocrisy on a fucken stick..!

    • Jeez fella so you know that everyone on this post is a meateater? What does their diet have to do with a supposed climate deal, please explain im intrigued?

          • Because by and large a lot more emissions come from producing milk and meat than is the case for fruit and vegetables. Of course there are variations (e.g. beef is worse than chicken), and distance comes into this (e.g.grapes transported from California are not ideal); but the fact that around half of NZ emissions come from agriculture is something we can tackle by changing what we eat and try to persuade others to eat.

            For enlightenment a Google search could be useful, but do read critically – for example there are some real flaws in the analysis behind the recent headlines suggesting that lettuce is worse than meat!

  12. Isn’t it interesting…

    The TPPA talks lasted years and in the end, produced a document that is enforceable through international “courts”. Countries can be sued for billions if they brake any of the covenants.

    By contrast, the Paris Agreement took a couple of weeks and the measures signed up to are voluntary.

    If New Zealand continues to increase greenhouse gas emissions, we will not be held accountable by anyone, anywhere, for anything.

    Spot the double-standards and human capacity for collective stupidity.

    • Yes it is fascinating that people ARE quite willing to negotiate away aspects of sovereignty even though they claimed it was a big deal that shouldn’t be allowed.

      • No, not all people. Just a minority. Your arithmetic is a bit skewed.

        Funny that Key never put the TPPA to a referendum. He knows damn well that he would’ve lost. But then, democracy only works if it suits your interests, eh, Gosman?

        But that’s ok, we get to vote on really, really, really, important things. Like a bit of cloth waving from a flag-pole.

  13. The news is that Northland is suffering a drought ,well I live in Northland and we have had plenty of rain,everything is green and lush .So in which part of Northland is suffering a drought?

    • Add large chunks of Canterbury, Northern and Central Otago and perhaps some places on the North Island’s East Coast, who also have had far too little rain for ages!

  14. Sorry, Martyn, can’t agree with your use of the word “decimate”. On the present course species will be damaged by far more than 10%.

    Perhaps the best contribution NZ could make would be to stop trying to persuade people overseas with rice and vegetable diets into eating meat and dairy. And of course change our own diets. Yes, we’ll have to support our farmers into other crops or occupations, but that will be a lot easier than dealing with 3.7deg warming.

    There was a Radio NZ report today from a scientist who expressed hope of commercialising a technical fix which could reduce cattle emissions by 30%. Even if that works it will, of course, be undercut by the constant drive to sell more meat and milk …..

  15. Once again, this is an opportunity to have a dig at the Greens, because this appears attractive in this forum. I challenge everyone here who has a problem with this issue to look at all their public statements since this blog was written (you’ll see that they have been the only party really questioning team Key on its lies and hypocrisy), plus do have a look at their policies around these issues. No party is perfect on this stuff but as an indicator of how well though through the Greens climate policy is Mana and the Internet party both followed and deferred to the Greens’ policies in this last election. Their policy has been proven to reduced emissions significantly overseas, unlike any carbon trading which is a complete sham.
    Rather than state opinion, do please do your research before making assumptions that they will make no difference or that they are like Labour etc etc people.

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