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Reason Science Editor Ron Bailey (author of The End of Doom) was at the Paris COP21 talks on climate change and has published a series of posts on conference, which I’ve rounded-up and summarized here:
- First Dispatch: Discusses the positions of various parties going into the talks;
- Second Dispatch: Regarding the unusual optimistic mood of activists, and some possible business and investment opportunities;
- Third Dispatch: Speculation that the agreement might avoid the hostile zero-sum atmosphere of Kyoto and Copenhagen (since, at this conference, each country got to pick its own emissions reduction target);
- Fourth Dispatch: Report on the conference’s first draft;
- Fifth Dispatch: Report on the conference’s final draft;
- Sixth Dispatch: A skeptical look at pledged “cuts” (China, India, Russia, Indonesia, Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, for example, have merely pledged to slow the rate of increase in their emissions);
- Seventh Dispatch: Regarding poor countries’ demands for climate finance; and
- Eighth Dispatch: Conclusion of the conference, with some of the key points of the accord and initial reactions.
So what’s in the agreement? The key points appear to be:
- Limiting the increase in average global temperature by two degrees celsius (and making an effort to hold the line at 1.5° C);
- Trying to reach peak emissions of green house gases as soon as possible, and then get down to net zero sometime between 2050 – 2100;
- Forest conservation and reforestation;
- Transferring finances to the developing world to assist with mitigation and adaptation (the figure of $100 billion annually is apparently not in the text of the agreement itself);
- A recognition of climate-change-caused loss or damage without an assumption of liability (at least not for now); and
- A plan to meet again in 2018 and every five years thereafter to update emissions goals (intended nationally determined contributions, or INDCs) and track progress.
If I understand correctly (I haven’t read the primary document, so I’m relying on Ron Bailey’s reports), the agreement doesn’t have much in the way of enforcement mechanisms and largely uses vague and aspirational language.
Here is the penultimate paragraph from Bailey’s last dispatch:
Notwithstanding the unwitting evocation Soviet Five Year Plans, Jacobs from the New Climate Economy and many others seemed particularly pleased with the new global five year review cycles. “Five year cycles mean that policies will be synchronized,” Jacobs enthused. “Policy is now all going to be going in the same direction. That sends a very strong signal to the market.” [link added]