Here’s another reality check for the AGW set, courtesy of Climate Home News. It seems governments are not meeting their Paris targets and aren’t going to. Indeed, in what they call “grim reading”, they say “global emissions are set to fall by less than 1% between 2010 and 2030. The IPCC says 45% cuts are needed to hold temperature rise to 1.5C this century.” Twenty years ago it was easy to talk about progress later. But now that later has arrived along with the ever-shriller warnings about what was going to happen and when, it’s time to put up or shut up. Preferably the latter.
As usual in such situations they did not see it coming. CHN, for instance, seems surprised that no meaningful cuts were made, calling the separation between words and deeds “a huge gap and one that the ‘ratchet’ mechanism of the Paris Agreement was supposed to progressively close.” But the “mechanism” was mere good intentions without any actual machinery of enforcement. And now they are all surprised because they spent years promoting the good intentions behind the treaty rather than asking honest questions about whether participants were willing to incur the costs of complying with it.
In the comment section on our video on the failed predictions in a scary climate pamphlet issued by the Canadian government back in 2001, which like proud parents we must mention has had over a third of a million views now, a number of people have objected that these were only forecasts of what would happen if meaningful action wasn’t taken. Seriously. There are people out there who believe meaningful action has been taken.
A great many people actually think the Canadian government cut our GHG emissions significantly, and it affected global temperature and weather, or that all nations did. (It’s rarely clear which but it matters because of course Canada’s emissions and therefore any unilateral Canadian cuts are too small to matter.) They don’t know that all this hype wasn’t backed by action.
Informed alarmists do, and they’re not happy. Because despite a whole lot of talk of a climate “hoax”, they really believe what they say and they think we’re accelerating toward disaster and we need to stop. Which confronts them with a two-fold challenge.
First, if they really think it’s now or never, do or die, make or break and so forth, what do they want to do now? Second, what if nothing is done and the world doesn’t boil over? Will they admit they panicked over nothing significant?
Instead of bringing down the hammer on either point, CHN slips comfortably back into the warm bath of rhetoric, saying “Joe Biden’s presidency of the US creates a more favourable ambience for raising ambition.” As if an ambience for raising ambition were the thing needed now or, for that matter, a thing at all. Though as CHN immediately conceded, the ambition for an ambiance of ambition “meets ambivalence in India, Australia and Brazil. Recent net zero converts China, South Korea and Japan have yet to level up their short-term action. Many vulnerable countries are too mired in debt to invest in greenery.” Holy ambivalent ambiances for ambition, Batman.
As a factual reading of the situation, to be fair, this assessment is entirely reasonable. A great many governments only pretend to care, and that unconvincingly. Or as a headline writer put it irritably in Politico, “UN Security Council hears of climate threat, does nothing”. The writer of that article, Karl Matheson, explained irritably that “When it comes to climate change, bombs don’t work, so the United Nations Security Council prefers words to action. Tuesday saw the highest profile discussion of climate change in the U.N.’s central body for promoting global peace. But Russia, which holds a veto as a permanent member of the Council, warned against any move to recognize warming as a threat to global security. Moscow’s stance left the Security Council’s U.K. presidency stabbing at a broken panic button.”
Indeed, John Kerry went and hyperventilated to the Security Council that not addressing the climate crisis is “marching forward to what is almost tantamount to a mutual suicide pact”. But while Al Jazeera went on to editorialize in that news story that “Experts believe the world must reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 or sooner to ensure long-term warming is held to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (34.7 degrees Fahrenheit) and avoid triggering catastrophic climate tipping points”, a Big Three of China, India and Russia yawned or, in the case of Russia, retorted ““We agree that climate change issues can exacerbate conflict. But are they really the root cause of these conflicts? There are serious doubts about this.”
So what is to be done in this hopeless situation? Here CHN lashes out with a wet noodle. “At a political level, it will take a lot of heavy lifting in the next few months to strengthen national climate plans – and creative leadership to make them add up to a meaningful moment in Glasgow.” Which suggests that it’s not just the Security Council that “prefers words to action.”
If the climate crisis is real, the world doesn’t need a “moment” in some Scottish city. It needs decisive worldwide action starting at once and continuing relentlessly over the next decade. Unfortunately it is part of a certain mindset to mistake words for actions and wishes for tools. So, again, this sonorous-sounding talk is just verbal wheel-spinning, because this “heavy lifting… to strengthen national climate plans” isn’t about acting. It’s about summoning the political “will” to make more promises that will go the way of all their predecessors.
Well, not quite. Because they’ve oversold the crisis and kept trimming the fuse, the alarmists are on the horns of a dilemma. If they don’t do anything really major, on a physical plane, right away, it will convince people they either don’t mean what they say or don’t understand it. And if they do something drastic, well, major costs will hammer governments and citizens “mired in debt” and unemployment without producing any visible benefits because it will supposedly prevent a disaster that is meant to strike decades from now or, if you like, stop hurricanes tomorrow. Neither will stand the toughest test, that of observation.
To give credit where due, two writers in The Guardian keen that “The Paris agreement is failing”. And since they insist that “The science is clear: without drastic action to limit temperature rise below 1.5C, the Earth, and all life on it, including all human beings, will suffer devastating consequences” like “mass famine, displacement and extinction”, they advocate “Enacting laws against ecocide” as “a way to correct the shortcomings of the Paris agreement. Whereas Paris lacks sufficient ambition, transparency and accountability, the criminalization of ecocide would be an enforceable deterrent.”
To take credit back, we ask: Oh really? Enforceable? As Eric Worrall asks, “Does The Guardian want military invasions of countries which fail to reduce CO2 emissions? Author Jojo Metha laments the Paris Agreement has no enforcement clause – but she shies away from describing exactly how future agreements could be enforced, and what the world would do to replace the lost energy production.” As he further notes, Metha “is an Oxford trained lawyer based in the Netherlands. The Netherlands utterly depends on Russian gas for heating in winter.” To which we add: If Xi Jinping was just kidding about net zero and keeps building coal plants, would Metha and coauthor Julia Jackson favour invading China? With, one assumes, nuclear weapons since China has those? (Or, to be precise, the Chinese Communist Party does, since the People’s Liberation Army including its rocket forces are a branch of the Party not the government there.)
Or is it just more talk? CHN also says “This November’s Cop26 has been trailed [sic – we think it’s something to do with theatrical “trailers”] as the most critical UN climate summit since Paris, but it remains unclear what outcome to expect.” Er, not really. There will be lofty rhetoric but no enforcement and no meaningful follow-through. But what else have they got, and why don’t they have it?
For sadly, the piece peters out with “At a practical level, we have not been told how many delegates will be accredited for the summit, nor who takes priority if numbers are restricted. What is clear is the credibility of the whole UN climate process is at stake. After 30 years of talking, there has to be more to show for it than this.”
You ain’t fooling.