By Situation Theatre 15/12/2015
What a marvellous trick. World leaders have triumphed in Paris with a heady mix of empty promises and fossil fuel expansion.
At the risk of being called a cynic, let’s look on the bright side first.
- On the one hand this is an 'historic’ climate agreement. Governments around the world have set an ‘aspirational target’ of 1.5C of warming and promised that in five years they’ll start voluntarily reducing emissions a bit. By ‘probs sometime later in the century ’ they promise to have ‘net zero emissions’, presumably planting loads of trees in backyards so we can still burn a few fossil fuels. That there is even this level of progress is entirely thanks to the climate movement, so let’s not pat world leaders on the back too vigorously.
On the other hand, these things:
- Even if all governments everywhere uphold all their voluntary promises, we are headed for at least 2.7C of warming. We’ve currently warmed 1C. Think Hurricane Sandy, Taiphoon Haiyan, record-breaking floods in India, the UK and the Maldives, record-breaking heat waves and fires in Australia, Europe and the US, but three times worse. If they don’t keep their promises, think of your favourite post-apocalyptic dystopia.
- Fossil fuels are not even mentioned in the agreement. Imagine a global plan to reduce smoking without mentioning cigarettes or tobacco companies.
- The $5.3 trillion governments give generously to fossil fuel companies remain in place.
- Eminent climate scientist James Hansen said this: “It’s a fraud really, a fake. It’s just bullshit for them to say: We’ll have a 2C warming target and then try to do a little better. It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises. As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will continue to be burned.”
- Humanity faces an existential crisis. Governments have agreed to spend $100 billion dealing with it. This compares to the annual military budget of the US alone, which is $600 billion, and to the trillions spent bailing out banks.
- Rich countries largely responsible for the historic emissions which are sinking Pacific Islands specifically denied any future claim to compensation under the new agreement.
- Reference to indigenous rights, human rights and gender equity was only made in the preamble, a section with weak legal status.
- The Paris Summit was sponsored by fossil fuel companies.
- According to Bill McKibben, "the Obama administration, even as it negotiated the new climate agreement, is flirting with the longstanding ban on oil exports, which would be the equivalent of opening a hundred-odd new coal-fired power plants and operating them for a year."
- The UK.'s Infrastructure Act 2015 means it has a legal obligation to "maximise economic recovery" of the UK's oil and gas.
- The Turnbull government recently approved Australia’s largest coal mine, refused a pledge to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, and continually bangs on about how good coal is for poor people.
I’m not sure that the fossil fuel companies and their chums in politics really have the climate crisis sorted after all.
I think it might be time we all joined the climate movement.