As chronicled in our Paris COP21 Blog section, there was good reason to be skeptical leading up to United Nations conference on climate change known as COP21, which was held in Paris last winter. In this piece published by the New Internationalist Blog by Simon Fischer, that skepticism has been backed up by ongoing political gridlock.
Only half a year after the supposedly groundbreaking Paris Agreement on climate change was finalized by governments negotiating in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), climate policy has come back down to earth. In May, the established UNFCCC subsidiary bodies and, the rookie of the year, the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA) met in Bonn, Germany, to consider how to implement the agreement. However, it seems like parties who established the agreement in Paris cannot agree on how to move forward. This is the case for Article 6 in the agreement, which deals with co-operative-approaches and market mechanisms for instance. The voices that celebrated the Paris Agreement yesterday sound rather less confident today.
The ambitious goals announced in Paris are turning out to be difficult to realize in practice. No surprise here, given that they do not go to the root of the climate crisis which is the overconsumption of fossil fuels. Shockingly, fossil fuels are not mentioned even once in the agreement. In addition, the models used to determine future greenhouse gas emission levels are built on assumptions that are highly questionable, including a blind faith that technological developments (such as Bioenergy and Carbon Capture and Storage or BECCS) can lead to negative emission scenarios, and that extensive land use change (e.g. by spreading monoculture plantations) is an acceptable way forward. In Bonn, the desired target of limiting the rise of global average temperatures to 1.5oC again came under pressure and it seems highly unlikely to be realized under the current policy approach.