Two years after Paris, the UN enviro-crats continue their charade.
By Oren Cass
Good news is hard to find at this year’s United Nations climate conference in Bonn, Germany. Diplomats from nearly 200 countries have gathered to review progress made on the “historic” Paris climate accords, signed two years ago. But as the champagne-fueled self-congratulation of Paris recedes into memory, the agreement’s underlying fraud is becoming obvious.
Operating in this framework, countries have pledged very little.
None of this should be surprising, given what the Paris agreement actually contains, as opposed to how it was advertised. “This agreement is ambitious, with every nation setting and committing to their own specific targets,” President Obama said in 2015. That was then. Now, the New York Times explains, “many of the Paris pledges remain fairly opaque, and most nations have been vague on what specific policies they will take to meet them. There is no official mechanism for quantifying progress.”
In 2015, leaders signing the agreement felt confident that the momentum and good feeling of Paris would surmount the gaps between rhetoric and reality. The agreement, Obama said, “sends a powerful signal that the world is firmly committed to a low-carbon future,” which would help “unleash investment and innovation in clean energy at a scale we have never seen before.” But investors could read the agreement, too. Global clean-energy investment fell by 18 percent in 2016, the worst performance on record; in developing countries, the decline was 27 percent. And First World investment in Third World countries, considered critical to global progress, fell 26 percent.
Apparently, the plan is to continue with the aimless plodding. One goal for Bonn is to finalize the “rulebook” under which countries voluntarily comply (or not) with their voluntary pledges. Another is to “tee up a ‘facilitative dialogue’ scheduled to take place in 2018,” reports the Washington Post. “The facilitative dialogue will be a preliminary assessment . . . So, expect the Bonn negotiations to produce a consensus on the structure of this first critical step.” Should next year’s facilitative dialogue fail to achieve its goals—whatever those are—a “global stocktake” is already calendared for 2020.
But all is not lost: Syria is finally on board. The war-torn failed state, the only nation yet to sign the Paris agreement, announced this week that it would do so. “With Syria’s decision, the relentless commitment of the global community to deliver on Paris is more evident than ever,” crowed the World Resources Institute’s Paula Caballero. “The U.S.’s stark isolation should give Trump reason to reconsider.” ThinkProgress, a website affiliated with the Center for American Progress, declared that “a country in the midst of civil war is doing better on climate change than the United States.”
Syria made no pledge, but pledges don’t matter anyway. Bashar al-Assad obviously has no interest in tackling climate change or reducing Syria’s carbon footprint—unless cutting his citizens’ energy supply or decimating the population counts for credit. But he signed; he’s playing the game. And he provided an opportunity to criticize Donald Trump. Isn’t that, after all, what action on climate change is all about?
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Oren Cass is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.