The Paris Debacle: G20 Summit and Beyond

Vijay Jayaraj
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Posted: Sep 29, 2016 12:21 AM
The Paris Debacle: G20 Summit and Beyond

The G20 summit early this month managed to make headlines even in the U.S., where the Presidential elections, and the recent debate have been dominating the news cycle.

While the majority of journalists celebrated the ratification of the Paris Climate Agreement by both the US and China, very few mentioned India’s successful delaying of its own ratification, and the growing hostility towards the agreement in Europe and South East Asia.

The Paris Climate Agreement needs formal ratification by the majority of participating countries to become a fully functional international accord (ratification by at least 55 percent of signatory countries representing 55 percent of global CO2 emissions).

But the response from the participating states has been anything but helpful.

Turkey has distanced itself from emission reduction targets, at least the targets that the alarmists might want from it. Coal plants in Turkey are set to receive public subsidies, and the country ambitiously plans to commission an estimated 80 new coal plants.

A much more lethal blow to the ratification came from the Philippines. That country has categorically ruled out any ratification of the Paris Agreement, and the president has defended the country’s rightful access and use of fossil fuels for generating electricity. It plans to continue the expansion of its coal plants and has accused the Paris Agreement of being detrimental to industrial development, which is key to the economic growth of the country.

At the G20 summit, India strongly opposed deadlines on ending fossil fuel subsidies and said that not only could it not ratify the Paris agreement in 2016, it would need to step up its domestic infrastructure in order to meet any commitments made in its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) submitted at Paris last year.

India insists that the Paris agreement has failed to address the short term socio-economic development goals of developing countries. Besides, India says it needs around $206 billion (at 2014–15 prices) between 2015 and 2030 to meet climate-change adaptation costs—a sum which remains to be addressed by the developed nations.

These Asian countries are not alone in their realization that the Paris Agreement is a bad deal.

Leading up to the G20 summit, the economic uncertainty surrounding Brexit posed a great challenge to the Paris agreement amongst the participating states in Europe.

At the Petersburg climate talk, the outgoing United Nations Climate Chief Christiana Figueres, pleaded for an immediate ratification of the Paris agreement, asking for member states to ratify the agreement before the end of 2016.

Britain is all set to miss its 2020 renewable energy target, and has distanced itself from its earlier commitments. Brexit is a great blow to the ratification process, as Britain is one of the biggest emitters of carbon dioxide in Europe and now is not bound by E.U. laws to comply with any coercive long term climate action plan.

The situation in the European Union was compounded further when the main driving force of the economy, Germany, began softening its stand on climate action.

In the latest and final version of the Climate Action Plan released by the government of Germany’s Environment Ministry, the country has revised its previous emission reduction targets. This has altered the earlier commitment made towards the Paris Agreement. The deadlines for ending the use of coal, and reduction of carbon dioxide emissions have been omitted.

Without Britain and Germany, the E.U. would need to force ratification in order for the Paris Agreement to materialize, facing huge backlash from member states in the process. Poland, for example, is very keen on implementing a subsidies program for its coal-fired power stations and has indicated an increased use of coal to power the nation (a necessary action as long as Russia has the ability to threaten their natural gas supply).

With the Brexit-weary Europe, and the highly evasive Asian countries, the G20 had no option but to discard the deadlines for both the transition from fossil fuels to renewables, and for the end of fossil subsidies from the final draft.

The Paris agreement, besides being based on highly inaccurate pseudo-scientific climate models and alarmist agenda, now faces the challenge of betrayal by its leading proponents in Europe. And its Asian signatories have individual climate action plans that are inadequate to meet the original emission reduction targets of the agreement.

The U.S. and China might have leapt into the dark unknown world of climate alarmism. But like many other futile agreements in the past, the Paris Agreement too will derail as we continue to understand our climate system with more clarity and as economies demand faster growth.