So what will the Paris agreement acheive?

Bjorn Lomberg in The Australian writes:

Internationally, very few politicians have admitted the inherent failings of the Paris treaty, but the truth is that it was always oversold.

This begins with the treaty itself, which includes the fiction that pledges under the agreement will somehow keep the planet’s temperature rises to 2C or even 1.5C.

The 1.5C target is a fantasy. Studies show that achieving it would require nothing less than the entire planet abandoning the use of every fossil fuel by February 7, 2021. Given our reliance on fossil fuels, that would mean we stop cooling and heating our homes, stop all air travel, and the world’s farmers stop making half the world’s food, produced with fertiliser almost exclusively made from fossil fuels. The list goes on.

So keep that in mind when people demand a maximum rise of 1.5c. It means an end to basically all travel and farming by 2021.

As for the less stringent 2C target, keeping the global temperature rise below that requires a reduction in emissions during this century of almost 6000 billion tonnes. The UN body that oversees the Paris Agreement has estimated that even if every single country (including the US) were to achieve every national promise by 2030, the total greenhouse gas cut would be equivalent to just 60 billion tonnes of CO2.

I’d not seen this analysis before. So the Paris agreement will only see cuts by 2030 equivalent to 1% of the total needed by 2100.

The Paris treaty, fully implemented, would achieve one-hundredth of the reduction to 2C (a level at which there are still significant impacts), and hence achieve benefits worth perhaps only one-tenth of 1 per cent of global GDP 100 years from now.

So implementing Paris may boost global GDP 0.1% in 100 years!

The policy costs, often downplayed, can be vast. The EU is widely lauded by environmentalists for its bold carbon cut promises. Taking into account the total cost to the economy, the EU’s bill for cutting 20 per cent by 2020 runs to about €209 billion ($328.5bn). Its much more ambitious policy of cutting emissions by 40 per cent by 2030 will likely cost €574bn a year.

Yet the benefit will be vanishingly small: my peer-reviewed, published analysis shows the EU’s Paris promises for 2030, in the most optimistic circumstances, fully achieved and adhered to throughout this entire century, would reduce global temperatures by 0.053C by 2100.

So 500 billion to reduce temperatures by 0.05C. The problem is not the science (which is sound), but the economics.

Nobel laureates for the project Copenhagen Consensus on Climate found we shouldn’t just double R&D but make a sixfold increase, to reach at least $100bn a year. This would still be far cheaper than the proposed Paris cuts and it would actually have the prospect of making a significant impact on temperature rises. It would do so without choking economic growth, which continues to lift hundreds of millions out of poverty.

Science is far more likely to provide solutions, rather than politicians.

Fixing requires boosting innovation so green energy eventually will become so cheap it will outcompete fossil fuels — not making fossil fuels so expensive that everyone suffers.

Innovation, not bans on oil and gas exploration.

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