A Quick Overview of the Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement entered into force on November 4th, 2016. It was adopted on December 12th, 2015. One hundred and ninety-five  UNFCCC members have signed the agreement and one hundred and forty-eight members have ratified it.

The agreement calls for each signing member to contribute to the reduction of carbon, making economies “low carbon”.

Carbon is not a pollutant:

CO2 is in our every breath, in the carbonated sodas and waters that we drink and in the dry ice that helps us keep our food cold and safe. We breathe in 400 parts per million and then exhale 40,000 parts per million with no ill effects.

We breathe the 40,000 ppm into victims needing CPR and it does not cause them to die! 

The monitoring systems in U.S. submarines do not provide an alert until CO2 levels reach 8,000 ppm which is higher that natural CO2 levels have been on Earth in the last 540 million years.

CO2 is a great airborne fertilizer which, as its concentrations rise, causes additional plant growth and causes plants to need less water. Without CO2 there would be no life (food) on Earth. The 120 ppm of CO2 added to the atmosphere since the start of the industrial revolution has caused an average increase in worldwide plant growth of over 12 percent and of 18 percent for trees.

 

There is no way to compel each member to accomplish this by a certain date:

The agreement is meant to be “legally binding” on the parties, at least the regular monitoring and assessment of national carbon-reduction plans. But it does not impose specific emission-reduction requirements on governments or even require them to meet their own “nationally determined” commitments. The administration of U.S. president Barack Obama has adamantly opposed any binding language in those areas, arguing such requirements would require ratification from the Republican-led Congress.

But even the “binding” aspects of accords have no enforcement mechanism or penalties for failing to meet them.

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Some of it is legally binding within the United Nations framework. The regular review and submission of emission reduction targets will be binding.

So too will the $100bn fund from developed economies to help emerging and developing nations decarbonise their energy mix – which means moving away from burning fossil fuels to clean energy sources, such as renewables and nuclear.

What won’t be legally binding will be the emission targets. These will be determined by nations themselves.

Not everyone believes that the American withdrawal from the agreement is a bad thing:

There are positive opportunities that could arise from US withdrawal. One is the re-emergence of climate trade measures, such as border carbon adjustments. …

Withdrawal could embolden other great powers to show more effective climate leadership. Despite having some internal problems , neither China nor the EU face the same institutional hurdles as the US and can offer far more decisive and ambitious leadership.

Considering the above facts, would anyone care about the sanctimonious bluster of wasteful governments and the lack of criticism of genuine polluters like China, India and Russia?

 

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  • Norman_In_New_York

    Without carbon, there would be no life.

    • terrence22

      well, strictly speaking coal is carbon and some other minerals. CO2 is carbon dioxide – gas. ALL life is dependent upon CO2

  • Gary

    Recently the US Parks Service is running Ads to promote vacation to visit one or camp there .
    One Ad had a girl asking what that noise was…. an authoritative voice claims that it’s the trees cleaning the air. This infers that co2 is a pollutant that the tree take in and clean it up to expel clean air.
    The Ads are subtle to make it out that co2 is bad .