Je Suis Paris

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COP21_DSC7501dan

From top: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (second left), UNFCCC’s Christiana Figueres (left), French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and President of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21), and President François Hollande of France (right); Dan Boyle

Why are Greens more optimistic about the adoption of the Paris climate agreement than the cumulative failures that have come before?

Dan Boyle explains:

It was almost like they had taken the ball away. They reached an agreement? After the mess that was Copenhagen, six years ago, that hardly seemed likely.

It was a process that has been somewhat embellished. Less of an agreement than an understanding. A meeting of minds if not yet a meeting of interests.

Unlike treaties on trade, like the WTO or TTIP, the language used in climate agreements is far less definite. The ‘shall’ and ‘will ensure’ provisions of trade treaties are mirrored by phrases like ‘may’ and ‘will endeavour to’ that are meant to anchor climate agreements.

Climate documents are more coy about what they are trying to achieve. The final documents from Paris makes no reference to oil or to fossil fuels or to efforts to decarbonise. They do however contain many references to renewable energy and you can’t have one without being without the other.

Paris is a voluntary agreement. There are no fines or sanctions that can be imposed for non compliance. And yet environmentalists, hoping against hope, believe for once progress has been made.

The promises are vague, the consequences of failing to adhere to them are weak. What we do have is a confirmation that a long time scientific reality is fast becoming a political reality.

The electoral cycle has also been kind. Environmental neanderthals in Australia and Canada were deposed making way for somewhat more enlightened representatives. In the US, President Obama seems committed to making progress in this area as part of his legacy. The lack of a formal adoption procedure may help. With a presidential election looming it removes the opportunity of The Republicans to pour their ignorance over the agreement.

Ireland has been passive in this process. The pathetic pleadings of The Taoiseach and the Minister for the Environment means that the country is poorly positioned to take advantage of the post carbon economy that now has to result.

The vacuity of what has been written will be open to many interpretations. There will foot dragging, policy incoherence, obfuscation and outright lies. The environmental movement faces its greatest ever challenge in campaigning for the spirit of the Paris agreement to be followed.

Knowing the hard job that still needs to be done, while realising the many opt outs that exist for those who still to deny, why are Greens more optimistic about this process than the cumulative failures that have come before?

It’s because for the first time the governments of the World seem to be collectively facing the same direction. There is an acceptance and an admission of the problem that exists. A recognition that actions are needed. There is even a realisation that without radical changes the actions necessary will prove difficult.

And yet it is all cloaked in Augustinian equivocation. Make us pure Lord but not yet. At best the Paris Agreement can be described as the time the governments of the World chose to hit the snooze button instead of trying to turn off the alarm.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD. His column appears here every Thursday. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle

92 thoughts on “Je Suis Paris

  1. ollie

    “Neanderthals”, “ignorance”, “pathetic”. This is what’s wrong with the Green agenda, ridicule of anyone how disagrees but never a discussion about how the world, particularly the emerging economies, can replace cheap plentiful reliable fossil fuels with expensive unreliable alternatives.
    Interesting to note that the volume of CO2 being produced has reduced recently and that Global warming has stopped.

    1. Rob_G

      ‘Interesting to note that the volume of CO2 being produced has reduced recently and that Global warming has stopped.’

      – I would be interested in seeing a link for this.

      1. Dan Boyle

        Green don’t do enough attacking of obvious stupidly and have been far too tolerant of ridicule directed towards them. You Ollie seem to have made a religion of green bashing, and of course religion doesn’t have to be based on facts. There has been a delinking with increases in CO2 with rates of economic growth. That’s a good thing. Global warming is far from ending 2015 will the warmest the planet has been in recorded history.

          1. David

            Zuppy’s opinion trumps the World Meteorological Organization and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s science every time, that’s right, isn’t it Dan?

        1. Zuppy International

          Ah yeah lads, shoot the messenger and ignore anything that contradicts with your programming. The green fascists have been promising Global Warming for almost 40 years and yet the evidence in the world out side disproves their propaganda year after year.

          But hey, for the sake of the agenda, let’s believe the made-up non-sense of the bought and paid for politicians and so-called ‘scientists’ and ignore the evidence of our own eyes.

          1. edalicious

            “the evidence in the world out side disproves their propaganda”?

            It’s feckin’ roasting out. QED

          2. Zuppy International

            I’m not a ‘Person’ Dan, I’m a living soul. You have no evidence that the world is about to end. You have propaganda. All I got to do is look outside the window to see everything is pretty much as it always was.

            BTW, how is your ‘post-carbon carbon’ economy going to deal with the fact that people exhale CO2 every moment of every day? Is the air we breathe going to be taxed?

          3. ReproBertie

            The world won’t end but humanity will. The world is billions of years old and we’re just a passing phase. Also, there’s no such thing as a soul.

            All that said, the people in Athlone looking out their windows are not seeing everything pretty much as it was.

          4. Dόn Pídgéόní

            “how is your ‘post-carbon carbon’ economy going to deal with the fact that people exhale CO2 every moment of every day? Is the air we breathe going to be taxed?”

            Yes, that’s exactly what will happen….

          5. DubLoony

            Ok, evidence with my own eyes – I’ve strawberries growing in December in my back garden. Why? cos its too warm for this time of year.

          6. scottser

            it’s the farts – farts are the problem. i haven’t farted since 2009.
            *sings ‘one day i’ll fly away..’

          7. ollie

            Zuppy, I’m sick of you coming on here and slagging off the green agenda, you make me sick.. is what Dan would say to you.

          8. Zuppy International

            No noise back from Dan? I wonder why…

            @RepoBertie, we were talking about the ‘climate change’ meme, not the built environment of Athlone… So in my 60 odd years in this life it is my observation that climate changes according to its own patterns.

            As for Athlone, maybe we could ask Dan about the corruption of the planning process by big money that allowed homes to be built in known flood plains?

            As for your own lack of soul, well that hardly surprises me. You always had the whiff of the dead about you.

          9. ReproBertie

            Break us both down to our component parts and I’ll fill as much of the box marked soul as you will.

            Your dismissal of Athlone is you ignoring the evidence of your own eyes. The climate is changing. The climate is always changing but the evidence shows that this rate of change is down to us.

          10. Clampers Outside!

            “No noise back from Dan? I wonder why…”
            Ans: Better things to be doin’ than answer Broadsheet’s resident conspiracy theorit, I guess.

            “As for Athlone, maybe we could ask Dan about the corruption of the planning process by big money that allowed homes to be built in known flood plains?”
            I also looked into this. Due to local planning approval… no one appealed the builds, so it never went to Bord Pleanala. Problem is at local Councillor level.

        2. ollie

          For once Dan, address the issues raised and pack in the abuse.
          1. How can particularly emerging economies replace cheap plentiful reliable fossil fuels with expensive unreliable alternatives.
          2. Why has CO2 production reduced when the global economy continues to grow?

          1. edalicious

            China is the answer to number 2. Their economy has slowed over the last year or two and they’ve had higher than normal rainfall over the last few years so they’ve been able to get more power from their many hydro-electric plants.

          2. Dan Boyle

            Renewables are very efficient. Delinking carbon growth and economic growth is good. Your anger, once again, is misplaced.

          3. Zuppy International

            Opps, you came back while I was typing, but with no answer to my question. When is the tax on air due?

            I’m not angry Dan, I just reject propaganda.

  2. David

    “the country is poorly positioned to take advantage of the post carbon economy that now has to result”

    I totally agree about our position. As to the post-carbon economy, I’ll believe it when I see it.

  3. Pip

    Just google ‘global warming debunked’, and make up your own mind.
    It would be most odd if there wasn’t another side to this.

    1. David

      Pip

      Climate change deniers have huge financial and political resources on their side. They have yet to come up with irrefutable, peer-reviewed science which backs their case. You would have thought by now they’d have uncovered something, anything, which they can actually prove with evidence. They haven’t. You know, actual wide-ranging data, verified by climatologists. There’s none, despite the money thrown at it.

      Quoting cherry-picking anomalies as Matt Ridley, Melanie Philips, Moncton or Booker do is plain embarrassing.

  4. Joseph Cotter

    14 & 15 degrees in Cork this week – in the middle of DECEMBER… Of course global warming is a myth ! ;)

      1. Pip

        FWIW Highest mean annual temperature Ireland 2005 – 11.4, 2011 – 11.0
        Lowest mean annual temperature Ireland 2005 – 9.1, 2011 – 8.9
        Hightest temperature reached Ireland 2005 – 30.3, 2011 – 26.0
        Lowest temperature reached Ireland 2005: -5.6, 2011: -9.8
        Mean temperatures pretty linear for intervening years.

        1. scottser

          2005 was peak bertie. that man alone produced more farts than all the middle eastern countries put together.

  5. bisted

    ‘…The promises are vague, the consequences of failing to adhere to them are weak.’ …that’s the manifesto sorted, eh Dan.

  6. David

    I’m not sure what all the fuss is about with climate change. Why not just do something about getting off unhealthy fossil fuels instead of being forced off?

    Remember the options:

    1) Do nothing and climate doesn’t get worse = we’re still stuck with declining & cancerous fossil fuels.
    2) Do nothing and climate change gets worse = we’re totally fecked.
    3) Do something and climate doesn’t get worse = way-hay, got rid of declining & cancerous fossil fuels, we live in a cleaner world.
    4) Do something and climate change gets worse = way-hay, we did the right thing and slightly alleviated climate change’s effects.

    I apologise if that’s too logical for some of you.

    1. Zuppy International

      What’s the definition of fossil fuels?

      You know that oil is an Abiotic resource? And so a renewable energy?

      http://www.viewzone.com/abioticoilx.html

      You know that CO2 is as essential to life on earth as Oxygen?

      Reject Propaganda based on bogus assumptions and life will be much better for all of us.

      1. ReproBertie

        You know the rate of oil usage is higher than the rate of oil creation so, while it is renewable, it will not renew quickly enough for our current needs.

        You know that too much oxygen will kill us? Well guess what happens with too much CO2?

        1. Zuppy International

          The dead and I almost agree on something, what a strange day! Oil is a renewable resource.

          In fact the producers have so much of the stuff at the moment that the price has dropped through the floor. Only another phony war is likely to bring the price up again. Oh wait…

          As for too much CO2, well if only the world had some mechanism to transpose CO2 into Oxygen; like some kind of vegetation that inhales CO2 and exhales O2.

          Where would we find some of that?

          1. edalicious

            You mean the stuff that’s being cleared at an accelerating rate to make space for CO2 producing livestock?

          2. Cup of tea anyone

            Have a look at Beijing at the moment zuppy and tell us that they just need some mechenism of transposing CO2 onto Oxgyen. sure that will clear everything right up

    2. Pip

      Indeed David, it used to be about getting off scarce oil. Now we’re coming down with the stuff. Peak oil now seems to mean peak supply bizarrely.
      What were they worried about in NYC in 1900? What to do with all the horsehit…

  7. MoyestWithExcitement

    You ever notice how climate change denying idiots are usually scientifically illiterate and their only response to actual science are paranoid accusations of shilling? Why should anyone listen to these emotionally damaged charlatans?

  8. ollie

    Coal and gas are plentiful and cheap. Cattle produce 20% of Ireland’s greenhouse gases.
    No-one, and I mean no-one, is able to tell me how the planet can transition to a greenhouse gas neutral world.
    And I don’t mean the wishy washy green party manifesto that contains such gems as
    “As an island nation we have one of the greatest marine resources in Europe. That resource needs to be managed responsibly.”
    By the way Dan, I’ve voted for the green party in many elections, but I suppose it suits your agenda to assume that every who disagrees must also hate.

      1. ollie

        Thanks for the info clampers. I did notice that Alex White referred to CO2 on the news yesterday and not greenhouse gases, can’t risk losing the farming vote I suppose.

    1. Dan Boyle

      All I know Ollie is everything I’ve written here you been negative towards. I don’t agree with people because of the promise or practice of votes.

  9. ollie

    “Renewables are very efficient.”. This is not true Dan.
    Wind power is unreliable, wave energy is not proven, solar energy is least available when it’s most needed.
    Coal and gas are abundant, cheap to transport and produce. Nuclear energy is the spawn of the devil (apparently)
    I’m all for a clean world but I’m a realist, there’s no alternatives and our present, past and future government haven’t the balls to tackle the issue.
    Even the greens in power did feck all.

    1. Dan Boyle

      That’s right Feck All only retrofitted 100000 houses and trebled the production of renewable energy. In the worst of economic circumstances we were on course to meet targets this government has veered from. I get that you don’t like renewables and you enjoy being wrong.

      1. ollie

        retrofitted 100000 houses? What exactly does this mean Dan? To be honest I don’t believe this statistic, any proof?
        By the way, I’m all for renewables, I don’t drive a car, I insulated my home at my own expense to bring it to a B3 rating, but I’m also a realist and know that the world cannot move away from cheap endless fossil fuels.
        The problem with the Green party to date Dan is that they are not realists.

        1. David

          ‘cannot’ – you mean ‘will not’. Not voluntarily but it will come.

          Also, I’d remove ‘endless’ if it were me.

        2. Dan Boyle

          It can and it will. Department of Energy and SSAI have all stats you need. No one is arguing that stopping immediately is possible but the phase out can be shorter than many are willing to envisage.

          1. David

            Again, Dan, I’ll believe it when I see it…and I’m on your side and an optimist!

            There are simple systems described years ago which would take us away from fossil fuels in a fixed time frame. Instead we get talk, broken promises and vested interest kowtowing.

          2. ollie

            retrofitted 100000 houses? What exactly does this mean Dan? To be honest I don’t believe this statistic, any proof?
            Any chance you could address all queries Dan and no just the ones that suit you?

          3. ollie

            49% of emissions from cattle can only be stopped by killing all the cattle. This ain’t going to happen, not now not ever.

  10. David

    “In 2009 when Cumbria was hit by flooding, the insurance industry paid out £175m of claims, with the total cost reaching £275m. This time [Storm Desmond], PwC calculated insurers could face bills of up to £325m, and other uninsured damage, such as to roads, would push the cost to £500m. The 2005 floods in Carlisle cost insurers £272m.”

    From The Guardian.

    Obviously, those who buy insurance are the ones who pay, not insurers. But the point stands. When the likes of Price Waterhouse Coopers are involved and when these one-percenters stand to lose billions/millions by some freak weather-related event, something might just start to get done to mitigate climate change.

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