The Paris Climate Change Conference appears to have been an exercise in face-saving by politicians. After the disaster of the Copenhagen Conference in 2009, diplomats seem to have thrown in the towel. They have realised that the issue of reducing global carbon emissions is impossible for politicians to resolve; there are simply too many vested interests at stake.
The resulting agreement recognised that climate change is an issue that needs addressing but left it to the conscience of each nation to devise their own programme. There were no targets, no recommended technologies and no binding timescales. The ‘aspirational’ aim of limiting the global rise in temperature to 1.5 degrees, shorn of any concrete programme of achievement, is simply dishonest. We are already at 1 degree above the pre-industrial level.
The worst act of the Conference however was to congratulate itself on its final resolution. They have criminally given the impression that the world has an effective programme to combat climate change. The implied message was that people can relax, the worst aspects of climate change will be avoided. The reality is that nations of the world are continuing to do exactly what they had planned before. India is continuing to build coal-fired power stations. Just a week after the conference the UK government approved mining by fracking in National Parks.
To quote George Monbiot in the Guardian (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/dec/15/killing-planet-george-monbiot):
As the website climateparis.org explains, even if every pledge nations brought to the talks were honoured (and already governments such as the UK’s are breaking theirs), by 2030 the world will be producing more greenhouse gases than it does today. At that point we will have 14 years to reduce global emissions to zero, to stand a fair chance of preventing more than two degrees of global warming.
If the Paris agreement’s “aspirational” aim of no more than 1.5 degrees is to be achieved, other estimates suggest, carbon emissions must fall off a cliff soon after 2020. The festival of self-satisfaction with which the talks ended was a “mission accomplished” moment, a grave case of premature congratulation.
The reality is that combating climate change will only happen when the people of the world want it to happen. It would be better if humans could act out of a love of nature and a desire to protect the environment. It looks at present, however, they will only be motivated to act when disaster strikes. By then it will be too late. This is why eco-humanity is so important. We need to unite around a philosophy of life for the good of us all, to save the planet for our children.