1000 words from Paris
In a clearly anti-democratic move, the President of France has shut down public assembly during the present climate negotiations, because of the recent attacks on Paris. In response some protesters have shown up as shoes.
But squelching public assembly is not going to stop some of the world’s best critical minds, assembled in Paris for these climate negotiations, from getting the word out.
One of my favorite comrades, David Solnit, is working for 350.org on the protests of COP 21. This UN conference will have 40K delegates including 140 heads of state and will be the largest conference France has ever hosted.
Does Paris event matter? CNN says “the fate of the world as we know it could be at stake.” There are two big questions:
- Can the parties reach a legally binding agreement?
- Will there be climate assistance to poor countries?
The chances for success in finding a binding agreement are quite low. Obama’s deal making is crippled by an uncooperative Congress. Europe is an economic crisis and unwilling to foot the bill for the transitions needed (with the exception of a few countries like Denmark and Germany.) Even with the world’s largest renewables portfolio, China is the biggest energy consumer and carbon emitter. And even if a deal were possible, the strongest proposal on the table is still too weak to avert a 2 degree increase in temperature, which climate scientists say we need to avert to avoid catastrophic ecological effects.
In terms of climate protection assistance to poor countries, what is important to realize is that the world has changed dramatically in the last decade. China had 9 of the 10 worst polluted cities in the world in 2005. Now India has most of them, with air pollution killing 1.3 million people a year. Will some nations or investors step forward and help the planet by harvesting this low hanging fruit of technological transfer, where small investments can have significant emissions reductions?
Update: An uncharacteristically useful first draft has come out early, with key questions about which parts (or all) of the document should be legally binding and both aid and expectations of developing countries.