Paris Talks… and talks… and talks… Where’s the Action?
As I write this on Sunday morning, the world is waiting with baited breath to see if the Paris Climate Talks will produce a ground-breaking global agreement to limit climate change to less than two degrees C. Meanwhile James Hansen, the ‘father of climate change awareness’ has called the Paris talks ‘a fraud’.
In this article from the Guardian Hansen is quoted as saying the following about the Paris summit.
‘It’s a fraud really, a fake,” he says, rubbing his head. “It’s just bullshit for them to say: ‘We’ll have a 2C warming target and then try to do a little better every five years.’ It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises. As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will continued to be burned.’
Hansen, a retired NASA scientist, first brought the issue of climate change to the attention of the US Congress almost 30 years ago but was effectively gagged for suggesting that we should limit burning of fossil fuels. Now he’s retired he can say what he thinks, which is that ‘the international jamboree is pointless unless greenhouse gas emissions are taxed across the board. He argues that only this will force down emissions quickly enough to avoid the worst ravages of climate change.’ As I wrote in our last Newsletter, I would add that, not only do we need to put a global price on carbon emissions, we also need to remove the hundreds of billions of dollars worth of subsidies that governments around the world spend to assist fossil fuel polluting industries.
I’ve yet to see details of what looks like being an ‘historic agreement on limiting climate change’ but it’s likely to be long on promises and short on actions.
‘It’s all embarrassing really,’ Hansen says. ‘After a while you realise as a scientist that politicians don’t act rationally.’
While Hansen is warning that the threat of sea-level rise could be much, much worse than most estimates (he’s talking up to 5m of rise in the next century) it’s interesting to note that he sees hope from an unlikely source… China!
‘I think we will get there because China is rational,” Hansen says. “Their leaders are mostly trained in engineering and such things, they don’t deny climate change and they have a huge incentive, which is air pollution. It’s so bad in their cities they need to move to clean energies. They realise it’s not a hoax. But they will need co-operation.’
So, as you watch and listen to all the political hype around the Paris accord, keep asking the tough questions… what actions are being taken? And will it be enough to prevent disaster?