The Paris Climate Change Agreement is an initiative of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a United Nations body. This is more than just background information. The UN is one of the most corrupt organisations on Earth. It began with good intentions but has been subsumed by a totalitarian Green/Left agenda that is underpinned by a persistent and insistent anti-West, anti-capitalism rhetoric. The Paris Agreement is no exception to this extreme Green/Left agenda.
What follows does not seek to debate on the hypothesis of catastrophic global warming being caused by man’s use of fossil fuels. But, just to set the scene, let me start with a little ‘climate change’ history. You may accept all that you read or hear about imminent climate catastrophe and that it is all the fault of human CO2 emissions. What you don’t often hear is that climate scientists themselves are in disagreement about how much of a problem global warming is. In the era of recorded history we have had three climatic periods which were arguably as warm or warmer than today. These are the Minoan, Roman and Medieval Warming Periods. During the Medieval Warm Period, Vikings were able to colonize, graze cattle and grow crops in Greenland. Human remains dating from that time have been found below today’s permafrost, meaning the ground wasn’t frozen when they were buried. Greenland today is less hospitable than it was then. So what we are now seeing is not unprecedented.
Following the MWP we entered what is known as the Little Ice Age (LIA), when the Thames regularly froze over. At some point in the 1600s we began to emerge from the LIA by virtue of a long, slow warming process which continues to this day. Climate scientists argue that this natural warming has been magnified by our CO2 emissions since about the 1850s. What they don’t know is how much of the observed warming since the 1850s is natural and how much is man-made. I don’t want to debate climate change as such. It is such a complex area. Suffice to note that observed warming this century is less than half of what the average of 100-odd climate scientists’ computer models predicted.
All of what you read or hear about the impending disastrous effects of climate change in the media is based on the output from these models and almost all the reporting is at the highest end of a range of possibilities. The media, always in search of a dramatic headline that matches the prejudices and preconceptions of warmism’s ink-stained advocates, ensures this is so. Case in point: the “emissions” you see billowing from power plant chimney stacks that almost always accompany any article on climate change, are not CO2-rich smoke. They are steam. These pictures, tapped time and again by media shills, might be the result of simple ignorance or, pardon my low opinion of the Fourth Estate, a simple attempt to deceive.
On the subject of CO2, routinely demonized as ‘pollution’, it helps to understand that it is not, in fact, pollution at all. CO2 is essential to life on Earth. It is plant food. Since the level of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased from 280ppm in 1850 to about 400ppm right now, the Earth has noticeably greened in areas such as the Sahara and Sahel deserts. Globally, the world is producing record crops, contrary to the predictions of many climate scientists. Not that a record of failed pronostications seems to bother them. If one prophecy of doom doesn’t work out they always have others.
NOBODY knows with certainty how damaging, if at all, man-made warming will be. But regardless of the answer, the Paris Climate Change Agreement is pointlessly detrimental to our economy. Here’s why: the ostensible aim of the Paris Agreement is to reduce CO2 emissions such that ‘global warming’ is limited to no more than 2C (preferably 1.5C) above pre-industrial times. Since we are already at roughly 1C above pre-industrial temperature that only leaves 0.5 to 1C to work with.
The IPCC invited “individual country pledges” as to how much reduction they could achieve by 2030. No guidance was issued as to what sort of reductions were needed to meet the target of 0.5C to 1C limit. It was left to individual countries to ‘chip in’ what they felt they could afford. The three largest emitters are China, the US and India in that order. China currently emits 10.3 billion tonnes. The US emits 5.4 billion tonnes and India 2.6 billion tonnes. This trio represents 50% of total global emission for 2018, about 37 billion tonnes.
The US has been the most successful country at reducing emissions, largely because it opened up shale gas exploitation (yes, the dreaded fracking), not because of increasing reliance on wind and solar. Gas-fired power stations emit less CO2 than coal-fired. The US has withdrawn from the Paris Agreement but will no doubt maintain some efforts to reduce emissions.
China is the most significant player in this game. Under the Paris Agreement, the Middle Kingdom enjoys the right to increase CO2 emissions until Beijing has fulfilled its stated ambition to become a completely ‘developed’ country. They also agreed to grow renewables to 20% of their power generation capacity and claim their emissions will peak in 2030. In 2018 their emissions grew almost 5%. If that trend continues, China will be adding 500 million tonnes per year. Australia emits approx 570 million tonnes per annum. So every year China alone will be boostingits CO2 output by the same amount as our total emissions.
India is even more problematic. Currently, it has approximately the same population as China but enjoys the same dispensation to ‘developed’ status that is China’s goal. As it grows its energy requirements will equal those of China. The only way for those countries (and further down the track, those of Africa and the rest of the developing world) to quickly ramp up their production of energy is by burning fossil fuels (coal or gas) or by going nuclear.
The bottom line is that developing countries will continue to ramp up the use of fossil fuels, dwarfing the miniscule efforts of the developed world to reduce our own. Renewables have their place, particularly in remote rural communities or farms, but they cannot support industry, big (or even small) cities, or national infrastructure. You will hear that China is rapidly moving into renewables. That is true because, as I said, they are very useful for remote communities of which China has many. China also likes renewables because they produce and sell shiploads of solar panels, plus it is blessed with large deposits of rare earth minerals essential for wind turbines or electric vehicles. As noted earlier, by 2030, renewables will still only account for 20% of China’s energy production. But at the same time that they are increasing the use of renewables, they are also ramping up the construction of new coal fired power stations.
Even before the ink was dry on the Paris agreement, most of the IPCC’s climate bureaucrats said that the targets already pledged would not be sufficient to meet the target of 1.5C or 2C. They are still saying that. Here’s one example and here’s another. An green organisation, Climate Action Tracker, evaluates the 30 countries it claims represent 80% of global emissions and the efficacy of their attempts to meet declared targets. Of those 30 countries, the targets of US, Russia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are rated ‘critically insufficient’. Nine (including Canada, China, Japan and South Korea) are rated ‘highly insufficient’. Six (including Australia, New Zealand and the EU) are rated ‘insufficient’. The remainder, judged, ‘sufficient’ or ‘compatible’, are all Third World and, with the exception of India, low emissions countries such as Gambia, Morocco and Ethiopia. The website also predicts that almost all the highly emitting countries, with the exception of India, would fail to meet their targets in any case. India would seem to be a shining example to the rest of us. According to the Climate Action Tracker, it has a ‘sufficient’ emissions reduction target and is likely to meet, or even exceed, it. But you have to look at the fine print. Its target of a 30% to 35% reduction is based on CO2 emissions as a percentage of GDP in the year 2005. India’s GDP is growing rapidly, so this reduction translates to a 176% to 184% increase in emissions over 2010 levels by 2030. The same logic applies to the commitments of all developing countries.
What we have a situation where we are relying on countries like North Korea, Russia, Venezuela, Iran, Iraq etc to honour their pledges (even if to do so disadvantages their economies) to an agreement that its own authors effectively say is pointless. The Paris Agreement is nothing more than an ambit claim.
THIS brings me to the second part of the Paris areement which involves the establishment of a Climate Fund to which the developed world is expected to contribute $US100 billion per year to help developing countries meet their targets. This is the real agenda. Hear it from an IPCC bureaucrat:
The USA was expected to contribute a significant amount to that fund, which they will now not do under President Trump. Other countries will take the view that if the US won’t contribute, why should they. But even if the money were forthcoming, do you imagine that third world countries will use $100 billion pa effectively in combatting climate change or is it more likely to find its way into Swiss bank accounts? India has made it quite clear that its commitment, which does, in fact, involve growing emissions, is contingent upon receiving financial assistance.
Australia’s commitment is to reduce our greenhouse gas emission s by 26% over 2005 levels by 2020. You will hear Scott Morrison say, ad nauseam, that “we will meet our Paris target in a canter.” What he is talking about here is a 26% reduction within the electricity sector and the electricity alone, which makes up only 30% of our emissions. There are another half-dozen or so sectors that contribute to emissions, the most important of which are transport and agriculture, both at about 30%. Getting emissions down in the electricity sector is relatively easy if you are prepared to swamp the market with expensive and unreliable wind and solar. It is a fact that the countries with the highest penetration of renewables have the highest electricity prices in the world. Denmark is the leader, with South Australia not far behind.
However, getting 26% reduction in transport and agriculture is much more difficult. Within the transport sector you can bet your house that the major effort will be directed at the private motor vehicle. Macron tried this in France, planning a punitive tax on diesel fuel with the express intention of discouraging the use of private vehicles. There have been riots ever since. Within agriculture, the main target is herds of livestock, particularly of cattle. The only way to get real and fast emissions reductions in this sector is if we dramatically reduce our herd sizes. Forget your Sunday roast – that might be relegated to a Christmas treat. There is another way to meet the target in these sectors. It involves buying overseas carbon credits – in effect paying Third World countries large sums not to build coal-fired power stations that they never intended building in the first place. The international carbon credit market is ripe for scamming.
So we have a possible climate change problem, possibly caused by human CO2 emissions, which will result in a range of effects from the benign to the disastrous depending on how much effect CO2 has on the climate. To handle this possible problem we have a treaty that its own proponents already say won’t be effective even if every country were to meet its emission-reduction commitments, a very doubtful proposition in any case.
Australia’s commitment to Paris comes at a cost, minimal at the 26% level, according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, disastrous at Labor’s 45% target, also according to Morrison. The fact is that the cost will be significant for either option. Were it not so, it would have been done already. Even if we achieve Labor’s 45% reduction across all sectors, it will not have the slightest effect on global warming as long as China, India and, eventually, the rest of the third world keep emitting.
Greens will say we have to do this to avoid extreme weather events. Well, we cannot avoid extreme weather events. They have always been with us and always will be, even if we reduce CO2 emissions to zero. That the weather periodically turns nasty is the only certainty in this whole debate.
If we are going to spend large amounts of money to ameliorate climate change we should be spending it where it will do most good – in what is called ‘adaptation’. Drought is seen as a major effect of ‘climate change’. We actually get plenty of rainfall – but a lot of it doesn’t fall when and where we need it. We can future proof ourselves against drought by building more dams and redirecting water from where it is not needed to where it is. By the same token, we can future proof ourselves against floods by building more dams to control water flow. We can future proof ourselves against cyclones by building better infrastructure – bridges, power distribution networks, etc. We can future proof ourselves against bushfire by better fuel load management and purchasing more firefighting aircraft. And if we really wanted low cost, reliable, low emission electricity we would be building nuclear plants.
All this, of course, takes money. But there is money available – the vast we are currently flushing down the toilet on renewables. Have a look at this fact sheet that details just some of the money being spent by this government on the electricity sector (and also keep in mind that Labor would be spending even more). You will also note that this fact sheet says nothing whatsoever about how the government intends to achieve 26% emissions reductions in the transport and agriculture sectors.
The Paris agreement particularly penalizes Australia. We are a large remote country and we rely heavily on oil to fuel our transport fleet which has to cover longer distances than most countries. We have abundant sources of coal and gas, the use of which we are denying ourselves but still exporting overseas. We have abundant uranium which we export unprocessed. We rely heavily on agriculture not only to feed ourselves but also to help feed the rest of the world. Coal, gas and agricultural products make up the vast bulk of our foreign exchange but we are being urged to rein them all in for a speculative goal of restricting warming to 1C by 2100, 80 years in the future.
Our emissions represent 1.3% of global emissions and yet we are crippling our economy and driving manufacturing offshore for nothing more than a feel good gesture. The government has refused to say how much cooling our efforts will accomplish. That is because they don’t know. Who spends billions on a project without knowing what the delivered product looks like? Some will say that there are many countries whose emissions are as small as ours and if we all band together and do the right thing we can make a meaningful contribution. If you believe every small emitter country (and most of them are third world countries) in the world will put the good of the global climate ahead of their own self-interest, you’ll believe anything.
Limiting global warming is a pipe dream. According to the IPCC bureaucrats, it requires all 190-odd Paris signatories to at least double their current commitments and then actually achieve them – while at the same time allowing China and India to increase their emissions. It will never happen. We would be better off spending the money preparing ourselves to live in a world in which extreme weather events will always be with us.