Agreement reached: planet saved. Or a COP-out?


In a historic agreement reached at the end of the Paris COP21 talks, the world has literally been saved from the brink of catastrophe. Across the world, negotiators are returning to their countries, waving a piece of paper which bears their names as well as others.

As the talks were getting started a couple of weeks ago, I wrote that the process was a pointless virtue-signalling farce. But even with my inherent cynicism, I could not have imagined that the negotiators could have come up with such a pretentious, meaningless, content-free document.

Here is some of the self-righteous virtue-signalling from the document itself:

Acknowledging that climate change is a common concern of humankind, Parties should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights, the right to health, the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, migrants, children, persons with disabilities and people in vulnerable situations and the right to development, as well as gender equality, empowerment of women and intergenerational equity,…

And in similar style, here are some of the responses from the heroes who helped make it happen:

“I believe this moment can be a turning point for the world” (Obama)

“I’ve never seen anything like it. #COP21 Jubilation, celebration, people hugging, weeping in hall. Real sense this is historic agreement.” (Fiona Harvey)

But despite all this, there is virtually nothing of any substance in the document at all – which presumably is why everyone is happy to agree to it.  The words “invites” and “requests” appear frequently, attached to such vague statements as “Requests the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice to develop and recommend rules, modalities and procedures for the mechanism referred to in paragraph 38 above for consideration and adoption by the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement at its first session;” which is reminiscent of The Party of the first part.

The content is the Canute-like declaration of keeping global temperature rise well below 2 degrees (Article 2), supported by the astoundingly vague Article 4, “Parties aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible,…”.  The only real commitments are to carry on producing INDCs every five years, and to report emissions regularly (Article 13).

There is the usual talk of developed countries giving money to developing ones (Article 9, more feel-good virtue-signalling), but this is very vague – the document “strongly urges” developed countries to increase support up to $100 billion/year, with no indication of how this is to be raised or distributed.

What is striking in the responses to the document is the agreement (consensus?) between the sceptics and the alarmists.

On the sceptic side, Paul Homewood has a good post A worthless piece of paper, pointing out that about the only real commitment made is to continue producing and monitoring INDCs.  Similarly, Paul Driessen and Roger Bezdek at WUWT say that The ‘Binding’ Paris treaty is now just voluntary mush.  Benny Peiser says that the deal is “fuzzy and essentially aspirational … woolly and non-committal”

On the other side of the fence, James Hansen, the climate scientist and political activist who played a key role in creating the climate scare in the late 1980s, described the talks as a fraud – slightly stronger than the other f word, farce, that I chose. George Monbiot speaks of “squalid retrenchments” in the Guardian, and on twitter says “Long on self-congratulation, short on action. The #COP21 outcome is a cop-out” and “I’m sorry to disappoint you, but the Paris deal is bullshit”.   Kevin Anderson, very much part of the activist wing of climate science, gives the Paris agreement 4/10 for content.  The New York Times reports climate scientists saying that the deal is “far too weak”.

The attitude of thoughtful people in the middle of the debate, who are neither alarmists nor sceptics, is similar.  Richard Tol says “Wow. They actually seem to reach an agreement. Mind you, the agreement is that countries should do what they want.”  And “In Paris, there is an agreement that countries can emit greenhouse gases as they wish.” While Roger Pielke, also on twitter, says “#COP21 reflects what may be the biggest gap in history between feel-good rhetoric and unforgiving mathematical implications of policy goals”.  Mike Hulme says that the euphoria needs qualifying,  that we shouldn’t mistake INDCs for actual emissions reductions, and that the Paris Agreement offers two sleights-of-hand – an appearance of reducing risk without actually doing anything, and putting long-term carbon reduction ahead of pressing issues of welfare.

In summary, now that the post-party hangover is wearing off, it’s clear that although the climate bandwagon will continue to grow (as pointed out in the previous post) very little will change as far as the real world of politics or the earth’s climate is concerned. And except for a few cheerleaders, most observers from across the climate spectrum seem distinctly unimpressed by the COP21 agreement.

Other links: 

Lubos Motl has an excellent post where as well as taking to pieces the bogus pseudoscience on which the agreement is based, highlights its “totally worthless verbosity”.

Judith Curry gives more links and her own view – nearly all countries will promote their own economic interests.

Donna Laframboise talks of how the agreement is full of hot air and symbolism, and could make the poor poorer.

Paris was a failure in the Guardian.

In Paris, Climate Change Alarmists Con Everyone, Including Themselves

The Paris summit: A colossal waste of time


  1. The COP21 agreement is a complete evasion from true environmental issues. This is merely a corporate win; not in the interest of the member states populous. Nothing but a subterfuge.


  2. While the Guardian’s George Monbiot says: “By comparison to what [the COP21] should have been, it’s a disaster”, the Guardian’s Dana Nuccitelli quotes the Guardian’s Brian Redfearn as saying: “The Paris COP21 talks have ended with an agreement stronger than most expected.”

    So will Greens split into two irreconcilable factions – the Popular Front for Climate Catastrophe, and the Catastrophic Climate Popular Front? Probably not, unless…

    Dana’s article continues: “We’ve turned the corner; climate denial is no longer being taken seriously. The world has moved on, and contrarians have become irrelevant relics of the fossil fuel age.”

    Until now, warmists have been united by their common fight to stifle denialism. Maybe we should fade away, as the Guardian and 97% of the media insists we already have, so that they can get on with their factional fighting.


  3. The big players each got what they wanted. US got nonbinding. India got differentiation (they do not have to play along). China got lack of transparency via preamble paragraph 27. France got to host an agreement. UNFCCC got to build out more useless bureaucracy to monitor INDCs, and an IPCC AR6 in 2018. At least that should be interesting as the gaps between reality and previous IPCC assessments continue to widen.
    The little players did not get what they wanted. Tuvalu and gang did not get $100 billion per year. Kiribati and gang did not get to sue for loss and damage via preamble paragraph 52. Hansen did not get carbon taxes.

    To paraphrase the Bard, COP21 was full of sound and fury signifying nothing. As preamble paragraph 17 trenchantly said. Quite the political spectacle.


  4. I just took a look at Mike Hulme’s “assessment”. His current academic home is that of “Professor of Climate and Culture” at King’s College London.

    Setting aside my own questions regarding what in Gaia’s name does “climate” have to do with “culture”, I noticed that Hulme seemed to be somewhat preoccupied with (to the best of my knowledge, the undefined concept of) “dangerous weather” – giving this phrase no less than four mentions during the course of his peroration.

    The other part of Hulme’s post that caught my eye was his (presumably knowledge-based) assertion that (my bold -hro):

    Even once the Agreement is formally ratified—as it surely will, given that only 55 national ratifications are required, as long they collectively amount to 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions–[…]

    Only 55 (of 194) nations?! Setting aside the fact that the first thing jumped to my mind when I read this was a Canadian life insurance company’s motto of “Freedom 55” … YMMV, but this strikes me as being far from … well … democratic.

    Considering the games that nations – and/or the various arms, elbows hands fingers etc. of UN bodies – tend to play in declaring their respective whatevers, I find such a “ratification” process to be highly questionable, at best: i.e. it’s not the voices that count, it’s the purported emissions – as, I’m inclined to suspect, determined by the UN’s well-known but rather creative use of mathematics!

    Particularly since the powers that be at the UN – in so many other matters – insist that days and days of deliberations be devoted to (highly dubious, IMHO) declarations of “unanimity”. Dissent, if any, is – for all intents and purposes – tossed by the wayside to the dustbin of frequently unread history, or if we’re really lucky to a frequently unfollowed footnote in fineprint.


  5. Hilary Ostrov asks:
    “What in Gaia’s name does climate have to do with culture?”

    Answer: Mike Hume has studied them both at the University of East Anglia. After he retired from climatology he took a course in creative writing. That’s what allows him to write things like:

    “And sea-level rise and ocean acidification is even less response to the headline commitments of the Paris Agreement.”

    “Dealing with the social and ecological effects of climate and its changes … is the new human condition of late modernity.”

    “’Climate change’ is concerning, but not primarily because of changes to climate.”


    “… the pressing needs of wealth re-distribution, human welfare and social justice today, are subjucated to the smoke and mirrors of the carbon calculus.”


  6. I don’t understand what everyone is complaining about. They had a strong and binding commitment to the climate and no one seems to notice. There was agreement that there shall be another COP next year, and by extension, probably each year until the Sun ceases to shine. How greater a commitment can a group make but to agonize year after year about this incredible problem? and you want “hard” action when they are willing to sacrifice their very souls for this never ending problem!


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