There are a number of problems with the much-touted Paris Agreement, of totemic value to the climate-concerned. These include a lack of an effective process for monitoring compliance, the number of loopholes, and more. But the most fundamental problem seems to be that there is such an obvious lack of true commitment shown by key nations. Whilst this is the problem I wish to focus upon today, the other concerns – and they are many – are too important to ignore and so I may very well return to them on another day.

In short, the Agreement is a failure in its own terms. Don’t take my word for it – here’s what Professor Dieter Helm (now Sir Dieter, thanks to services to “the environment, to energy and utilities policy”) has to say about it:

“The Paris Agreement is, if you believe the political leaders who took an active part, a game changer. It is, on this view, a triumph. As Obama put it, it will save the planet. But you should not believe them: the reality is that Paris demonstrated how big the international failure has been, and provided little by way of comfort that its framework will do the necessary job. You can see it everywhere: climate change has slumped down the list of priorities for companies and governments.

A cold hard reality check on all the rhetoric is needed. Here are the facts. The ambition set out at the Durban Conference was that Paris would see a legal binding global agreement binding the main world players to targets which would jointly keep global warming below 2 degrees. What happened? Most countries came up with their proposed national targets, just as they had for the Copenhagen Agreement. They are voluntary, not legally binding, and they do not add up to the 2 degrees. In the case of the big players, China offered to cap emissions by 2030 (after another 15 years of potential emission growth), India has no real meaningful cap, and the US is embedding the switch from coal to gas. For all three, what will happen has little or nothing to do with Paris. The one bit of good news is incidental: China’s economy may slow down rapidly.

This did not stop the negotiators doing two things: first, making the circus of Paris a regular 5-year event, and thereby keeping all the UN-led bureaucracy and all the NGOs up and running; and setting a target of 1.5 degrees. If you can’t get a legally binding set of targets that add up to 2 degrees, why not set the target at 1.5 degrees anyway?”

So what does the Paris Agreement set out to achieve?

Sir Dieter’s appraisal stands as a sad indictment when one considers the noble aspirations of the Agreement’s architects. In its own words:

“The ultimate objective of this Convention…is to achieve…stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Such a level should be achieved within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.”

One hundred and ninety-three countries are members of the United Nations, according to the UN’s own website. This is more than a little intriguing since, according to the UN, 197 countries are parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (“UNFCCC”). One superficial measure of the success of the Paris Accords is the number of those countries signing up to the UNFCCC who have also signed up to the Paris Accords – 196.

The discrepancy in the numbers does not matter if the important emitters of greenhouse gases (“GHGs”) have signed up, have strong plans to reduce their emissions, and can be legally taken to task via an enforcement procedure for failure to honour the Agreement. Unfortunately, however, as Sir Dieter has noticed, this is not the case. Only the first of those criteria has been met. The main emitters have signed up (and of course under President Biden the USA has re-joined); but many of them – notably China and India, and to an extent Russia – have submitted plans which are not going to result in the reduction of GHG emissions (quite the contrary); and in any event the Paris Agreement is utterly toothless.

Definitely maybe – according to circumstance

Space does not permit a detailed analysis of the Agreement here, but this clause is worth highlighting:

“This Agreement will be implemented to reflect equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances.”

Different national circumstances, and the long-standing definition of “developing countries”, which include, rather bizarrely, the likes of China and South Africa, also condemn the Agreement to guaranteed failure in its own terms.

Politics is the art of the possible, and clearly the Paris Agreement took some hammering out before it was reduced to a form that the Parties were prepared to sign. But, however hard the lead negotiators tried, and however sincere some of the Parties were, ultimately the fact that other Parties weren’t so committed meant that the Agreement had to be watered down. And it is that watering down which renders it not fit for purpose, other than as a shibboleth. Its language is the language of aspiration, not of meaningful binding obligation. “Parties aim [i.e. completely non-binding] to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible [meaningless in the absence of a specified date], recognizing that peaking will take longer for developing country Parties [a total cop-out for those responsible for the bulk of emissions]”.

Aspirational words like “can”, “may” and “should” abound, but the legally mandatory word “shall” is a rare and shy creature within the Agreement, rarely to be seen, and then certainly not in the context of a meaningful obligation. And the Agreement contains absolutely no enforcement mechanism for use against those signatories who breach its rather limp terms or who fail to meet the offerings set out in their (mostly weak) Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

The dragon in the room

Which brings us neatly to NDCs. The Agreement also contains this clause:

“Each Party shall communicate a nationally determined contribution every five years…and be informed by the outcomes of the global stocktake referred to in Article 14.”

There is not space here to look in detail at each of the NDCs. However, in short, all NDC submissions seem to contain the usual genuflections to the great climate religion before making vague and rather meaningless commitments which will see their national GHG emissions increase by 2030, the date to which the Accords are working. However, the NDC of one country in particular – China – is just too important to be ignored. Its NDC was submitted on 30th June 2015. An early flavour of where China is coming from doesn’t provide much confidence:

“As a developing country with a population of more than 1.3 billion, China is among those countries that are most severely affected by the adverse impacts of climate change. China is currently in the process of rapid industrialization and urbanization, confronting with multiple challenges including economic development, poverty eradication, improvement of living standards, environmental protection and combating climate change.”

That’s the background; but then there are the fluffy words:

“To act on climate change in terms of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing climate resilience, is not only driven by China’s domestic needs for sustainable development in ensuring its economic security, energy security, ecological security, food security as well as the safety of people’s life and property and to achieve sustainable development, but also driven by its sense of responsibility to fully engage in global governance, to forge a community of shared destiny for humankind and to promote common development for all human beings.”

Then they tell us what steps they have been taking to date:

“By 2014 the following has been achieved:

    • Carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP is 33.8% lower than the 2005 level;
    • The share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption is 11.2%;
    • The forested area and forest stock volume are increased respectively by 21.6 million hectares and 2.188 billion cubic meters compared to the 2005 levels;
    • The installed capacity of hydro power is 300 gigawatts (2.57 times of that for 2005);
    • The installed capacity of on-grid wind power is 95.81 gigawatts (90 times of that for 2005);
    • The installed capacity of solar power is 28.05 gigawatts (400 times of that for 2005); and
    • The installed capacity of nuclear power is 19.88 gigawatts (2.9 times of that for 2005).”

The wind and solar power figures sound impressive, but they don’t tell us what a low base they started from in 2005, though we can work it out – wind power of around 1 gigawatt, (and solar power a tiny fraction of that). They also don’t tell us what their 2014 requirements for energy are or how much is provided by fossil fuels, or how much fossil fuel use increased between 2005 and 2014, so that we can put these 2014 figures into context. It is against that background of partial information, that they tell us what their offer is:

“Based on its national circumstances, development stage, sustainable development strategy and international responsibility, China has nationally determined its actions by 2030 as follows:

    • To achieve the peaking of carbon dioxide emissions around 2030 and making best efforts to peak early;
    • To lower carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 60% to 65% from the 2005 level;
    • To increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 20%; and
    • To increase the forest stock volume by around 4.5 billion cubic meters on the 2005 level.”

In other words, and most crucially, the biggest GHG emitter on the planet, by a country mile (not that their NDC alludes to that fact) will continue increasing GHG emissions until 2030, by which date fossil fuels will still account for 80% of primary energy consumption. And if for one moment you were under the illusion that they intend to reduce use of fossil fuels, this section will disabuse you:

“Building Low-Carbon Energy System:

    • To control total coal consumption;
    • To enhance the clean use of coal;
    • To increase the share of concentrated and highly-efficient electricity generation from coal;
    • To lower coal consumption of electricity generation of newly built coal-fired power plants to around 300 grams coal equivalent per kilowatt-hour;
    • To expand the use of natural gas: by 2020, achieving more than 10% share of natural gas consumption in the primary energy consumption and making efforts to reach 30 billion cubic meters of coal-bed methane production;
    • To proactively promote the development of hydro power, on the premise of ecological and environmental protection and inhabitant resettlement;
    • To develop nuclear power in a safe and efficient manner;
    • To scale up the development of wind power;
    • To accelerate the development of solar power;
    • To proactively develop geothermal energy, bio-energy and maritime energy;
    • To achieve the installed capacity of wind power reaching 200 gigawatts, the installed capacity of solar power reaching around 100 gigawatts and the utilization of thermal energy reaching 50 million tons coal equivalent by 2020;
    • To enhance the recovery and utilization of vent gas and oilfield-associated gas; and
    • To scale up distributed energy and strengthen the construction of smart grid.”

The key issues (apart from the open admission that GHG emissions will increase until 2030) are the lack of transparency regarding the scale of their emissions currently, the amount by which they will increase, and the amount of current energy generation from fossil fuels, combined with the amount (in real terms as a hard figure) by which they will increase by 2030 (even if the proportion of a greater amount of energy generated by fossil fuels might decrease slightly).

Recently much of the western media became very excited when China’s President Xi offered a few crumbs in the direction of the climate-concerned. They were turned immediately by the Guardian and the BBC into a solemn pledge to reduce GHG emissions by firm dates (which they weren’t, in reality). But now China has produced its latest five year plan. And so the scales lift from the eyes and the Guardian realises that China has no intention of reducing its GHG emissions any time soon:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/05/china-five-year-plan-emissions

“China has set out an economic blueprint for the next five years that could lead to a strong rise in greenhouse gas emissions if further action is not taken to meet the country’s long-term goals.

The 14th five-year plan, published in Beijing on Friday, gave few details on how the world’s biggest emitter would meet its target of reaching net zero emissions by 2060, set out by President Xi Jinping last year, and of ensuring that carbon dioxide output peaks before 2030.

China will reduce its “emissions intensity” – the amount of CO2 produced per unit of GDP – by 18% over the period 2021 to 2025, but this target is in line with previous trends, and could lead to emissions continuing to increase by 1% a year or more. Non-fossil fuel energy is targeted to make up 20% of China’s energy mix, leaving plenty of room for further expansion of the country’s coal industry. Swithin Lui, of the Climate Action Tracker and NewClimate Institute, said: “[This is] underwhelming and shows little sign of a concerted switch away from a future coal lock-in. There is little sign of the change needed [to meet net zero].”

And that’s before it revises its NDC, which will surely be linked to the five year plan’s stated objectives. Watch this space.

There is also a strong argument that the developed world, while claiming to reduce its own GHG emissions, is simply outsourcing them to China. More on that another day, perhaps. None of these issues are dealt with by the Paris Accords, of course.

The China problem is just the start

I have focused upon China here because theirs is the most obvious, and most significant, example of toothless commitment. I could continue in this vein, but rather than swamp you with detailed dissections of other countries’ NDCs, I shall leave you with some general observations regarding their nature and how they serve to undermine the noble aspirations of the Agreement:

a) Less is more

With a few exceptions, the shorter the NDC, the more meaningful the offer; the longer the NDC, the more likely it is that a small impoverished country with negligible emissions is seeking to demonstrate how signed-up it is to the process, how seriously it takes it all, what terrible problems it is already encountering from climate change, and therefore why it really should be given all the money it is asking for.

b) The worst offenders are the least committed

Some of the signatories, who were among the first to submit their NDCs – Switzerland, EU, USA, Norway etc., really do seem to be serious about the whole thing. Unfortunately, even including the US, only countries responsible for up to 30% of global GHG emissions were offering real reductions. Some of the main emitters of GHG emissions (most notably China, but also India, Russia, down to the likes of South Korea, and Bangladesh) have not engaged with the process at all. They talk the talk, but they don’t walk the walk. China, most obviously, is the rock on which the Paris Accords break. But there are others.

c) Fossil fuel export is blithely ignored

The rules for accounting for fossil fuel extraction and export let the countries who gain most from this totally off the hook. The Middle East oil producing countries are the ones most obviously to benefit from making the right noises whilst in reality making no meaningful commitment to the process whatsoever. But they’re not alone. As is the case with Canada, they make a virtue in their NDC about their GHG emissions, but they’re remarkably coy about their fossil fuel extraction and export, and how dependent their economies are on it.

d) The sums don’t add up

The sums required by the NDCs of some undeveloped countries are quite modest, especially on a per capita basis, while others are truly staggering, most notably India and somewhat cheekily South Africa. In total, however, I would suggest they are unaffordable, especially in view of the financial carnage caused by coronavirus and the world’s reaction to it. Even if the money can be found, so that conditional, as opposed to the much less ambitious unconditional, targets are achieved, the net effect is that GHG emissions are on target to grow massively – just not as massively, perhaps, as would otherwise be the case. Should people who claim to be concerned about AGW therefore really have been so hysterical about Trump’s decision to take the USA out of the Accords? Personally I think not. Unless China, India and Russia can ever be brought on board, and unless rapidly growing populations in developing countries can somehow be controlled, The whole thing is hopeless, not least in view of the perfectly understandable desire of developing countries to industrialise and raise living standards, and a growing tendency to the urbanisation of the populations of such countries.

e) Developing countries want to eat their cake and have it

Many developing countries are, perfectly understandably, seeking to use the Paris Accords to lever large sums of money from the international community to improve the lot of their people. In many cases, they seek to develop renewable energy to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels (some of the island countries are almost entirely dependent on imports of fossil fuels). I suspect this is more about saving money and increasing energy independence than it is about “saving the planet”. In almost every case they seek to improve GDP alongside increasing populations. Inevitably, whatever they do, GHG emissions are going to increase, and the idea that the Paris Accords can do anything about this is a sham.

A room too full

This article has already referred to the dragon in the room, but the dragon shares the room with several elephants, which space has not permitted this article to look at. The elephants can destroy the purpose of the Agreement as effectively as any bull in a china shop, and they all deserve scrutiny – perhaps in another article.

48 Comments

  1. Chinese foreign policy has the merit of transparency. As part of their their project of long term economic development and protection of their territorial integrity, they are very careful to stick to the rules laid down by the international order (i.e. us) and they get upset when we disregard these rules, e.g. by bombing their embassy in Belgrade, or starting half a dozen futile wars close to their borders.

    The incident most relevant to the Paris Accord was probably what occurred at the Copenhagen COP in 2009 when the Maldives representative, a certain Mark Lynas, broke diplomatic confidentiality by revealing the Chinese position in a secret negotiation session in a scoop in the Guardian. The fact that the West thinks there’s nothing wrong with breaking the basic rules of diplomacy when its done by a Green activist told the Chinese all they need to know about climate change negotiations.

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  2. Pointing out the hypocrisy of the Paris accord, really the whole anti-fossil fuel accounting muddle, is Greta’s thing. She gets invited to Davos to point her finger at the elites who don’t walk their talk, and they love her for it. It’s so much hellfire and brimstone, along with self-flagellation. Until the false premises of global warming/climate change are renounced, the energy foundations of modern society will be eroded by the environmental Luddites.

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  3. Here’s what I”m talking about:

    Climate Activists storm the bastion of Exxon Mobil, here seen without their shareholder disguises.

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  4. Thanks for the comments, from the newbie here. Ed Hoskins, we’re definitely singing from the same hymn book (or should I reserve such a phrase for those behind the climate alarmism religion?).

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  5. “The ultimate objective of this Convention…is to achieve…stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Such a level should be achieved within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.”

    So where’s the panic? “Greenhouse gas concentrations”, by which they mean CO2, are unlikely ever to reach a level where “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system” is possible since, in spite of the Chicken Little panic-mongering, there is little to no scientific evidence that CO2 is a major (or even any) driver of atmospheric temperature change. There is ample evidence available on-line that current CO2 concentrations are at historically low levels and the human race has happily survived.

    Earth’s eco-systems are remarkably robust and resilient so there is no chance that they will have any difficulty in coping with any puny human attempts — accidental or deliberate — to destroy them and so far the only measurable effect of the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration has been to improve crop yields to the point where we are feeding more people better on less land than ever in human history.

    Enabling “economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner”, as those who delight in such knee-jerk clichés know all too well (most of them anyway), is a bad joke. Any aspect of ‘development’ which is not “sustainable” will not survive, as the current pandemic is demonstrating, but the UN apparatchiks and their eco-useful-idiots don’t mean “sustainable” in the normal sense; their definition is “without damage to the environment” (according to Chambers) while being hypocritically selective about the meaning of “damage” — wind farms do not damage the environment but coal mines to produce the coal to make the steel for the pylons apparently do. Likewise intensive farming damages the environment even though it frees up land which can be used for re-afforestation, which would help the sequestration of CO2 which they ought to be in favour of.

    This CO2 obsession has been dangled in front of our eyes like a hypnotist’s gold watch for three decades and it’s a Malthusian con trick. The genuinely “developing” world — which does not include China or India or South Africa — is perfectly entitled to look to the developed world for help, both practical and financial, to drag itself up to our standard of living, but that’s not what they are being offered. They are in effect being offered handouts to stay poor, denied the means of fuelling their own industrial revolution on the totally spurious grounds that allowing them fossil fuels will destroy the planet.

    Shellenberger’s ‘Apocalypse Never’ says it better than I can.

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  6. @ Mark, congrats on the new appointment. I look forward to reading more of your articles.

    A trio of things. You mention in passing the “exported” emissions from China. Now, if I were the Chinese, and the Western bugs get too pesky, I’d be tempted to delete all emissions related to stuff sent to other countries. Oh, really? You don’t like our emission cuts? Too small for you huh buddy? Well, let’s just add 10% to yours that you cleverly avoided by importing all your tat from us.

    (This is unrealistic, not least because they want us to keep buying their tat.)

    Second, the idea of letting countries set their own targets is ludicrous. The UK is leading the way, in the name of embodying “moral authority.” In fact we are going to lead the way off a cliff. In fact, like Wile E. Coyote, we might be over the edge already but haven’t noticed yet. I have a very simple proposition. Let them get someone with a computer, or maybe a Casio FX-82a^, or the back of an envelope, to tell everyone what their emissions targets ought to be. This will be a two-stage process.

    i) I work out the global budget – *kof* I mean the independently-chosen arbiter does. I’m calling it 5GtC per year in perpetuity.

    ii) I divide the 5GtC among the world population, weighting each country’s total allowance by its population.

    The poorer countries can increase their emissions and the richer will have to reduce theirs, but we will all asymptote to the same value – emphatically NOT zero. (If we allow the population to be 7 billion, it comes out to about 5/7 tC each person.)

    Three: back to China…… you cannot trust a damn word they say. If they promise net zero by 2060 and don’t deliver, that won’t matter a damn because they will by then be the sole superpower, unless the democratic countries actually grow a pair. To judge from the buffoon Boris’s plan for the future, we will keep tut-tutting about how nasty Mr Xi is, while still outsourcing all our manufacturing to him (“yeh, he’s a bit dodgy, ya know, but he’s cash in hand – the other builder wanted two grand more for VAT or something, and who has got two grand to spare in this day and age, what with the young folk all unemployed, you know, it’s terrible, I don’t know how it got this way, Aunt Maud was saying that she can’t even afford to have the gas fire on, still I suppose it’s all progress, amirite, how’s your mother?”)

    Four: I said three, but I forgot what the third one was, made up a new third that might plausibly have been the original third, then remembered the real original third. It goes back to Paris itself and that cheer that went up at the end. At the time I looked at those fools, those nodding dogs, backslappers, those vacant-eyed nothings and asked myself: Do they really believe they have achieved something (i.e. are they just plain stupid), or are they just putting on a show (they are liars)?

    Go straight to the heroic last 30 seconds if you can bear to.

    ^How is it that I can still remember the model of calculator I owned in the mid 80s?

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  7. Mark’s focus in this article is quite rightly on the “lack of an effective process for monitoring compliance” and the “lack of true commitment shown by key nations.”

    On monitoring compliance: claiming to be able accurately to tot up gigatonnes of CO2 is lunacy. Who really knows what’s coming out of Chinese exhaust pipes and what’s being absorbed by newly flourishing Chinese forests? How do you convert hectares into gigatonnes? Climate believers would hand over the governance of the planet to mad bean counters with pie charts where their brains should be.

    On the lack of true commitment: I believe compliance by the annex 1 nations is dependent on the rich nations coughing up $100 billion a year. Since they won’t, the deal is off. Only a dozen or so countries count in the CO2 stakes. The rest are there for decoration – dozens of small island states where diesel generation is the only practical proposition (no port for coal, and windmills fall over in hurricanes) are voting fodder who can be bought off with a few million dollars.

    The real story is China. By rigidly sticking to the rules, (making promises which are within the guidelines for developing countries, but useless for reducing emissions) China has screwed the whole COP project. Since Paris there’s been an absurd propaganda campaign from the Greens to pretend that China is the new leader of the march to zero emissions, but as Mark points out, it’s “the most obvious, and most significant, example of toothless commitment.”

    There’s so much more that’s interesting about China at the moment, like the fact that they are second in space exploration (behind the USA) and second in the development of hypersonic weapons (behind Russia, but way ahead of the USA) which make classic naval warfare redundant. And the fact that the Pentagon thinks that China will invade Taiwan within six years, provoking a war with the USA. And that the woke western media are promoting fantasies about genocide of the Uighurs as if a world war was just what end-of-the-world-fearing Guardian readers want. Maybe they do.

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  8. Thank you for the additional comments, all encouraging me to do more and produce a follow-up piece. I won’t be giving any secrets away if I say that some of the comments have touched on very important issues to which I will return. However, this article was already too long to deal with them in it in any depth, so watch this space.

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  9. “Which country has made the biggest climate commitment?
    The US, EU and UK are leading the race to cut emissions targets among the world’s biggest economies”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/apr/23/which-country-has-made-the-biggest-climate-commitment

    “…Who’s missing?
    China is the world’s biggest emitter and has yet to submit an NDC to the UN. The country has a current target of peaking emissions by 2030. However, analysts say this is much too late, and many climate experts are pushing Beijing to seek to peak greenhouse gas emissions in 2025, which they say would be feasible.

    China’s latest five-year plan, unveiled last month, disappointed many by failing to include a tougher target. But this week president Xi Jinping said China’s coal consumption would peak in 2025, which would take the country – and the world – a long way towards the cuts needed….

    …Are the targets compulsory?
    None of these targets are compulsory. The 2015 Paris agreement comes in two parts: the binding treaty, by which all countries have pledged to hold global heating well below 2C, with an aspiration to limit heating to no more than 1.5C, above pre-industrial levels; and the non-binding annex containing the NDCs. Countries can change or re-submit their NDCs, or ignore them – there are no sanctions….”

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  10. “Report: China emissions exceed all developed nations combined”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-57018837

    “China emits more greenhouse gas than the entire developed world combined, a new report has claimed.

    The research by Rhodium Group says China emitted 27% of the world’s greenhouse gases in 2019.

    The US was the second-largest emitter at 11% while India was third with 6.6% of emissions, the think tank said.

    Scientists warn that without an agreement between the US and China it will be hard to avert dangerous climate change.

    China’s emissions more than tripled over the previous three decades, the report from the US-based Rhodium Group added.

    The Asian giant has the world’s largest population, so its per person emissions are still far behind the US, but the research said those emissions have increased too, tripling over the course of two decades….

    …China is heavily reliant on coal power.

    The country is currently running 1,058 coal plants – more than half the world’s capacity….

    …According to the Climate Action Tracker, an independent scientific analysis that tracks government climate action, China’s NDC rating is “highly insufficient” and “are not at all consistent with holding warming to below 2C”….”

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  11. “If we can vaccinate the world, we can beat the climate crisis
    Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo
    Rich countries can’t expect to be trusted on their climate promises if they fail the poorest on vaccines”

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jun/05/poorer-nations-climate-promises-vaccines-vaccinating-covid

    Well, I think the authors have gone to the nub of the problem regarding the Paris Agreement, COP 26, and all efforts to deal with “the climate emergency”. Action on the part of the west is futile unless the whole world joins in; in joining in, the developing world will be shooting itself in the foot in terms of damaging attempts to grow economies and improve the lot of people whose lives are often pretty awful; and they need money – lots of western money – to persuade them to go along. That western money hasn’t been forthcoming much, if at all, so far, and in the aftermath of covid, with western governments more indebted than ever, does anyone seriously think it’s going to be forthcoming now?

    “The success of Cop26 depends in part upon larger developing countries such as Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan committing to sacrifices that will only pay off if countries such as the US, UK, Germany, France and Canada can be relied upon to stick to their own commitments.

    By agreeing to cut CO2 emissions, these developing countries will potentially curtail their own growth and perhaps even have to give up equipment that protects them from an already changing climate in the short term, such as cheap, polluting air conditioners. This sacrifice will only pay off if rich countries respond by cutting their own emissions so that worst-case scenarios can be avoided. Without everyone doing their part, we’re effectively rearranging the deckchairs on a sinking ship. In the aftermath of Covid-19, these countries may wonder what guarantee they have that when the next disaster strikes – and domestic pressures mount – rich countries won’t abandon their commitments. Trust, therefore, is key.

    Even if rich countries made binding commitments to domestic climate policies at Cop26, this would be unlikely to get developing countries to sign a demanding agenda. There is a strong and entirely justified perception that the world’s poor are being asked to make sacrifices to atone for rich countries’ past sins of careless growth. The fact that these countries have now shown they care little about the wellbeing of poorer nations obviously does not help.

    Developing countries will, quite reasonably, demand to be compensated for the more onerous choices that Cop26 demands of them. Research by colleagues in our MIT lab J-PAL, which runs the King Climate Action Initiative, demonstrates that this kind of conditional compensation works: in Uganda, paying landowners to not cut down trees has curbed deforestation and reduced carbon emissions at a cost of less than $1 per tonne. Researchers are studying dozens of other policy innovations that could work across the world – from emissions trading to incentives to reducing crop burning.

    These schemes only work if developing countries trust they will be paid compensation. Such promises have been made: advanced economies have formally agreed to raise $100bn per year for the Green Climate Fund to address the pressing mitigation and adaptation needs of developing countries. But at the moment, both developing countries and their citizens are questioning whether they can trust them to stick to their part of the bargain.”

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  12. Good luck with that:

    “Climate change: US pushes China to make faster carbon cuts”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-57904042

    “US climate envoy John Kerry has called on China to increase the speed and depth of its efforts to cut carbon.

    Without sufficient emissions reductions by China, Mr Kerry said, the global goal of keeping temperatures under 1.5C was “essentially impossible”.

    Mr Kerry said he was convinced that China could do more and the US was willing to work closely to secure a reasonable climate future.

    Every major economy must now commit to meaningful reductions by 2030, he said.”

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  13. “Merkel: Germany has not done enough to hit Paris climate targets
    Chancellor says record on reducing carbon emissions ‘not sufficient’ as she reflects on 16-year leadership”

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/22/merkel-germany-not-done-enough-hit-paris-climate-target

    “Angela Merkel has conceded Germany’s record on reducing carbon emissions was “not sufficient” to meet the global warming targets of the Paris climate agreement, as the chancellor reflected on the achievements and missed opportunities of her 16-year leadership.

    Speaking at the last of her annual summer press conferences on Thursday before stepping down as leader of Europe’s largest economy after federal elections on 26 September, Merkel said Germany “has done a lot” to recalibrate its economy in the face of the climate crisis, increasing the share of renewables in its energy mix from 10% to 40%, and lowering carbon emission by 20% in the period from 1990 to 2010, and by another 20% in the 10 years since.

    The 67-year-old nonetheless conceded that “what has been achieved is not sufficient” when measured against the Paris agreement’s target to limit global warming to well below 2C, preferably to 1.5C, compared with pre-industrial levels. Not just Germany, but the whole world had failed to meet its targets, she said….

    …She defended her government’s 2011 decision to phase out nuclear power by 2022, which critics say has made the country more reliant on coal power. “For Germany, the die has been cast,” she said. “I don’t see a government of the future changing anything in that respect.”…”

    Like

  14. It’s still going well, then…:

    “Plans of four G20 states are threat to global climate pledge, warn scientists
    ‘Disastrous’ energy policies of China, Russia, Brazil and Australia could stoke 5C rise in temperatures if adopted by the rest of the world”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/25/plans-of-four-g20-states-are-threat-to-global-climate-pledge-warn-scientists

    “A key group of leading G20 nations is committed to climate targets that would lead to disastrous global warming, scientists have warned. They say China, Russia, Brazil and Australia all have energy policies associated with 5C rises in atmospheric temperatures, a heating hike that would bring devastation to much of the planet.

    The analysis, by the peer-reviewed group Paris Equity Check, raises serious worries about the prospects of key climate agreements being achieved at the Cop26 summit in Glasgow in three months. The conference – rated as one of the most important climate summits ever staged – will attempt to hammer out policies to hold global heating to 1.5C by agreeing on a global policy for ending net emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050.

    The EU and UK have outlined emission pledges that could bring the world close to these aspirations. However, those of China, Russia, Brazil and Australia – which remain reliant on continued fossil-fuel burning – would trigger temperature rises of 5C if followed by the rest of the world. This dramatic discrepancy reveals a deep division over the energy and environment policies of the world’s richest nations. “Without more ambition from China, Brazil, Russia and Australia, Cop26 will fail to deliver the future our planet needs,” warned Tanya Steele, chief executive at WWF.

    The stark difference between the climate plans of different G20 nations – who together are responsible for 85% of all global carbon emissions – was underlined last week in Naples, when a meeting of member states’ energy and environment ministers ended with the group failing to agree on a package of commitments to tackle climate change. “The G20 is failing to deliver,” said the online activist network Avaaz.

    The G20 meeting had been viewed as a critically important staging post leading up to Cop26 and its failure to find common ground underlines the crucial differences that divide nations in the group and indicate it is not going to be easy to secure a meaningful accord in Scotland.”

    Like

  15. More from that pre-meet today:

    “COP26 climate summit president says progress made, but not enough
    By Matt McGrath
    Environment correspondent”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-57975025

    “The first in-person meeting of climate ministers in 18 months has seen some tentative progress, says the UK minister who will lead the Glasgow COP26 meeting.

    Alok Sharma said that the countries aligned more closely on climate issues but on some key matters they were “not yet close enough”.

    One of the outstanding questions is the phasing out of coal for energy.

    Continued use was incompatible with a key climate target, Mr Sharma said….

    …Scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the UN’s climate science body – have begun two weeks of discussions to try and agree a new report on the state of the global climate.

    On the political front, environment ministers from the G20 group of nations met in Naples, Italy, last week to try and make progress on questions such as the elimination of coal from power generation.

    While there was strong support for the step, it was opposed by China and India….”.

    What a surprise!

    Like

  16. “‘What can we do?’ Chinese discuss role of climate crisis in deadly floods
    Media and citizens have begun asking if China has properly prepared for climate emergency”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/26/chinese-discuss-role-climate-crisis-china-deadly-floods

    “Awareness of the climate emergency has been growing in China over the last decade, in part due to Beijing’s involvement in high-profile international initiatives such as the Paris agreement. In a China Center for Climate Change Communication survey in 2012, 55% of the respondents said the climate crisis was mostly caused by human activities. In 2017, 75.2% believed they had already experienced impacts of the climate emergency, and nearly 80% were worried about it.”

    Excuse me? What did that BBC article just say? Oh yes, that was it:

    “…ministers from the G20 group of nations met in Naples, Italy, last week to try and make progress on questions such as the elimination of coal from power generation.

    While there was strong support for the step, it was opposed by China and India….”.

    Like

  17. “Climate-above-all plea by US fails to stir China”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-58427519

    “US climate envoy John Kerry has told China that climate change is more important than politics as tensions between the two countries continue.

    He made the remarks following two days of talks with Chinese leaders in the city of Tianjin.

    But China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned on Wednesday that the worsening relationship could hamper future co-operation on climate issues.

    Both countries have outlined steps to tackle climate change.

    But Mr Kerry has called on China to increase its efforts to tackle carbon emissions.

    Tensions between the two countries have worsened in recent months with disputes over China’s human rights record, the South China Sea and the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Mr Kerry said he had told the Chinese that “climate is not ideological, not partisan and not a geostrategic weapon”.

    “It is essential… no matter what differences we have, that we have to address the climate crisis,” he said

    Earlier, Mr Wang called on the US to “stop seeing China as a threat and an opponent”, accusing Washington of a “major strategic miscalculation towards China”.

    “It is impossible for China-US climate co-operation to be elevated above the overall environment of China-US relations,” he said.

    China became the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide in 2006 and is now responsible for more than a quarter of the world’s overall greenhouse gas emissions.

    President Xi Jinping has said he will aim for China’s emissions to reach their highest point before 2030 and for the country to be carbon neutral by 2060. But it is not yet clear how he plans to achieve this.”

    I’m glad to see those last two paragraphs. They do indeed represent the extent of China’s “commitment” despite repeated claims by journalists at both the BBC and the Guardian regarding China’s supposed (but non-real) climate “pledge”.

    Like

  18. Good luck with that!

    “UK planning last-ditch China climate talks to break impasse before Cop26
    Exclusive: Crunch meeting of world leaders tabled for this month, with Xi key to success of climate summit”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/sep/10/uk-china-climate-talks-break-impasse-cop26

    “Boris Johnson is planning to convene last-ditch climate talks with the president of China, Xi Jinping, at a crunch meeting of world leaders later this month, in hopes of breaking the global impasse on climate action before the Cop26 climate summit being hosted in Glasgow this November.

    Xi will be invited, along with the leaders of about 30 other countries, to a high-level meeting on the sidelines of the UN general assembly in New York on 20 September, the Guardian has learned.

    China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, is crucial to the success of Cop26, but is a focus of increasing concern as its current emissions plans are regarded as too weak….

    …China is responsible for more than a quarter of global carbon emissions and despite rapidly growing renewable power is still heavily dependent on coal and still planning new coal-fired power stations despite promises to reduce its use. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has said that if China expands its use of coal, annual global carbon emissions are likely to rise by a record amount next year, putting hopes of limiting global heating to 1.5C – the stronger of two goals in the 2015 Paris agreement – all but out of reach.

    Jennifer Morgan, the executive director of Greenpeace International, said China was crucial to hopes of success at Cop26. “The world needs China to move to keep 1.5C alive. Action by China, as the world’s biggest emitter, is fundamental. Decisions by the Chinese now have a huge influence on the wellbeing of the planet and our future.”…

    …Morgan said China should agree to peak its emissions by 2025, set a specific timeline for phasing out its use of coal and introduce a moratorium on its financing of coal development overseas to give the world a chance of staying within 1.5C.

    Underlining the importance of China, the US, UK and EU are all engaged in frantic diplomacy with the country’s leaders. Joe Biden’s special envoy on the climate, John Kerry, visited Tianjin this month and Alok Sharma, the UK minister who will preside over Cop26, followed last week.

    The Guardian understands these meetings were positive, though they produced no new concrete measures from China….”

    Meanwhile, in a parallel universe:

    “…Bob Ward, policy director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, said finance was key. “China takes seriously its role in supporting other developing countries. It is likely waiting for an indication that the rich countries will honour their commitment to mobilise $100bn a year for developing countries from public and private sources.”…”

    Like

  19. “Most plans for new coal plants scrapped since Paris agreement
    Report by climate groups found more than three-quarters of projects were discarded after the deal was signed”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/sep/14/most-plans-for-new-coal-plants-scrapped-since-paris-agreement

    “The report found that if China, which is responsible for more than half of the world’s coal plant plans, opted to scrap the projects, alongside India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Turkey and Bangladesh, then the number of coal power plants in the pipeline would shrink by almost 90%.”

    But they won’t, will they?

    Like

  20. Why does this surprise anybody?

    “Governments falling woefully short of Paris climate pledges, study finds
    As Cop26 meeting approaches, analysis shows world is on track for 3C temperature increase if present trends continue”

    https://www.theguardian.com/science/2021/sep/15/governments-falling-short-paris-climate-pledges-study

    “Every one of the world’s leading economies, including all the countries that make up the G20, is failing to meet commitments made in the landmark Paris agreement in order to stave off climate catastrophe, a damning new analysis has found.

    Less than two months before crucial United Nations climate talks take place in Scotland, none of the largest greenhouse gas emitting countries have made sufficient plans to lower pollution to meet what they agreed to in the 2015 Paris climate accord.

    This means the world is barreling towards calamitous climate impacts.

    Under the Paris deal, nations vowed to prevent the world’s average temperature rising 1.5C above pre-industrial times in order to avoid disastrous heatwaves, flooding, storms, drought and other consequences that are already starting to unfold. But the new analysis, by Climate Action Tracker, finds almost every country is falling woefully short of that commitment.

    Climate pledges made by Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia are “critically insufficient”, the analysis found, while Australia, Brazil, Canada, China and India are among those deemed “highly insufficient”.

    The US, the European Union bloc, Germany and Japan are ranked as “insufficient”, while the UK, the host of the upcoming climate summit, is “almost sufficient”.

    Of the 36 countries, plus the EU, ranked by the Climate Action Tracker only the Gambia has made commitments in line with the 1.5C Paris goal. Combined, these countries make up 80% of global emissions.”

    Only the Gambia, eh? That’s not so impressive. Here are the notes I made on Gambia’s INDC at the time:

    “According to preliminary inventory data for 2010 under the Third National Communication (being developed), the Gambia represented below 0.01% of the global emission and as such its contribution to climate change has always been marginal. At first sight it seems rather unfair to ask a country like The Gambia to contribute to the global emission reduction efforts, which implies that resources to be allocated to poverty reduction and development priorities will be arbitrated to take into account the requirements of the implementation of the Paris Agreement.”

    Indeed – so why bother? “…the Gambia would like to provide a moral voice for all responsible and capable countries to undertake actions that are proportionate for their responsibilities and capabilities not only for themselves, but for the whole global community.”

    Maybe…but maybe this also has something to do with it:

    “Financial support from all sources will be needed for the implementation of this INDC. An assessment of the implementation options is needed between 2016 and 2018. Potential sources will include, the National Budget and proposed National Climate Fund, the financial mechanism of the Convention, bilateral and multilateral sources, other non-Convention financial and investments sources, as well as international and domestic private finance sources.”

    Still, “Treatment of the Land Use Land Use-Change and Forestry (LULUCF) emissions category has not been considered in the INDC. Excluding LULUCF and for Low Emissions Scenario, emissions will be reduced by about 44.4% in 2025 and 45.4% in 2030.” NB That’s against a Business as Usual scenario.

    Still, these are among the better INDCs in my opinion, for what it’s worth. They seem to be sincere, and if implemented in full, might actually show a marginal reduction in GHG emissions. The problems are the cost, to be paid for by the international community, and the fact their omissions represent such a small proportion of the world’s total that this won’t make any significant difference to anything.

    Like

  21. “Climate experts fear Aukus will dash hopes of China emissions deal
    Timing of defence deal, ahead of Cop26 summit where China will be key player, dismays campaigners”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/sep/16/aukus-pact-dash-hopes-china-emissions-deal-cop26-climate

    “The timing of the new defence deal between the US, UK and Australia has dismayed climate experts, who fear it could have a negative effect on hopes of a deal with China on greenhouse gas emissions ahead of vital UN climate talks….

    …Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, raised the issue of the impact on Cop26 in the House of Commons. He said: “We must work with them [China] on the defining global issues of the day like climate change and pandemic preparedness. Without diplomatic strategy and skill, those goals will come into conflict. So what plan does the prime minister have to ensure that this new arrangement increases rather than decreases our ability to influence China? With Cop26 around the corner, the UK’s approach to China matters.”…”

    I think it’s fair to say that climate experts, campaigners, and Sir Keir are in Cloud Cuckoo Land if they think that cosying up to China will result in China playing ball at COP 26. All the evidence to date points in the other direction. What on earth has happened to make them think differently.? Nothing, of course. IMO, they are utterly delusional.

    Like

  22. “Climate change: UN warning over nations’ climate plans”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-58600723

    “Despite all the promises to take action, the world is still on course to heat up to dangerous levels.

    That’s the latest blunt assessment of the United Nations.

    Its experts have studied the climate plans of more than 100 countries and concluded that we’re heading in the wrong direction….

    …Under the rules of the Paris Agreement on climate change, countries are meant to update their carbon reduction plans every five years.

    But the UN says that of 191 countries taking part in the agreement, only 113 have so far come up with improved pledges….

    …In another analysis, the World Resources Institute and Climate Analytics highlight how China, India, Saudi Arabia and Turkey – together responsible for 33% of greenhouse gases – have yet to submit updated plans.

    It says that Australia and Indonesia have the same carbon reduction targets they did back in 2015 – while the Paris Agreement is meant to involve a “ratchet mechanism” of progressively deeper cuts.

    And the study finds that Brazil, Mexico and Russia all expect their emissions to grow rather than to shrink….”.

    Like

  23. “Climate change: Should green campaigners put more pressure on China to slash emissions?
    By Roger Harrabin
    BBC environment analyst”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-58584976

    “China will be urged at the UN next week to speed up the timetable for curbing its planet-heating carbon emissions.

    It will be nudged by the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who’s experiencing climate pressure himself from climate activists blocking motorways.

    But is the UK, with its world-leading emissions targets, the right target for demonstrators?

    China produces 28% of global emissions and the UK just 1%. So shouldn’t they be picketing the Chinese embassy instead of the M25 motorway?”

    What’s the matter, Rog? Been stuck in a traffic jam, have we?

    “But when I initially asked the radical green group Extinction Rebellion (XR) if they had considered demonstrating against China, it triggered a furious response.

    An XR member tweeted accusing me of perpetuating anti-Chinese racist stereotypes and failing to report climate change properly.

    Why so vitriolic?

    Well, there are two reasons. The first is practical: climate campaigning groups like Greenpeace and WWF have offices in Beijing and if they rattle China too hard, they could be swiftly closed down.

    The second reason touches a sore spot on the geopolitical history of climate change. For the purposes of climate negotiations, China has been regarded as a developing country because major industrialisation occurred from the mid-20th Century, after some other countries.

    Picketing the Chinese embassy would ostensibly transfer blame for the current crisis on to Beijing – while easing pressure for carbon cuts in wealthy nations such as the UK.”

    Reality bites. The truth will out.

    Like

  24. “Climate pledges tough to secure before COP26 summit, PM warns”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-58620566

    “There is a “six out of 10” chance of getting other countries to sign up to financial and environmental targets ahead of November’s key COP26 climate change conference, the UK PM has said.

    Boris Johnson is in the US for a UN meeting where he will urge leaders to take “concrete action” on the issue.

    But he said it would be “tough” to persuade allies to meet their promise to give $100bn a year to developing nations to cut carbon emissions….

    …Downing Street has said developed countries have “collectively failed” on their $100bn (£73bn) target, with OECD figures last week showing that only $79.6bn in climate finance was mobilised in 2019 ….

    …COP26 president Alok Sharma, who is with the PM, earlier revealed that Chinese President Xi Jinping has not yet committed to attending the conference.”

    Meanwhile, as part of the rush to reduce GHG emissions, our brilliant “prime minister is likely to push for a restoration of UK-US travel, with Mr Biden’s administration having maintained a ban despite travel restrictions being eased elsewhere.”

    Like

  25. Sounds promising for climate worriers?

    “China pledges to stop building new coal energy plants abroad”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-58647481

    “China will not build new coal-fire projects abroad, a move that could be pivotal in tackling global emissions.

    President Xi Jinping made the announcement in his address at the United Nations General Assembly.

    China has been funding coal projects in countries like Indonesia and Vietnam under a massive infrastructure project known as the Belt and Road initiative.

    But it has been under pressure to end the financing, as the world tries to meet Paris climate agreement targets.

    “China will step up support for other developing countries in developing green and low-carbon energy, and will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad,” Mr Xi said in a video recording at the annual summit.

    No further details were provided, but the move could limit the expansion of coal plants in many developing countries under China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

    The BRI has seen China fund trains, roads, ports and coal plants in numerous countries, many of them developing nations. For the first time in several years however, it did not fund any coal projects in the first half of 2021.

    China is also the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter and is heavily reliant on coal for domestic energy needs.”

    A number of comments. Is it “a pledge”? It’s a statement of intent. No date is mentioned. It’s not in any way binding. It’s always easy to say that it was sincerely meant at the time, but circumstances have now changed, so plans have to change too.

    It says China “will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad.” What counts as new? Is one that’s already planned “new” or not? Lots of wriggle room there.

    Maybe it’s dawned on China that they need to keep the coal for themselves?

    Not funding any coal projects abroad during the first half of 2021 is hardly a sign of future intentions – they were still struggling more than just a little bit with covid 19 at the time.

    Like

  26. The Guardian has the “China pledge” story too (of course), but ends with a surprisingly refreshing dose of realism:

    “‘Big line in the sand’: China promises no new coal-fired power projects abroad
    Experts welcome Xi Jinping’s announcement at UN as hugely influential, but concerns remain over domestic emissions”

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/sep/22/china-climate-no-new-coal-fired-power-projects-abroad-xi-jinping

    “Woodroofe said: “The key thing to watch now is not just what China does at home, but also how much weight this announcement will hold.

    “Will Beijing be able to rein in finance provided by all Chinese banks? What about the huge Chinese labour force involved in the construction of these coal plants?”

    Meeting its goal of net zero emissions at home by 2060 would also require significant action, with China needing to shut down nearly 600 of its coal-fired power plants in the next decade and replacing them with renewable electricity generation, according to a report by analysis company TransitionZero in April this year.

    Unless China reduces its own emissions sharply in the next 10 years, the world stands little chance of limiting global heating to 1.5C.”

    Like

  27. “China’s pledge to kick the coal habit comes at a critical moment for the planet
    Sam Geall
    The devil will be in the details, but ending investments in overseas coal shows Beijing takes the climate crisis seriously”

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/sep/24/china-pledge-coal-beijing-climate-crisis

    Maybe, maybe not – my money is on not. However, despite the optimistic tone of the article, I do give full credit for highlighting many of the doubts:

    “…The pledge speaks to a major fault line in the pre-Cop26 debates. China’s belt and road initiative – the grand plan to enhance trade and connectivity across much of the developing world, creating foreign markets for Chinese industrial overcapacity – was heavily weighted towards high-carbon infrastructure. On the presidential campaign trail last year, Joe Biden made sure to point this out. “China … and their belt and road proposal,” he said, “they’re taking the dirtiest coal in the world mostly out of Mongolia and spreading it all around the world.”

    So, what does Xi’s statement mean? The announcement fell on the first anniversary of China’s pledge to make the economy climate neutral by 2060, either by eliminating greenhouse gas emissions entirely or balancing them with carbon removal. He also announced it unilaterally, at the UN general assembly, and thus tied it irrevocably to his personal political legacy. But questions remain: how will this coal phase-out be implemented? What is the fate of coal power projects that are already planned or under construction? What is the scope of the word “build”? Does it include an end to international financing for coal, too? What about Chinese labour or engineering on a domestic project? Does it cover private companies, or only state-owned enterprises and banks?…

    …Progress hasn’t been straightforward: China’s system isn’t smoothly technocratic, and there is a push and pull between core and periphery, incumbent and challenger industries. Things could be moving faster – particularly when it comes to phasing out China’s domestic coal fleet. China’s 14th Five Year Plan, for 2021-2025, will reduce the carbon and energy emitted per unit of economic output, and increase the share of renewables in its energy mix, but it does not commit the country to a carbon emissions or coal usage cap, as domestic environmentalists had hoped for. Its 2030 carbon “peak year” is relatively easy to achieve, and while China is known to “under-promise and over-deliver” on climate goals, the lack of ambition in domestic decarbonisation in the near term is a signal that the country is hedging things, in part due to an uncertain economic environment….”

    Like

  28. “Cop26 climate talks will not fulfil aims of Paris agreement, key players warn
    Major figures privately admit summit will fail to result in pledges that could limit global heating to 1.5C”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/sep/27/cop26-climate-talks-will-not-fulfil-aims-of-paris-agreement-key-players-warn

    “Vital United Nations climate talks, billed as one of the last chances to stave off climate breakdown, will not produce the breakthrough needed to fulfil the aspiration of the Paris agreement, key players in the talks have conceded.

    The UN, the UK hosts and other major figures involved in the talks have privately admitted that the original aim of the Cop26 summit will be missed, as the pledges on greenhouse gas emissions cuts from major economies will fall short of the halving of global emissions this decade needed to limit global heating to 1.5C.

    Senior observers of the two-week summit due to take place in Glasgow this November with 30,000 attenders, said campaigners and some countries would be disappointed that the hoped-for outcome will fall short.

    However, the UN, UK and US insisted that the broader goal of the conference – that of “keeping 1.5C alive” – was still in sight, and that world leaders meeting in Glasgow could still set a pathway for the future that would avoid the worst ravages of climate chaos….”.

    Two observations:

    1. The only surprise is that anyone should be surprised.

    2. “…the worst ravages of climate chaos…”. Dearie me. Not exactly objective journalism, is it? “Climate crisis” obviously doesn’t hack it any more at the Guardian now that our glorious leaders are routinely use the phrase. The Guardian has to keep pushing the language to more and more extremes. I’m not sure they have anywhere left to go after the use of that phrase, however.

    Like

  29. “‘Blah, blah, blah’: Greta Thunberg lambasts leaders over climate crisis
    Exclusive: Activist says there are many fine words but the science does not lie – CO2 emissions are still rising”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/sep/28/blah-greta-thunberg-leaders-climate-crisis-co2-emissions

    “Greta Thunberg has excoriated global leaders over their promises to address the climate emergency, dismissing them as “blah, blah, blah”.

    She quoted statements by Boris Johnson: “This is not some expensive, politically correct, green act of bunny hugging”, and Narendra Modi: “Fighting climate change calls for innovation, cooperation and willpower” but said the science did not lie.

    Carbon emissions are on track to rise by 16% by 2030, according to the UN, rather than fall by half, which is the cut needed to keep global heating under the internationally agreed limit of 1.5C.

    “Build back better. Blah, blah, blah. Green economy. Blah blah blah. Net zero by 2050. Blah, blah, blah,” she said in a speech to the Youth4Climate summit in Milan, Italy, on Tuesday. “This is all we hear from our so-called leaders. Words that sound great but so far have not led to action. Our hopes and ambitions drown in their empty promises.”

    The Cop26 climate summit starts in Glasgow, UK, on 31 October and all the big-polluting countries must deliver tougher pledges to cut emissions to keep the goal of 1.5C within reach….

    …The youth summit will consist of working groups of young people debating how to increase their participation in decision-making, their role in helping to transform energy use, nature conservation and climate adaptation, and how education can create a climate-conscious society. It builds on a youth climate summit held at the UN headquarters in New York in 2019.

    Thunberg said: “They invite cherry-picked young people to meetings like this to pretend that they listen to us. But they clearly don’t listen to us. Our emissions are still rising. The science doesn’t lie….”.

    Welcome, Greta, to adulthood. The people in charge will always do what they want. Consultation exercises are always a sham, unless they can manipulate the outcome of the consultation to come up with the answer they want. Now that you’re 18, you can start to get used to what the rest of us have put up with for decades.

    Like

  30. “China’s struggle to move away from coal”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-asia-51152951

    “China is a country caught in the middle of a global struggle: to develop but also be green.

    It currently uses about as much coal as the rest of the world put together but it’s also a world leader in wind and solar production. According to the International Energy Agency, between 2019 and 2024 China will account for 40% of the global expansion in renewable energy.

    However, as its economy slows down it is now re-opening some coal mines and the country’s Premier Li Keqiang has urged energy officials to promote coal-fired power. So is China addicted to coal?”

    Personally I doubt that China is involved in such a struggle. I think they’re quite happy to burn fossil fuels while allowing the developed world to destroy its economic base by moving to dependence on “renewables”

    Like

  31. I think this version of the coal story might be accessible to readers, as they allow you a single free article:

    “China’s Coal Miners Told to Produce Even If They’re Over Quotas”

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-10-01/china-s-coal-miners-told-to-produce-even-if-they-re-over-quotas

    “China’s leadership has told the country’s state-owned miners to produce coal at full capacity for the rest of the year even if they exceed annual quota limits as they struggle with the deepening power crisis.

    The directive, along with other measures to secure energy supplies for this winter at all costs, was emphasized during emergency meetings this week in Beijing, according to people familiar with the matter. Boosting domestic thermal coal production is critical, said the people, asking not to be named as the discussions aren’t public.

    The government has been holding a series of meetings with company executives this week in a sign of how serious the situation in China has become. Many regions have had to curtail the supply of electricity to the industrial sector, while some residential areas have lost power due to the energy crisis that’s gripped the world’s second-biggest economy….

    …The nation’s top miner, China Energy Investment Corp., will produce 25% of its annual production capacity in the fourth quarter, it said on its official WeChat account late Thursday. “We will strive to achieve full production and increase supply,” said the company, whose coal output was 530 million tons in 2020.

    Another state-owned miner, State Power Investment Corp., said on its WeChat account that it will deliver no less than 50% of its fourth-quarter output from operations in eastern Inner Mongolia to northeastern China, where some homes lost power last weekend. It will also sell 25% of its annual term-sales volumes to buyers nationwide this quarter, it said….”.

    Like

  32. “Historical climate emissions reveal responsibility of big polluting nations
    Six of top 10, including China and Russia, yet to show ambition on emissions cuts before Cop26”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/oct/05/historical-climate-emissions-big-polluting-nations

    “Analysis of the total carbon dioxide emissions of countries since 1850 has revealed the nations with the greatest historical responsibility for the climate emergency. But six of the top 10 have yet to make ambitious new pledges to cut their emissions before the crucial UN Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow in November.

    The six include China, Russia and Brazil, which come only behind the US as the biggest cumulative polluters. The UK is eighth and Canada is 10th.”

    The UK is in 8th place regarding cumulative historic C)2 emissions (and rapidly slipping down the rankings). We are less and less relevant, and countries like China and India are more and more relevant. So why do climate activists keep beating the UK up while keeping quiet about China, Russia, Brazil, India, et al? Surely, if they believe we face an existential crisis, they would move on to the vital issues rather than concentrating on targeting nasty old Britain? But then, maybe they do’t believe we face an existential crisis after all. Actions do speak louder than words.

    Like

  33. “Climate change: Tracking China’s steel addiction in one city”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-58798595

    “Wuzhou, in southern China, is a living example of the country’s dependence on its “build, build, build” mantra to boost development. It was one of many contributors to China’s record output of a staggering one billion tonnes of steel last year.

    But increasingly, cities like this are having to grapple with China’s climate change goals and the big question: will it cut emissions quickly enough?

    “No, it (the development) won’t stop.”…”.

    Like

  34. “Cement makers across world pledge large cut in emissions by 2030
    Industry responsible for about 8% of CO2 emissions commits to reaching net zero by 2050 without offsetting”

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/oct/12/cement-makers-across-world-pledge-large-cut-in-emissions-by-2030-co2-net-zero-2050

    “Cement makers around the world have pledged to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by up to a quarter this decade and reach net zero by 2050, in a move they said would make a major difference to the prospects for the Cop26 climate summit.

    The industry is responsible for about 7%-8% of global carbon dioxide emissions, the equivalent of more than any individual country except China and the US. Cutting emissions from cement production is difficult, because the chemical processes used to make it and concrete release CO2.”

    There’s just one problem – the dragon in the room:

    “The Global Cement and Concrete Association (GCCA), which represents 40 of the world’s biggest producers and about 80% of the industry outside China, made the pledge on Tuesday. Several major Chinese cement and concrete companies, which account for about 20% of China’s market, have also joined.”

    Well, actually there may be more than one problem. E.g.:

    “The cuts in emissions this decade would be made using existing technologies, but the industry’s roadmap for 2030 to 2050 would require about one-third of the reductions to come from the use of carbon capture and storage technology, which is not yet in widespread commercial use.”

    But still, not having China on board is a pretty big problem – insuperable, really.

    Like

  35. “China’s plan to build more coal-fired plants deals blow to UK’s Cop26 ambitions
    Renewed commitment to coal could scupper Britain’s aim to secure global phase-out pact at climate summit”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/oct/12/china-coal-fired-plants-uk-cop26-climate-summit-global-phase-out

    “China plans to build more coal-fired power plants and has hinted that it will rethink its timetable to slash emissions, in a significant blow to the UK’s ambitions for securing a global agreement on phasing out coal at the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow.

    In a statement after a meeting of Beijing’s National Energy Commission, the Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, stressed the importance of regular energy supply, after swathes of the country were plunged into darkness by rolling blackouts that hit factories and homes.

    While China has published plans to reach peak carbon emissions by 2030, the statement hinted that the energy crisis had led the Communist party to rethink the timing of this ambition, with a new “phased timetable and roadmap for peaking carbon emissions”.

    China has previously set out plans to be carbon neutral by 2060, with emissions peaking by 2030, a goal analysts say would involve shutting 600 coal-fired power plants. President Xi Jinping has also pledged to stop building coal plants abroad.

    “Energy security should be the premise on which a modern energy system is built and and the capacity for energy self-supply should be enhanced,” the statement said.

    “Given the predominant place of coal in the country’s energy and resource endowment, it is important to optimise the layout for the coal production capacity, build advanced coal-fired power plants as appropriate in line with development needs, and continue to phase out outdated coal plants in an orderly fashion. Domestic oil and gas exploration will be intensified.”

    Beijing’s ambitions for carbon dioxide output are seen as critical in the push to achieve global net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and fulfil the 2015 Paris agreement to limit average temperature rises to 1.5C. But Li said Beijing wanted to gather new evidence on when its peak emissions would be reached.

    The statement said he had commissioned “in-depth studies and calculations in light of the recent handling of electricity and coal supply strains, to put forward a phased timetable and roadmap for peaking carbon emissions”.

    Li’s rhetoric follows reports that China has ordered its two top coal-producing regions, Shanxi and Inner Mongolia, to combat the country’s power supply crisis.

    Beijing’s renewed embrace of coal – apparently at odds with Xi’s state climate ambitions – are likely to cause alarm in the run-up to Cop26.”

    I love that last sentence. Beijing’s embrace of coal – apparently at odds with Xi’s stated climate ambitions. Apparently? Is the Guardian waking up? Are the scales falling from its eyes? Some of us have been pointing this out for years.

    Like

  36. Quelle surprise:

    “Climate change: Carbon emissions from rich countries rose rapidly in 2021”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-58897805

    “Carbon emissions are rebounding strongly and are rising across the world’s 20 richest nations, according to a new study.

    The Climate Transparency Report says that CO2 will go up by 4% across the G20 group this year, having dropped 6% in 2020 due to the pandemic.

    China, India and Argentina are set to exceed their 2019 emissions levels.

    The authors say that the continued use of fossil fuels is undermining efforts to rein in temperatures.”

    Link to the Climate Transparency Report here:

    https://app.box.com/s/ok5g7b6971mhkq20kkm1mkz7qixmi6jk

    It’s rather strange when you get there. I haven’t clicked on any of the folders. I think this is rather important:

    “But this year’s rebound is being powered by fossil fuel, especially coal.

    According to the report, compiled by 16 research organisations and environmental campaign groups, coal use across the G20 is projected to rise by 5% this year.

    This is mainly due to China who are responsible for around 60% of the rise, but increases in coal are also taking place in the US and India.

    Coal use in China has surged with the country experiencing increased demand for energy as the global economy has recovered.

    Coal prices are up nearly 200% from a year ago.

    This in turn has seen power cuts as it became uneconomical for coal-fired electricity plants generate electricity in recent months.

    With the Chinese government announcing a change in policy this week to allow these power plants to charge market rates for their energy, the expectation is that this will spur even more coal use this year.”

    Like

  37. I should have added this:

    “All members of the group have agreed to put new 2030 carbon plans on the table before the Glasgow conference.”

    However, China, India, Australia and Saudi Arabia have not yet done so.”

    Like

  38. Then there’s this:

    “Why China’s climate policy matters to us all”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-57483492

    “China’s carbon emissions are vast and growing, dwarfing those of other countries.

    Experts agree that without big reductions in China’s emissions, the world cannot win the fight against climate change.

    China’s President Xi Jinping has said his country will aim for its emissions to reach their highest point before 2030 and for carbon neutrality to be achieved by 2060.

    But he has not said how China will achieve this extremely ambitious goal.

    While all countries face problems getting their emissions down, China is facing the biggest challenge.

    Per person, China’s emissions are about half those of the US, but its huge 1.4 billion population and explosive economic growth have pushed it way ahead of any other country in its overall emissions.”

    This is true (the per capita figure in China being 50% that of the USA), but it omits the fact that it is significant and rising – for instance China’s per capita emissions are now 50% higher than in the UK.

    “China became the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide in 2006 and is now responsible for more than a quarter of the world’s overall greenhouse gas emissions.

    It is expected to come under intense scrutiny at the COP26 global climate summit in November over its commitments to reduce these.

    Along with all the other signatories to the Paris Agreement in 2015, China agreed to make changes to try to keep global warming at 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, and “well below” 2C.

    China strengthened its commitments in 2020, but Climate Action Tracker, an international group of scientists and policy experts say its current actions to meet that goal are “highly insufficient”.”

    And:
    “President Xi says China will “phase down” coal use from 2026 – and will not build new coal-fired projects abroad – but some governments and campaigners say the plans are not going far enough.

    Researchers at Tsinghua University in Beijing say China will need to stop using coal entirely for generating electricity by 2050, to be replaced by nuclear and renewable energy production.

    And far from shutting down coal-fired power stations, China is currently building new ones at more than 60 locations across the country, with many sites having more than one plant.”

    Like

  39. “China’s coal plans could derail Cop26 climate ambitions, says Labour
    Ed Miliband joins climate experts in expressing deep concern over Beijing’s plans to step up coal output”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/oct/13/china-coal-plans-could-derail-cop26-climate-ambitions-uk-labour

    “China’s “deeply concerning” plan to burn more coal threatens to derail the UK’s efforts to coordinate tougher global commitments to reduce carbon emissions at next month’s Cop26 summit in Glasgow, according to climate experts and Labour.

    Beijing has ordered its major coal-producing regions to step up output, after large parts of the country were hit by rolling blackouts affecting factories and homes.

    While China has committed to hitting peak CO2 emissions by 2030, comments by the premier, Li Keqiang, indicated that the pledge could take a back seat due to the immediate need to increase power supply.”

    Well, it’s good to see that he realises China’s actions are a big problem to the COP process and its ambitions. The problem is that he hasn’t understood that it renders futile the sacrifices and costs he demands of the UK population.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. “COP26: China’s Xi Jinping unlikely to attend, UK PM told”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-58929296

    “UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been warned by officials that China’s President Xi Jinping is unlikely to attend the COP26 climate summit in November.

    UK government sources confirmed a report in The Times that Mr Johnson had been advised the Chinese leader was not expected to come.”

    Is anyone surprised? Oh yes, some “useful idiots” who remain optimistic:

    “Government sources said Chinese officials had not been definitive about the President’s travel plans and they accepted it was possible Xi could change his mind and come at the last minute to surprise the summit.

    “They want to be seen as green leaders so I wouldn’t rule it out,” one Whitehall source said.

    Diplomats said China often announced President Xi’s travel plans at the last minute. One said: “We never give up hope. And we are continuing to make the case for his personal attendance.”…”.

    Like

  41. “Climate change: Fossil fuel production set to soar over next decade”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-58971131

    “Plans by governments to extract fossil fuels up to 2030 are incompatible with keeping global temperatures to safe levels, says the UN.

    The UNEP production gap report says countries will drill or mine more than double the levels needed to keep the 1.5C threshold alive.

    Oil and gas recovery is set to rise sharply with only a modest decrease in coal.

    There has been little change since the first report was published in 2019.

    With the COP26 climate conference just over a week away, there is already a huge focus on the carbon-cutting ambitions of the biggest emitters.

    But despite the flurry of net zero emission goals and the increased pledges of many countries, some of the biggest oil, gas and coal producers have not set out plans for the rapid reductions in fossil fuels that scientists say are necessary to limit temperatures in coming years….

    …But instead of curbing carbon, many of the biggest emitting countries are also planning to significantly increase their production of fossil fuels, according to the UN….

    …According to the study, coal production will drop but gas will increase the most over the next 20 years, to levels that are simply incompatible with the Paris agreement….”

    Like

  42. “China, India and Brazil must set out their plans to cut emissions
    The Secret Negotiator
    An insider says keeping temperatures within 1.5C above pre-industrial levels rests with big developing countries in G20”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/oct/23/china-india-and-brazil-must-set-out-their-plans-to-cut-emissions

    “…We are seeing some bad signs. China looking at burning more coal because of high energy prices is terrible.

    China and many countries talk about historic responsibility for emissions. Developed countries, such as the US, the UK and other European countries, were burning fossil fuels at high levels for a long time, so most of the carbon that was in the atmosphere in 1992, when the UN framework convention on climate change was signed, came from them.

    But today China produces about a quarter of global emissions, so it has a historic responsibility.

    The interests of small developing countries and large developing countries are very different: development versus existence. For the larger developing economies, development is more important than the climate. But for us this is about survival. At 1.5C, it will be difficult but we can adapt. Above 1.5C, we cannot and the impacts will be terrible.

    Our emissions are very small in global terms. Even if all of we small countries went to zero emissions immediately, that would not have any impact on 1.5C. Even if the big developed countries cut their emissions faster, that would still not take us to 1.5C.

    Every country is supposed to come to Cop26 with nationally determined contributions (NDCs). But what we have seen from countries is not enough. The present NDCs are not targeting 1.5C. It’s very important that every decision at Glasgow is aligned with 1.5C.

    Some G20 parties have made the necessary adjustments and they are in line with 1.5C. The G20 is responsible for about 80% of global emissions, but the majority of large developing countries that are members of the G20 have not submitted NDCs that are aligned with 1.5C and many have not submitted NDCs at all.

    We need the big developing countries that are members of the G20 to come forward now. We have just one week to Cop26, and the G20 leaders are preparing to meet next weekend. China, India and Brazil need to step up to the plate urgently.”

    A lot of home truths in there, though this is simply risible:

    ” But for us this is about survival. At 1.5C, it will be difficult but we can adapt. Above 1.5C, we cannot and the impacts will be terrible.”

    Liked by 1 person

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