COP21 deal hailed but big gap must be bridged for delivery

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Global leaders were united in proclaiming the success of the COP21 talks in Paris on Friday but a gap remains between what has been targeted and the collective promises made by individual countries in achieving the aim.

The UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) saw 200 countries agree a deal to cap global warming at “well below” two degrees above pre-industrial levels, with a reference to a lower, long-term 1.5 degree target in the text.
UN Climate Change Conference Paris world leaders
Although being perceived as signalling the end for fossil fuels, some segments of the coal-fired power sector, most notably Euracoal, said the agreement is based on lies, and maintains it is not founded on a sound scientific footing.

Despite the unprecedented ambition in seeking that 1.5 degree target, countries’ Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) will only cap global warming at 2.7 degrees, according to analysis by Climate Action Tracker, leaving a gap to bridge.

The European Union said in statement, “The sum total of the 185 INDCs […] are not yet enough to keep the world below 2°C by the end of the century. However, the agreement traces the way to achieving this target.”

Under the terms of the deal, countries will submit new INDCs every five years, and they cannot be less ambitious then their previous climate plan. This will be accompanied by a reporting and transparency system.

The deal overcame stark divisions between developing and developed countries. Climate finance to pay for developing countries to shift to low-carbon energy, and compensation for the effects of climate change, which was historically caused by developed nations, was incorporated.

Fossil fuels are portrayed by the UN as public enemy number one.  We are witnessing a power bid by people who see the democratic process as part of the problem and have worked out ways to bypass it.  Governments use the influence of NGOs – many of whom are funded by governments – to create the illusion of progress.  The UN wants to destroy the fuels that have enabled great progress over the last 250 years:  the cycle of uncertainty that the UNFCCC now proposes will increase the cost of project financing in the fossil fuel sector.

Unsurprising Euracoal (European Association for Coal and Lignite) did not wholeheartedly embrace what they referred to as a ‘lie’ forced through by ‘the climate bandwagon.’ Brian Ricketts, secretary general of the body told Power Engineering International, “The Paris Agreement is not a treaty; it is not a protocol;  it is not even a legally binding agreement – the onus on developed nations to reduce their absolute emissions was removed at the very last moment.”

Ricketts said that while the European Commission will hail the agreement as a victory, it might dawn on EU citizens that it is not a good deal for them.

The EU and the EU alone, as a “regional economic integration organization”, “shall” meet the emission reduction targets set out in 28 “nationally determined contributions” (Article 4.18).  So, whereas all other developed nations “should” continue to reduce GHG emissions and developing nations “should” continue to enhance their mitigation efforts, the EU has agreed that it “shall” adopt emission reduction targets.  In English, we would call this a momentous “stitch-up”.

Euracoal, in a statement, pointed to data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) expects renewable energy sources to account for 18 per cent of total global energy supply by 2040 in its relatively optimistic new policies scenario. They criticised the summit’s leadership for going along with an IPCC scenario (one of 164) which projected a 77 per cent share for renewables in 2050.

“The selected scenario was prepared by Sven Teske of Greenpeace. Moreover, while the IEA forecasts energy demand growth in the future of 1.0 per cent p.a., the Greenpeace scenario selected by the UN has no growth, in fact slightly lower global energy consumption in 2050 than in 2007, and an inexplicably large contribution from wind and solar,” Ricketts said.

“The world is being sold a lie, yet most people seem to accept the lie, even if they do not believe it.  The UN has successfully brainwashed most of the world’s population such that scientific evidence, rational analysis, enlightened thinking and common sense no longer matter.  Finding a common enemy that brings humanity together around a negotiating table is certainly better than fighting wars, but building that common enemy on a lie will end in tears.”

“The climate bandwagon is rolling and gathering speed such that the fossil fuel industry will spend the coming years and decades in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.  We will be hated and vilified, in the same way that slave traders were once hated and vilified.  This is not a sustainable position and the industry should no longer acquiesce.”

Euracoal's position is clearly stated on its website, stating 'A more realistic EU climate policy can deliver considerable emission reductions at a lower cost, allow economic growth and provide security of energy supply.'

On the contrary, EURELECTRIC welcomed the agreement as part of its overall support for decarbonisation. The body, which represents the European electricity sector had called, through a position paper, for the Conference to deliver an agreement for an ambitious and rules based climate change regime, which paves the way for a stable and predictable framework for policy and action.

“We are happy to see that the Paris Agreement is fully in line with what we envisioned as a successful outcome of these negotiations”, said Hans ten Berge. “In particular, we strongly welcome the inclusion of positive provisions recognising the important role of markets in achieving the global low carbon transition. We believe that market based mechanisms, such as carbon markets, are the most effective tool for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and stimulating investments in low carbon technologies and energy efficiency.”

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