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The Paris Climate Agreement: Hope or Hype?


The Paris Climate Agreement: Hope or Hype?

Brian Tokar

It has become a predictable pattern at the annual UN climate conferences for participants to describe the outcome in widely divergent ways. This was first apparent after the high-profile Copenhagen conference in 2009, when a four-page non-agreement was praised by diplomats, but denounced by well-known critics as a “sham,” a “farce,” and a mere face-saver. UN insiders proclaimed the divisive 2013 Warsaw climate conference a success, even though global South delegates and most civil society observers had staged an angry walk-out a day prior to its scheduled conclusion.


Overall, when the possibility of positive feedbacks such a thawing permafrost and methane hydrates are included I think the agreement leaves us with a good likelihood of passing 4C before the end of this century.


The art of disinformation (which is to say those TRAINED in it) is to wed truthful statements into falsehoods.

Suddenly C.D. is full of voices that focus ONLY on reducing meat intake. I don't eat meat, but that isn't the point.

This argument focalizes the problem of climate chaos into ONE thing, and one thing alone. It exaggerates the impact of meat eating while downplaying things like militarism and the vast fossil fuel imprint presented by that entity, and it also downplays Monsanto and the corporate takeover of Nature.

What also gives you away is your need to demonize Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein and Mr. Sanders.

Your post discredits any attempts to get OFF fossil fuels, demonizes key figures working to save this planet's ecosystems, and then anchors itself on the moral argument of not eating meat.

Lots of twists in your narrative. Like I said, disinformation is a learned art.


Can you provide actual evidence that governments pay 350.org and Naomi Klein to support a bill? A statement like that either should be backed up with documentation or withdrawn.


Let me defend Shazaam. I don't think Shazaam argues that reduced meat consumption is the one and only cause of climate change. Shazaam and I are merely frustrated when lengthy articles on the subject of climate change ignore the industry - the animal slaughter industry - that contributes more greenhouse gases than any other industry. We criticize Big Green for that incredibly obvious oversight, but such criticism is well-deserved; that does not demonize those who refuse to say what is driving global warming. Then we get accused of being egotists who are hi-jacking the comments! Or of being off-topic! Imagine that! Pointing out that an author has omitted important, critical info is off-topic!


This author lays it out pretty well. We stand little chance of averting the worst as yet. It seems pretty obvious that (as many are expecting) based on previous conferences that corporations and governments/ruling elites are not yet believing that climate change will be as bad as it will be. Even when finally some catastrophe triggers a tipping point where they do believe climate change will be terrible and are then more willing to do something serious about it... they will by definition attempt to get away with doing as little as possible.

So the world will continue to wait for meaningful action by those in power to wake to the danger ahead. Maybe we should watch how the Philippines government reacts to continued mega cyclones every year. If they don't change business as usual practices... that'd be bad sign.

My fear is that our ruling powers that be are in fact unable to alter their way of doing things even when they want to (except as this conference shows they don't truly want to as yet).

Will they be able to really change? It is a question that remains to be answered. Either governments go to war against climate change and force corporations to switch from fossil fuel energy or we become toast!

As yet governments say corporations will invest in the future (alternative energy) meanwhile corporations hold on to the past (fossil fuels) like glue. I feel like the world will change only when Saudi Arabia becomes an advocate for solar power. My guess is that might take a while for that to happen.

Governments must redirect civilization off fossil fuels. It is in fact our only hope and our only solution. The technology exists to accomplish that goal but the will to accomplish that goal does not exist in the corridors of wealth and power.

So we wait for the big one! Yeah that kind of thing. That terrible calamity ... that killer storm or that excruciating drought that literally kills for lack of any water year after year.

The big troubles that we all wish to avoid seem necessary to happen before we actually do anything meaningful to avoid them.

We wait for the worst to happen and these people call themselves leaders. Sigh.

Good luck kiddies. Truly.

Good luck to you all.


You are deceiving people with inaccurate statistics. The fossil fuel industry digs/pumps hydrocarbons like coal and oil from underground where they have been sequestered by time over millions of years in concentrated form. Coal is concentrated carbon. Oil is a less concentrated version.

We burn this ancient carbon that was not in our environment and thereby keep adding new carbon to the atmosphere by billions of tons a year. This is carbon that was not in the environment. We do this in such huge amounts that we have surpassed the ability of the Earth to accommodate (sequester) this addition. So it accumulates.

Agriculture grows plants (removes carbon) which we eat and use (including eating meat) which returns that carbon back again. Basically it is not adding new carbon although a forest fire etc may tip the scales temporarily etc. No new carbon!

One coal fired plant releases 3.5 billion tons of new carbon to the atmosphere each year for about 60 years. Over two hundred+ billion tons of additional carbon added that wasn't there before. The same thing for those billions of gallons of oil/gasoline... they all add new carbon to the environment.

THAT is why our environment is in such dire trouble. We add carbon that wasn't there before and much of it persists in the environment and has accumulated.

All agriculture including raising animals for meat add approximately 20% of greenhouse gas emissions not 51%. You should quote scientists not movie producers that you happen to like. The EPA and the IPCC and the UN as well as department of agriculture and various scientific bodies and so forth have established that 20% figure. Why don't you be honest about that? In any case cite your sources for that figure to let people see where you get that figure from.

Fossil fuels are adding new carbon in vast quantities... that is the reality.

A very grim reality at that.


Authors cannot be expected to mention the role of eating meat every time they write about climate change. Nor should they be expected to single out the buying of consumer products, heating of buildings, steel making, cement making, electricity, flying, shipping, trucking, car travel, the military, eating dairy, eating vegetables and fruits, and all the other things that contribute to global warming. Writers cannot be expected to cover all the causes of climate change even in long articles or discuss all the different percentages that have been published for the proportion of emissions due to meat eating. Your frustration seems unwarranted.


Brian - thanks for this very informative article.
I would differ with its analysis only in the assumption of the delay to significant action being a reflection of the fossil lobby's influence - there is a different explanation that actually meets the full spectrum of evidence - for instance of Obama's seven years of foot-dragging - which I hope you'll explore.

You mention the unprecedented flooding in the UK (which took out flood defences installed just 3 years ago supposedly with a 100-yr durability) and there is much debate here over cuts in flood-defence spending. Govts failure to maintain or appropriately extend flood defences is despicable, but it is small beer compared with its conduct in failing to address the mitigation of AGW, whose resulting Climate Destabilization is escalating steadily.

It bears repeating that the most common and most pernicious type of denialism of AGW is the denial of urgency of remedial action.

The flat earther's - who pretend to believe that AGW is just a global conspiracy that has for the last 28 years grown to include over 190 governments, and their civil servants, and the all the world's great academies of science, and over 97% of climate scientists - have the twin roles of :

a/. trying to keep all web/media discussions' focus off what must be done for mitigation and on whether AGW exists/is benign/ matters/etc; and

b/. providing political cover for the bipartisan US policy of the denial of urgency by those in power.

"Net-zero emissions in the second half of the century" - the UK party-leaders' US-approved 'joint-goal' for Paris, that became the 'Paris Outcome', is the definitive expression of that denial of urgency. In lacking a definition of valid offsets, or their proportion, or a target date, it is ambiguity cubed.

What Obama sought in Paris, and with Cameron's help achieved, was a "Long-grass skirt" result, by which nothing significant will be done to hinder the escalation of Climate Destabilization before global crop failures generate civil unrest and chaotic regime change in China, thereby ending its threat to America's cherished global economic dominance.

In this light Klein, McKibben et al are wrong to put the blame for delay simply on the US fossil fuel lobby - all US corporations whose profits depend on the maintenance of US global economic dominance have a paramount motive for imposing the covert policy of inaction.

The sooner the covert policy is exposed, and massively rejected as utterly shameful by the US public, the sooner rational global co-operation on mitigation will begin.



I never argued that they should cover all possible topics. You are making a strawman argument, i.e., you say that I made that argument and then you refute it, even though I never made that argument. I argued that they should at least mention the number one problem. When they fail to do that, someone needs to point that out. The vast majority of articles on the subject of global warming never mention that meat consumption is the number one driver of global warming. My frustration is warranted, despite your condescending conclusion to the contrary.


There you go again, as always, creating a strawman argument that I never made and then refuting it. I have never argued that it is not important to reduce our use of fossil fuels. I have never argued that fossil fuels were not made millions of years ago as you say. I do not know whose arguments you are refuting; I have never denied or spoken against the stuff you are talking about. Our only disagreement is on whether agribusiness produces 20% or 51% of greenhouse gases. Either way, agribusiness is a very important source of greenhouse gases, and almost every article published on the subject of global warming fails to mention that. I have every right to speak up whenever I see an article that fails to mention that important fact. Again, whether it's 20% or 51%, I don't think agribusiness can be ignored. How dare you accuse me of trying to deceive people. That is sickening.


Fossil fuels account for 80% of greenhouse gaseous emissions while you keep insisting that the meat industry is the primary cause of global warming.

You want to split hairs but you are deliberately confusing people and I repeat my request for you to post the sources for your figures. I know where you got those figures and they are NOT scientific. Nevertheless, you can say what you want but be prepared for others to challenge you on what you say which is what I am doing. You seem to think that you should make these claims and not have to prove them. They are false according to science but if you can prove otherwise then do so. Enough with the oh poor you nobody will let you talk. How can someone stop you and nobody is even trying to. They are telling you that your claims are bogus. Prove them wrong and everybody has seen what you have been claiming for a long time now so spare us the faux wounding of poor innocent you thanks.


"Agriculture grows plants (removes carbon) which we eat and use (including eating meat) which returns that carbon back again. Basically it is not adding new carbon although a forest fire etc may tip the scales temporarily etc. No new carbon!"

Apparently you are not informed about the VAST QUANTITIES of carbon, literally billions of tons, that humans have released into the atmosphere from soil and biomass.

To assert that agriculture is at base "no new carbon" is factually false. Agriculture is one of the main sources of anthropogenic GHG to the atmosphere. Not simply because it is fossil-fueled, but because it destroys forests and degrades soil.

And forest fires do not "tip the scales temporarily," because we continue to destroy forests which are not regrowing. Right now in Indonesia, people are burning down the rainforest in order to grow palm oil for export markets.

This is agriculture, doing what it has done for millennia: destroying soil, destroying biomass, and releasing the carbon to the atmosphere. THIS SOURCE OF ATMOSPHERIC CARBON IS HUGE. On a grand scale, it is second in its impact only to the carbon released from extracting and burning fossil fuels.

Here's a clip from the FAO that references the huge GHG impact of agriculture, and the potential for carbon sequestration if we adopt agroecological practices:

FAO is concerned with the effect of agriculture on climate change, the impact of climate change on agriculture and with the role that agriculture can play in mitigating climate change. Historically, land-use conversion and soil cultivation have been an important source of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to the atmosphere. It is estimated that they are still responsible for about one-third of GHG emissions.

However, improved agricultural practices can help mitigate climate change by reducing emissions from agriculture and other sources and by storing carbon in plant biomass and soils. The work of FAO aims to identify, develop and promote cultural practices that reduce agricultural emissions and sequester carbon while helping to improve the livelihoods of farmers, especially in developing countries, through increased production and additional incomes from carbon credits under the mechanisms that have emerged since the Kyoto Protocol.

The objective is to reverse land degradation due to deforestation and inadequate land use/management in the tropics and sub-tropics through the promotion of improved land use systems and land management practices which provide win-win effects in terms of economic gains and environmental benefits, a greater agro-biodiversity, and improved conservation and environmental management and increased carbon sequestration.

The development of agriculture during the past centuries and particularly in last decades has entailed depletion of substantive soil carbon stocks. Agricultural soils are among the planet's largest reservoirs of carbon and hold potential for expanded carbon sequestration (CS), and thus provide a prospective way of mitigating the increasing atmospheric concentration of CO2. It is estimated that soils can sequester around 20 Pg C in 25 years, more than 10% of the anthropogenic emissions.


Just another denialist conspiracy theory - out of the usual sources -
trying to paint scientists as dishonest and untrustworthy,
and hiding this information that would be patently obvious
in their researches - if so-called 'climate engineering'
were any more than propagandists' fantasy -


For there to be any hope at all of limiting global warming to 2 degrees C (not even to mention 1.5 degrees C), significant reductions in greenhouse gases have to be front-end loaded not gradually increased.

Also, the rhetoric coming out of the Paris Summit used the words greenhouse gas and CO2/carbon emissions interchangeably. Little to no mention was made of another far more potent greenhouse gas, methane - released when natural gas is burned. The so-called transition fuels are as bad or worse for climate change than the coal and oil.