Even if the world celebrates a Paris climate deal on December 11, the process will still have to be regarded as failure. Let me explain why.
The meeting in Paris should be considered a success if virtually all countries are brought into the process of reducing emissions. That will be an historic milestone. Any hopes of a deal that take full account of historical are over. That task proved to be impossible. There simply was not enough cap space to make it happen. The US probably would have no emissions left under such a cap and several other countries would have too few emissions left to make it feasible. So let’s move on. Other than, India, it appears that all the major emitters have agreed to set targets for reducing emissions or at least reaching peak emissions. If this holds that is quite an accomplishment. It appears having a 50/50 chance of staying under 2C is extremely unlikely. We have to accept that. In any event, there really is no scientific basis for saying that the climate can level off at 2C. Positive feedbacks already triggered or soon to be triggered might drive the temperature well past 2C regardless of what humans do. Again, we have to accept that. We are heading into uncharted territory past 1C. There is no cap and it appears most nations will agree to do the best they can. It surely will not be good enough but given the politics around the world that appears to be all we can hope for.
This is excellent framing of the problem, and an important new concept:
“In return the West is receiving cheap consumer goods without recognising the responsibility for the embedded carbon emissions that come with them. A clear form of carbon colonialism.”
I am so pleased to see this obvious truth finally stated. For years I have been telling whoever would listen about the hypocrisy and contradiction of, A, exporting nearly all (polluting) industry to a third country and then vilifying that country for its toxic emissions, and B, after doing so, having the chutzpah to talk about job-creation efforts.
First things should be put first on the agenda.
We can agree that something needs to be done by all parties.
The only way to get to a common area for the purposes of determining fairness is to start with monetizing the issue. The only way to get to monetizing the issue is to institute a carbon tax.
This should be the primary subject of this meeting: How much of a tax and how to fairly apply it on the front end.
This must be the first step, as without it there is no basis for common ground. This also puts the emitters on notice that we as a species need to do something to reduce emissions or we’ll be experiencing the same fate as the burglar who got stuck in a fireplace chimney: asphyxiated (Means D-E-A-D).
That common money needs to go into a bank from which countries that are affected, but that don’t emit CO2 like the industrialized nations, can get finances to purchase the carbon controlling technologies for their countries as they grow and industrialize.
Countries that don’t have any “manufacturing industry” to speak of, and nothing of promise on that horizon might have beauty that can be “sold” in order to keep it that way, so we polluters will have somewhere nice to visit on our annual vacations.
Sorry to have to put it in writing, but 200+ global governments won’t get us to the point where we treat this planet and its common resources like the life saving space ship that it is!
“what we are dealing with is the fundamental failure of neoliberal capitalism, the world’s dominant economic system, to confront its hunger for exponential growth”
What do you call malignant entities that grow without limits, starve, pollute, invade and kill their host?
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Amazing how lame the MSM coverage of the conference is. They haven’t been covering anything about climate change in the past and the fact that the hosts and reporters have no clue is evident. They all fall back to talking about the terrorist attacks with nothing of substance on the much greater challenge confronting the world.
“But let’s bear in mind that India’s carbon emissions per capita are still 10 times lower than those of the US. And China’s rapidly rising emissions are to a great extent driven by export-driven industries, producing consumer goods for the West.”
But let us also bear in mind that China and India have large and highly consumptive middle classes of each around 300 million in populations, mired in poverty, of 1.3 billion plus or minus a few. By calculating on a per capita basis these highly consumptive middle classes are receiving a carbon subsidy from their poor.
And but let us also consider that China and India, and indeed most of Asia, in the last 70 years have engaged in the luxury in doubling or tripling their population thereby creating a vast pool of wage-slave labour that benefits the wealthy of those countries.
And also but let us consider that in those countries that began the industrial revolution, there also existed the same type of wage-slave labourer as exists in Asia today; if the Asian countries have a right to wreck the climate “to lift their people out of poverty” now, so did the earlier industrialised countries then.
And finally but let us also consider that it is the European culture that has not only developed the concept of individual human rights, but it is also the European culture that has demonstrated and demanded changes to our climate-wrecking behaviour; when was the last march against climate change in India, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar, Taiwan and possibly even Japan. When? Consumption and status in these countries are far more important social factors than doing something to halt anthropogenic global heating.
It is time the wealthy, industrialised, nuclear armed countries of India and China pulled their weight and stopped hiding behind the smoke-screen of a covenient poverty.