Leaders from one hundred and ninety-five countries met in Paris at the twenty-first Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change. They were trying to create the first-ever global agreement on greenhouse gas emissions.
The Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) were not thought ambitious enough to chart a course for limiting global warming to the UN target of 2ºC.
The Summit was about climate change, but it was also a business story, an economic narrative and a technology tale. If Paris 2015 does not accelerate the green industrial revolution that is underway, then it will have failed, regardless of the finer detail. That’s the bar that has to be cleared. The INDCs are ‘floors, not ceilings’.
‘It’s a fraud really, a fake. It’s just bullshit for them to say: “We’ll have a 2C warming target and then try to do a little better every five years.” It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises. As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will continue to be burned.’ James Hansen, Columbia University.
Repeated efforts to influence governments have led to them “shifting all the difficult decisions into the future”, as Greenpeace pointed out at the 2014 UN summit. Though the UK is sixth in the world for green jobs and services, we’re consuming three times our fair share of the planet’s natural resources. Globally we use about 25% more than the planet can replace. The UK government should adopt a target of decarbonising the electricity supply by 2030, but the Conservative manifesto for May’s UK General Election ruled that out.
There is massive demand for exporting Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) expertise to the world, but the funding and development programmes have been delayed by poor infrastructure, inadequate UK manufacturing capacity and political uncertainty. 30,000 jobs could be created by CCS. Competition funding for CCS at Peterhead Power Station and the White Rose project in Yorkshire was axed in the week before the summit began. What sort of message does that deliver?
Successive Governments make repeated policy shifts to the investor framework. Lengthy competitions, retrospective legislation and changes to agreed subsidy schemes for CCS and onshore wind affects investor confidence in other renewable sectors; project drivers then fear similar treatment, anxiously awaiting funding withdrawal. The recent Ernst and Young Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index described the Conservative manifesto as “painful reading for renewables”. The UK economy needs highly skilled, well-paid jobs. Austerity measures ensure a dearth of (worthy) public projects (outwith London), fewer apprenticeships, renewed welfare and services cutbacks, food bank proliferation and zero hours contracts.
Emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in human history. From droughts in the Sahel, to lethal heat waves in South Asia, to super-typhoons in the Philippines, severe climate impacts are already being felt by the world’s most vulnerable people. In essence, we are rapidly wrecking the planetary conditions necessary for our survival.’ Daniel Macmillen Voskoboynik Bright Green 30.8.15