Saturday, December 12, 2015

COP21: pass the soap

COP21 was adopted today, and it's an interesting document. Each paragraph begins with an italicized verb, and they are: acknowledges, affirms, agrees, calls upon, decides, emphasizes, encourages, invites, notes, recognizes, recommends, reiterates, requests, resolves, takes note, urges, welcomes. Maybe next time we'll see beseeches, implores, and pleads.

Notably absent are the following verbs: authorizes, decrees, directs, imposes, mandates, obliges, orders, ratifies, requires, stipulates. This list is by no means exhaustive. Neither damages nor sanctions are mentioned, and the only mention of punishment is a renouncement of it, in Article 13: "The transparency framework shall ... be implemented in a facilitative, non-intrusive, non-punitive manner, respectful of national sovereignty, and avoid placing undue burden on Parties." This bright green(wash) bubble bath of deference applies as much to the United States, China, and Saudi Arabia as it does to Kiribati.

It does appear that James Hansen has a point: “It’s a fraud really, a fake,” [Hansen] says, rubbing his head. “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 be continued to be burned.”