A diplomatic triumph? More like a p.r. coup. The Paris Treaty is rich in rhetoric, but it’ll make little change in actual temperature rises.
Increasingly, that fact is being recognized, even by some of the biggest proponents of climate action.
Jim Hansen, a former NASA scientist and advisor to Al Gore who was the first to put global warming on the public radar in 1988, wasn’t fooled. “It’s a fraud really, a fake,” he said in December. “It’s just worthless words.”
And this month, 11 climate scientists signed a declaration stating that the Paris treaty is crippled by “deadly flaws.”
The problem with the deal is simple, and was obvious from before it was even signed. The Paris agreement talks a big game. It doesn’t just commit to capping the global temperature increase at the much-discussed level of 2°C above pre-industrial levels. It says that leaders commit to keeping the increase “well below 2°C,” with an effort to cap it at 1.5°C.
But this is all talk.
My own peer-reviewed research, published in the journal Global Policy, shows that all of the treaty’s 2016-2030 promises on cutting carbon-dioxide emissions will reduce temperatures by the year 2100 by just 0.05°C. Even if the promised emissions cuts continued unabated throughout the century, the Paris agreement would cut global temperature increases by just 0.17°C. Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reach a similar conclusion.
And that’s assuming countries actually live up to their promises: The treaty’s nonbinding.