Election 2016

Election 2016 and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change

The new universal climate accord is now in force: Is it irreversible?


Gene Blevins/ZUMA Press/Newscom

The Paris Agreement on Climate Change comes into effect today, November 4. Auspiciously for climate warriors, that is just three days before the next United Nations climate change conference opens in Marrakech, Morocco.

The Marrakech negotiations, held in conjunction with the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-22), will be the first meeting of the parties to the Paris Agreement, known in UN-speak as CMA1. Countries that have not yet joined the Paris Agreement can attend and participate in the CMA sessions, but only as observers. They do not have decision-making authority.

The goal of the Paris Agreement, adopted last December, is to hold "the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels." Current global temperature hovers around 1°C above the pre-industrial average.

Each party to the agreement has submitted its nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to the United Nations explaining how they plan to help keep the climate from growing excessively warm. The U.S. NDC involves reducing economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent below its 2005 level in 2025 and making best efforts to reduce emissions by 28 percent.

The really interesting feature of the Paris Agreement is that the nationally determined contribution plans filed by each of its signatories are voluntary. Its legally binding sections are chiefly mandates that countries provide and periodically update the levels of greenhouse gases they are emitting. This reporting requirement is not much different than out obligations under the previously ratified U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. Basically, countries are supposed to tell the others how they are doing.

A critical part of President Obama's climate change strategy is the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan (CPP), which would require carbon dioxide emissions from electric power generation to fall by 30 percent below 2005 levels in 2030. The U.S. Supreme Court stayed its implementation and a number of states have filed federal lawsuits to stop the program. Meanwhile, thanks largely to massive new supplies of cheap shale gas liberated by fracking, the U.S. has produced the lowest carbon dioxide emissions for the first six months of the year since 1991. (Lots of electric power generators have switched from coal to natural gas, which emits only about half as much carbon dioxide.) As a consequence, greenhouse gas emissions in 2014 were 9 percent below 2005 levels. (In 2010, President Obama pledged to cut U.S. emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels in 2020. Only four years to go!)

So how likely is the U.S. to fulfill Obama's greenhouse-gas pledges? Keeping firmly in mind that energy modeling is largely an exercise in policy fiction and wishful thinking, let's take a look at some projections of future U.S. energy use and greenhouse emissions.

A new study by the ICF International consultancy, commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute, modeled how the power sector would evolve if market forces determined the fuel generation mix and new capacity additions—as opposed to government-mandated choices under the Clean Power Plan. The analysts found that carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector would drop by 30 percent from 2005 levels in 2030—deeper cuts than those that would result from CPP regulations. This outcome, however, depends on high-end estimates of how much recoverable shale gas there is. In either the market or mandate scenarios, coal continues to fade as a source of energy.

Another analysis—by researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, published in the October issue of Nature Climate Change—calculated that current policies being pursued by the Obama administration will fall far short of their stated emissions reduction goals. They estimate that emissions would drop by only about 9 percent below their 2005 levels in 2025.

A new report by the economics consultancy Lux Research looks at what might happen to greenhouse emissions were Donald Trump to be president for two terms. Lux Research analysts conclude that the downward trend in U.S. carbon dioxide emissions would reverse and actually be 16 percent higher than they would be if Clinton were president.

Speaking of Trump, the Republican nominee has declared that if elected he will cancel U.S. participation in the Paris Agreement. Earlier this week, China's top climate change negotiator Xie Zhenhua was asked about Trump's promise. "If they resist this trend, I don't think they'll win the support of their people, and their country's economic and social progress will also be affected," Xie said. "I believe a wise political leader should take policy stances that conform with global trends."

Elliot Diringer, executive vice president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, claimed this week in Reuters that "Entry into force only goes one way. It can't be reversed." Is that so?

Once the Paris Agreement is in force, signatories are supposed to wait three years before they can file a notification that they are withdrawing from it. They must then wait another year before the withdrawal takes effect. In other words, the Paris Agreement would apply to the U.S. for the first full term of a Trump presidency. It seems unlikely that Trump would follow this path.

Another option would be for Trump to withdraw from the UNFCCC entirely, a process that would take only one year. Under the terms of the UNFCCC, "Any Party that withdraws from the Convention shall be considered as also having withdrawn from any protocol to which it is a Party." Good-bye, Paris Agreement.

Finally, a Trump administration could simply ignore the promises made by the Obama administration and dismantle any domestic regulations aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions. After all, the targets under the Paris Agreement are voluntary.

Will any of that affect next Tuesday's outcome? Most Americans tell pollsters that they are worried about climate change. Nevertheless, the issue was essentially absent from the presidential debates, and concern about pollution and the environment is at rock bottom on polls asking voters to identify the country's most important problems. Upshot: The few one-issue climate voters will not sway this election one way or the other.

NEXT: Support for Legal Abortion at Highest Level Since 1995, But Partisan Gap Widening

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  1. “…Its legally binding sections are chiefly mandates that countries provide and periodically update the levels of greenhouse gases they are emitting….”

    So governments are ‘legally bound’ to about that?

    1. Ooops:
      So governments are ‘legally bound’ to *LIE* about that?

      1. It’s all a joke, why on earth would we believe the numbers?

        1. My best friend’s ex-wife makes $95/hr on the laptop. She has been unemployed for 6 months but last month her income with big fat bonus was over $15000 just working on the laptop for a few hours.
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      2. Government fuctionary: “Oooh we got this.”

  2. if we could pass these laws, we will not have anymore hurricanes or droughts.

  3. “comes into effect today”

    When did the Senate ratify it?

    1. They are slowly turning the Senate into the Canadian Senate. A place where the only thing that gets the blood flowing are the hemorrhoids.

      1. Good one – it’s so good I think I’ll misattribute it to Abraham Lincoln.

        (not really)

  4. as the kids are wont to say, “LOLWUT?”

  5. “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2?C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5?C above pre-industrial levels.”

    What a bunch of nonsensical horseshit.

    If you believe in ACC, you have been persuading by a massive and clever scam created by Marxists.

    And not the kind of Marxists that believe in utopia. We are talking about the seasoned Marxists that know damn well that this crap cannot and will not work. They know far better about how to manipulate the sheep through fear and class warfare to gain power and extort wealth from the rest of the population.

    1. On behalf of us sheep, I’d like to point out that it’s not the flock that bought into pantshitting over manbearpig. It is the herder class above us that did.

      1. fair enough. The boomers are the cause of all the problems if we are talking generational culpability.

        1. Would be interesting to see how it breaks down by age, but this strikes me a purely education level issue. More university – more likely to shit pants over it.
          This does not include people who are more cynical about it than I am but make living from it. Though, they are more likely to be of the credentialed class, too…

          1. I find it fascinating the volume of industry and entrepreneurialism tied to sustainability.

            The amount of capital and human capital invested in a theory is staggering. It is the same thing as how corporations have to channel vast amounts of money toward defending and avoiding liability.

            We are talking about hiring throngs of people to be gainfully employed in entire divisions of companies just for sustainability. Something that can never be proven nor even attempted to have an outcome as made obvious by the ever moving timelines and outrageous predictions of doom past our lifetimes.

            Like the legal, HR, and compliance departments have to divert otherwise valuable resources to defend against frivolous lawsuits by scumbags. I find it analogous.

            1. But think of all the jobs it is providing for philosophy and lit majors! Some of them might even be able to move out of their parents’ basement.

              1. Indeed. I am wondering what type of government agency will be created specifically for the social justice scam and accompanying new vocabulary.

              2. if we are not creating phony jobs to create new jobs programs then we will not have anymore jobs programs for people to operate thus creating more jobs.

                That is Brack Obama’s entire grasp of market economics. .

  6. What gets me is that anyone with even the most basic understanding of science can keep a strait face when the IPCC says “reducing X amount of emissions will prevent Y degrees of warming by 2100.” This is 100% pure BS and reminds me of infomercials for male enhancement supplements.

    1. +1 free sample of Enzyte

    2. It’s one of the finest, “It works out of on paper!”, assertions ever created, actually. Whoever created that one is a genius of the highest order.

      A direct relative of the absolutely ingenious statement of, “Balances the budget over 10 years.” Which can be shown to mathematically true, but any sceptical person is going to ask, “Doesn’t that assume an absolutely static system where everything remains as it is otherwise?” Which, it doesn’t, of course, since that model discounts all sorts of unknowns, and by the time 10 years rolls around, the transpiring and changing conditions during that period of time will simply not allow for the original projections to manifest.

  7. Entry into force only goes one way. It can’t be reversed.

    Apparently this guy doesn’t know how “international law” works. He’s also never heard of the principle that “Past governments cannot bind future governments.”

    Where do they get these people from?

    1. His name is STEVE SMITH!!!

    2. How many divisions does theCenter for Climate and Energy Solutions have?

      1. How many bureaucrats have bullshit cake jobs because of this scam?

  8. Did the Senate ratify this agreement? I do not think it did, so I do not think that it is legally binding on the US Government or the foreign policy of the successor administration other than what it would choose to be.

    1. I don’t think due process is applicable in the united states anymore.

      1. Oh, the US is well due for one kind of process or other.

        1. I think putin is going to send steven segall back over here to destroy all of us.

          1. That’s if we are lucky, if we are not lucky Hillary will send Lena Dunham to destroy all of us.

            1. lena dunham has already destroyed a significant portion of my brain by having once laid my eyes on that horrendous slut.

              She elevates Alice the Goon back to acceptable with beer goggles list.

    2. The Senate doesn’t have to ratify it. It’s not a treaty. It’s an executive order, and EOs are used all the time on foreign affairs. In fact they are used to forge agreements with other nations more than treaties.

      Really, this is old news.

      1. Oh and before you go there…Obama didn’t invent that concept. Almost all Presidents use it. Including the blessed Ronald Reagan.

        1. Oh, and before you go there, let’s see the cites, Jack, since your rep shows you to be a fucking liar.

        2. Jack is right. Executive agreements happen all the time and they are as binding as executive orders- which is to say that they can change with the whim of the next administration.

          Further, executive agreements are primarily only allowed, in the US, when the president acts on behalf of foreign policy. Despite the Sanders’ argument that the weather created ISIS (‘And that thunderstorm raped my mom!’), it is a dubious argument to suggest that a climate agreement is exercising foreign policy.

      2. But as I said, that means it is not binding on the US Government or next administration unless it chooses to be.

        Not seeing the forest for the trees, Jack.

        1. Exactly right. Which is why Ronald outlined his Trump can exit it, with some timing limitations. And which is why the old adage is true…elections matter!

          1. I do not see how the timing limitations can be binding, as it not a treaty and has no force of law, and Obama’s executivevordets cannot bind his successor.

  9. Wait, temperatures have not yet reached 1 degree C above “pre-industrial levels”? But didn’t temperatures vary more than that in pre-industrial times, like when the “little ice age” came and went? What is the baseline that they are using? How are they going to distinguish anthropogenic effects from natural variations? And how is our government even supposed to know the total amount of greenhouse gasses the country is emitting, in order to report it?

  10. What a sad and pathetic joke.

    US emissions are lower because we burn natural gas. But, in parallel to this, we ship coal to China for their power needs.

    At the end of the day, the global emissions go higher. Yeh, progress!

    Scientifically, mathematically, and economically illiterate is no way to go through life. But the global warming crowd succeeds at that quite well.

    1. Global emissions rising is a good thing, right?

      That means economies around the world are healthy, producing things, fostering trade, creating wealth and jobs, and providing for the advancement of the human condition.

      Yay progress!

      1. Not if you are a leftie, though.

        They want people to be poor. Or better yet, dead.

        They see humanity as a blight on Mother Gaia.

  11. None of that matters.

    People 200 hundred years from now are going to experience rain, drought, hurricanes, melting and re-freezing ice, summer, a polar bear is going to die, and things will burn on occasion.

    For that, the world must give a bunch of money to governments.

    Why are the deniers so god damned stubborn?

  12. Clinton will uphold the agreement and Trump will dismantle it. Since Bailey barely mentions Hillary then I’m assuming he thinks Trump will win on Tuesday.

  13. Just another reason for all you “libertarians” to vote for Trump. Not that you needed anymore.

    1. Can we vote for trump’s wife and daughter? At least the road to hell would be pleasant on the eyes.

      1. Always write ins!

    2. “Just another reason for all you “libertarians” to vote for Trump.”

      You’ll have to contact SIV and one or two others, Jack, but as a slimy lefty, you knew that. Like lefties everywhere, your motto is: Why be honest when you can lie?
      Oh, and I’m sure you’re just salivating at the opportunity to vote for that un-indicted felon.

      1. She’s a nasty ho.

    3. BTW, Jack, you just got busted for lying again from your own link in the Exxon thread.
      Stupidity seems to be one of your better-develped skills, along with lying and being a Gaia fundy.

      1. You should check out the response to tarran. He said it was from January 2015. Nope. March 2016. Here you go a different link. Many more. Hopefully your reading skis are better than his. But I’m sure they are worse. Have a great day!


        1. *skills

          1. You can’t read either; you been busted AGAIN!
            Typically for an ignoramus you didn’t your link; tarran called it.
            Fucking idiot.

  14. “The new universal climate accord is now in force”


  15. “…Its legally binding sections are chiefly mandates that countries provide and periodically update the levels of greenhouse gases they are emitting….”
    ??? ????

  16. RE: Election 2016 and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change
    The new universal climate accord is now in force: Is it irreversible?

    The Paris Agreement does not go far enough.
    Only when all the little people live under bridges, caves and inside abandoned cars, eat moss, grass and bark and use sea shells, unicorn hair and pixie dust as currency will our tortured planet be safe.
    Then, and only then, will we be free from the oppressive capitalist machine that has destroyed the earth and the people that occupied it.
    (Cue introduction to Leonardo DiCaprio so he can make his speech on how we can all save the environment.)

  17. Lux? Those are the guys who said greed energy is cost effective now. Oh, and cost effective grid scale storage is coming real soon now. Along with the health plan you can keep.

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  19. Others have shown the likely causes of climate change, and they DO NOT include human use of fossil fuels. Full implementation of the Paris Treaty is now estimated to cost $50 trillion to $100 trillion by 2030–$6,667-$13,333 per human being. And will not affect climate at all. I make a different argument here.

    Climate change is a false premise for regulating carbon dioxide emissions. Nature converts CO2 to calcite (limestone). Climate change may or may not be occurring, but is is surely NOT caused by human fossil fuels use. These changes in temperature cause changes in ambient CO2, with an estimated 800 year time lag.

    Fossil fuels emit only 3% of total CO2 emissions. 95% comes from rotting vegetation. Ambient CO2 in the atmosphere is promptly converted in the oceans to calcite (limestone) and other carbonates, mostly through biological paths. CO2 + CaO => CaCO3. The conversion rate increases with CO2 partial pressure. An equilibrium-seeking mechanism.

    99.84% of all carbon on earth is already sequestered as sediments. The lithosphere is a massive hungry carbon sink that converts ambient CO2 to carbonate almost as soon as it is emitted. All living or dead organic matter (plants, animals, microbes etc. amount to only 0.00033% of the total carbon mass on earth. Ambient CO2 is only 0.00255%.

    A modern coal power plant emits few air effluents except water vapor and carbon dioxide. Coal remains the lowest cost and most reliable source of electric energy, along with natural gas.

    1. It’s funny, I just re-read a book on the Fermi paradox.

      And in one chapter, the authors goes into Earth’s climate and how it varies from cold to hot, with increased CO2 warming the planet coming from volcanos and CO2 being eliminated by the atmosphere by turning it into limestone, with more CO2 causing more weathering and thus removing itself more.

      And then in another chapter, he talks about manmade global warming. Like as if his previous chapter didn’t even exist.

  20. “Vast forests have already been sacrificed to the public debate about the Tea Party: what it is, what it means, where it’s going. But after lengthy study of the phenomenon, I’ve concluded that the whole miserable narrative boils down to one stark fact: They’re full of shit. All of them.”

    I dusted this off just for you guys. Maybe one day you’ll have a fact-dependent worldview with a modicum of sophistication to it. Until then, enjoy the pathetic lashing out of fat rightwing fatheads doing witting or unwitting shill work for corporations who themselves no longer peddle the horseshit you guys do for them.

    Science is optional! Look at this blog written by a fringe weirdo, it trumps all of science! One might have thought we’d have discarded this childish crap by now.

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  26. It wasn’t voted on by Congress and therefore isn’t a treaty. Presidents can’t sign treaties, only Congress can

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