by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Patrick Michaels uses a National Review Online column to preview Paris climate talks.
As the world reels following the tragic terrorist attacks in Paris, world leaders say they are determined to press on with the U.N. Climate Conference there, scheduled for the end of this month. But judging from past international climate agreements, attendance might not be worth the imposition.
There will be a new climate agreement. Last year’s U.N. climate show, in Lima, produced a requirement that countries that signed on to the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change produce an “Intended, Nationally Determined Contribution” of reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide long before Paris. So far, nations responsible for 91 percent of current global emissions have done so. That’s close enough to 100 percent to be able to claim a global agreement.
By having everyone provide their own plan (even if it’s not much of one), no one can complain that this supranational body is cramming anything down their throats, so that usual source of climate bickering won’t happen. And the plans are free to be meaningless.
Manhattan Institute scholar Oren Cass has shown that, in aggregate, the nations of the world have pledged to do nothing more than business as usual. Nations with maturing economies naturally see their emissions begin to level off. Those with developing economies will increase their emissions, but the amount they emit per capita, known as the emissions intensity, will eventually drop due to economies of scale.
China is one of those maturing economies. They have said they “intend” to start holding emissions constant “around 2030.” Between now and then, their emissions will rise by 50 to 100 percent. Experts at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory calculated four years ago that China’s emissions would peak around then. So the Chinese are doing nothing.