by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Good news is hard to find at this year’s United Nations climate conference in Bonn, Germany. Diplomats from nearly 200 countries have gathered to review progress made on the “historic” Paris climate accords, signed two years ago. But as the champagne-fueled self-congratulation of Paris recedes into memory, the agreement’s underlying fraud is becoming obvious.
In theory, international discussions, negotiations, and agreements on climate change aim to reduce global greenhouse-gas emissions and thus lessen the expected warming of the climate. In fact, the Paris accord does not even attempt to achieve this goal, except nominally. Instead, countries can pledge as much or as little climate action as they see fit, and no enforcement mechanism ensures that they deliver on their commitments. A country unhappy with its pledge can simply change it.
Operating in this framework, countries have pledged very little. Back in 2000, before all the clean-energy investments and cap-and-trade programs and carbon taxes and landmark international deals, the UN’s projection for emissions this century pointed toward a planetary warming of 3.4°C by 2100. On the eve of the Bonn summit, the UN acknowledged that, with all pledges, projected warming by 2100 still comes out to 3.2°C—and even that miniscule reduction in warming assumes compliance, which is in short supply. None of the major powers are on track to meet their pledges, and developing countries are failing to even get started.