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COP25 in Madrid

Published by marco on

The 25th COP (Conference of the Parties) or United Nations Climate Change conference (Wikipedia) has come to an end in Madrid. Other instances of this conference were COP3 in Kyoto (the first agreement that the U.S. agreed to and which the Congress completely ignored), COP 15 in Copenhagen (where Canada and the United States worked together to torpedo any agreement) and, of course, COP21 in Paris, with the much-touted Paris Accords that Obama signed and that Trump officially left—and which all other signatories have unofficially ignored.

To absolutely no-one’s surprise at all, the U.N. Climate Talks Collapsed in Madrid by David Wallace-Wells (NY Mag/Intelligencer).

“The conference was meant to formalize the rules by which the Paris accords would be implemented, and begin the process by which the commitments made in those accords could be systematically ratcheted up over time.”

The Paris Accords were toothless because they were purely voluntary: countries could come up with their own targets and didn’t have to agree to or propose any measures for enforcing them. There is no framework within which to enforce or punish any CO2-based crimes. COP 25 was supposed to address that problem. It utterly failed to.

Somehow the U.S. was still in attendance. It left the Paris Accords, then blocked anyone from coming to an agreement on closing gaps in those accords.

“As has become a common refrain among climate advocates since the IPCC’s blockbuster special report on 1.5 degrees last October, the U.N. believes we have only about a decade to cut global emissions in half to safely avoid catastrophic warming.”

One year later, there is a “lack of ambition and no urgency”. The “conference couldn’t even manage to “accept” the IPCC’s 1.5C report”

Australia’s on fire, its air quality is catastrophically bad and it’s unraveling in many other ways. See the linked article for more information. And they couldn’t even “accept” the IPCC’s report.

Where I live in Switzerland, it’s the first time in 18 years of living in this area that it hasn’t snowed once in October, November or December. Not even close. I went biking outside today. It’s anecdotal, but the hills are green here. If you go high enough, the mountains are white, but you have to go over 1200 meters to find more than a couple of centimeters of snow on the ground.

Since COP has failed completely, is there anything to be done? Wallace-Wells writes,

“I’ve heard from a number of economists, in the last few months, who would like to see the establishment of something like a WTO for climate — an independent organization, capable of not just rewarding participation but also punish bad behavior by nations.”

Why would that work where COP has failed? The worst offenders (U.S. and China) accept no outside authority. They couldn’t even agree to believe the science. Wallace-Wells thinks maybe something like the,

“[…] nuclear nonproliferation agreements forged between the U.S. and the Soviet Union in the late 1980s — the planet’s two superpowers reaching a kind of consensus about a global existential threat, taking significant (if not complete) steps to mitigate that risk, and then more or less bullying the rest of the world to follow suit.”

Maybe, but it doesn’t sound very likely. No-one with any power seems to be overly concerned about planning for the medium- and long-term over the extreme short-term. It’s going to get ugly.