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[This is the third in a series of reports from the United Nations COP21 climate conference filed in Paris by Heartland Institute senior fellow for environment policy James Taylor.]
PARIS – Halfway through the United Nations COP21 climate conference in Paris, the UN on Friday released a “draft agreement” that illustrates the futility and irrelevance of the UN conference. The draft agreement is merely confirmation that the developing nations which emit the majority of global carbon dioxide emissions refuse to cut emissions and want massive wealth transfers from developed nations, while leaders of developed nations realize they are powerless to meet the extortionist demands of developing nations.
The reason the UN released merely a draft agreement rather than a final agreement is because there has been no agreement on any of the most important issues under discussion. Developing nations insist on (1) ever-increasing amounts of monetary payments from developed nations, (2) steep reductions in emissions from developed nations, (3) international authority to enforce the developed nations’ monetary payments and steep emissions cuts, and (4) no requirement for developing nations to reduce their own emissions. Even climate activist politicians such as U.S. President Barack Obama realize their citizens will never tolerate or approve such one-sided restrictions and obligations.
With such a wide gulf between the demands of developing nations and the capacity of developed nations policymakers to cave in to such demands, the just-released draft agreement is merely political window dressing for leaders of all nations – developing and developed alike – to save face and tell the citizens of their nations they have struck an agreement.
Canadian Green Party leader Elizabeth May explained the divide in a Friday Associated Press story, observing the draft agreement is “just a package of things on which people don’t yet agree.”
Wealthy developing nation China emits more carbon dioxide than any other nation in the world, and twice as many emissions as the nation with the second-most emissions, the United States. Wealthy developing nation India ranks third in carbon dioxide emissions. Cumulatively, the Western-style democracies targeted by the developing nations – the United States, the European Union, Canada, and Japan – emit less than one-third of global carbon dioxide emissions.
Developing nations have made it clear they will not soften any of their demands. Accordingly, any meaningful final deal requires the United States and other Western democracies to burden their citizens with monumental wealth transfers, severe energy restrictions, and the surrender of national sovereignty to international enforcement bodies. Even climate alarmists like U.S. president Barack Obama realize they cannot obtain domestic authority to commit their nations to such demands. As a result, the chances of a meaningful climate agreement emerging from Paris are dim.
What is dim news for UN climate conference participants is bright news for billions of people around the world. The best and latest scientific evidence indicates humans are not creating a climate crisis. The lack of substantial new restrictions on affordable energy will allow economies to prosper and people to keep more of their earnings to spend on better nutrition, housing, education, health care, and consumer goods that allow people to live longer, more productive, and more enjoyable lives.
The United Nations COP21 climate conference may be doomed to failure, but that failure is a victory for the people of the world.