We knew it was going to be a record breaker. We knew that atmospheric greenhouse gasses in the range of 400 parts per million CO2 and 485 parts per million CO2e, when combined with one of the top three strongest El Ninos in the Pacific, would result in new all-time global record high temperatures. But what we didn’t know was how substantial the jump would ultimately be.
“The talks in Paris ended with an agreement to keep heating up the planet.”
There is no dispute in the scientific community. The world is getting hotter and humans are to blame. To be precise, the extraction of fossil fuel as a means of producing energy is the cause. The production of the greenhouse gas CO2 is making the earth hotter and millions of people will suffer and die because of it.
Globally influential climate activist Yeb Saño has just returned home to the Philippines disappointed, having recently trekked 1,500km from Rome to Paris only to see the COP21 climate change summit reach a spectacularly bad result last weekend, he says.
Saño and those in his multi-faith and environmental entourage —called the “People’s Pilgrimage" — had marched for two months across Europe, praying for a miracle.
In the wake of ISIS’ attacks on Paris, French authorities jumped on the opportunity to revoke permits for the Global Climate March, a well-planned series of demonstrations scheduled to coincide with international climate talks.
The COP21 Paris Climate Conference has, as expected, led to an agreement. It will come into effect from 2020 if it is ratified by 55 of the countries which are signatories to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and these 55 countries account for at least 55% of global emissions of greenhouse gases. In the light of the positions taken in Paris, this dual condition should not raise any difficulty (although the non-ratification of Kyoto by the United States shows that surprises are always possible).
Paris witnessed both explicit terrorism by religious extremists on November 13 and a month later, implicit terrorism by carbon addicts negotiating a world treaty that guarantees catastrophic climate change. The first incident left more than 130 people dead in just one evening’s mayhem; the second lasted a fortnight but over the next century can be expected to kill hundreds of millions, especially in Africa.
The Paris Agreement has mostly been greeted with enthusiasm, though it contains at least one obvious flaw. Few seem to have noticed that the main tool mooted for keeping us within the 2C global warming target is a massive expansion of carbon trading, including offsetting, which allows the market exchange of credits between companies and nations to achieve an overall emissions reduction. That's despite plenty of evidence that markets haven't worked well enough, or quickly enough, to actually keep the planet safe.
The terrifying deadlines approached by climate change tempt us to despair. But the face of the movement stirs us to courage.
Two certainties existed entering the Paris climate talks. They hold as true coming out. The first was that the world’s heads of state were not prepared to act as is necessary. The second is that it was never going to be up to them anyway.