‘Fossil Fuels’ Nowhere to be Found in the Paris Agreement

‘Fossil Fuels’ Nowhere to be Found in the Paris Agreement


SHARMINI PERIES: Welcome to the Real News
Network. I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore. The Guardian reported that James Hansen, former
lead scientist at NASA, said that the Paris climate agreement is all BS. He says as long
as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be burned. If we
follow this agreement, we’ll have 2 degrees Celsius warming target, and then try to do
a little better every five years. It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just
promises, he says. Further, our next guest, scientist at Pace University Chris Williams,
the author of Ecology and Socialism: Solutions to Capitalist Ecological Crisis just wrote
about the Paris outcomes. And he says despite the self-congratulatory statements from world
leaders praising themselves for single-handedly saving the world from climate catastrophe,
the reality is that they have set the planet on course to burn. He’s joining us from New
York. Chris, thank you so much for joining us. CHRIS WILLIAMS: Thank you. PERIES: So Chris, let me begin with your initial
take on this agreement that was signed on the 12th of December in Paris. WILLIAMS: I mean, my take is that despite
the fact that they’ve reduced, you know, how much we can go up by and stay safe down to
1.5 degrees, all the pledges that have come in, all of which are now voluntary, so there’s
no enforcement mechanism, actually put us on track for 3 degrees or more of warming.
So–and there’s no real mechanism for financing. They’re expanding the role with the market,
cap and trade, including offsets, all of which we know don’t work. And there’s no mention
of the phrase ‘fossil fuels’ anywhere in the agreement. And we know that 80 percent of
the fossil fuels that we already know exist in reserves have to stay under the ground. And that’s why Prof. Hansen said that it was
BS and a fraud, because nobody’s talking about ending production of fossil fuels. All we’re
talking about is at some point in the future we’ll be reducing emissions. PERIES: How is this so, Chris? How can you
have an agreement of this magnitude, spanning across the world, and not mention the word
fossil fuels in the agreement, the main cause of all of this? WILLIAMS: Well, that is the giant elephant
in the room in terms of all we’re ever talking about, all of these 21 years of treaties and
negotiations have all been stepping around the main problem, which is the production
of fossil fuels. So what we need to be talking about is how
come we’re not closing down, first of all, exploration for more fossil fuels, which is
not happening? Secondly, the most polluting fossil fuels in use at the moment, which is
coal. Why we’re not ending those, and transferring the trillions of dollars that are subsidized
to produce more of these things, more of this energy source, why are we not transferring
that to developing nations so that they can skip the whole generation of dirty energy
and move on to clean alternatives? The alternatives are out there. PERIES: Now, Chris, now some of the major
oil interests played a major role in Paris. We reported on Saudi Arabia and the role that
they played, you know, oil gushing country like Saudi Arabia had a key role in Paris,
as did some of the oil producing countries. And this in that sense is not unlike what
happened in Copenhagen or in previous attempts to come to an agreement. And one big question
was, you know, why are they allowed at the table in the first place? What do you make
of them being there, and is there any way that the movement can be heard on this? WILLIAMS: Basically, the polluters were in
the conference, and not the protesters. The French government made sure that they were
not heard, and yet the people who were helping to draft the agreement were supposed to end
the era of fossil fuels, were in the halls of the conference. In fact, many of them were
sponsoring the conference. So I don’t see, I mean, one could argue that what else could
we expect from a conference where countries like Saudi Arabia, countries like the United
States, are the major drafters. I mean, one of the contrasts with the Copenhagen
agreement is actually worse in terms of what was included in Copenhagen were limits, ways
in which we need to address the growing and very, already very large, problem of international
shipping and airlines. And so that specifically was omitted from the Paris agreement. So shipping
and airlines, much of which actually is high-flying military jets, then are not included in any
reductions, and they account for already about 5 percent of emissions. And that is set to
grow over the life of this agreement by 350 percent. So in that sense, actually, Paris is worse
than Copenhagen, and everybody knows that Copenhagen was a disaster. So I’m not sure
what makes Paris any better now that we’re another six years down the road. PERIES: Now, some of the optimists are saying
that, you know, there are opportunities to tighten the pledges moving forward. What do
they mean by that, and is that going to work? WILLIAMS: Yeah. Well, there is a mechanism
for saying, well, we need to review this every five years, because maybe we’re not on track
for where we need to go. And we already know that we’re not on track. They know that they’re
not on track. But basically we also know that the sooner we take action the easier and the
cheaper and the more effective all of our solutions will be. So by delaying things for
another five years, and not saying we’re even starting things until 2020, and whatever we
do there is no enforcement mechanism. It’s all completely voluntary. I don’t see–the
optimists are there saying, well you know, we’ve got to compromise and we’ve got to,
at least got people to sign on to something. But what’s the point of signing onto something
when you know that that compromise actually evades the laws of physics or attempts to,
which we all know cannot be evaded? PERIES: And Chris, you wrote the very famous
book on the capitalist-led problems in this area of climate change. What are some of the
solutions? If you had an opportunity to influence the Paris talk, what would you have been calling
for? WILLIAMS: Well, we, the good news is we know
all of the technical solutions. We have the technology. We have the money. It’s just a
question of how do we rearrange social and political power to change electrical power
and transportation and so on. So what should we be doing? Well, first of
all, ending all the subsidies to fossil fuel production to incentivize that. According
to the IMF that’s several trillion dollars. Trillion dollars. And yet they’re fighting
over handing $100 billion a year to developing countries to help them. So the first and most
obvious thing would be to end subsidies to produce fossil fuels. That would immediately
alter the price of fossil fuels disadvantageously and improve the cost-effectiveness of solar
and wind, and wind is already cost-competitive with most forms of fossil fuel production,
even with the subsidies. So that’s the first thing that could be done.
The second thing is transfer that money to developing countries so that they could completely
almost skip the fossil fuel era in the way that they’ve already skipped laying telephone
cables, because they’ve gone straight to more advanced technology, which is cell phones
and wireless. So the same could be done for–we don’t have to build the infrastructure in
the developing countries. We could change the way that that is organized. And the other things that we can be doing
obviously are addressing the massive and bloated military budgets, starting with the United
States, which is greater than half the rest of the world, and accounts for a massive percentage
of emissions in and of itself. And then there are other issues to do with industrialized
agriculture, deforestation. All of these need addressing. And unfortunately what Paris does
is enshrine carbon trading and carbon offsets into the mechanism for how we’re going to
deal with some of these things. And we already know from many years of you trying that thing
that all it does is lead to scams and not really any reductions in emissions. PERIES: Chris, it’s a shame after reviewing,
the IPCC reviewing something over 3,000 studies and having so many scientists from around
the world supporting its process at the UN, that the nation-states actually come up with
this half-baked agreement that they consider a success. So what’s next for the environmental
movement? And what can we hope for here? WILLIAMS; Well, I mean, I think on the one
hand we can be very hopeful that 1.5 degrees even got mentioned in Paris. Because the reason
they’ve decided to do that is on the one hand, science has got more definitive on the question
of what constitutes dangerous warming. And we know it’s not 2 degrees C, it’s 1.5. We’ve
already had 1 degree C so far over the last century or so, and so we’re already seeing
the effects of one. So let alone 2 or 3, would be absolutely catastrophic. And so the fact that on the one hand, scientists
have put this on the agenda. The other half of that equation is the movement that has
been growing over the last decade and a half or more for climate justice. And so as much
as the protesters were locked out of the negotiations, civil society organizations and so on, by
the French government, I think it’s about building the movement further, connecting
with the developing world in the United States, calling for climate justice, recognizing that
the people who are least responsible for the problem are paying the heaviest price. And
involving, actually, people as workers. So talking about how can we use the power
of ordinary working people through unions to actually build new infrastructure and transfer
capital from the developed world to the developing world so that we can actually have a world
that looks the same as this generation and previous generations grew up in for the last
10,000 years. PERIES: All right, Chris. Thank you so much
for joining us today, and we’ll be back to you very soon, I’m sure. WILLIAMS: Thank you very much, Sharmini. PERIES: And thank you for joining us on the
Real News Network.

14 thoughts on “‘Fossil Fuels’ Nowhere to be Found in the Paris Agreement

  1. SO I GUESS THAT MEANS THAT POOR PEOPLE IN COLD COUNTRIES CAN JUST FREEZE… I SURE AS HELL CAN'T AFFORD HIGHER ENERGY COSTS… NOT WHILE EXISTING ON A FIXED INCOME… oops… sorry for the caps

  2. 2:28 " How can you … " – It's called NEUROSES and DENIALISM.

    This, too, WILL change. (with mathematical certainty. It ain't going to be pretty)

    R.I.O. humankind (no Peace, just Oblivion)

  3. COP21: Military emission are (continue to be) EXCLUDED and are not even reported.
    Aviation and shipping are NOT INCLUDED, too.

    Surely, this is going to save humankind, or at least some do present it that way, e.g.: " World leader have set a landmark goal that can save everything we love" (CAN you get any more neurotic / insane ?)

  4. Humanity as a whole has done nothing to stop CO2 production in any meaningful way. We are on our way into a future that may look like "Cloud Atlas". Greenland is melting away and will add 7(!) meters to the oceans. How the fuck will humanity judge us in some hndred years? The 'Age of Stupid' or 'Dark Age of Technology'?

  5. I just watched a news report reporting that Europe is working on some underwater projects place of their cost which will be generated by the powerful under currents that flows in and out. The US or California is looking into using this in San Francisco waters under the golden gate bridge. And the way these fans looked build they won't be in the way of commercial boating or anything. UK is already in the final stages so let's see what we do.

  6. I just watched a news report reporting that Europe is working on some underwater projects place of their cost which will be generated by the powerful under currents that flows in and out. The US or California is looking into using this in San Francisco waters under the golden gate bridge. And the way these fans looked build they won't be in the way of commercial boating or anything. UK is already in the final stages so let's see what we do.

  7. Hemp fuel 30 barrels =1 acre But they have brain washed too many. What a shame . The petro dollar will destroy humanity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *