Mitigating Paris

As we argued in 2007 and again following the G20 summit in Hamburg, global warming will affect poor countries far less able to cope with the consequences than the advanced industrial nations.

We also warned that if the science is correct, emissions of greenhouse gases need to be reduced due to the longevity of CO2 in the atmosphere and the resulting cumulative build-up in its atmospheric concentration. And that is without even taking into consideration the more potent greenhouse gas effect of the likes of methane.

The science is finally catching up as a new study published today duly notes that heat waves will result in a sharp rise in humidity in South Asia, making it difficult for human beings to regulate their body temperature and remain cool – unless emissions are reduced.

…the most detrimental human impacts of climate change on heat waves could potentially be those in developing nations because of the vulnerability of their populations. In much of India and Pakistan, an apparent rising trend in the frequency of deadly heat waves has been observed.

Most of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh will experience temperatures close to the limits of human survivability by 2100 because of extremes of humidity. A

critical threshold [will be reached] by the late 21st century under the business-as-usual scenario of future greenhouse gas emissions. The most intense hazard from extreme future heat waves is concentrated around densely populated agricultural regions of the Ganges and Indus river basins. Climate change, without mitigation, presents a serious and unique risk in South Asia, a region inhabited by about one-fifth of the global human population, due to an unprecedented combination of severe natural hazard and acute vulnerability. [our emphasis].

And yet, Article 2 of the Paris Climate Accord adopted in December 2015 says that the aim Accord is to enhance the implementation United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change by

(a) Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change;

(b) Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production;

(c) Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.”

In other words, it permits further increases in greenhouse gas emissions and advocates mitigation and adaption rather than reductions.

But if the science is correct, a true solution requires reductions in CO2 and other emissions so that the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere begins falling again, not mitigation and adaptation as mandated by the Accord.

But that’s just fine because, as usual, the West is to blame for everything. The West, after all, embarked on industrialisation using fossil fuels, so under the December 2015 Paris Climate Accord, poor countries received the carte blanche they demanded to continue their “development” by ramping up their own emissions as they catch up.

At the same time, the effectively bankrupt West has to cut its own emissions and mobilise $100 billion per annum in climate finance by 2020 and continuing at that level until 2025.

It’s very much like smoking, which is increasing rapidly in the developing world, even though everyone knows it is bad for health. But the West started that too, so Western warnings of the dire consequences are sheer hypocrisy and can be ignored.

China and India account  for the biggest increases in CO2 in recent decades, even though their per capita emissions are far below those of the West.

As we forecast in 2007, they are heading for disaster if they continue to increase emissions – even if the West were to stop its use of fossil fuels this minute.

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