Paris Climate Fail: Populist Energy Revolts, Yawns From Emerging Nations
The Paris climate agreement, which was enacted in 2015 with the goal of reduced global emissions, is “flat failing” amid backlash over higher taxes in nations implementing the agreement while major polluters such as China and India ignore it, analysts say.
The Trump administration filed formal paperwork Monday to withdraw from the agreement, the first day it could legally do so, citing the “unfair economic burden” on U.S. workers, business and taxpayers. The exit will become official Nov. 4, 2020, the day after the presidential election.
President Donald Trump “was roundly decried on the Left for moving to cement the U.S. exit from the Paris agreement,” but the accord in 2019 “has bigger problems” than the U.S. president, Valerie Richardson wrote for The Washington Times on Nov. 5.
Since the Paris agreement was signed in 2015, just two of the 32 top-emitting nations — Morocco and the Gambia — “have enacted policies consistent with holding global temperature rise from pre-industrial levels below 2 degrees Celsius by 2100,” according to the Climate Action Tracker.
“To the extent that the accord is supposed to result in emissions going down, it’s flat failing,” said Heartland Institute senior fellow H. Sterling Burnett. “It was signed in 2015. We’re now in 2019, and emissions have gone up for four straight years. So it’s not going in the direction it’s supposed to be going.”
Former officials with the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scolded signees of the accord who have not made progress on emissions. In a report titled “The Truth Behind the Climate Pledges”, the former officials said they found that, of the 184 nations who signed on to the Paris climate pledge, 65 percent were “insufficient” and only 19 percent were “sufficient.”
“When you see a country like Russia not even putting a pledge on the table, it is extremely disturbing,” former IPCC chair Sir Robert Watson told the Guardian. “Saudi Arabia and Russia rely heavily on their fossil fuels, but that is no excuse. Those that have not effectively made any pledges yet really should be shamed into being part of the solution.”
Richardson noted that “With populist uprisings over energy hikes hitting countries like France and Chile, however, world leaders may be more concerned about keeping their jobs than receiving a UN scolding.”
The “yellow vest” protests in Paris led French President Emmanuel Macron last year to reverse his carbon tax. Deadly rioting in Chile last month was fueled by a metro fare increase and 10 percent hike in electricity prices as the country seeks to phase out coal-fired plants by 2040.
In Australia, voters in May re-elected the conservative government which is fighting proposals to reduce emissions and coal usage. What was played up by the media as the “climate-change election” ended with conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison coming out victorious. Morrison, a fan of Trump, has also vowed to outlaw climate boycotts.
“Australia has also joined the Trump administration in cutting off contributions to the Green Climate Fund, a proposed $100 billion pool of cash intended to help poorer nations meet their pledges under the Paris agreement,” Richardson wrote.
In Canada, several provinces have elected conservative leaders who are opposed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s carbon-pricing plan.
In Finland, a minor party opposed to pricey climate policies gained the second-most seats in April’s parliamentary election.
In the Netherlands, a three-year-old party, the Forum for Democracy, gained the most seats in the upper house of Parliament in the March election. The party is led by Thierry Baudet, who ran against “climate-change hysteria.”
“We’ve had fuel riots in Mexico. We’ve had fuel riots in Brazil. And where we haven’t had riots, we’ve just had sea changes in the electorate,” Burnett said. “It doesn’t matter where you go. When people have to pony up, they’re saying no.”
Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Forum in London, said the blowback over climate-change policies shows that “the Paris agreement is likely to end in failure, just like the  Kyoto Protocol did before.”
“It is becoming increasingly evident that most governments around the world are prioritizing energy security, affordability and industrial competitiveness over the Paris climate agreement,” Peiser said. “Green lip-service is replacing radical decarbonization targets in most capitals as governments are facing popular revolts over rising energy prices.”
The Climate Action Tracker noted that, even as the U.S. leaves the Paris agreement, its emissions are projected to come in 2 percent lower than the initial post-Trump projections.