Paris Climate Agreement: Dangerous Bullshit from Fossil Fuel Addicts

December 14, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


The international climate conference in Paris announced a major agreement on Saturday, December 12. Representatives of 195 nations reached a deal that technically commits nearly every country to carry out plans to lower greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change.

U.S. President Obama immediately praised the new accord: “I believe this moment can be a turning point for the world. We’ve shown that the world has both the will and the ability to take on this challenge.” The Paris conference “met the moment” of the current crisis, Obama declared, and “the planet will be in better shape for the next generation.”

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None of this is true. This conference was dominated by the U.S. and other big powers of the world. They are the biggest culprits when it comes to responsibility for global climate change and other aspects of the environmental emergency confronting the world. These big powers were able to get all the other governments (including countries which have only a miniscule impact on greenhouse gas emissions) to agree to an accord that actually leaves the world on a disastrous course.

The goal for reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases called for in the agreement is based on the argument that the rise in average global temperature needs to be kept under 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) compared to pre-industrial times. And the agreement calls for countries to come together every five years to review and revise those targets. But this goal is nowhere near what is required to have a serious impact on global warming, which is already having devastating effects, especially on the poorest regions of the world.

The scientific reality is that even a temperature rise of 3.6 degrees F (2 degrees C) is too much. Even if everything in this new treaty is carried out—and major parts of it are voluntary on the part of individual countries—global warming will continue at very dangerous pace. That means glaciers will continue to melt... the seas will continue to rise... increasingly powerful storms will continue to ravage the planet... plant and animal life—including agriculture—will be under increasing stress and attack... and mass extinctions of vast numbers of plant and animal species on the Earth will continue and grow.

Prominent climate scientist James Hansen hit at the truth before the deal was completely finalized, when he could already see what it was about: “It’s a fraud really, a fake. It’s just bullshit for them to say: ‘we’ll have a [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.”

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Revolution/ will do more analysis of this agreement, but what Hansen is pointing to is right. One of the egregious contradictions in the agreement is that those dominating the process openly admitted before the conference that they were not even trying to get an accord that would establish standards that would keep the global temperature increase below 2 degrees C. And the final agreement does not set standards that even pretend to keep the temperature below that level. It is exactly bullshit to claim that because of this treaty, “the planet will be in better shape for the next generation.”

And even more basic than that—the capitalist-imperialist system that now rules the planet CANNOT put an end to the environmental devastation and destruction that looms. This is a system that is based on private ownership of the means of producing what society needs, is driven by dog-eat-dog competition between different capitalists, and can only exist by exploiting and oppressing people. The workings of this capitalist-imperialist system relentlessly ravage the Earth and its land, waters, atmosphere, plants, and animals.

For economic, political, and military reasons, the rulers of this system cannot decisively break their dependence on fossil fuels. The hope that capitalism could do something fundamentally different is an illusion—but determined struggle against the destruction of the environment, and beyond that, revolution and a whole different kind of system, is precisely what IS needed to have an actual chance at saving the planet.


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