Another good take on it from the Ethics & Public Policy Center.
Oh, the self-congratulation! Heads of state and foreign ministers shaking hands and patting each other on the back for a historic, wonderful climate deal. And oh, how the media is lapping it up. Historic, historic, we tell you!
Except that it’s all a sham.
Let’s get the big issue out of the way first, the one everyone knows: The agreement is not legally binding. It’s not a treaty. It’s just an agreement to give it a shot.
Now, the supporters of the deal, such as Secretary of State John Kerry, tell us that doesn’t mean the deal is worthless, because there will be enforcement through public pressure, and “naming and shaming.”
This, by itself, isn’t ludicrous. I mean, yes, it doesn’t seem very likely that Greenpeace can do much to shame the Politburo of China’s Communist Party, but at the end of the day, yes, public pressure and shaming can and sometimes do change things.
But this is actually why the deal actually goes against that goal, because the targets agreed upon — or rather, not agreed upon — by the parties are a sham.
Manhattan Institute fellow Oren Cass breaks it down:
The negotiating framework established at a 2014 conference in Lima, Peru, requires each country to submit a plan to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, called an “Intended Nationally Determined Contribution” (INDC). Each submission is at the discretion of the individual country; there is no objective standard it must meet or emissions reduction it must achieve. [Cass, via Politico]
In other words, each country determines its own target. Not only that, but China and India vetoed a provision that would require targets to be set according to an agreed upon objective standard. So not only does each country get to set its own target under the deal, but it can use whatever scheme it desires.
Not surprisingly, many countries, especially China, the world’s biggest polluter, have taken advantage of this provision and set “targets” for themselves that are not targets at all. This is why most outside observers, such as the rabid Tea Party conservatives over at the MIT’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, agree that even if the targets under the deal are hit, it will have no impact on the climate.