Nearly 200 nations signed the Paris accord to tackle climate change – but signing isn’t implementing, critics say.
The deal sets out to commit signatories to reduce carbon emissions, but the targets are not legally binding.
And that worries those who don’t trust big polluters, like China and India, to act. Even its most ardent supporters aren’t dismissing inherent flaws. Top US negotiator Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged this in an appearance on ABC News a day after the deal was announced Saturday. “I understand the criticisms of the agreement because it doesn’t have a mandatory scheme and it doesn’t have a compliance enforcement mechanism. That’s true.” The other worry for detractors is that because the agreement is not a “treaty,” US congressional approval is not mandatory for ratification. Optimists point out that, while imperfect, the pact is a serious beginning, evidence that the world is no longer ignoring that which cannot be ignored.
Watch Obama’s statement on COP21:
Climate Accord Doesn’t End in Paris
The Editorial Board – USA Today
…The things that made the Paris agreement so broadly acceptable to so many countries — its voluntary nature, its lack of enforcement tools, and the many “requests” and “urges” throughout the 31-page text — are the same things that threaten its effectiveness….
The pledges made so far aren’t nearly enough to meet the Paris target of keeping the planet “well below” 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit of warming. So the agreement is less a solution than it is an effort to provide more structure and encouragement to the effort to control man-made climate change.
In the best case scenario, the Paris accord will evolve like the competition between countries, and increasingly across regions, to sign new free trade agreements. Successive rounds of negotiations take on their own momentum and lead to more and more progress.
Paris: The Treaty That Dare Not Speak Its Name
Rupert Darwall – National Review
The legal effect of the Paris ratchet would be to constrain the discretion of future administrations
“Everybody else is taking climate change really seriously,” the president said at a press conference shortly before he left Paris. “They think it’s a really big problem. . . . So whoever is the next president of the United States . . . is going to need to think this is really important.”
If the president decides to ratify the Paris Agreement without obtaining congressional approval from two-thirds of the Senate, not only will he ensure that the only way of reversing the agreement will be to put a Republican in the White House, but he also will be subverting Article Two of the U.S. Constitution. For America, the Paris Agreement is a very big deal.
Tech Will Be Key to Tackling Climate Change
The Editors – The National
What we can take from this is that perhaps the world shouldn’t only focus on reducing energy use but also on finding new technologies to diversify energy resources. As Bill Gates said when he announced his energy research initiative this week, what we need is ‘innovation to get to breakthrough solutions.’
On the one hand, the Paris Agreement includes working on strengthening the technology mechanism to support the implementation of the agreement through focusing on research, development and demonstration to develop and enhance endogenous capacities and technologies. On the other hand, private initiatives like Mr Gates’, as he said, will help to boost research and development that governments around the world conduct, since they can help to speed up the commercialisation of the process and address the sense of urgency.
In Paris, the United Nations Delivered. Now It’s Up to the Rest of Us to Transform Society Away From Fossil Fuels
Timmons Roberts – The Brookings Institution
In the end, it was all smiles, hugs, and selfies…. But for two weeks in Paris at COP21, and for six years before that, there was deep uncertainty about whether the United Nations system could deliver an adequate agreement to deal with the existential threat of climate change.
The Paris Agreement, whose final draft was distributed at noon Saturday for delegates from the world’s nations to review, was not all we needed. But neither was it only the lowest common denominator we feared it might be.
As the Guardian’s George Monbiot put it, “The talks in Paris are the best there have ever been. And that is a terrible indictment.”