Groping Toward Paris

A Climate Climax

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-un-united-nations-flag-original-graphic-elaboration-image44755347On 30 November 2015, delegates from about 200 nations will convene in Paris, including many Heads of State and Heads of Government. Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will meet for 12 days in an attempt to finalize two closely related international agreements:

(1) Conclude a comprehensive agreement on reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions sufficiently to hold global temperature increase below 2oC, compared to pre-industrial levels.

2) Establish a $100 billion Green Climate Fund to assist less developed nations to develop economically while coping with effects of climate change. [1]

About the CO2 Emissions Reduction Agreement

Parties to this agreement, especially the economically developed nations that emit the majority of the world’s CO2, are expected to propose national emissions reduction goals sometime this Spring. Those proposals, of course, will remain open to negotiation until a final agreement is concluded. There is an expectation that achieving national goals will be (somehow or another) legally binding. A working level meeting of delegates this week (8 – 13 February 2015) in Geneva is expected to produce a draft agreement, providing a framework for negotiations.

To date, the U.S. has proposed to reduce CO2 emissions levels by 26% – 28% by 2025, compared to 2005 levels. China has proposed to reach a peak in emissions levels by 2030, with reductions thereafter. The European Union has proposed national guidelines of 40% reduction by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. [2]

About the Green Climate Fund

The fund is intended to help less economically developed nations develop sustainably, while coping with effects of climate change. The expectation is that the fund will have $100 billion at its disposal, of which about $10 billion has been promised. The fund is to be administered and distributed under the direction of a Board established by the UNFCCC. [3]

What About It?

The entire matter of climate change is contentious and, unfortunately, highly politicized. In the U.S., any number of credible surveys [4] indicate that belief that human activities seriously threaten the global climate correlates highly with political views. People who profess views associated with the political left tend to regard climate change as a dire and immediate threat to humanity. Those who profess views associated with the political right tend to discount the matter as error or hysteria, if not outright fraud. Further, those polls indicate something less than half of Americans polled believe that human activities seriously threaten the global climate. On top of that, a clear minority of those polled regard climate change as an urgent public issue.

On a global scale, less economically developed nations tend to regard climate change as caused by past actions in the more economically developed nations. Since the developed nations caused the problem, in their view, they should solve it. Further, nations that rely on export of fossil fuels – especially petroleum – for a significant part of their national GDP are understandably less than enthusiastic about an international pact that is clearly detrimental to their economies. In addition to the Middle Eastern nations, Russia, Nigeria, Venezuela and Angola come quickly to mind.

What’s Next?

Diametrically opposed views on climate change are likely to precipitate lots of global political maneuvering and media bombast. In this country, the President and the Congress are, in my view, unlikely to find any meaningful common ground. Globally, nations are likely to watch each other, each waiting for others to make the serious concessions.

In the end, I do think that some sort of agreement will be reached. I doubt that such an agreement will even promise – let alone deliver – the emissions reductions projected as necessary to hold global warming to 2oC, which is the stated objective of the entire UNFCCC process.

What should a smaller manufacturer do? Continue to act in a pragmatic manner. Continue to reduce materials requirements. Continue to improve energy utilization efficiencies. Continue to produce the innovative products, processes and business models that make a business competitive in this globalized economy. In the end, American (and global) manufacturing doesn’t really need a government – driven international agreement. Manufacturing firms need to recognize and address, jointly and severally, the Sustainability of their own businesses.

Chuck and Sophia at Disney World 2Thoughtful comments and experience reports are always appreciated.

 

…  Chuck Harrington (Chuck@JeraSustainableDevelopment.com)

P.S: Contact me when your organization is serious about pursuing Sustainability … CH

This blog and associated website (www.JeraSustainableDevelopment.com) are intended as a resource for smaller manufacturers in the pursuit of Sustainability. While editorial focus is on smaller manufacturers, all interested readers are welcome. New blog posts are published weekly.

UN flag image: © Friziofriziofrizio | Dreamstime.comUn United Nations Flag Photo

[1] Learn more on these issues at the UNFCCC website: http://unfccc.int/2860.php

[2] For more detail, see: http://www.rtcc.org/2015/01/30/pressure-on-to-finish-draft-paris-climate-deal-in-february/

[3] For more on the Green Fund, see: www.gcfund.org

[4] Example polls from the Pew Trust and from the Gallup organization: http://www.people-press.org/2014/06/26/section-7-global-warming-environment-and-energy/http://www.gallup.com/poll/167843/climate-change-not-top-worry.aspx, and  http://www.people-press.org/2015/01/15/publics-policy-priorities-reflect-changing-conditions-at-home-and-abroad/