Alternative View: Paris Agreement Reflects Reality – a Step Forward?

Published December 31, 2015

Climate Change Weekly #197

Benny Peiser, Ph.D., director of the Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF), welcomed the Paris climate agreement as the first agreement since the conference of the parties first began meeting to finally acknowledge the reality of the political situation: “The developing world will not agree to any legally binding caps, never mind reductions of their CO2 emissions,” and developed countries have finally joined them making promises to do something, but not binding themselves to do anything – unlike the agreements coming out of the first Earth Summit and Kyoto.

The agreement was hailed by dozens of liberal rags and online journals like the Guardian and Slate, paraphrasing Al Gore as representing the “end of the fossil fuel era.” This was false advertising. As The Federalist notes:

[Even the Guardian finally admitted,] “The overall agreement is legally binding, but some elements – including the pledges to curb emissions by individual countries and the climate finance elements [a multi-billion-dollar giveaway to poor countries] – are not.” So everything is legally binding, except the actual heart of the agreement. Moreover, several big industries are exempted, including air travel, shipping, and the biggest one, agriculture. Together these industries account for about a quarter of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.

As with most big international confabs, this is more like an agreement to have an agreement: “[T]he agreement reached on Saturday depends on political will, with countries setting their own climate action plans.” In other words, it’s a legally binding commitment by individual countries to go back and think about doing something that might actually be legally binding.

Economist Richard Tol notes the environmental movement scored a pyrrhic victory at best by getting agreement on keeping temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels; earlier discussions had set the target at 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Most economists and many scientists believe even the higher 2°C is not feasible. Tol notes,

The rate of decarbonisation of the world economy would need to increase [from] the current 1% per year to 5% or 6%, and we would need a public programme – comparable in size to health care – to subsidise bioenergy, as well as carbon capture and carbon storage on a massive scale. [Instead] in Paris, this near-impossible goal was replaced by a more ambitious one. Like contestants at a beauty pageant telling the jury that their deepest wish is world peace, political leaders pleaded for the most stringent target they could think of. And why would they not? Pleas like this placate environmentalists. But it is cheap talk.

Tol argues it’s cheap talk because, as noted above, the Paris agreement ended the quest for a legally binding treaty. Economists, Tol says, should be pleased with this outcome since most consistently predicted a global agreement limiting emissions was not feasible. However, he bemoans the fact economists failed to successfully communicate this message resulting in “policymakers tr[ying] the impossible for 15 years. As taxpayers, we should be concerned by the cost of it all.”

Concerned? I’m outraged! But at least I can share a chuckle with climate realist friends at the expense of climate alarmists who persist in trying to put lipstick on the pig-in-a-poke that is the Paris agreement.

— H. Sterling Burnett

SOURCES: VOX; Global Warming Policy Forum; and The Federalist


New study confirms warming measurements inflatedLegal watchdog sues for release of secret climate scienceIf IPCC is right, too late to prevent dangerous warmingEarth’s tilt impacts climate in unexpected waysFlurry of lawsuits challenge Obama’s climate rules


A new study presented at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in mid-December finds temperatures are warming at a significantly slower pace than claimed by government officials. A team of scientists examined the 1,218 U.S. temperature stations comprising the U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN), determining just 410 of the stations have sufficient reliability and consistency in their equipment, procedures, and surrounding environment to provide accurate temperature data since 1979. When scientists compared the temperature trends at these 410 stations with the U.S. temperature trends reported by U.S. government officials, they found temperatures warming one-third more slowly than government officials claim. The findings suggest when government officials adjust raw measurements to account for inconsistencies in equipment, procedures, and surrounding environments, the adjustments are biased toward reporting more warming than is actually occurring.

“The majority of weather stations used by NOAA to detect climate change temperature signal have been compromised by encroachment of artificial surfaces like concrete, asphalt, and heat sources like air conditioner exhausts,” said Anthony Watts, one of the study’s authors. “This study demonstrates conclusively that this issue affects temperature trend and that NOAA’s methods are not correcting for this problem, resulting in an inflated temperature trend.”

SOURCES: Forbes and Watts/AGU


Government watchdog Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit on December 2, 2015, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking communications from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) officials regarding its methodology for collecting and interpreting data used in climate.

Judicial Watch requested records from October 30, 2014, through October 30, 2015, including all documents and records of communications between NOAA officials, employees, and contractors, regarding “The methodology and utilization of night marine air temperatures to adjust ship and buoy temperature data; The use of other global temperature datasets for both NOAA’s in-house dataset improvements and monthly press releases conveying information to the public about global temperatures; [and] The utilization and consideration of satellite bulk atmospheric temperature readings for use in global temperature datasets” related to NOAA’s controversial June 2015 study published in Science purporting to show the widely acknowledged hiatus in global warming had not taken place. After NOAA ignored a subpoena for these documents by the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, Judicial Watch filed suit.

On December 8, less than week after Judicial Watch sued NOAA, the agency turned over to Congress at least some of the targeted documents and informed Judicial Watch it would begin searching for documents responsive to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request. After the document release to the House Science committee, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton stated, “We have little doubt that our lawsuit helped to pry these scandalous climate change report documents from the Obama administration.”

“Given the lawless refusal to comply with our FOIA request and a congressional subpoena, we have little doubt that the documents will show the Obama administration put politics before science to advance global warming alarmism,” said Fitton.

SOURCE: Judicial Watch


Jo Nova points out either IPCC doesn’t believe its own claims concerning climate sensitivity, or it doesn’t understand math.

According to climate modelers’ calculations, a doubling of carbon dioxide would bring about approximately 3°C of warming, with dangerous climate changes occurring at 1.5°C. If true, then we have already passed the point of no return. Based on IPCC estimates of sensitivity to carbon dioxide increases, at present levels of 400 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide, we’ve already locked in dangerous warming due to the lag effect of temperature to carbon dioxide levels.

Nova notes IPCC recently granted the climate sensitivity to a doubling of carbon dioxide could be lower, at 2.5°C. If IPCC’s more recent sensitivity estimates set the new standard, to prevent temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels can reach no higher than 430 ppm. At the current increase of 2 ppm per year, this means the world must become carbon-neutral by 2030, 20 years prior to the target goal set in Paris of carbon neutrality by 2050.

Nova concludes, “either the IPCC is incompetent, or (golly) maybe the point of the 1.5°C label is not really about ‘global temperature’ at all. Think of it from a PR point of view: 1. It implies we can control the climate; 2. It looks like an advance on the 2°C target; 3. Given that the warming has paused, it’s useful to shift those goal posts closer to where the ball keeps being kicked. Or maybe the UN are really serious about the 1.5C target, and they just haven’t done that first most obvious calculation?”



An international team of researchers including climate scientists from Louisiana State University, China’s University of Science and Technology, and National Taiwan University, have uncovered a previously unrecognized impact of Earth’s periodic tilt shift on the tropical rainbelt. Analyzing more than 282,000 years of data, the researchers found as Earth’s tilt shifts every 41,000 years, it affects Intertropical Convergence Zone, or ITCZ. Rather than the zone simply shifting north and south as previously believed, ITCZ expands. Since ITCZ significantly influences weather, the new research should help scientists better predict extreme weather events.

SOURCE: Watts Up with That


A flurry of last-minute lawsuits were filed challenging the centerpiece of the Obama administration’s fight against global warming, the Clean Power Plan, just before the December 22 deadline to challenge the regulations. At least 10 parties filed lawsuits challenging the rules in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Those joining the dozens of states, energy companies, business groups, and others who have already filed suit to block the rules include the Competitive Enterprise Institute, American Forest & Paper Association, American Wood Council, Energy-Intensive Manufacturers’ Working Group on Greenhouse Gas Regulation, Local Government Coalition for Renewable Energy, National Alliance of Forest Owners, Minnesota Power, Prairie State Generating Co., Denbury Onshore, and Biogenic CO2 Coalition.

“EPA’s Clean Power Plan violates constitutionally protected state rights by forcing set emissions standards for each state’s energy section,” said Sam Kazman, general counsel for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, in a statement. “The Clean Power Plan will also result in less power at higher prices.” The lawsuits are likely to be combined with cases led by West Virginia and North Dakota challenging the rules for existing and new power plants, respectively, and are likely to eventually reach the Supreme Court, which could decide whether the rules are in line with the powers granted to the Environmental Protection Agency by Congress in the Clean Air Act and the limits placed on executive action in the Constitution.

SOURCE: The Hill

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