How 1% Could Derail the Paris Climate Accord of 99%

How 1% Could Derail the Paris Climate Accord of 99%

Today, almost 200 nations have united in a global agreement on global change. But the efforts of a few can still undermine the hopes of the many.

After the 1992 Kyoto Protocol, it took almost a quarter of a century to achieve the Paris accord. . For the first time, it obligates both advanced nations as well as emerging and developing economies into reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

Long-term challenges

However, the Paris consensus remains fragile. Advanced nations want less pollution but are not eager to pay penalties for their historical pollution. Emerging economies want change but hope to industrialize as well. Island nations seek the toughest targets to avoid sinking under the sea level.

Second, the Paris accord requires governments to hold the rise in average global temperatures to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius relative to pre-industrial levels, while nations must subsequently work on limiting the increase to 1.5 degrees. Still, current national plans would still allow temperatures to rise by 3 degrees by the end of the century. That timeout may have far more severe consequences than anticipated.

Third, the accord compels governments to reassess and resubmit their emission targets every half a decade, starting in 2023. To defuse global warming to 1.5 degrees, human emissions of carbon dioxide – primarily from coal, oil and gas – must go down to zero by 2050. The real question is whether such promises can cope with the ultimate costs of containing global warming.

Finally, the body of the Paris accord is said to be binding under international law. However, due to US objections, key elements of the deal, including the national plans to limit emissions and specific commitments to provide financial aid, are released separately or mentioned only in legal decisions accompanying the deal.

That was critical to President Obama to ratify the agreement without sending it to Congress. Most Americans applaud the deal. Washington is a different story.

Short-term challenges

Indeed, national decisions could well undermine global unity about global warming, if the key political actors depend on oil, gas and coal financiers in campaign financing.

In Washington, any climate-change bill must cope with Republican resistance. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell has warned Obama “making promises he can’t keep” on climate deal, while Speaker of the House Paul Ryan thinks that “science doesn’t get climate change.” In the Republican 2016 race, the lead belongs to Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. While Trump says that he “doesn’t believe in climate change,” Cruz thinks that “the data doesn’t support climate change.”

Cruz’s campaign is funded by billionaires Robert Mercer, Toby Neugebauer, Dan and Farris Wilks. Mercer is a hedge-fund magnate. Neugebauer heads energy private equity giants. Wilks brothers made their money in hydraulic fracking. Neither they nor Cruz will support Paris accord, which would shrink oil and gas profits.

While 99% of the world would like to defuse negative climate change scenarios, the 1% that relies financially on oil, gas and coal will fight change.

After Paris, James Hansen, the former NASA scientist who many consider father of climate change awareness, warned that the accord is more promises than action. He believes that greenhouse gas emissions should be taxed across the board. Instead of Washington, he believes more in Chinese leadership “but they will need cooperation,” he adds.

The struggle against climate change did not end in Paris. It has only started. What matters in this future battle is not where Washington has failed in the past but where China could succeed in the future.

Dan Steinbock is research director of international business at the India China and America Institute (US) and a visiting fellow at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (China) and the EU Centre (Singapore). See

A slightly shorter version of this commentary, “Energy profiteers could derail Paris climate accord,” was published by Shanghai Daily on December 17, 2015.


2 Responses to "How 1% Could Derail the Paris Climate Accord of 99%"

  1. benl8   December 19, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    Lester Brown at WorldWatch Institute has a slide show describing renewable power potential and actual capacity, —- 67 slides.
    #16 shows that 4.6% of current electricity is generated by renewables. The mountain of transition is a large mountain, but coal, the worst pollutant, is being phased out. Too little is devoted to conservation.

  2. Oblique0123   December 21, 2015 at 2:34 am

    There is only 1 way to turn green. That's by doing a carbon tax like this below.

    You have to remember that these company's have to spend the money to buy the stuff to make profit. If the carbon tax buys it all…They get it for free "100%" profit.

    In Australia i have found away to turn the country green why handing the state governments billions of dollars in extra funding. I also start a new system that self funds public cost and government departments for life. It works by them living of the interest that even pays for a rise in cost for life.

    This will work in all country's, some more then others. In Australia this would save the public $6k – $7.5k within 7 years. The taxes work by pop size, so it's the same for every country.

    Just remember some countries can still do part of this. If you already have a carbon tax change the system of name. Just call it a big biz tax that doesn't put a price on carbon and it brings in the same amount in pa.

    This is for AU and most of it will work around the world. Get it all for free and works on pop size.

    I call for the carbon tax and to rise or make a 2.5% GST. The money to pay will save you $6k – $7.5k in 7 years time. That's after taking off what you paid for the GST.

    I'm saying to rise the GST by 2.5% + the carbon tax to save the public money…But first…..

    Instead of rising the GST.We should do a 4 year carbon tax and divide up the $14 billion dollars between the states.

    What we need to do is start self funding government department's growth.

    We need to use a temporary 4 year carbon tax, too turn AU green and save the public money "why" making the state government's billion of dollars pa.

    This is how we do it.

    We divide up the Carbon tax money between the state governments. Each year they will put down billions or dollars worth of solar panels and wind turbines and will make billion pa and control the price of power "unto the 4th year" then they own and sell all power in Australia.

    If big biz pays for it, the Gov makes 100% profit. They in return can cut power prices to us and small biz by 40%. We in return make / subsidies people buying electric stoves and hot water systems, scrapping a bill and connection cost 2 the public. It also cuts power prices by 40%. Gas is going up by 30% and it's the same price of power just about.

    There are many factors to going green.

    1, there are new solar panels that make 34% more power than the old 1s.

    2, Solar panels on people's houses are missing out on 30% of the sun, because of their placement. Now also add in the city's there are clouds. In the desert they will collect 100% of the sun's power all day, and there are next 2 no clouds out there.

    3, People that buy solar panels have to pay $2k – $4k for the solar meter box. So panels on farms will send power to houses like they do without the solar panel meter box. That means for the price of each house to go green, we will be putting up thousands of dollars more solar panels.

    It's based on 23 million people getting a $6k system each. Taking into account, we make 30% more power putting them out in the desert. Takes 30% less time/money + we are putting up $2 – $4k more per house.

    As the young use lot's more power, The biggest pop that are old don't. Most pensioners get power bills from $150 – $300 every 3 months. That means they only need $3k worth of solar panels as the $2k meter box is not needed, and will be $2k more solar panels, that makes 30% more power.

    The young use much more power than the old. So as the old only need $3k worth. The young will take the other $3k left over and add it to their $6k worth. That means the young will have a $9k system. Once again, remember that, that's $9k worth of solar panels, that don't need a $4k power meter box, and they are making "at least" 30% more power out in the desert. So the young will get a $15+k system.

    Now I haven't taken into account that they have just made solar panels that make 34% more power. If we could get them for almost the same price, we would take 30% less time to go green.

    It's a "temporary tax" that will make the state government's billions pa without making a GST rise. It will also scrap a gas bill to the public and save us 35 – 50% on power bills.

    In 4 years time. The state governments are making billions pa, and the public is saving $1k – $1.7k pa. Small biz will also save 30% off power. That will save them thousands of dollars pa ++++.