I think the followers of the UN’s Twitter account were supposed to be impressed. The institution last week sent around a video that described the Paris climate jamboree —otherwise known as the 21st Conference of the Parties, or COP 21 — in terms of some really big numbers: 45,000 attendees, officials from 196 countries, 166 proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, etc. And they say the G20 is too big to get anything done! Actually, the G20 is too big to get much of anything done, which is why the UN’s COP 21 headcount should generate a healthy amount of skepticism about the world’s ability to keep the planet’s temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius from pre-Industrial levels.
After years of watching electoral politics in the United States, Canada and Australia block any significant progress on climate change, it is rather shocking to see so many apparently green leaders gathered in one place. And it is awe-inspiring to witness tens of thousands of people descend on Paris to fight for the planet. Impressive announcements will be made. An agreement most likely will be reached. That’s assured by the advance work of the host government and the fact that US President Barack Obama has nothing at stake in any election that will occur before the end of his presidency. There clearly is momentum for change. There even is money. But is there focus? All those thousands of people in Paris represent dozens of ideas about how to cool the planet. But those ideas aren’t equally efficacious. The battle against carbon will be won by making it more expensive than cleaner alternatives. Anything else is a well-meaning distraction.
Continue reading at Centre for International Governance Innovation ...