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Rich Lowry: Climate Make-Believe In Paris

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Rich Lowry, Jewish World Review

Saving the planet has never been so easy.

The Paris climate talks concluded in a rousing round of self-congratulation over an agreement that, we are told, is the first step toward keeping Earth habitable. If generating headlines and press releases about making history were the metric for anything, Paris might be as consequential — if misbegotten — as advertised.

The fact is that Paris is very meta. The agreement is about the agreement, never mind what’s in it or what its true legal force is — namely, nil. Paris is a legally binding agreement not to have legally binding limits on emissions. It might be the most worthless piece of paper since the Kellogg-Briand Pact outlawed war — about a decade prior to the outbreak of World War II.

Politico reported that the talks were almost derailed at the last minute by the accidental insertion of the word “shall” deep in the text, which, by implying a legal obligation, was to be avoided at all costs (the U.S. Senate would never give its assent to a legally binding treaty). The U.S. scrambled to change the offending word to “should.”

The Paris summit operated on the principle of CBDRILONCWRC, or “Common but Differentiated Responsibility in Light of National Circumstances With Respective Capability.” That means nothing was actually mandated on anyone because that proved — understandably enough, dealing with all the countries in the world — completely unworkable.

Instead, countries came up with so-called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions. That’s climate bureaucratese for “You make up your emissions target, whatever it is, and we will pretend to take it seriously.” Thus, do the waters recede and Earth is saved from looming climate catastrophe.

Even if you believe the extremely dubious proposition that somehow the climate “consensus” perfectly understands perhaps the most complicated system on the planet, and can forecast with certitude and in detail what the global temperature will be a century from now, Paris is a charade. The best estimates are that, accepting the premises of the consensus, the deal will reduce warming 0.0 to 0.2 degrees Celsius.

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