Climate Change or Change of Policy?
The climate talks began in Paris on November 30th and ended with the adoption of the Paris Agreement on December 12th. The conference included 195 countries that co-operative effort supposed to averting catastrophic climate change. “Never have the stakes been so high because this is about the future of the planet, the future of life”, noted French President Francois Hollande as he opened the two-week meeting.
According to the Economist’s special report, every year so far this decade has been hotter than every year before 1998. The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is 40% higher than in the beginning of the industrial revolution. So, the main goal of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference is to limit the global temperature increase and to stay well below 2 degrees Celsius through global greenhouse gas emissions reductions, moreover, each country will have to make a specific pledge (ideally, the increase should be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius). To realize this vision, next year a special group will monitor the fulfillment of engagements taken by the participating countries.
As the observers reported, John Kerry, the current United States Secretary of State U.S., was moving from one room to another all night from Thursday to Friday trying to agree on the details of the final document with the delegates of different countries. Through a lot of disputes over the wording of key passages the negotiators came to an agreement that carbon dioxide would be reduced from 2020. The target date for an official signing of the document is April 22, 2016. It will enter into force after ratification by 55 countries accounting for at least 55% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. The Paris Agreement establishes a legal, based on the rules framework that maximizes the global efforts. Rules for the realization of the agreement would be developed for several years.
As a result of negotiations it was decided to increase the volume of investments for developing countries by 2025 in order to help them deal with the effects of warming more effectively. Negotiations have focused on a request from poorer countries for a minimum of at least $100 billion a year in climate aid. However, the final deal contains $100 billion figure only in a preamble, not in the legally binding part of the agreement.
In perspective it should be an aid for migrants, those who forced to leave their homes due to the climatic changes. This issue has detonated controversies, because it can be difficult to attract insurance companies and private companies, also finance and public budgets of rich countries. After all, a special term of the agreement on “loss and damage” was adopted but without financial figures.
Some politicians couldn’t hide the happiness when the final draft was presented. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called the agreement a “monumental success for the planet and its people.” The Prime Minister of the UK said: “Britain is already leading the way in work to cut emissions and help less developed countries cut theirs and this global deal now means that the whole world has signed to play its part in halting climate change.” President Barack Obama also considered that the US already gives other countries a lead in the transition to a greener economy (described as “nature capitalism” by its critics) that grows and creates additional employment.
Some major points that raised doubts
As any decision susceptible to criticism and the climate talks are no exception. Firstly, in the agreement it doesn't mandate precisely how much each country have to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. President Barack Obama assured to decreased emissions by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, and also urged other countries to make similar commitments. In Paris the countries just announced their intentions.
Secondly, the prominent climate scientist James Hansen called the Paris climate talks a “fraud”. “It’s a fraud really, a fake… It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises. As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned.” he said. According to Hansen, prevention the worst ravages of climate change is pointless unless greenhouse gas emissions aren’t taxed across the board. He also believes that China is enough rational and will now exercise leadership in this sphere. “Their leaders are mostly trained in engineering and such things, they don’t deny climate change”.
Environmental and human rights groups protested
The day before the official start of the conference on climate change in Paris demonstrations in support of urgent measures to counter global warming held around the world. One of the first mass demonstrations was in Sydney. The protesters held banners with such inscription as “There is no Planet B” and “Solidarity on a global scale”. Clover Moore, the Lord Mayor of the City of Sydney, said that it was attended not less than 45 thousand people. In Adelaide in South Australia the theme of the demonstration was the impact of global warming on human health, agriculture and development.
About 5 thousand people took part in demonstrations in Madrid, and about 10 thousand people went into the streets in Berlin.
In Paris hundreds of people formed a human chain along the 3-kilometer route of a long-planned protest march that was banned by the French government in a security crackdown following the Nov. 13 Paris attacks. Hundreds of shoes were left at the Republic square in memory of those who could not participate in the protest march against global warming. Among them a pair of shoes, donated by Pope Francis, who has called for urgent action to prevent greenhouse gas emissions. Then a peaceful demonstration developed into scuffles with the police. Police used tear gas and detained about two hundred protesters who violated a ban on demonstrations imposed after the attacks in the French capital several weeks ago.
Moreover when the 21st UN summit on climate change ended, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in Paris to demand the politicians faster go further. Protestors formed “red lines” throughout Paris that symbolized the limits that our planet can take.
Consequences for Russia
Earlier Russian President Vladimir Putin during his speech at the climate conference in Paris said that Russia expects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions up to 70% from the 1990 level by 2030. In addition, Russia should develop and adopt a long term strategy of low-carbon technological development of the country. Speaking at the same conference, the President noted that Russia fulfilled its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol from 1991 to 2012. Beyond such predictions Putin recalled his proposal to hold scientific forum under the aegis of the United Nations to “discuss issues not only involved with climate change, but with depletion of natural resources, degradation of the human environment.”
According to Alexey Kokorin, the head of the WWF-Russia Climate Program, Russia is the 4th largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the China, United States and India. So, the Paris Agreement is the beginning of a new phase of global action on greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation to climate change. The agreement is weaker than the requirements of the ecologists and the most vulnerable countries, but it is much better than inaction. This agreement about the pause in radical reduction of emissions in 10-15 years compensated as far as possible the massive financial aid to developing countries.
Experts believe that Russia must focus on hydropower (taking into account predominantly cold climate) as Russia is not so rich in other alternative sources of energy, such as wind and solar power, which rely on Europe, USA and China. Now, in Russia, there are 102 hydropower plants with a capacity of more than 100 MW. HPPs account for 20.6% of Russia’s total electricity production. Russia ranks second in the world in terms of hydro-power resources. However, Russia has a long perspective of going even further. New construction is planned in Siberia and the Far East.
Alexander Bedritsky, the special envoy of the President of Russia for climate affairs, stressed that the Paris agreement is a new stage in the history of climate cooperation. He noted that the Russian delegation succeeded in meeting. In particular, the contribution of Russian forests to climate change was accounted for on the same principles that apply to tropical forests. Because it has opportunities to mitigate climate change, protect water resources, prevent soil erosion, preserve biodiversity on the planet.
New agreement and official declarations were avoiding general idea about new technologies owned by transnational corporations and number of states. There are also luck of understanding and analysis about temperature cycles of the planet and prospect for safe atomic energy. From this perspective Paris summit seems like failed attempt to reorganize couple of elements only of the policy inside of global capitalist system.
 The Economist November 28th 2015, page 11.