Last weekend, climate talks in Poland wrapped up by scraping a length of thorns off the Paris-agreement rose stem.
Global leaders de-thorned issues as sharp as how nations will measure progress toward reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, whether planting more forests should count, for example, how countries will report on progress, and how those reports will be verified.
During the process, the U.S. sat off in a corner with Russia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Australia to promote coal.
That led us to wonder what our Twitter followers think may come of the agreement. Our Twitter question for this week is, "Will climate talks bring real progress?"
The headlines accompanying the conference were not optimistic: Even under the most optimistic scenario, the agreement would limit global warming to about 5 degrees Fahrenheit, or more than three times what scientists say is the safe upper limit. A study by the U.N.'s International Panel on Climate Change, says dire effects could occur in barely more than a decade if standards and compliance don't get stricter—in a hurry.
Will climate talks bring real progress?— Green Car Reports (@GreenCarReports) December 18, 2018
The likely outcomes would seem to be:
- The climate talks could bring real progress, and global temperature increases could slow down.
- Efforts to comply could spur further development and deployment of technologies, such as renewable energy, but that the efforts still won't be enough. (Indeed, the mix of renewable energy has been expanding around the world, and costs are falling, but greenhouse-gas emissions rose again last year.) Call this the too little, too late answer.
- Worse than too little too late is the possibility that those nations sitting in the corner together, along with burgeoning populations seeking cheap electricity in China, India, and elsewhere, will succeed in building so much new coal capacity that it will overwhelm the reductions in coal energy from developed countries—including the U.S. What sets this option apart from the previous selection is that fossil energy could actually outweigh new renewables, as opposed to a small win for renewables, but not one that's big enough.
- Finally, with riots erupting in the streets in France and elsewhere over higher energy costs associated with meeting Paris-accord targets, progress toward cleaner energy could even prompt a political backlash—and turn some countries and utilities back toward even greater use of fossil fuels.
Let us know your thoughts by clicking over to our poll. And remember that, unlike climate science, our polls are unscientific, because of low sample size and because our respondents are self-selected.
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