A September 15 report at CNN.com should raise significant questions about the true commitment by national governments to climate-related goals laid out under international agreements like the 2015 Paris Accord. Is this much-touted “climate emergency” we’ve heard about every day since Election Day 2020 an actual emergency, or another narrative promoted by entrenched interests hoping to use it to justify more subsidy dollars?
CNN’s report makes that a legitimate question. The report quotes a watchdog group called Climate Action Tracker (CAT), which says its analysis of the climate policies enacted by dozens of national governments – including every one of the G20 nations and all 27 countries that make up the European Union – reaches the startling conclusion that none of them is currently in line to meet the climate goals that they all agreed to under the Paris Accord.
CAT did look at some low-emitting, developing nations and found that one – Gambia – could be what it calls “1.5 compatible,” a reference to the Paris goal to contain anticipated global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. But Gambia and these other developing nations together represent a drop in the bucket of global emissions. What really matters in terms of addressing this “climate emergency” our governments tell us we are living in is what the big emitters do.
Most specifically, what matters most is what China, India and the United States
CNN reports that Niklas Höhne, a founding partner of the NewClimate Institute, a CAT partner, said “In May, after the Climate Leaders’ Summit and the Petersburg dialogue, we reported that there appeared to be good momentum with new climate action commitments. But since then, there has been little to no improvement: nothing is moving. Anyone would think they have all the time in the world, when in fact the opposite is the case.”
Specifically, CAT scolds India, Turkey and Saudi Arabia for being so unserious about meeting these climate commitments that they haven’t met a July 31 deadline for reporting on their progress. Many other countries, like Mexico and Brazil, submitted reports, but without increasing their pledges. Mexico and Brazil haven’t raised their targets since 2015, and Russia is singled out for submitting commitments that do not amount to “meaningful change.”
CAT says the U.S., Japan and EU are all “nearly sufficient” to meet their Paris commitments. Presumably, the U.S. grade might improve if congressional Democrats succeed in passing their massive $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill that is loaded up with hundreds of billions in new subsidies, mandates and other awards for their party’s favored green energy industries – wind, solar and electric vehicles. But of course, as I and other writers like Robert Bryce have noted recently, the actual outcomes of these and other policy efforts will ultimately be restricted by what economic realities will allow. Or, as one tech CEO told me recently, “the regulatory push can’t destroy people’s livelihoods.”
That is really what this all boils down to at the end of the day. Every one of these national governments finds itself struggling to reconcile commitments made at global events attended by society’s elites, who have been transported to some international capital in thousands of carbon-emitting private jets, with the realities faced by their people struggling to keep jobs, heat their homes and feed their families.
As we see with massive inflation now taking hold in the United States due to out-of-control government spending, these two competing ambitions are often not compatible with one another. Thus, public officials find themselves faced with the choice of acting on the narrative that the “climate emergency” is literally a life-and-death situation, or acting to preserve jobs and limit price increases at the grocery store so they can hopefully keep their own job in the next election cycle.
The CAT study indicates that thus far, they are pretty much all choosing the latter option. What that says about the “climate emergency” narrative is open to interpretation.