As the New Year begins, so does a new optimism. The world can look back at 2018 and be thankful for the few brave nations that stood up against the controversial Paris climate agreement, preventing the world from sliding further into an energy abyss.
The agreement, since its inception in 2015, threatened to stall the global energy sector. But various events—both political and natural—during the last two years have weakened it. Here is a look back at some of the events in 2018 that exposed the fragility of the Paris agreement.
Paris’s success depended hugely on the support of the United States, the economic powerhouse of the world and an integral member of the agreement during its formative years.
In June 2017, newly elected President Donald Trump decided to pull U.S. out of the Paris agreement and declared that his government would always put American energy interests ahead of restrictive international agreements like it.
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The U.S. pullout caused widespread panic among Paris agreement stakeholders, as the U.S. was considered as a cash cow for funding poor nations with a transition to renewable energy.
Moreover, the U.S. was a role model to many of its allies in the developing world. The repercussions of its pullout were felt across the globe.
Poland, often dubbed the coal capital of Europe, began reinforcing its strong coal sector. Poland’s deputy energy minister Grzegorz Tobiszowski praised Trump’s decision and announced that his country will be commissioning new coal power stations.
Other economic powerhouses like China and India did not openly support the U.S. pullout, vowing instead to fight against climate change by being loyal to Paris. However, their actions contradicted their pledges. In 2017 and 2018, both countries unashamedly increased their coal production targets, their coal consumption, and even their coal exports.
The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Coal 2018 report indicated that India and China were primarily responsible for fueling the global coal demand. China had the highest coal demand and India the highest percentage increase in coal consumption.
In 2018, it was discovered that China was on a coal-plant building spree. Coalswarm reported that 259 gigawatts of new coal power capacity—equivalent to the entire U.S. coal power fleet—was being built in China. There was a notable surge in China’s coal production in 2017, after a brief three-year decline.
Coal was also the most sought-after energy commodity in Asia and the largest source of electricity generation for the majority of countries. With Japan’s new-found obsession for coal, Australia’s pro-coal energy sector, and Russia’s efforts to strengthen its infrastructure for coal export, the world’s love affair with coal will not end anytime soon.
The top five electricity producers of 2018—China, the U.S., India, Russia, and Japan—were countries that depended heavily on coal. All five are now pro-coal.
The most interesting fact, lethal to the Paris agreement, is that all these pro-coal nations are the biggest emitters of carbon dioxide. The agreement thus had zero impact in persuading them to reduce their use of coal.
Coal “addiction” is a problem big enough for the proponents of Paris agreement, but a more shocking scenario was brewing across the Pacific.
Despite pulling out of the Paris agreement (effective 2020), U.S. became the country with the highest emission reduction. The exploitation and use of natural gas (shale gas) reserves in the U.S. cut down its emissions drastically. The country ranked number one for emission reductions in 2017, and the combined emission reduction from 2014 to 2017 was the highest for any region in the world.
If the U.S. is reducing emissions without implementing Paris agreement, other developing countries will begin to visualize similar possibilities. While they might not have the same natural gas resources, America’s achievements will still show them that there are other ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions than adhering to the Paris agreement.
In contrast to the U.S., the European Union, touted as a champion of the climate fight, continues to increase its emissions. This has increased skepticism toward the Paris agreement.
Even if the climate alarmists at the United Nations successfully persuade nations to abandon coal, they will still face the challenge of explaining the growing discrepancies between their climate forecasts and the real-world situation.
Hysteria surrounding man-made global warming has been based solely upon the accidental correlation between carbon dioxide emissions and global temperature from 1970 to 1999. This brief correlation (not caused by carbon dioxide emissions) acted as the foundational doctrine for the climate doomsday theories formulated in academia (between 1990 and 2010) and funded heavily by political institutions like the U.N.
Their misconceptions came to light during the past 18 years, when forecasts repeatedly failed to reflect real-world temperatures. Climatologists—both alarmists and skeptics—attributed this to the U.N.’s faulty computer climate models.
The models were found to exaggerate the impact of carbon dioxide emissions on temperature, eventually giving us forecasts of warming that exceeded observations many times over. There is no reason for us to trust these models’ forecasts for the remaining 88 years of this century, until the errors in the models are fixed.
Proxy temperature data covering thousands of years reveal that this mismatch between atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and global temperature levels has been true in the past as well.
Wrong forecasts provide no basis for believing in the alleged theory that anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions are causing a dangerous increase in global temperature levels. Consequently, there is no reason to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants.
2018 turned out to be the “climate icing” on the royal cake of climate errors.
Temperatures plunged all over the Northern Hemisphere, with record lows set in various regions of North America and Eurasia. New York had its highest snowfall in its 130-year history, and Canadian cities broke 80-year records for the lowest temperature. Forecasts suggest that 2019 will have a cold start too.
Some experts suggest that low sunspot activity (in the sun) is ushering in another Little Ice Age, akin to the Maunder Minimum of the 17th century. Although it is too early to conclude whether this will happen, it strongly suggests that the Sun, not atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, is the greatest influencer of the climate on earth.
The influence of sunspot activity on atmospheric temperatures is quite significant and has been clearly documented by scientists. The same kind of relationship, however, is not found between carbon dioxide emissions and global temperature levels.
Further, climatologists argue that nothing unusual is happening with our climate, a fact duly attested in hundreds of peer reviewed scientific papers.
Even if global temperature were to increase by 2 degrees Celsius, there is no scientific evidence to conclude that the increase would be caused by anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions. Similar changes in temperature have occurred in the past without any human intervention.
The Paris agreement is the most archaic globalist agreement in the history of the modern world. It is completely irrelevant to real-world temperatures, manipulative, pseudo-scientific, restrictive to the ambitions of developing countries, and intrinsically coercive.
2019 may not see its end, but it will surely reveal the growing hostility towards the agreement and a definitive push towards coal in the biggest coal-based economies of the world.
Vijay Jayaraj (M.Sc., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England), Research Associate for Developing Countries for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, lives in Chennai, India.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.