My views on climate change deviate somewhat from those of John and Steve who, to be fair, know more about the subject than I do. So I might have favored remaining in the Paris Accord if I thought the rest of the world would comply with the promises made therein.
However, I had no such confidence. It seemed to me that only a fool would.
Now we learn that in the years since the global agreement was reached, world-wide emissions of carbon dioxide are rising after several years of remaining flat, as many nations, including some very big ones, are failing to fulfill the promises they made. The problem hasn’t been the U.S., where emissions have declined since the Paris agreement, according to the Washington Post. The problem has been with much of the rest of the world. The Post explains:
Even as renewable energy grows cheaper and automakers churn out battery-powered and more efficient cars, many nations around the world are nonetheless struggling to hit the relatively modest goals set in Paris.
The reasons vary. Brazil has struggled to rein in deforestation, which fuels greenhouse gas emissions. In Turkey, Indonesia and other countries with growing economies, new coal plants are being planned to meet the demand for electricity.
Now there’s a surprise — countries with growing economies will use coal plants, not wind and other trendy sources, to meet electricity demand.
What about countries with highly developed economies?
The struggles of Germany, one of the globe’s most progressive nations when it comes to embracing renewable energy, illustrates the problem.
The country’s “Energiewende,” or “energy transition,” aims to generate 80 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2050. The country also has set an aggressive near-term goal of cutting greenhouses gas emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2020.
But Germany is struggling to meet its goals. The county’s emissions actually rose slightly in 2015 and 2016 because of continued coal burning and emissions growth in the transportation sector. That failing trajectory won’t change without “massive and rapid efforts,” according to the German Environment Agency.
Indeed, the entire E.U. is on track to fall short of promised reductions, according to the European Environment Agency. So are Japan and Australia. Mexico and South Africa are among the nations who, according to the Climate Action Tracker, are guilty both of promising insufficient reductions and of failing to meet even those promises.
But help is on the way:
This year, countries will officially begin to grapple with how off target they are through the “Talanoa dialogue,” which refers to a process used in Fiji and other Pacific islands for finding consensus and building trust without laying blame. Culminating at the December U.N. meeting in Poland, the dialogue will nudge world leaders to assess where they stand on the need to cut emissions and how far they have to go.
If that doesn’t work, there’s always a witch doctor.