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iN Focus: cop21

Joss garmaN: what

does a successFul

paris climate deal

look like?

if governments do not agree what is necessary to stay below the 2C threshold, will the Paris summit have
been a failure?

David Cameron’s energy and climate change secretary Amber Rudd For example, following intensive talks with the US, the commitment
has identfed the job at the Paris meetng as being ‘to keep the that China has made through the UN process will require the country
global two degrees goal within reach’. to deploy an additonal 800–1,000 gigawats of nuclear, wind, solar
and other zero-emissions generaton capacity by 2030.
John Podesta – the architect of President Obama’s climate reforms
and the man now running Hillary Clinton’s bid for the presidency This amount is equivalent to more than all the coal-fred power
– has similarly identfed the task as being ‘to give leadership and plants that exist in China today, and close to total current electricity
credibility to that efort’. generaton capacity in the US. Beijing’s pledge to peak China’s
natonal emissions before 2030 will also require new policies to
To this end, it can be argued that the UN climate process has already ensure a structural shif away from burning coal.
been a success. The road to Paris has already prompted promises
from countries around the world that very probably would not Locked in?
otherwise have been made, and certainly not within this tmeframe. Similarly, to meet the carbon target Obama announced, the US will
need to contnue its shif away from coal-fred power generaton and
Establishing the confdence and conditons required to enable each improve the efciency of the naton’s cars and trucks.
country to do more than it would do otherwise is what climate
diplomacy, and these talks, are all about. While the ‘ambiton gap’ The binding nature of America’s new natonal carbon rules, the
on emissions will not be closed altogether at the Paris summit, the authorisaton granted for them by the Supreme Court, and the efect
result of the pledges made already is that the global carbon polluton that they’re already having on state-level regulatons and investment
curve should at least begin to bend in the right directon. fows, together mean that the directon of investment towards
cleaner and more efcient technologies is now established and likely
Over the last few months, as a consequence of these internatonal to stck.
talks, we’ve seen a stream of announcements from rich and poor
countries – from Gabon and Andorra to China and the United States Even in the event that a sceptcal Republican administraton took
– putng in place new goals for cutng the output of greenhouse control of the White House in 2016 and sought to deliberately slow
gases and moving onto a more sustainable development path. the pace of the transiton, Obama’s reforms mean some climate
progress is now locked in.
These targets have ofen been made binding through natonal laws
like the UK’s Climate Change Act. Almost 500 climate laws have The varying politcal economies across, and even within, diferent
already been passed in 66 countries that together account for 88 per countries and regions – typifed by the oppositon to climate policies
cent of global emissions. from the US Congress, and the well-known power of the dominant
industries within that country – partly explains why the Paris summit
Policy progress will never result in a global harmonised carbon-pricing regime of the
Alongside these laws come new schemes to actually implement kind many economists and some major energy companies have ofen
decarbonisaton plans by driving change in the real economy. These advocated as their favoured response to the climate crisis.
are the means by which the headline carbon targets that politcians
agree natonally and internatonally will intersect with global capital Nor will governments agree a science-based global carbon budget
fows and drive the shif away from fossil fuel use and towards the that assigns top-down targets to countries and is wholly ratfed in
alternatves. internatonal law – something that has been the long-held wish of
many campaigners.
These mechanisms will take many forms, including clean energy
subsidies, efciency standards for cars and buildings, carbon taxes, and The outcome of the multlateral process will instead be a patchwork
reductons in fnancial support to incumbent fossil fuel industries. of natonal and regional arrangements that are rooted in the realites

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