Sunday, December 13, 2015

Post Paris- Necessary but Not Sufficient

Well, something definitely happened. An agreement was reached. So depending on your expectations going in and your politics and your theory of social change you could be "celebrating...a major leap"(NPR) or downplaying the degree of "ambitiousness". I have been doing a wide survey of websites and find quite bit of cautious optimism expressed by progressives who look to "movements" to push "leaders" into deeper change. Gradually. Incrementally. Juan Cole encapsulates the "techno-fix"/Market fetish one finds in NGO's and Big Green groups: "The more likely salvation will come from technological innovation such that renewables fall in price so low that even with installation and new-grid costs they are cheaper than continuing with coal. Solar panels have fallen incredibly in price in the past 3 years, and there is no reason to think that won’t continue. Greater efficiencies are also technically and economically feasible." It turns out a great deal of carbon capture and sequester is built into the mitigation models, a technology both untested and "expensive", but as I have droned on about at some length, this market terminology (cheap, expensive, economical, etc) is itself a huge part of the problem. I think Desmog Blog gets it right- advising we watch how investors treat fossil fuel stocks next week, especially coal. Peabody is precarious and Arch totally bottomed out. We'll see what happens to Tar Sands stocks and elite opinion as they react; seismic shift or bothersome blip?, money talks, right?.If,as many believe, a "strong signal" has been sent to capital that certain assets may be stranded, like trillions, one could expect a certain level of panic in the old markets.While some claim the agreement "signals the death knell for fossil fuels", Exxon-Mobile has gone all in with its Clean Natural Gas Will Save the Planet campaign. As a huge methane leak at Porter Ranch in California continues to spew. Bernie Sanders and James Hansen want to see an actual price put on carbon, rather than a set of non-binding pledges. The US Congress is digging in its heels, vowing to fight any action to reduce emissions.Developing countries wanted to see language about funding for past "loss and damage" (justice) but Obama nixed that from the outset. Somewhere I saw the quote that the proposed goals were "a powerful symbol, but you have to start somewhere". I agree that much of this struggle is precisely in the symbolic register. Time to widen the cracks.

1 comment:

  1. I'm all for a carbon tax, as long as the proceeds go to funding renewable/storage research, but we're basically looking at a retooling of western industrial civilization's infrastructure here. None of the proposed plans really take into account the engineering realities, or the feasible time-frame for it. Not to mention the issues of China and India development.

    Better hope those GCM's are overstating the problem. :-)