“Conference of Polluters” is how climate activists have described the COP 24 summit on climate change in Katowice in Poland. Most media reports concentrated on the supposed break through and the sham celebrations of world leaders at the end of the conference. In reality no deal was agreed that would see fossil fuels left in the ground or CO2 emission reduced.COP24, like its predecessors will allow giant corporations to continue emitting CO2 and brings humanity and the natural world closer to the brink of disaster.
This conference was supposed to agree binding rules for countries to meet the targets set three years ago in Paris. Instead the conference was a victory for the big fossil fuel corporations and the Governments that back them.
The conference couldn’t even agree to welcome the recent IPCC report . The report warned that humanity had just 12 years to achieve serious reductions in the levels of CO2 emissions to have any hope of averting catastrophic climate change.
The two weeklong conference was supposed to work out a rule book that would commit countries to the Paris targets of 1.5 to 2 degree maximum global temperature increase. The Earth is already seeing extreme weather events and record breaking storms and heatwaves at just a 1 degree rise. The actual commitments from Paris by countries would actually see a 3 to 4 degree rise, something which is a death sentence for large parts of the planet, its people and the natural world.
Despite the media spin we are no closer to any mechanism to reduce emissions. The conference didn’t even plan to see any reductions in emission of CO2. Instead it was series of debates about accounting and measuring CO2. The outcome will be a continued reliance on market mechanisms and carbon trading. The so called “rule book” will be discussed at future COPs with promises that it will be operational by 2020.
In reality the entire conference was a farce: coal corporations sponsored parts or it and a representative from Shell boasted openly that fossil fuel lobbyists had written key parts of the Paris treaty and had heavily influenced the rules at this year’s conference.
Minister Bruton flew in to Katowice to make more rhetorical statements on climate change, but he refused to sign a pledge by other European countries to step up real action. The only new action was a commitment on carbon pricing i.e. carbon taxes. Meantime Varadkar attacked a NGO report that found Ireland the worst performing European country on climate change. His Government is also stepping up its support for the fossil fuel industry by opposing Brid Smith’s Climate Emergency Measures bill in the Dail. That Bill would stop future exploration for oil or gas in Irish waters.
In reality behind the spin both Ireland’s government and the international elite have no plan to stop climate change as they are completely in thrall to the market .