The Paris Climate Accords: A Break Through or a Break Down?

While many are celebrating the Paris accord’s efforts to halt climate change, the question remains whether it goes far enough.

consternation of some developing countries, who had hoped the $100 billion would be anchored in the agreement, the monetary pledge is non-binding. Secretary of State John Kerry made clear in negotiations however that putting the funding provision in the agreement was a nonstarter, stating that “the situation in the U.S. is such that legally binding with respect to finance is a killer for the agreement.” Republican critics, noting the non-binding nature of the financial funding provision, have already threatened to withhold the funding that the United States promised to set aside for this purpose.

The Holes

Critics argue that there is no legal requirement that emissions meet a specific numeric threshold, nor does the accord say how countries must reach their goals. Rather, the signatories pledge to “reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.”

The amorphous quality of the agreement is due largely to the perception that any binding treaty would be struck down by the United States’ Republican-controlled Senate—many of whom do not believe that global warming is either real or the result of man-made pollution.

Jim Inhofe, the Republican chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and a doubter of the human role in climate change, affirmed this perception, stating that this agreement was no more binding than the Kyoto accord: “Senate leadership has already been outspoken in its positions that the United States is not legally bound to any

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