New Paper Asks ‘What Does The Paris Agreement Actually Do?’ Answer: Nothing. CO2 Emissions Continue Rising Unabated.

A new paper just published online asks a timely and poignant question as the U.S. Presidential election splatters the headlines this week: What does the Paris Agreement actually do?  The author succinctly answers his own question, concluding that the Paris Agreement allows countries like China and India “permission to emit as much [CO2] as they see fit,” and therefore the international pact “makes the policy of mitigation of global warming impossible.”

Campbell, 2016

What does the Paris Agreement actually do?

“Though very widely believed to be inadequate in the target it sets, the Paris Agreement is commonly thought actually to set a binding target of reducing global CO2e emissions so as to limit global warming to 2℃. Proper legal interpretation of the Agreement shows it to set no such target. It rather gives the newly industrialising countries such as China and India a permission to emit as much as they see fit. These countries have been principally responsible for the huge growth in emissions since 1990 and they will be responsible for their continued huge growth until 2030. The Paris Agreement therefore makes the policy of mitigation of global warming impossible. However, this policy has been impossible over the whole of the now more than a quarter century of international climate change policy.”

To expand on this point, consider that global-scale CO2 emissions were still only 6.5 gigatons per year (GtC/yr) in the year 1999, but they grew to 7.5 GtC/yr by 2005, 8.5 GtC/yr by 2008, and 10.1 GtC/yr by 2014.  Here’s what that explosive growth in CO2 emissions looks like:



Notice the exponential expansion in climate change mitigation laws and policies from 1997, 2009, and 2014, and how they are negatively correlated with global-scale CO2 emissions growth (source: London School of Economics).  In other words, the more laws are passed that attempt to mitigate the growth in CO2 emissions, the sharper the growth in CO2 emissions.

London School of Economics, 2015

Three-quarters of the world’s annual emissions of greenhouse gases are now limited by national targets

“53 countries, including the 28 Member States of the European Union, have national targets that set either absolute or relative limits on annual emissions of greenhouse gases across their economies. … 98 countries and the European Union together had 804 climate laws and policies at the end of 2014, compared with 426 in 2009, when a previous attempt was made in Copenhagen, Denmark, to reach an international agreement. In 1997, when the Kyoto Protocol was agreed, these countries had just 54 climate laws and policies between them. … 47 countries, including the 28 Member States of the European Union, have introduced carbon pricing through either a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system.”

According to an analysis by the Washington Post, Gigawatt-hours (GWh) from fossil fuels (coal, gas, oil) grew from 5.8 GWh in 1980 to 15.4 GWh in 2012.  Gigawatt-hours from renewables rose from 1.8 GWh in 1980 to 4.8 GWh in 2012.  This means that total consumption of fossil fuel energies grew more than 3 times faster than renewables did (9.6 GWh vs. 3 GWh) between 1980 and 2012.

Washington Post (2015):

As appetite for electricity soars, the world keeps turning to coal

“[T]wo-thirds of the world’s electricity is still produced by burning fossil fuels, mostly coala proportion that hasn’t budged for 35 years. Emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants have more than doubled since 1980 as the world’s demand for electricity keeps rising.”

And fossil fuel use will continue rising – no matter how many more laws are passed.

India and China alone plan to build 1617 new coal power plants by 2030.

Between 50 and 86 new coal plants are planned for Turkey in the next few years.

Russia plans to rapidly expand their coal industry (source):

The Russian government has endorsed a long-term coal industry development program, featuring an increase in coal production and coal-powered generation – a day after adopting a brand-new climate action plan.   The refurbished program sees coal production in Russia increase to 410-480 million tons by 2030, and exports are expected to grow by some 70 million tons.”

Japan is currently building 43 new coal plants.

South Korea is also adding more coal-fired energy according to a report from

Less than a week since signing the global climate deal in Paris, Japan and South Korea are pressing ahead with plans to open scores of new coal-fired power plants, casting doubt on the strength of their commitment to cutting CO2 emissions.   Even as many of the world’s rich nations seek to phase out the use of coal, Asia’s two most developed economies are burning more than ever and plan to add at least 60 new coal-fired power plants over the next 10 years.  Officials at both countries’ energy ministries said those plans were unchanged.”

The Netherlands

Dutch energy companies are burning more coal than ever, despite efforts to produce more green and sustainable energy, according to research by news agency De Persdienst. It says coal-fired power stations in the Netherlands used over seven million kilos of coal in the first nine months of last year, a 15% increase on 2013 and a 36% increase on 2012.”

World Research Institute assesses that ten developing countries are or will be building new coal plants.

“New coal-fired plants have been proposed in 10 developing countries: Cambodia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Laos, Morocco, Namibia, Oman, Senegal, Sri Lanka, and Uzbekistan. Currently, there is limited or no capacity for domestic coal production in any of these countries.”

According to a report from The Guardian, the only two wealthy countries that did not expand coal production and consumption since 2009 are the United States and Canada.  For Germany, France, Italy, Japan, and the UK, coal consumption rose by 16% between 2009 and 2013.

Britain, Germany, Italy, Japan and France together burned 16% more coal in 2013 than 2009 and are planning to further increase construction of coal-fired power stations. Only the US and Canada of the G7 countries meeting on Monday in Berlin have reduced coal consumption since the Copenhagen climate summit in 2009.”

The Paris Agreement was, is, and will be an exercise in futility.  It will not reduce global-scale CO2 emissions, as emissions rates will continue to grow on a net global scale, especially since Asian and Middle Eastern countries continue to “emit as much as they see fit”.

Analysts have suggested that our efforts to mitigate CO2 emissions “will almost surely fail,” and they may “actually make matters worse.”

Jones and Warner, 2016

Efforts to curtail world temps will almost surely fail

To even come close to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, 50 percent of our energy will need to come from renewable sources by 2028, and today it is only 9 percent, including hydropower. For a world that wants to fight climate change, the numbers just don’t add up to do it.”

Kelly, 2016

“[A]ll the actions taken together until now to reduce our emissions of carbon dioxide will not achieve a serious reduction, and in some cases, they will actually make matters worse.”

Bannaga, 2016

“It is evident that UN efforts to combat climate change are not effective because past experience shows that CO2 generation cuts weren’t near enough.”


23 responses to “New Paper Asks ‘What Does The Paris Agreement Actually Do?’ Answer: Nothing. CO2 Emissions Continue Rising Unabated.”

  1. John F. Hultquist

    On a related note:

    Groups are trying to improve Salmon runs in the US-PNW by removing dams. Four dams on the Snake River provide about 5 percent of the region’s electricity, roughly enough power for a city the size of Seattle. A new natural gas plant would be required to replace the lost electricity. Washington’s natural gas production doesn’t show up on lists of this resource.

  2. tom0mason

    All this collective effort — an exercise in futility!
    Natural variation governs CO2 levels and not man.
    The major question is how and why CO2 levels have risen so much. Certainly man has given the levels a minuscule nudge up but something else is providing the major push. What is pushing the level up and why?
    Western science, and so many scientist, have been inadequate in showing (through observations and measurements) what the basic processes at work here truly are, as ‘science’ has been derailed to just be a corrupt political game on this matter.

    Only those antiscience worriers residing in their comfortable Westernized world but fantasizing some science fiction catastrophe would think otherwise. These are the dangerous folk who believe they know how it all works — the don’t, they never will. With their crazy models, madly adjusted temperature records, and ridiculous chants of ‘settled science’ they look with each passing day, evermore foolish. For they fear to acknowledge that the world is entering a cooling phase.

    Much to the chagrin of the oil industry, nuclear and coal are efficient and cost effective methods of making electrical power. These are the only sensible options to enable and maintain Westernized living standards for all in the world. The West has starting to relearn this important lesson but maybe too late.

  3. John, UK

    “According to a report from The Guardian, the only two wealthy countries that did not expand coal production and consumption since 2009 are the United States and Canada. For Germany, France, Italy, Japan, and the UK, coal consumption rose by 16% between 2009 and 2013, and all 5 of those countries are building more coal plants.”

    The UK is closing coal plants and intends they should all be closed by 2025 at the latest. Lunacy I know but they certainly are not building new coal plants.

    1. John F. Hultquist

      Wood pellets from US East coastal forests make much more sense than coal — or so says someone.
      Those trees need the extra CO2 so they can be cut, pellets made, and shipped to the far side of England. Clipper ships and donkey carts get the pellets to DRAX without using any petroleum so all is well with Gaia.
      And no one minds about the increasing cost of electricity because Earth is being saved from something — but I’m not sure what.

      Here’s an idea. Grow these trees near the power stations:

      1. DirkH

        Well – but you don’t need electricity and district heating in a huge tree plantation…

      2. David Appell

        John wrote:
        “Wood pellets from US East coastal forests make much more sense than coal”

        There are no “US East coastal forests.”

        There are in the west, though.

  4. Doug Proctor

    Sociology is more pertinent to the CAGW movementu than science. Fundamental contradictions exist in the attribution of magnitude of cause, expectations of solutions both technical and economic and political willingness to effect change. There is no genius in knowing solar and wind operate at 23% faceplate levels over the year. There is none either in adding up planned coal power projects world wide. None to calculating necessary prices to renewable energies to make them self supporting.

    There is no difficulty in seeing modeled temperature rise does not reflect reality for more than half the IPCC scenarios – and haven’t since they were initiated in 1988. Yet there they stand to frighten the consensus-seekers.

    Cognitive dissonance comes with a tension because we know deep down we have it somewhat wrong. The CAGW movement is beyond cognitive dissonance. No disconnect is beyond incorporation into the narrative, but even this truth does nothing to shake the faithful.

    Psychology, not physics, lies at the heart of Global Warming. As it has in former incidents of the Madness of Crowds. It’s as if the World can’t break through the human eye-brain barrier.

  5. tom0mason

    What the Paris agreement fails to acknowledge is

    Antarctic ice cores provide clear evidence of a close coupling between variations of temperature and the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide during the glacial/interglacial cycles of at least the past 800-thousand years. Analysis of ice cores shows that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere follows the rise temperatures very closely and lagged warmings by 800±400 years.
    During the glacial/interglacial cycles the peaks of carbon dioxide concentration have never preceded the warmings. Therefore there is no evidence that carbon dioxide is a major factor in the warming of the Earth now. Considerable changes of the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide always determined by corresponding temperature fluctuations of the World Ocean.

    From —

  6. DirkH

    Now you can sue all of the signatory nations once it gets too warm. To prove your case, you just have to measure temperatures for 30 years all around the globe and simply average them. One thermometer every 2000 miles should suffice if I interpret leading climate scientists correctly.

  7. tom0mason

    “Though very widely believed to be inadequate in the target it sets, the Paris Agreement is commonly thought actually to set a binding target of reducing global CO2e emissions so as to limit global warming to 2℃…”
    Can the Paris Agreement mitigate against catastrophic climate change — NO — as climate changes are due, in the main, to natural variation. Unless there is some observations yet to become public, all climate variations encountered thus far have only been natural.

    Ask the ‘person in the street’ —
    “Do you think humans will soon be able to control the weather?”
    you would probably get a very definite “NO!”.
    If you asked the same person —
    “Do you think human activities control the climate?”
    they would probably answer “Yes”, and if asked to explain, would base an answer on all the propaganda about CO2 they’ve been fed over the years.
    Now explain to that same ‘person in the street’ how much this is going to cost and how little difference, if any, would happen to the climate. They’d probably then change that answer to a “No” once they understood how much it was going to cost, how little we know about climate and why it changes, and have no accurate method of knowing the outcome of such expensive mitigations.

  8. Henning Nielsen

    This is an extremely valuable overview, thank you very much.

    1. Graeme No.3

      It left out Indonesia who wants to build over 40 coal fired plants (42 or 47?), some with Japanese money intended for renewables.
      It makes sense as they are currently the largest coal exporter in the world, so they may burn some at home, and reduce their exports. It being well known that emissions moved to another country don’t count, so someone (China? India?) will be able to claim a reduction.

  9. DirkH

    Munich newspaper announces harsh winter (we had first snow here today).
    Funny: Article ends with sophist drivel about how Global Warming causes more cold!
    …with translation of the funny part.
    BTW they acknowledge a 40 year record high snow coverage for this time of the year in the Northern hemisphere.

    1. Oswald Thake

      Thanks for the link to your website, Dirk. I’d no idea you had one. Duly bookmarked!

      1. DirkH

        Clicking on my picture would have sufficed…

  10. AndyG55
  11. David Appell

    “These countries have been principally responsible for the huge growth in emissions since 1990 and they will be responsible for their continued huge growth until 2030.”

    The US has emitted about 2.1 times more CO2 than China and India combined, since 1850, causing global warming to-date.

    And US per capita emissions are about 3 times China’s and 11 times India’s.

    An American do not have some special right to emit CO2 that a Chinese or Indian does not have, either this year or over his entire lifetime.

    Americans are the energy hogs.

    1. AndyG55

      You are an America, rotten appell.

      Turn off all your power.. I dare you.

      Divest yourself of all thing fossil fuel sourced.

      Go and live like you would want everyone else to live.

      HYPOCRITE !! or is it just hippo. !


    Besten Dank für euren praktischen Beitrag.

    Ich bin schon länger ein ruhiger Mitleser. Und heute musste mich mal ein schnellen Kommentar da lassen bzw.
    mich mal bedanken.

    Macht genauso weiter, freue mich bereits jetzt schon auf die
    nächsten Artikel

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