Climate Change Accord: Wrong Track?

While world leaders pat themselves on the back for approving, what is being called, a historic climate agreement, some climate scientists and activists believe it fall far short of what is needed to stop global warming.

In 1988, James Hansen first warned about the dangers of climate change when he testified before Congress. At the time he was NASA’s top climate scientist. He would go on to become the nation’s most influential climate scientist. This year he is making his first appearance at a U.N. climate change summit. He has come to Paris to warn world leaders that they are on the wrong track to prevent dangerous global warming.

James Hansen, father of climate change awareness, calls Paris talks ‘a fraud’
Oliver Milman, The Guardian

Mere mention of the Paris climate talks is enough to make James Hansen grumpy. The former Nasa scientist, considered to be the father of global awareness of climate change, is a soft-spoken, almost diffident Iowan. But when he talks about the gathering of nearly 200 nations, his demeanor changes. As can be seen in this selection of quotes, Hansen has said in the past “I have been described as the grandfather of climate change. In fact, I am just a grandfather and I do not want my grandchildren to say that grandpa understood what was happening but didn’t make it clear.”

“It’s a fraud really, a fake,” he says, rubbing his head. “It’s just bullshit for them to say: ‘We’ll have a 2C warming target and then try to do a little better every five years.’ It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises. As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned.”

The talks, intended to reach a new global deal on cutting carbon emissions beyond 2020, have spent much time and energy on two major issues: whether the world should aim to contain the temperature rise to 1.5C or 2C above preindustrial levels, and how much funding should be doled out by wealthy countries to developing nations that risk being swamped by rising seas and bashed by escalating extreme weather events.

But, according to Hansen, the international jamboree is pointless unless greenhouse gas emissions are taxed across the board. He argues that only this will force down emissions quickly enough to avoid the worst ravages of climate change.