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UN Climate Deal: Are We Done? A Q&A With Opposing Experts


FILE - In this Dec. 6, 2015 file photo, environmentalist activists form a human chain representing the peace sign and the spelling out "100% renewable", on the side line of the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference near the Eiffel Tower in Paris

FILE - In this Dec. 6, 2015 file photo, environmentalist activists form a human chain representing the peace sign and the spelling out "100% renewable", on the side line of the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference near the Eiffel Tower in Paris

This is the first time that 178 nations have reached a climate accord. So, does this solve climate change globally? We put the question to two experts:

Climate accord opponent, Benjamin Zycher, Resident Scholar at American Enterprise Institute:
"This is a bureaucracy that’s self-perpetuating. You’ll notice that without really announcing it, they’ve now lowered their target from a 2 degrees warming from the year 2011 to 1.5. That is a tacit admission that the climate models are not predicting what’s happening—that in fact the climate models are over-predicting the climate sensitivity to the atmosphere. In other words, the amount of warming you get for a given increase in greenhouse gas concentrations."

Proponent, Brian Murray, director of Environmental Economics Program at Duke University:
"No, we’re not done. Maybe the best way to think of this is the first next step. This type of action—the signing of the climate accord—is a necessary but not sufficient condition to solve the problem. What really needs to be done is domestic implementation and finance needs to be generated in order to support the investments necessary to reduce carbon emissions."

VOA: India was one of the countries that slowed negotiations in Paris last year due to its growing economy’s dependence on coal and its goals to provide electricity to more of its citizens—mostly through coal. How will India and countries in similar situations implement these new policies without weakening their economies?

Zycher: “They won’t. They won’t. They’re not going to impoverish themselves in pursuit of goals that are trivial.”

Murray: "I think it’s important to remember that India and other countries in their situation are at great risk from unabated climate change. Their challenges are considerable, and it would be foolish to ignore that. India is definitely seeking finance from the international community to help them along this trajectory, but their energy minister just said that they’re going to proceed regardless, both with their plan to rely on coal and also their plan to burn it more efficiently. They’ll pursue it domestically but they’re going to be able to get more done if they get international finance."

Assuming this deal in itself isn’t enough, what further steps need to be taken to protect the earth and our human presence on it?

Zycher: "If you look at the evidence published by NASA, by the EPA and peer reviewed literature, what you’ll find is that there’s no evidence that increasing greenhouse gas concentrations are creating the effects that people are talking about. It’s certainly true that temperatures are rising, as they have been since the end of the little ice age which ended roughly in 1850. The point is that the science is not settled like people claim. There is no evidence that the administration is correct when it argues that the adverse effects of climate change are already visible and are seriously adverse."

Murray: "In order for [the climate deal] to be truly operational, it’s going to mean taking the actions that lead to emission reductions over time. And that’s going to require a combination of policies, economic incentives, investment from the public and private sector, and this is going to happen when countries implement domestic action and procure the finance to make it happen. So countries can sign the international agreement, but it isn’t until they really undertake things going on within their own country that the actions that are going to be necessary to reduce emissions are actually going to happen. Individual countries will need to ratify with their legislature, their parliaments, and take action. That’s going to take a little bit of time and that’s the real test of this—not whether the Paris agreement is signed but whether the countries will actually take action."

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