Why the Paris Climate Deal is Meaningless

Negotiators from around the world gather in Paris this week to finalize an international climate change agreement, capping a years-long process on which hopes have been riding for global action to limit greenhouse-gas emissions. When those demanding U.S. action speak of the need to show “leadership” and foster international progress, they speak of building momentum toward Paris.

“This year, in Paris, has to be the year that the world finally reaches an agreement to protect the one planet that we’ve got while we still can,” said U.S. President Barack Obama on his recent trip to Alaska. Miguel Cañete, the EU’s chief negotiator, has warned there is “no Plan B — nothing to follow. This is not just ongoing UN discussions. Paris is final.”

But the more seriously you take the need to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, the angrier you should be about the plan for Paris. With so much political capital and so many legacies staked to achieving an “agreement” — any agreement — negotiators have opted to pursue one worth less than…well, certainly less than the cost of a two-week summit in a glamorous European capital.

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