COP21 Paris Climate Conference 2015

COP21 Paris Climate Conference

This is the most important climate conference since 2009 in Copenhagen, and may be the most important until 2030 when the pledges expire. Unfortunately, it is more about appearances than substance. According to Christiana Figueres, pledges are purely expressions of narrow self-interest, and are not at all intended to “save the planet.” This looks good for two reasons: China has had to stop increasing its coal use, and poorer countries like India are pledging to curb emissions a lot if they get paid enough. India says they need $2.5 trillion by 2030 to complete their pledge.

So the pledges looks OK now—not good, but a bit encouraging. However, since the UN has not been able to convince anyone to do more than their narrow self-interest this time, there’s no reason to believe they can in the future. And by the end of the Pledges in 2030, UN scientists say:

A significant number of models are not able to produce 2°C scenarios consistent with global emission levels in 2030 above 55 GtCO2e [the result of the Paris pledges], while other scenarios which delay enhanced mitigation action until after 2030 would imply massive cost increases coupled with a need for unprecedented political action.

In other words, Paris will set us on a course that will make it essentially impossible to hit the long-standing 2°C target. To keep up with developments and get more information, see this COP21 Paris climate conference site.

Energy and Carbon Policy: Theory and Politics

Global Warming: The Definition and the Risk

It’s not so complicated. We know for sure greenhouse gases keep the earth warmer—that’s why deserts cool off so fast at night. No water vapor, the #1 greenhouse gas. Since about 1850 scientists have known CO2 was also a greenhouse gas. No scientist doubts this. And no one doubts that burning fossil fuel puts CO2 into the air. There is simply no doubt that we’re at risk. Find out about it here.

The Answer

This is more complicated, but some things are clear. First, figure out the root problem. About half of all climate policy papers get it right at the start — they name it an forget about it. The problem is not CO2 or big Oil, the problem is that we are trapped in a notorious game called the prisoner’s dilemma. The dilemma is that to win, the prisoners must act against their self interest. Even with two players this causes trouble, but with 100+ countries, it makes cooperation impossible. Just look at the last 20 years of UN climate conferences.

The solution is to change the game. Currently rapid progress is being made on how to do this, but environmentalists are acting as a roadblock. Here’s a website dedicated to explaining the new Carbon Price strategy.

Top 5 Green-Energy Facts

  1. The greenest energy is conservation, and it’s still cheapest — cars top the list.
  2. Corn ethanol is not green, and cellulosic ethanol is not here yet.
  3. Solar energy is our best hope, but it’s not here yet, so let’s spend on reasearch not on roof-tops. (Awesome solar)
  4. Wind is stil much cheaper than solar — but some of what is being built is very wasteful.
  5. Thorium reactors deserve a look — were they nixed by the military?

Top 5 Fossil Facts


  1. When OPEC raises the price of oil, Exxon makes billions — been that way for 35 years. Whose side are they on?
  2. Carbon sequestration has been happening at full scale for 15 years, and it’s cheaper than offshore wind.
  3. Gasoline prices are set almost entirely by the world oil market and Bachman can’t do a thing about it.
  4. Peak oil / gas / coal is not going to happen untill we’re toast.

Carbonomics: Energy and Climate Policy

A strong global climate policy would slash our cost of foreign oil. Environmentalists, pay attention!

  1. The most effective climate policy by 50 times was OPEC’s1974-85 price spike.
  2. Kyoto failed because international cap and trade is a game that leads to fighting not cooperation. There’s a far better game.
  3. An untax is better than cap and tax. 
  4. By wasting other people’s money environmentalists shoot themselve in the foot. Shop wisely for carbon abatement.