Even if the world celebrates a Paris climate deal on December 11, the process will still have to be regarded as failure. Let me explain why.
The basic reason is that the unequal distribution of carbon emissions is not even on its agenda. The historical responsibility of the West is not on the table, nor is a method of national carbon accounting that looks at how the emissions a country consumes rather than produces. Instead, what is on the table are expanded and new mechanisms that will allow the rich, Western countries to outsource their emission cuts so they can paint themselves green.
When the figures are in, 2015 is likely to be the warmest year on recordand we’ve just reached 1℃ temperature rise since the industrial revolution, halfway to the 2℃ widely agreed to be the upper safe limit of global warming. It’s the fastest surface temperature increase in the world’s known geological history. We are now entering “uncharted territory”.
The dangers of global warming have been known – even to oil company executives – since at least the early 1980s. Yet, despite 25 years of UN-led climate talks, the world is burning more fossil fuels than ever.
This is not simply the fault of big emerging economies such as China, India or Brazil. Instead, what we are dealing with is the fundamental failure of neoliberal capitalism, the world’s dominant economic system, to confront its hunger for exponential growth that is only made possible by the unique energy density of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas. Continue reading Climate talks doomed by ‘Infinite Growth’ capitalism