COP Out?

Organic Energy MD Andy Boroughs offers a personal perspective on COP21 Climate Change Conference Outcome

Anyone with even the slightest interest in the environment and the devastating global impact of climate change simply could not fail to have been impressed by the sheer scale of achievements in Paris last week at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) or COP21 as it was known. Or could we?

Quite apart from the mind-boggling complexity of negotiating an agreement where 195 countries would collectively reach a politically, economically and environmentally acceptable accord to limit global temperature rises through decarbonisation, the sheer logistics and slick organisation by the French hosts was eye-wateringly awesome. All the more so given that 140 world leaders descended upon a city still reeling from the terrorist atrocity that saw 131 people brutally slaughtered on its streets just two weeks previously.

Then there was the poignancy of the Climate Change Marchers. Literally hundreds of thousands of people, including those from tiny Pacific island communities like the Marshall Islands whose lives and livelihoods are imminently threatened by rising seas from melting ice caps, arriving in Paris from all parts of the globe whilst others took to the streets of 175 cities across the world in a profoundly moving act of global solidarity.

Despite the impressiveness of it all, the historic achievement of bringing all the world’s most powerful players into one place on a single day to declare their commitments to carbon reduction, one can’t help but feel we have been sold an illusion of success that would out smoke and out mirror Dynamo.

Ultimately, deconstructed, picked apart and analysed to within an inch of the Marshall Islands’ perilous flood defences… isn’t this “historic accord” merely words?

Yes, the chosen words are also impressive. A positive alphabet of optimism. Let’s start with words like ambition, aspiration, aims, accountability, accord, agreement.

Then we hit the ‘B’ words and those in the UK swept up in the euphoria of that end of COP21 conference celebratory atmosphere, and suckered into believing the problem is now all but solved by Downing Street’s spinners, just need to perhaps scrutinise the UK government’s recent announcements on energy policy. The Chancellor has his hand all over Rudd’s rudder. It is he who is steering the course.

So moving along the COP21 alphabet I find I can’t quite get past ‘B’ for but…

But… where is the detail on implementation?

But… how does this fit with the DECC’s recent energy policy revisions?

But… what about the UK government’s dramatic reduction in biomass RHI subsidies

But… where is government support and investment in sustainable micro-generation?

But… what about the environmental impact of fracking for shale gas?

But… how is the UK’s energy security enhanced when we have sold the lion’s share of our nuclear industry to the Chinese and will be relying on gas imported from Russian pipelines?

Call me an old-fashioned cynic with a heavy Cold War hangover but none of this screams energy security and COP21 carbon reduction commitment to me. Am I being dim, but where exactly does the action meet the Rudd rhetoric?

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