The Paris summit: A colossal waste of time – by Margaret Wente (Globe and Mail – December 15, 2015)

What a cliffhanger. As delegates from 195 countries pulled all-nighters in search of a climate deal, the world held its breath. At last, success! Perhaps we’ll save the planet after all. In fact, a deal in Paris was always in the works and everybody knew it.

After the Copenhagen debacle of 2009, the mighty UN climate juggernaut desperately needed a victory. And here it is – an agreement that’s unenforceable and toothless, but makes everyone feel good. Especially Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, our fearless and photogenic leader, took a delegation of 300 politicians, functionaries and hangers-on with him just to prove it. “Canada is back, my good friends,” he announced in Paris.

Naturally, there’s a cranky old skeptic or two. “It’s a fraud really, a fake,” said James Hansen, the former NASA scientist who has been called the father of climate change awareness. “It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises. As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned.”

He’s right, and the negotiators must surely know it. The only way to begin to wean the world away from fossil fuels is to put a global price on carbon. And that’s not going to happen. Instead, it’s Scout’s honour. Every country will set its own voluntary targets and update them every five years. If you miss the targets, what happens is … er, nothing.

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