United States formally exits global climate pact


The United States on Nov. 4 formally left the Paris Agreement, the nearly-universal global accord to reduce carbon emissions in an attempt to slow climate change. The US began the exit process one year ago, when it notified the United Nations of its intent to withdraw from the agreement, triggering the effective date of withdrawal. The decision to withdraw was the fulfillment of remarks Donald Trump made not long after becoming president in 2017 in which he claimed the Paris Agreement was less about climate change and more about other countries taking advantage of the US financially by transferring coal-mining jobs from the United States to those countries.

Following the official withdrawal, Chile, Italy, France, the United Kingdom, and the United Nations issued a joint statement expressing regret that the United States chose to leave the agreement. It noted that Dec. 12 marks the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement, that “the science is clear,” and that it is absolutely imperative that the world “take renewed action to hold the temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius.” Of the 197 signatories to the agreement, the United States is the only country to have left.

The US withdrawal could be temporary, however, depending on the results of the presidential election. Former vice-president Joseph Biden has pledged to recommit the US to the Paris Agreement if he is elected. Unlike leaving, rejoining the agreement would only take 30 days.

From Jurist, Nov. 4. Used with permission.

Note: The Paris Agreement sets a 2 C rise within the current century as a maximum, but urges countries to work toward a 1.5 C rise. Recent studies have found that the 1.5 C rise will be reached within five years.

  1. ‘Past point of no return’

    Even if human-caused greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced to zero, global temperatures may continue to rise for centuries, according to a new scientific study.

    “The world is already past a point of no return for global warming,” the study authors report in the British journal Scientific Reports. The only way to stop the warming, they say, is that “enormous amounts of carbon dioxide have to be extracted from the atmosphere.”

    “According to our models, humanity is beyond the point of no return when it comes to halting the melting of permafrost using greenhouse gas cuts as the single tool,” lead author Jorgen Randers, a professor emeritus of climate strategy at the BI Norwegian Business School, told AFP.

    “If we want to stop this melting process we must do something in addition – for example, suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and store it underground, and make Earth’s surface brighter,” Randers said. (USA Today)

    In other words, more creepy-hubristic geo-engineering schemes….

    We have noted before the growing scientific consensus that we’re doomed.

  2. ‘Manmade’ mass now outweighs life on Earth: study

    From PhysOrg, Dec. 9:

    For the first time in history manmade materials now likely outweigh all life on Earth, scientists said Wednesday in research detailing the “crossover point” at which humanity’s footprint is heavier than that of the natural world.

    The weight of roads, buildings and other constructed or manufactured materials is doubling roughly every 20 years, and authors of the research said it currently weighed 1.1 teratonnes (1.1 trillion tonnes).

    As mankind has ramped up its insatiable consumption of natural resources, the weight of living biomass—trees, plants and animals—has halved since the agricultural revolution to stand at just 1 teratonne currently, the study found.

    Estimating changes in global biomass and manmade mass since 1990, the research showed that the mass of human-produced objects stood at just three percent of the weight of biomass at the start of the 20th century.

    But since the post-World War II global production boom, manufacturing has surged to the extent that humans now produce the equivalent of the weight of every person on Earth every week on average.

    2020 likely marked the moment when manmade mass tipped higher than biomass, according to the study published in Nature.

    “This study provides a sort of ‘big picture’ snapshot of the planet in 2020,” said co-author Ron Milo of the Plant and Environmental Sciences Department at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science.

    “We hope that once we have these somewhat shocking figures before our eyes, we can as a species take responsibility.”

    A threshold in the eclipse of the biosphere by the technosphere.