Revisiting the Paris Climate Accord
Back in 2015, when the Paris Climate Accord was as new, and seemed as natural, as John Kerry’s latest face shape, I wrote at American Thinker about the Accord’s content, meaning, and intentions. Today, as some people with short attention spans cheer Donald Trump’s announced pull-out from the Paris deal, I’d like to look back at what I wrote, before assessing the content, meaning, and likely intentions of Trump’s latest big stand.
“What was once unthinkable is now unstoppable,” boasted U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. More ominous words were never spoken.
Ban was congratulating himself and nearly two hundred of his global elite cohorts on their achievement in signing the Paris Agreement on climate change. In classic progressive style, however, his pep rally sloganeering was also a none-too-subtle threat, à la “Forward.” For as the Agreement makes perfectly clear, the “what” that was once unthinkable, but is now seemingly unstoppable, is the world’s drunken march into international neo-Marxism, aka global tyranny.
The great revolution of political progressivism was its creation of an intermediary mechanism, the administrative state, to filter the relation between the oppressors and the oppressed. The regulatory bureaucracy depersonalizes tyranny, diluting its real meaning with legalistic paperwork and soporific incrementalism. The bureaucratic labyrinth, with its officious, abstract, uncommunicative language, is the perfect guardian for the craven greed and power lust that occupy the offices on the top floor but dare not show their true faces in a “democratic” society.
With obscure jargon and banal committee reports, the administrative state trivializes the property-obliteration of confiscatory taxes, the horror of government-normalized mass killing (from “abortion on demand” to “palliative care”), the moral outrage of state-controlled child-rearing (“public school”), and the freedom-slaying thousand cuts of state-micromanaged daily life, recasting them as mere annoyances, equivalent to household chores. History will someday show that the great coup of progressive authoritarianism was its translation of despotic decrees into the language of white papers, statistical analyses, and policy proposals.
In the spirit of this world-historical transformation, the United Nations’ Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change, at the conclusion of its twenty-first session, has issued the document, “Adoption of the Paris Agreement.” True to form, the document is dominated by nineteen pages of procedural hokum before finally getting around to including the twelve-page Agreement itself.
The Paris Agreement is repetitive, dull, and full of provisos and addenda tacked on to appease various factions. A trudge through this slag heap, however, turns up some nuggets that more than justify the prideful declarations of Ban Ki-moon, John Kerry, and the rest of our masters.
The general aims and principles of the Agreement are announced in Article 2, beginning with paragraph 1:
1. This Agreement…aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty, including by:
(a) Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels…;
(b) Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production;
(c) Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.
“Global cooling,” having been revised as “global warming” in light of Gaia’s frustrating non-compliance, and then renamed “climate change” when the relation between increased GHGs and global temperatures failed to support the revamped computer models, is nevertheless to be combatted on the implicit presupposition that those global warming predictive models were correct all along, even while the U.N. retains the deliberately evasive name “climate change.”
The entire Agreement is predicated on the assumptions that (a) the global mean temperature definitely will rise by more than 2 °C over the next century, despite the awkward absence of recent warming commensurate with rapidly increasing GHG levels, and (b) that the only means of preventing this calamity is fascistic economic intervention. Almost two hundred national governments, including those of the entire developed world, signed on to this wildly speculative but politically transformative proposition. The practical mechanism for achieving the desired outcome — a state-managed, globally manipulated economy — is euphemized as “Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards” the reduction of manmade greenhouse gases.
But the true heart of the Agreement, and its clearest concrete achievement, appears in Article 2, paragraph 2:
2. This Agreement will be implemented to reflect equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances.
This statement, parsed carefully, is just a clunky, bureaucratic rendition of the principle Karl Marx borrowed from French socialist Louis Blanc: “From each [‘common but differentiated responsibilities’] according to his ability [‘respective capabilities’], to each according to his needs [‘different national circumstances’].” This sentence, in nearly identical phrasing, is repeated throughout the document to reinforce the point that this Marxist collectivist ideal, applied at the global level, is the guiding principle of the entire Agreement.
The regulation and forced reconfiguration of developed economies is intended to intensify inescapably over time, through the standard progressive ratchet mechanism:
Each Party’s [i.e. national government’s] successive nationally determined contribution will represent a progression beyond the Party’s then current nationally determined contribution…. [Article 4.3]
In other words, the commitment to economic control is total, though the implementation of that control will of necessity be gradual. For a touch of progressive nostalgia, perhaps, the Agreement even adopts the old communist methodology of five-year plans:
Each Party shall communicate a nationally determined contribution every five years in accordance with decision 1/CP.21 and any relevant decisions of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement and be informed by the outcomes of the global stocktake referred to in Article 14. [4.9]
But don’t worry, this commandeering of the workings and goals of national economies is very flexible:
A Party may at any time adjust its existing nationally determined contribution with a view to enhancing its level of ambition, in accordance with guidance adopted by the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement. [4.11, emphasis added]
That is, a nation is free to increase its “contribution” to GHG reduction beyond the goals determined within its established five-year plan. Note, however, that a nation may not scale back its contribution. We cannot have any members of this global cooperative becoming less “ambitious.” There will be merit badges for extra dedication to the collective, but there will be no mechanism for shrugging off one’s “responsibilities.”
“But can’t a nation simply pull out of the agreement altogether?” you ask. After all, what happens if the majority of its population votes, at election time, against further participation in its own economic and civil destruction? Article 28 provides the answer:
1. At any time after three years from the date on which this Agreement has entered into force for a Party, that Party may withdraw from this Agreement by giving written notification to the Depositary.
2. Any such withdrawal shall take effect upon expiry of one year from the date of receipt by the Depositary of the notification of withdrawal….
Every signatory is locked in for a minimum of four years from the date of entering into the Agreement. If you suppose this condition is irrelevant in practice, since countries may simply refuse to follow through on their emission-reduction promises, you are missing the gist of the whole climate change charade. Meeting emissions targets, in most cases virtually impossible anyway, has never been the point of all this. Establishing ever-greater bureaucratic regulation of private citizens’ lives, and an ever-tighter interweaving of industry and government, is the point. In other words, the real problem the globalists are trying to solve is not excessive CO2, but excessive freedom, which is an intrinsic threat to the only kind of sustainability a ruling establishment cares about, namely the sustainability of its privilege.
Towards this end, the Agreement is emphatic that the most essential prerequisite for achieving its stated goals is greater public control, funding, and oversight of economic activity.
As part of a global effort, developed country Parties [i.e., national governments] should continue to take the lead in mobilizing climate finance from a wide variety of sources, instruments and channels, noting the significant role of public funds, through a variety of actions, including supporting country-driven strategies, and taking into account the needs and priorities of developing country Parties. Such mobilization of climate finance should represent a progression beyond previous efforts. [9.3]
How do national governments “mobilize climate finance”? What “sources, instruments and channels” are they to exploit, while “noting the significant role of public funds”? Needless to say, we are talking about the development “beyond previous efforts” of crony capitalist industry, along with increased taxation to be used, not for the benefit of the overtaxed citizenry and unfairly restricted private businesses, but rather “taking into account the needs and priorities of developing country Parties” — in short, redistributive justice.
As I am certain you get the general picture, I will leave for your own private enjoyment the provisions related to the elite’s micromanagement of technological resources as necessary, to be redistributed as they deem appropriate in accordance with “non-market approaches” [6.8, 10.2], and the establishment of an expert panel of nags to “promote compliance” (15.1-3). And I note only for entertainment value the following bizarre salute to the entire politically correct dictionary:
[A]daptation action should follow a country-driven, gender-responsive, participatory and fully transparent approach, taking into consideration vulnerable groups, communities and ecosystems, and should be based on and guided by the best available science and, as appropriate, traditional knowledge, knowledge of indigenous peoples and local knowledge systems, with a view to integrating adaptation into relevant socioeconomic and environmental policies and actions, where appropriate. [7.5]
To buttress all this academic neo-Marxist internationalism, and to “enhance” the “ambition” for increased global mandates in their next five-year plan, our overseers grant themselves Article 12, the only article to consist of just one, all-too-clear paragraph:
Parties shall cooperate in taking measures, as appropriate, to enhance climate change education, training, public awareness, public participation and public access to information, recognizing the importance of these steps with respect to enhancing actions under this Agreement.
That is, increased authoritarian encroachments will require improved government re-education, i.e., even more aggressive propaganda in support of a particular, fairly recent, empirically questionable scientific hypothesis, and in opposition to any unbiased presentation of alternative hypotheses.
Some commentators, noting the Agreement’s lack of mandates and its watered-down reliance on “voluntary” participation, quickly dismissed its significance with either glee or scorn. True, it does not go as far as some progressives would have preferred. It does, however, firmly entrench man-made global warming as a scientific truth with the official endorsement of all the world’s governments, now including the U.S., Russia and China. Furthermore, it gives official approval on behalf of all the world’s governments to the principles of Marxist interdependency and redistribution, government-corporate alliances aimed at restricting private action and free markets, and the aggressive use of state propaganda to promote a tyrannical agenda.
The globalists are elated because they know they have taken their greatest leap forward, with the world’s most powerful government, having access to the world’s biggest cookie jar, now officially on board and fully committed to the goals of supra-national government and global redistribution. This really is historic. It symbolically ends progressivism’s long struggle against all national resistance to its twin goals of global rule by an unelected elite and the gradual dissolution of national sovereignty. This is the breakthrough progressives of every stripe have been yearning for. Climate change may finally fulfill its promise as the vehicle whereby traditional nationhood — the ultimate bulwark against the universalist dreams of tyrannical souls — is weakened beyond repair.
To those complaining that the lack of mandatory emissions targets means that the Agreement does nothing concrete to combat GHG emissions, I can only say “Good morning, and welcome to reality!” No, Virginia, Al Gore does not believe polar bears are stranded on ice floes. Ban Ki-moon does not believe climate change causes Islamic fanaticism. No one ever believed that manmade CO2 could cause the Earth to wobble on its axis. And the U.N. Conference of the Parties on Climate Change neither believes that it can prevent the global mean temperature from rising 1.5 °C nor has any intention of seeking such a delusional goal.
Progressives do not say such things because they believe them. They say them to justify siphoning money from the pockets of productive private citizens directly into their own coffers, money that will be used to further develop and entrench a system of ever-tightening restrictions on private action. Their alliance with global corporatists is not a corruption of their ideals; it is the essence of their game, and has been for more than a century. They will use fear tactics and the machinations of an administrative apparatus answerable to no one to weaken national sovereignty worldwide, with the aim of establishing unlimited global politico-economic authority.
For those newly disillusioned by the disjunction between progressive declarations and progressive reality, here is a simple translation, though not the kind they feed through the earpieces at the U.N. When progressives say they desire equality, they mean power and wealth. When they say they want to save the planet, they mean they want to protect their power and wealth. When they say “people over profits,” they mean all people other than themselves should live without profits. When they talk of peace, they mean universal submission. When they speak of sustainability, they mean coercively restricted growth and development for “the masses.” And when they speak of “global governance,” well, they mean global governance — a world under their collective control in which, ultimately, there is nowhere for a free soul to hide, no unviolated frontier to which one might escape, no hope of living beyond reach of their regulations, their propaganda, their childhood indoctrination, their denial of property rights, and their disposal of your earnings, your labor, and your life as they see fit, for the purpose of perpetuating their power and wealth.
So Ban Ki-moon may be right: “What was once unthinkable is now unstoppable.” Or nearly so; to the progressives’ chagrin, a lot of people still own guns.