November 8, 2019

The Paris Agreement proposes laudable ideals. Specifically it aims to significantly reduce greenhouse gas concentrations around the globe. So far so good. 

While the principle of the the agreement is commendable, it lacks any mechanisms of enforcement or even any  penalties for noncompliance. The agreement instead relies on peer and public pressure to persuade its members to enforce their commitments at a national level.


Signed by 197 countries, the Paris Agreement makes use of  “nationally determined contributions” to reducing greenhouse gases. What this means is that every member country  commits in theory, to reducing their emissions by an amount suggested by themselves. 

The failure to provide any details though, renders the implementation and measurement towards their stated climate goals difficult at best

The main players in this accord prior to the US  President Donald Trump’s June 2017 withdrawal, were the US & China.  Between them, these two countries account for just under half of all global emissions. 


While China is the present day leader of global emissions, the US is recognised as being responsible for the most global emissions cumulatively over time. 

Doing little else other than paying lip service to reducing carbon emissions,  the Paris Climate Agreement is just the wrong answer to the right question. This is evidenced in several ways, not least by statements from the  Ecologic Institute in Germany and the Belgium based Climact. 

Both these institutes charge that the climate plans submitted by EU member states showed that none of them are on track to attaining the zero emission goals by 2050.  

Devoid of any legally-binding emission-reduction targets, the Paris Climate Agreement  instead  ‘urges but does not require’ developed countries to contribute over $100 billion every year to promote & develop  green technologies. 


Only a small fraction of the $100 billion funding required by the Paris Climate Agreement has been secured, further limiting any meaningful actions by this agreement. Climate change as a theory then, presents a number of business and political opportunities rather than the purported change to green technologies. 

This irony is underscored further by the lack of any global cohesive strategy with regards to reducing carbon emissions. While leaders of western countries gripe about their greenhouse gas emissions, China continues to forge ahead with new projects and investments in coal and gas. 

Green technology has fallen short  of meeting China’s needs for clean air or energy & not surprisingly, analysts expect China’s coal production to continue to increase over time.  

Any meaningful impact on climate change can only be achieved by an aggregate reduction in global emissions. 

The Paris Climate Agreement for its part, does at least underscore the magnitude of diluted efforts by individual countries – it probably shouldn’t cost $ 100 billion to see that.