‘Undetectable’: The Impact A UN Treaty Will Have On Global Warming

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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President Barack Obama and other world leaders will meet in Paris later this month for a highly anticipated conference expected to yield a global treaty to fight global warming.

Obama wants a global climate deal to be a major part of his presidential legacy, and environmentalists want to see countries around the world pledge to phase out fossil fuels. But what U.N. treaty proponents are loathe to mention is just how little an impact current pledges to cut carbon dioxide emissions will really have on warming.

Scientists and experts are increasingly critical of claims a U.N. treaty will do much of anything to stop global warming. The Daily Caller News Foundation has put together a list from three authoritative sources on just how small of an impact current CO2 pledges will have on global warming.

1. Cuts from the U.S., China, Europe and the rest of the world will only avoid 0.05 degrees Celsius of global warming by the end of the century

A study by Danish professor Bjorn Lomborg of the Copenhagen Consensus Center examined the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs, countries submitted to the U.N. on how much they will reduce CO2 emissions in the coming years. Lomborg then compared the cuts to the “likely global policy output.” His results were very underwhelming.

“My major finding is that the total effect is very small: less than 0.05°C difference by the end of the century,” Lomborg wrote in an article posted on the science blog Watts Up With that, refuting a liberal scientist’s critique of his research.

Lomborg’s study argues that, at most, a U.N. treaty will avoid 0.17 degrees Celsius of projected warming. The more pessimistic scenario laid out by Lomborg is that current INDCs will only avoid 0.048 degrees Celsius of projected warming. (This, of course, assumes all the models being used by climate experts make the right assumptions about climate sensitivity and future policies.)

“Current climate policy promises will do little to stabilize the climate and their impact will be undetectable for many decades,” Lomborg wrote in his study. “[T]he emissions reductions promised until 2030 will do little to stabilize the climate and their impact will be undetectable for many decades. This clearly indicates that if we want to reduce climate impacts significantly, we will have to find better ways than the ones currently proposed.”

2. MIT found current pledges will only reduce warming by 0.2 degrees Celsius

Lomborg’s study built on the results of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study from earlier this year which found pledges to cut CO2 emissions by major economies, including China, will have a negligible impact on global warming.

“Assuming the proposed cuts are extended through 2100 but not deepened further, they result in about 0.2°C less warming by the end of the century compared with our estimates,” MIT researchers wrote in their report which included INDCs from the U.S., Europe, China, Japan, Russia, Mexico, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

3. This veteran climate scientist says Obama’s global warming agenda won’t even be ‘scientifically detectable’

The U.S. and China account for 40 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, so any agreement to cut emissions has to include both countries. The U.S. is on board, but that doesn’t really matter since China has not promised any emissions reductions until after 2030.

That means Obama’s regulatory agenda to tackle global warming will have virtually no impact on global warming, especially since China and other developed countries will be increasing emissions in the coming decades.

“In other words, it doesn’t change the overall picture—that the Clean Power Plan, in and of itself, produces no meaningful or even scientifically detectable alteration to the future course of the earth’s climate,” Chip Knappenberger, a climate scientist at the libertarian Cato Institute, told Congress in a Wednesday hearing.

“If this information is included in the actual Clean Power Plan or its supporting documents, I could not find it, nor has anyone pointed it out to me,” Kappenberger said of the Environmental Protection Agency’s signature global warming rule.

Knappenberger used EPA’s own climate models to debunk claims its regulations will have any meaningful impact on global warming. In fact, EPA models show if the U.S. fulfills its pledge of cutting carbon dioxide emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025, future warming will only be reduced by 0.04 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

If the U.S. reduced emissions 80 percent by 2050, it will only stall 0.11 degrees Celsius of warming by 2100, according to Knappenberger.

“Note that the pathway indicated by the INDCs bears little relation to the necessary steps to keep total warming beneath 2.0°C,” he said. “Rather, the nations are signaling their intent to support efforts to grow their local economies rather than limit global temperature change.”

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