Paris Accord Increases Use of Coal

Paris Accord Increases Use of Coal

The goal of the Paris Accord is to “keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels; and to limit the increase to 1.5°C, since this would substantially reduce the risks and effects of climate change.”

Each member of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that signed the Accord is required to take actions to cut CO2 emissions.

Meanwhile, the proponents of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) have said that C02 emissions must be cut 100% if a climate catastrophe is to be avoided.

However, some countries have decided to use coal-fired power plants to cut CO2 emissions under the Paris Accord.

This would seem to be contradictory and counterproductive to the goals of the Paris Accord.

One country that is aggressively building coal-fired power plants is China. See, Coal and the future of Energy

China sees coal as a way to reduce their increases in CO2 emissions, but this can be counterproductive to reducing CO2 emissions worldwide by 100%.

A report by the IEA Clean Coal Center in London, England showed that Bangladesh had a 5% target for reducing CO2 emissions and intended to use coal-fired power plants to help achieve this reduction. Under their plan, there is no intent to capture and sequester (CCS) the CO2 emissions.

Map of Bangladesh

We now have the spectacle of a member of the UNFCCC and a signatory to the Paris Accord using coal, an unacceptable commodity without CCS, one that is prohibited from use for power generation in the United States, to meet its obligations under the Paris Accord.

As a result, coal’s share of power generation in Bangladesh will increase from 2% to 50%.

According to the IEA Clean Coal Center, there are another two dozen countries who have identified the use of HELE coal-fired power plants for meeting their nationally determined contributions (NDC) under the Paris Accord.

There now exists the situation where, according to the UNFCCC and proponents of AGW climate change, CO2 emissions must be cut by 100% to eliminate the possibility of a climate catastrophe, except when complying with the Paris Accord?

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8 Replies to “Paris Accord Increases Use of Coal”

  1. DD – you say:

    “Each member of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that signed the Accord is required to take actions to cut CO2 emissions.:

    Not so. the Paris Agreement imposes no legal obligation on any party to reduce its emissions. Moreover, so-called developing countries are exempted, not only from any legal obligation, but also from any moral or political obligation to do so: Therefore it’s completely logical that countries such as China should be investing in coal-fired power. And thereby increasing their emissions: So far as I’m aware, there’s no evidence that the Chinese politburo sees such investment as a way to reduce China’s emissions.

    • Thanks for your comments.
      As you note, the Paris Accord imposes no legal obligation per se, but there is a moral obligation.
      In addition, Article 4- Commitments, Paragraph 1 (b) establishes an obligation under the UNFCCC treaty “to mitigate climate change by addressing anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals of sinks of all greenhouse gasses …
      In other words, all signatories of the UNFCCC treaty are obligated to cut CO2 emissions.
      You raise an interesting point when you mention that developing countries are not required to take actions, under the differentiated clause, Article 3 – Principles. That China insists it must be considered a developing country raises other questions. What are China’s true ambitions and strategy?
      It’s very logical for China to build coal-fired power plants: They need the electricity and they have coal, so it’s in their interest to use coal. But we have the spectacle of one of the world’s richest countries saying it must use coal while claiming they will reduce CO2 emissions in 2030, and while supporting (financially and technically) the construction of coal-fired power plants around the world.
      I doubt if anyone knows what the politburo thinks. What is their strategy? How do they see Shi? Is deceit part of their strategy?
      The complete text of the UNFCCC treaty is in my book Clexit.

      • “The Paris Accord imposes … a moral obligation.”

        I disagree. Article 4.1 begins as follows:

        “In order to achieve the long-term temperature goal set out in Article 2, Parties aim…”

        The key word here is “aim”. An aim is an aspiration, not a commitment. Therefore Article 4.1 does not impose an obligation, moral or otherwise. Any possible doubt about this as regards developing countries is clarified by Article 4.4 under which they are merely “encouraged to move over time towards economy-wide emission reduction or limitation targets…” No obligation there.

        I believe China’s true ambitions and strategy are nicely summarised by Article 4.7 of the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (the umbrella treaty under which the Paris Agreement was executed). Here’s the relevant text:

        “The extent to which developing country Parties will effectively implement their commitments under the Convention … will take fully into account that economic and social development and poverty eradication are the first and overriding priorities of the developing country Parties.”

        I’m sorry DD, but China did not say it would reduce emissions in 2030. Here’s relevant extract from its NDC:

        “China has nationally determined its actions by 2030 as follows:

        • To achieve the peaking of carbon dioxide emissions around 2030 …”


        A “peaking” is not a reduction.

        • Thanks for your additional comments.
          I’m glad you are knowledgable about the UNFCCC treaty as our discussion becomes intellectually focused where interpretation and judgments are important.
          My intent is to always be factually correct, so a discussion such as this challenges me to evaluate whether I’m holding true to that objective.

          Let me begin by countering your objection to my saying China would reduce emissions in 2030. You say they only indicated that emissions would be peaking. From my perspective, peaking results in reduction. You are correct that peaking can drag on for many years, decades in fact. However, peaking infers a reduction at some point in time. I mentioned 2030 as when CO2 reductions would begin.
          However, the document you attached, which included “China’s nationally determined contribution, states, as its first objective: “To achieve the peaking of carbon dioxide emissions around 2030 and making best efforts to peak early;”
          I think this supports my statements as to timing and the intent to reduce.
          With respect to Article 4.7 under the UNFCCC treaty, I’m surprised you would mention it because it exposes an element of China’s strategy which is to obtain financial assistance from developed countries, including the United States.
          Here is a rich country linking its agreement to adhere to its obligations if it received money. (Again its obligations as stated in its letter to the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC.)
          I, and I suspect many Americans, am offended by having to pay others, especially a rich country, to reduce CO2 emissions if CO2 is such an existential threat.
          “Article 4 – Commitments” means Commitments. At least to me, that means obligations. There really can be no confusion as to the meaning of commitments.
          Finally, my copy of the UNFCCC treaty does not use the word “aim” in Article 4.1.
          I could not find the sentence you were referring to in my copy of the UNFCCC treaty dated 1992. I am not aware of any changes to the signed copy of the treaty, though translations may differ.
          Please let me know the source of your copy so I can sort through why there is a difference.

          • Donn:

            First – here are what I believe are the correct texts of the UNFCCC 1992 Convention and 2015 Paris Agreement:



            A little background. I’m a lawyer with a specialist interest in international law and many years of experience of international negotiation – including in China. Now to the matters you raise:

            1. I’ve found that the Chinese use language very carefully. And their command of English can be remarkable – and very precise. Therefore, when they referred to “peaking” that’s precisely what they meant. Had they really meant “reduction” (and diplomatically it would have been in their interest to do so) they would have said “reduction”. Yes, a peak may lead to a reduction one day. But it may not. So, it would be incorrect to claim they have promised a reduction. Note also what I suggest is a significant statement on page 17 of their NDC:

            “Developed countries shall … undertake ambitious economy- wide absolute quantified emissions reduction targets by 2030. Developing countries shall … undertake diversifying enhanced mitigation actions.”

            Nothing there about developing countries having any obligation to make absolute emission reductions.

            2. I omitted the financial assistance from developed countries point (I did it again just now) because we were discussing emission reduction. But of course it’s very significant. And China has already claimed funding from the “Green Climate Fund” (funded by developed countries). For China – a heavily industrialised, economically powerful country and technically advanced country – to insist on this is an absurdity. I fully understand why people in the West are offended by it. I am.

            3. Article 4 of the 2015 Paris Agreement (see my attachment) doesn’t mention the word “commitment” – indeed the word doesn’t appear anywhere in the agreed text. However, the word “aim” is certainly in Article 4 – as it is in Article 2.

            4. I don’t understand your point about not finding the sentence from the 1992 Treaty (the UNFCCC). I was referring to Article 4.7 on page 8 (see my attachment) – to which you’ve just referred.

            Best wishes – Robin

          • First, let me address the question of Article 4.1.
            I was under the impression you were referring to the UNFCCC treaty rather than the Paris Accord. The Paris Accord does refer to aim, an aspirational goal, where there is no legal commitment.
            However, Article 4.1 of the UNFCCC says:
            “All Parties, taking into account their common but differentiated responsibilities and their specific national and regional development priorities, objectives and circumstances, shall: ”
            The key word is shall, denoting an obligation for all signatories of the UNFCC treaty.
            I believe that China, as a signatory, is obligated to comply with the UNFCCC treaty.
            Unfortunately, I believe the United States is also obligated to comply with the UNFCCC treaty which was ratified by the Senate. Our obligation to comply with the treaty is why I believe we should withdraw from the treaty.
            As for my background, I have only visited China for three weeks as a tourist in 2010.
            However, I first was in Taiwan in 1949, as a midshipman on a ship delivering phosphates to the port of Keelung. I’m sure you see the significance of the date in China’s history. My website refers to this experience.
            I was again in Taiwan in the 1960s determining whether GE should enter into a joint venture there. As a result, I explored the island from one end to the other including meetings with corporate and government parties.
            I’ve read On China by Kissinger and The Hundred-Year Marathon by Pillsbury. I would be interested in your comments regarding the latter.
            My views on China began by thinking China would eventually become democratic, but those views started to change when China imposed the Nine Dash Line claim to the China Sea.
            I also have a unique relationship involving China dating back to my grammar and high school years.
            I hope this clarifies my positions as to the date, 2030, CO2 reductions, and obligation.
            In any event, I look forward to hearing more from you.

  2. You’re right of course: the word “shall” establishes an obligation. But the obligation is to “Formulate, implement, publish and regularly update national … programmes containing measures to mitigate climate change by addressing anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of all greenhouse gases…” and, although the word “mitigate” covers absolute reduction, it also covers such measures as lowering emissions per unit of GDP. And that’s something China has been doing for years – yet its absolute emissions have risen massively. Moreover, the obligation is qualified by the introductory phrase “taking into account their common but differentiated responsibilities” and of course the “first and overriding priorities” provision of Article 4.7 – both of which developing countries insist let them off the hook of true emission reduction.

    Apologies for being such a nit-picker. Lawyers can’t avoid it.

    I believe the US should either withdraw from the UNFCCC or insist on a renegotiation of the Paris Agreement. Neither seems likely to happen.

    Unfortunately, I haven’t read either the Kissinger or Pilsbury books. I’ll add them to my list. My view on China’s attitude to climate negotiation is stated in this short paper (see the first paragraph of page 2): It was written before Trump’s announcement re the Paris Agreement.

    It’s been an interesting and enjoyable exchange – perhaps we’ll be in touch again. Best – R

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