With Paris Agreement Now Official, a Look Back at Climate Deniers Who Said It Couldn’t Happen

Graffiti saying 'I don't believe in global warming' on a wall partly covered by appearance of water.

With recent ratifications by the European Union, India, and Canada, the Paris climate agreement is set to take effect November 4, just days before the start of COP22, the United Nations climate conference happening in mid-November in Marrakesh, Morocco. 

The agreement’s swift movement through the ratification process surprised many, from U.S. President Barack Obama to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, who commented recently that “what once seemed impossible is now inevitable.” 

However, perhaps those most shocked — or at least dismayed — may be the climate deniers who have taken so many opportunities to cast doubt on the U.N. climate talks, the validity of Pres. Obama’s ratification of it, and, of course, climate science itself. Here’s a look back at a few of those efforts.

US, China Formally Join Paris Climate Agreement

U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping

The two biggest greenhouse gas emitters in the world have formally joined the Paris climate agreement.

Shortly after China adopted the agreementU.S. President Barack Obama today made the announcement that the U.S. had followed suit while he was in Hangzhou, China, ahead of this weekend's G20 summit. Together, the U.S. and China are responsible for some 38.76 percent of global emissions.

Are the COP21 Corporate Sponsors as Green as They Say They Are?

Some corporate sponsors of the COP21 Paris climate talks are failing to properly report their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions a new report reveals.

The Paris climate conference is sponsored by over 60 companies including big polluters EDF, Engie and BNP Paribas. And while countries continue to negotiate a deal on tackling climate change, what have these corporate sponsors brought to the table?

A new study published this week by French social research group BASIC and the Multinationals Observatory shows that very few of the COP21 sponsors are declaring their GHG emissions in a transparent way.

Global Leaders Fight for New 1.5 Degrees Warming Target at COP21 Climate Talks

A coalition of vulnerable countries is pushing the global community to adopt a new 1.5 degree global warming target at the ongoing climate talks in Paris.

The group of countries, known as the Climate Vulnerability Forum, argues current efforts to limit global temperature rise to two degrees Celsius is insufficient to protect many nations from the dangers of climate change. The group came to this conclusion, which was announced on the first day of the climate talks, after two years of expert review and diplomatic consultations.

The groups said lives, rights and the prosperity of billions are at stake in the globally agreed temperature limit.

The Divestment Movement Has Unexpectedly Exploded into the Trillions of Dollars and Here’s Why

At this time last year, building on the momentum generated by Climate Week and the New York People’s Climate March, divestment advocates made an ambitious announcement: a plan to triple the $50 billion in assets individuals and organizations had pledged to divest from fossil fuels by the time of the 2015 Paris UN climate negotiations.

That was an ambitious plan.

But in the year since, according to a new report from Arabella Advisors, the divestment movement exploded in scope and scale increasing fifty-fold, bringing the total combined assets of those divesting to an incredible $2.6 trillion.

It’s safe to say that no one, not even the most optimistic divestment dreamers, could have anticipated this outcome.

So what’s behind the global momentum for divestment?

Two Minutes To Safeguard Our Future

This is an guest op-ed by Alex Lenferna, Diego Arguedas Ortiz, Leehi Yona and Chris Wright.

Two minutes.

Once a year, global youth are given two minutes to provide input on global climate policy during the fortnight-long United Nations Climate Summit. While country negotiators deliberate back and forth for days, youth representatives receive 120 seconds to deliver a ceremonial speech that means both nothing and everything.

How can you convey how important your future is when you only have two minutes?

Heather Zichal, Former Top Obama Energy Aide, Named Fellow at Industry-Funded Atlantic Council

Heather Zichal, former top climate and energy aide to President Barack Obama his top aide in crafting his 2008 presidential campaign energy platform, has joined the industry-funded Atlantic Council as a fellow at its Global Energy Center.

Climate Negotiations Should Stop Focusing On “Burden Sharing” And Start Focusing On Sustainable Development: Report

While a key element of negotiations aimed at achieving an international agreement for combating climate change has understandably been fair treatment of all parties, there has been too narrow a focus on “burden-sharing” and “atmospheric rights,” according to a new report that suggests this approach has led to unnecessary divisiveness and is likely to yield nothing more than the “minimum acceptable level of individual action.”

Instead, the report concludes, a better approach would be to refocus the debate over the equitability and ambition of climate targets based on a “right to sustainable development” model.

Titled “Taming the beasts of ‘burden-sharing’” and written by analysts with the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, the report examines seven different burden-sharing approaches based on the “right to emit,” which they define as “determining how the costs and burdens should be shared between countries.” In focusing on the costs and burdens of climate action, the reports finds, these approaches fail to take into account the fact that all countries stand to benefit substantially from reducing global warming pollution.

John Kerry Slams Climate Deniers at COP 20, Emphasizes 97% Consensus, Mum on KXL

What happens if the climate skeptics are wrong? Catastrophe.” 

Those were the words of Secretary of State John Kerry here in Lima today as he addressed the COP 20 climate talks on the need to foster global action to address climate change. 

Secretary Kerry also emphasized the 97 percent scientific consensus on manmade global warming, calling it “a dramatic statement of fact that no one of good conscience or faith should ignore.”

Kerry spoke firmly about the climate-related costs of fossil fuels, saying that “oil and coal are largely responsible” for manmade global warming, and cautioned against any further expansion of fossil fuel use. 

“If developing nations choose the energy choices of the past rather than the energy choices of the future,” they would further endanger the planet and miss out on “one of the greatest economic opportunities of all time” to build economies based on clean energy technology, Kerry said.

“Coal and oil may be cheap ways to power an economy today, in the near term, but I urge nations around the world, the vast majority of whom are represented here at this conference, look further down the road,” Kerry said. “I urge you to consider the real, actual, far-reaching costs that come along with what some think is the cheaper alternative. It's not cheaper.”

American and Chinese Youth Take Diplomacy Into Their Own Hands At Lima COP 20

Back in November, President Obama took a Beijing stage, shoulder-to-shoulder with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and pretty well shook up the geopolitics of climate change.

The presidents of the two largest polluters of greenhouse gases announced a game-changing climate deal that few saw coming.

Even the most plugged-in climate policy experts—and many Capitol Hill politicians—were stunned. 

The bilateral climate agreement—which basically says that the U.S. will cut greenhouse gas emissions by a little over one-quarter (from a baseline in 2005) by 2025, and that China will peak its emissions by 2030—was met with remarkably consistent praise.

Advocates for a strong international climate treaty liked that the bit of diplomacy took away the “waiting for China to act” argument from American naysayers. 

And coming as it did in the run-up to the United Nations climate talks in Lima, Peru, the timing of the announcement invigorated the typically sputtering negotiations.

Some of the toughest criticism came from the youngest commentators. A partnership of youth from both the U.S. and China delivered their critique in the form of a joint letter to Presidents Jinping and Obama.


Subscribe to UNFCCC