Elizabeth Kolbert writes: Every year around this time, negotiators from across the globe meet in one city or another—Montreal, Marrakech, Copenhagen, Paris—to resolve that the world really ought come up with a plan to do something about climate change. This year’s Conference of the Parties, the twenty-third such gathering, is taking place in Bonn, and in addition to the usual impediments to progress—mistrust, inequality, bad faith—there’s now the Trump Administration to contend with. On Monday, the U.S. delegation used its sole official appearance at COP23 to tout fossil fuels.
“Promoting coal at a climate summit is like promoting tobacco at a cancer summit,” the former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was in Bonn for the cop, observed. Protesters at the event sang songs and then walked out, leaving the hall half empty.
Also on Monday, a group of scientists reported that global carbon emissions, which had been flat for the past few years, were once again on the rise. The group predicted that industrial CO2 emissions in 2017 would total thirty-seven billion tons, which is about two per cent more than in 2016, and that this figure would likely climb again in 2018. “World backsliding on curbing carbon emissions,” summed up a headline in the Bangor Daily News.
Then, on Tuesday, the International Energy Agency, which is based in Paris, released its annual “World Energy Outlook.” One of the agency’s key findings is that global energy demand will continue to rise through 2040. Another is that, owing to technological advances like fracking, the United States is poised to become a major exporter of fossil fuels. “By the mid-2020s, the United States [will] become the world’s largest liquefied natural gas exporter and a few years later a net exporter of oil,” the agency predicts. It’s hard to say which of these announcements was the most depressing, but, on some level, it doesn’t really matter, since they’re all connected. [Continue reading…]