GOLDSTEIN: UN climate summit in Glasgow is about rhetoric, not reality

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Chinese President Xi Jinping, who isn’t in Glasgow, says China —  which in 2019 emitted more greenhouse gases than the rest of the developed world combined and burns more coal than all the world combined — won’t achieve net-zero emissions until 2060. 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is in Glasgow, said his country won’t achieve it until 2070.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who’s also not in Glagow, says his country, the world’s fourth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, won’t achieve net-zero emissions until 2060.

If all that’s true, then, as the science says, there’s very little chance the world will be able to avoid what the UN warns will be catastrophic global warming above 2C by 2100 compared to pre-industrial times.

That’s because the UN says the world has to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 to avoid climate catastrophe.

Also, keep in mind that it’s the easiest thing in the world for the leaders of democratic countries, let alone dictatorships, to promise net-zero emissions long after most of them will not only be out of politics, but dead.

Right now, most nations on earth are desperately ramping up fossil fuel energy production in a bid to power themselves out of the global recession that accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic.

That’s because wind and solar power aren’t up to the job, since, unlike fossil fuels, they’re incapable of providing baseload power to the electricity grid on demand.

The UN says that during the COVID-19 recession last year, global greenhouse gas emissions dropped by an unprecedented 5.4%.

But this year, they’re expected to increase by 4.8%, raising them to the second-highest level ever, only slightly behind the all-time high set in 2019.

That’s after more than a quarter-century of annual UN climate conferences like the one now being held in Glasgow.

In the real world, as opposed to the UN bubble in Glasgow, the best indicator of future performance is past practice.

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