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Renewables Steal Thunder From COP21

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Paris COP21 captured the attention of the world for two weeks as over 190 countries agreed to agree for the first time since Dr. James Hansen testified before a Senate committee in 1988, introducing the world to the dangers of greenhouse gases.

COP21, with its profuse sweat under bright lights and sleepless nights, resulted in an agreement praised by mainstream media all across the world but universally panned by climate change advocacy groups.

Still, at the end of the day COP21 may not make much difference. After all, renewable energy is not waiting for COP21 to nudge people to go green. Renewables have already, for some time now, been on a tear, bustling ahead as if COP21 never counts.

Some of the world’s foremost climate scientists and climate change experts such as Dr. James Hansen labeled COP21 “a fraud” with “no action, just promises.” Others with similar credentials claim “the deal is certain to result in 3°C by 2050, or sooner.” Thereby, missing, by a wide margin, the COP21 goal of keeping temperatures under 2°C.

Meanwhile, silently but assuredly, renewable energy is literally on fire all across the planet, sans COP21. The year 2013 is more likely the “watershed year for tackling climate change” because of renewables rather than because of COP21 in 2015. Renewable installations crossed over those of fossil fuels for the first time ever in 2013, as the world added 143 gigawatts of renewable electricity capacity versus 141 gigawatts of fossil fuel electricity generation. Renewables have never looked back.

In the United States, for example, approximately 22,700 megawatts of solar powers 4.6 million homes and 66,000 megawatts of wind energy 18 million homes. When blended, U.S. renewables provide 90,000 megawatts for nearly 23 million households.

Therefore, if solar and wind renewables continue to grow at the 2013 rate, renewables alone will cover the planet’s roughly 1.5 billion households within roughly 40 years, meeting the criteria set at COP21 of greenhouse emissions neutrality in the second half of the century with or without COP21. But, with COP21 psychologically pushing ahead renewable growth, accelerating the build-out, it is probable that renewables will vastly exceed any goals of COP21 well before 2050.

Thus, in the real world, renewables offset COP21’s toothless agreement. As for example, language dealing with mitigation or cutting greenhouse gases is extremely vague in the agreement with phrases like “efforts to be made to hold temperatures to 1.5 C.” What does that mean in the real world? And, what efforts?

Or, as for another example, Article 4 of the COP21 agreement addresses timelines, “global peaking of greenhouse emissions, as soon as possible.” What does that mean? “As soon as possible” could be 2100 or 2125 or 2300. There is no mention of enforcement.

And, of course there’s the infamous COP21 “shall or should standoff” just prior to the closing ceremony when Secretary of State Kerry threatened “to walk” unless Article 4.4 dealing with developed countries obligations to reduce emissions changed the wording from “shall” to “should.”

Thus, unbeknownst to many in the public arena, Secretary Kerry avoided a showdown with the U.S. Senate over ratification since one word “shall” created a legal obligation, maybe a treaty, whereas “should” does not. As events were likely mapped out beforehand, there would be no COP21 agreement unless it was purposely loose, and that’s how it ended, thumbing their collective noses at the U.S. Senate.

Meanwhile, the world marketplace is already gaga over solar. For example, even though Dubai’s electricity is currently powered by burning natural gas, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Emir of Dubai has stated that all rooftops in Dubai will have solar panels by 2030; fascinatingly, the UAE has one-tenth of the world’s oil reserves.

Saudi Arabia is preparing to build a commercial-scale solar-panel factory near Riyadh. Not only that but next year Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil company, and Saudi Electricity Company plan to jointly break ground on 10 solar projects throughout Saudi Arabia. The Saudis intend to build 41 gigawatts of solar capacity by 2032, thereby slightly edging out Germany, Europe’s renewable energy heavyweight.

Thereby, leaders from the Middle East make America’s Republican anti-anthropogenic global warming crowd in Congress, as well as almost all the Republican presidential candidates, look like babbling idiots with feet stuck in 20th century concrete drill pads.

Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai gets it.

The Saudi royal family gets it.

America’s top Republican presidential candidates don’t!

What’s wrong with this picture?

America’s Republican anti-anthropogenic crowd, like Ted Cruz and most of the candidates for the presidency, bring to the table a denseness, a thickness that subtly exposes a guttural imprint reminiscent of America’s frontier movement of the 19th century, the great westward trek across the continent which established a culture of rugged individualism and self-reliance whilst politically ignorant of the larger outside world, in other words “Cowboy Politics.”

Today, the Republican anti-anthropogenic global warming crowd embody that legacy of America’s drive westward, as it brutally slayed indigenous people and slaughtered massive herds of buffalo to cleanse the frontier, making it as white and clean as possible. Well, today there’s a new opportunity for these frontier-oriented mental cases to cleanse America by shedding fossil fuel subsidies.

Even though G20 countries, since 2009, promised to cut fossil fuel subsidies each year, “in most cases there has been little progress, with some countries actually increasing their fossil fuel subsidies over the past six years. The United States, for instance, has increased its fossil fuel subsidies 35% since 2009,”Here’s How Much the World’s Biggest Economies Spend on Fossil Fuel Subsidies, Climate Progress, Nov. 12, 2015.

Fortunately for the world at large, renewables are not waiting for COP21 to figure out how to proceed with authority, with legal credibility, and with teeth that bite. After all, as it stands, COP21 is like the volunteer Army.

Also, fortunately for the health of the planet, renewables could care less about Cowboy politicians that suck up to special interests. Renewables have an unbelievably powerful momentum that will whiten the world, turning it as clean as a whistle no matter Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s irresponsible statement that climate initiatives are “subject to being shredded in 13 months,” if the GOP wins the White House. Sorrowfully, on the heels of COP21, the world is introduced to America’s, um-m, where do these people come from?

The good news: Renewables could care less.

More articles by:

Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at rlhunziker@gmail.com.

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