What do you get when 40,000 people fly to a luxurious destination on carbon-spewing jets to save the planet from, well, carbon-spewing jets (and everything else powered by oil or natural gas).

If you are to believe the breathless reports from the just-concluded COP21 conference in Paris (following gatherings in such cushy locations as Rio, Bali, Cancun and Copenhagen), the world now has an agreement to forestall global warming.

But, not exactly. The pact to avoid what skeptics are calling “thermageddon” depends entirely on voluntary compliance with goals that each participant sets for itself.

The conference’s unanimity seems spurred by a plan to transfer $100 billion a year, starting in 2020, from prosperous countries (the U.S. is the largest projected donor) to less-well-off ones, many of which are governed by one-party autocrats.

The next time these rulers spend foreign aid to benefit their citizens will be the first such occasion.

Here are some reactions you may not have seen in all the glowing coverage:

Prominent warming activist James Hansen thinks the whole thing is “just worthless words. There is no action, just promises. As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continue to be burned.”

Although he spoke in disgust, we can only hope he’s right. The world’s prosperity depends on easily obtainable and affordable energy sources, and fossil fuels remain the major source for that for the foreseeable future.

Non-carbon sources provide about 14 percent of the world’s energy output, mostly from hydroelectric and nuclear sources. Only about 4 percent is from wind, solar and biomass.

And yet, says noted skeptic Roger Pielke Jr., an environmental studies professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, that contribution would have to expand to greater than 90 percent of the world’s output by the end of the century to meet the advocates’ stated goals.

Where is it coming from? Advocates claim that as-yet-undeveloped “carbon-capture technology” will scrub the skies, while vast new tax-funded investments in wind and solar power will replace almost every current fossil fuel use.

The odds of the developed world maintaining its standard of living (or underdeveloped nations expanding theirs) under the crushing cost of those strictures is miniscule, many skeptics say, even if advocates abandon their long-standing opposition to greatly expanding nuclear power.

But that may not be an issue, if Dr. Benny Peiser of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a skeptic who (this once) agrees with Hansen, is right: “The deal is further proof, if any was needed, that the developing world will not agree to any legally binding caps, never mind reductions of their CO2 emissions.”

He added, “In contrast to the (now-expired) Kyoto Protocol, the Paris deal removes all legal obligations for governments to cap or reduce CO2 emissions.”

China and India, the world’s No. 1 and No. 3 carbon emitters, have promised to meet peak emissions on dates when one U.S. government study estimates they would hit that goal if they merely follow their current plans.

China has just permitted 155 new coal plants, while Japan is working on 43.

And as the British paper The Guardian reported, India still wants to double its coal output by 2020. As the paper put it, “India says coal provides the cheapest energy for rapid industrialization that would lift millions out of poverty.”

The Financial Times reported Dec. 13 that the United Kingdom seems to agree about the plan: “Amber Rudd, the U.K. energy and climate change secretary, described the (conference’s) goal as merely ‘aspirational’ while defending the U.K. government’s decision last month to scrap 1 billion pounds in funding for carbon capture systems that could hold emissions down. ‘I don’t think it was a mistake,’ she said. ‘They are still expensive.’ ”

The Financial Times also quoted Benjamin Sporton, head of the World Coal Association, as saying he did not anticipate a worldwide cutback in coal production “because so many developing countries still plan to keep burning it.”

The paper quoted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as saying, “Before (President Obama’s) international partners pop the champagne, they should remember that this is an unattainable deal based on a domestic energy plan that is likely illegal, that half the states have sued to halt, and that Congress has already voted to reject.”

And a spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan told the paper, “This agreement does not bind Congress in any way, and we will continue to focus on an energy policy that promotes America’s abundant natural resources.”

Still, Ryan was unable to include any provision in the new omnibus budget to block spending discretionary funds on the pact’s $100 billion transfer plan, apparently fearing Obama’s veto. So, we still need a president who will act decisively to protect Americans’ hopes for future economic prosperity and stability.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:

[email protected]

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