June was a frenetic month for the UN climate negotiations with both Heaven and the People’s Republic of China coming forward with unexpectedly strong “contributions”. This coincidence of statements from the Celestial and Middle Kingdoms left liberal climate policy wonks in information overload and unsure about whether it was ok to praise the Pope and the Chinese regime.
The contributions were delivered by the second-most senior representative of each jurisdiction, namely Premier Li Keqiang and Pope Francis. Critics were quick to suggest that the lack of appearance of the top-dogs themselves shows a lack of respect for the issue and faltering political will at the highest level. Both God and President Xi Jinping were unavailable for comment, though some observers have pointed to the recent onslaught of hurricanes, heat-waves and other extreme weather events as an ominous indication of the Former’s view on the climate change matter.
Heaven’s contribution was revealed after the Pope went up a mountain and came down remarking that there really wasn’t much snow up there anymore and by the way here’s a statement inscribed on nearly 200 iStone tablets. Much of the opus demonstrated a remarkable and inspiring overview of the moral and scientific imperative for all of humanity to act on climate change. Only occasionally did it lapse into quoting from Genesis as though it actually happened.
Buried in the heavenly text was a clear message against the purchasing of carbon offsets as a means to solve the climate problem. This caused consternation among some Catholics shocked at such a clear departure from the centuries-old Catholic practice of quietly buying indulgences for the remission of sins. Carbon market investors were also perturbed. “This is a disaster. Since the bottom dropped out of the EU compliance market a few years back we’ve been relying on selling low-quality offset credits to guilt-ridden Catholics. If they are going to turn their backs on us, who are we going to flog them to next? Unsuspecting pensioners?” lamented one forlorn project developer.
China’s contribution goes beyond its previously announced vague promise that its CO2 emissions would peak sometime around 2030 (a.k.a the “Pek-ing” plan). The new version adds a precisely worded commitment about reducing emissions intensity by 60-65%, along with a lengthy shopping list of actions and targets that almost rivals the Pope for sheer verbosity. The admirable but hard-to-measure intensity target sent analysts into a frenzy of plotting and re-plotting pie-in-the-sky economic projections in exactly the same way as they did in 2009 when the previous 40-45% target was announced. In the intervening years we’ve learnt that nobody really knows how to measure Chinese emissions and economic output in China. But boy are we all happy to hear them making commitments about it.
An intensity target is naturally easier to reconcile with strong economic growth than an absolute emissions reduction target, such as the 40% target recently announced by the European Union after months of undignified internal bickering. The Europeans did though also see ambitious domestic action on climate change in June as one of the EU’s proudest member states selflessly stepped forward and offered complete economic collapse as its contribution to the EU’s climate plan. Jean-Claude Juncker said, “Just the other day someone told me about this climate change thing and said that we should do something about it. I’m now glad to report that our plan for the annihilation of the Greek economy is coming to fruition and with it excellent progress on total EU emissions reductions”.
The high-profile contributions from China and the People’s Republic of Heaven have upped the pressure on other major negotiating parties who are yet to announce contributions, such as India and Hell. Hell is said to be considering commitments related to energy efficiency in its thermal sector, notably by reducing operating temperature by a few degrees, as well as converting its furnaces to run on a new “anthropologic” biomass fuel. Previous hopes that the Kingdom of Hell would be able to further decrease emissions by reducing its population have been dashed as humanity shows never-ending enthusiasm for qualifying itself for entry to the fiery underworld. Not least those otherwise devout Catholics who ruined everything by dabbling in carbon credits.
The Indian government, for its part, is thought to be waiting for a strong commitment from Hell before coming out with a statement. A source close to Delhi reportedly said “We didn’t cause this mess. The historical responsibility lies with the US and Beelzebub. Let us first develop like they have!”