By Barb Jarmoska, Responsible Drilling Alliance (Williamsport PA), 12/21/15
Earlier this month, 195 nations and the European Union, representing billions of earth citizens, reached an unprecedented consensus at the Conference of Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21). A plan to slow global warming was agreed upon with the hope of averting disastrous climate effects. Global dependence on fossil fuels is beginning to wind down and a commitment to an increasing reliance on clean, renewable energy has begun. Janos Pasztor, the U.N. assistant secretary-general on climate change, proclaimed that the message of the Paris Agreement is to “send a strong signal… that this is the direction we are going, to a low-carbon, low-emissions world, so investing in new technology is the way to go.”
“The agreement requires the world to wean itself off of fossil fuels by the middle of the century,” said Alden Meyer, the director of strategy and policy of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “We have to get to net zero of greenhouse gases by 2060 or so. That can be through a combination of reducing emissions and increasing uptake of carbon dioxide by forests and agriculture by natural syncs. There is no way to meet this goal without phasing out fossil fuels over that time.”
Although the commitments made in Paris are insufficient to protect the most vulnerable people or to reverse the trend of rapidly declining biodiversity, the COP21 deal is a compromise, a crucial and forward-looking step in the right direction.
Huffington Post proclaimed, “…the Paris Agreement does send a strong signal to the business community and financial markets that we are moving to a low-carbon, renewable energy future.”
Here in PA, that “strong signal” has been blocked by false promises and padded campaign coffers. The message of COP21 is not reaching the ears of Pennsylvania’s elected and appointed officials who, as a whole, remain heedless of the warnings, ignorant of the predictions, and deaf to the global consensus on climate change. The gas industry’s stranglehold continues to dominate… welcome to the Pennsylvania paradox.
November saw the release of the Pennsylvania Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force Draft Report. The governor’s 48-member Task Force, said to be comprised of “stakeholders” is hardly a balanced group, as the stakes most members hold have nothing to do with methane’s impact on climate change. The report’s 184 recommendations make no mention of the methane that leaks from pipelines nor does it hold in regard the forest fragmentation, invasive species, damage to wetlands, and other environmental impacts of PA’s proposed 30,000-mile web of new pipelines….
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