How much will rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement matter?

NLF Highlights for December

President-elect Joe Biden has, since the early days of his campaign, committed to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. This promise will be easy to keep, given the fact that the accord was set up as an executive agreement and does not require support from the senate.

The tough question, however, is: how much will rejoining the agreement matter? In the forthcoming winter issue of New Labor Forum, Sean Sweeney says not much. He notes that, during the drafting of the accord back in 2015, the U.S. played a lead role in weakening its enforceability and lessening targeted emissions reductions. Five years hence, not one of the G20 signatories to the Paris Accord – which emit 75% of global CO2 – have lived up to even those lower targets that current scientific consensus finds insufficient to the task of limiting the global rise in temperature to 1.5 Celsius. Sweeney argues that, rather than simply re-entering the Paris Climate Agreement, we should help to overhaul it.

With this installment of the newsletter we also release a new episode of our podcast Reinventing Solidarity, in which Sweeney interviews international human rights and environmental leader, Kumi Naidoo. Sitting in Naidoo’s home in Durban, South Africa, they discuss the narrowing window of opportunity to halt climate disaster, and explain why doing so will require transforming, rather than simply tinkering around the edges of, an economic system that wreaks environmental havoc.

We also offer a debate, featured in our fall 2020 issue, that updates the longtime controversy over the dangers and benefits of nuclear power. Recently, a number of climate change scientists and activists have asserted the necessity of nuclear power in enabling us to meet the internationally agreed to target of 1.5 degrees Celsius warming. Others maintain that this goal can and should be met strictly through a dramatic increase in renewables. We present Gary Was and Todd Allen arguing the former, and Todd Larson the later. This debate is a “must read” for anyone who takes seriously the impending planetary disaster of failing to halt global warming.

Table of Contents

  1. Reinventing Solidarity Episode 6 A Global Public Goods Approach to Combatting Climate Change
  2. Earth to Labor: Five Years On, the Paris Climate Agreement Needs an Overhaul / Sean Sweeney, New Labor Forum
  3. On the Contrary: Two Views on Nuclear Power / Gary S. Was, Todd R. Allen, and Todd Larsen, New Labor Forum

Reinventing Solidarity Episode 6 A Global Public Goods Approach to Combatting Climate Change

From Durban, South Africa, New Labor Forum columnist Sean Sweeney interviews human rights and environmental leader Kumi Naidoo. In 2009, Naidoo became the first African head of Greenpeace, then went on to serve as Secretary General of Amnesty International, from 2018 to 2020. In his interview with Sweeney, Naidoo rebukes successive U.S. administrations for their failure to play a useful role in halting climate change. He also reproaches leaders in the global South who suggest they should be given a pass on environmental destruction as they seek to increase living standards and develop their economies.

Listen to the podcast here


Earth to Labor: Five Years On, the Paris Climate Agreement Needs an Overhaul 

by Sean Sweeney, New Labor Forum

It’s been five years since the Paris Climate Agreement was signed. Negotiated in late 2015, the agreement acknowledged the need for decisive action in order to limit average global warming to “well below 2 degrees Celsius” (compared to pre-industrial levels) and to try to limit warming to just 1.5 degrees Celsius. . .

Read the full article here

On the Contrary: Two Views on Nuclear Power

The Importance of Nuclear Energy in Our Energy Mix

by Gary S. Was and Todd R. Allen

Nuclear Energy Is Not a Climate Solution: Response to Gary S. Was and Todd R. Allen

by Todd Larsen

Gary Was and Todd Allen Response

by Gary S. Was and Todd R. Allen


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