WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- A former NASA scientist and climate science pioneer declared the climate agreement reached in Paris "a fraud."
James Hansen, one of the first scientists to put climate change in to public consciousness has come out against the Paris climate talks, declaring the summit of 195 nations has been nothing more than an empty gesture.
"It's a fraud really, a fake," Hansen told The Guardian hours before Sunday's agreement to cut emissions. "It's just [expletive] for them to say: 'We'll have a 2C warming target and then try to do a little better every five years.' It's 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 continued to be burned."
The 74-year-old normally soft-spoken Iowan bristles. He says there must be a fee attached to greenhouse gas emissions -- he uses the word fee, because "taxes scare people off" -- of $15 per ton of carbon on major emitters, rising $10 a year and bringing in $600 billion in U.S. Even that, Hansen said, will only drive down emissions enough to stave off the worst climate change damage.
The Paris talks, also known as COP21, were intended to get a new international deal that would cut greenhouse emissions beyond 2020. The sticking points have been on whether the countries should try to contain the rise in temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius or 2 degrees Celsius, and how much it will cost the rich countries to keep the developing countries above water.
The former NASA scientist raised the idea of a "greenhouse effect" to a congressional committee in the summer of 1988, endured the political ups and downs of being a climate scientist for the government until he retired in 2013. Since then, he's become an adjunct professor at Columbia University and been a high-profile activist who's been arrested multiple times protesting outside the White House over mining issues and against the hotly contested Keystone pipeline.
"The economic cost of a business-as-usual approach to emissions is incalculable," Hansen said. "It will become questionable whether global governance will break down. You're talking about hundreds of million of climate refugees from places such as Pakistan and China. We just can't let that happen. Civilization was set up and developed with a stable, constant coastline."