Paris and the Kellogg-Briand Treaty
The Paris Climate Confab has wound up, and we have an agreement.
I don’t know any more about the details of the deal than what John Kerry said on TV this morning. But from what he said, two words popped into mind: “Kellogg-Briand”. K-B isn’t much taught in the history books these days, probably because international diplomats would like us to forget about it. It was a 1928 treaty, ramrodded by the U. S. (Secretary of Sate Kellogg) and France (Foreign Minister Briand) to outlaw war (formal title is “General Treaty for the Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy”). Initially 62 countries signed on including the U. S., U. K. and France, but also notably Germany, Italy and Japan.
K-B was announced with much hoisting of champagne glasses and back-patting among diplomats. Wow. No More War. We just made it illegal.
Of course, a few years later Japan took over Manchuria by force and invaded China. Italy bombed, gassed and invaded Ethiopia. Then Germany touched off WWII by tankety-tanking Poland. Diplomatic historians note the nasty diplomatic exchanges at each juncture reminding Japan, Italy and Germany of their “international obligations” under the Kellogg-Briand Pact. Messrs. Tojo, Mussolini and Hitler were obviously unimpressed.
Secretary Kerry’s shorthand version of the Paris agreement this morning is that most countries have submitted an “emissions reduction plan”. There is a mandatory reporting requirement for progress on that plan…every five years. And… Well, there is no “and”. Countries can presumably fill out a piece of paper, with whatever numbers look good, every five years, and that’s that. Think China. And unlike K-B, it isn’t even a treaty, a legal nicety that probably makes little difference.
Maybe there’s more to it than that, but one doubts. Mr. Kerry had every incentive to put the best possible face on it, and that’s all he had.
Don’t ice down any bubbly. Looks more like a K-Besque non-treaty to outlaw atmospheric carbon.
Historical note. K-B is still technically in effect. In 1971 Barbados, with great fanfare, became the last signatory to the Kellogg-Briand Pact. They got a standing ovation at the U. N.