12-18-15 Paris climate talks yield historic deal
Paris climate talks yield historic deal
World leaders from 195 countries reached a landmark agreement at the U.N. climate summit in Paris last weekend, ending a decades-long search for a global accord to reduce carbon emissions. “This is a truly historic moment,” said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “[The accord] is a health insurance policy for the planet.” Reached after 13 days of intense negotiations, the agreement binds together voluntary pledges by individual nations to limit their carbon emissions. Unlike previous agreements, it requires commitments from leading emitters China and India, and includes a provision for the world’s wealthiest countries to give poorer nations at least $100 billion a year to help them adapt to climate change. Compliance won’t be required by international law, meaning the deal does not have to be approved by the U.S. Congress. The stated goal of the agreement is to limit the global temperature increase above pre-industrial levels to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit)—the point at which scientists believe the destructive effects from climate change will become truly dangerous—and to “pursue efforts” to limit the rise to just 1.5 degrees C. While the current commitments would keep the increase closer to 3 degrees C, countries will reconvene every five years to update their pledges.
12-15-15 The global fight against climate change needs a leader. Step up, America.
The global fight against climate change needs a leader. Step up, America.
For the first time in history, almost every independent country in the world has agreed to a bold climate policy target, and taken concrete steps toward it. This is a tremendous victory for humanity and the planet we live on. But a word of caution: Despite this historic agreement, actual policy success is not remotely guaranteed. Each nation is now going to have to follow through on its own. And for the deal to work, the United States must get out in front of the pack. Doing so would be relatively easy for the U.S. Though we have made much progress over the last decade or so, we've got a long ways to go to catch up to countries like Denmark and Germany — and because the U.S. is so big, decarbonization would mean a far larger absolute volume of reduced emissions anyway. And being richer than almost all European nations, we can also more easily afford aggressive policy.Second, such a policy would have many ancillary benefits. Aside from causing climate change, oil and especially coal are dirty energy sources that kill thousands of Americans every year and sicken orders of magnitude more. Climate policy means fewer respiratory disorders and cancers, and longer, healthier lives for American citizens.
12-15-15 Why the Paris climate deal is a total sham
Why the Paris climate deal is a total sham
Oh, the self-congratulation! Heads of state and foreign ministers shaking hands and patting each other on the back for a historic, wonderful climate deal. And oh, how the media is lapping it up. Historic, historic, we tell you! Except that it's all a sham. Let's get the big issue out of the way first, the one everyone knows: The agreement is not legally binding. It's not a treaty. It's just an agreement to give it a shot. Now, the supporters of the deal, such as Secretary of State John Kerry, tell us that doesn't mean the deal is worthless, because there will be enforcement through public pressure, and "naming and shaming." This, by itself, isn't ludicrous. I mean, yes, it doesn't seem very likely that Greenpeace can do much to shame the Politburo of China's Communist Party, but at the end of the day, yes, public pressure and shaming can and sometimes do change things. But this is actually why the deal actually goes against that goal, because the targets agreed upon — or rather, not agreed upon — by the parties are a sham. (Webmaster's comment: The Emperor has no clothes!)
12-14-15 COP21: What does the Paris climate agreement mean for me?
COP21: What does the Paris climate agreement mean for me?
As the euphoria of delegates at the UN climate talks in Paris fades, it is time to get down to the business of saving the planet and ask what does it mean for me? What did I miss? Projected temperature change 1986-2005 to 2081-2100). What does it mean for me? If it's not legally binding, how will it work? Average warming (C) projected by 2100. World's top ten emitters. Who sealed the deal? Reality bites... (Webmaster's comment: Reality bites? Will it ever!)
12-14-15 Why the Paris climate agreement is a big, big deal
Why the Paris climate agreement is a big, big deal
Fast-forward six years. On Saturday evening in Paris, 187 nations ratified a landmark climate accord known as the Paris Agreement. This 31-page document is a big, big deal. Here's why it matters and what we learned. First, the bad news. Together, the voluntary commitments the world's nations agreed to probably aren't enough. The stated goal of the agreement is to keep global temperatures under 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Farhrenheit) of warming since preindustrial times, but the best estimate of the actual agreement puts us on a trajectory of 2.7 C of warming. The problem is, since carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for centuries, humanity only has a limited "carbon budget" of emissions that it can spend before warming above 2 degrees C is highly likely. Just from the gases already in the atmosphere, we are close to crossing 1 C already and have probably committed ourselves to 1.4-1.6 C of eventual warming. That doesn't leave a lot of wriggle room.
12-13-15 COP21: Did the Pope save the climate deal?
COP21: Did the Pope save the climate deal?
As world leaders hail what they are calling an historic deal at the climate summit, rumours abound about how the final deadlock was resolved. Exhausted delegates were held up for hours in the final stage of the conference as final glitches were ironed out. It was a typical last-minute drama in climate talks. The world is gathered to cheer a deal, then a few nations decide to dig in their heels. This time, the US is one of the deadline delayers; it often is. The text says developed countries "shall" take the lead in cutting emissions. US lawyers say this will never get through Congress. Then Nicaragua will not sign up. It says there is a total mismatch between what the document says is needed to protect the climate, and what it proposes to do about it. This is true and others nations feel the same. But they are not willing to ruin the deal to make the point. (Webmaster's comment: In effect the United States Congress will never allow a deal which means less money for American Corporations. Let the planet roast, more money for the already rich is the only thing that matters!)
12-13-15 COP21: Paris climate deal is 'best chance to save planet'
COP21: Paris climate deal is 'best chance to save planet'
The climate deal reached in Paris is "the best chance we have to save the one planet we have", US President Barack Obama has said. He said it could be a "turning point" towards a low-carbon future. China, the world's biggest polluter, also hailed the deal, as did India. But some campaigners said it did not go far enough to protect the planet. The Paris pact aims to curb global warming to less than 2C (3.6F) by the end of the century. Nearly 200 countries took part in tense negotiations in the French capital over two weeks, striking the first deal to commit all nations to cut emissions. The agreement - which is partly legally binding and partly voluntary - will come into being in 2020. (Webmaster's comment: So nothing will change in the next five years, except we'll pump more CO2 into the atmosphere and the planet will continued to heat up.)
12-12-15 Paris climate deal is agreed – but is it really good enough?
Paris climate deal is agreed – but is it really good enough?
The Paris climate agreement is better than many expected but it is not enough to achieve the stated aim of limiting warming to 2 °C, let alone 1.5 °C. History has been made in Paris – but perhaps not the kind of history we hoped. The climate summit in Paris may come to be remembered as the moment when the world’s leaders let the last hope of limiting warming to 2 °C slip away from us. The Paris agreement, which covers the period 2020 to 2030, is a better deal than many expected, and if countries stick both to the spirit and the letter of the agreement, it could give us a good chance of limiting global warming to under 4 °C and perhaps even under 3 °C. Many scientists have welcomed the stated aim in the Paris agreement not just of trying to keep warming under 2 °C but endeavouring to limit it to 1.5 °C – a more ambitious goal than expected before the summit. However, they point out that what is in the agreement does not go nearly far enough to achieve these aims. The strongest criticism has come from renowned climate scientist James Hansen. “It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises,” Hansen said today. “As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned.” It has long been clear that what countries were offering to do as part of a deal was not nearly enough to keep us under 2 °C. In the lead-up to Paris, this was not only been acknowledged but stressed by many involved in the process, including UN chief negotiator Christiana Figueres. This has not changed. “The emissions cuts promised by countries are still wholly insufficient,” says Corinne Le Quere of the University of East Anglia, who studies global emissions. Webmaster's comment: Like I've said until people begin to die by the millions the industrialists will rule. They think their money will save them. To them other people don't matter. They are just cannon fodder.)
12-12-15 COP21: World awaits landmark climate deal
COP21: World awaits landmark climate deal
Organisers of climate talks in Paris have released details of a proposed landmark deal to curb climate change. France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the final draft of the agreement aimed to limit warming to "well below 2C". The final document has been presented to international delegates in Paris after two weeks of talks. If endorsed, the global climate pact would represent "a historic turning point", said Mr Fabius. French President Francois Hollande, who joined the meeting on Saturday, called the proposal unprecedented.
12-11-15 COP 21: Five ways climate change could affect Africa
COP 21: Five ways climate change could affect Africa
As the UN climate change summit in Paris enters its final scheduled day, delegates from 196 countries are desperately trying to hammer out a deal, which could fundamentally alter the future of the planet. Fifty-four African nations have adopted a unified position, calling for an agreement to limit warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century. It is a more ambitious target than the 2C previously favoured by many developed nations and which is generally regarded as the gateway to dangerous warming. Africa is expected to be one of the continents hardest hit by climate change, with an increase in severe droughts, floods and storms expected to threaten the health of populations and economies alike.
1. Farming will mostly become harder
2. But there will be some new farming opportunities
5. Water shortages
12-11-15 COP21: Final push for climate deal amid 'optimism'
COP21: Final push for climate deal amid 'optimism'
Negotiators at the Paris summit aim to wrap up a global agreement to curb climate change on Saturday - a day later than expected. "We are nearly there. I'm optimistic," said French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who is chairing the summit. Efforts to forge a deal faltered on Friday, forcing the talks to overrun. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the negotiations were the "most complicated, most difficult, but, most important for humanity". Mr Fabius told reporters in Paris that he would present a new version of the draft text on Saturday morning at 0800 GMT, which he was "sure" would be approved and "a big step forward for humanity as a whole". "We are almost at the end of the road and I am optimistic," he added.
12-10-15 COP21: US joins 'high ambition coalition' for climate deal
COP21: US joins 'high ambition coalition' for climate deal
The United States has joined with the EU and a range of other countries at COP21 in an effort to secure a final agreement. The so called "high ambition coalition" now comprises well over 100 countries from the rich and developing world. As well as the US, Norway, Mexico and Colombia have offered their support to the alliance. Delegates worked through the night on a draft text of the agreement with a further version likely on Thursday. On Tuesday the European Union joined with 79 countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific to push for an "ambitious, durable and legally binding" deal with a strong review every five years. On Wednesday, the US joined the grouping, which, although it will not be a formal negotiating block, has set out a common position on what the Paris agreement must achieve.
12-9-15 COP21: Namibia on frontline of drought battle
COP21: Namibia on frontline of drought battle
On a farm so parched that it looks like a desert, Monica Amaraki reaches for an old brass tap only to find that no water flows from it. Here in Namibia in southern Africa, a drought is intensifying, the soil has been turned into dust and animals are scouring the baked land for something to eat. Over the past two years, the weak or absent rains have left Monica among at least 500,000 people needing emergency food aid - and many here are wondering whether climate change will bring an even hotter and drier future.
12-9-15 COP21: 'Fireworks' expected as new climate text published
COP21: 'Fireworks' expected as new climate text published
A critical "clean" draft text has been published at UN climate talks here in Paris after delays. This new version, 29 pages long, marks the first time the French presidency of the meeting has pulled together an outline of a deal. The new draft has significantly reduced the options on many of the key questions after days of negotiations. One observer warned that there could be "fireworks" if countries are unhappy with the compromises proposed.
12-9-15 COP21: Cardinal says birth control may offer climate 'solution'
COP21: Cardinal says birth control may offer climate 'solution'
One of the Catholic Church's most senior prelates has said that birth control could "offer a solution" to the impacts of climate change. Cardinal Peter Turkson, the Pope's leading adviser on climate issues, told the BBC that the Church had never been against natural family planning. Speaking in Paris, the cardinal called for a strong agreement that would protect the most vulnerable nations. He said climate change was a looming ecological disaster.
12-8-15 Optimism grows for a climate deal at UN’s Paris summit
Optimism grows for a climate deal at UN’s Paris summit
With delegates in their last week of negotiations, the deal is widely expected. But will it have what it needs to set us on path to zero emissions world? The mood extended to the science on Monday, with news of a probable fall in global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels in 2015 – for the first time in the absence of economic recession. This is thanks to one-time climate bad-boy China shutting so many coal plants that its emissions fell almost 4 per cent. Nobody imagines global emissions have peaked, though. But if China can go green, any country can. Maybe even India, now the world’s fourth largest emitter. Its insistence on industrialising by burning coal is the nearest thing to a wet blanket here in Paris. “India is where China was in 1990,” said Corinne Le Quéré at the University of East Anglia, UK, who presented the new emissions assessment. But optimism is drowning out such fears. A host of leading bankers and investors – bosses of Allianz and ABP, to name two – showed up promising to divest their portfolios of fossil fuels and reinvest in solar and wind. While governments fuss over billions to fund green development, bankers are talking trillions, noted UN Environment Programme director, Achim Steiner, as he announced a Portfolio Decarbonization Coalition. But there are grounds for pessimism, too. Most of the 186 national emissions pledges submitted here for the period 2020 to 2030 – the bedrock of the agreement – are vague and riddled with promises conditional on rich nations stumping up funds. Crucially, none will be legally binding.
12-7-15 COP21: Ministers in final push for Paris climate deal
COP21: Ministers in final push for Paris climate deal
Ministers from all over the world gather in Paris on Monday in a final push for a new global climate compact. The politicians will attempt to craft a deal from a draft negotiating text signed off by delegates here on Saturday. Poor countries warned the talks would fail if the rich tried to limit their right to grow to protect the climate. One delegate said the poor could not accept starvation as the price of a successful deal in Paris.
12-7-15 COP21: US energy secretary 'wants binding climate processes'
COP21: US energy secretary 'wants binding climate processes'
Ministers from all over the world are in Paris, making a final push for a new global climate pact. The politicians will attempt to craft a deal from a draft negotiating text signed off by delegates on Saturday. US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz told the BBC he wanted the processes around verification and climate targets to be binding.
12-7-15 COP21: Alberta's radical climate change plan
COP21: Alberta's radical climate change plan
Canada is one of the world's worst emitters of greenhouse gases but the premier of one province has pledged to drastically reduce its emissions. The Oil Sands in Alberta, Canada contain the third largest reserves of oil in the world. Premier Rachel Notley plans to tackle Alberta's woeful environmental record with a proposal to completely phase out coal emissions and cap Oil Sands emissions. It should come as good news to the indigenous Bear Lake Cree Nation who have seen their homeland spoiled by mining and oil extraction.
12-5-15 COP21: Climate delegates agree draft deal text
COP21: Climate delegates agree draft deal text
Delegates at a UN climate conference in Paris have approved a draft text they hope will form the basis of an agreement to curb global carbon emissions. The 48-page document will be discussed by ministers on Monday. They will try to arrive at a comprehensive settlement by the end of next week. The French climate ambassador warned that major political differences still needed to be resolved.
12-4-15 COP21: City mayors discuss green solutions
COP21: City mayors discuss green solutions
Cities could use water from rivers and the sea to stay cool as the climate heats, city mayors have been told. Carbon emissions from air-conditioning are expected to soar as temperatures climb and people become richer. But at a global mayors summit, Paris is showcasing a simple technology using water piped from the Seine to cool apartments near the Champs Elysees.
12-2-15 COP21: India signals willingness to cut coal for climate cash
COP21: India signals willingness to cut coal for climate cash
A senior Indian negotiator says his country will cut back its use of coal, if sufficient cash for renewables emerges from a Paris deal. Dr Ajay Mathur said coal would be restricted if there was help to pay for "more expensive" green energy. India is expected to become the world's biggest importer of coal by 2020 as it seeks to expand electrification. Other nations welcomed the statement, saying that it enhanced the chances of a new agreement. India's national climate plan, submitted ahead of this meeting, suggests a significant role for coal going forward. According to the document, coal "will continue to dominate power generation in future". (Webmaster's comment: Blackmail! I'll increase global warming unless you give me your money!)
12-1-15 COP21: Coal plans would derail 2 degree warming target
COP21: Coal plans would derail 2 degree warming target
Attempts to keep global warming to 2 degrees will be wildly off course if all planned coal fire plants are built. That's the conclusion of a new analysis presented here at the UN climate conference near Paris. Researchers said construction would see emissions four times higher than the 2 degree target by 2030. They say the building plans are in conflict with the carbon cutting agendas of countries like India and China. The Climate Action Tracker analysis says that 2,440 coal fired power stations are planned around the world before 2030. Emissions from the world's existing plants will be 150% higher than what is consistent with a 2 degree target, says their report.
12-1-15 The last stand of the climate change deniers
The last stand of the climate change deniers
World elites, it turns out, are beginning to correctly grasp the implications of climate change — that it is not some niggling environmental issue, but a serious threat to human society. This is reflected in the structure of the talks. The Kyoto Protocol of 1997 attempted a top-down approach with binding agreements and targets, and largely failed. Now, as Brad Plumer explains, the thinking is to treat the meeting as a venue to discuss and compare internal goals and progress, together with some subsidies to poorer countries. The bulk of the policymaking will happen within individual countries, but meetings will keep everyone on track, hopefully. Most everyone was coming naturally to this understanding, but not in America. There are two large obstacles to the U.S. getting on board with the rest of humanity, but both are slowly cracking. The first is the awesome wealth and power of the carbon industry. This is still extremely formidable, but far less than it once was, and fading fast. Big Oil is still huge and strong, but Big Coal is slowly perishing. Meanwhile, renewable technology is advancing at a blistering pace — solar power, for instance, is now price-competitive with carbon power for 30 million Americans, and millions more every year.
12-1-15 Will the world innovate its way out of climate disaster?
Will the world innovate its way out of climate disaster?
But I'm talking about something much more specific: The possibility of coordinated global action to drastically cut down greenhouse gas emissions continues to run aground on the same basic conflict. Major economic powers like America and Europe reached their current stage of development by burning enormous amounts of fossil fuels over two or three centuries. And they clearly have no plans to significantly slow down doing so anytime in the foreseeable future. Because the effects of greenhouse gas emissions are cumulative, this leaves poorer and developing countries effectively no room to emit anything without driving the total amount of carbon in the atmosphere far beyond any limit that scientists have agreed is safe. Poor and developing countries are understandably unwilling to give up their chance to get in on the economic development promised by burning fossil fuels — at least without sufficient reimbursement. And more advanced countries are understandably unwilling to fork over anything even close to the necessary amounts of money to make such a reimbursement. Hence the current impasse.
12-1-15 Paris climate summit: What they don't tell you about renewables
Paris climate summit: What they don't tell you about renewables
Renewable energy is getting cheaper, but is the switch to these sources happening fast enough for us to drop fossil fuels and limit warming to safe levels? The optimistic view: Renewable energy is getting so cheap it will soon replace fossil fuels. The realistic view: There is a very long way to go before renewables take over, and very little time.
12-1-15 Critical Paris climate summit kicks off – but can it deliver?
Critical Paris climate summit kicks off – but can it deliver?
Given that current pledges will bring us to 2.7 °C of warming, the wording and legal basis of any agreement will be crucial sticking points. But wording on the summit’s overall aims – whether to keep warming below 2 °C or perhaps 1.5 °C – and when the world will aim to be carbon neutral could be sticking points, especially since some scientists believe 1.6 °C of warming is already locked in, that 2 °C may be inevitable, and that the current pledges will bring us to 2.7 °C. Despite this, a group of 43 countries will sign a declaration urging the UN to adopt a 1.5 °C target and the V20 – the 20 countries most vulnerable to climate change – are expected to vote as a bloc, urging stronger aims.
12-1-15 COP21: Business needs to act on forests, says Charles
COP21: Business needs to act on forests, says Charles
Prince Charles has expressed hope that politicians and businesses are starting to act on the need to protect forests. The Prince of Wales told a meeting at the Paris climate summit that attitudes were beginning to change, with forest protection initiatives being introduced. But he said too many companies still turned a blind eye to their commercial activities destroying forests. We are testing the world to destruction, he said. "It's very simple. We must save our forests," he added. "There is no Plan B to tackle climate change without them."
12-1-15 COP21: Residents on Vanuatu 'must be relocated'
COP21: Residents on Vanuatu 'must be relocated'
With climate change topping the agenda in Paris, community leaders on the Pacific island of Vanuatu are calling for residents to be relocated further inland to avoid storm surges and rising sea levels. The BBC's Matthew Price reports from the island, described by some as being on the "front line of climate change".
12-1-15 Tonga facing up to rising sea levels
Tonga facing up to rising sea levels
DThe vulnerability of the Kingdom of Tonga to any rise in sea level is starkly evident from the moment your plane begins its descent. From the air, the flat, small island of Tongatapu doesn't look much like land at all, with the astonishingly blue Pacific Ocean dominating the view. But it is home to Tonga's capital, Nuku'alofa, and to the majority of the country's population - 70,000 or so out of around 90,000. And for Tongans - who have lived here since the 9th Century, when the first settlers arrived by boat, the issue of rising sea levels and climate change is not just one for discussion at an abstract level - it proves a threat to their very existence.