UN Conference on climate change COP21 Paris & aftermath

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UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
(Commodity.com)UN Convention & The Kyoto Protocol
NYT: The Bonn Climate Conference: All Our Coverage in One Place

12 December
At Paris climate summit, French President Emmanuel Macron takes the lead on global warming
More than 50 world leaders are joining bankers, energy magnates and others Tuesday in Paris for a summit that President Emmanuel Macron hopes will give new momentum to the fight against global warming — despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s rejection of the Paris climate accord.
Sean Penn, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Gates and Elon Musk are among prominent figures joining the world leaders at the summit, where participants are expected to announce billions of dollars’ worth of projects to help poor countries and industries reduce emissions.
Activists kept up pressure with a protest in the shadow of the domed Pantheon monument calling for an end to all investment in oil, gas and resource mining.
On Monday, Macron awarded 18 climate scientists — most of them based in the U.S. — multimillion-euro grants to relocate to France for the rest of Trump’s term. Trump has expressed skepticism about global warming and said the Paris accord would hurt U.S. business.
The “Make Our Planet Great Again” grants — a nod to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan — are part of Macron’s efforts to counter Trump on the climate change front. Macron announced a contest for the projects in June, hours after Trump declared he would withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord.
The summit, co-hosted by the U.N., World Bank and Macron, is being held on the second anniversary of the Paris climate accord, ratified by 170 countries.

19 November
At Bonn Climate Talks, Stakes Get Higher in Gamble on Planet’s Future
(NYT) Perhaps the most revealing moment at this year’s United Nations climate talks came on Wednesday, when Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany addressed the nearly 200 nations gathered here.
After declaring that “climate change is an issue determining our destiny as mankind,” Ms. Merkel acknowledged that Germany was likely to miss the goals it had set itself for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 because of its continued reliance on coal power. While vowing to grapple with the issue, she said that phasing out coal use would require “tough discussions” with German policymakers in the weeks ahead.
On one level, it was a stark reminder that the real action on global warming does not unfold in international venues. The problem will largely be addressed by governments back home trying to adopt policies to shift away from fossil fuels, by businesses perfecting and deploying clean energy technologies, by city planners reworking their local transportation systems.
COP23: Key outcomes agreed at the UN climate talks in Bonn
(Carbon Brief) An alternative “We Are Still In” delegation set up a large pavilion at their US Climate Action Centre just outside the main venue for the talks. This group included major sub-national actors, such as former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and California governor Jerry Brown, keen to prove there are many US voices against Trump’s anti-climate policies. Their “America’s Pledge” report outlined how their coalition of cities, states and businesses represented over half the US economy. At the report’s packed launch event, Bloomberg even argued the group should should be given a seat at the climate negotiating table.
Fiji’s COP – With Fiji being the first small-island state to host the climate talks, hopes were high that it would give added impetus to the negotiations.
High-level speakers on Wednesday were preceded by a speech from a 12-year old Fijian schoolboy called Timoci Naulusala, who reminded delegates that “it’s not about how, or who, but it’s about what you can do as an individual”.
Opinions were mixed on Fiji’s effectiveness as the talk’s president, but two outcomes it pushed for were touted as significant achievements.
These were the Gender Action Plan, which highlights the role of women in climate action and promotes gender equality in the process, and the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform, which aims to support the exchange of experience and sharing of best practices on mitigation and adaptation.
Fiji also launched the Ocean Pathway Partnership, which aims to strengthen the inclusion of oceans within the UNFCCC process.
Talanoa dialogue
Countries agreed two years ago in Paris that there should be a one-off moment in 2018 to “take stock” of how climate action was progressing. This information will be used to inform the next round of NDCs, due in 2020. …the name of this one-off process in 2018 was changed to “Talanoa dialogue” this year under the Fijian COP presidency. This was to reflect a traditional approach to discussions used in Fiji for an “inclusive, participatory and transparent” process.

Leaders from the United Nations, France, Fiji and Germany at the climate change conference in Bonn, Germany. Credit Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters
17 November
‘Planet at a crossroads’: climate summit makes progress but leaves much to do
The UN negotiations in Bonn lay the groundwork for implementing the landmark Paris deal, but tough decisions lay ahead
The world’s nations were confident they were making important progress in turning continued political commitment into real world action, as the global climate change summit in Bonn was drawing to a close on Friday.
The UN talks were tasked with the vital, if unglamorous, task of converting the unprecedented global agreement sealed in Paris in 2015 from a symbolic moment into a set of rules by which nations can combine to defeat global warming. Currently, the world is on track for at least 3C of global warming – a catastrophic outcome that would lead to severe impacts around the world.
The importance of the task was emphasised by Frank Bainimarama, Fiji’s prime minister and president of the summit: “We are not simply negotiating words on a page, but we are representing all our people and the places they call home.”
The Paris rulebook, which must be finalised by the end of 2018, now has a skeleton: a set of headings relating to how action on emissions is reported and monitored. Nations have also fleshed this out with suggested detailed texts, but these are often contradictory and will need to be resolved next year. “The worst outcome would have been to end up with empty pages, but that is not going to happen,” said a German negotiator

Highs and lows of the Bonn climate talks – in pictures

14 November
Global insurance plan aims to defuse potential climate damage ‘bombshell’
A scheme unveiled at the UN climate summit aims to help protect 400 million poor people from extreme weather by 2020 – but not everyone is convinced
… on Tuesday, leaders at the UN climate change summit in Bonn, Germany, revealed a huge leap in ambition: to help protect 400 million poor and vulnerable people around the world by 2020. The project, called the InsuResilience Global Partnership, aims to provide insurance against the damage increasingly being caused by global warming.
The issue of climate change impacts is perhaps the most sensitive among the 196 parties negotiating in Bonn, with the potential to explode into a row that derails other issues. Developing nations are adamant that rich nations, who they say caused climate change, should pay for the “loss and damage” that results. This year’s series of huge storms and floods across the world has intensified the debate.

5 November
The COP23 climate change summit in Bonn and why it matters
Halting dangerous global warming means putting the landmark Paris agreement into practice – without the US – and tackling the divisive issue of compensation
The world’s nations are meeting for the 23rd annual “conference of the parties” (COP) under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which aims to “prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”, i.e. halt global warming. It is taking place in Bonn, Germany from 6-17 November.
Climate change is already significantly increasing the likelihood of extreme weather, from heatwaves to floods. But without sharp cuts to global carbon emissions, we can expect “severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts” for billions of people and the natural world. The landmark Paris agreement at COP21 in 2015 delivered the first truly global deal to tackle climate change, but national action needs to be significantly toughened to meet to goal of keeping global temperature rise to well below 2C, and 1.5C if possible.

16-17 September
‘Paris agreement should not be renegotiated’: Talks with environment leaders underway in Montreal
Conference is being hosted by Canada, China and the European Union this weekend
Next steps for Paris agreement on tap for international meeting in Montreal
While not an official meeting for the Paris protocol, which is governed by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the gathering is a more informal way for some of the world’s leading powers to brag about what they’ve done so far and push each other to keep going, even as the U.S. prepares to withdraw.
McKenna is cohosting the meeting with Xie Zhenhua, the Chinese special representative for climate change affairs, and Miguel Arias Canete, the European Union commissioner for climate action and energy.
(Deutsch Welle) EU, Canada, China try to isolate US ahead of Bonn climate talks

11 September
Pope Francis urges world leaders to take action on climate change
Pontiff says world leaders who don’t work to stem global warming should be held morally responsible

6 September
IPCC in Montreal: what can be done about climate change?
(CTV) Against the backdrop of extreme weather worldwide, a United Nations body that vets climate change science began meeting in Montreal on Wednesday to shape its next set of reports to help guide policy-makers.
The 46th session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change runs until Sunday and on the agenda are various reports in the works, including the outline for a sixth assessment report due out in 2022.
Those assessments of research by climate scientists, guided by government decision-makers, help to develop climate policy and to make clean energy choices and economic development plans.

13 July
Trump says ‘something could happen’ with regard to Paris climate accord
(Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday appeared to hold the door open to a change of position on the 2015 Paris climate change agreement which he pulled the United States out of earlier this year. “Something could happen with respect to the Paris accords lets see what happens, but we will talk about that over the coming period of time and if it happens that will be wonderful and if it doesn’t that’ll be OK too,” he told reporters in Paris. Trump was on a visit to France for Bastille Day celebrations and made the statement in answer to a question at a joint news conference alongside his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron.

8 July
World Leaders Move Forward on Climate Change, Without U.S.
World leaders struck a compromise on Saturday to move forward collectively on climate change without the United States, declaring the Paris accord “irreversible” while acknowledging President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement.
(NYT) In a final communiqué at the conclusion of the Group of 20 summit meeting in Hamburg, Germany, the nations took “note” of Mr. Trump’s decision to abandon the pact and “immediately cease” efforts to enact former President Barack Obama’s pledge of curbing greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
But the other 19 members of the group broke explicitly with Mr. Trump in their embrace of the international deal, signing off on a detailed policy blueprint outlining how their countries could meet their goals in the pact.
The statement and the adoption of the G20 Climate and Energy Action Plan for Growth ended three days of intense negotiations over how to characterize the world’s response to Mr. Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, and it came as this year’s meeting of major world economies here laid bare the stark divide between the United States and the rest.

3 June
A good summary from Quartz:
The US’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement will be bad, but not that bad, for the rest of the planet. Every other country but Syria and Nicaragua is still committed to it, and the accord itself was pretty weak anyway. The global economy is decarbonizing on its own as renewables get cheaper. And climate-change mayhem is coming no matter what—it’s only a matter of degree(s).
For the US, however, pulling out of Paris may mark the beginning of the end.
China has the biggest renewables industry by far and is ahead of its target for bringing down its emissions and coal dependence. As fossil-fuel use further declines, Chinese firms will dominate the alternatives, while enjoying the most clout in setting global energy policies.
What’s at stake isn’t just opportunities in the cleantech industry (solar already employs more than twice as many Americans as coal). It’s a world in which China stands to become not only the biggest economy within a decade or so, but, eventually, an energy superpower. Its growing military muscle and wide-ranging global investments in infrastructure will add to its influence, and its pro-globalization (and now pro-climate) stance will even lend China a grudging moral authority with the world’s other rich nations.
This is an entirely new geopolitical order—one in which, unless Europe overcomes its splits, an opaque autocracy will be the chief agenda-setter. Because of its size and weapons, the US, like Russia, will never not be a superpower. But, like Russia, it is on its way to becoming a second-tier one.
China will take the throne. And Trump, for all his complaints about China’s ambitions, has just dusted off the cushions and invited it to have a seat.—Gideon Lichfield

Trump: We are getting out of Paris climate deal

(The Hill) President Trump on Thursday rejected the Paris climate change agreement in thorough terms, calling it “unfair at the highest level to the United States.”
He said he will formally withdraw the U.S. from the pact, and consider renegotiating an entirely new global climate deal with different terms.
“In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord,” Trump said in a sunny outdoor ceremony at the White House Rose Garden, attended by cabinet members, high-profile opponents of the deal and reporters.
“The bottom line is that the Paris accord is very unfair at the highest level to the United States,” Trump said.
The president added he will “begin negotiations to re-enter — whether the Paris accord, or really, an entirely new transaction — on terms that are fairer to the United States, its business, its workers, its people, its taxpayers.
Ironic! As those gathered waited for the event to begin in a sweltering Rose Garden, some reporters’ phones and laptops shut down because of the heat.

Paris Disagreement: President Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord on climate change, making the U.S. one of only three countries in the world that have exempted themselves. (The others are Syria and Nicaragua.) This may pave the way for others to back out, or simply undercut America’s diplomatic leadership. The decision goes against not only the global consensus, but also the American marketplace. In response, China and the EU have formed a new alliance to promote clean energy, and one tech leader, Elon Musk, has already left Trump’s advisory boards.

Tech world blasts withdrawal from Paris agreement
President Trump’s announcement that the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris climate accord was met with concern in most corners of the tech industry, which had largely been lobbying against the move in recent days.
Microsoft President Brad Smith said his company met with White House and State Department officials to urge the administration to stay in the agreement.
“We remain steadfastly committed to the sustainability, carbon and energy goals that we have set as a company and to the Paris Agreement’s ultimate success,” Smith wrote in a blog post on LinkedIn.
“Our experience shows us that these investments and innovations are good for our planet, our company, our customers and the economy.”

(The Atlantic Daily) The Paris Accord: President Trump is expected to make a decision soon about whether the U.S. will stay in the global agreement on climate change, and early reports say he plans to pull out. Todd Stern, who led U.S. negotiations on the deal, argues that decision would be indefensible, causing serious diplomatic damage. Though climate change can be a polarizing issue, a majority of Americans across the political spectrum want to stay in the Paris agreement.

14 March

Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB)

IISD ENBThe Earth Negotiations Bulletin just turned 25
(HuffPost) If you are not in high level negotiations or don’t work in policy or environment, you will be forgiven for not knowing what the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) is. Frankly I didn’t know it either, until I entered into the realms of climate nerds, and boy did it become a bible-like rag to refer to.
The ENB was a grassroots endeavour started by Johannah Bernstein, Pamela Chasek and Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI who raised the funds to provide daily two-page briefing notes during the fourth UN Conference on Environment and Development preparatory meeting in March 1992 in Rio de Janeiro. ENB is a daily bulletin that, for 25 years, has offered unique access behind the scenes of negotiations, workshops and conferences on a variety of subjects in international environment and sustainable development policy and law.

23 January
Trump’s EPA Pick Blends Conservative Christianity With Anti-Environmental Activism
(Daily Beast) Unlike Christians who believe in ‘creation care,’ Scott Pruitt’s record suggests he believes that God would never allow climate change to happen. Senators should ask him.
21 January
As U.S. Cedes Leadership on Climate, Others Step Up at Davos
When the chief executive of Saudi Arabia’s national oil and gas company mapped out a glowing future for fossil fuels at a discussion in Davos this past week, dissent came from an unexpected corner of the room.
“We have to make a big push in renewables investment,” urged Qiao Baoping, chairman of the energy giant China Guodian. “We have commitments under the Paris accord which we cannot fail to fulfill,” he said, referring to the climate deal passed in 2015.
Under the Obama administration, the United States took on a climate leadership role. But President Trump has threatened to quit the Paris climate deal, and within minutes of his taking office on Friday, the White House website removed a discussion of the threat of climate change and replaced it with a commitment to eliminate cornerstone environmental policies.
Over four days of intense politicking and parleying at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the annual gathering in the Swiss Alps where global policy and business leaders debate the world’s challenges, the sizable Chinese delegation seemed to preach climate action every chance it got.
President Xi Jinping of China set the tone by opening the forum on Tuesday, arguing forcefully for follow-through on the 2015 Paris climate deal. His message was clearly relayed through the Chinese ranks


21 November
COP22 in Marrakech: The COP of Action

The 22nd Session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP22) will be held in Marrakech, November 7 to 18, 2016.
Marrakech Climate Talks End on Positive Note Despite Trump Threat
Trump’s presidency loomed over the COP 22, but the tone at least publicly shifted to optimism, that no single country could halt worldwide climate action momentum.
By the close of the latest climate talks, nearly 200 countries had engaged the bureaucratic gears for converting the text of last year’s global climate accord into action. Backed by major businesses and others, they reaffirmed their promise “to tackle one of the greatest challenges of our time.”
But whether the world rallies fast enough to prevent the worst climate impacts is more uncertain now than when negotiations began two weeks ago in Marrakech.
The election of climate denier Donald Trump threatens to make the United States, the largest historical emitter of greenhouse gases, a renegade on climate action.
19 November
Four revelations from the climate talks in Marrakesh
(Open Canada) From uncertainties about America’s future climate change policies to pressure on Canada to do more in the international effort to combat global warming, here are four takeaways from COP22 in Morocco.
1. Future U.S. climate commitments are uncertain.
2. No conflict of interest policy, yet.
3. 2016 was the hottest year on record.
4. Canada reaffirmed its commitment to Paris accord, but it was criticized for fossil fuel expansion.
5 November
While the world is transfixed by the US election, real action is happening on climate change
(Quartz) When the dust settles from the US election, haggard voters may be surprised to learn that other important things have been happening in the world. On October 4th, the historic Paris Agreement on climate change came into force—years sooner than expected. The international scramble to ratify the agreement quickly reflected a widespread desire to have it done before Americans could vote in a new president.
The Paris Agreement is the single largest piece of climate change legislation ever enacted. Over 200 countries signed the treaty at last year’s COP21 meeting. The agreement puts caps on global emissions and establishes guidelines for international collaboration. It was designed to automatically come into force once at least 55 countries, representing at least 55% of global emissions had ratified it. That threshold was reached last month when the European Union signed off. …
By multiple measures, including soaring temperatures and declining arctic sea-ice, it has been a terrible year for the climate. Now that the world has agreed to do something, the question is, will it be enough?
4 November
The historic Paris climate change agreement just became international law
A worldwide pact to battle global warming entered into force Friday, just a week before nations reassemble to discuss how to make good on their promises to cut planet-warming greenhouse gases.
Dubbed the Paris Agreement, it is the first-ever deal binding all the world’s nations, rich and poor, to a commitment to cap global warming caused mainly by the burning of coal, oil and gas.
“A historic day for the planet,” said the office of President Francois Hollande of France, host to the 2015 negotiations that yielded the breakthrough pact.
“Humanity will look back on November 4, 2016, as the day that countries of the world shut the door on inevitable climate disaster,” UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa and Moroccan Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar said in a joint statement.
Ratification of the Paris Agreement
In order to enter into force, the Paris Agreement, adopted on December 12, 2015 in Paris, had to be ratified by at least 55 Parties to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) accounting for 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
On September 21, 2016, on the sidelines of the 71st UN General Assembly, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon invited the Parties to a special event in New York in order to fast-track the ratification of the Agreement. Up to now, 31 countries deposited their instruments of ratification crossing the first threshold of 55 Parties.
The second threshold of 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions required for this entry into force was crossed on October 5, 2016, with the deposit at the United Nations of the instruments of ratification by the European Union, which counts as 1 party, along with seven of its member states namely Hungary, France, Slovakia, Austria, Malta, Portugal and Germany in addition to Nepal.
Thirty days later, on November 2016, the Paris Agreement came into force on the eve of the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) to the UNFCCC.
14 October
Landmark agreement reached in Kigali to fight global warming
A historic climate deal was reached late into the evening on October 14 in Kigali, Rwanda at the Twenty-Eighth Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (MOP28). The 1987 landmark Montreal Protocol was designed to close the growing hole in the ozone layer by banning ozone-depleting coolants called chlorofluorocarbons, or “CFCs”.
Friday night in Kigali, negotiators from 197 countries agreed to amend the Montreal Protocol to phase down super potent greenhouse gas emissions known as hydrofluorocarbons or “HFCs.” What is being dubbed as the Kigali Amendment, calls for developed countries including the US and EU to start to phase down HFCs by 2019 and a group of developing countries such as China, Brazil and most of Africa to follow with a freeze of HFCs consumption levels in 2024, and India, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in 2028.
22 April
‘We are in a race against time,’ says Ban, as leaders sign landmark Paris climate accord
As world leaders gathered at United Nations Headquarters in New York this morning to officially sign the Paris Agreement on climate change – the landmark accord that sets outs a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous global warming – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Member States to move quickly to join the accord at the national level so that it can enter into force as early as possible.
“Let us never forget – climate action is not a burden; indeed, it offers many benefits,” the UN chief said as he opened the High Level Signature Ceremony for the Paris Agreement in the General Assembly Hall.
The era of consumption without consequences is over. We must intensify efforts to decarbonize our economies. And we must support developing countries in making this transition. The poor and most vulnerable must not suffer further from a problem they did not create.
“It can help us eradicate poverty, create green jobs, defeat hunger, prevent instability and improve the lives of girls and women,” he added.
Mr. Ban underscored that while it is good news that States are breaking records at the UN – records are also being broken outside.
“Record global temperatures. Record ice loss. Record carbon levels in the atmosphere. We are in a race against time,” Mr. Ban stressed.
Indeed, he emphasized that the window for keeping global temperate rise well below two degrees Celsius – let alone 1.5 degrees – is “rapidly closing.”
“The era of consumption without consequences is over. We must intensify efforts to decarbonize our economies. And we must support developing countries in making this transition. The poor and most vulnerable must not suffer further from a problem they did not create,” the Secretary-General said.
In that vein, the UN chief highlighted that climate action is essential to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
“Today is a day that I have worked toward since day one as Secretary-General of the United Nations and declared climate change to be my top priority. Today you are signing a new covenant with the future,” he said.
Ban Ki-moon: Why countries should sign the Paris Agreement on climate change — and why you should care
This Friday, a record number of countries will sign the Paris Agreement on climate change, the historic roadmap for moving to a low-carbon economy and achieving a sustainable future for our planet and its people.
In an overwhelming display of determination to address climate change, representatives of more than 165 countries will take part in the signing ceremony, breaking the record for the number of signatories on the opening day of any international treaty. The previous record was 119, set in 1982.
This level of commitment is remarkable and has exceeded my expectations. It proves once again how international cooperation can deliver for people across the globe.
The adoption of the Paris Agreement last December sent a clear, unmistakable signal to markets and investors around the world that governments were moving in the direction of achieving a low—or no—carbon economy.


14 December

It is the 21st Conference of the Parties, i.e. the annual meeting of all countries which want to take action for the climate. It will be held in Le Bourget, France, from 30 November to 11 December.

Paris Knowledge Bridge: Unpacking International Climate Governance
(IISD) The world of international climate change governance is a maze of policies, acronyms and jargon. The complexity of the current negotiations is unparalleled among multilateral environmental agreements.
Never before is it more important to cut through the complexity. The world looks to Paris in December 2015 where countries are to adopt a new climate change agreement. This agreement, if successfully agreed to by 195 states, will guide the future of climate governance and our planet.
These four videos are an introduction to the history, issues, actors and dynamics in global climate governance. We bring you the story of climate governance by those who make, implement and remake institutions for climate change. The videos contain interviews with 60 people, from Assistant Secretary General Janos Pasztor and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, to frontline delegates drafting the new agreement’s text and civil society working to influence policy.
Can the Treaty of Versailles help us tackle climate change?
(BBC) … what we can learn from the successes and failures of this model, and whether the legacy of Versailles is still a useful approach to one of our most complex challenges: climate change.

COP 21 at Paris: The issues, the actors, and the road ahead on climate change
(Brookings) At the end of the month, governments from nearly 200 nations will convene in Paris, France for the 21st annual U.N. climate conference (COP21). Expectations are high for COP21 as leaders aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on limiting global temperature increases for the first time in over 20 years. Ahead of this much anticipated event, Brookings experts have compiled a collection of comprehensive short briefs on key issues in climate action, including climate aid and finance, infrastructure, carbon pricing, the relationship between agriculture and climate, and more. You can download the full report here or scroll through the briefs below. …

After Paris: Now Comes the Hard Part
(UN Dispatch) A climate deal has been struck! On Saturday evening, French Foreign minister Laurent Fabius clanged his gavel and the Paris Agreement entered into force. Now, countries have to actually put into place the mechanisms to which they agreed in Paris. That will be tough for many countries. “With nearly every nation on earth having now pledged to gradually reduce emissions of the heat-trapping gases that are warming the planet — a universal commitment that had eluded negotiators and activists since the first Earth Day summit meeting, in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 — much of the burden for maintaining the momentum now shifts back to the countries to figure out, and put in place, the concrete steps needed to deliver on their pledges.  The task may prove most challenging for India, which is struggling to lift more than half of its population of 1.25 billion out of poverty and to provide basic electricity to 300 million of them. Rich countries are intent that India not get stuck on a coal-dependent development path.”  (NYT http://nyti.ms/1Ydnkp9 )
The text of the Paris Agreement http://bit.ly/1Ydnxca
The Paris climate talks ended Saturday with an agreement on addressing climate change. “We have come to a defining moment on a long journey that dates back decades,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as delegates prepared to pass the final plan, which is known as the Paris Agreement. “The document with which you have just presented us is historic. It promises to set the world on a new path to a low emissions, climate-resilient future,” he said. Time.com (12/12), The Guardian (London) (12/12), The Independent (London) (tiered subscription model) (12/13), National Geographic News (free registration) (12/12)
Elizabeth May breaks down the historic Paris Agreement
(National Observer) You will undoubtedly hear some denounce the Paris Agreement for what it does not do. It does not respond with sufficient urgency. It does not use the levers available to governments to craft a treaty that is enforceable with trade sanctions to add some teeth. Those criticisms are fair. As trade lawyer Steven Shrybman said more than a decade ago, “If governments cared as much about climate as they do about protecting intellectual property rights, we would have laws that require carbon reduction in every country on earth.”
Nevertheless, the Paris Agreement is an historic and potentially life-saving agreement. It does more than many of us expected when the conference opened on November 30.

A major leap for mankind’: world leaders hail Paris deal on climate

(The Guardian) Almost 200 countries sign historic pledge to hold global temperatures to a maximum rise of 1.5C
A historic, legally binding climate deal that aims to hold global temperatures to a maximum rise of 1.5C, staving off the worst effects of catastrophic global warming, has been secured.
The culmination of more than 20 years of fraught UN climate talks has seen all countries agree to reduce emissions, promise to raise $100bn a year by 2020 to help poor countries adapt their economies, and accept a new goal of net zero emissions by later this century.
Formally adopted in Paris by 195 countries, the first universal climate deal will see an accelerated phase-out of fossil fuels, the growth of renewable energy streams and powerful new carbon markets to enable countries to trade emissions and protect forests.
As the final text of the agreement was released, the French president, François Hollande, said: “This is a major leap for mankind. The agreement will not be perfect for everyone, if everyone reads it with only their own interests in mind. We will not be judged on a clause in a sentence, but on the text as a whole. We will not be judged on a word, but on an act.”
Economist Lord Stern added: “This is a historic moment, not just for us but for our children, our grandchildren and future generations. The Paris agreement is a turning point in the world’s fight against unmanaged climate change which threatens prosperity. It creates enormous opportunities as countries begin to accelerate along the path towards low-carbon economic growth.”
The US president, Barack Obama, said in a seven-minute address from the White House that the deal “shows what is possible when the world stands as one”, and added: “This agreement represents the best chance we have to save the one planet that we’ve got.” But he went on to say the agreement “was not perfect. The problem’s not solved because of this accord.”
World agrees on ‘historic’ climate deal to phase out fossil fuels
(National Observer) An historic international climate change accord has been finalized in Paris on Saturday that calls for a phasing out of fossil fuels globally. But experts say, the deal may still may not be enough to avert catastrophic effects of climate change or provide enough funding for vulnerable nations hard hit by wild weather.
“Current pledges made by countries to reduce emissions are too weak to stay below the safe 1.5 degree warming limit. We are in great danger of being locked into dangerous climate change, as the Paris agreement has no requirement for these commitments to be reviewed or strengthened in the near future,” said Environmental Defence’s Tim Gray on Saturday in Paris.
Not everyone is happy and/or optimistic
James Hansen, father of climate change awareness, calls Paris talks ‘a fraud’
The former Nasa scientist criticizes the talks, intended to reach a new global deal on cutting carbon emissions beyond 2020, as ‘no action, just promises’
(The Guardian) The talks, intended to reach a new global deal on cutting carbon emissions beyond 2020, have spent much time and energy on two major issues: whether the world should aim to contain the temperature rise to 1.5C or 2C above preindustrial levels, and how much funding should be doled out by wealthy countries to developing nations that risk being swamped by rising seas and bashed by escalating extreme weather events.
But, according to Hansen, the international jamboree is pointless unless greenhouse gas emissions aren’t taxed across the board. He argues that only this will force down emissions quickly enough to avoid the worst ravages of climate change.
George Monbiot: Grand promises of Paris climate deal undermined by squalid retrenchments
Until governments undertake to keep fossil fuels in the ground, they will continue to undermine agreement they have just made
By comparison to what it could have been, it’s a miracle. By comparison to what it should have been, it’s a disaster. […]
Progressive as the outcome is by comparison to all that has gone before, it leaves us with an almost comically lopsided agreement. While negotiations on almost all other global hazards seek to address both ends of the problem, the UN climate process has focused entirely on the consumption of fossil fuels, while ignoring their production.
In Paris the delegates have solemnly agreed to cut demand, but at home they seek to maximise supply. The UK government has even imposed a legal obligation upon itself, under the Infrastructure Act 2015, to “maximise economic recovery” of the UK’s oil and gas. Extracting fossil fuels is a hard fact. But the Paris agreement is full of soft facts: promises that can slip or unravel. Until governments undertake to keep fossil fuels in the ground, they will continue to undermine the agreement they have just made.
With Barack Obama in the White House and a dirigiste government overseeing the negotiations in Paris, this is as good as it is ever likely to get. No likely successor to the US president will show the same commitment. In countries like the UK, grand promises abroad are undermined by squalid retrenchments at home. Whatever happens now, we will not be viewed kindly by succeeding generations.
So yes, let the delegates congratulate themselves on a better agreement than might have been expected. And let them temper it with an apology to all those it will betray.
Is Hope Possible After the Paris Agreement?
Negotiators have reached the first international climate pact in history.
(The Atlantic) The Paris talks have a sense of carnival. There’s the protestors, the non-profit staffers, the companies all hawking their greener brand initiatives. There’s the strange disconnect between the gentility of diplomatic protocol and the horror of a weather-wrecked world. On the last days of the talks, when closed negotiations ran at all hours, besuited negotiators can be seen slumped and dozing around the site.
It’s spectacle, but an odd kind: canonical, world-historical spectacle.
And, true to spectacle, it is a performance for someone. The Paris talks were not meant to hatch an all-encompassing plan to save the world, once and for all. Rather, they were conceived as a way to send a signal. Negotiators hope the Paris agreement will say to the banks and investors of the world—the barons of Capital, and thus historic possibility—that the world really, really means it about this greener-future thing.
The Paris agreement is meant to spur that great re-investment, by signaling the imminent end of the fossil-fuel business and the fantastic opportunity in renewable energy. It hopes to address the boardrooms of the world and say: Keep it up.
Which is good, because in no way are the emissions reductions that countries have made right now adequate. The carbon dioxide cuts specified at Paris will not keep the planet to 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming; they will not even keep it to two. If these cuts were made and no more, the world would warm about 2.7 degrees by 2100. That’s better than the track we’ve been on for a long time, but it is still a catastrophic event.
11 December
Quartz: The UN climate change conference wraps up. It’s the last official day of COP21, and world leaders have been working nonstop to reach an agreement on how to combat global warming. The draft is in better shape than it was earlier this week, but some suspect that negotiators may miss tonight’s deadline and deliberations will drag on into the weekend.
10 December
Climate talks stretch through night as deadline for historic deal looms
‘Week of hope’ turns into scramble for solutions to age-old questions
8 December
Saudi Arabia accused of trying to wreck Paris climate deal
One of the world’s largest oil producers is getting in the way of a deal and making implausible objections, say delegates and campaigners
(The Guardian) As the talks entered the home stretch, developing country negotiators and campaigners became increasingly vocal in their complaints that the kingdom was getting in the way of a deal.
“They are seeing the writing on the wall,” said Wael Hmaidan , director of Climate Action Network, the global campaign group. “The world is changing and it’s making them very nervous.”
Those concerns about the future for an economy almost entirely dependent on fossil fuels was reflected in the negotiations, other observers said.
“Anything that would increase ambition or fast forward this energy transition that is already taking place is something that they try to block,” Hmaidan said.
Australia ranked third-last in climate change performance of 58 countries
2016 Climate Change Performance Index released at Paris climate summit, day after Julie Bishop said Australia was meeting and beating its climate targets
Australia has come third last in an annual assessment of 58 nations’ climate policies, with only Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan ranking worse.
The assessment by Germanwatch and Climate Action Network Europe was released at the Paris climate summit, just one day after foreign minister Julie Bishop told the assembled ministers Australia was meeting and beating its climate targets and transforming its energy production.
The report measures actual emission levels per capita, the trend in emissions projections, the deployment of renewable energy, and the energy intensity of the economy, and assesses climate policies for each of the 58 countries.
7 December
Canada shocks COP21 with big new climate commitment
(National Observer) Sunday night, Canada surprised a world of nations and negotiators in closed-door climate talks in Paris by endorsing a much bolder, ambitious target for cutting greenhouse gases than the UN climate change summit is officially aiming for.
Canada’s Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna told a stunned crowd that she wants the Paris agreement to restrict planetary warming to just 1.5 Celsius warming —not two degrees. It was the first time she has made such a statement.
6 December
Coalition of business leaders challenges 2C climate change target
Richard Branson’s B Team group of chief executives urges Paris climate talks to embrace ‘carbon neutral by 2050’ goal
(The Guardian) A group of high-profile business leaders has challenged governments to set strong targets and not slam the door on limiting warming to 1.5C.
As ministers arrived in Paris, the chief executives of companies such as Virgin, Marks & Spencer, L’Oreal and Unilever said it was critical for governments to reach for stronger targets that would free the world’s economy from carbon emissions by 2050 and avoid dangerous warming.
The corporate leaders, members and supporters of the B Team, a coalition of chief executives for climate action, said governments should aim for a stronger target than the agreed goal of 2C and aim for actions that would eventually limit warming to 1.5C.
The support for a 1.5C goal puts some of the world’s most powerful corporate leaders in sync with small islands and poor countries that are most vulnerable to climate change – as well as campaign groups which have been pressing rich countries to up their ambition.
Paris climate talks: Activists urge China to bridge climate divide
As international talks go into final week, Beijing should help overcome differences, activists say
(South China Morning Post) China has been praised for its goal to have carbon emissions peak by 2030.
It has also offered to contribute US$3.1 billion to help other developing nations.
But Beijing still has the potential “to block any issues”, according to Jennifer Morgan, global director of the climate programme at the World Resources Institute.
“China could be a real game changer in the upcoming talks. During the first week, China has aligned itself with Saudi Arabia on some issues,” Morgan said. “We really hope that China could join the ‘high ambition’ coalition, and support the vulnerable island countries and least developed African countries.”
Saudi Arabia was seen as the biggest blocker in the first week, rejecting calls by small island nations that the rise should be limited to 1.5 degrees. China – the world’s biggest carbon emitter – and the United States prefer a target below 2 degrees, which would allow some room for future growth in carbon emissions.
4 December
Michael Bloomberg to head global taskforce on climate change
Former New York City mayor charged with helping companies gauge exposure to global warming costs
Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, is to head a new global taskforce aimed at highlighting the financial exposure of companies to the risk of climate change.
Investors, insurers, banks and consumers will be provided with more information under plans for a voluntary industry-led code announced by the Financial Stability Board (FSB), the G20 body that monitors and makes recommendations about the financial system, at the COP21 Paris climate change conference on Friday.
Announcing the decision, Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England and FSB chair, said the industry-led body would help the financial markets understand mounting climate-change risks.
Climate Talks Watch: Prospects of a Deal Deteriorate
The mood in Paris continues to worsen as political fault lines become clear and lower-level envoys struggle to streamline the draft agreement before their ministers take over next week.
(Bloomberg) “The spirit of the leaders’ days is only partially penetrating the talks,” said Liz Gallagher, climate diplomacy program leader at E3G, a U.K.-based advocacy group. “Progress is patchy and some issues are even too hard, like finance, for the negotiators to clean up the text.”
How Mayors From Seattle to Shenzhen Lead on Pollution
(Bloomberg) Mayors from the C40 network of the world’s top megacities convene on the sidelines of the UN conference in Paris on Friday to discuss further measures they can take. From Oslo to Johannesburg and San Francisco and Shenzhen, they’ve set targets for reducing emissions that in some cases are tighter than national goals.
The work of cities is crucial because they produce 80 percent of economic output and are responsible for 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the C40. That means they’re more efficient per dollar of output, but also, city dwellers emit more per person than rural inhabitants.
2 December
The Copenhagen-Paris Express
By Lars Christian Lilleholt, Denmark’s minister for energy, utilities, and climate.
(Project Syndicate) The political environment is very different from that of six years ago. When the conference in Copenhagen took place, the world was still reeling from the near-collapse of global finance, prominent politicians were questioning whether human activity was responsible for climate change, and industry groups were campaigning against binding emission cuts.
Today, the global economy is recovering, climate scientists have dismissed the last doubts about the causes of climate change, and the business community has entered the fight on the side of the environment. In 2009, green business leaders could be counted on the fingers of one hand. Today, their ranks have grown into an army. In November, for example, Goldman Sachs announced that it would invest $150 billion in green energy by 2025.
The dynamics of the negotiations themselves have changed fundamentally. The goal is no longer to forge an agreement dictating the emission cuts that countries must make; instead, we are developing a framework for reducing emissions that allows governments to decide what their countries can put on the table.
1 December
BBC: Updates on Paris climate summit
Key Points
In Paris, there was a mood of cautious optimism after more than 150 world leaders spoke on Monday
President Obama highlighted the plight of small island states, saying “I’m an island boy.”
The BBC ran a live video Q&A from Vanuatu on this page on Tuesday evening
Analysis suggests that if the world builds all the coal power stations that are planned, a 2 degree limit on warming will be impossible.
Negotiators are now working on cutting down a draft text to be ready for ministers next week
Long-standing divisions between rich and poor countries remain, which may hamper progress
Now that the leaders have left COP21, what happens next?
Right now there are three layers of negotiation going on.
At the very bottom, dozens of informal meetings are taking place in all corners of this massive complex
Groups of countries, often just a handful, are working through a paragraph of text at a time.
Channelling Donald Rumsfeld, these meetings have been dubbed “informal informals”.
The next layer up is what are termed facilitated sessions.
Facilitators have been appointed by the co-chairs of the ADP (Adhoc working group on the Durban Platform for enhanced action, if you want to be formal about it), the part of this overall meeting that’s delivering the new deal.
There are between ten and 20 of these strands, looking at elements in the text and trying to streamline it and find compromises.
They’ve already been working very late, indicating some progress is being made.
On top of this, according to those familiar with the process, is a new, “open ended contact group” of negotiators that will try to bring together all the links between all the different elements in the proposed agreement.
The hope is that by Saturday, the current text that runs to more than 50 pages will have been slimmed down somewhat or at least knocked into a fashion where it can be handed over to the French president of this meeting, Laurent Fabius.
He has promised to take it to the environment ministers who will arrive next week to make the difficult political decisions.
Airpocalypse Now: Toxic Smog Cloaks Beijing During Climate Talks
Air pollution is now at hazardous levels in the Chinese capital.
(World Post) As world leaders tussled over the fate of the climate in Paris, Beijing residents struggled to make out the silhouettes of buildings. The multi-day pollution emergency — dubbed “Airpocalypse” by English-language media — signaled the start of smog season in one of the most polluted capitals in the world.
On Tuesday, indices of PM2.5 particulates — the small cancer-causing pollutants — soared past the 500 mark and sent them shooting off traditional scales and into territory the U.S. Embassy once described as “crazy bad.” The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said readings above 300 are rare in the United States and often associated with major events such as forest fires.
With many outdoor activities canceled, some residents used the free time on a new hobby: drawing the outlines of buildings on photos where the landmarks have disappeared into the smog.
Obama on climate deal: ‘Getting 200 nations to agree on anything is hard’ – video
US president Barack Obama said on Tuesday that any agreement on climate change must not only help the environment but also allow economies to thrive. Obama admitted that such a deal would be hard, but called on people to remain optimisist that an agreement can be reached
India and France launch international solar power alliance in Paris – video
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi holds a news conference alongside French president François Hollande on Monday to launch a global initiative for the promotion of solar power. The alliance of over 120 countries has pledged to invest in providing solar energy to developing areas, with Modi stating that the project will create ‘unlimited economic opportunities’, which will form the ‘foundation of the new economy of this century’
Trudeau Promises More Science, Indigenous Perspectives in Climate Action at COP21
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told international dignitaries that “Canada is back,” Monday in his speech at the opening of the COP21 climate talks in Paris.
Trudeau told the crowd, “our government is making climate change a top priority and our actions will be based on five principals.”
Trudeau promised first to proceed with climate policy “based on the best scientific information and advice” adding, “second, we will support and implement policies that will contribute to the low-carbon economy and this will include carbon pricing.”
“Third and very importantly, we will work with our provinces, territories, cities, and indigenous leaders who are taking a leadership role on climate change,” he said.
“Indigenous peoples have known for thousands of years how to care for our planet. The rest of us have a lot to learn and no time to waste.” He added that Canadian cities also have much to teach government how to “create clean growth and combat climate change.”
Canada impressed the international community by announcing an increase in contributions to the green climate find to $2.65 billion from a previous $300 million under the Conservatives. … Canada joined [Bill] Gates and a handful of other investors in Mission Innovation, a collaboration of 20 nations to accelerate the clean energy revolution.
Seven things Canada needs to accomplish in Paris
Johannah Bernstein and Désirée McGraw
(Globe & Mail) This week in Paris, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that “Canada is back.” If Canada is serious about a renewed commitment, it must raise its own level of climate-change ambition and work hard to mobilize support from other governments for a robust outcome in Paris.
The Trudeau government follows a dark and debilitating decade of Conservative obstructionism on the international climate stage as well as many years of insufficient action by previous Liberal governments.
Currently in Paris, the most pressing challenge is the fact that the voluntary pledges by over 180 countries don’t add up to a sufficient level of greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions to stay within the two-degree C threshold beyond which, scientists tell us, climate change becomes irreversible. The combined impact of the pledges depends on a bigger package of financing and technology transfer as well as measures to support adaptation, verification and compliance.
How these issues are resolved will determine whether the agreement adopted can keep humanity on the safe side of a world that is two degrees warmer. If Canada truly is back, then it must work to ensure that the following proposals on the table are adopted in Paris.
UN climate talks get underway in Paris
Delegates to the United Nations climate talks today started the two-week process designed to yield a pact to reduce carbon emissions and limit the increase in global temperatures. One reason for optimism, Coral Davenport writes, is the agreement between leading polluters China and the US to cut emissions. Reuters (11/30), The New York Times (free-article access for SmartBrief readers) (11/29), The Guardian (London) (11/30), The Associated Press (11/30)
COP21 Paris climate talks: India looms as obstacle to deal
Victor Mallet in New Delhi
(FT) India does not deny that its greenhouse gas emissions will increase dramatically in absolute terms — from 1.48bn tonnes of CO2 equivalent annually in 2005 to more than 7bn in 2030 — but says that is because of a growing population and the need to provide electricity to the 300m Indians who lack it today, and the requirement for new coal-fired power stations to supplement other sources of electricity. Half of India’s extra emissions are expected to come from coal.
An acceptable deal — “just” and “equitable” are the words used by India — would have to give India the “carbon space” to develop as other countries did before it. “Either we remain poor or you need to tell us a paradigm by which people can have a better quality of life with lower energy use,” says [Ajay Mathur, a veteran of climate talks and one of New Delhi’s negotiators in Paris].
Paris climate summit faces dilemma of how to set binding targets
Leaders to attempt to craft agreement to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 C
(CBC) The much-anticipated United Nations climate summit officially starts in Paris on Monday with a growing sense that it may not deliver any kind of hammer to force countries to curb their emissions, other than a moral one.
Canadian Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna said the world needs to have a new international deal to legally ensure that countries commit to a target to cut greenhouse gas emissions and agree to improve on their target every five years.
“There will be some parts to reflect the reality that certain countries have concerns with all aspects being binding, that maybe not all aspects will be binding,” McKenna said. “But it’s really important that we have everyone at the table and come up with an agreement — that’s really critical.”
That sparked a barrage of questions from reporters about how a treaty can be legally binding and not binding at the same time. And it’s a question that is bound to come up as negotiators get down to the business of crafting a new climate treaty that will include 190 countries
Canada backs U.S., saying carbon-reduction targets shouldn’t be legally binding
U.S. President Barack Obama, who is in Paris for the summit, is reluctant to sign any climate treaty that would impose legally binding cuts on the United States, because Congress won’t support it.
Bill Gates sparks multinational plan to spend billions on clean energy tech
Initiative brings a of “burst of energy into the conference,” says international climate director
Government and business leaders are banking on clean energy technology to fight global warming, kicking off this week’s high-stakes climate change negotiations by pledging tens of billions of dollars for research and development.
Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, U.S. President Barack Obama and French President François Hollande will announce the new initiative on Monday, committing to spend tens of billions of dollars for a technological fix to the planet’s climate woes, three current and former officials have told The Associated Press.
The United Nations climate summit formally opened Sunday afternoon with a minute of silence for the victims of this month’s Paris attacks and vows not to let terrorism derail efforts to slow or stop climate change.
The “ambitious” effort to develop clean energies initially involves eight countries — Canada, France, the U.S., India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Norway — according to a French official, who asked not to be named for lack of authorization to speak. These countries would pledge to double their spending on low or no-carbon energy, according to an early version of a document obtained by the AP.
The money would focus on research and development of technologies such as energy storage, which could make better use of clean power from wind and solar regardless of the vagaries of weather.
Led by Gates, about 20 private business leaders have signed on to the initiative, making their pledges conditional on governments also pledging more money.
Major powers pledge $20bn for green energy research — The US and 18 other countries have pledged to double funds for clean energy research to a total of $20bn over five years, boosting a parallel initiative by Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg and increasing the prospects for successful agreement at the Paris climate negotiations that start on Monday.
shoes march for climate change
Incredible photo by Nicole Ghio from Paris. Marches in the streets are currently banned, so instead, 20,000 pairs of shoes – including those of Ban Ki Moon and the Pope – laid down in place of being there.
Thousands Leave Shoes In Paris To Replace Banned Climate March
PARIS — Thousands of demonstrators gathered in central Paris and formed a human chain along the route of a long-planned protest march that was banned by the French government in a security crackdown following the Nov. 13 Paris attacks. Nearby, thousands of shoes, some decorated, were placed at the Place de la Republique to symbolize the many feet that could not march because of the ban.
28 November
Maurice Strong, climate and development pioneer, dead at 86
First UN Environment Program chief organized Rio Earth Summit in 1992
Maurice Strong, whose work helped lead to the landmark climate summit that begins in Paris on Monday, has died at 86, the head of the UN’s environmental agency said Saturday.
“Strong will forever be remembered for placing the environment on the international agenda and at the heart of development,” Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Program, said in a statement Saturday. Peter Foster: The man who shaped the climate agenda in Paris, Maurice Strong, leaves a complicated legacy
26 November
Pope calls for end to global warming at United Nations Environment Programme forum
Pope Francis in a soft but firm message yesterday urged global leaders to seal a strong agreement at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) climate summit in Paris, France next week to address “the grave environmental crisis facing our world”.
The Pope delivered his speech at the UN Environment Programme headquarters in Nairobi, where he was accompanied by United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) Executive Director Achim Steiner, UN Office at Nairobi (UNON) Director General Sahle-Work Zewde, members of the diplomatic community and legislators. He reiterated the importance of minimising effects of global warming. He in particular put more emphasis on the need to adopt low-carbon energy systems and end the “throw-away culture” that contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. natural resources He stressed that the environment and natural resources were gifts from God and there was an obligation to protect them for future generations.
24 November
The U.S. finds its voice on climate change after two decades of failed diplomacy
(Brookings) President Obama has … brought a new face to U.S. climate diplomacy. As world leaders assemble for the Conference of the Parties (COP) in Paris next month, the U.S. has been at the center of the negotiations, cajoling reluctant countries to adopt more ambitious goals, shaping the architecture of a new agreement and trumpeting its own ambitious commitments as an example of climate responsibility.
How did the U.S. become a strong advocate for global action after two decades of failed leadership? Three factors have converged to create a new dynamic that a motivated president has been able to exploit.
First, growing alignment between the U.S. and China has undercut the long-standing narrative that developing countries would take advantage of U.S. emission reductions by sitting on their hands while the costs of emission control made U.S. industry uncompetitive.
Second, for the first time since the industrial revolution, U.S. emissions are on a downward trajectory as a result of market forces and government policies, enabling the U.S. both to take credit for progress and to commit to further reductions that would have seemed unrealistic just a decade ago.
Finally, the Kyoto model of top-down targets and timetables has been replaced by a new international framework that calls for countries to put forward reciprocal but unilateral commitments that are not binding under international law. Not only has this created a more fluid negotiating environment but it has laid the groundwork for an agreement that likely does not require Senate ratification, avoiding the collision between the Executive Branch and Congress that doomed the Kyoto Protocol.
23 November
Provinces ‘aligned’ ahead of climate talks with Justin Trudeau
First ministers seek to find common ground for country ahead of COP21 talks in Paris
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seems to be heading into much-anticipated climate change talks in Paris with a lot of goodwill at the provincial and territorial level.
20 November
What’s really at stake at the Paris climate conference now marches are banned
Naomi Klein
(The Guardian) By banning protest at COP21, Hollande is silencing those facing the worst impacts of climate change and its monstrous violence
Here is the first thing to understand. The people facing the worst impacts of climate change have virtually no voice in western debates about whether to do anything serious to prevent catastrophic global warming. Huge climate summits like the one coming up in Paris are rare exceptions. For just two weeks every few years, the voices of the people who are getting hit first and worst get a little bit of space to be heard at the place where fateful decisions are made. …
The next thing to understand is that even in these rare moments, frontline voices do not have enough of a platform in the official climate meetings, in which the microphone is dominated by governments and large, well-funded green groups. The voices of ordinary people are primarily heard in grassroots gatherings parallel to the summit, as well as in marches and protests, which in turn attract media coverage. Now the French government has decided to take away the loudest of these megaphones, claiming that securing marches would compromise its ability to secure the official summit zone where politicians will meet.
12 November
Row over legal nature of Paris climate deal
France’s foreign minister says US secretary of state John Kerry must be ‘confused’ after he questioned whether any COP21 accord would be legally binding
Senior officials from almost 200 nations will meet from 30 November to 11 December to try to rise above the chaotic climax of the last global climate change conference in Copenhagen in 2009 and nail down a final agreement to limit global warming.
9 November
Bjorn Lomborg’s New Paper ‘Appears To Have No Basis In Fact’
However, while the European Union and developing nations are urging an internationally binding text, others, such as the United States, want only national enforcement.
Widely debunked confusionist Bjorn Lomborg has twisted the world’s climate pledges beyond recognition to make it seem as if the upcoming Paris climate talks will have no impact on future warming.
His purpose, beyond sowing confusion, is to justify this claim in his press release “Lomborg shows Paris commitments will reduce temperatures by just 0.05°C in 2100.” In reality, China’s commitment alone — which Lomborg explicitly ignores — reduces projected future temperatures by 0.4°C in 2100!
Climate Interactive has previously documented that the Paris pledges, the intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs), would reduce projected future temperatures by about 1°C — and buy us another decade close to the 2°C path (see chart above).
The experts at Climate Interactive looked at Lomborg’s new paper and concluded that his collection of assumptions “appears to have no basis in fact” and that his “optimistic” cases “are, in fact, deeply pessimistic.” John Sterman, Professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and Director of MIT’s System Dynamics Group, told Climate Progress:
World Bank: Millions face upheaval from climate change
Climate change will put another 100 million people into poverty in 15 years if developed countries don’t reduce their carbon emissions, says a World Bank study, and mass migrations and disease risk will result. “We really want to reduce poverty before people get affected by even bigger climate impacts. It’s easier to get people out of extreme poverty now rather than doing it later,” says economist Stephane Hallegatte, a co-author. The Guardian (London) (11/8), Voice of America (11/8)

6 November
Prospects for Climate Success in Paris
(Chatham House) The question is not whether Paris will deliver a deal, but whether parties can agree on a credible mechanism that keeps alive the goal of holding global warming below two degrees Celsius.
Copenhagen has gone down in history as a failure. Six years on, should we expect things to be different in Paris? I would argue yes for two reasons; one encouraging, the other less so.
Improved conditions for a deal
The costs of a low-carbon pathway are falling, while the benefits are becoming increasingly clear. Since Copenhagen, the costs of renewable energy technologies have continued to fall precipitously—by around 75 per cent for solar photovoltaic cells and 30 per cent for wind turbines. Renewables are now the second largest source of electricity worldwide and are competitive with fossil fuels in a growing number of geographies. Although coal remains the largest and cheapest source of power, it kills; the costs of premature deaths from exposure to outdoor air pollution can approach, or even exceed, 10 per cent of gross domestic product in high-carbon emitting countries. The local benefits of low-carbon technologies, in terms of cleaner air, fewer deaths, less illness, and higher productivity are increasingly clear. There is growing evidence that the transition to a low-carbon economy is well underway and that economic growth and carbon emissions are decoupling: 2014 was the first year of global economic growth without growth in energy emissions.
Perhaps most crucially for Paris’s prospects, there is closer alignment between the United States and China as indicated by their joint announcements on climate change in 2014 and 2015; this signals political appetite for a deal between the world’s two largest emitters that was not evident at Copenhagen.
Lower ambition, better odds
Some of the improved prospects are clearly the result of changes in the wider economic and political context. However it is also the case that prospects for agreement have improved as ambition for the strength of any deal has declined.

27 September
World leaders unveil their vision for a ‘Green New World’ as Paris talks loom
(National Observer) World leaders hashed out their vision of a successful global climate pact to avert global catastrophe at a Sept. 27 meeting in New York, just two months before the landmark Conference of Parties (COP) 21 talks begin in Paris.
The thirty world leaders in attendance agreed that a new climate deal had to include a long-term vision of a world freed of poverty through the opportunities created by a new green economy, send a clear signal to citizens and the private sector that the global green shift is both beneficial and already underway, and the need for immediate international action to make this vision a reality.

2 June
Everything you need to know about the Paris climate summit and UN talks
As UN climate negotiations resume in Bonn, we look at why the crunch Paris climate conference from 30 November to 11 December is so important
Why now?
Current commitments on greenhouse gas emissions run out in 2020, so at Paris governments are expected to produce an agreement on what happens for the decade after that at least, and potentially beyond
In 1992, governments met in Rio de Janeiro and forged the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. That agreement, still in force, bound governments to take action to avoid dangerous climate change, but did not specify what actions. Over the following five years, governments wrangled over what each should do, and what should be the role of developed countries versus poorer nations.
Those years of argument produced, in 1997, the Kyoto protocol.
So for most of the following decade, the Kyoto protocol remained in abeyance and global climate change negotiations ground to a near-halt. But in late 2004, Russia decided to pass the treaty – unexpectedly, and as part of a move to have its application for World Trade Organization membership accepted by the European Union. That made up the weight needed, and the protocol finally came into force.
So we had a global agreement?
Not quite. The US, under George W Bush, remained firmly outside Kyoto, so although the UN negotiations carried on year after year, the US negotiators were often in different rooms from the rest of the world. It was clear a new approach was needed that could bring the US in, and encourage the major developing economies – especially China, now the world’s biggest emitter – to take on limits to their emissions.
What followed was, agreed at Bali in 2007 after much drama, an action plan that set the world on the course to a new agreement that would take over from Kyoto.
The Kyoto protocol was a beautifully written, watertight, fully legally binding international treaty, a sub-treaty of the similarly binding UNFCCC. But it never met its objectives, because it wasn’t ratified by the US, and not by Russia until it was too late. And none of the countries that failed to meet their commitments under Kyoto have been sanctioned.
The Copenhagen agreement, on the other hand, was not fully adopted by the UN in 2009 because of last-minute chaos at the conference, though it was ratified the following year in the form of the Cancun agreements. For this reason, the Copenhagen agreement was derided as a failure by green groups.
11 May
Two Guys In Paris Aim To Charm The World Into Climate Action
(NPR) Here’s a job that sounds perfect for either a superhero or a glutton for punishment: Get nearly 200 countries to finally agree to take serious action on climate change.
Two men have taken on this challenge. They’re leading some international negotiations that will wrap up later this year in Paris at a major United Nations conference on climate change.
“It’s kind of like taking 196 cats and trying to get them all to move in the same direction,” explains Daniel Reifsnyder, whose normal job is being deputy assistant secretary for environment at the U.S. Department of State.
For the rest of this year, though, he’s co-chair of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP). This is diplomat-speak for the effort to get a meaningful global agreement to rein in the greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet.
The other co-chair is an ambassador from Algeria named Ahmed Djoghlaf, who says he’s only doing this “thanks to Dan” — because Djoghlaf probably wouldn’t have agreed to lead these negotiations with anyone else.

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