Mitigation and Adaptation in the UNFCCC Debates
An analysis of the UNFCCC’s discussions provided by the Earth Negotiations Bulletin
for graphs please see the original - weadapt.org/knowledge-base/adapt…
Climate Change Adaptation appears to occupy the center of the climate negotiations. There are claims in the literature on climate diplomacy about an ‘adaptation turn’ in the last years of the negotiation. We challenge those and find adaptation to have been present and highly visible from the very beginning, particularly the specific question of adaptation finance.
In the larger debate on climate change, the notion of ‘adaptation’ is often opposed (or at least contrasted) to that of ‘mitigation’. Such a contrast is not without reason. The two notions refer to vastly different ways to deal with global warming.
‘Mitigation’ refers to the efforts to lessen the impacts of climate change by acting on its causes and therefore reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG).
‘Adaptation’, on the contrary, refers to the efforts to prepare our societies to cope with the effects of climate change.
Though the two approaches are not mutually exclusive (there is no contradiction between striving to avoid the dangers and prepare to deal with those that cannot be avoided), they have often been opposed by the actors in the climate change debate. In this narrative we explore the status of mitigation and adaptation in the UNFCCC debate.
This article is part of the Climaps project by EMAPS. If you want to learn more about the project, please read more in this article.
Looking at figure 1 of the text, the difference between mitigation and adaptation is evident. Terms related to the efforts to mitigate climate change organize 7 of the 12 clusters of the networks, grouped in three main semantic arenas, widely scattered across the graph (‘emission reduction’; ‘carbon sinks’; ‘energies, technology transfer and clean development projects’).
Compared to the mitigation clusters, adaptation clusters are fewer and more compact. The 3 clusters dedicated to adaptation (‘environmental and social impacts’, ‘vulnerability and adaptation’ activity and adaptive ‘funding and equity’) are tightly grouped at the centre of the map. This shows the difference in status of adaptation in the UNFCCC negotiations.
Where mitigation is the primary objective of the conference, and thus formulated in numerous ways, adaptation, impacts and vulnerability seem more limited in their articulation, but also more commonly connected to other issues (which accounts for their centrality in the map). The figure also reflects the different types of contextualisation of climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Figure 1: from Climaps.eu.The ‘place’ of adaptation. Network of terms co-occurring in the same paragraphs of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin, Volume 12. Node position is determined by a force vector algorithm (Jacomy et al., forthcoming) bringing together terms directly or indirectly linked, and keeping away terms with fewer co-occurrences. Node size is proportional to their frequency in the corpus. Node color follows the clusters identified by the clustering algorithm. Click to see main Issue map.
Looking at Figure 2, one will immediately notice that there is (with the exception of COP6 in the Hague) a general increase of the overall number of appearances of issues until COP16 in Cancún. This reflects the increase of the total number of participants during the COPs.
Adaptation and mitigation issues are both visible in the UNFCCC negotiations. However mitigation has been from the very beginning a top priority on the negotiations’ agenda. In the first phase of the negotiations little attention was dedicated to the actions of developing countries to cope with the impacts of climate change. Except that the most vulnerable members succeeded in putting the issue of financing adaptation activities on the agenda from the first COP (see also figure 4).
Adaptation, however, assumed greater importance in the second phase of the negotiations. With all parties facing difficulties in achieving their mitigation objectives, debates on what shall be done regarding vulnerability, climate change impacts and adaptation, as well as how to finance these actions became more relevant.
Figure 2: from Climpas.eu. Stream graph of the absolute and relative visibility of issues during UNFCCC negotiations, 1995-2013. The size of each flow is proportional to the number of paragraphs in which two terms defining the issue are present. Flows are sorted according to the number of occurrences: for each COP, the highest flow corresponds to the most visible issue while the lowest corresponds to the least visible. Click to see Issue map.
The diagram (Figure 3) shows a remarkable stability. Most countries maintain their relative rank throughout the 19 COPs. The 10 most active countries are represented by a rather stable, small group, which includes the United States, China, Europe, Australia, and Japan. The three leaders of the negotiations – China, the United States, and Europe – are ubiquitous. There are several exceptions. First, the Philippines and Bolivia, two countries from the southern hemisphere, have taken on very active roles, perhaps disproportionate with their size.
Figure 3: from Climaps.eu. Stream graph of the absolute and relative visibility of the countries of the UNFCCC negotiations, 1995-2013. The size of each country flow is proportional to the number of paragraphs in which the name of the country appears. Flows are sorted according to the number of occurrences: for each COP, the highest flow corresponds to the most visible issue while the lowest corresponds to the least visible. Click to see main Issue map.
- Reading the two maps (Figures 1 and 2) together, it is possible to remark that (as expected) mitigation plays a preeminent role in climate diplomacy. Mitigation constitutes the bulk of UNFCCC’s discussions.
- Adaptation appears to occupy the center of the climate negotiations and has been present and highly visible from the very beginning (especially with the topic of adaptation funding). These findings challenge some of the claims in the literature about climate diplomacy about an ‘adaptation turn’ in the past few years of the negotiation.
- What has always been present and visible in the negotiations is not the entire discussion about adaptation, but the specific question of adaptation finance.
- No clear pattern exists to support the hypothesis that certain states or groups of states may be particularly active on adaptation related issues.
The maps were produced by analyzing the reports on the UNFCCC’s discussions provided by Volume 12 of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB).
More about this project:
Climate Adaptation in Bangladesh – A case study on tracking adaptation funding.
Figuring benefits of the post-2015 development and climate agendas: 17-21 May, 2015, in New York City, the 2nd annual United Nations Sustainable Energy for All Forum (SE4All). 18-20 June 2015, the Hofburg Palace,Vienna, Austria, the Vienna Energy Forum 2015.
Invitation to the 2nd annual United Nations Sustainable Energy for All Forum
SE4ALL Forum <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Kindly find attached an invitation from Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Chief Executive Officer of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, for the 2nd annual United Nations Sustainable Energy for All Forum that will take place on 17-21 May in New York.
Important information on registration, as well as preliminary documents such as agenda and concept note will be made available on the Forum website at www.se4allforum.org.
Vienna Energy Forum 2015
The Vienna Energy Forum 2015 (VEF 2015) will emphasize the multiple benefits of the post-2015 development and climate agendas and showcase the best practices and actions on the ground that can contribute to both agendas. Energy practitioners, policymakers and thought leaders will discuss the interconnections of sustainable energy and inclusive development in the areas of partnerships, finance, policy, technology, capacity building and knowledge management. The event will also explore the consequences of trends such as population growth and urbanization, as well as addressing the resulting increase in energy demand. Other topics will include South-South cooperation, and energy, water, food and health linkages. The event is organized by the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and Austrian Foreign Ministry.
The Vienna Energy Forum 2015 (VEF 2015) will take place only a few months before the Sustainable Development Goals Summit in New York (September 2015) and the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP 21) in Paris (November 2015). By emphasizing the multiple benefits of the Post-2015 Development and the Climate Agenda and by showcasing best practices and actions on the ground, the VEF 2015 aims at contributing to both.
Building on the findings from the VEFs held in 2009, 2011 and 2013, as well as the overarching goals of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL), the VEF 2015 will provide a high-level platform for thought leaders, policy makers and energy practitioners to engage in a multi-stakeholder dialogue on pivotal sustainable energy issues connected to inclusive development, including partnerships, finance, policy, technology, capacity building and knowledge management.
Registration is open now here!
read more: energy-l.iisd.org/events/vienna-e…
Key questions to be addressed at the VEF 2015:
• What are the main benefits of sustainable energy to inclusive development and productive capacities?
• What are the main drivers of the increasing energy demand across sectors and how can these be addressed in an integrated way?
• How can we strengthen the potential of sustainable energy so that it results in concrete actions supporting the Post-2015 Development and the Climate Agenda?
• What are the areas of greatest potential in energy efficiency, and what can be done to accelerate action and investment in energy efficiency, the ‘hidden fuel’ that has some of the most promising prospects to advance the goals of climate security and sustainable growth?
• Which innovative financing mechanisms can we use to promote renewable energy systems? How do we scale up investments in renewable energy technologies to meet the SE4ALL goals?
• How do we energize multi-stakeholder partnerships, private sector involvement and regional cooperation to promote sustainable energy for all?
• How can the nexus perspective be operationalized to support integrated approaches to energy, water, food, ecosystems and human health?
By Juan Cole, Informed Comment – posted by Reader Supported News
08 March 2015
hat is the actual value of the oil, gas and coal fields owned by big energy corporations, which gives them their stock price and allows them to be counted as assets for borrowing purposes?
The real value of those hydrocarbon resources is zero.
Or actually it is much less than zero, since there are likely to be a lot of liability lawsuits and insurance claims for severe environmental and property damage. Coal, oil and gas are now where the cigarette companies were in 1990, on the verge of getting hit with massive penalties. Big Coal and Big Oil are dead men walking.
The only thing that stops the entire world economy, including that of the United States, from collapsing is that investors continue to pretend that what I just said is not true. Because of this pretense, some people will go on making a lot of money with hydrocarbon investments in the short and perhaps even the medium term. Much investment and assignment of value is a matter of confidence.
But the confidence is misplaced. If you are still fairly young and you or your pension fund bought a lot of petroleum or gas or coal stocks in hopes of retiring on them, think again. You will lose your shirt.
Worse, because so many loans and other investments are anchored by the supposed value of coal, oil and gas, the world is walking an economic tightrope and the gentlest of breezes could knock it off into a crisis that would make 2008-2009 look like a minor hiccup.
In particular, if a sizable ice shelf breaks off in the Antarctic, you could see a sudden sea level rise that would panic the public and possibly lead some countries to outlaw things like coal and gas.
The Bank of England is doing a big study of this problem, which economists call that of “stranded assets.” That is a fancy phrase for when you invest in something that suddenly loses its value.
For instance, say you invested in Blockbuster Video Entertainment, Inc., when people used to rent DVD’s of movies from brick and mortar stores. In 2006 it seemed a good stock to buy– it had 9000 stores and 60,000 employees (almost as many as there are coal miners). And then streaming video came along. Stranded asset. Blockbuster went bankrupt in 2010 and survives only as a streaming service of Dish satellite television, which bought it and was gradually forced to liquidate all the stores.
The same thing will happen to coal, oil and natural gas, for two big, inexorable reasons. First, burning hydrocarbons is fatal to the health of our planet– in terms of the energy it releases, it is like setting off atomic bombs constantly. After a while that would take a toll. Second, other far less destructive ways of generating electricity are every day becoming cheaper and more efficient, especially wind and solar.
That coal as an industry is a bad investment should be obvious. The Obama Environmental Protection Agency has decided finally to start actually enforcing the Clean Air and Water Act, and has also claimed the right to regulate states’ carbon dioxide emissions (in which it has been upheld by the Supreme Court). Most coal plants will likely close over the next five years. Can you say, Blockbuster Video? I’d dump those coal stocks, like yesterday, or call my pension fund and make them drop them.
Of course, there was already a social conscience argument against investing in coal, which is dirty– burning it emits mercury (a nerve poison) and other dangerous pollutants and makes people sick. It also causes acid rain. And it is a major emitter of carbon dioxide, the deadliest poison of all. It is a horrible thing.
Let’s consider what has happened in Iowa just since 2005.
In 2005, wind generated 4% of Iowa’s electricity. Coal was responsible for a whopping 79%, about 4/5s.
In 2013, wind generated 28% of Iowa’s electricity. Coal had fallen to only 59%.
Given those trend lines, in such a short period of time, does coal look like a good investment to you? Or does wind? Especially since we know what the EPA is planning for coal.
Coal isn’t just competing with wind. The conservative Deutsche Bank has just concluded that in 14 states of the US, solar power is now as inexpensive as that from coal and natural gas. Right now. That is, it would be crazy to build a new coal plant today when you could generate electricity just as cheaply with solar.
And get this: by 2016– next year! — Deutsche Bank concludes that solar will be competitive with coal and natural gas in all but three or four states. And that is not an argument based on subsidies for solar. It will be as inexpensive as coal-generated electricity just purely on a market basis (in fact, it will be even cheaper, since there are massive government subsidies for coal, gas and oil).
Critics say that the wind dies down sometimes and the sun doesn’t shine on half the earth at night. This problem is referred to as that of “intermittency.” But it isn’t an insoluble problem. For one thing, the wind often blows more at night, so turbines can take up the slack from solar plants. For another, there are now molten salt solar installations that go on generating electricity for six hours after sunset. As batteries improve in efficiency and fall in price (both things are happening already, big time), the problem of intermittency will fade into insignificance, likely within a decade.
Another drag is that the electricity grid in many states needs to be redone. Wires need to be laid from the Thumb in Michigan where the wind is to the Detroit metropolitan area where most of the electricity is used. But it really is a relatively minor expense, and since the fuel for wind turbines is free, it would pay for itself fairly quickly. That is just a matter of having a state government that is on the ball and sees where the future profits are to be made. Cheap wind- and solar- generated electricity will allow factories to save money on energy and make their products more inexpensively, allowing them to compete on the world market. A solar facility is helping power the Volkswagon plant in Chattanooga. They’re not paying for coal or gas to produce that portion of their power, because the sunlight is free, and that will make their cars more competitive in price. Some buyers may throw their business to Volkswagen because they are greener. All factory owners will quickly move in this direction over the next few years.
So there isn’t any doubt about it. Buying stocks in coal, gas and oil companies is like buying stocks in zeppelins. They are outmoded and prone to crashing and burning, a Hindenburg waiting to happen. (Zeppelins were good investments once, too; they carried tens of thousands of people across the Atlantic and the top of the Empire State Building was designed to anchor them; but they became a stranded asset.)
It is therefore absolutely amazing that institutions of higher education like Harvard often refuse to divest from oil, gas and coal companies. The science and the economics are clear as day– burning hydrocarbons is disastrous for a city like Boston over time, and holding stranded assets is a one way ticket to bankruptcy court. I couldn’t tell you whether this decision is made out of short-sightedness or out of ethical and moral corruption (universities live nowadays on donors’ donations and don’t want to anger generous alumni who make their living purveying coal, gas and oil).
But those hydrocarbon stocks, and loans made on the basis of those worthless assets, are endangering the economic health of us all. Buying and holding them is the equivalent of refusing to vaccinate your children against measles. It is an individual decision that imperils the rest of the public. You and I may not be able to do much about the Koch brothers’ hold on state legislatures, or about the mysterious insidiousness of the Harvard regents. But most of us have some say in what stocks are in our pension funds or 401ks. There shouldn’t be any coal, gas or oil securities in there. Unless you like the idea of working backbreaking minimum wage jobs into your 80s.
ONE OPPOSING COMMENT:
0 # brycenuc 2015-03-08 18:03
Incidentally, the huge volume of emissions shown in the photograph accompanying Cole’s message is not from gas, oil, or coal; it is from steam.
February 17, 2015
Tesla’s Disruptive New Plan to Power Your Home
From a surprising source – Dr. Kent Moors’ Oil & Energy Investor’s site we picked up the following:
February 17, 2015 – but we picked this up only February 25th because Google deemed the posting a “Promotion rather then “Primar
TESLA’s DISRUPTIVE NEW PLAN TO POWER YOUR HOME.
Dear Oil & Energy Investor,
The first is a major test of a joint project between Tesla Motors Inc. (NasdaqGS: TSLA) and SolarCity Corp. (NasdaqGS: SCTY) involving 500 California homes.
Sources have told me they expect this test to be the final “proof of concept,” followed by wider applications in both residential and commercial uses.
The lynchpin between the two is a family connection.
Tesla’s CEO is Elon Musk, one of the most innovative entrepreneurs of our time, while his cousin Lyndon Rive is the CEO of SolarCity. Musk is also SolarCity’s biggest shareholder.
Now the two are coming together in hopes of solving the industry’s biggest roadblock…
This was followed by:
Solar Power Comes of Age
Tesla, of course, needs very little introduction. The California-based company has a very visible position in cutting-edge electric cars.
SolarCity, on the other hand, is the market leader in residential solar power installations. In the third quarter of 2014, SolarCity led the pack in this portion of the business by grabbing 39% of the market. Meanwhile, SolarCity’s next-closest competitor came in at 16%.
The two market leaders are now combining some of their operations in a very serious attempt to bring solar power into more consumer areas. In short, SolarCity is working with Tesla to make rooftop panels that are fitted with Tesla batteries.
Now a major test is underway in California that may usher in a new age of residential solar battery use.
The California test will utilize a solar battery with the ability to power a home for two days in the event of a blackout. In everyday use, the unit is expected to allow homeowners to store solar-generated power for use during high-cost periods, giving them the flexibility to use the conventional grid for cheaper, off-peak electricity.
Storing generated power for use at other times – in short, perfecting a new line of cost-effective batteries – has been the industry’s single biggest hurdle.
So the California residential test may well usher in a whole new ballgame. Considering the batteries from the Tesla-SolarCity venture (involving more than the California test) utilize a new generation of silicon batteries, rather than relying on rare earth metals or lithium, is also a plus. This type of approach is already well advanced, and is based on considerable familiarity and history.
It also doesn’t hurt that Tesla is building the biggest battery factory on the planet right now. Dubbed the “Gigafactory,” the plant is expected to have a dramatic effect on the energy storage market, helping to bring battery costs down by as much as half by 2020.
So while the initial price of these installations may come in high, as with any generation-changing new technology, the cost will eventually come down. What’s more, there may be some credits and other inducements provided by the companies to stimulate usage.
This development, combined with the recent decisions by Apple Inc. (NasdaqGS: AAPL) to power its new Pentagon-like headquarters via solar and Google Inc. (NasdaqGS: GOOG) opting for wind power for its San Francisco Bay Area base, show that renewables are now moving into all aspects of electricity end use here in the States.
and the SECOND BIG NEWS OF THE INTRODUCTORY PIECE:
India Breaks Ground on the World’s Largest Solar Plant
The second major development for renewables is unfolding halfway around the world.
India has announced a major push to provide 15% of its electricity needs from renewables with an initial push into solar power, which is unfolding right now. It’s the first high-profile effort to provide concrete plans for a major Asian advance into solar power distribution.
The Times of India reported yesterday that the construction of the world’s largest solar power plant has begun in the central Indian Rewa district, within the state of Madhya Pradesh. The plant, a joint venture between state-run PSU Urja Vikas Nigam and the Solar Energy Corp. of India, will provide 750 megawatt of electricity. Once online, the plant will be 36% bigger than the largest plant currently in operation.
The current world leader is the 550-megawatt Desert Sunlight Solar Farm, which just opened in California’s Mojave Desert. Situated on 3,800 acres near Joshua Tree National Park, the plant produces enough energy to power 160,000 homes.
But the Indian push into solar power hardly ends there. The government has plans for two dozen solar farms strategically placed throughout the country.
In all, the State Bank of India has committed resources for the development of 15 gigawatt of solar power by 2020. The objective is to provide a full 15% of the nation’s energy needs from renewable sources within five years.
To be sure, there are some doubts that New Delhi can pull this off. For one thing, the price tag is very debatable. For another, the national electricity distribution grid is in a sorry state, and would require significant, pricey, and (at the moment) an unspecified amount of investment to be able to shoulder the anticipated new power load.
Still, with the Chinese committed to a similar 15 gigawatt goal from solar by 2020, Germany’s decision to end its reliance on nuclear power, and the continued growth pattern in the U.S., one conclusion is already abundantly clear.
The future of solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, and other renewables is longer dependent on the price of crude.
The World Bioenergy Association sees dangers for this industry from the decrease in the price of oil. We say that if this industry fails – the price of oil will go up. Government intervention is needed at this time.
From: Bharadwaj V Kummamuru bharadwaj.v.kummamuru at worldbioenergy….
World Bioenergy Association (WBA) would like to thank everyone for their voluntary participation in the survey on the oil price drop effect on the bioenergy industry.
We have received answers from 25 countries. The number of employees in the companies surveyed varied from 10 to more than 1 000. Respondents included pellet producers, biogas producer, and bioenergy equipment manufacturers etc.
In summary, the decline in oil prices from June 2014 to January 2015 has had a moderate to severe effect on 75% of the respondents while the rest were unaffected. The current situation benefits countries highly dependent on oil imports. However, bioenergy producers are struggling with lower investments, lower profit margins and less financial resources available for bioenergy development.
The complete summary is attached. For any comments on the survey, please email us at info at worldbioenergy.org
Most of Public and About Half in GOP Back Climate Action
By Coral Davenport and Marjorie Connelly, The New York Times, 30 January 2015
In a finding that could have implications for the 2016 presidential campaign, the poll also found that two-thirds of Americans say they are more likely to vote for political candidates who campaign on fighting climate change. They are less likely to vote for candidates who question or deny the science that determined that humans caused global warming.
READ MORE AT: www.nytimes.com/2015/01/31/us/pol…
+3 # Dust 2015-01-30 16:44
The parallels to the “creation science / intelligent design” paradigm are fairly clear. Nobody wants to outright dismiss science, so they define the only valid sources of scientific research in increasingly limited and constrained ways. CS/ID people produce NO science of their own; the only thing they do is use their modified version of science to produce what appear to be legitimate questions or holes in the field of evolutionary biology. (FWIW – they also confuse the fields of evolutionary biology and physics). They then assert that ANY lack of perfect understanding in evolutionary theory is clearly grounds to dismiss the entire thing.
A similar parallel can be found in the field of encryption and cryptanalysis. Folks read a standard reference like Applied Cryptography in C and set out to write their own encryption algorithm. Now – THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS!! But when their lack of understanding comes to the fore and their work is not taken seriously by cryptanalysts, the intelligent thing to do is learn more about the field, not scream that there is a conspiracy against you.
+2 # Ken Halt 2015-01-30 16:45
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Obama will ask Congress to give Wilderness Protection to that part of Alaska’s ANWR that Reagan allowed for drilling – but Melting Arctic Seas Ice Could Mean More Drilling, More Controversy. A Shell spokesman defended the industry by saying: “Of the total volume of oil, less than 1 percent ends up in the oceans, he said.”
While on his way to Saudi Arabia, Obama released his opposition to drilling in a sensitive area of he Alaska Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Could this allay some Saudi worries?
Obama’s Arctic Refuge Drill Ban Won’t Change Much, For Now
by John Ydstie of NPR
President Obama says he will ask Congress to give wilderness status to protect more than 12 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The president announced his intention Sunday in a video, describing the area as a pristine habitat with abundant wildlife:
“It’s very fragile. That’s why I’m very proud that my Department of Interior has put forward a comprehensive plan to make sure that we’re protecting the refuge and that we’re designating new areas, including coastal plains, for preservation,” he said.
But Obama’s action could put billions of barrels of oil beneath the wilderness out of reach of energy companies. Industry representatives are criticizing the decision, but also say Obama’s request will have little immediate effect.
Obama’s request for wilderness status reverses a recommendation by the Reagan administration in 1987 to allow drilling in a small area of the ANWR. In the intervening quarter of a century Democrats and Republicans have continuously sparred over the issue and no drilling has taken place.
“If you look at Department of Energy forecasts, we’re gonna need oil and natural gas to fuel this economy for decades to come,” Milito says. “So, we gotta plan well ahead so we have the ability to fuel this economy for future generations.”
He points to a U.S. Geological Survey estimate that projects ANWR contains between 5 billion and 16 billion barrels of oil. He says the industry would likely find even more once it begins drilling.
Fadel Gheit, a managing director and oil expert at Oppenheimer & Co., says he believes the president’s decision does not change the outlook for developing the ANWR reserves significantly.
“It will make life more difficult for the industry; it will put another hurdle — but technology will always bring the hurdle down,” Gheit says.
He says the shale revolution reduces the urgency of tapping the ANWR oil.
“There’s really no need to take a chance on ANWR, since ANWR is still a very sensitive area,” he adds.
Gheit says the shale oil glut gives the oil industry five to 10 years to develop the technology it needs to convince the public that it can drill safely in such an environmentally sensitive place.
It’s virtually certain the new Republican-controlled Congress will reject the president’s recommendation. But Obama’s request does effectively block drilling for the next two years and he could veto a congressional bill to allow it.
But if Republicans keep control of Congress and the country elects a Republican president, Obama’s effort to protect ANWR from drilling could be swept aside.
by Elizabeth Arnold of NPR
Melting ice in the Arctic may not be good for species that live there, but it does mean those icy waters are much more accessible and cost-effective places to drill for oil and gas.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was in Alaska this week as part of an “information gathering” tour to help craft a new Outer Continental Shelf drilling policy. After two days of public testimony from those for and against offshore drilling, Salazar pronounced Alaskans passionate and divided.
Just over a year ago, the oil and gas industry bid $2.6 billion for drilling rights in the Chukchi Sea, located in the Arctic between Alaska and Russia. It’s the largest oil and gas lease sale in history, and it’s staggering when compared with the $7 million that the same leases went for in 1991.
Though rapidly retreating sea ice makes it easier and more cost-effective to drill in the Chukchi Sea, it also means the area is more fragile. Just about every marine mammal and seabird in the Chukchi Sea is already endangered or a candidate for listing. And, the opposition from native villages that rely on fish, walrus, seals and whales for subsistence dwarfs the fight over the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The biggest lease of the most recent sale went to Shell Gulf of Mexico, which spent $105 million for rights in the Chukchi Sea. Shell already had bought leases even further north and was ready with rigs when then-President George W. Bush lifted the ban on drilling along the Outer Continental Shelf.
“We are drill-bit ready to move in the Arctic right now, and this is stuff that can happen right now, and with a few things going our way, we will be ready to go in 2010,” says Pete Slaiby, Shell’s Alaska general manager.
But those few things are now largely in the hands of Salazar, who went to Alaska this week as part of the process of developing this administration’s offshore energy plan. He has called a time out on new leasing, for more public input, and he got plenty Tuesday.
Whaling captain and mayor of the North Slope Borough Edward Itta advised slowing down: “Mr. Secretary, like all Alaskans, the people of the North Slope depend on the economic engine of oil and gas development. We have supported onshore for well over 30 years now. But, Mr. Secretary, offshore is a different matter.”
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin advised speeding up: “Delays or major restrictions in accessing our needed resources for environmentally responsible development are not in the nation’s or our state’s best interest.”
Passionate Protests From Both Sides
From laborers in hard hats chanting “jobs, jobs, jobs” to environmentalists dressed as polar bears and puffins, division and emotion over offshore drilling was apparent.
But concern over offshore drilling in Arctic waters doesn’t just center on spills. The Interior Department is also responsible for endangered species. An increasing number of marine mammals and seabirds in the arctic are in decline, and the fear is that the impacts of a warming climate will be compounded by new development.
Species At Risk
Traveling on an icebreaker in the northern Bering Sea, University of Wyoming researcher Jim Lovvorn studies seabirds that breed in the Arctic, including the spectacled eider. On both hands, he counts off other species in danger: Steller’s eiders, king eiders, common eiders, red-throated loons, yellow-billed loons, four species of ice seal, walruses and bowhead whales.
“You could not find a more sensitive habitat,” Lovvorn says.
On the same ship, USGS research ecologist Chad Jay is tracking the Pacific walrus, which is also under consideration for listing as a threatened or endangered species. Reductions in the extent of ice over the past few years have forced walruses onto small pieces of remnant ice.
In 2007, there was no ice at all near the shelf.
“As a result of [ice shelf melting] we saw upwards of 6,000 walruses hauling out along the shore of northwest Alaska, which is the first ever,” Jay says. “It means that a greater number of animals are using a smaller space to forage in and to haul out on — probably not a good thing.”
But the very thing that is cause for concern with regard to walrus and other species in the Arctic is what’s made drilling in these waters more attractive to industry: less sea ice.
Whether and how to balance development of a what is a fragile ecosystem — and what some believe is the next best answer to America’s thirst for oil — poses a major policy decision for the new Department of Interior. Salazar says he doesn’t expect to make everybody happy.
from: Martin Indyk <email@example.com>
THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION – FOREIGN POLICY
Please share this job posting with qualified candidates. We appreciate your help in getting the word out to qualified candidates in the energy security and climate policy communities.
The JNF is a non-profit organization. By 2007, it owned 13% of the total land in Israel. Since its inception, the JNF has planted over 240 million trees in Israel. It has also built 180 dams and reservoirs, developed 250,000 acres (1,000 km2) of land, and established more than 1,000 parks.
In 2002, the JNF was awarded the Israel Prize for lifetime achievement and special contribution to society and the State of Israel.
Yona Kremenezky: A disciple of Theodor Herzl and his long-standing aide, was a well-known Viennese industrialist. He was appointed first Chairman of the JNF – 1902-1907 with Herzel’s support. Even before being appointed Chairman of KKL-JNF, soon after its establishment, Kremenetzky attributed paramount importance to the land for the Jewish People. He himself had acquired a tract in Petah Tikva and planted an orchard there.
In his capacity as head of JNF, he developed two salient fund-raising devices: Its stamps and Blue Box. He served as Chairman until the Head Office moved from Vienna to Cologne.
Early land purchases were in Judea and the Lower Galilee. In 1909, the JNF played a central role in the founding of Tel Aviv. The establishment of the “Olive Tree Fund” marked the beginning of Diaspora support of afforestation efforts. The Blue Box – the money collection box – (known in Yiddish as the “Pushke”) – has been part of the JNF since its inception, symbolizing the partnership between Israel and the Diaspora. In the period between the two world wars, about one million of these blue and white tin collection boxes could be found in Jewish homes throughout the world. From 1902 until the late 1940s, the JNF sold JNF stamps to raise money. For a brief period in May 1948, JNF stamps were used as postage stamps during the transition from Palestine to Israel.
The first parcel of land, 200 dunams (0.20 km2) east of Hadera, was received as a gift from the Russian Zionist leader Isaac Leib Goldberg of Vilnius, in 1903. It became an olive grove. In 1904 and 1905, the JNF purchased land plots near the Sea of Galilee and at Ben Shemen. In 1921, JNF land holdings reached 25,000 acres (100 km²), rising to 50,000 acres (200 km²) by 1927. At the end of 1935, JNF held 89,500 acres (362 km²) of land housing 108 Jewish communities. In 1939, 10% of the Jewish population of the British Mandate of Palestine lived on JNF land.
From the beginning, JNF’s policy was to lease land long-term rather than sell it. In its charter, the JNF states: “Since the first land purchase in the early 1900s for and on behalf of the Jewish People, JNF has served as the Jewish People’s trustee of the land, initiating and charting development work to enable Jewish settlement from the border in the north to the edge of the desert and the Arava in the south.”
After Israel’s establishment in 1948, the government began to sell absentee lands to the JNF. On January 27, 1949, 1,000 km² of land (from a total of about 3,500 km²) was sold to the JNF for the price of I£11 million. Another 1,000 km² of land was sold to the JNF in October 1950.
In 1953, the JNF was dissolved and re-organized as an Israeli company under the name Keren Kayemet LeYisrael (JNF-KKL). In 1960, administration of the land held by the JNF-KKL, apart from forested areas, was transferred to a newly formed government agency, the Israel Land Administration (ILA). The ILA was then responsible for managing some 93% of the land of Israel. All the land managed by the ILA was defined as Israeli lands; it included both land owned by the government (about 80%) and land owned by the JNF-KKL (about 13%). The JNF-KKL received the right to nominate 10 of the 22 directors of the ILA, lending it significant leverage within that state body.
After concentrating on the Centre and Northern part of the state, the JNF-KKL started supporting Jewish settlements around the Negev border from around 1965.
The JNF charter specifies reclamation of land for the Jewish people as its primary purpose. During the 1980s, almost 60,000 acres (240 km2) were planted. Over 50,000 acres (200 km2) of crop-land were reclaimed and hundreds of miles of roads built. Research into soil and water conservation and the construction of dams and reservoirs took on added importance in the face of water shortages and drought.
The JNF’s collaborative work involves participation in the International Arid Land Consortium, which explores the problems and solutions unique to arid and semiarid regions, working to develop sustainable ecological practices as a means to improve the quality of life among people in arid regions
The present KKL-JNF World Chairman, since 2006, is Mr. Efi Stelzer who spoke to us at the Jerusalem Post Conference – please see our first article in this series - www.sustainabilitank.info/#34982
He said that the role of his organization now is mainly – in few words – “Preparing for the generations to come.”
He elaborated: “Conserve our natural resources for the future.” As examples of this policy, he cited the organization’s planting of over 240 million trees, its battle against encroaching desertification, its development of water resources, agriculture, community development and tourism, and its preservation work of religious sites of all the country’s faiths.
“KKL-JNF’s activities are intended to benefit all residents of the State of Israel without discrimination,” emphasized Stenzler, and described the Wadi Attir Project, which consists of the establishment of a sustainable desert community in conjunction with the Negev Bedouin. “All our work is carried out with the support of KKL-JNF’s Friends throughout the world,” he added.
The guests at the Conference were able to learn more about KKL-JNF’s activities at the KKL-JNF stand in the entrance lobby, where informational pamphlets were distributed and Creating a Better Tomorrow – a film about the work of KKL-JNF – was screened before his presentation. A token gift of a key chain bearing the KKL-JNF symbol was presented to each visitor.
KKL–JNF is the oldest environmental organization in Israel, having been established over 110 years ago. Throughout the years they have actively cooperated with many countries and international organizations in a wide variety of projects. We will now focus on this International Cooperation.
We will look at topics that the KKL-JNF categorizes as:
– Knowledge in Service of Humanity
KKL-JNF shares its knowledge and experience all over the world, and has participated in and sponsored numerous international conferences, showcasing KKL-JNF’s technical experience and applied research.
The technical areas are in: Desertification, Afforestation, Water, Climate Change, and Agriculture.
JNF has become an international expert in afforestation in arid and semi-arid regions, and regularly participates in international forums and participates in joint forestry projects with other countries and international organizations.
Israel is recognized as a world leader in managing scarce water resources, water recycling and similar fields. JNF is at the forefront of innovative solutions to Israel’s water crisis and helps other Nations with its know-how..
KKL-JNF is Israel’s largest non-governmental organization (NGO) with United Nations status, dealing with land amelioration, water conservation and afforestation. This international cooperation activity addresses key global issues through mutual networking, knowledge sharing and spreading environmental advances beyond Israel’s borders.
JNF stands at the forefront of knowledge and technology needed for:
Managing open areas and forests
Developing and implementing advanced methods for harvesting water run-off
Reclaiming rivers and streams
Conserving the land through sustainable agriculture and research
Just as KKL-JNF lessons are learned from the experience of others, so too does JNF teach others to use the experience it has accumulated. KKL-JNF plays a central role in disseminating this information through its cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture. In December 2008, the three were instrumental in realizing an initiative for an international seminar on the subject of “Combating Desertification.”
KKL-JNF also takes part in the ongoing discussions led by the International Arid Land Consortium (IALC) and the Middle East Research Cooperation (MERC).
Israel participates in the three Rio Conventions – Biodiversity, Climate Change, and Desertification, was involved in hosting meetings that worked on the Synergies between the three conventions, and the bi-annual series of DDD Conferences started in 2008 – Drylands, Deserts, and Desertification – which the Fifth Conference in this series, the Sede Boqer Conference, November 14-20, 2014 – was the reason of my own visit to Israel this year, was just the right example of how Israel and the JNF as part of it, can develop cooperation with international organizations, single States, corporations, Academia, and NGOs. In a future article on our website I will be going into more details of what transpired at the Sede Boqer meeting.
Talking about Climate Change, KKL-JNF are proud of their tree planting activities – and from their website I am copying the following:
The process of climate change is the result of human activities, which cause the emission of greenhouse gas that pollutes the atmosphere. The average person should plant 200 trees in his/her lifetime.
Planting trees is one of the most effective, proactive ways of stopping the greenhouse effect that is responsible for climate change.
People pollute the atmosphere as a result of their everyday activities. Each person is responsible for the emission of 70 to 100 tons of greenhouse gas during his/her lifetime.
Each tree absorbs about half a ton of atmosphere-polluting carbon dioxide during its life.
The average person should plant two hundred trees in order to neutralize the pollution s/he produces during his lifetime.
Since its inception, KKL-JNF has planted over 230 million trees on a million dunams of land, which help mitigate climate change.
As part of the United Nations (UNEP) “Plant the Planet” program, whose goal is to plant a billion trees, KKL-JNF committed itself to planting six million trees in Israel over the next decade.
A twin-site treaty for the promotion of the combined development of two major bird-conservation sites – Lake Hula in Israel and Oak Hammock Marsh in Manitoba – has been signed in October 2010 between KKL-JNF and the government of the Canadian province of Manitoba.
The partnership agreement was signed by KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler and Manitoba’s Minister of Water Stewardship Christine Melnick at a ceremony held at Lake Hula Park. It is designed to formalize cooperation on site development, scientific research, educational activities and management challenges. Upon signing the agreement, Minister Christine Melnick has said: “We hope that this collaboration between the two countries will enable Lake Hula and Oak Hammock Marsh nature reserve to reach their full potential both as tourist attractions possessed of a rich and varied ecological system that feeds significant freshwater sources and as major way stations for migrating birds.”
Oak Hammock Marsh Park covers 36 thousand dunam (approx nine thousand acres). It is the remains of what was once a large lake, and it attracts a great deal of wild life, including some 280 species of birds that either pass through the site or nest in it. Half a million geese and duck pass every year though the park, which is considered one of North America’s prime bird-watching locations. Visitors to the park have thirty kilometers of trails at their disposal, together with a modern visitors’ center.
The Hula Valley is one of the most unique regions in northern Israel, and the Hula Lake Park is considered one the most important birdwatching sites in the world. Lush, green fields are interspersed throughout the valley surrounded by imposing mountains on the east and the west. The striking black volcanic basalt hills south of the valley slowed down the flow of melted snow and rain from Mt. Hermon creating historic Lake Hula and its surrounding wetlands, which served as a filter for the water flowing into Lake Kinneret. At different seasons it hosts cranes, storks, pelicans, ducks, raptors and many water birds. KKL-JNF was among those who established the lake in the early 1990s, and it remains among the sites managers today.
We will get back to this subject in a future article in our series – this because on December 1st, 2014 I found myself involved at the German-Israeli Climate Talks in the Herzliya Israeli Air Force Auditorium on The Effects of Climate Change on Birds @ Bird Migration. This was a meeting on the importance of the Hula to the Bird Biodiversity in Europe. The Israeli scientists extended now their work to Kenya as well. This International topic was going to be picked up in Israellagain on December 22nd.
Manitoba and Israel are very different from each other. For example, Manitoba has over 100,000 lakes, some of which are larger than the entire State of Israel, while Israel has only one sizable lake: the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). The two countries’ bird-conservation sites, however, have significant features in common. Both have been restored after being damaged by human activity, and each is located on one of the world’s two foremost bird migration routes: from Europe to Africa and from North America to South America. A great deal of effort has been invested in educational activities at both sites, and both serve as centers for scientific research.
Op-Ed | Timothy Egan
The president is acting like a man who’s been given the political equivalent of a testosterone boost.
Obama’s trademark caution in a crisis still serves him well. He kept his head during the Ebola meltdown when everyone else was losing theirs. Had we gone jaw to jaw with Putin over Ukraine, rather than building the case for sanctions, the world would be far messier. But in finally learning how to use the tools of his office, Obama unbound is a president primed to make his mark.
There may not be a lightness to his step, a lilt in his voice or a bit of jauntiness returned to his manner. The office ages everyone prematurely, and makes spontaneity all but impossible. But President Obama is acting like a man who’s been given the political equivalent of a testosterone boost.
He promised to be transformative. Instead, especially in the last two years, he’s been listless, passive, a spectator to his own presidency. Rather than setting things in motion, he reacted to events. Even Ebola, the great scare that prompted so much media hysteria it was awarded Lie of the Year by PolitiFact, was somehow his fault. No more. Of late, the president who has nothing to lose has discovered that his best friend is the future.
On normalizing relations with Cuba, on a surprising climate change initiative with China, on an immigration gamble that’s working, and executive orders to protect the world’s greatest wild salmon fishery in Alaska or try to root out gender pay disparities, Obama is marching ahead of politicians fighting yesterday’s wars. In setting an aggressive agenda, he has forced opponents to defend old-century policies, and rely on an aging base to do it.
Are Republicans really going to spend the first year of their new majority trying to undo everything the president has done — to roll back the clock? Will they defend isolation of Cuba against the wishes of most young Cuban-Americans? Will they restore a family-destroying deportation policy, when Obama’s de-emphasis on sending illegal immigrants home has already given him a 15-point boost among Latinos? Will they take away health insurance from millions who never had it before? Will they insist that nothing can be done on climate change, while an agreement is on the table for the world’s two biggest polluters, the United States and China, to do something significant?
Of course, it helps to have the wind at his back — gusts of good news.
Remember when Mitt Romney promised to bring unemployment down to 6 percent by the end of his first term? Obama has done him one better: two years ahead of schedule, unemployment is 5.8 percent. The economy added 321,000 jobs last month and average hourly wages actually rose, on pace to make 2014 the best year for financially battered Americans in almost a decade. And if there’s a Republican somewhere who predicted that gas prices would be well below $3 a gallon in year six of the Obama presidency, bring that prescient pol forward.
Remember, also, the man-crush that Republicans had on Vladimir Putin? Ohhh, Vlad — such a leader! Forceful, militarily aggressive, a manly man. Obama the plodder was getting played by Putin the Great. Now, the Russian president better keep his shirt on, for his country is teetering, increasingly isolated, its currency in free fall. Plunging oil prices have shown just how fragile a nation dependent on oil can be.
Perhaps the best thing to happen to him was the crushing blow his party took in the midterm elections. Come January, Republicans will have their largest House majority in 84 years — since Herbert Hoover was president. Granted, no politician wants to join Hoover and history in the same sentence. But Obama is not cowering or conceding. He’s been liberated by defeat, becoming the president that many of his supporters hoped he would be.
The Embattled Dream of Palestine
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
A one-state solution? A two-state solution? Any solution?
With negotiations stalled and Israel narrowing the space for a peace deal by expanding settlements, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has made a desperation play for a two-state solution. He is pushing the United Nations Security Council to adopt a resolution that would set a deadline for full Israel withdrawal from the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and for recognition of a Palestinian state. He has strong support from Europe, where some governments have ratcheted up the pressure on Israel by individually endorsing Palestinian statehood.
Night was once the only thing that put the human agenda on hold.
WOODSTOCK, N.Y. — WHEN the people of this small mountain town got their first dose of electrical lighting in late 1924, they were appalled. “Old people swore that reading or living by so fierce a light was impossible,” wrote the local historian Alf Evers. That much light invited comparisons. It was an advertisement for the new, the rich and the beautiful — a verdict against the old, the ordinary and the poor. As Christmas approached, a protest was staged on the village green to decry the evils of modern light.
Woodstock has always been a small place with a big mouth where cultural issues are concerned. But in this case the protest didn’t amount to much. Here as elsewhere in early 20th-century America, the reluctance to embrace brighter nights was a brief and halfhearted affair.
Tomorrow is the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. But few of us will turn off the lights long enough to notice. There’s no getting away from the light. There are fluorescent lights and halogen lights, stadium lights, streetlights, stoplights, headlights and billboard lights. There are night lights to stand sentinel in hallways, and the lit screens of cellphones to feed our addiction to information, even in the middle of the night. No wonder we have trouble sleeping. The lights are always on.
In the modern world, petroleum may drive our engines but our consciousness is driven by light. And what it drives us to is excess, in every imaginable form.
Beginning in the late 19th century, the availability of cheap, effective lighting extended the range of waking human consciousness, effectively adding more hours onto the day — for work, for entertainment, for discovery, for consumption; for every activity except sleep, that nightly act of renunciation. Darkness was the only power that has ever put the human agenda on hold.
In centuries past, the hours of darkness were a time when no productive work could be done. Which is to say, at night the human impulse to remake the world in our own image — so that it served us, so that we could almost believe the world and its resources existed for us alone — was suspended. The night was the natural corrective to that most persistent of all illusions: that human progress is the reason for the world.
Advances in science, industry, medicine and nearly every other area of human enterprise resulted from the influx of light. The only casualty was darkness, a thing of seemingly little value. But that was only because we had forgotten what darkness was for. In times past people took to their beds at nightfall, but not merely to sleep. They touched one another, told stories and, with so much night to work with, woke in the middle of it to a darkness so luxurious it teased visions from the mind and divine visitations that helped to guide their course through life. Now that deeper darkness has turned against us. The hour of the wolf we call it — that predatory insomnia that makes billions for big pharma. It was once the hour of God.
There is, of course, no need to fear the dark, much less prevail over it. Not that we could. Look up in the sky on a starry night, if you can still find one, and you will see that there is a lot of darkness in the universe. There is so much of it, in fact, that it simply has to be the foundation of all that is. The stars are an anomaly in the face of it, the planets an accident. Is it evil or indifferent? I don’t think so. Our lives begin in the womb and end in the tomb. It’s dark on either side.
We’ve rolled back the night so far that soon we will come full circle and reach the dawn of the following day. And where will that leave us? In a world with no God and no wolf either — only unrelenting commerce and consumption, information and media … and light. We need a rest from ourselves that only a night like the winter solstice can give us. And the earth, too, needs that rest. The only thing I can hope for is that, if we won’t come to our senses and search for the darkness, on nights like these, the darkness will come looking for us.
Clark Strand is the author of the forthcoming book “Waking Up to the Dark: Ancient Wisdom for a Sleepless Age.”
CMCC, the Italian Euro-Maditerranean Center on Climate Change Finds that the Lima Climate Conference is a positive step to Paris 2015 but finds that not enough attention was given to the need of Government Policy needed to kick-start a non-carbon economy.
The Euro-Mediterranean Centre on Climate Change is glad to inform you on updates of news and stories around Climate Science&Policy.
What really happened in Lima? Climate Science & Policy: news, stories and updates.
[CENTRO EURO-MEDITERRANEO PER I CAMBIAMENTI CLIMATICI - CMCC -
A different view on COP 20
Climate talks: what was agreed in Lima
Many comments on the outcome of the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP 20) recently held in Lima have already been circulated. Most commentators focus on the broad consensus to adopt national commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). Some of them highlights the important benefits of reaching such broad consensus, even though not yet on ambitious mitigation targets. Others complain about the distance between existing commitments and the mitigation effort needed to maintain future temperature increase below the 2°C degree target. All of them agree on the crucial role of COP 21 in Paris to reach a final agreement on both ambitious Individually Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) and on an effective verification system to compare these mitigation efforts.
This emphasis on emission reductions somehow obscures the real issue at the core of the COP 20 negotiations (that will be at the core of COP 21 as well), namely the difficulty of agreeing on the resources that must be devoted to achieve mitigation targets, on their distribution across different world regions, on the mechanisms to fund the huge investments that will be necessary for both mitigation and adaptation.
The discussion in Lima was centered on the Green Climate Fund, established in Copenhagen in 2009, but the debate was more on distributional issues (how much will developing countries receive and how much will they contribute) rather than on efficiency issues (how best can the fund be used).
The Green Climate Fund
One of government’s main roles in enabling climate finance is to send a clear, consistent, long-term signal to investors that there is a safe market for low-carbon technologies. There is a great deal of aversion to be overcome in this respect. Currently, low-carbon technologies are perceived to come only at a short to medium term trade off with economic growth.
This misconception (built into many model assessments) is based on the assumption that economies are perfectly efficient. As a result, any climate change policy is expected to lead to short and medium term costs. However, in reality, many such policies, particularly technology policies, in fact reduce market failures and the rigidities that lead to inefficient allocation of resources.
This understanding was woefully overlooked at COP20. Indeed, the very fact that governments spent so much time publicly quibbling over what to implement is signal enough to the private sector that investments in low-carbon technologies may not be supported by a sound policy environment (e.g. by a tax internalizing carbon externalities).
Some nations even went to say that private sector needs to be the driving force behind the transition. While developments in private sector do anticipate policy, their success is often dependent on a fertile policy environment.
As such, Brazil strongly cautioned against too strong a reliance on the private sector.
Even Australia was able to recognize the need to motivate businesses.
There are two channels that governments can exploit to provide these policy signals.
First, government needs to stimulate innovation. Innovation is key to a low-carbon future. OECD projections of population growth indicate that population will increase from 7 billion people (2010) to more than 9 billion people (2050). With this, global GDP will nearly quadruple, requiring 80% more energy. To sustain this growth, energy must be mostly generated in a carbon neutral or low carbon manner.
At COP20, countries were asked to support all low-carbon technologies and not pick winners. Even so, each country demonstrated its aversions to specific technologies, notably nuclear and carbon capture and storage (CCS).The main way to incentivize innovation in low-carbon technologies is to put a price on carbon.
Carbon pricing is one of the strongest signals that governments can send to say they are serious about low-carbon. Not only does this provide a way – if effectively implemented – of progressively moving away from fossil fuel energy, it also provides financial benefits. Lobbying and sideline action abounded with pressure to develop carbon pricing mechanisms. Like the drop of water on stone, this is making an impact nation by nation. However, no concrete progress came forth from COP20 on this, even though important signals came from the UN Summit in New York last September and much more will emerge in 2015 in preparation to COP 21.
Second, governments need to look to how and when they invest in low-carbon solutions. No public sector actors are yet fully successful in setting regulation, incentives, co-investment, risk-sharing instruments or other policy measures. Most developed countries firmly opposed internationally accountable commitments to climate finance.
Switzerland notably refused legally binding aims. Part of the unanimous aversion to strong investment is the fear that policies would require prolonged public sector support for low-carbon technologies. This assumption ignores the fact that government only needs to promote low-carbon innovation for a limited time. Just long enough to kick-start the low-carbon pathway. Once the technology is rolling along this path, the economy will be locked-in to low-carbon and there is no need for further regulatory intervention.
Another investment deterrent is the presumed high-cost, low-return nature of low-carbon energy. However, the higher upfront costs in low-carbon technologies are offset by avoiding the operating and financing costs that characterize fossil fuel energy. And by the increasing benefits of reducing GHG emissions and therefore the concrete, very costly, negative impacts of climate change on our economies.
The Lima Legacy:
COP20 concluded with a document that called for an “ambitious agreement” in 2015 that considers the “differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” of each nation. This common-but-differentiated-responsibilities approach has characterized climate change talks since 1992. It reflects the strong divide and attribution of responsibility that still exists between poor and rich nations. Meek language asking countries merely to go beyond their “current undertaking” on climate action does not instill you with confidence that any of the INDCs that will be announced over the first quarter of 2015 will be sufficient to keep the globe within the 2°C limit.
Perhaps, there is hope in the fact that some of the desired measures indicated above can be developed without the need for international agreements.
Even so, at the moment, none of these issues that will really make a difference in the effective deployment and use of climate finance have been seriously addressed by COP 20.
Much of this is unsurprising. Asking 194 countries to find consensus on the many issues implicated in climate change – not only climate finance – is, as UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres puts it, “very, very challenging”. Therefore, the resulting “range of key decisions agreed and action-agendas launched, including how to better scale up and finance adaptation” should be welcomed. However, as ever, we cannot let complacency take root and must maximize the pressure for the forthcoming INDCs to be meaningful and verifiable commitments.
Almost two days later than scheduled, the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP20) in Lima, Peru, closed on Sunday, December 14th adopting a set of 32 documents aimed at progressing towards the definition of the new deal to be agreed at the COP21 in Paris next year.
Central element of the Lima deal are the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) which include in one term both developed and developing countries’ plans to fight climate change from 2020 on. All Parties are, indeed, invited to communicate them to the UNFCCC well in advance of the COP21 (the not mandatory deadline remains March 31, 2015). In addition, Lima made progress in elaborating the elements for a draft negotiating text that has been included as an Annex to the document and that would be the base for the future negotiating draft text to be released by May 2015.
Major outcomes of the deal can be summarized as follows:
– common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances: developed and developing countries have both to act to cut their carbon emissions but considering their different financial and infrastructural capacities;
– Greenhouses gas plans: the document reiterates its invitation to all Parties to communicate their intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) by the end of March 2015 in order to facilitate clarity, transparency and understanding. The information provided may include quantifiable information such as time frames and / or periods for implementation, scope and coverage, planning processes, assumptions and methodological approaches including those for estimating and accounting for anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.?INDCs will be published on the UNFCCC website by the UN climate change secretariat which will prepare by 1 November 2015 a synthesis report on the overall climate effect of the INDCs communicated by Parties;
– Loss and Damage: a “loss and damage” mechanism was established to protect developing countries particularly vulnerable to the adverse effect of climate change in order to receive economic compensations;
– Climate finance: the document urges developed countries to provide and mobilize enhanced financial support to developing countries for ambitious mitigation and adaptation actions. Donations to a Green Climate Fund, launched to help poor countries cut their GHG emissions and adapt to climate change, have already surpassed the $10bn.
For more information:
The full text of the deal
The summary of key outcomes provided by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
The infographics realized by the Italian Climate Network, a synthesis of the Parties’ different positions
Adaptation Climate Change Impacts Climate Change Risks Climate Projections Energy Efficiency ETS – Emission trading scheme Extreme events Forestry management GHG – Greenhouse gases Hydrogeological Risk International negotiations IPCC Land use Mediterranean Area
Mitigation National policies Public opinion Rio+20 Sustainable development UN Climate Change Conference – COP
COP20, a positive step forward or a skirmish before the real battle?
A different view on Lima COP 20
From Lima to Paris 2015: challenges on the road to 2°C
Climate talks: what was agreed in Lima
Safe navigation in the Mediterranean sea
From the IISD Reporting Services that help the UN manage its information flow to Conference participants.
Lima Climate Change Conference – December 2014
The Lima Climate Change Conference convened from 1-14 December 2014, in Lima, Peru. It included the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 20) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 10th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 10). Three subsidiary bodies (SBs) also met: the 41st sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 41) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 41), and the seventh part of the second session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP 2-7).
The Lima Climate Change Conference brought together over 11,000 participants, including approximately 6,300 government officials, 4,000 representatives from UN bodies and agencies, intergovernmental organizations and civil society organizations, and 900 members of the media.
Negotiations in Lima focused on outcomes under the ADP necessary to advance towards an agreement in Paris at COP 21 in 2015, including elaboration of the information, and process, required for submission of intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) as early as possible in 2015 and progress on elements of a draft negotiating text. Following lengthy negotiations on a draft decision for advancing the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, COP 20 adopted the ‘Lima Call for Climate Action,’ which sets in motion the negotiations in the coming year towards a 2015 agreement, the process for submitting and reviewing INDCs, and enhancing pre-2020 ambition.
Parties also adopted 19 decisions, 17 under the COP and two under the CMP that, inter alia: help operationalize the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage; establish the Lima work programme on gender; and adopt the Lima Declaration on Education and Awareness Raising. The Lima Climate Change Conference was able to lay the groundwork for Paris next year, by capturing progress made in elaborating the elements of a draft negotiating text for the 2015 agreement and adopting a decision on INDCs, including their scope, upfront information, and steps to be taken by the Secretariat after their submission.
The Summary and Analysis of this meeting is now available in PDF format
A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF THE LIMA CLIMATE CONFERENCE
“Brick by brick my citizens, brick by brick.”
Arriving in Peru, delegates were welcomed by a decidedly positive spirit. As COP 20/CMP 10 President Manuel Pulgar-Vidal observed in his opening speech, prior to the Lima Conference, the world had received a number of “good signals” from the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit, the initial resource mobilization of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), “historic” announcements by several major greenhouse gas emitting countries, including the EU, the US and China, as well as momentum generated from the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report. This spirit of “unprecedented optimism and achievement,” as described by UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, was expected to help advance work on a number of key deliverables intended to provide what ADP Co-Chair Kishan Kumarsingh referred to as a “solid foundation” upon which to build a new agreement to be adopted in Paris.
In October, in an address to the ADP, Pulgar-Vidal indicated the outcomes he expected in Lima, including: a clear, structured and substantive text on the elements of the new agreement; defining the information to be submitted in 2015 as part of parties’ intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs); and a concrete plan for the pre-2020 period, including actions to ensure compliance with existing obligations, and the implementation of policy options with the greatest mitigation potential. He also emphasized the importance of confidence and trust in the process, as well as among parties. As many have learned from previous climate change meetings, no foundation for the future can be built without confidence and trust.
This brief analysis will assess to what extent these outcomes expected from Lima have been delivered, the implications of the ‘Lima Call for Climate Action’ for the negotiations towards the new climate agreement, and whether the Lima Conference succeeded in laying a solid foundation for constructing an ambitious global climate agreement in Paris, under which each country is able to find a “room.”
A fervent facilitator and an invisible enabler, the Peruvian Presidency spared no effort in ensuring that time during the Lima Conference was managed effectively. With most formal negotiating sessions scarcely going over the 6:00 pm mark and the Subsidiary Bodies concluding their work unprecedentedly early, delegates were able to roll up their sleeves and get down to work on the building blocks for the new agreement, the draft decision text on INDCs, and enhanced pre-2020 climate action.
Over six days, parties exchanged views on the Co-Chairs’ non-paper containing the elements for a draft negotiating text and made various proposals, which were all reflected in a revised document published on the UNFCCC website early in the morning on Monday, 8 December, by which time the text had swollen from 23 to 33 pages. Some worried that a proliferation of options, while indicating that the negotiating process is clearly party-driven, did not add to the draft negotiating text’s clarity and structure, and could complicate future work.
In the end, delegates agreed to annex this text to the COP decision on further advancing the Durban Platform with a disclaimer contained in a footnote stating that the elements for a draft negotiating text reflect “work in progress” and “neither indicate convergence on the proposals presented, nor do they preclude new proposals from emerging in the course of negotiations in 2015.” This disclaimer addressed concerns raised by many developing countries that annexing the elements text to the COP decision might preempt the legal form, structure or content of the Paris agreement and were therefore against “formalizing” any language that could potentially exclude some options from consideration in 2015, while locking in others. Limited substantive progress on the elements will no doubt put pressure on ADP negotiators meeting in Geneva in February 2015, which is expected to deliver a draft negotiating text for parties’ consideration later in the year.
MOVING WALLS IN A “DIVIDED” HOUSE
Discussions on elements for a draft negotiating text and on the draft decision advancing the Durban Platform were both underpinned by a number of broad political issues. These included differentiation, the role of the Convention and its principles and provisions in the future agreement, and the issue of legal parity between mitigation and adaptation, on the one hand, and mitigation and financial and other means of support, on the other. Many delegates pointed out that on those issues the ADP had a distinctly “divided house”?to the point that some felt trust among parties dissipating.
The question of how differentiation will be reflected in the Paris agreement permeated the ADP negotiations. For example, most developing countries, in particular the LMDCs, maintained that there should be differentiation, both in the 2015 agreement and the INDCs, in accordance with parties’ obligations under the Convention, and reflecting the principles of CBDR and equity. On the other side, the US advocated differentiation in accordance with CBDR and respective capabilities in line with varying national circumstances. The LMDCs also strongly opposed the formulation “parties in a position to do so” in relation to providing support to developing countries for the preparation and implementation of their INDCs, and to providing additional resources to the GCF, the GEF, the Technology Mechanism and the Adaptation Fund, arguing that such language disrupted Convention-based bifurcation, effectively dismantling the wall between Annex I and non-Annex I parties.
A related issue, namely that of legal parity between different components of the 2015 agreement, was also the subject of heated debate. Developing countries repeatedly cautioned against a “mitigation-centric” approach to INDCs, and urged for a balanced reflection of adaptation and means of implementation, with provision of finance taking the center stage. Of particular importance to AOSIS and the LDCs was that loss and damage be reflected as a separate element of the future agreement not only in the elements text, but also in the decision on the ADP.
Parties’ inability to reach consensus led to the adoption of a three-pronged approach, including continued negotiations under the ADP, ministerial consultations, and consultations by the COP President. After the Presidency’s consultations with negotiating groups that continued late into Saturday night?many hours after the Conference was supposed to conclude at 6:00 pm on Friday, the ‘Lima Call for Climate Action’ was concluded. This outcome document, arguably, shifts the wall of differentiation. Although the work of the ADP “shall be under the Convention and guided by its principles” and the new agreement “shall address in a balanced manner” not only mitigation, but also adaptation, finance, technology development and transfer, capacity building, and transparency of action and support, the ADP’s commitment to reaching an ambitious agreement in 2015 is nevertheless described as reflecting CBDR and respective capabilities “in light of different national circumstances.” This formulation appears to open the door to a subjective interpretation of differentiation. Some also wondered if it modifies the interpretation of CBDR as reflecting historical responsibility, even if it avoids using the controversial terms “dynamic” or “evolving.” On the issue of parity, however, the final text provides some assurances to developing countries by giving adaptation a more prominent role in the future agreement and parties’ INDCs, as well as, and in relation to, provision of support.
The Lima Call for Climate Action also refers to the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage in the preamble. Following the adoption of the decision by the COP, Tuvalu, for the LDCs, made a statement requesting that it be recorded in the report of the meeting. He stressed that the preambular text on the Warsaw International Mechanism, in conjunction with “inter alia” in the operative paragraph listing INDCs components, is, in the LDCs’ understanding, a “clear intention” that the new agreement will “properly, effectively and progressively” address loss and damage. While legally redundant, such declarations reaffirm parties’ positions and interpretations of agreed text, maintaining their relevance and visibility.
During the negotiations, an additional concern expressed by developing countries, similar to the one raised in relation to the elements text, was that a COP 20 decision on advancing the Durban Platform could be prejudicial to the outcome in Paris. In this regard, the Lima Call for Climate Action explicitly states that the INDCs-related arrangements specified in it “are without prejudice to the legal nature and content” of parties’ INDCs, or to the content of the future agreement.
TEARING DOWN THE WALL?
COP 20 was generally expected to help strengthen INDCs as a core component of the new agreement by clarifying their scope and specifying information required to facilitate their clarity, transparency and understanding. However, parties were also divided on their expectations for the text on INDCs, relating to information-related requirements, scope and communication. While the Lima Conference fulfilled these expectations to some extent, many parties and observers felt the decision has important shortcomings.
The Lima Call for Climate Action succeeds in delivering on a mandate from Warsaw to identify the “information that parties will provide when putting forward their contributions,” by referring to quantifiable information, time frames, coverage, methodological assumptions, and a subjective evaluation of fairness and ambitiousness. However, by stating that INDCs “may include, as appropriate, inter alia,” these various aspects, the text fails to set a minimum level of common types of information to be communicated by all parties, thus significantly weakening the prospects of comparability across, and a meaningful aggregation of, contributions.
A major area of divergence of views related to the scope of INDCs. This debate centered on the interpretation of the Warsaw decision, which states that INDCs should be aimed “at achieving the objective of the Convention as set out in its Article 2.” Developed countries interpreted this as referring to mitigation being the only component of INDCs, while developing countries insisted on the need to include adaptation and means of implementation as well, with developing countries providing information on their means of implementation needs and developed countries providing information on their financial contributions, as a precondition of enhanced action by developing countries. As a compromise between these two views, the Lima Call for Climate Action invites parties to “consider including” an adaptation component in their INDCs, which reflects broad agreement that adaptation action requires strengthening alongside mitigation. Parties were also able to agree on recognizing the special circumstances of LDCs and SIDS by allowing them to present “strategies, plans and actions” for low-emission development. Meanwhile, all other countries are implicitly expected to do something more. This latter aspect is yet another example of built-in flexibility, which translates into a lack of a clear requirement for parties to prepare a strong, quantitative mitigation component in their INDCs. Furthermore, in relation to the scope of INDCs, parties were unable to agree on any language on finance or other means of implementation, which left developing countries disappointed. Issues related to finance, therefore, remain a fundamental area for further trust building in 2015.
Another issue on which parties disagreed was how INDCs would be communicated and what their possible ex ante consideration or review might look like. Many developing countries insisted that Lima should only focus on the process of communication. Some delegations, including the US, preferred a “consultative” process or period. Others, such as the EU and AOSIS, demanded a strong review that would assess the aggregate effect of INDCs against the latest climate science and what is deemed necessary to avoid dangerous climate change. Considered by some the weakest link of the Lima outcome, the decision text simply requests that the Secretariat publish the communicated INDCs on the UNFCCC website and prepare, by 1 November 2015, a synthesis report on their aggregate effect. This translates into an absence of any kind of ex ante review of individual contributions in 2015. Further, it also leaves parties with less than a month for possible upward adjustment prior to COP 21 in Paris in December 2015. Resulting from strong opposition by some, such as the LMDCs, to a review of their INDCs, this outcome left many disappointed. Some disenchanted observers, however, felt that, irrespective of its content, the decision would not have strong implications for global climate action, suggesting that the major factors driving the level of ambition of national contributions are in any event external to the UNFCCC process.
RAISING THE CEILING
With regard to enhancing pre-2020 ambition (ADP workstream 2), the technical expert meetings (TEMs) emerged as an area where countries could find a common cause. Relating to the key question of how to carry work forward under workstream 2 beyond Paris, there was broad agreement that the TEMs, which have created a technical and less political space for discussions around scaling up implementation and which allow for “bringing down the brick wall of the UNFCCC” by engaging non-state actors, would be the proper vehicle. The Lima outcome sets out a clear process for building on the TEMs’ experience by providing guidance on their purpose, organization and follow-up, and seeking to further engage key institutions and mechanisms under the Convention. Views still diverged, however, on how to ensure the implementation of the Bali Action Plan, in particular with regard to the provision of means of implementation to developing countries, and enhancing mitigation efforts by all parties under the Convention. As a result, the final text does not include a proposed ‘Accelerated Implementation Mechanism’ to assess progress made in these areas?an idea originating in the conviction of developing countries that developed countries’ leadership pre-2020, which currently remains insufficient, will be essential for both addressing climate change and ensuring a successful 2015 agreement.
Discussions under the COP on long-term finance, which developing countries wanted to result in further assurances?such as quantitative milestones?on scaling up of climate finance by developed countries to US$100 billion annually by 2020, and beyond, were also disappointing to developing countries. Yet, an undeniable success was the initial resource mobilization of the GCF, which reached its target of US$10 billion, collecting a total of US$10.2 billion in pledges by the end of the Lima Conference from both Annex I and non-Annex I countries. While developed countries considered it a show of commitment and something they should be recognized for, developing countries felt GCF capitalization, together with the first biennial ministerial dialogue on climate finance organized during the second week as well as biennial submissions by developed countries on scaling up climate finance, were still insufficient. Some suggested that before celebrating the GCF pledges, they would first need to see how and whether they would translate into resources for the Fund.
The first session of the multilateral assessment of developed countries’ mitigation targets, organized as part of SBI 41, reflected a similar divergence in views. Annex I countries celebrated the event for “going beyond simple reporting,” and increasing transparency and building trust, while some developing countries felt the process required further strengthening in the form of a clear “follow-up,” such as substantive conclusions for the SBI’s consideration. Notwithstanding these differences and given the positive “Lima Spirit” characterized by an open exchange of views and transparency that persisted throughout the conference, these developments may have succeeded in “raising the ceiling” of pre-2020 ambition, and thus rebuilding some of the confidence and trust for the tough year ahead.
Many expected that momentum created by the political events of the previous months would contribute to an atmosphere of trust in Lima. These events included the GCF initial capitalization, the EU’s announcement of its 2030 mitigation target and, in particular, the bilateral announcements by the US and China, on their respective mitigation targets for 2025 and 2030, as well as by the US and India, on expanded cooperation on climate change, including on phasing down HFCs. However, it soon became evident that too little time had passed for these external political events and high-level signals of change to translate into cardinal shifts in negotiating positions. Yet, some found discernible indications of a more immediate impact. For example, how CBDR and respective capabilities are defined in the Lima Call for Climate Action decision “in light of different national circumstances,” is a near-verbatim citation from the November joint announcement by the US and China. It remains to be seen if the ADP session in February will see further shifts in negotiating positions when parties have had the time to reflect on these events.
In spite of parties arriving in Peru with different expectations and widely diverging views, at the end most felt that, in the words of the South African Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa, the Lima Conference managed to strike a “delicate balance between very difficult issues” and laid “a solid foundation” for work towards Paris.
But did it really? The two key outcomes from Lima, the decision on Advancing the Durban Platform and its annex containing elements for a draft negotiating text, may have served to move the process forward and create a shared feeling of achievement and confidence in the process. However, given that key political issues, including differentiation and finance, remain unresolved, many parties are unwilling to declare the Lima outcome an absolute success.
The year of 2015 will be one that defines the true significance of the Lima Climate Conference. Many wonder if the positive “Lima Spirit” can continue in the run-up to Paris. But perhaps more importantly, the question may be if the Lima outcome can enable the construction in Paris of a “house” where all parties can coexist, while keeping in mind that in this process there is one party that does not negotiate?nature.
This analysis, taken from the summary issue of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © enb at iisd.org, is written and edited by Beate Antonich, Rishikesh Bhandry, Elena Kosolapova, Ph.D., Mari Luomi, Ph.D., Anna Schulz, and Mihaela Secrieru. The Digital Editor is Kiara Worth. The Editor is Pamela Chasek, Ph.D. <firstname.lastname@example.org>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <email@example.com>. The Sustaining Donors of the Bulletin are the European Commission (DG-ENV and DG-CLIMATE), the Government of Switzerland (the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) and the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC)), and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. General Support for the Bulletin during 2014 is provided by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, SWAN International, the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Japanese Ministry of Environment (through the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies – IGES), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Specific funding for coverage of this session has been provided by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the EC (DG-CLIMA). Funding for translation of the Bulletin into French has been provided by the Government of France, the Wallonia, Québec, and the International Organization of La Francophonie/Institute for Sustainable Development of La Francophonie (IOF/IFDD). The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD or other donors. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in non-commercial publications with appropriate academic citation. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at
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At Snails’ Pace on the Road to Paris
This year’s annual United Nations Climate Change Conference took place from 1 to 12 December in Lima/Peru. While in the run-up to the conference, China and the US in a surprise bilateral move had announced plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions that exceeded expectations, the conference was characterised once again by a deep division between key players from the former so-called “developed” and “developing” world. The negotiations thus took 32 hours longer than planned and ended on Sunday morning at 1.22 am.
More importantly, the conference failed almost completely to resolve the tasks it was supposed to do in order to prepare the last round of negotiations before next year’s conference in Paris 2015, which is supposed to deliver a comprehensive future climate agreement.
A team of researchers from the Wuppertal Institute attended the conference and has compiled their first assessment of the results, which you can download here:
Wuppertal Institut fuer Klima, Umwelt, Energie
For the link to the BBC reporting from Lima – including all the added material – please see – “Deal reached at UN climate talks.” www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-enviro…
Peru’s environment minister, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, who chaired the summit, told reporters: “As a text it’s not perfect, but it includes the positions of the parties.”
Miguel Arias Canete, EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, said the EU had wanted a more ambitious outcome but he still believed that “we are on track to agree a global deal” at a summit in Paris, France, next year.
“We’ve got what we wanted,” Indian environment minister Prakash Javedekar told reporters, saying the document preserved the notion that richer nations had to lead the way in making cuts in emissions.
It also restored a promise to poorer countries that a “loss and damage” scheme would be established to help them cope with the financial implications of rising temperatures.
However, it weakened language on national pledges, saying countries “may” instead of “shall” include quantifiable information showing how they intend to meet their emissions targets.
The agreed document calls for:
– An “ambitious agreement” in 2015 that reflects “differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” of each nation
– Developed countries to provide financial support to “vulnerable” developing nations
– National pledges to be submitted by the first quarter of 2015 by those states “ready to do so”
– Countries to set targets that go beyond their “current undertaking”
– The UN climate change body to report back on the national pledges in November 2015
None of the 194 countries attending the talks walked away with everything they wanted, but everybody got something.
As well as pledges and finance, the agreement points towards a new classification of nations. Rather than just being divided into rich and poor, the text attempts to reflects the more complex world of today, where the bulk of emissions originate in developing countries.
While progress in Lima was limited, and many decisions were simply postponed, the fact that 194 nations assented to this document means there is still momentum for a deal in Paris.
THE OBAMA SHAKE-DOWN of CLIMATE CHANGE: Lima is becoming a steping-stone towards a Paris 2015 global system to answer the Climate Change man-induced phenomenon. This thanks to President Obama’s insistence on a list of self-imposed obligations by Administrations that are not demanding a Parliamentary, or in the case of the US – a Senate, blessing.
LIMA, Peru — Diplomats from 196 countries are closing in on the framework of a potentially historic deal that would for the first time commit every nation in the world to cutting its planet-warming fossil fuel emissions — but would still not be enough to stop the early impacts of global warming.
The draft, now circulating among negotiators at a global climate summit meeting here, represents a fundamental breakthrough in the impasse that has plagued the United Nations for two decades as it has tried to forge a new treaty to counter global warming.
But the key to the political success of the draft — and its main shortcoming, negotiators concede — is that it does not bind nations to a single, global benchmark for emissions reductions.
The idea is to reach a global deal to be signed by world leaders in Paris next year, incorporating 196 separate emissions pledges.
That is the point at which, scientists say, it will become impossible to avoid the dangerous and costly early effects of climate change — such as melting glaciers, rising sea levels, extreme drought, food shortages and more violent storms.
The Lima draft represents the input of all the negotiating countries, though there are still several major hurdles to work out. But even then, experts say, at best the new deal might be enough only to curb global warming by about half as much as scientists say is necessary.
Until recently, the United States and China, the world’s two largest greenhouse gas polluters, have been at the center of the impasse over a climate deal.
Until this year, the United States had never arrived at the United Nations’ annual climate negotiations with a domestic policy to cut its own carbon emissions. Instead, it merely demanded that other nations cut their use of coal and gasoline, while promising that it would do so in the future.
China, meanwhile, was the lead voice among nations demanding that developing economies should not be required to commit to any cuts.
But in November, President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China announced plans to reduce emissions, helping inject new life into the global climate talks.
Negotiators here call the joint announcement between China and the United States the catalyst for the new draft, which, if approved at the climate summit meeting this week, would set the stage for a final deal to be signed by world leaders next year in Paris.
In the United Nations’ first effort to enact a climate change treaty, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the legally binding language of the agreement prescribed that the world’s largest economies make ambitious, specific emissions cuts — but it exempted developing nations. The United States Senate refused to ratify the treaty, effectively leaving it a failure.
The Lima draft does not include Kyoto-style, top-down mandates that countries cut emissions by specific levels. Instead, it includes provisions requiring that all nations, rich and poor, commit to policies to mitigate their emissions. Countries that sign on to the deal will commit to announcing, by March, detailed, hard-numbers plans laying out how they will cut emissions after 2020.
The draft that emerges this week “will look like a game of Mad Libs,” said one negotiator who was not authorized to speak publicly. Over the coming months, as countries put forth their emissions reduction pledges, the details of the final deal will be filled in.
It is expected that many countries will miss that March deadline. Officials from India and other countries have said that they are unlikely to present a plan before June.
In order to ensure that all countries are included in the deal, late announcers will get a pass. The point, United Nations officials say, is to ensure that the information exists to finalize a Paris deal by December 2015.
Negotiators concede that the “each according to their abilities” approach is less than perfect — but that it represents what is achievable.
“The reality of it is that nobody was able to come up with a different way of going about it that would actually get countries to participate and be in the agreement,” said Todd D. Stern, the lead American climate change negotiator. “You could write a paper, in theory, assigning a certain amount of emissions cuts to every country. That would get the reduction you need. But you wouldn’t get an agreement. We live in the real world. It’s not going to be perfect.”
And there are still many hurdles ahead.
“Australia is left without any viable policy to cut emissions,” said Senator Christine Milne, the leader of the Australian opposition Green Party. “It’s going to drag its heels.”
Money, as always, is a sticking point.
The increasing likelihood that the planet’s atmosphere will warm past the 3.6 degree threshold, with or without a deal in Paris, is driving demands by vulnerable nations — particularly island states and African countries — that the industrialized world open up its wallet to pay for the damage incurred by its fossil fuel consumption. Under the terms of a 2009 climate change accord reached in Copenhagen, rich countries have agreed to mobilize $100 billion annually by 2020 to help poor countries adapt to the ravages of climate change. But a report this month by the United Nations Environmental Program estimates that the cost to poor countries of adapting to climate change could rise to as high as $300 billion annually — and vulnerable countries are stepping up their demands that more money be included in any final deal. Many vulnerable and developing countries insist that each country’s national pledge include not just a plan to cut emissions, but also money for adaptation.
“The financing question will be one of the deepest divides,” said Jennifer Morgan, an expert in climate change negotiations with the World Resources Institute, a research organization.
Another element to be hashed out by negotiators will be devising an international number-crunching system to monitor, verify and compare countries’ pledged emissions cuts.
China has always balked at any outside monitoring of its major economic sectors, and is pushing back on proposals for rigorous outside scrutiny.
Hong Lei, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that his country “always supports increasing transparency” but that the new reporting system should reflect “the reality that developing countries’ basic capacities in areas like national statistics and assessment are still insufficient.” He added that “developed countries should provide appropriate support to developing countries.”
The United States has urged that a final deal not take the form of a legally binding treaty requiring Senate ratification, hoping to avoid a repeat of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol experience.
But many countries continue to press for a legally binding deal.
French officials have already given the yet-to-be-signed deal a working title: the “Paris Alliance.”
The name, they say, is meant to signify that many different economies are working together, rather than complying with a single, top-down mandate.
Edward Wong contributed reporting from Beijing.
Columbia University, Center for Climate Change Law
Posted on December 5th, 2014 by Jennifer Klein
Jennifer M. Klein, Esq., Associate Director & Fellow
During the past two days, negotiators have continued to work their way through draft text. When observing negotiations, it quickly becomes clear that the COP has its own distinct vernacular, with commonplace terms taking on new meaning. Here, we define a few of the most prevalent terms demonstrating key issues underlying the negotiations.
Adequacy – This term refers to the ability of any agreement to achieve the COP’s ultimate objective to stabilize atmospheric GHG levels so as to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Parties have repeatedly noted that for the 2015 agreement to be “adequate,” countries’ Intended Nationally Determined Contributions must reduce GHG emissions enough to stay within the global carbon budget. Dr. Pachauri emphasized during the opening session on Monday that, according to the IPCCC’s Fifth Assessment Report, we have already used 65% of this budget.
Ambition – This term refers to the collective will of the Parties to cut global GHG emissions enough to achieve adequacy. Throughout the Lima negotiations and side events, parties have worked to raise ambition for the 2015 agreement by highlighting the need to commit to deeper emissions cuts.
We find this specially interesting because we believe that in order to come up with a product that will be approved at the Paris Summit in 2015, the whole concept of a Diplomatic Agreement will eventually turn to be in effect an UMBRELLA agreement that incorporates unilateral and bi-lateral declarations of the UN Member States, rather then a Consensus Declaration that was unattainable during these wasted decades of conference hoping.
The IPCC said the report released on Sunday is based on 30,000 scientific papers studied by about 830 authors and 2,000 reviewers. A Founder of Weather Channel, John Coleman, is a lonely self declared skeptic of government and climate denier (CNN).
U.N. Secretary-General says time is running out for world leaders to lead
(CNN) — The cost of fighting climate change will only climb if industrialized nations don’t take steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the United Nations’ panel on the matter warned Sunday in its wrap-up report.
In its “synthesis report,” the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that the hundreds of authors involved in the study were even more certain than before that the planet is warming and humans are the cause.
“If left unchecked, climate change will increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems,” the report said.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters that action must come soon.
“Leaders must act. Time is not on our side,” he said.
The report said there are solutions to keeping the rise in temperatures from crossing a 2-degree Celsius increase, the goal of many governments.
“It is technically feasible to transition to a low-carbon economy,” said Youba Sokona, the co-chairman of IPCC Working Group III. “But what is lacking are appropriate policies and institutions. The longer we wait to take action, the more it will cost to adapt and mitigate climate change.”
Previously the group has said that about half of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere since the dawn of the industrial age has been produced since 1990. On the current path, global average temperatures could go up anywhere from 3.7 to 4.8 degrees C (6.7 to 8.6 F) over pre-industrial levels by 2100.
According to the IPCC, to stay below a 2-degree C increase, greenhouse gas emissions need to fall as much as 70% around the world by 2050 and to zero by 2100.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the report is “another canary in the coal mine” and added that “ambitious, decisive and immediate action” is needed.
“We have that opportunity, and the choice is in our hands,” R. K. Pachauri, chairman of the group, said in the report.
John Coleman, a weather forecaster and a founder of the Weather Channel, said climate change is “not happening.”
“There is no significant man-made global warming now. There hasn’t been any in the past, and there’s no reason to expect any in the future,” Coleman told CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”
Coleman said governments pay scientists to study the issue and researchers reach expected conclusions in order to continue to receive funding. Therefore the large percentage of climate scientists who agree there is climate change is a “manipulated figure,” he said.
“They don’t have any choice,” added Coleman, who said he is a skeptic, not a denier. “If you’re going to get the money, you have got to support their position.”
But David Kenny, CEO of the Weather Channel, said Coleman’s opinion is at odds with the channel’s stance, which he said has been “unwavering” since 2007. The Weather Channel’s statement says that the Earth is indeed warming and cites “strong evidence that the majority of the warming over the past century is a result of human activities.”
Weather Channel distances itself from a founder: “The science is really clear, and I don’t like our brand being associated with something that’s not scientifically based,” Kenny told “Reliable Sources,” adding that Coleman hasn’t been associated with the channel in decades.
The chief scientist at the United Kingdom’s Met Office said the IPCC report gives governments the science to help make policy decisions.
Julia Slingo added that supercomputing will also advance the science.
“By doing this we can provide a solid evidence base to ensure UK investment decisions, and our future prosperity, remain resilient to future climate risk,” she said in a written statement.
The report didn’t estimate a price for global changes.
“The Synthesis Report finds that mitigation cost estimates vary, but that global economic growth would not be strongly affected,” it said.
Ban said it is a myth that fixing climate change will be expensive. Inaction will have large financial and societal costs, he said.
He pointed to renewable energy and increased efficiency as two ways to address the issue.
The IPCC said the report is based on 30,000 scientific papers studied by about 830 authors and 2,000 reviewers.
The reports from the IPCC are aimed at guiding world leaders as the United Nations attempts to work out a new treaty to limit emissions.
Paris will host the next major international climate summit, scheduled to start November 30, 2015.
Previous rounds of talks have been strained by disputes between the biggest emitters — China, the United States and European countries — and poorer countries whose populations could see the worst impacts first.