Coaland and the Colossal Fossil

A true consensus government, the COP leaves the most progressive at the mercy of the most obstinate. In this system, science deniers and climate activists battle it out, yielding ground, gaining concessions, and, often, feeling like they’ve gotten nowhere. As the world burns and our chances to halt the irreversible slip through our fingers, every small victory reminds us that winning slowly is still losing. So what do you do when a coal-loving country holds the gavel? Can observers only wring their hands as an understaffed Polish Presidency sets regressive agendas and embraces corporate polluters?

The answer, of course, is to mock them.

A hero of satire has emerged to hold the worst members of the COP accountable: Climate Action Network and their “Fossil of the Day” awards.

Each day of negotiations, CAN has chosen a deserving winner. Those who, through obstinacy, ignorance, or plain greed, continue to obstruct global climate action, all earn a place on the podium.

The list of daily finalists includes:

A Polish victory has been brewing all COP. President Andrzej Duda opened his remarks by stating: “There is no plan to fully give up on coal. Experts point out that our supplies run for another 200 years, and it would be hard not to use them.” They’ve followed this up by cozying up to large polluters, filling the venue with single-use plastics, and holding events advertising “clean coal.”

However, most disturbing has been Poland’s battle against climate activism at the COP. At least twelve members of civil society groups and one COP Party delegate were turned away at the Polish border, including CAN Europe’s Zanna Vanrenterghem.

These activities appear to be the product of a new law banning unplanned protesters from Katowice, the COP venue. This barrier to a free and involved public directly belies Poland’s professed commitment “to providing access to information, access to participation, and remedy on environmental matters.” This has had a chilling effect on participants. Coupled with an unambitious conference agenda, the activities of the Polish government have cast a pall over the proceedings that match the one in the air.


What’s cooking in the COP24 kitchen?

IMG_2287The Polish Presidency addressed observers this evening about what remains to be negotiated on the Paris Agreement Implementation Guidelines before their impending deadline.  As the second week of COP24 comes to a close, tensions are high as the remaining items to be hashed out by high level Ministers run late into the evenings. This comes as no surprise, given the existential crises certain Parties are facing as a result of our changing climate.  In the words of the Presidency, “discussions continue to happen in silos, as they try to ‘cook’ a balanced text” that is fair in the eyes of all Parties.

The remaining items to be negotiated include: Financial matters; Modalities, procedures and guidelines under the Paris Agreement (PA); Adaptation; Cooperative instruments under Article 6; Matters relating to technology; Response measures; NDC registries; and the Talanoa Dialogue and IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C.  This is no small feat, given the mounting social, environmental, and economic pressures. A few prominent observer groups felt strongly about these items, and when invited by the Chair of the session did not hesitate to voice their opinions and confront the Presidency about their concerns.

IMG_2281The Environmental Non-Governmental Organization (ENGO) felt that responses in NDCs to the IPCC report remained inadequate, and feared that trading and compromise would not end favorably for “non-PAWP” related items.  The Women and Gender group echoed these concerns, stressing most about the preamble of the pending 1/CP.24, because anything that does not reflect these principles “would be a fraught to humanity.”  The Indigenous Peoples Organization responded to the Presidency by admiring the fact that while the COP is trying to “cook a balanced package,” they are concerned about human rights issues, and the IPCC 1.5 Report.  YOUNGO called attention to the lacking mandate around enhancement of NDCs, and fears that the Talanoa Dialogue will not be preserved in the final process.  Trade Union-NGO (TUNGO) group wanted clear recognition of the IPCC report as well, because “this is why we are here.” The IPCC report is the “why” and the “how” to address our climatic conundrum.

The Presidency responded to everyone’s concerns by reiterating what was said in the plenary earlier that day, and what he outlined in his introduction to this session.  He directed observers to the Talanoa Call for Action that called for a rapid mobilization of a variety of social actors to respond to the climate goals agreed upon in the PA, and expects most of these issues to be preserved in the final text as well.  While the Presidency hoped to console observer’s concerns, we all still wait in anticipation to see what the head chefs in the Convention kitchen have cooked up for the finale of COP24.


IPCC special report leaves the world in dire straits

In response to an invitation from the Parties of the Paris Agreement (PA), and pursuant to the Article 2 efforts to limit temperature increases well below 2°C, the IPCC prepared a Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C (SR15), released Monday, 8 October, 2018.

Climate scientists sounded the alarm yet again, painting a dire picture of the future without immediate and drastic mitigation and adaptation measures worldwide.  High confidence statements made by the panel include:

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  • Human activities have caused approximately 1°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels
  • Current global warming trends reach at least 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052
  • Staying below the 1.5°C threshold will require a 45% reduction in GHG emissions from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching net-zero by 2050
  • Pathways to 1.5°C with limited or no overshoot will require removal of an additional 100-1000 GtCO2

Pathways of current nationally stated mitigation ambitions submitted under the PA will not limit global warming to 1.5°C.  Current pathways put us on target for 3°C by 2100, with continued warming afterwards.

The ENB Report summarizing SR15 was able to shine a light on the good that can come from responses to this special report (not to mention upholding the ambition intended with the PA).  SR15 shows that most of the 1.5°C pathways to avoid overshoot also help to achieve Sustainable Development Goals in critical areas like human health or energy access. Ambitious emission reductions can also prevent meeting critical ecosystem thresholds, such as the projected loss of 70-90% of warmer water coral reefs associated with 2°C.

Groups like the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) are intensifying their adaptive scientific support through a “fully-integrated, ‘seamless’ Earth-system approach to weather, climate, and water domains,” says Professor Pavel Kabat, Chief Scientist of the WMO.  This “seamless” approach allows leading climate scientists to use their advanced data assimilation and observation capabilities to deliver knowledge in support of human adaptations to regional environmental changes.  By addressing extreme climate and weather events through a holistic Earth-system approach, predictive tools will help enhance early warning systems and promote well being by giving the global community a greater chance to adapt to the inevitable hazardous events related to climate change.

WRI Graph

Success ultimately depends on international cooperation, which will hopefully be encouraged by the IPCC’s grim report and the looming PA Global Stocktake (GST) in 2023.  In the wake of devastating hurricanes, typhoons, and the SR15, it’s hard to ignore both the climate and leading climate scientists urging us to take deliberate, collective action to help create a more equitable and livable future for all of Earth’s inhabitants.

In Decision 1/CP.21, paragraph 20 decides to convene a “facilitative dialogue” among the Parties in 2018, to take stock in relation to progress towards the long-term goal referred to in Article 4 of the PA.  Later renamed the Talanoa Dialogue, these talks have set preparations into motion and are helping Parties gear up for the formal GST, with the aim of answering three key questions: Where are we? Where do we want to go? How will we get there?

Discussion about the implications of SR15 will be held at COP24, where round table discussions in the political phase of the dialogue will address the question, “how do we get there?”

It won’t be by continuing business as usual.

 


Engagement of Nonparty Stakeholders at COP23

Bula.zone_COP22 in Morocco was the first COP to stress public participation of non-party stakeholders. This built off of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which emphasizes the inclusion of civil society. At COP23 this year, Fiji wants to continue this new practice of including civil society in climate change discussions with a first-ever dialogue between the Parties and nonparties — the Talanoa Open Dialogue. In a COP23 side event titled Yardsticks for Success, speaker Jenny Jiva from the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network highlighted the importance of multi-stakeholder governance in climate action. This sentiment was affirmed by Fiji Ambassador Deo Saran who emphasized the need for inclusivity in the COP, especially concerning marginalized voices and indigenous peoples. The event also highlighted the need to engage people in climate action; not only do people need to be able to see how the COP affects mitigation and adaptation efforts on the ground, but people should feel they have an effect on how climate action occurs. This emphasis on inclusivity should manifest in the Talanoa Open Dialogue on November 8, 2017, which is an open dialogue where Parties are encouraged to share stories and build trust. The inclusion of civil society in this event is indicative of the inclusive environment the Fiji Presidency is aiming to create.


Loss and damage at SB44 – Whither the WIM?

101803802-495496305.530x298While, as we posted last week, loss and damage (L&D) was not on the agendas of the Subsidiary Bodies or the APA at the UNFCCC intersessional meetings held in Bonn, May 16-26, some attention was paid to this important issue.

Four side events covered varying aspects of L&D policy and action, both inside and outside the UNFCCC. These included climate migration, climate litigation, non-economic losses (we posted on this last week), and existing disaster risk management tools. (Links to event presentations can be found at the SB44/APA1 side event site.)

In addition, the Presidencies of COP21 and COP22 held a meeting for observer delegations to provide input on Article 8.4Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 5.11.27 PM of the Paris Agreement and action areas of the 2-year workplan of the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) Executive Committee (Excom). (As we reported earlier, the workplan is scheduled to be completed for review at COP22.) Among those presenting were: the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Climate Action Network (CAN) International, the Munich Climate Insurance Initiative, a range of NGO constituency groups, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the International Indigenous Peoples’ Forum.

Dr. Saleemul Huq, Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) in Bangladesh, and one of the (Least Developed Countries) LDCs’ top advisors,Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 5.13.02 PM suggested that the purpose of this event was “to gauge the level of interest amongst parties and observers.” Given the throng of attendees and the passion with which many statements were delivered, it is clear that interest and engagement levels are high.

And, there is good reason – this is a highly political subject. According to presenters at the side events, developing countries are increasingly experiencing much worse L&D and sooner than expected from drought, heat waves, major storms, sea level rise, and salt-water intrusion. Climate-induced migration is gaining wider acknowledgement and attention. At the same time, L&D has essentially achieved recognition as a separate pillar of the climate regime through Article 8 of the Paris Agreement. Yet, the Paris decision included a clause preventing Article 8 from serving as “a basis for any liability or compensation;” on top of which, no specific reference to financing to address L&D is present in either the Agreement or the decision.

Concern is great, and the primary message is that the WIM should ramp up its engagement with the robust sphere of non-state actors and resources to both address current actual losses and damage and establish equitable, aggressive policies and strategies to avoid future L&D. Hotbeds of engagement exist for all of its current workplan action areas. (The 2-year workplan can be found here.) Dr. Huq considers migration and finance as “the two most critical,” and recommends fast-tracking those.

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 4.50.21 PMThe urgency is mounting ahead of COP22. Among the questions we’ll be following, as the Excom holds its final 2016 meeting in September, is whether the 20-person body will seek an extension or try to meet the review deadline. Among its tasks is to “[d]evelop a five-year rolling workplan for consideration at COP22 building on the results of this two-year workplan…”

Will the Excom fail to deliver? Will a delay lose the political momentum of COP22? Neither those suffering now, nor those at current risk can afford that.


Caught on the Front Lines of Climate Change

In an event hosted today by WOCAN (Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management), six inspiring women shared their stories of community, loss, and leadership. The panel was comprised of women from diverse and remote regions of the world, including a Native American of the Ponca Nation, a representative from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a Quechua-speaking native of the Ecuadorian Amazon, and several leaders of global non-profit organizations. All of these women came to COP21 with the same message: the voices of women and indigenous peoples are essential to effectively addressing climate change.

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Panelists at today’s event, Global Women & Indigenous Peoples on the Frontline of Climate Solutions: Forests & Renewable Energy

Each of the panelists shared shockingly similar stories of their lives and their communities, highlighting their plight against the effects of climate change. Most indigenous communities contribute very little to climate change, yet feel the effects far more profoundly than the rest of the world. Women also face disproportionate impacts from climate change, indicating that this group had tremendous insight to offer from both perspectives. They had faced the direct impacts of climate change and had established innovative methods of addressing the associated problems. In the case of the Ponca Nation and the Amazonian natives, both groups are actively opposing resource extraction in their sacred ancestral lands. Women in Colombia are reclaiming land for traditional agricultural practices after years of protests allowed them to begin saving seeds again. Women in the DRC are creating carbon negative local economies by planting trees. By organizing their communities and utilizing traditional and institutional knowledge, they are developing robust, local solutions to climate change.

Nevertheless, a Paris agreement may not address these groups’ needs or their suggestions. There are currently four binding sections of the agreement that reference gender equality or the rights of indigenous people, and two of those references are bracketed. This means that the rights of indigenous people and women may not be adequately addressed in two important parts of the agreement (purpose and finance). Hopefully, this panel discussion, along with the other events associated with Gender Day, will encourage the negotiators to avoid this absurd result.


Civil Society keeps the heat on for climate ambition

UNFCCC PlenaryScene COP21As countries seek to arrive at a mutually acceptable text for the Paris Outcome this week, there is a lot of focus on ambition to reduce emissions, and on financial support to help developing countries mitigate and adapt to climate change. In fact, these are among the key high-level political issues that must be resolved. It is hoped that tomorrow’s new draft text from minsters will bring some clarity on these issues.

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Civil society has been working hard to help move the needle in favor of stronger ambition and greater equity through action leading up to and at this COP.

 

As we reported earlier (here and here), among its contributions to the conversation is a recent report by a powerhouse group of NGOs in climate change work – Fair Shares: A Civil Society Equity Review of INDCs. INDCs are countries’ intended nationally determined contributions, statements of planned actions for mitigation (and, in some cases, adaptation) covering the next 10 or 15 years, that they voluntarily submitted prior to COP21, in keeping with COP Decision 1/CP.19 in 2013 and 1/CP.20 in 2014. (See our last week’s and previous posts related to INDCs)FairShars-CSO EquityReview of INDCs Rpt Cover

With negotiations on “level of ambition” in a seemingly precarious state, we thought it helpful to reiterate the stark reality of the shortcoming of the INDCs. These pledges represent wide-ranging levels of commitment that together, according to UNEP and others, won’t achieve the emissions reductions essential for a habitable planet. There is, in fact, a deeply alarming gap. The Fair Shares report is not alone in stating that, “even if all countries meet their INDC commitments, the world is likely to warm by a devastating 3°C or more.”

The report’s assessment is based on the maximum carbon we can have in the atmosphere to provide the world “a minimal chance of keeping warming below 1.5°C and a 66% chance of keeping it below 2°C.” Its INDC analysis utilizes 2 parameters: 1) historical responsibility (based on the cumulative emissions of a country); and 2) capacity (based on national income “over what is needed to provide basic living standards”) – with these given equal weight in the calculation. The methodology appropriately accounts for “a breadth of perspectives” related to income and time benchmark complexities.

CSO FairSharesRPT Fig9Key findings for the 10 countries covered in the report are that Russia is not contributing at all to its fair share, and that Japan, the U.S., and the EU are all falling short at levels of just 10%, 20%, and slightly more than 20% of their fair shares, respectively. Conversely, the mitigation pledges of most developing countries “exceed or broadly meet their fair share,” even though the pledges of many of those are conditional.

Enter climate finance! Notably, the “fair shares” of many of the wealthy countries are beyond what they can achieve domestically. To ‘balance the books,’ so to speak, developed countries could ramp up actions to meet their own fair share, and make clear commitments to aid developing countries in achieving theirs.

It will take scaled-up and fair cooperation among countries to address the inequitable distribution across countries’ emission reduction pledges and close the emissions reduction gap. It is uncertain if COP21 Parties will achieve this.

Thankfully, civil society is keeping the pressure on.


Celebrating Gender Day at COP21

Today is Gender Day at COP21. In celebration, the Women and Gender Constituency of the UNFCCC recognized the winners of the Gender Just Climate Solutions competition. These winners were celebrated for their great work combating climate change in a “gender-just” manner.

Photo Source: Island Eco

Photo Source: Island Eco

Island Eco from the Marshall Islands won the Technical Climate Solution Award for its work in training young women how to install solar photovoltaic DC refrigeration. Under this project, young rural women learn the electrical and mechanical skills needed to assemble, deliver, and install solar powered lights, refrigerators, and freezers in the Marshall Islands.

Next, the Non-Technical Climate Solution Award was presented to Gender CC – Women for Climate Justice for its efforts to raise awareness on gender integration in climate change adaptation and resiliency building activities in Southern Africa. Gender CC’s project connects women leaders, government officials, and NGOs to local women farmers in order to provide awareness training and capacity building skills concerning the installation of biogas digesters, PVC solar units, and water harvesting tanks.

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Photo Source: GenderCC

The final award was presented to Tulele Peisa of Papua New Guinea for its local relocation efforts, that are being led by the Carteret Islanders who face imminent extinction due to climate change impacts and increased numbers of extreme weather events on their home island. This project prepares and provides support to three communities on Bougainville in order to ensure there is adequate land, infrastructure, and economic opportunities for the Carteret Islanders when they choose to voluntarily relocate. The purpose of this project is to ensure that the Carteret culture and society continues to exist even after their home island becomes unlivable.

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Ursula Rakova was called upon by the Carteret Elders to lead Tulle Peisa. She accepted the award on behalf of Tulle Peisa. Photo Source: THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION/Thin Lei Win

Overall, the Gender Just Climate Solution awards highlighted amazing groups led by inspiring women who are all working to ensure that climate change decision making provides equal access for both women and men to effectively participate and address local concerns caused by the effects of a changing climate.


Influential strangers: a journey home from COP 21

UnknownAt an international meeting it only makes sense that the people you would end up meeting may be across the border from you! However, it is not necessarily expected that your new acquaintance would be across a state border. But the latter was just the case on my ride home this evening from COP21.

After three months of learning about the art of negotiation, my VLS colleagues, Bonnie Smith and Rachel Stevens, and I had had the opportunity to meet Thomas Fuitak, author, professor and founding member of Mediators without Borders International (MBBI) on our short bus ride from Le Bourget, the home of COP21, to the train station bearing the same name. Fuitak was an animated personality who at first asked questions related to our traveling trio’s experiences at COP21. However, after entertaining our questions and cautious prodding, he revealed his status as an author, mediator and relevant party of the Paris draft agreement (Agreement).

Our short-term companion was not a household name but one of the generally anonymous that is well known in his circle of expertise!

Changement-ISRI-Roue-dHudson-et-cercle-de-Fiutak-Photo-Fiutak

Professor and mediator, Dr. Thomas Fiutak founded the Conflict and Change Center at the University of Minnesota and is currently a Senior Fellow in the Technological Leadership Institute, and lecturer in Conservation Biology. Our engaged companion has trained mediators in the US, Canada, Europe, Asia and Africa and as is noted founding member of Mediators Beyond Borders International or MBBI. According to his University biography, his work with MBBI has taken him to Zimbabwe, Denmark, Germany, Mexico, Haiti, Thailand, and Panama. He presently leads the MBBI Climate Change team, which has Observer status within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. A past Executive Director of the International Association of Conflict Management and World Bank consultant, his first book Le Mediateur dans l’arene (The Mediator in the Arena) was published in France in 2009.

In his fifteen-minute companionship, Dr. Fiutak became an inspiration to us. His comments resonated with our threesome. He understood the insecurity of COP observation, the perspective of questioning the value of our naïve input and was quick to provide reassurance. His advice was that not everyone has the opportunity to observe or participate in a COP and therefore, we should personally acknowledge the value of our communications from just that simple a perspective. His commentary to us was amplified by his unpretentious comment on the potential insertion of language in the final Paris agreement that would provide ability for mediation to play a role in the continuous evaluation of the Paris Agreement. The latter is a significant incorporation for an anonymous bystander, who was a founding member of the voluntary organization of Mediators Beyond Borders International.


CAN International flashes climate movement’s teeth on Day 1

CAN International logo

 

CAN (Climate Action Network) International’s COP21 opening press conference this morning delivered strong words for the leaders and negotiators. (CAN International is a recognized “network of NGOs working on climate change from around the world.” Member groups well known in the U.S. include 350.org, Union of Concerned Scientists, World Resources Institute, and World Wildlife Fund.) Four organizations presented:

Keya Chatterjee of US CAN praised the climate movement’s hard work since COP15 in Copenhagen that has achieved today’s powerful level of engagement. She noted that 2 of the 3 key ingredients for a just transition to a livable world have been met: 1) an activist base -“check;” and 2) a permissive majority – “check.” The third requirement, political leadership, is being demanded at COP21 where leaders are called to reveal “if they are with the world or not.” Activists clearly feel that Obama’s political credibility is on the line.

CAN Intl Webcast panel Nov30

Mohamed Adow of Christian Aid decried the current inadequate offerings of developed countries on mitigation and adaptation that will result in the sacrifice of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. He shared that the INDCs will deliver a too high 2.7°C increase, and called on the Parties to complete a strong agreement that provides for robust adaptation help, a loss & damage mechanism, and the climate finance to make these happen.

Tim Gore from Oxfam predicted that the negotiations will be brutal, and could get nasty. Three of the flash points he anticipates:

  • Current commitment questions- $100Bill/year by 2020. Will this happen and will there be enough adaptation finance from it? The Africa Group has put a proposal on the table to ensure $32 billion for adaptation from GCF by 2020.
  • Loss & Damage- “a David & Goliath issue,” with the US not wanting to move on it at all, and the other developed countries happy for the U.S. to take the hard line position.
  • Post 2020 finance- “the great known unknown” at these talks. There is a serious need to for a new commitment on finance. The key tradeoff is between getting new numbers on the table and getting others at the table. But who goes first?

Pierre Cannet of WWF France called upon Parties to reach a solid, inclusive, transparent agreement that also provides for a role by civil society. He congratulated France’s efforts to make this COP a real success. Pierre’s primary message was to stay in the negotiators’ ears in Paris, and keep the messages coming through demonstrations and marches, predicting that civil society’s vital role in building a strong response will serve “to change course and make history.”

KeyChatterjee-USCAN at CAN Webcast Nov30One of the most impassioned statements of the press conference came during the Q&A, when Keya Chatterjee (USCAN), expressing the commitment of the massive climate movement in the U.S. to hold the country’s leaders accountable to mitigation targets, nearly shouted, “I promise you, over our dead bodies, will these targets not be met!”

The Movement is unapologetically here. Let’s hope the political will is.

 

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Please note: Press conferences at the COP are a great way for remote followers to get real time news and views. You can tune in via the UNFCCC webcast page and catch the live action before it reaches your favorite news feeds.


Adding fuel to the fire

Media coverage of the international climate change negotiations is picking up speed as U.N. SG Ban Ki-moon’s September 23 Climate Summit draws near.  Today my local paper, the Valley News (warmly referred to as the Valley Snooze locally), implicitly covered the Summit in two ways.  A headline in the lower half of the front page shouts Report:  Big Surge in Carbon Gases and a letter to the editor on the Forum page is entitled Creating a Climate of Hope.

WMO logoThe front page story focuses on data from the most recent issue of the Greenhouse Gas Bulletin from the WMO (World Meteorological Organization, co-founder along with UNEP, the U.N. Environmental Programme, of the IPCC or Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).  This data comes from observations from WMO’s Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) network of 125 monitoring stations worldwide.  Fresh off the press today, the Bulletin highlights that:

  • between 1990 and 2013, radiative forcing – the warming effect on our climate – increased 34%because of long-lived greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide.
  • concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere in 2013 was 142% of the pre-industrial era (1750), and of methane and nitrous oxide, 253% and 121% respectively.
  • CO2 levels increased more between 2012 and 2013 than during any other year since 1984. Preliminary data indicates that this was possibly related to reduced CO2 uptake by the earth’s biosphere in addition to the steadily increasing CO2 emissions. (Oceans absorb about a quarter of total emissions and another quarter is taken up by the biosphere, thereby reducing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.)

In other words, not only are we continuing to increase our CO2 emissions, but those already sent into the atmosphere in years passed have clogged the earth’s – meaning the ocean’s  and plants’ – capacity to store it in a way that doesn’t drive up the atmosphere’s temperature.

mussleAnd not only does it look like the ocean is maxing out its absorption capacity, but in getting to this point, the uptake process is resulting in sea level rise and ocean acidification.  The Bulletin reports that the current rate of ocean acidification appears unprecedented in the last 300 million years.  (Read this Daily Climate story on how ocean acidification affects mussels, their ecosystems, and the commerical fishing industry built around both.)

WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud states in today’s press release that “We know without any doubt that our climate is changing and our weather is becoming more extreme due to human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels.  The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin shows that, far from falling, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere actually increased last year at the fastest rate for nearly 30 years. We must reverse this trend by cutting emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases across the board.  We are running out of time.”

Mr Jarraud ends with “Past, present and future CO2 emissions will have a cumulative impact on both global warming and ocean acidification. The laws of physics are non-negotiable.”

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A negotiating “huddle” at COP19’s closing plenary.

Which leads to the Forum letter encouraging people to join the People’s Climate March scheduled to take place just before the UN Climate Summit.  While the laws of physics are not negotiable, international treaties on climate change are.

The Summit is intended to put world leaders, who will gather in New York for the annual General Assembly meeting, on the spot:  to shine a light on what countries are and are not doing under their existing obligations in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol, as well as in the negotiation of new ones.  (For more on the summit, read this interview with Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, who is now serving as one of Ban Ki-moon’s three special envoys on climate change [along with former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and former president of Ghana John Kufuor]).  Given the shift to bottom-up, nationally determined mitigation and adaptation commitments in the ADP negotiations, March organizers like 350.org want U.S. officials (and those of other countries) to see physically the political support for agreeing to further emissions limits.


COP19 RINGOs Calling

Beth Martin, Engineering and Science Director / Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic at Washington University in St. Louis, is working to pull together a list of RINGO students and advisors who attended this year’s COP and/or are interested in sending students and advisors to future COPs.

Beth writes: “The idea of pulling together a network is to better enable communication between both students and faculty in the Young RINGO context (students attending COP in a research capacity).This would enable students in programs to  build connections and compare notes and at the same time provide faculty a way to do the same. I am beginning to pull this together and at this point I am not sure what the final form(s) will be.  A LinkedIn network and Facebook group have both been suggested, for example.  But first – I am collecting names.  Please contact Beth at martin@wulaw.wustl.edu if you:

1)  want to be in this network.

2)  know others from your institution who want to be included.

3)  know other institutions who want to be included.

4)  have suggestions for the form of the network.”

university grp shotI met Beth in November when we were both leading delegations to COP19 in Warsaw.  She and I organized a social gathering during the COP’s first week – and were happily surprised by some 30 students and professors who turned out and spent a couple of evening hours at our apartment sharing their COP19 work and experiences.

Beth also passes on a request from Sara Kerosky, Research Associate in the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation at UCSD.  Sara’s lab is doing a survey of how NGOs use (or not use) international law in their advocacy work.  She and her colleagues hope to complete their research soon and share the results so that NGOs may use them when working at future COPs.  The link to the survey is http://tinyurl.com/ILARenvironment.  I spent a solid half hour taking the survey yesterday and found myself more deeply thinking about the development of international environmental law (vs. policy), the UNFCCC process, and the various roles that a variety of NGOs play in it.  Time well spent on several levels.

 

 


Enough is enough.

13 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) walked out of the CoP today in protest of the lack of action (according to them) taking place at the CoP. The 13 NGOs include: Aksyan Klima Pilipinas, ActionAid, Bolivian Platform on Climate Change, Constryendo Puentes, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Ibon International, International Trade Union Confederation, LDC Watch, Oxfam International, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, Peoples’ Movement on Climate Change, and WWF. Read their statement here.


CMP Plenary: Report from the AWG for KP Track on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties

Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark

Breaking News:

Meeting opens over 30 minutes late due to heightened security.  Brazil and India delegates upset about security, and both had difficulty getting into the plenary.  After several delegate statements, including a renewed call for action from Tuvalu, COP15 President Connie Hedegaard resigns.  Danish Prime Minister (PM) Lars Løkke Rasmussen is now also the COP15 President, and Hedegaard will be his special assistant regarding informal consultations.

Now waiting for high-level segment including statements from Heads of State…More to come!

For a flavor of the current discussion:

Rasmussen: “The whole world is seeking a solution to climate change, and not just procedure, procedure, procedure.”

China: “Not just procedure, but substance…not here to obstruct the process.”

As you can see, it is getting tense here.


Via Campesina & Sustainable Agriculture

 

Ecologist M. Jahi Chappell, PhD discusses the impact the globalization of food distribution has on climate change.

While a portion of our team was able to make it into the Bella Center for the COP yesterday, a few of us headed over to the Kilmaforum for a fantastic presentation by La Via Campesina called “Small Scale Sustainable Farmers are Cooling Down the Earth.”  This diverse panel included small-scale farmers and activists from Tanzania, Brazil, Canada, Korea & Japan.

Accompanying Via Campesina was M. Jahi Chappell, PhD from Cornell University to report on a study his research team completed which showed the impact industrial agriculture has on global climate change, versus the low impact of small-scale, local farms on the environment.

The numbers tell the story.  Continue reading