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.

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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.

 


Where Parties Agree: Governance as an Overarching Issue in the Global Stock Take

The Global Stock Take is a collective assessment of the Parties’ progress in capping carbon emissions to 1.5°C. Article 14 provides that the Global Stock Take should take place first in 2023 and then every five years after that. However, the Global Stock Take cannot happen if there are no modalities, procedures, or guidelines (MPGs) that dictate how it works. The MPGs are what Parties have set themselves to establish by COP24. So far, they have only agreed on one thing: that governance is an overarching issue in the GST.

IPCC Climate Change Synthesis Report 2014Governance in the context of the GST pertains to managing the information collected from the Parties. Such information range from the Green House Gas Inventories to information provided for the reporting requirements under the Transparency Framework. Recently, the Subsidiary Body for Science and Technological Advice (SBSTA) recommended that Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA) should include the International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) reports and assessments among the information to be considered in the GST. The addition of information from constitutive bodies enhances the GST, but also complicates potential modalities: Who bears the burden of evaluating this information? To make matters even more complicated, Parties are considering splitting the GST process into two phases: the technical phase and the political phase. Should there be two separate governing bodies for each phase?

Some parties are of the view that the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties (CMA) should evaluate the information, regardless of the phase in which the information was submitted. However, the CMA only meets once a year. The GST needs a governing body that can meet whenever there is a requirement to meet. Other parties are of the view that the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and SBSTA should evaluate the information submitted in the technical phase of the GST. However, other constitutive bodies are already reviewing information on mitigation, adaptation, and their respective modes of implementation. Asking SBI/SBSTA to then review the same information for GST seems redundant.

Carlos Fuller (Belize), Chair of the Subsidiary Body for Science and Technological Advice

Carlos Fuller (Belize), Chair of the Subsidiary Body for Science and Technological Advice

Tomasz Chruszczow (Poland), Chair of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation

Tomasz Chruszczow (Poland), Chair of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation

Discussions over technical matters are already fraught with underlying tension. This is likely because the GST touches on the Principle of Equity. The GST will reveal who is doing what and by how much, which means that Parties will know whether they are all shouldering their “fair share” of advancing the collective goal. As Parties begin considering equity and its impacts on the GST, the proposals on who should govern the GST process may become contentious.


Equity Takes Center Stage in Global Stock Take Discussions

In determining the modalities, procedures, and guidelines for the Global Stock Take under Article 14 of the Paris Agreement, equity is the name of the game. Parties joining the first informal consultation on the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement on November 7, 2017 have repeatedly mentioned the need for considering the impact of applying the principle of equity to the Global Stock Take. With the Transparency Framework’s emphasis on flexibility and the differentiation between the reporting requirements of the developed and developing parties, one would think that defining equity should be easy. This has not been the case.

Experts on the principle of equity were asked to weigh in on the matter at a side event held later the same day. These experts agree that equity in the Global Stock Take involves accounting for each Party’s “fair share” of the burden of curbing Green House Gas omissions so as to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius target temperature. However, they do not agree on what “fair share” means.

Dr. Allison Doig of the Christian/ACTCOVER Alliance expressed the view that, in light of the urgency in which all Parties must begin addressing climate change, “fair share” means that Parties must “do more.” Parties will do things differently, but they must “do more.” According to a report published by the Civil Society Review, developing countries carry their “fair share” of the burden when they dramatically deepen their domestic mitigation and when they support developing countries’ actions to do the same. This is so because developing country Parties have expressed their willingness to do more, but they lack the capacity to achieve their goals. According to Dr. Doig, developing country Parties can only succeed with the help of developed countries and to carry their fair share, developed countries must extend help.

Prof. Ottmar Edenhofer of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research did not completely agree. To him, equity can only be achieved when Parties can measure and compare similar efforts done with similar technology. Current Nationally Determined Contributions do not reflect this, as Parties determine the point from which they will calculate their emission targets. Different times will have different technologies. Therefore, efforts based on NDCs are incomparable and cannot be the basis for determining equity. For Prof. Edenhofer, the answer to the issue of determining equity is an internationally harmonized carbon pricing.

Carbon prices, unlike NDCs, are comparable and transparent. If Parties can agree to carbon prices, equity can be easily determined through the Equal Effort Principle. Under this Principle, those that have to spend more to mitigate their carbon emissions will be compensated by the Green Climate Fund for their efforts. Those that can spend less to do the same will have to donate to the GCF. Their donations will go towards those who cannot easily afford to install emissions reduction technology. This way, all Parties are required to put the same amount of effort in curbing their emissions and no one country disproportionately bears the burden.

At the moment, these views are merely theoretical. Parties are still in the early stages of developing the modalities for the Global Stock Take. However, Parties need to begin looking into mechanisms for determining equity and fair share like the ones summarized above if they are to incorporate equity into the Global Stock Take.

 


From Talanoa to the 2018 Facilitative Dialogue

Captura de pantalla 2017-10-24 a las 10.23.12 a.m.The Paris Agreement requires Parties to submit new or updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by 2020 and participate in a regular review of whether their individual actions contribute to the collective achievement of the Agreement’s aim of keeping the global rise in temperature to “well under” 2C degrees. Article 14 of the Agreement outlines this “global stocktake” procedure, but the first one does not take place until 2023. Given how quickly the Agreement entered into force just 11 months after its adoption in December, 2015, and that most Parties rely on NDCs formulated in 2014, waiting till the first global stocktake would result in an almost ten-year gap between when these mitigation and adaptation pledges were made and when they were assessed collectively for sufficiency. Fortunately, COP21 anticipated the need for a “first draft” stocktake and created the Facilitative Dialogue. At COP23, the Fijian presidency seeks to design this Dialogue that will take place in 2018.

At COP21, Parties agreed to have a Facilitative Dialogue  that will “take stock of the collective efforts in relation to the progress approaching the long-term temperature goal determined in Article 4.1. of the Agreement.” Furthermore, the Parties agreed that this stocktaking would “inform the preparation of the nationally determined contributions in accordance with the Article 4, paragraph 8, of the Agreement.”

Since the COP21 decision did not specify the design of the facilitative dialogue, COP23 is expected to determine what inputs should feed the stocktake, what its modalities should be, and what outputs the dialogue should produce. The Incoming President of COP23 underscored in a May 2017 speech how important this outcome is to Fiji: “To uphold and advance the Paris Agreement, ensure progress on the implementation guidelines and undertake consultations together with the Moroccan COP22 Presidency to design the process for the Facilitative Dialogue in 2018.”

The design proposal recently presented by Fiji and Morocco outlines core principles, three central questions, information to answer them, and a phased process. The Dialogue should be “constructive, facilitative and solutions oriented,” and not single out individual Parties. It should answer these questions: (1) where are we, (2) where do we want to go, and (3) how do we get there. To do this, it should use inputs from Parties and observers, like written material in blogs and reports, videos, or other formats, and gather it all on an online platform. The latest scientific information from the IPCC and UNFCCC reports on National Communications and Biennial Reports could also be inputs. Finally, the Dialogue should proceed in two phases, with a “preparatory” period starting at the May 2018 intersessional meeting and ending at the beginning of COP 24, and the “political phase” taking place at COP24. The first phase is intended to lay the groundwork for the second, when government ministers will focus on how to achieve more progress in the next round of NDCs.

Captura de pantalla 2017-10-24 a las 4.23.40 p.m.In addition to proposing this Facilitative Dialogue design, the Fiji Government offers a traditional process called Talanoa to help the parties agree on it. At a recent informal meeting of Heads of Delegation, Talanoa was described this way:“The purpose of Talanoa is to share stories, build empathy and to make wise decisions, which are for the collective good. The process of Talanoa involves the sharing of ideas, skills and experience through storytelling.” 

The Talanoa process was employed in Fiji in 2000, when Fiji´s Parliament sought to build national unity and stability after having a hostage situation (described by the international media as a “civilian coup”) resulting from political differences between the government, ethnic leaders, and other parties. The first Talanoa was the most important one because, even though there was an atmosphere of fear and political tension, the participants–who were representatives from the diverse ethnic and religious communities, political parties and other government and military personnel– talked and listened to each other’s pain, resulting in an adjustment of people´s personal opinions and an integration of viewpoints. It was shown that the parties could sit down and talk to one another without the meeting getting out of hand, as anticipated by some leaders.”

Captura de pantalla 2017-10-24 a las 4.30.38 p.m.By using Talanoa to design the Facilitative Dialogue of 2018, the COP23 Presidency seeks to create an environment of “inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue.” Fiji hopes that Talanoa will allow Parties to hear one another’s concerns, especially for developed countries to listen to the needs, opinions and experiences of developing countries. If so, the process of the Facilitative Dialogue could give Parties the opportunity to build empathy by identifying climate action in areas that have not been covered by the NDCs, taking into account the differentiation between developed and developing countries. Talanoa could also help countries reiterate their collective commitment to make a wise decision for the collective good: new and more ambitious NDCs by 2020 to achieve the temperature goal of the Paris Agreement.


Update on progress toward a Paris Outcome

Entrance to Le Bourget UN climate Conference COP21; UNFCCC COP21 flickrThe second stocktaking of the Comité de Paris was held yesterday afternoon for facilitators to report on consultations and bilateral meetings they had held with Parties during the day. The purpose of these meetings was to identify areas of convergence on key elements for the Paris Outcome.

Highlights: Terms heard repeatedly throughout the stocktaking were “progress,” “flexibility,” and “constructive engagement.” The following list provides a few report highlights, and illustrates the breadth of issues that will be part of the Paris Outcome:

  • Support: finance, technology, and capacity building – Parties made headway on capacity building and convergence on all of Article 7. Technology development and transfer, and its related decisions.
  • Differentiation- Divergence remains (this is a key political issue that pervades the entire text.)
  • Ambition, including long-term goals and periodic review – Discussions are continuing on the possible 1.5 degrees Celsius limit, and 2 possible framings have been articulated for the global mitigation goal.
  • Acceleration of pre-2020 action – No convergence is yet being achieved.
  • Adaptation and loss & damage – Compromise is emerging on a global goal, links between adaptation and mitigation, and adaptation efforts/actions. Loss and damage remains a sticking point, with some Parties insisting on clear protection against liability and compensation.
  • Facilitating implementation and compliance – Ideas are forthcoming on essential elements, though whether and how differentiation will be referenced remains a key topic.
  • Cooperative approaches and mechanisms – Mixed results, with uncertainty on whether provisions of, for instance, integrity and avoiding double counting will be included.

The informal consultation groups on the Preamble, Forests, and Response Measures were just launched yesterday, so had no report outs.

Next Steps: Evening consultations were held, with a midnight deadline for co-facilitators to submit recommendations to the COP Presidency based on Party input. A “clean” version of the text will be released today at 1pm. A reconvening of the Comité de Paris at 5pm today to receive Parties’ first reactions to the “clean text.”

More to come!


Loss and Damage Mechanism – decision reached on Executive Committee makeup

We reported Wednesday that the December 5 joint SBSTA/SBI recommendation on the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM) contained 3 different proposals for the makeup of the permanent Executive Committee. Later that night, at the COP President’s informal stocktaking, we learned that this issue had been resolved and the SBSTA and SBI Chairs had forwarded proposed final decision language to the COP President. This morning, in the COP/CMP Plenary held to adopt Subsidiary Bodies’ conclusions and decisions already agreed to, we witnessed completion of the process.

Following today’s adoption, the permanent Executive Committee of the WIM will be comprised of 10 non-Annex I Party members and 10 Annex I Party members. Eight of the non-Annex I Party members are stipulated in the decision: two each from the African, Asia-Pacific, and the Latin American and Caribbean States, and one each from Small Island Developing Sates and Least Developed Country Parties.

The decision also calls for “taking into account the goal of gender balance pursuant to the decision 23/CP.18.”

Interestingly, the final Executive Committee makeup is a seemingly new equation for a mechanism of the UNFCCC. The related Adaptation Committee is made up of 16 members, with representatives of the 5 UN regional groups (2 each), SIDS (1), LDCs (1), Non-Annex I (2) and Annex I Parties (2).

Hallway talk on Wednesday, following release of the proposed decision, was not positive. Observers wished for greater designated LDC and AOSIS representation, even if the two unassigned non-Annex I seats could potentially go to these groups. It seems we can expect the new Executive Committee’s work to be scrutinized. At least the WIM work can begin.


The road from Bonn to Lima (by way of Copenhagen this week)

Looking back on last week’s ADP2-6 special session, it would be easy to echo the notes of pessimism that pervaded Saturday’s press reports.  RTCC (Responding to Climate Change) commented after last Thursday’s stocktaking session that “much work remains” in the session’s last two daysIMG_4368 and noted the frustrated ADP Co-Chairs “offering government negotiators a stern reality check.”   Artur Runge-Metzger acknowledged that the “ambition to finalize the two decisions is no longer possible in Bonn” because State Parties had “not touched on many important things.”  Kishan Kumarsingh put it more bluntly, calling on delegates to “look yourselves in the eye; ask yourself if we are on track.”

adp in bonnSaturday’s Business Insider opened with these words:  “Concern was high at a perceived lack of urgency as UN climate negotiations shuffled towards a close in Bonn on Saturday with just 14 months left to finalise a new, global pact. The six-day meeting of senior officials in the former West German capital was meant to lay the groundwork for the annual round of ministerial-level UN talks in Lima in December. In turn, the Lima forum must pave the way to a historic pact which nations have agreed must be signed in Paris next year, to curb planet-altering climate change. But some negotiators and observers expressed concern that the Bonn talks focused too much on restating well-known country positions on how responsibility for climate action must be shared.”  BI quotes David Waskow of the World Resources Institute (WRI) saying that while the ADP2-6 talks had been constructive, “there is nervousness that the pace is somewhat slow” and  Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) echoing this concern more pithily: “People are starting to panic a little.”

EU dealEven some good news from individual countries – foreshadowing their INDCs or intended nationally determined commitments/contributions, the content of which was under negotiation all week in Bonn – did not appear to hearten negotiators.  For example, the AFP (L’Agence France-Presse) announced on Thursday that “a European deal on curbing carbon emissions yielded a rare concrete input Friday to UN climate talks, but did little to ease frustration among negotiators demanding progress on a global pact in Bonn.”  The EU-28’s agreement to cut GHG emissions by at least 40% by 2030 over 1990 levels (building on the EU’s current projected 20% decrease from 1990 to 2020), along with 27% renewable energy and energy efficiency targets, was hailed in Brussels but downplayed by some developing country negotiators in Bonn.

Claudia Salerno of Venezuela talking with a U.S. counterpart in a COP19 ADP huddle.Claudia Salerno, Venezuela’s lead negotiator at the ADP (pictured at right facing the camera), spoke on behalf of the Like-Minded Developing Countries (LMDCs) negotiation bloc when she called the EU goals “too little and too late.”    Likewise Sweden’s pledge of $550 million to the Green Climate Fund barely took the edge off developing countries concern about the slow progress of all developed countries in meeting their COP15 pledge of mobilizing $100 billion per year of climate finance by 2020.  Even though the Swedish government’s press release announced that it is “now choosing to take greater responsibility for Sweden’s climate impact and is making a commitment ahead of Paris 2015 by increasing Green Climate Fund (GCF) financing by approximately USD 550 million (SEK 4 billion) and allocating an additional SEK 500 million to international climate action,” Bloomberg News led its Friday report on ADP2-6 with  “a dispute about how to link greenhouse-gas emissions cuts to a promise from the wealthiest nations for $100 billion a year in climate aid emerged as a major stumbling block at UN talks on global warming.”  As UCS’s Meyer observed, “there has to be some collective signal from the developed countries that the direction of climate finance will be upwards and not fall off a cliff. You need more clarity on post-2020 finance if you want to get an agreement in Paris.”

Finally, a Greenpeace report  noted by the GCCA (Global Call for Climate Action) last week that China — now the world’s largest GHG emitter — had decreased its coal usage this year gained little traction in the Bonn talks.  Because China burns almost china factorshalf of the coal used worldwide each year, the fact that it decreased its coal consumption by about 2% while also growing its economy 7.4% and increasing its energy consumption by 4% indicates that the country is on track to meet the mitigation goals it announced at last month’s UN Climate Summit.  This change looks to have resulted from a combination of several “bottom up” initiatives within China, including its National Energy Agency’s proposals to limit coal consumption growth to 2% (by more than doubling wind power capacity and increasing solar capacity fivefold between 2013 and 2020) and regional pledges in 12 of China’s 44 provinces (representing 44% of national coal usage) to limit their coal consumption and the launch of 8 regional carbon markets that prepares China to meet its national emissions trading scheme targeted for 2016.

At the ADP’s closing plenary, State Party delegates spoke out about the road from Bonn to Lima, ignoring the Co-Chairs’ request to end ADP2-6 without individual country interventions.  A general theme was G77 birthdaysounded by Bolivia speaking on behalf of the G77+China that was echoed by most parties: feeling the political pressure from civil society and wanting to avoid a “take it or leave it” situation in COP20’s final moments, the G77 urged the co-chairs to reorient the ADP’s work in Lima by starting with a clear working text and formal groups that focus negotiation on all core elements of agreement.  Ecuador, representing the LMDCs, drew a very clear picture of what it wanted to avoid:  “We represent sovereign states.  We expect to negotiate with dignity,” not in huddles resulting from a mismanaged process.  South Africa, concluding that “the latest version does not reflect the bridges that we’ve built,” additionally called for appointing facilitators to lead these focused groups and working specifically from an updated and reorganized version of the current non-paper.  While directing her remarks to the Co-Chairs, the SA lead ADP negotiator reminded everyone in the room – State Party delegates, UNFCCC staff, civil society organizations –  that “time is not on our side.” Picking up on this last point, the Swiss ADP lead negotiator, speaking for the EIG (Environmental Integrity Group, the only UNFCCC negotiating bloc to include both developing and developed country members), redirected negotiators’ frustration from the ADP leadership to its membership:  “Slow motion this week due to speed limits imposed by parties on themselves, not by co-chairs.”  He observed that the week’s focused work on mitigation commitments had been productive, permitting the parties to delve into more detail and nuance, and commended the Co-Chairs for “creating this space.”

Next stop on the road to Lima is this week’s 40th session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC-40), which began meeting this morning at the Tivoli Conference Center in Copenhagen, AR5Denmark.  Its goal: to consider and finalize the IPCC’s Synthesis Report (SYR), which integrates and synthesizes the findings from the three Working Group (WG) reports already published. Taken together, the three WG reports and the SYR will make up the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) that the 196 UNFCCC parties will rely on in Lima. From today until the final gavel on Friday, the IPCC will approve, line by line, the SYR’s Summary for Policymakers (SPM) and adopt the draft SYR – no mean feat, given that more than 800 authors and review editors from 85 countries have had a hand in preparing AR5 during the past six years.  Maybe the IPCC’s process could suggest some conflict resolution techniques for the UNFCCC parties?


“A foundation COP” of nuts and bolts

A presidential stocktaking during COP19's final days.

A presidential stocktaking during COP19’s final days.

“Stocktaking” is a now a new word in my vocabulary.  While I regularly do it, I don’t normally make the time to name it as such.  In the polyglot system of the United Nations, awkwardly-formal-but-descriptive terms like this one (and “functions and modalities,” “institutional mechanisms,”  “work programmes”) are essential to the process of moving a group forward to action.

So now, speaking of “moving forward” (a common phrase at COP19), let’s take stock of how the media is portraying the outcome of COP19.

Today’s NYT focuses on the ADP and L&M final deals, explaining more IMG_4323about the latter than the former.  It led off with the idea that COP19 is “keeping alive the hope” of globally dealing with climate change, but ends on a bummer note: “Treaty members remain far from any serious, concerted action to cut emissions. And developing nations complained that promises of financial help remain unmet.”  Both valid points, and the second is a true accounting of what I witnessed in the ADP sessions.  But the first one misses the mark on this “foundation COP’s” mission, which the co-chairs stressed during the wee hours of Friday/Saturday’s marathon negotiation session: the ADP’s mandate for COP19 was to establish the elements and timetable for making the legal agreement that will bind countries to emissions reductions, not negotiating the agreement itself.

The NYT also chronicled how the U.S. called out China’s intransigence on future GHG emissions being “applicable to all” and how developed countries recognized their historical responsibility for creating global warming even though they resist being held “liable” for it.

IMG_4316China’s Xinhua news service focused on the glass half full, leading with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s positive view of COP19:  “The decisions adopted in Warsaw serve as an important stepping stone toward a universal legal agreement in 2015.”  Using the carefully negotiated language of “contributions” (rather than commitments), the article closed by observing that the ADP agreement “was seen as a key step paving the way for all countries to reach an ambitious global climate pact in 2015, and a sign of their desire to avert a breakdown of the climate talks.” It also gave a nod to a next stepping stone, the climate summit hosted by Ban Ki-Moon in September 2014 (on the eve of the U.N. General Assembly meeting):  “He has asked world leaders, as well as leaders from business, finance, local government and civil society, to bring bold announcements and actions that will lead to significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions and strengthened adaptation and resilience efforts.”

The head Chinese negotiator for ADP, center background.

The head Chinese negotiator for ADP, center background.

Continuing with the stepping stone “path” metaphor for summing up the Warsaw meeting, but offering more “real politick” talk in a separate (but linked) news article, the Chinese delegation noted its disappointments. “There are many issues that we are not actually satisfied with but we can accept,” Xie Zhenhua, head of China’s COP19 delegation and also deputy chief of China’s National Development and Reform Commission.  According to him, “to make the meeting a success and the multi-lateral mechanism effective, China has shown the biggest flexibility and made concessions on some issues.”

Interestingly, BusinessGreen provides the more detailed and accurate accounting of COP19 specifics (as I witnessed them), as well as the most nuanced analysis. (I am not familiar with the publication but the comments indicate a very different readership than my regular reading list!)  It directly reports that “the eventual agreement resulted in a draft text that requires countries ‘who are ready’ to make ‘contributions, without prejudice to the legal nature,’ ideally by early 2015 at the latest” and acknowledges that this wording represents “significant watering down” of the penultimate draft’s use of “for those in a position” to deliver a climate “commitment” by early 2015.IMG_4282Nonetheless, UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey views this as a sufficient outcome for “all nations have now agreed to start their homework to prepare for a global climate change deal in 2015” (reprising the homework theme of his HLM opening plenary remarks). “While the long negotiations in Poland showed there are many tough talks ahead of us, the determined diplomacy of the UK and EU achieved our aims, building alliances with our friends across the world.”

Jonathan Grant, Director at PwC’s sustainability and climate change IMG_4357team, joins the chorus using sports analogies to characterize the outcome achieved yesterday inside the National Stadium. “By taking us to the brink of collapse, looking over the edge and then pulling back, we come away feeling delighted that any progress has been made at all,” he said. “A victory was always expected, but like the England football team, the COP made this a lot more dramatic than it needed to be. The ‘talks about talks’ phase is now over, as countries agreed to the agenda for the negotiations and the timeline for coming up with some numbers.”

BusinessGreen closes with Nicholas Stern’s dose of reality therapy.  The author of the famous Stern Report, who now chairs an institute at the London School of Economics, views COP19’s output as IMG_4152“simply inadequate” compared to the scale and urgency of the risks of climate change: “If the world is to have a reasonable chance of avoiding dangerous levels of global warming, which it is generally agreed would occur if there is a rise in global average temperature by more than two centigrade degrees compared with the late 19th century, annual emissions of greenhouse gases will need to be cut at a much faster rate than is currently planned by countries.”

That, folks, reminds the process-oriented “policy” types that their nuts and bolts are still out of step with the science types’ brass tacks.