What you will find on this page: LATEST NEWS; Trump picks up his batBonn talks concludeCOP 22 Marrakechglobal pledges will still hit 2 degrees; Explainer: Why a UN climate deal on HFCs atters; ratification? Now whereParis Agreement nearing ratificationUN science panel debate 1.5CMontreal Protocol updateon track from Paris – smoke & mirrors? regional climate change and national responsibilities (video); Marrakech COP22Paris COP21 outcome & highlights; Paris Agreement timeline for reviews: Paris agreement outcomes summary; what Paris means for Australialegality of Paris agreement journey to Paris; tracking climate action plans; other climate trackersJeremy Leggett’s chronicle (a must read!); Climate Action Networkunderstand international negotiations; two degree “safe limit”UNFCCC; UN climate talks; new climate agreement; also refer to “Australian response”  page for Australia’s global involvement

Walking the talk….When??

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Source: Greg Foyster

Latest News

End Latest News

Trumps decision – a comprehensive look at implications

1 June 2017, New York Times, President Trump announced Thursday that he will pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord. The decision makes good on a campaign promise and aligns with Mr. Trump’s “America first” message. It is also a major setback for the worldwide effort to combat global warming. What does the decision mean? We have extensive coverage here at The New York Times, but it is a complex issue and you may be wondering where to start. Read More here

Latest climate talks from Bonn 

19 May 2017, Carbon Brief, Bonn climate talks: key outcomes from the May 2017 UN climate conference. Diplomats from around the world gathered in Germany over the past two weeks for the latest round of UN climate talks. The “intersessional” talks, which take place in Bonn each year midway between the annual conference of parties (COP), aim to move negotiations forward ahead of the larger meeting which take place towards the end of the year. A range of topics were on the table this year, including the detailed “rulebook” on how to implement the Paris Agreement, which must be finalised at COP24 in 2018. Negotiators worked to iron out details of a stock-taking exercise in 2018, which will measure progress toward the Paris goals, and to move forwards with the sticky issue of adaptation finance. All of this as countries continue to grapple with the uncertainty over whether US president Donald Trump will or won’t pull out of the Paris Agreement. Carbon Brief takes a look at the major themes and points of controversy to come out of the talks. We have also collated a schedule of upcoming deadlines, reports and meetings under the Paris negotiating track, in the lead up to COP23 in November. Trump threat The news during last November’s COP22 annual climate conference in Marrakesh that Donald Trump had won the US election cast an initially heavy shadow over negotiations, not least because one of Trump’s campaign pledges was to pull out of the Paris Agreement. Four months into his presidency, Trump has yet to announce a final decision on whether he will follow through on this pledge. Despite weeks of media titbits of the to-ing and fro-ing in his cabinet’s closed-door discussions, it remains hard to say what the final outcome will be. The signals remain mixed. The US signed up to the Fairbanks Declaration, a joint statement of the eight-member Arctic Council that acknowledged the Paris Agreement (having lobbied behind the scenes to water down its language on climate change). But it sent a much-diminished delegation of seven to Bonn, versus 44 last year. Nevertheless, multiple reports noted that in Bonn the discussions on the finer details of the Paris Agreement went ahead relatively smoothly in the face of this uncertainty, with envoys unusually cooperative as they strive to move ahead with implementing the deal. “This has gone as far as we could have expected,” Yamide Dagnet, senior associate at the World Resources Institute tells Carbon Brief. “Negotiators will leave Bonn with a roadmap towards COP23.” Dagnet says the talks were marked by determination to make progress. Read More here

24 May 2017, DeSmogUK, Op-Ed: Glacial Progress at Bonn Climate Talks Shows Why we Need to Exclude Big Polluters From Negotiations. When it comes to the fossil fuel industry participating in UN climate negotiations, it’s clear there is a conflict of interest – and demands for this to end are nothing new. But after fierce resistance to this idea during talks in Bonn last week from the EU, US and Australia, more needs to be done, argues Pascoe Sabido of Corporate Europe Observatory. With just six months to go before November’s COP23 climate negotiations, calls for big polluters to be excluded from the talks are growing. Last May at the same ‘intersessional’ climate talks in Bonn, a group of countries representing more than 70 percent of the world’s population insisted on adding a conflict of interest provision in the negotiating text. It almost made it, were it not for an underhand move by the European Union and the USA which saw it removed. Pulling the strings behind such moves: the world’s largest fossil fuel companies. Taken to its logical conclusion, addressing conflicts of interest would mean kicking out the same corporations whose profits are built on causing climate change. Research shows that at least 80 per cent of known fossil fuel reserves need to be kept in the ground to keep global warming below 2 degrees, let alone 1.5 degrees. But a look atBP and Shell’s future energy projections allege that we can continue to burn fossil fuels indefinitely. Ending fossil fuels would put them out of business. This is a fundamental conflict of interest, yet getting it even discussed – let alone addressed – has been an uphill struggle. However, persistence of those countries at the frontline of climate change – particularly Ecuador, which is seeing increasing water shortages and crop failures – as well as increasing public outrage and civil society’s call on the UN to ‘Kick Big Polluters Out’ of climate policy, has ensured the issue has remained on the agenda. This year’s two-week intersessional talks in Bonn saw an official workshop on the topic organised by the secretariat of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Read More here

Here we go again – COP 22 Marrakech

18 November 2016, Climate Home, COP22 headlines: what did Marrakech climate summit deliver? It will go down in history as the Trump COP. Marrakech 2016 has had an orange cloud hanging over it – and not from the desert dust. But amid the flapping over what the permatanned POTUS-to-be means for climate action, negotiators have been steadily getting on with the job. Here are the top takeaways from two weeks of crunching over the nitty-gritty of how to put the Paris Agreement into practice. Message to Trump; Ratifications; Carbon cuts; 2050 Roadmaps; Transparency; Road to 2018; Climate finance; Adaptation; Loss and damage. Read More here

15 November 2016, Climate Home, Marrakech Call decoded: UN sends Trump its climate demands. Crafting a UN statement is akin to herding cats, rarely delivering a truly satisfactory result. Countries at the COP22 climate summit appear to have agreed on what is being named the ‘Marrakech Action Proclamation‘ (this is one of the final drafts we understand). It’s not exactly the bold and punchy call to arms many had hoped for, but it does offer a sense that the global community is behind last year’s Paris climate agreement. Below we offer a sense of what – if any – hidden messages there are for president-elect Donald Trump…


We, Heads of State, Government, and Delegations, gathered on the 15th of November 2016 in Marrakech, on African soil, for the High-Level Segment of the 22nd Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the 12th Session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, the 1st Session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement, at the gracious invitation of His Majesty the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, issue this proclamation to signal a shift towards a new era of implementation and action on climate and sustainable development…..

Ignore this bit: it’s yet more proof diplomats have no idea what a good lead looks like. Read the rest here

3 November 2016, Carbon Brief, Preview: The UN’s COP22 climate talks in Marrakech. Climate change will once again become the focus of global diplomacy next week, as countries gather in Marrakech for the UN climate body’s (UNFCCC) 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22). In many ways, COP22 will be the nerdy friend to its glamorous Parisian predecessor. Last December, the world’s attention swivelled to France as rival nations finally cooperated to sign the first global climate deal. The Paris Agreement set the overarching framework for dealing with climate change in the decades to come. But alone it will not solve the problem, and nations now have the task of fleshing out the details. The following issues are likely to prove key to this round of negotiations:

 

This means that Marrakech, while expected to provide little in the way of drama (US election results aside), will be an opportunity to engage with the nuts and bolts of the deal. Liz Gallagher, a climate policy expert at environmental think-tank E3G, says: “We will definitely see real decisions at COP22, as it is not a terribly high-stakes COP — which means that there aren’t any huge grand bargains that people are going to die in a ditch over, so we will certainly see decisions…It is the quality and the detail that is at stake.” Read More here

 

Not good enough – will still hit 2 degrees

Image result for emissions gap report 2016

3 November 2016, Climate Home, UNEP: global climate action “still not good enough” – Greenhouse gas emissions need to fall a further 25% from projected levels in 2030 to meet 2C global warming limit, says report. A day before the Paris climate agreement is fêted into international law, the UN has issued a stark warning that political compromises have kept the world on track for disastrous global warming. In a major annual stocktake of global action to reduce carbon – the Emissions Gap Report released on Thursday – the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) called on the leaders of the world to bring their emissions targets into line with the advice of scientists. Under the Paris climate agreement, which comes into effect on Friday, nations agreed to limit warming “well below 2C” and strive for less than 1.5C. But the collective pledges of nations under the Paris agreement fall far shy of either goal – sending the temperature shooting up to 3.2C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. The warmer the world becomes, the more destructive and painful climate change will be. The report was released a week before climate talks resume in Morocco and it is hoped the process of increasing ambition will begin. In order to get on track, nations must cut a further 25% off their projected emissions by 2030, said UNEP head Erik Solheim: “It’s still not good enough if we are to stand a chance of avoiding serious climate change.” Read More here to access full UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2016 go here

 

Explainer: Why a UN climate deal on HFCs matters

Consumption of HFCs, in million tonnes of CO2e, by applianceUpdate 15 October 2016, Carbon Brief: A deal was agreed by almost 200 countries on 15 October 2016. The agreement means that developed countries will start to limit their use of HFCs by at least 10% from 2019. The complex deal also ensures that many developing countries, such as China and some in South America, will freeze their HFC use from 2024. Other developing nations, such as India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and the Gulf states, will not freeze their use until 2028. By the late 2040s, all countries are expected to consume no more than 15-20% of their respective baselines. Countries also agreed to additional funding, but the exact amount will be agreed at the next meeting in Montreal in 2017. Read More here

Ratification? Now where….

6 October 2016, The Conversation, Paris climate agreement comes into force: now time for Australia to step up. The Paris climate agreement is set to enter into force next month after the European Union and Canada ratified the agreement overnight. The agreement, reached last December, required ratification by at least 55 countries accounting for 55% of global emissions to become operational. 

Why has ratification been so quick? The optimists would point to this as evidence of mounting international momentum. A truly global agreement and joint ratification by China and the US have reinvigorated international efforts. India, Canada and the EU have followed shortly after the US and China. Canada also recently announced a domestic carbon tax of C$10. Ratification is not action per se, though, and it’s difficult to directly link the domestic actions of Canada and others to Paris. The more realistic explanation for the ratification landslide is less inspiring. The Paris Agreement is so weak in terms of legal obligations that countries have little reason not to ratify it. The legal obligations of the Paris Agreement are sparse and procedural. Countries are bound to submit increasingly stringent pledges every five years. Yet they are not obliged to achieve them.

What about Australian ratification? Australia has yet to ratify the Paris Agreement, but will likely do so soon. Australian ratification of international treaties is done through the executive, not the parliament. Prime Minister Turnbull makes the final decision as to whether Australia will ratify the Paris Agreement. Turnbull will not act alone; his decision will be advised by cabinet and the report of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT). This is a cross-party committee made up of members from the Senate and the House of Representatives. JSCOT is considering the Paris Agreement and will hold its final public briefing in Melbourne today. Shortly thereafter it will report back to parliament. Given that Paris implies few obligations, Australia will likely ratify the agreement before the end of the year. Not doing so would unnecessarily risk Australia’s already tattered reputation on climate change. Yet there are also fears that Australia risks embarrassment by ratifying and then missing its first pledge.

Target troubles: Currently, Australia has made an intended nationally determined contribution (INDC) to reduce emissions by 26-28% on 2005 levels by 2030. If Australia joins the Paris Agreement this would likely become our first pledge under the deal. But existing modelling suggests we will significantly overshoot this target.Climate Action Tracker estimates that Australia is instead on track to increase emissions above 27% on 2005 levels by 2030 (this equates to 61% above 1990 levels). They note: “Australia stands out as having the largest relative gap between current policy projections for 2030 and the INDC target.” Read More here

Paris Agreement nearing ratification

Background to the Paris Agreement

Wikipedia 5 October 2016: The Paris Agreement (French: L’accord de Paris) is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change(UNFCCC) dealing with greenhouse gases emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020. The language of the agreement was negotiated by representatives of 195 countries at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC in Paris and adopted by consensus on 12 December 2015.[2][3] It was opened for signature on 22 April 2016 (Earth Day) in a ceremony in New York City.[4] As of October 2016, 191 UNFCCC members have signed the treaty, 63 of which have ratified it. The agreement will only enter into force provided that 55 countries that produce at least 55% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions ratify, accept, approve or accede to the agreement; although the minimum number of ratifications has been reached, the ratifying states do not produce the requisite percentage of greenhouse gases for the agreement to enter into force.

However take note: Lack of binding enforcement mechanism

Although the agreement was lauded by many, including French President Francois Hollande and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon,[29] criticism has also surfaced. For example, James Hansen, a former NASA scientist and a climate change expert, voiced anger about the fact that most of the agreement consists of “promises” or aims and not firm commitments.[51] Institutional asset owners associations and think-tanks such as the World Pensions Council (WPC) have also observed that the stated objectives of the Paris Agreement are implicitly “predicated upon an assumption – that member states of the United Nations, including high polluters such as China, the US, India, Brazil, Canada, Russia, Indonesia and Australia, which generate more than half the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, will somehow drive down their carbon pollution voluntarily and assiduously without any binding enforcement mechanism to measure and control CO2 emissions at any level from factory to state, and without any specific penalty gradation or fiscal pressure (for example a carbon tax) to discourage bad behaviour. A shining example of what Roman lawyers called circular logic: an agreement (or argument) presupposing in advance what it wants to achieve.”[52]

 

Parties and signatories

As of 5 October 2016, 190 states and the European Union have signed the Agreement. 63 of those states have ratified or acceded to the Agreement, most notably China, the United States and India, the countries with three of the largest greenhouse gas emissions of the signatories’ total (about 42% together). For full list and Party Signatories and  respective percentages of greenhouse gases for ratification access Wikipedia table here

Latest signatories and what it may mean

6 October 2016, Climate News Network, Climate treaty races towards hazy future. The far-reaching Paris Agreement on tackling climate change is close to taking effect − but how just how effective it may prove is far from clear. With a speed almost unknown in the annals of diplomacy, the Paris Agreement on climate change is ready to come into force a bare 11 months after it was reached on 12 December last year. Its ratification by the European Union means the world will have crossed both thresholds necessary for the Agreement to enter into force within 30 days. …

It’s too early either to make so sweeping a claim or to write off Paris as a well-meaning attempt that was too little and too late. But the reality the Agreement has to tackle is daunting. For instance, the targets identified in Paris may have been seriously inadequate. We may already be much closer to exceeding the safety level for emissions than we realise, and there is still no guarantee that trapping and storing emitted carbon dioxide would work, although it is judged to be an essential technology for Paris to succeed. And some scientists say the world will have to switch to renewable energy far faster than we are doing at the moment for the Paris Agreement to have a chance of working. With a list of challenges like these, it would be premature to start celebrating the Agreement’s entry into force just yet. Dr Niklas Höhne, a founding partner of the NewClimate Institute for Climate Policy and Global Sustainability, spoke for many when he said: “With the entry into force of the Paris Agreement, the work is only just beginning. “For 1.5°C in particular, the window of opportunity is closing rapidly. Waiting until 2018, when the next round of revised national proposals are expected to be presented, will be too late.” Read More here

6 September 2016, Scientific American, President Obama’s announcement Saturday that the United States and China had joined last year’s landmark Paris climate agreement together elicited tepid response from Republicans in Congress who insist the administration has shirked its obligation to submit the deal to the Senate. Instead of threatening to take down the deal through legislation or litigation, Republicans released a few muted statements arguing that the global agreement would falter on its own. “History already shows that this Paris Agreement will fail,” said Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.). “This latest announcement is the president attempting to once again give the international community the appearance that he can go around Congress in order to achieve his unpopular and widely rejected climate agenda for his legacy.” Inhofe, who has called climate change a hoax, noted that the Supreme Court has stayed U.S. EPA’s flagship carbon rule for power plants. If the rule, known as the Clean Power Plan, does not survive court challenges, it could make the United States’ commitment under Paris harder to reach. Read More here

5 October 2016, Renew Economy: Australia on the outer again as Paris climate treaty comes into force. Australia will find itself again on the outer in global climate change efforts, excluded from key decision-making processes because it is one of a minority of major polluters that has yet to ratify the Paris climate accord. The European Union on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to ratify the Paris treaty, a day after India announced it would also do the same thing. The ratification is expected to be formally voted by ministers later this week, taking the total well past the trigger point of 55 countries and 55 per cent of total global emissions. The speed of the ratification – less than a year after the Paris treaty was voted to general acclimation last year – compares with the eight years it took to get its predecessor, the Kyoto Protocol, into force after it was adopted in 1997. The move will impact Australia in two ways. Firstly, only those countries who have ratified the treaty can vote in negotiations for the next step in the treaty’s implementation. That means Australia will be excluded from these processes, although it may have observer status. It also means that Australia will reinforce its status as a climate outlier, a reputation it earned when former prime minister Tony Abbott and former Canadian prime minister Steven Harper were branded “climate villains” because of their opposition to action on climate change. Read More here

 

3 October 2016, Reuters: India ratifies Paris climate change deal. India, the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, formally joined the Paris agreement on tackling climate change on Sunday, the United Nations said, taking the global pact a step closer to its enactment. The deal, agreed by nearly 200 countries in Paris last December, aims to slash greenhouse gas emissions by shifting away from fossil fuels to limit global warming to “well below” two degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial times. But it needs to be formally ratified by countries representing at least 55 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. “The Secretary-General calls on all Parties to accelerate their domestic procedures in order to join the agreement as soon as possible this year,” said a spokesman for the U.N. Secretary-General in a statement. Next week the European Union is expected to complete the joint ratification of the climate pact, which will be a major milestone as it would take approvals past the 55 percent mark and put the deal into effect ahead of the next round of climate talks in November, in Morocco. The Paris agreement received a boost last month after the United States and China, the world’s two biggest emitters, submitted their approvals to the United Nations. Read More here

 

Adaptation takes centre stage as IPCC prepares 1.5C study

24 August 2016, Climate Home, New report by world’s foremost authority on global warming likely to major on how countries can adjust to rising temperatures and weather extremes. Tackling climate change is no longer simply about cutting greenhouse gas emissions: flood defences, heat resilient crops and weather warning systems are set to take centre stage. That’s the message from scientists fresh from an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) meeting in Geneva last week. The UN science body has started work on a new and potentially devastating report on ways to avoid warming the earth to more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels – and the consequences of failure. Due in September 2018, it will set the political tenor for global talks on climate change through to 2020, by which time the new Paris Agreement on climate change is slated to become operational. Critically, it will underpin a UN-led review the same year into how countries are delivering on the Paris deal, and perhaps offer the basis for those national goals to be increased. Read More here

UN science panel debates 1.5C as climate records fall

16 August 2016, Climate Home, An investigation into the dangers posed by temperature rises above 1.5C opened on Monday with a top UN official branding it the “yardstick” on which efforts to tackle global warming will be based. Nearly 100 government officials and scientists are in Geneva this week for the launch of the two-year study, which is under the control of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Its findings will form the “scientific basis” of a global stocktake in 2018, when the climate plans of 195 countries will be assessed at a UN meeting, said IPCC chair Hoesung Lee. “It will be the yardstick on whether countries are doing enough,” the South Korean economist told an opening meeting of invited experts.

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Vienna climate meeting aims for progress on deal to cut HFC use

23 July 2016, New York Times, When negotiators from nearly 200 countries gathered outside Paris in December for the United Nations summit meeting on climate change, they reached the first agreement to take action on curbing their planet-warming pollution. This weekend in Vienna, with far less attention, negotiators from those same countries neared a deal that many environmentalists have called the most significant action this year to reduce global warming. While the Paris agreement aims to reduce the use of coal and oil, which produce the carbon dioxide emissions that are the chief cause of global warming, negotiators in Vienna pushed ahead on a deal to ban the use of hydrofluorocarbons, chemicals used in air-conditioners and refrigerators. Although they contribute only a small percentage of the world’s greenhouse gases, these chemicals, known as HFCs, can trap heat in the atmosphere at levels a thousand times higher than carbon dioxide can, according to published scientific studies. Negotiations to ban HFCs have dragged on for seven years. But the draft language emerging from the Vienna talks could lead to a final deal ready to be signed during an October conference in Kigali, Rwanda. The deal would be an amendment to the Montreal Protocol, the landmark 1989 environmental treaty designed to close the hole in the ozone layer by banning ozone-depleting coolants called chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs. In response, chemical companies developed HFCs, which do not harm the ozone. But the substitute had the wholly unexpected side effect of increasing heat trapped in the atmosphere, which worsened climate change…..NOTE: Honeywell, the New Jersey-based multinational company that produces everything from aerospace systems to home thermostats, has already invested $900 million in developing and patenting an HFC substitute, now being made in two recently built plants in Baton Rouge, La. A third plant in Louisiana is planned for next year, in anticipation of a booming demand for the products after passage of the Montreal Protocol amendment. “We began developing replacements for HFCs years ago,” said Ken Gayer, a vice president with Honeywell. Mr. Gayer said the company was already planning to make the new cooling products in India and China. Access full article here

21 July 2016, Climate Home, Cooler coolants: closing in on a climate deal in Vienna. Talks on phasing out a set of potent greenhouse gases used in fridges and air conditioning units are closer to success than ever before, say observers at a UN meeting in Vienna. US secretary of state John Kerry and US environment chief Gina McCarthy arrive in the Austrian capital this week, among 40 ministers set to attend the Montreal Protocol negotiations. At stake is 0.5C of global warming: that’s the projected boost continued use of these gases – known as HFCs – is likely to have on temperatures already drawing clear of 1C above pre-industrial levels. “I’m pretty optimistic, we’ve had very good discussions,” said Steve Seidel, senior advisor at the Washington DC think tank C2ES and former manager of the EPA’s Stratospheric Protection programme. “Till the [2015] Paris climate agreement there were some parties who had held back… but now we find every country is in a spirit of ‘let’s get this done’,” said David Doniger, head of US NGO NRDC’s climate and clean air programme. Finance to help countries use different types of coolants, access to the latest technology and agreement on phase-out deadlines are among key issues being debated by the Protocol’s 197 members. Read More here

19 July 2016, Reuters, Diplomats meeting in Vienna this week hope to take a major step toward a deal under the Montreal Protocol to decrease the use of a potent greenhouse gas, in what could be the most significant measure to combat global warming since last year’s Paris climate agreement. Officials from nearly 200 countries are trying to hammer out details of an agreement to cut the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) used in heating and air conditioning by amending the ozone-protection treaty that went into force in 1989. The goal for the Vienna meeting is to agree on schedules for countries to reduce HFC use and on financial support for developing nations cutting their use before a final summit in Kigali, Rwanda in October. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, who is leading the U.S. delegation, said a phase-down would be a “really big deal” in the global fight against climate change. “We are seeing tremendous projections in the growth in the use of HFCs, especially in developing countries” McCarthy said in an interview. A deal to replace HFCs with more climate-friendly alternatives “could avoid a rise of 0.5 degree Celsius by the end of the century,” said McCarthy. This would keep countries on track to meet the goal agreed at the Paris climate summit in December to limit the global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees C. HFCs are used in air conditioning and refrigeration as a substitute for ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons, whose use was eliminated under the Montreal Protocol. But it turned out that HFC emissions are nearly three times as potent as the world’s current annual output of carbon dioxide between now and 2050, according to David Doniger of the Natural Resources Defense Council. Read More here

 

On Track from Paris – Is this a plan or just more smoke and mirrors?

May 2016, World Resources Institute: The number of essential tasks that must be achieved before the first meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (known as CMA1) are many. To help negotiators and stakeholders find their way, WRI also created a map, On Track from Paris, which offers an overview of the sequencing and milestones to reach the CMA1 (see below).  

Source: If you wish to read more go to WRI web link here

What does the signing of the Paris Agreement mean?

Infograph Source:The Conversation, 22 April 2016

 

Regional climate change and national responsibilities

James Hansen and Makiko Sato: Published 2 March 2016© 2016 IOP Publishing Ltd Environmental Research Letters, Volume 11, Number 3

Global warming over the past several decades is now large enough that regional climate change is emerging above the noise of natural variability, especially in the summer at middle latitudes and year-round at low latitudes. Despite the small magnitude of warming relative to weather fluctuations, effects of the warming already have notable social and economic impacts. Global warming of 2 °C relative to preindustrial would shift the ‘bell curve’ defining temperature anomalies a factor of three larger than observed changes since the middle of the 20th century, with highly deleterious consequences. There is striking incongruity between the global distribution of nations principally responsible for fossil fuel CO2 emissions, known to be the main cause of climate change, and the regions suffering the greatest consequences from the warming, a fact with substantial implications for global energy and climate policies. Access full transcipt here

 

And what comes after Paris? Marrakech – COP 22

The next meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP22) to the UNFCCC following the landmark Paris COP21 meetings will be held in the city of Marrakech, Morocco. Fleshing out top decisions struck in the French capital will be key at this meeting in Morocco. The issue of “loss and damage” will take centre stage, according to Bangladeshi expert Saleemul Huq. A two-year-old mechanism created to explore how developing countries can get climate aid in the event of extreme weather events was formally embedded in the Paris pact. The 20-person committee of the ‘Warsaw International Mechanism’ will report back with suggestions for tackling displacement and migration, and broadening insurance programmes for vulnerable populations. View the calendar of events and issues here

19 January 2016, Climate Brief, …. At the birth of the new climate agreement, a new generation of UN terminology was also spawned. For instance, the “Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action” (more commonly referred to by its acronym, ADP) died in Paris, where its job of developing a new legally binding climate deal was completed. From its ashes rose the “Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement” (APA). This group is responsible for preparing the Paris deal for entry into force, which means filling in the numerous gaps left by Paris. The APA has to finish its work by the first session of the “Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement” (CMA) — a long way of referring to the group responsible for supervising the new deal. When this first session will be is uncertain — see the section below on the timeline for the entry into force of the new deal. The road ahead The Paris deal includes a heavy workload for the APA. One of its most important tasks will be to decide the shape of future Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) — the cyclical pledges that countries make outlining their intended emissions reductions. Read More here

 

Paris Agreement Timeline for Reviews

Source: 15 December 2015, Graphs and summary from Climate Institute  

Paris outcomes

18 December 2015, Carbon Brief: Access Interactive: The Paris Agreement on climate change here

Stronger than expected global warming goals: Countries agreed to not only keep the previously agreed less than 2°C goal in sight, but also to pursue avenues to keep warming below 1.5°C. This is a safer limit for low lying islands and other highly vulnerable countries. Countries will need to show how their target is a fair contribution to meeting the 1.5-2°C goal. All countries agreed on aiming to reach global peak greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, and to undertake rapid reductions thereafter, in accordance with best available science. They recognised the need for net zero emissions, but didn’t use that exact term. Rather they agreed to: “achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century”.6 Yet science suggests that all greenhouse gases would need to be at net zero by 2050 to have a chance at avoiding 1.5°C warming. To have a chance of avoiding 2°C, we would need to be at net zero between 2060 and 2070. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from energy and industry, which last longer in the atmosphere, would need to be at zero earlier than other gases.

A universal and durable agreement requiring actions from all countries: Key elements of the agreement include its durability and processes of review. The Paris Agreement will be more than a one-off deal – all countries have agreed to an enduring regime that ramps up action over decades. This contrasts with previous agreements that had to be renegotiated every decade or so. The agreement sets up a five yearly ‘stocktake’ of global progress, which will inform the submission of stronger commitments countries will make every five years, as demonstrated in Figure 2. Each updated target must be a progression of action over the last one, and re ect each country’s best efforts. Countries have also been invited to develop long-term national emissions targets for 2050, by 2020, so that business and communities have a clear pathway for planning. The agreement has: stronger than expected warming goals; effectively, a net zero emissions target; regular ve yearly reviews; and commitments to scale up and review climate finance investments. This means there are clear signals to business and investors that domestic policies will need to strengthen over time. The transparency and accountability framework is not fully developed, but there is a pathway for these to be established before 2020 when the agreement starts. As such, the outcome, while not perfect, will more than boost pre-existing momentum and can help catalyse the climate action needed. The international politics of climate change are catching up with the real-world, where we have seen signi cant shifts in domestic policies, investment choices, and community opinion over recent years. Transformation is already occurring and Paris has con rmed the direction of travel out of traditional fossil fuels and into clean energy sources. The agreement will further galvanise investors and industry around the growing opportunities of a clean economy.

Next steps: The international process will continue in 2016. Countries will work to put all the details in place so that the Paris agreement can come into force in or before 2020. For example, a capacity building committee will operate over the next few years to help developing countries build the knowledge and technological skills necessary to meet their current and future targets and adaptation needs. A work plan has also been put in place to develop the rules and procedures that will keep countries accountable to their contributions. A global agreement on climate change facilitates the transition to a net zero carbon economy and helps countries work more collaboratively. But it is effective domestic policies that will keep global warming well below 2°C.

What this means for Australia: The Paris agreement marks a critical point for Australian climate policy.The government has agreed to scale up action towards net zero emissions and the rest of the world is accelerating down this path. The time for piecemeal, unstable and short-term policy is over. The real work for Australia starts now. While international agreements can mark and drive momentum, it is domestic actions taken by governments that will reduce emissions.

Australia needs to:

  1.  Improve initial post-2020 pollution reduction target and commit to net zero emissions before 2050;
  2.  Expand domestic policies and, in particular, have a plan to replace existing coal red power plants;
  3.  Increase “climate finance” investment to assist vulnerable countries; and
  4.  Cancel our “Kyoto carry over” of surplus carbon credits.

Time to scale up our national target: Australia’s current post-2020 target will not see us pulling our weight towards limiting warming to below 1.5-2°C and does little to bring Australia in line with other developed countries.8 If other countries followed Australia’s lead, the world would warm by 3-4°C. Meeting the government’s 2030 target could see our per capita emissions fall to 16 tonnes – still much higher than other developed countries, and the highest of any G20 country other than Saudi Arabia. We would also have the most pollution intensive economy of any developed nation. While there is acknowledgement of the need for a net zero emissions economy, some in government suggest this target should be “by the end of the century”. As noted above, for the new warming goals to be taken seriously, this needs to be achieved around mid-century. The government has accepted the need for developed countries to show leadership, and it is clear that to do our bit towards these global goals, Australia should reach net zero emissions well before 2050. The longer we delay setting a credible target, the greater the risk that we will need to take more draconian action at a later date to keep up with global action. Failure to deliver on the details and spirit of the Paris agreement to scale up action will also see Australia face an increasingly negative reaction from other countries in both climate change and other international fora.

Australia should:

+ Update its target to one that is consistent with limiting warming to less than 1.5-2°C when it ratifies the Paris agreement. This would require emissions reductions of around 65 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

+ Establish a long-term emissions reduction target of net zero emissions before 2050. The combination of shorter-term targets and longer-term goals provides the community, including business, with a greater level of information and con dence

in Australia’s transition to a net zero emissions economy. This can better facilitate long-term decision-making and investment. The government has indicated it will develop a long-term target as part of its 2017-18 domestic policy review.

Implement scalable, and durable domestic policies: Australia’s current suite of climate policies will not modernise our economy, or meet our international commitments going forward. This needs to change. Our current initiatives do not put us on a path to meet our current inadequate 2030 pollution reduction target, let alone meet future targets that improve progressively. For example, the recent auctions under the Emissions Reduction Fund have achieved 2 per cent of the required reductions to do our bit in a less than 2°C world. The Prime Minister has stated we need to achieve net zero emissions. This is the key benchmark to judge domestic policy settings against. The challenge is not just to achieve certain percentage reductions but to establish a prosperous zero carbon economy.

rsz_1screen_shot_2015-12-15_at_122823_pm

Recently, the government has begun working to establish regulations to phase down super greenhouse gases used primarily in refrigeration (HFCs). It has also established a ministerial process to develop the “world’s best” vehicle standards. These are welcome, but insufficient steps. An essential element of achieving net zero emissions is the decarbonisation of the electricity sector before 2050. This requires both a phase out of high carbon coal- fired generators, and a phase in of renewable or near zero carbon power. The Climate Institute recommends that the government implement a regulated and planned phase out of coal generators consistent with a near zero emission electricity system, starting no later than 2020, ideally before.

Do our bit to support vulnerable nations: Improving resilience to climate impacts should be central to Australia’s aid program. It is in our national interest. Without climate resilience, Australia will increasingly be called to clean up and support countries after they suffer growing climate change impacts. The current contribution of $200 million a year, while a welcome rst step, falls well short of what other countries are putting on the table. To play our part towards the agreed US$100 billion goal, by 2020 Australia should be contributing ~$1.5 billion a year. Contributions can be made through the Green Climate Fund or by way of bilateral agreements. The government should prioritise the unique challenges of least developed countries and small island developing states. This will need to be scaled up through time. It highlights the need for the government to develop innovative and sustainable funding sources, as well as the need to leverage more private sector investment for zero carbon development and resilience projects in developing countries.

Cancel the Kyoto carry over: The agreement calls on countries to voluntarily cancel any emissions credits that have accumulated under the first period of the Kyoto Protocol rather than carry them over to help meet 2020 targets. These credits were generated because we over-achieved on our weak 2008- 2012 pollution increase target. A number of countries like Germany and the United Kingdom have cancelled their carry over units so they can boost ambition before 2020 and focus their efforts on modernising their economies. Australia should too.

 

Understanding the legality of a Paris agreement

16 December 2015, WRI, Form AND Function: Why the Paris Agreement’s Legal Form Is So Important. Because the Paris Agreement is a universal, legally binding agreement to tackle climate change under international law, it joins other such agreements as the highest expression of political intent and will. Yes, it has binding and non-binding components, but overall it is durable and underpins decisive real-economy change and drives corresponding national legislation and policy. Entering into legally binding agreements sends a strong signal to corporations, planners, investors and other implementers that governments will enforce climate policies. This is an agreement between countries in which each country indicates its intent to be bound at the international level. Each country follows its own domestic authorization process based on its own unique legal system, before joining this international agreement. This legal form makes the Paris Agreement, adopted December 12, 2015 at COP21, fundamentally different from the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol was a product of its time, with only a small number of countries taking on binding emission reduction targets. The Paris Agreement moves beyond that, achieving legal rigor while ensuring universal participation. While Kyoto succeeded in reducing emissions in some developed countries, it only had binding targets for a few countries. By contrast, the Paris Agreement includes every country and thus has to accommodate the different development stages of those countries. The targets themselves are not binding, but all countries are obliged to prepare, communicate and maintain their targets and pursue domestic measures to achieve them. Framing the obligation in this way is likely to increase the likelihood of implementation, since the targets are nationally-determined and in many countries, already anchored in nationally binding laws and regulations. It’s a more accommodating way to bind countries to deliver their national plans, while recognizing that some countries are not in a position to have their targets stated directly into a treaty. The Agreement has strong legally binding provisions on how to measure, report and verify emissions reduction commitments. Countries will be required to measure their emissions in the same way, report on them in the same frequency and format and have them verified through an independent technical process. The Agreement also ensures that countries must come to a multilateral setting to discuss progress on implementation of their emissions reduction targets. This commitment from all countries provides the means to track progress on how countries implement their commitments. This means there are opportunities to “name and shame” countries for not meeting their commitments. It is here that the court of international public opinion acts to judge and pressure countries. More specifically, the Paris Agreement includes a set of legally binding obligations on a range of issues, including: Read More here

13 November 2015, Carbon Brief, Explainer: The legal form of the Paris climate agreement. The aim of the UN summit in Paris is to seal a universal, international agreement on avoiding dangerous climate change, that has legal force. In broad terms, this means the Paris agreement is almost certain to include a legally binding treaty at its core, despite headlines to the contrary. Yet the treaty’s precise legal form remains unclear. What will the treaty bind countries to do? Will it even be called a treaty? Carbon Brief has read the lengthy legal texts and spoken to the experts on the legal form of the Paris climate agreement — and whether the legal form matters.

The Climate Scoreboard shows the progress that national contributions (INDCs) to the UN climate negotiations will make assuming no further action after the end of the country’s pledge period (2025 or 2030). Our analysis shows that the national contributions to date, with no further progress post-pledge period, result in expected warming in 2100 of 3.5°C (with a range of uncertainty of 2.1 – 4.6°C).

The Climate Scoreboard uses the C-ROADS climate policy simulation model to analyze the impact of the “Intended Nationally-Determined Contributions (INDCs)—pledges to limit greenhouse gas emissions—to the UN climate negotiations. The Scoreboard analysis above shows the expected impact of the pledges nations have made to date, assuming (1) the pledges are fully implemented, and (2) assuming no further reductions beyond those that have been formally pledged, specifically, actions after the end of the country’s pledge period (2025 or 2030). Global-GHG-Scoreboard

Any analysis, including ours, that offers an expected temperature change in 2100 includes assumptions about what will happen after the formal contributions end in 2025 or 2030. Thus, we also analyze scenarios in which nations are assumed to pledge and implement additional action beyond 2030. Greater ambition leads to further reductions in expected warning. For example:

  • No change after national contribution pledge period: 3.5°C, 2.0-4.5 (6.2°F, 3.6-8.2);
  • Plus, pledged reductions continue after pledges end (2025 or 2030): 3.2°C, 1.9-4.3 (5.8°F, 3.4-7.7);
  • Plus, China includes other GHGs and China and India reduce emissions after peak in 2030 at 2%/year: 2.8°C, 1.6-3.8 (5.1°F, 2.9-6.8);
  • Plus, countries without commitment also peak by 2035: 2.4°C, 1.4-3.3 (4.4°F, 2.4-5.9);
  • Plus, all countries peak and then reduce 3.5 – 4% per year: 2.0°C, 1.1-2.7 (3.6°F, 1.9-4.9).

NOTE: Go to “Australian Response” for assessment of what Australia’s pledge actually means.

24 October 2015, Climate News Network, Big emitters shift burden to poorer nations. Researchers say emissions reduction targets set by China, the US and Europe place harsh demands on the rest of the world, and could cast a pall over the Paris climate summit. Pledges by the three titans of greenhouse gas emission – Europe, the US and China, which are the three biggest fossil fuel consumers – fall “far short of fair” and may not be nearly enough to contain global warming, according to new research. In the complex game of power politics, development economics, environmental campaigning, climate science and greenhouse gas accounting that will characterise the forthcoming UN climate summit in Paris in December, the most important components so far are the declarations of intent made by the most developed nations. The US has announced plans to reduce emissions by 28% by 2025 and 83% by 2050. The EU is aiming for 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050. China has said its emissions will “peak” by 2025 and then start declining, and it aims to improve energy efficiency by 60 to 65%. The question then is: does this set the world on course to contain global warming to 2°C? Harsh demands The answer is probably “no”, say Glen Peters, senior research fellow at the Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo, Susan Solomon, professor of atmospheric chemistry and climate science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Pierre Friedlingstein, chair in mathematical modelling of climate systems at the University of Exeter, UK. They have been looking at the sums, and they report in Environmental Research Letters that the promises of the big three translate into harsh demands for the rest of the world. If the 2°C target is to be met, the remainder of the world would have to commit to per capita carbon dioxide emissions somewhere between seven and 14 times lower than the EU, US or China by 2030. Read More here

 

Tracking new climate action plans lead cop 21 Paris 

CAIT is one of the most trusted sources of climate data available. It is a free and open source for comprehensive and comparable climate and emissions data. CAIT is made up of a suite of tools that allow users to utilize the data to understand considerations of equity in climate negotiations, see transparency and available information in country climate action comitments, interact with historic emissions data, and dive into the methodologies behind future emissions projections. CAIT allows national governments, international organizations and independent researchers to perform relevant analysis and promote efficient action on climate change. Access tracking tool for climate action plans here

 

Carbon Tracker countries

Another excellent analysis tool from Climate Action Tracker that rates the adequacy of th e pledged actions of countries can be found here. No surprise that Australia’s response is rated “inadequate”. Data is updated as pledges change.

“We rate Australia’s targets for 2020 “Inadequate”. The conditional target of 25% emissions reduction below 1990 would be rated “Medium”, but only if no LULUCF credits were used. The current Kyoto target and Copenhagen pledge are above all effort-sharing proposals evaluated by the CAT. For Australia, proposals based on capability lead to higher emissions allowances whereas approaches that focus on equal cumulative/equal per capita emission would require more stringent reductions.”

Other Climate Trackers

Following is a list of other organisations that offer climate trackers adding up climate mitigation proposals to assess their sufficiency. Many of them are listed below: (and do let us know if you can point us to others!)

 

UNFCCC Pledge Graph7 September 2015, Climate News Network, Climate talks are stuck in the slow lane to Paris. Lack of progress at the close of “unbearably tardy” negotiations in Bonn undermines hopes of a meaningful deal being agreed at this year’s crucial UN climate summit. The latest round of climate talks in the German city of Bonnhave ended with a failure to deliver common grounds for the negotiations at the UN climate summit in Paris at the end of this year. The Paris talks, involving all UN member states, are meant to deliver a draft that could lead to a new world climate treaty to replace the expired Kyoto Protocol. But experts now fear that there will not be enough time left to see a major breakthrough. Jan Kowalzig, climate change policy adviser at Oxfam, described last week’s negotiations in Bonn as “unbearably tardy”. He said: “If the negotiators keep up that slow pace, the ministers at the UN summit will get an unfinished paper that they will have to resolve with no time for reflection. The outcome will then most likely be an extremely weak new treaty that will not save the world from climate change.” Read More here

 

Jeremy Leggett’s Chronicle – to Paris

Winning the Carbon WarIf you are interested in what happens behind the scenes and the machinations of corridor diplomacy – then this might be the read for you. Jeremy Leggett (don’t know who Jeremy is? Go here) has been recording his first hand impressions of the unfolding dramas that most preoccupy him, among the all-too numerous dramas inherent in the human condition – what is happening in the energy, climate, and (to a lesser extent) financial crises, and issues pertinent to society’s.
The latest update is chapter 28 (November). The next update will be 3 January, you can download from here, (I’m finding it is best to start with the latest chapters and work backwards when time permits.) Each month you will then be sent the next chapter and it will finish at the Paris negotiations. It will be better than being there. Jeremy has access to corridors that few of us have which adds much to the tales he tells.
Climate Action Network
I find the CAN enewsletter somewhat different and possibly not everyone’s cup of tea! But it is excellent for reporting on negotiations very closely, on a daily basis. If you want to keep a closer eye on the climate talks than I would recommend registering for their enewsletter – ECO.
The Climate Action Network (CAN) is a worldwide network of over 950 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in more than 110 countries, working to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels.
ECO is a daily insiders look at what is happening in the negotiations. And perhaps more importantly, what should happen at the negotiations from CAN’s perspective. ECO is published every day of the negotiations, and has been done so since the Stockholm Environment Conference in 1972. 
Wanting to understand international negotiations better?
International Negotiations: Toward a 2015 Climate Agreement: Following can provide readers with a greater understanding about the negotiation process: The broad outlines of the emerging agreement reflect a new model of international climate governance blending “top-down” and “bottom-up” approaches to achieve both broad participation and stronger action. (C2ES’s Elliot Diringer explores this new hybrid approach, and prospects for Paris, in a recent article in Nature.) Core issues in the negotiation include the legal nature of the agreement, differentiation of responsibility among developed and developing countries, ways to strengthen climate adaptation and support for developing countries, rules to ensure transparency and accountability, and ways the agreement can strengthen ambition over time. C2ES is providing expert analysis of issues and options in the Paris climate negotiations and is facilitating informal discussions among negotiators from key countries through its Toward 2015 dialogue. Source: Center for Climate and Energy Solutions

C2ES Resources:

These reports and policy briefs provide background on the Durban Platform talks and examine key issues:

Bonn Climate Change Conference – June 2015The forty-second sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 42) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 42), as well as the June session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP2-9) took place June 2015 in Bonn, Germany. Access “Australia Response” page for updates. This is the last major meeting before meeting in Paris in December

Australia’s current position as indicated to UNFCCC was: Australia will reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 25 per cent compared with 2000 levels by 2020 if the world agrees to an ambitious global deal capable of stabilizing levels of GHGs in the atmosphere at 450 ppm carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2 eq) or lower. Australia will unconditionally reduce its emissions by 5 per cent compared with 2000 levels by 2020 and by up to 15 per cent by 2020 if there is a global agreement which falls short of securing atmospheric stabilization at 450 ppm CO2 eq under which major developing economies commit to substantially restraining their emissions and advanced economies take on commitments comparable to Australia’s.

Two degree “safe limit”

An in-depth analysis 15 June 2015, The Carbon Brief an In-depth analysis: Is the 1.5C global warming goal politically possible? 

For the past five years, international climate change negotiations have been guided by the principle that the rise in global average temperatures should be limited to “below 2C above pre-industrial levels”. Is this goal adequate? Probably not, according to a report conducted by the UN and launched at the climate change negotiations in Bonn. Read More here

UNFCCC – The beginning…

The United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) entered into force on 21 March 1994. Today, it has near-universal membership. The 195 countries that have ratified the Convention are called Parties to the Convention. This is why their meetings become COPXX.

The UNFCCC is a “Rio Convention”, one of three adopted at the “Rio Earth Summit” in 1992. Its sister Rio Conventions are the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention to Combat Desertification.

unfccc_bodies
Trying to understand the convoluted machinations of global agreements? Good luck!

Basics about the UN climate talks

To help prepare for the potentially game-changing 21st gathering of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 21) in Paris beginning Nov. 30, Ensia is publishing a series of context pieces from long time observer and reporter Fiona Harvey. This first instalment answers some basic questions about the U.N. talks. Everything you always wanted to know about the UN climate talks but were afraid to ask…. Read More here 

Second instalment describes the fascinating, at times frustrating, at times fruitful trajectory that has brought us to this pivotal point today. Read More here

Q&A with Jennifer Morgan (WRI): Everything You Need to Know About the New Climate Agreement

The world is fast-approaching a key milestone in the global warming battle—a new international climate agreementGovernments of both developed and developing countries are currently hard at work creating their national climate action plans, which outline what each country will do after 2020 to reduce emissions. These commitments will be one of the major pillars of a new global climate agreement, expected to be finalized at a United Nations(UN) summit in Paris this December (COP 21). So why is this global agreement such a big deal, and what impact will it have on communities around the world? Sarah Parsons spoke to the global director of WRI’s Climate Program, Jennifer Morgan, to get all the important details. Read more here