Paris Climate Talks – What Does “Emissions Neutrality” Mean?

cop21 logo smlWhat Does “Emissions Neutrality” Really Mean?

Explainer:
Negotiators have deleted specific emission reduction targets for the long-term goal i.e. +2050. Thursday night in Paris a new proposal surfaced for “greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions neutrality in the second half of the century, on the basis of equity and guided by science in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication”.

This should mean zero GHG emissions from all sectors by first reducing emissions to near zero and then using negative emissions (taking CO2 etc out of the atmosphere) to achieve net zero.

Defining it as GHG neutrality vs carbon neutrality is very important from climate science perspective. In 2012, 23% of emissions were non-CO2 greenhouse gases.

Bottom line:

There is no way to get to 1.5C or 2.0C without GHG neutrality before 2100. What’s missing in the agreement is a specific time table – “second half of the century” is pretty vague. Expect this to change at some future COP (yes there will be many more) when the science catches up with figuring out what is needed to achieve it.

Paris Climate Talks – Reactions to New Dec 10 Text

Things are moving faster than expected, debate continues overnight with hopes of a final agreement ready to be voted on late Friday. We’ll see. Remember this is a consensus process, one country can hold up the rest. 

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It is slightly longer with about 50 brackets – down from 150 to 200. 

Some reactions in the order they were made:

“The standard of any effective climate policy is clear: does it keep fossil fuels in the ground and accelerate a just transition to 100% renewable energy?

The commitments we are seeing in the text are a start, but they won’t get the job done, so activists are already mobilizing to close the gap between rhetoric and reality.”
— Payal Parekh, 350.org Global Managing Director

At first glance happy with new COP21 draft – target ‘well below 2C’ and ’emissions neutrality’ in 2050-2100 both ambitious but achievable
— Corinne Le Quéré (@clequere)

$100bn confirmed as rich nations’ floor in new draft Paris #COP21 text. Left – today Right – yesterday
— Simon Evans (@DrSimEvans)

#Oceans #biodiversity & “Mother Earth” out of #brackets in Preamble #update #UNFCCC #COP21
— Paris Agreement News (@ParisAgreement)

Binding part of new #climate agreement draft no longer includes #humanrights – that is going to upset a lot of people
— Megan Rowling ‏@meganrowlin

I see “people in vulnerable situations and under occupation” remains… here’s why that’s a little tricky: http://www.climatechangenews.com/2015/12/07/israel-palestine-conflict-seeps-into-paris-climate-talks-in-human-rights-row/
— Edward King

As I’ve been saying, addition of 1.5C wording is about recognizing harm to small islands and other countries #COP21 pic.twitter.com/Cw4Di5dtGz
Simon Donner (@simondonner)

3rd draft is out. No liability/compensation. Adriano Campolina of @ActionAid called it “draft deal that denies the world justice”
— Stella Paul (@stellasglobe)

By including a clause for no future claim of compensation and liability, the US has ensured people suffering from the disastrous impacts of climate change will never be able to seek the justice owed to them.

This unfair and unjust draft deal won’t face up to the realities of climate change and will only serve to widen the chasm between rich and poor.Rich countries have a responsibility to ensure a fair global deal for everyone, not just themselves, and as we move into these final hours of negotiations poorer countries must not settle for anything less.
— Adriano Campolina, ActionAid Chief Executive

New #COP21 text is remarkably streamlined. But big issues on target, differentiation (funding) & transparency still open. Important progress
— Simon Lewis (@SimonLLewis)

First published on the Climate News Mosaic Paris Climate Talks Live Blog available here:
Inter Press Service News Agency (International)
DeSmog Blog (Seattle)
Philippine EnviroNews (Philippines)
Earth Journalism (International)
Watson (Switzerland)
Skeptical Science (International)

Paris Climate Talks – New Text Now, Final On Track for Friday

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In a very brief session at 21:00 COP President Fabius says he will lead meetings of negotiators from 11.30 pm and overnight to hash out “compromises” and “landing zones”.

“I think I will be able to present final text tomorrow,” he said.

NEW TEXT HERE

It is slightly longer with about 50 brackets – down from 150 to 200. 

Paris Climate Talks – Science Behind Need for 1.5C

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No climate scientist thinks two degrees C will be “safe”. Many countries, especially least-developed countries and small island states, have been calling for global target to be less than 1.5C of heating in 2009 at COP 15 in Copenhagen. Before that some countries launched  ‘1.5 to stay alive’ campaign at the UN in September 2009.

Humans have enjoyed 10,000 years of climate stability, in which the global average temperature varied less than one degree C – even during the Little Ice Age.

This heating will be wildly uneven with the Arctic warming 2-3 times faster. In 1.5C world much of the far north will be 4.0C. Canada is already 1.6 to 1.8 C warmer today.

Large parts of Africa including the African Sahel, including the Horn of Africa, are very vulnerable to any increase in temperatures. Even with 1.5C large portions of the Arctic and Antarctic will continue to melt raising sea levels, albeit at a slower rate threatening the very existence of some small islands states.

Delay in making the shift to non-fossil fuel energy sources will be very costly. Waiting until 2020 to curb global emissions will cost twice as much compared with peaking emissions by 2015 various analysis have shown.

At least 65% of Existing Coal Plants Must be Shuttered by 2030
Serious action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions means 65 percent of current coal power plants will have to be shut down in the next decade or two, a 2012 study concludes.

There are enormous benefits if global emissions decline before 2020. Failure to do so will mean we will need to use more nuclear, massive amounts of bioenergy, large-scale carbon capture and storage

  • Joeri Rogelj, a climate scientist at Switzerland’s Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science

Paris Climate Talks – Final Draft Deadline Wednesday 1 pm CET

cop21 logo smlParis Accord Final Draft Due Wednesday
COP21 President Fabius sets deadline for a clean text by 1 pm Wed in Comité de Paris plenary this evening.Clean text means removing most (90%?) of the 600 to 800 brackets currently in the draft. (Read it here)

Fabius still believes that the Accord can be finalized and voted on by Friday  6 pm.

Loss and Damage Impasse?
Late Tuesday in the second Comité de Paris plenary a facilitator reported the loss and damage mechanism – called the “Warsaw Mechanism” — could not be resolved.Loss and Damage is the third pillar of the Paris Accord and pertains to current and ongoing climate impacts. Those impacts result in both economic and non-economic losses, including the growing issue of climate refugees, people who are forced to move because their homelands can no longer support them.

The US and other countries are very concerned this may open the door to liability claims.

This is just one of handful of issues. No one will get much sleep in Paris tonight.

Paris Climate Talks – Short Cut to Success?

cop21 logo smlComité de Paris Reveals Significant Disagreements Remain
Special “Paris Committee” (Comité de Paris) created last Saturday evening to sort out the disputed parts of a potential Paris Accord at COP 21.

It is comprised of 14 ministers from various countries have split the draft accord into four key issues . Monday night facilitators reported mostly progress and good will.

However when the floor was opened some countries raised questions and concerns about both the contents of the draft agreement and the openness and transparency of the Comité de Paris process. This included requests for more detailed word by word negotiation.

However a final draft must be completed in 48 hours reminded Laurent Fabius, COP 21 President.

It is unlikely that all contested issues will be sorted by end of day Tuesday say observers.

“A line by line negotiation is not feasible” –Miguel Arias Cañete, Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, European Commission representing the EU said late Monday evening.

Paris Climate Talks – Peak CO2 Already?

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Have We Reached the Crucial Peak in Global CO2 Emissions?
New report released today says CO2 emissions will likely decline this year for the first time after growing 2-3% per year for last 15 years.

“Whether a slower growth in global emissions will be sustained depends on the use of coal in China and elsewhere, and where new energy will come from. In 2014, more than half of new energy needs in China were met from renewable sources such as hydro, nuclear, wind, and solar power.” — Corinne Le Quéré, Director of the Tyndall Centre

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Paris Climate Talks – Halfway Done but Long, Uphill Road Ahead

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Halfway through the ‘historic’ Paris climate talks and things are going far too slow leaving major issues for last day, late night bargaining by country leaders. This is despite six years of previous negotiations since Copenhagen in 2009. 

There are now two alternative draft texts — each less than 50 pages long but still containing 200 to 300 brackets (disputed text) each.
Some of this weeks ‘hot’ issues:
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Science says 1.5C; Oil Rich Countries say 2.0C 
Countries continue to block agreement based on their short term self interest – looking at you oil-producing Arab countries blocked 1.5C as a new global target. Recent scientific studies show 1.5C provides better protection for all nations – 2.0C condemns some to drown, many to starve.

 

No Human Rights?
Norway and some Arab states don’t want any reference to human rights in the new climate deal. This has been in the text for nearly a year.
Where’s the Money?
Finance or funding to help developing nations survive climate impacts remains at an impasse as it has for a long time. Countries were promised this funding in 2009 and it was to ramp up to $100 billion a year by 2020. That has not happened. 

“I’m out of words, it’s just not right,” said Juan Hoffmeister, a Bolivian negotiator.

 

Transparency and Verification of Commitments
Although technical, another outstanding issue is “transparency”. What’s the proof countries are actually cutting emissions as promised? Rules and expert review formulas for verification are hotly contested. China and India wanting lax rules and no independent review while US insisting on strict ones.
Will We Get a Paris Climate Accord?
In the end there will be an agreement of sorts – the “Paris Climate Accord”?  What-ever the final title, it will not set the world on a path to 2.0C. Far deeper CO2 emissions cuts and more investment will be needed. 

First published on the Paris Climate Talks Live Blog available here:

Paris Climate Talks – Voices 4 Mother Earth Gathering

Sacred prophesies of Indigenous peoples say the gathering  of people at the Paris climate talks are turning point for humanity

From 1 to 5 December 2015 some thirty outstanding Wisdom Keepers from around the world – elders and grandmothers of Indigenous Peoples, spiritual leaders, scientists, economists, artists, youth and more – will gather in the Voices 4 Mother Earth Gathering – World Wisdom Gathering just outside Paris.

“We recognize that all people are members of the Human Family and that our life depends on our Mother Earth. We accept our obligation to our children and our children’s children to live in modest harmony with all living things.”

Paris Climate Talks: Global Warming Explained in 60 Seconds or Less

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One night in a bar a Russian journalist who I’d just met says:  “This global warming is too complicated for people to know if it’s real or not”.

“You don’t think climate change is happening?” I asked with surprise since we were both covering a big United Nations climate conference.

“No one has been able to give me a good explanation to prove it’s real,” said Yuri (not his real name).

“I can explain it to you in less than one minute,” I replied.

Yuri was sceptical but I went ahead and said:

“The moon has no atmosphere so it is scorching hot (+100C) during the day and bitterly cold (-150C) at night. The Earth has an atmosphere made up of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide (CO2) and other gases. Over 150 years ago scientists proved that CO2 traps heat from the sun. We also know without any doubt that burning fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal emits CO2.

Measurements, not computer models or theories, measurements show that there is now 42% more CO2 in the atmosphere than 150 years ago before massive use of fossil fuels. That extra CO2 is like putting another blanket on at night even though you are already nice and warm. The Earth is now 1.0 C hotter on average according to the latest measurements. Heat is a form of energy and with so much more energy in our atmosphere our weather system is becoming supercharged resulting in stronger storms, worse heat waves, major changes in when and where rain falls and more.

That’s it.

After a long silence Yuri says “I guess that makes sense…”.

I’m not sure he was convinced but the truth is that climate change is not that complicated.

One additional thing to know is that CO2 is forever. Every little CO2 molecule we add to the atmosphere will continue to trap the sun’s heat for hundreds and thousands of years.

First published Aug 2015