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:

Rage and the Economics of the Environment

Economist Tim Jackson, Copenhagen Dec 2009

[Rage does feel appropriate at times with the continuing mis-information regarding climate change and the IPCC. While some focus on looking for typos in 3000 page report, the real issue is an overwhelming need to bring our economic system in line with the reality that we have but one planet to live on. Economists like Tim Jackson, who I met in Copenhagen, and others are taking on this vitally important task but are getting little media attention. — Stephen]

Stephen Leahy interviews British economist TIM JACKSON*

Tim Jackson: “The climate treaty wasn’t the only thing that failed in Copenhagen.”

TORONTO, Canada, Jan 28, 2010 (Tierramérica)

“Rage is sometimes the appropriate response” to the failure of the world’s leaders to craft a new climate treaty at the Copenhagen summit, says British economist Tim Jackson.

The Copenhagen Accord, the outcome of the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December, not only revealed global environmental governance as a fiction, but also demonstrated a continuing blind adherence to the mantra of economic growth, says Jackson

Professor of sustainable development and director of the Research Group on Lifestyles, Values and Environment at Surrey University in Britain, Jackson also serves as British government advisor and economics commissioner for the Sustainable Development Commission.

In addition, Jackson is a professional playwright with numerous radio-writing credits for the BBC, based in London.

Tierramérica’s Stephen Leahy spoke with Jackson by phone about his new, controversial book “Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet”, the Copenhagen Accord and prospects for a real climate treaty, continuing a conversation they began last month in Copenhagen.

Q: Your book “Prosperity without Growth” argues that economic growth in developed countries is making people less happy and destroying the Earth itself.

A: It’s clear the continued pursuit of growth endangers the ecosystems on which we depend for long-term survival.

There is also ample evidence that increasing material wealth in developed countries is not making people any happier, but just the opposite in some countries. Beyond a certain level of income, there is no correlation of greater income with greater happiness.

Q: If the era of economic growth is over, what will take its place?

A: Wealth and prosperity need to be redefined along the lines of (1998 Nobel laureate in economics) Amartya Sen’s “capability for flourishing.” Flourishing is defined as having enough to eat, being part of a community, worthwhile employment, decent housing, access to education and medical services.

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