It is the week before the Paris 2015 United Nations Conference on Climate Change. Three things happened this week. There was lots of optimism about Paris. There was some expectation management. There was smoke and mirrors from the Australian Government.
UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, went to print globally this week (in The Age in Australia) to manage expectations: “The negotiation process has been slow and cumbersome. But we are seeing results. In response to the UN’s call, more than 166 countries, which collectively account for more than 90 per cent of emissions, have now submitted national climate plans with targets. If successfully implemented, these national plans bend the emissions curve down to a projected global temperature rise of about 3 degrees by the end of the century. This is significant progress. But it is still not enough. The challenge now is to move much further and faster to reduce global emissions so we can keep the global temperature rise to below 2 degrees. At the same time, we must support countries to adapt to the inevitable consequences that are already upon us.”
The most interesting insight of the week came from Australia’s chief climate negotiator and Ambassador for the Environment, Peter Wollcott. He spoke in Brisbane and the Guardian’s Graham Redfern was there: “He explained how the system of multilateral talks was “struggling to cope” with the expectations and demands of a rapidly changing world. In Paris, he said Australia wanted a deal that would set the world on a pathway to keeping global warming below two degrees. The deal should not be seen as an end point, but as a “waypoint”. In terms of a collective global problem, “issues do not get any bigger” than climate change, he said. Left unchecked, it will magnify existing problems and increase pressure on resources including land, water, energy, food and fish stocks. It has the potential to erode development gains, undermine economic growth and compound human security challenges. Last week’s terrorist attacks would, he said, “only strengthen the resolve” of the French government to come out of the talks with an ambitious deal. He speculated that the success of the Paris agreement could boil down to the willingness of richer countries to commit to financing for developing countries. In exchange for this, developing nations could then sign the deal.” That’s about as good intelligence that you will get from anywhere.
Climate Change News reinforced Peter Woollcott’s thinking: “The challenge facing officials working on a global deal to cut carbon emissions has been emphasised in a French government briefing. A summary of an 8-10 November Paris meeting involving 60 ministers lists over 20 issues which require clarity before a UN pact to limit warming to below the 2C danger zone can be struck. Greater levels of climate finance from developed countries to poorer and emerging economies is a major hurdle repeatedly referred to in the document.”
The World Bank has kicked off funding for developing and emerging nations. Business Green reports the bank has unveiled a $16bn climate finance programme to help African countries cope with the worst impacts of climate change, such as drought and food shortages. The multi-lateral development bank estimates that it will cost $5bn to $10bn per year to help Africa adapt to 2C warming - the limit countries have agreed to meet in order to prevent catastrophic climate change.
An interesting insight on ‘how stuff works’ came from the Chinese via Reuters: Keeping state leaders away from the negotiations will play a major role in ensuring that crucial talks on a new global climate deal in Paris next week proceed smoothly, China’s top climate change negotiator said in an interview on Monday. Xie Zhenhua, China’s veteran climate chief, told Reuters in an interview that he was confident there was now sufficient “political will” to secure a new deal, and that changes to the “design” of the talks would help avoid the failures of Copenhagen in 2009. Xie said China proposed to the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change at an early stage to try to restrict the involvement of state leaders in order to ease the political pressures on negotiators.
On the event of the conference, the Climate Group reports the UN released “Climate Action Now” a document outlining the issues for decision makers. “Taking climate action now is in the economic interest of all countries, the report points out. If emissions continue unabated and reach 55 Gigatonnes (Gt) of CO2 equivalent by 2030, global emissions will need to be reduced by an unprecedented 6% annually between 2030 and 2050 to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius – increasing mitigation costs by 44%.”
Australia will go to the Paris climate change summit with public backing to do more to cut greenhouse gas emissions if it helps get a global deal, according to a new poll by the Lowy Institute. The Age reports the survey for the foreign affairs think-tank found 62 per cent of people backed Australia bolstering its emissions reduction targets in the interests of a reaching a global climate agreement.
Just before getting on the plane to Paris, The Australian Government gave its France bound smoke and mirrors deployment one last run on domestic soil. The ABC reported the Federal Government says it has met its 2020 greenhouse emissions target, ahead of this week's climate change talks in Paris. It has released figures from the Department of Environment showing Australia had already achieved a 5 per cent reduction based on 2000 levels. By 2020, the department predicted Australia would have met its target by 28 million tonnes. Environment Minister Greg Hunt told the National Press Club it would make it easier to make additional cuts in the future. "We have closed the gap and go to Paris officially subzero and on track to beat our 2020 target," Mr Hunt said.
Not everyone believes Mr Hunt - indeed, few do. The Guardian reports Australia will use “accounting rules” to tell the Paris climate summit it has met its greenhouse gas reduction targets even though its carbon pollution is increasing, an analysis has confirmed. “According to the latest analysis by research firm RepuTex, Australia’s actual emissions will rise 4 per cent by 2020, compared with 2000 levels, and 6% compared with today. But it will be able to count “carry over”, under the accounting rules governing international emissions calculations, because it “overshot” or did better than the special deal it received at the Kyoto meeting for its first climate change pledge to 2012. The Conversation said Australia will miss the target by 20 per cent. All up then, the total emissions reduction bought by the ERF will be around 193 million tonnes of CO₂. While this is 10 million tonnes better than predicted after the first auction this outcome remains 44 million tonnes (or about 19 per cent) short of Australia’s -5 per cent target – and much more for the -15 per cent goal. The Australian Conservation Foundation said The government’s unrealistically high projections for Australia’s future emissions make the task of achieving the 5 per cent by 2020 target seem more challenging than it really is, the Australian Conservation Foundation said its research shows the target has always been weak and inflated projections about emissions growth make it easy to reach.
In overnight news, Politico EU reports Poland’s new conservative government is threatening to veto a deal at the Paris climate summit, making clear its determination to protect the country’s large coal industry. Reuters reports India would reject a deal to combat climate change that includes a pledge for the world to wean itself off fossil fuels this century, a senior official said, underlying the difficulties countries face in agreeing how to slow global warming. Climate Change News reports Washington and Brussels are on a collision course over the legal nature of a proposed UN deal to tackle global warming, with the EU’s top climate official insisting it wants a binding treaty to enforce carbon cuts.
In other news this week, the Australian Greens released their climate change policy. The Age reports a new $500 million government authority would deliver a 15-year pipeline of clean energy projects through a combination of reverse auctions and direct investment under a Greens plan to boost renewable energy and close down coal-fired power stations. The Greens policy, called Renew Australia, aims to make Australia’s energy generation 90 per cent renewable by 2030. The new body would be tasked with planning and driving the transition to a new clean energy system. It would work alongside the CSIRO, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency to bring innovative clean energy technologies to full commercial deployment.
So, we’ve made it. We are ready for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. This is the moment of truth to address the inconvenient truth.
SPECIAL BRIEFING - PARIS CLIMATE CONVENTION
The United Nation Climate Convention commences on Monday although there are numerous pre-meetings being conducted this week. Before getting into the usual summary of news and opinion, the first section of this week’s bulletin has a summary of the latest developments.
Most linked articles here can are read on Flipboard.
Top line opinion on the meeting
A selection of great reading on climate change politics, policy, innovation and science from Climate Reality Leader Andrew Woodward. @climatecomm and www.climatecommunication.net
Professor Lesley Hughes via International Innovation: Reasons for optimism in a climate of pessimism - International Innovation
Australian Environment Minister Greg Hunt via Sydney Morning Herald: Paris 2015: Greg Hunt says climate change action at summit a 'deeply personal goal’
Former British Labour Leader , Ed Miliband, via the Guardian: Yes, the Paris climate change conference can save the planet | Ed Miliband
Prof. Peter Doherty (Nobel prize winner): Australia should back calls to end coal and save its drowning neighbours
USA EPA Head, Gina McCarthy via Scientific American: The U.S. Can Lead the World to a Climate Agreement
Climate Reality: Ten Times Al Gore Inspired Us to Act on Climate
ABC The Drum (Mike Steketee):
National Geographic: The Good, the Bad, the Bewildering: 10 Countries’ Climate Pledges
Climate Communication: Multi-laterals, actors, COP21, UNFCC, IPCC, CO2, 450 ppm, 2°C. Da fuq? A guide to the climate change talks in Paris next week for marketing and communications people
Australian Greens: RenewAustralia: our plan in detail
Renew Economy: How the Greens intend to deliver 90% renewables by 2030
The Conversation: The Greens' plan for 90% renewables by 2030 sounds hard, but it stacks up
Vox: Top Democratic pollsters agree: climate change is a winning issue for Democrats
Australia Institute via the Canberra Times: Back to basics on coal's role in climate change
Huffington Post: Thanks for the Memories, Fossil Fuels, but Now It's Time to Change
New Climate Economy: 10 Graphs That Explain Why Fossil Fuel Subsides Have Got to Go
Renew Economy: The IEA’s climate-friendly scenario spells doom for coal
Renewable Economy: Global tipping point: The beginning of the end of coal
New York Times: Extreme Weather Tied to Over 600,000 Deaths Over 2 Decade
Sydney Morning Herald: Australia's bush fire preparedness under threat as climate change kicks in
Renew Economy: Wind and solar to play centre stage at Paris climate talks
IRENA via the Guardian: Renewables are changing the climate narrative from sacrifice to opportunity
Science Alert: Here's how 139 countries could run on 100% wind, solar, and hydro power by 2050
Renew Economy: How Australia can reach zero emissions by 2050: Start now
Renew Economy: Murdoch strikes again: The sad demise of Climate Spectator
Climate Communication: Climate Change for Brands and Reputation - Responsibility Plus Bulletin #056 for 24 November 2015
Visions 2100: Stories from your future
Stop Corporate Abuse: Fueling the fire: the big polluters bankrolling COP21
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This Week in Climate Change (formally The Week That Was), a weekly review of climate change politics, policy, innovation and science from Climate Reality Leader Andrew Woodward. @climatecomm