Saturday, December 15, 2018

Inside the Tent: Big Polluters Work to Shape Paris Agreement Rules at the UN Climate Talks

Should fossil fuel companies that knew their products contributed to climate change for nearly 40 years and did nothing about it now be allowed to have their say inside the UN climate talks?
The IETA Business Hub Lounge at Katowice.
For the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), a business lobby comprised of some of the world’s largest fossil fuel producers and greenhouse gas emitters such as BP, Chevron, Rio Tinto, Eni, Total and Shell, the answer is yes.

“Fundamentally,” the IETA writes, “we believe that our businesses should be part of the climate negotiations — because we intend to be part of the solution”.

IETA has already wielded much influence on the UN climate talks. This year’s climate conference — known as COP24 — is widely considered to be the most important climate meeting of the last three years, with countries aiming to finalise the rulebook to implement the Paris Agreement.

A Guide to What the Times’s Bold, Flawed Climate Story Left Out

In the August 5 issue of the New York Times Magazine, reporter Nathaniel Rich spells out, in just shy of 30,000 words, how in the decade spanning 1979 to 1989, we came very close to halting climate change in its tracks, only we didn’t. Rich’s in-depth reporting links together the earliest understandings of and reports on climate change—as early as 1978, we knew that a hike in global temperatures by 2 degrees Celsius would wreck havoc on the planet with the political atmosphere at the time. The consensus, in those years, was that climate change was a collective failure, and one for which every country and every leader should assume collective responsibility.

In the piece, called “Losing Earth,” Rich tracks the work of the lobbyist Rafe Pomerance and climate scientist James Hansen as they worked to convince both politicians and the American public of the consequences of unfettered fossil fuel burning. They were certainly effective in raising awareness; as early as 1979, Exxon was launching its own research into carbon emissions to better understand how much blame it would shoulder, because the company recognized that, at that time, it was still conceivable that it might end up in hot water if government regulations were authorized. “There was a formal consensus around the nature of the crisis,” Rich writes. That consensus led to meetings among global leaders in Geneva, Tokyo, and the Netherlands, while Pomerance and Hansen continued their work on the ground in the U.S.

Read the Fast Company story by Eillie Anzilotti - “A Guide to What the Times’s Bold, Flawed Climate Story Left Out.”

1,000 little steps’: Global climate talks end in progress, but fail to address the galloping pace of climate change

KATOWICE, Poland — Weary climate negotiators limped across the finish line Saturday night after days of round-the-clock talks, striking a deal that keeps the world moving forward with plans to curb carbon emissions. But the agreement fell well short of the breakthrough that scientists — and many of the conference’s own participants — say is needed to avoid the cataclysmic impacts of a warming planet.

The deal struck Saturday at a global conference in the heart of Polish coal country, where some 25,000 delegates had gathered, adds legal flesh to the bones of the 2015 Paris agreement, setting the rules of the road for nearly 200 countries to cut their production of greenhouse gases and monitor each other’s progress.
Participants leaving town on Friday, even as negotiations
drag on at the end of the two-week United Nations
 summit on climate change in Katowice, Poland.
While President Trump announced his intentions to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement, the Obama administration had already joined, and the text of the agreement doesn’t allow for formal withdrawal until late 2020. In the meantime, the U.S. remains involved in the negotiations and sends an annual delegation. It’s also still a part of the overarching climate treaty, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, that’s the formal organizing structure for these yearly talks.

Read The Washington Post story by Brady Dennis, Griff Witte and Chris Mooney - “‘1,000 little steps’: Global climate talks end in progress, but fail to address the galloping pace of climate change.”

This Secretive Chinese Mission Shows a Desperate Need for Environmental Agreements

There’s an iconic photo of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi deep in conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping right before the two world leaders and historic opponents sign a peace declaration. The talks, which took place in April 2018, ended with a pledge between the two countries to “maintain peace and tranquillity in all areas of the India-China border region.” It was a historic agreement after years of political and military tensions over one of the most crucial and fragile ecosystems in the world.
The Tibetan Plateau sits in a rain shadow and, with
 an average annual snowfall of only 18 inches, is
dry for nine months of the year. Yet Tibet is the
source of several major rivers such as the Yangtze,
the Indus River, the Mekong, and the Ganges.
The China-India border, which stretches for 2,167 miles across the Himalayan region, is far from a tranquil place, though it attracts tens of thousands of mountaineers each year to brave its peaks. As humans progressively spoil the natural world, the impervious nature of the Himalayas has for centuries protected its forests, which are home to 360 unique songbird species, from mass tourism and industry.

Jordan Peterson: climate change denier and faux science-lover

Jordan Peterson is many things. He’s a best-selling author, although not in France, unsurprisingly. He’s a former Professor at the University of Toronto, now on likely permanent leave. He’s famous for refusing to use the gender pronouns preferred by his students for reasons he claimed were related to freedom of speech. He’s been adopted by the alt-right and incels as one of their preferred intellectuals, over his very faint protests.
Jordan Peterson.
And he is a climate change denier.

Read the Medium story by Michael Barnard - “Jordan Peterson: climate change denier and faux science-lover.”

You Are Stealing Our Future: Greta Thunberg, 15, Condemns the World’s Inaction on Climate Change.

Fifteen-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg addressed the U.N. plenary last night in Katowice, Poland, condemning global inaction in the face of catastrophic climate change.

Watch the interview by Amy Goodman and read the transcript from Democracy Now  - "You Are Stealing Our Future: Greta Thunberg, 15, Condemns the World’s Inaction on Climate Change.

Global Emissions Must Drop 55% by 2030 to Meet Climate Goals

After three years of holding steady, global greenhouse gas emissions rose by 1.1% this year. Clearly, this is not good. In a significant report released this fall, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change illustrated the urgent need to rein in global warming, and to essentially decarbonize global industries by 2050. Even a slight increase in emissions is a setback (holding steady, at a level still very unhealthy for the planet, wasn’t great either, but it was at least progress).
Global emissions must drop by more than 50 per cent by 2030
if we are to have any chance of reining in climate change.
It also contributed to a widening of what’s known as the “emissions gap“–essentially, the difference between “where we are and where we need to be.” Every year since 2011, the UN Environment Program has detailed the state of this global emissions gap. Doing so, though, is a bit like trying to hit a moving target. “There’s so much more information now, and so many more models and projections that we have to integrate into our study,” says Philip Drost, program officer at UN Environment. As climate science has grown more evolved, as matters of measuring emissions have become more sophisticated, and most crucially, as global warming goals have become more urgent, he adds, the gap has mutated.

Read the Fast Company story Eillie Anzilotti - “Global Emissions Must Drop 55% by 2030 to Meet Climate Goals.”