Category Archives: Negotiations

Less business-as-usual at UN climate talks

Businesslike, yes – but this year’s climate summit in Bonn is not quite so focussed on business-as-usual as these occasions usually are.

BONN, 9 November, 2017 – Business-as-usual it certainly isnt. What was supposed to be a quiet, technical UN climate change conference here (COP 23) has got under way with a surprising amount of momentum and a few bits of controversy, with negotiators getting down to work on the rules and details that will transform the Paris Agreement from a soaring statement of intent to a solid plan of action.

The tall order for this year’s conference: to move beyond section headings into details of the Paris “rulebook”, in areas as varied as climate finance, capacity-building for developing countries, technology assessment and access, agriculture, and the “ambition mechanism” for quickly ramping up countries’ commitments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

The goal is to complete the rulebook in time for next year’s conference, COP 24 – a much accelerated timeline, after the Paris deal was ratified and gained legal force in just a year, a modern record for international treaty-making.

The momentum so far has been good. Fiji, presiding over this year’s COP, will remain president until a day or so before next year’s conference begins in Poland, a country widely seen as a staunch defender of fossil-fuelled electricity.

Funding boost

Fiji will therefore have significant influence over the next 12 months of negotiations and the issues under discussion at COP 24.

A highlight of the opening sessions on Monday was Germany’s commitment of €50 million (£44m) in new funding to the UN Adaptation Fund, set up to help developing countries build resilience and adapt to climate change. The pledge gets the Fund nearly three-quarters of the way to its US$80m financial goal for this year’s COP.

In its daily conference newsletter, ECO, CAN International welcomed the announcement, but warned that Germany has also slowed down its renewable energy development and failed to adopt a coal phase-out plan.

“Germany is going to miss its domestic 2020 reduction target of 40% compared to 1990 levels by a wide margin if the new government does not act decisively,” ECO noted.

Provoking resistance

“During the election campaign, Chancellor Merkel made a public promise that her next government will meet the target. The only way to achieve that will be to shut down the oldest and dirtiest coal power stations,” a move that “would both be technically possible and economically feasible – but of course meets resistance from the big coal power utilities.”

One of the most notable studies released this week: analysis by the World Resources Institute suggesting that greenhouse gas production has already peaked in 49 countries, representing about 36% of current global emissions. Another eight countries, responsible for another 23% of total emissions, are expected to peak in the next decade or so.

The news “is a sign that the world is moving away from a business-as-usual scenario where global average temperatures reach 4.0°C or more above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century,” Carbon Brief says.

“Global CO2 emissions from energy were largely unchanged in 2016 relative to 2015, raising hopes that a global peak in emissions may be possible in the near future.”

“Don’t wake the bear”

The problem is that, with no additional reductions, emissions would stay more or less flat through 2100 and the Earth would warm by about 3.0°C, which means that “to have a good chance of avoiding 2.0°C warming, global emissions need to peak some time in the next few years and decline very rapidly thereafter.”

“Don’t wake the bear” was the headline on a post on Climate Home News, reporting on COP delegates’ worries about the US position at Bonn in the wake of Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement.

“The fragility of the political compromise of Paris has sometimes not been emphasised because we are all nervous,” one senior negotiator said in London last week. “There’s a lot of nervousness that the package can unravel very quickly.”

“The Trump regime really needs to walk away and not hold the rest of the world hostage to the President’s ineptitude,” said Tuvalu negotiator Ian Fry. But Fiji’s chief negotiator, Nazhat Shameem Khan, said the US had sent “positive signals…that this will not be a destructive COP.” – Climate News Network

Republished by permission from The Energy Mix, a thrice-weekly e-digest on climate, energy and post-carbon solutions.

Businesslike, yes – but this year’s climate summit in Bonn is not quite so focussed on business-as-usual as these occasions usually are.

BONN, 9 November, 2017 – Business-as-usual it certainly isnt. What was supposed to be a quiet, technical UN climate change conference here (COP 23) has got under way with a surprising amount of momentum and a few bits of controversy, with negotiators getting down to work on the rules and details that will transform the Paris Agreement from a soaring statement of intent to a solid plan of action.

The tall order for this year’s conference: to move beyond section headings into details of the Paris “rulebook”, in areas as varied as climate finance, capacity-building for developing countries, technology assessment and access, agriculture, and the “ambition mechanism” for quickly ramping up countries’ commitments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

The goal is to complete the rulebook in time for next year’s conference, COP 24 – a much accelerated timeline, after the Paris deal was ratified and gained legal force in just a year, a modern record for international treaty-making.

The momentum so far has been good. Fiji, presiding over this year’s COP, will remain president until a day or so before next year’s conference begins in Poland, a country widely seen as a staunch defender of fossil-fuelled electricity.

Funding boost

Fiji will therefore have significant influence over the next 12 months of negotiations and the issues under discussion at COP 24.

A highlight of the opening sessions on Monday was Germany’s commitment of €50 million (£44m) in new funding to the UN Adaptation Fund, set up to help developing countries build resilience and adapt to climate change. The pledge gets the Fund nearly three-quarters of the way to its US$80m financial goal for this year’s COP.

In its daily conference newsletter, ECO, CAN International welcomed the announcement, but warned that Germany has also slowed down its renewable energy development and failed to adopt a coal phase-out plan.

“Germany is going to miss its domestic 2020 reduction target of 40% compared to 1990 levels by a wide margin if the new government does not act decisively,” ECO noted.

Provoking resistance

“During the election campaign, Chancellor Merkel made a public promise that her next government will meet the target. The only way to achieve that will be to shut down the oldest and dirtiest coal power stations,” a move that “would both be technically possible and economically feasible – but of course meets resistance from the big coal power utilities.”

One of the most notable studies released this week: analysis by the World Resources Institute suggesting that greenhouse gas production has already peaked in 49 countries, representing about 36% of current global emissions. Another eight countries, responsible for another 23% of total emissions, are expected to peak in the next decade or so.

The news “is a sign that the world is moving away from a business-as-usual scenario where global average temperatures reach 4.0°C or more above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century,” Carbon Brief says.

“Global CO2 emissions from energy were largely unchanged in 2016 relative to 2015, raising hopes that a global peak in emissions may be possible in the near future.”

“Don’t wake the bear”

The problem is that, with no additional reductions, emissions would stay more or less flat through 2100 and the Earth would warm by about 3.0°C, which means that “to have a good chance of avoiding 2.0°C warming, global emissions need to peak some time in the next few years and decline very rapidly thereafter.”

“Don’t wake the bear” was the headline on a post on Climate Home News, reporting on COP delegates’ worries about the US position at Bonn in the wake of Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement.

“The fragility of the political compromise of Paris has sometimes not been emphasised because we are all nervous,” one senior negotiator said in London last week. “There’s a lot of nervousness that the package can unravel very quickly.”

“The Trump regime really needs to walk away and not hold the rest of the world hostage to the President’s ineptitude,” said Tuvalu negotiator Ian Fry. But Fiji’s chief negotiator, Nazhat Shameem Khan, said the US had sent “positive signals…that this will not be a destructive COP.” – Climate News Network

Republished by permission from The Energy Mix, a thrice-weekly e-digest on climate, energy and post-carbon solutions.

Fossil fuel lobby makes its case in Bonn

While the UN climate talks seek to slow climate change, the fossil fuel lobby still argues the benefits of traditional fuels.

BONN, 9 November, 2017 – The fossil fuel lobby is still at it. The advocates of traditional fuels  are determined to push their case at the climate change talks here – even though all the evidence says that the continued use of coal, oil and gas threatens severe climate change and the whole future of the planet.

According to a new report those lobbyists are not only endangering future generations – they are also digging a deep financial hole for themselves, virtually throwing away multi-million dollar investments.

The report by Carbon Trackeran independent financial think-tank specialising in the energy sector, looks specifically at the oil-refining sector and has some distinctly uncomfortable news for investors in the industry.

It says that by 2035 a growing tide of climate regulations, along with rapid advances in clean technologies, will lead to big cuts in the demand for oil and result in at least a quarter of the world’s more than 500 refineries having to close.

“Many players will exit the market rather than haemorrhage cash”, says Andrew Grant, a co-author of the report. “Investors should beware that the risk of wasting capital extends to all new investments, including expansions or upgrades to existing facilities.”

Refineries hit 

The thousands of delegates at the meeting here – referred to as the Conference of the Parties, or the COP – are discussing ways to ensure that average world temperatures do not rise to more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, beyond which catastrophic climate change is, say many scientists, inevitable.

Carbon Tracker says that if the world is serious about keeping within the 2°C target, oil use will have to be radically cut back and the oil refining sector, which demands high levels of investment capital, will be especially hard hit.

The least profitable refineries will go out of business. Earnings for the industry as a whole could halve by 2035 as a result of less oil being processed.

Analysing the workings of 492 refineries around the world – representing more than 90% of global refining capacity – the report says tens of billions of dollars of investment are at risk.

Earnings plunge

More than 20% of the world’s refineries are unprofitable at present, says Carbon Tracker; it forecasts that some of the biggest players in the oil business, such as Total, Eni, Shell and Chevron, are likely to see earnings from refining drop by between 60% and 80% by 2035.

The fossil fuel industry refutes such analysis. Buoyed by a recent surge in the oil price – due in part to the political turmoil under way in Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter – oil companies see demand growing steadily in the years ahead.

The 2°C target on limiting the global temperature rise was agreed by nearly 200 countries at the Paris COP in late 2015. The US administration of President Trump – he has described  climate change as a hoax – recently announced that it would be withdrawing from the Paris accord.

Earlier this week Syria agreed to join the Paris Agreement, leaving the US as the only country in the world at present refusing to acknowledge the climate deal.

“It is undeniable that fossil fuels will be used for the foreseeable future. And it’s in everyone’s interest that they be efficient and clean”

Negotiations on the US withdrawal will take some time; in the interim, Washington is sending a delegation along with a large group of fossil fuel lobbyists to the Bonn meeting. 

Demonstrations against the US are likely: already there have been street protests against Germany’s continued use of coal – the most polluting of fossil fuels – for much of its power

While some US states, cities and other bodies will be telling the meeting in Bonn that they continue to support international efforts to combat climate change and limit fossil fuel use, the Trump administration says coal, oil, gas – and nuclear – will remain at the heart of energy generation for years to come.

“It is undeniable that fossil fuels will be used for the foreseeable future” says a White House spokesman. “And it’s in everyone’s interest that they be efficient and clean.” – Climate News Network

While the UN climate talks seek to slow climate change, the fossil fuel lobby still argues the benefits of traditional fuels.

BONN, 9 November, 2017 – The fossil fuel lobby is still at it. The advocates of traditional fuels  are determined to push their case at the climate change talks here – even though all the evidence says that the continued use of coal, oil and gas threatens severe climate change and the whole future of the planet.

According to a new report those lobbyists are not only endangering future generations – they are also digging a deep financial hole for themselves, virtually throwing away multi-million dollar investments.

The report by Carbon Trackeran independent financial think-tank specialising in the energy sector, looks specifically at the oil-refining sector and has some distinctly uncomfortable news for investors in the industry.

It says that by 2035 a growing tide of climate regulations, along with rapid advances in clean technologies, will lead to big cuts in the demand for oil and result in at least a quarter of the world’s more than 500 refineries having to close.

“Many players will exit the market rather than haemorrhage cash”, says Andrew Grant, a co-author of the report. “Investors should beware that the risk of wasting capital extends to all new investments, including expansions or upgrades to existing facilities.”

Refineries hit 

The thousands of delegates at the meeting here – referred to as the Conference of the Parties, or the COP – are discussing ways to ensure that average world temperatures do not rise to more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, beyond which catastrophic climate change is, say many scientists, inevitable.

Carbon Tracker says that if the world is serious about keeping within the 2°C target, oil use will have to be radically cut back and the oil refining sector, which demands high levels of investment capital, will be especially hard hit.

The least profitable refineries will go out of business. Earnings for the industry as a whole could halve by 2035 as a result of less oil being processed.

Analysing the workings of 492 refineries around the world – representing more than 90% of global refining capacity – the report says tens of billions of dollars of investment are at risk.

Earnings plunge

More than 20% of the world’s refineries are unprofitable at present, says Carbon Tracker; it forecasts that some of the biggest players in the oil business, such as Total, Eni, Shell and Chevron, are likely to see earnings from refining drop by between 60% and 80% by 2035.

The fossil fuel industry refutes such analysis. Buoyed by a recent surge in the oil price – due in part to the political turmoil under way in Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter – oil companies see demand growing steadily in the years ahead.

The 2°C target on limiting the global temperature rise was agreed by nearly 200 countries at the Paris COP in late 2015. The US administration of President Trump – he has described  climate change as a hoax – recently announced that it would be withdrawing from the Paris accord.

Earlier this week Syria agreed to join the Paris Agreement, leaving the US as the only country in the world at present refusing to acknowledge the climate deal.

“It is undeniable that fossil fuels will be used for the foreseeable future. And it’s in everyone’s interest that they be efficient and clean”

Negotiations on the US withdrawal will take some time; in the interim, Washington is sending a delegation along with a large group of fossil fuel lobbyists to the Bonn meeting. 

Demonstrations against the US are likely: already there have been street protests against Germany’s continued use of coal – the most polluting of fossil fuels – for much of its power

While some US states, cities and other bodies will be telling the meeting in Bonn that they continue to support international efforts to combat climate change and limit fossil fuel use, the Trump administration says coal, oil, gas – and nuclear – will remain at the heart of energy generation for years to come.

“It is undeniable that fossil fuels will be used for the foreseeable future” says a White House spokesman. “And it’s in everyone’s interest that they be efficient and clean.” – Climate News Network

100% renewable electricity in reach by 2050

It may sound fanciful, but researchers say a world running on 100% renewable electricity is attainable by mid-century, or even earlier.

BONN, 8 November, 2017 – If you think a world powered by 100% renewable electricity – and significantly cheaper than today’s – is an impossible dream, there’s a surprise in store for you. A new study says it’s already in the making

A global transition to 100% renewable electricity, far from being a long-term vision, is happening now, the study says. It is the work of Finland’s Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) and the Energy Watch Group (EWG), and was published at the UN climate change conference, COP23, which is meeting here.       

The authors say a global electricity system based entirely on renewable energy will soon be  feasible day in, day out, at every moment throughout the year, and would be more cost-effective than the existing system, based largely on fossil fuels and nuclear energy.

Current renewable energy potential and technologies, crucially including storage to guarantee a constant power supply, can generate sufficient secure power to meet the entire world’s electricity demand by 2050, they argue. With political backing it could happen even sooner.

“There is no reason to invest one more dollar in fossil fuel or nuclear power production. All plans for further expansion of coal, nuclear, gas and oil must be stopped”

The total levelised cost of electricity – roughly, the average cost – for 100% renewable electricity in 2050 would be €52/MWh, compared with €70/MWh in 2015.

There is no silver bullet in their approach. Their model – the first of its kind, they say – simply simulates the most efficient energy supply with an optimal mix of technologies and locally available renewable resources..   

A transition to 100% renewables would bring greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity sector down to zero and drastically reduce total losses in power generation. It would create 36 million jobs by 2050, the study says, 17 million more than the sector has today.

“There is no reason to invest one more dollar in fossil fuel or nuclear power production”, said EWG president Hans-Josef Fell. “Renewable energy provides cost-effective power supply.

Cost saving

“All plans for further expansion of coal, nuclear, gas and oil must be stopped. More investment needs to be channelled into renewable energies and the necessary infrastructure . Everything else will lead to unnecessary costs and increasing global warming.”

“A full decarbonisation of the electricity system by 2050 is possible for lower system cost than today, based on available technology. Energy transition is no longer a question of technical feasibility or economic viability, but of political will”, said Christian Breyer, lead author of the study and professor of solar economy at LUT.

His last point has been made many times already. Nearly five years ago researchers said Australia could by 2023 rely entirely on renewable energy  – if it could summon up enough political will.

In 2014 another study said it was only a lack of political determination that was preventing the world switching away from fossil fuels altogether. And earlier this year, in one of his last presidential statements, Barack Obama said he believed the US was engaged in an “irreversible shift” to clean energy.

Losses cut

The world population is expected to grow from 7.3 to 9.7 billion people this century. Global electricity demand is likely to double by mid=century, from 24,310 TWh in 2015 to around 48,800 TWh by 2050. Because of their rapidly falling costs, solar photovoltaic (PV) power and battery storage increasingly drive most of the electricity system.

Global greenhouse gas emissions would be significantly reduced, the study says, from about 11 GtCO2eq in 2015 to zero emissions by 2050 or earlier, as the total LCOE of the power system declines.  

The losses in a 100% renewable electricity system are around 26% of total electricity demand, compared with the current system in which about 58% of the primary energy input is lost.

The study is a challenge for policymakers and politicians, the authors say, as it refutes an argument frequently used by critics of renewable fuels – that they cannot provide a full energy supply on an uninterruptible basis. – Climate News Network 

It may sound fanciful, but researchers say a world running on 100% renewable electricity is attainable by mid-century, or even earlier.

BONN, 8 November, 2017 – If you think a world powered by 100% renewable electricity – and significantly cheaper than today’s – is an impossible dream, there’s a surprise in store for you. A new study says it’s already in the making

A global transition to 100% renewable electricity, far from being a long-term vision, is happening now, the study says. It is the work of Finland’s Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) and the Energy Watch Group (EWG), and was published at the UN climate change conference, COP23, which is meeting here.       

The authors say a global electricity system based entirely on renewable energy will soon be  feasible day in, day out, at every moment throughout the year, and would be more cost-effective than the existing system, based largely on fossil fuels and nuclear energy.

Current renewable energy potential and technologies, crucially including storage to guarantee a constant power supply, can generate sufficient secure power to meet the entire world’s electricity demand by 2050, they argue. With political backing it could happen even sooner.

“There is no reason to invest one more dollar in fossil fuel or nuclear power production. All plans for further expansion of coal, nuclear, gas and oil must be stopped”

The total levelised cost of electricity – roughly, the average cost – for 100% renewable electricity in 2050 would be €52/MWh, compared with €70/MWh in 2015.

There is no silver bullet in their approach. Their model – the first of its kind, they say – simply simulates the most efficient energy supply with an optimal mix of technologies and locally available renewable resources..   

A transition to 100% renewables would bring greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity sector down to zero and drastically reduce total losses in power generation. It would create 36 million jobs by 2050, the study says, 17 million more than the sector has today.

“There is no reason to invest one more dollar in fossil fuel or nuclear power production”, said EWG president Hans-Josef Fell. “Renewable energy provides cost-effective power supply.

Cost saving

“All plans for further expansion of coal, nuclear, gas and oil must be stopped. More investment needs to be channelled into renewable energies and the necessary infrastructure . Everything else will lead to unnecessary costs and increasing global warming.”

“A full decarbonisation of the electricity system by 2050 is possible for lower system cost than today, based on available technology. Energy transition is no longer a question of technical feasibility or economic viability, but of political will”, said Christian Breyer, lead author of the study and professor of solar economy at LUT.

His last point has been made many times already. Nearly five years ago researchers said Australia could by 2023 rely entirely on renewable energy  – if it could summon up enough political will.

In 2014 another study said it was only a lack of political determination that was preventing the world switching away from fossil fuels altogether. And earlier this year, in one of his last presidential statements, Barack Obama said he believed the US was engaged in an “irreversible shift” to clean energy.

Losses cut

The world population is expected to grow from 7.3 to 9.7 billion people this century. Global electricity demand is likely to double by mid=century, from 24,310 TWh in 2015 to around 48,800 TWh by 2050. Because of their rapidly falling costs, solar photovoltaic (PV) power and battery storage increasingly drive most of the electricity system.

Global greenhouse gas emissions would be significantly reduced, the study says, from about 11 GtCO2eq in 2015 to zero emissions by 2050 or earlier, as the total LCOE of the power system declines.  

The losses in a 100% renewable electricity system are around 26% of total electricity demand, compared with the current system in which about 58% of the primary energy input is lost.

The study is a challenge for policymakers and politicians, the authors say, as it refutes an argument frequently used by critics of renewable fuels – that they cannot provide a full energy supply on an uninterruptible basis. – Climate News Network 

2017 among the three warmest years recorded

The World Meteorological Organisation says 2017 is among the three warmest years recorded, with human wellbeing facing mounting risks.

LONDON, 6 November, 2017 – For all of us, as 2017 proves one of the three warmest years on record, climate change presents a greater risk of sickness or death than it did four decades ago, the United Nations says. And for some of the world’s poorest people, the consequences of unpredictable weather caused by changing climate mean devastating disruption to their daily lives.

The news comes from the World Meteorological Organisation, the UN system’s leading agency on weather, climate and water, which has published its 2017 report on the state of the global climate. Much of it makes sombre reading.

Since 1980, the report says, the overall risk of heat-related illness or death has climbed steadily, with around 30% of the world’s people now living in climatic conditions where  extreme heat persists for several days, and sometimes for weeks, each year. Between 2000 and 2016 the number of vulnerable people exposed to heatwaves increased by about 125 million.

An estimated 1.3 billion people (nearly one in six of those alive today) are at risk from cholera in countries where the disease is endemic (found regularly), while in Africa alone about 40 million people live in cholera “hotspots”.

No El Niño

The report says many people are being forced from their homes by climate-related disasters. There was a massive flight of people propelled by drought and food insecurity within (not from) Somalia, where from November 2016 to mid-June 2017 nearly 761,000 climate refugees, defined as “drought-related internal displacements”, were recorded by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The WMO report says that while 2017 has been a cooler year than the record-setting 2016, it is very likely to prove one of the three warmest years on record, and the warmest not influenced by an El Niño event. These tend to increase global temperature when they occur, because of the associated ocean warming in the tropical Pacific and the subsequent enhanced heat release in the atmosphere.

The five-year global average temperature from 2013 to 2017 is currently close to 1°C above the average for 1880-1900 and is likely to be the highest five-year average on record. The world also continues to see rising sea levels, with some level of acceleration and increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases.

The cryosphere, the areas of the earth covered by ice and snow, continues to contract, in particular in the Arctic where sea ice extent continued shrinking. Antarctic sea ice extent started shrinking last year after some years of stability or even slight expansion.

Professor John Turner, a climatologist at the British Antarctic Survey, said: Antarctic sea ice continues to surprise us. With only 40 years of data we have to be careful about attributing this change to a specific cause. However, projections from a number of climate models all agree that Antarctic sea ice is likely to decline significantly through the 21st century.”

Climate change and its consequences are with us now. We are imperfectly adapted to the climate system we inherited, and much less so to the one we are provoking

The report records many significant weather and climate events in 2017, including a very active North Atlantic hurricane season, major monsoon floods in South Asia, and continuing severe drought in parts of east Africa.

In September 2017, the three major and devastating hurricanes that made landfall in rapid succession in the southern US and several Caribbean islands broke modern records for such weather extremes and for associated loss and damage.

Global average temperature for the period from January to September 2017 was 0.47° above the 1981-2010 average. This estimate is based on five independently-maintained global temperature data sets, and the range represents the spread of those estimates.

2017 is on course to be the second or third warmest year on record. The previous year, 2016, which was influenced by a strong El Niño, is likely to remain the warmest.

Stronger warnings

Continuing global warmth means that 2015, 2016 and 2017 are now the three warmest years on record, according to data available to date for 2017. 2014 was the fourth warmest in four of five data sets considered, although a number of other years were comparable.

January to September 2017 is approximately 1.1°C above the average for 1880-1900. The five-year average 2013-2017, provisionally 0.40°C warmer than the 1981-2010 average, is likely to be the highest five-year average on record.

The WNO’s report is published on the opening day of the UN’s 2017 climate conference in the German city of Bonn. It is due to end on 17 November.

Chris Rapley, professor of climate science at UCL, UK, said: “Whether via sea level rise, ocean heat content, extreme heatwaves, droughts, floods, melting ice, shifting ecosystems or displaced peoples, the planet is sending increasingly strong warnings.

Climate change and its consequences are with us now. We are imperfectly adapted to the climate system we inherited, and much less so to the one we are provoking.” – Climate News Network

The World Meteorological Organisation says 2017 is among the three warmest years recorded, with human wellbeing facing mounting risks.

LONDON, 6 November, 2017 – For all of us, as 2017 proves one of the three warmest years on record, climate change presents a greater risk of sickness or death than it did four decades ago, the United Nations says. And for some of the world’s poorest people, the consequences of unpredictable weather caused by changing climate mean devastating disruption to their daily lives.

The news comes from the World Meteorological Organisation, the UN system’s leading agency on weather, climate and water, which has published its 2017 report on the state of the global climate. Much of it makes sombre reading.

Since 1980, the report says, the overall risk of heat-related illness or death has climbed steadily, with around 30% of the world’s people now living in climatic conditions where  extreme heat persists for several days, and sometimes for weeks, each year. Between 2000 and 2016 the number of vulnerable people exposed to heatwaves increased by about 125 million.

An estimated 1.3 billion people (nearly one in six of those alive today) are at risk from cholera in countries where the disease is endemic (found regularly), while in Africa alone about 40 million people live in cholera “hotspots”.

No El Niño

The report says many people are being forced from their homes by climate-related disasters. There was a massive flight of people propelled by drought and food insecurity within (not from) Somalia, where from November 2016 to mid-June 2017 nearly 761,000 climate refugees, defined as “drought-related internal displacements”, were recorded by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The WMO report says that while 2017 has been a cooler year than the record-setting 2016, it is very likely to prove one of the three warmest years on record, and the warmest not influenced by an El Niño event. These tend to increase global temperature when they occur, because of the associated ocean warming in the tropical Pacific and the subsequent enhanced heat release in the atmosphere.

The five-year global average temperature from 2013 to 2017 is currently close to 1°C above the average for 1880-1900 and is likely to be the highest five-year average on record. The world also continues to see rising sea levels, with some level of acceleration and increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases.

The cryosphere, the areas of the earth covered by ice and snow, continues to contract, in particular in the Arctic where sea ice extent continued shrinking. Antarctic sea ice extent started shrinking last year after some years of stability or even slight expansion.

Professor John Turner, a climatologist at the British Antarctic Survey, said: Antarctic sea ice continues to surprise us. With only 40 years of data we have to be careful about attributing this change to a specific cause. However, projections from a number of climate models all agree that Antarctic sea ice is likely to decline significantly through the 21st century.”

Climate change and its consequences are with us now. We are imperfectly adapted to the climate system we inherited, and much less so to the one we are provoking

The report records many significant weather and climate events in 2017, including a very active North Atlantic hurricane season, major monsoon floods in South Asia, and continuing severe drought in parts of east Africa.

In September 2017, the three major and devastating hurricanes that made landfall in rapid succession in the southern US and several Caribbean islands broke modern records for such weather extremes and for associated loss and damage.

Global average temperature for the period from January to September 2017 was 0.47° above the 1981-2010 average. This estimate is based on five independently-maintained global temperature data sets, and the range represents the spread of those estimates.

2017 is on course to be the second or third warmest year on record. The previous year, 2016, which was influenced by a strong El Niño, is likely to remain the warmest.

Stronger warnings

Continuing global warmth means that 2015, 2016 and 2017 are now the three warmest years on record, according to data available to date for 2017. 2014 was the fourth warmest in four of five data sets considered, although a number of other years were comparable.

January to September 2017 is approximately 1.1°C above the average for 1880-1900. The five-year average 2013-2017, provisionally 0.40°C warmer than the 1981-2010 average, is likely to be the highest five-year average on record.

The WNO’s report is published on the opening day of the UN’s 2017 climate conference in the German city of Bonn. It is due to end on 17 November.

Chris Rapley, professor of climate science at UCL, UK, said: “Whether via sea level rise, ocean heat content, extreme heatwaves, droughts, floods, melting ice, shifting ecosystems or displaced peoples, the planet is sending increasingly strong warnings.

Climate change and its consequences are with us now. We are imperfectly adapted to the climate system we inherited, and much less so to the one we are provoking.” – Climate News Network

UN climate summit means business

The 2017 UN climate summit may not hit the headlines as some of its predecessors have done, but it can speed up global action.

LONDON, 5 November, 2017 – This year’s annual UN climate summit, the twenty-third Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in UN jargon (or COP23 for short), starts on 6 November – and for once it may have an unusual spring in its step.

What it agrees during its two-week session in Bonn probably won’t make many headlines. It’s more about UN house-keeping than grandstanding, and many of its conclusions will be technical and businesslike, designed to make the process of cutting greenhouse gas emissions work better, rather than announcing new goals or targets.

But most countries agree that that’s what the world needs now: work to refine and strengthen the instrument they put together two years ago.

The global average temperature is continuing to rise as a consequence of warming driven by ever higher greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere, in response to the profligate global consumption of fossil fuels. This is despite the undoubted achievement of COP21 in Paris in 2015. 

First step

For years the COPs had been fractious and unproductive affairs, until the 2015 meeting managed to adopt the Paris Agreement. This is an incomplete and far from perfect treaty, but it has certainly succeeded in changing the mood music of the climate negotiations, persuading governments that working to build a low-carbon economy is not only necessary but possible.

For that to happen, though, the Agreement must cut emissions far more stringently than it does yet. A UN report in October said that even fully implementing its goals would deliver only one third of what is needed for the world to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

So the Bonn COP will, for example, be working to ensure the Agreement’s rule book works as it should, providing clear and verifiable information about individual countries’ emissions and consolidating the gains made in Paris.

It will also be preparing for something called the – wait for it – facilitative dialogue. This is planned as a formal discussion between countries in 2018 on progress to achieve the Agreement’s goals, and will seek to encourage rising ambition over countries’ own climate plans (known as NDCs, or Nationally Determined Contributions).

Paying for change

Other priorities will be finance (especially funding to help developing countries to meet the cost of adapting to the impacts of climate change), and building closer relationships between them and the developed world.

The Bonn meeting will open days after a comprehensive review by 13 US federal agencies said evidence of global warning was stronger than ever and that more than 90% of it had been caused by humans. 

The reviewers’ conclusion is not surprising. What may surprise many delegates is that it appears to have been published without any attempt at censorship, despite President Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement and his doubts about the reality of the threat climate change poses.

Tom Burke chairs E3G, an independent think-tank working to accelerate the global transition to a low-carbon economy. He thinks the US president has unwittingly helped the cause which he repudiated.

“The political risks of acting on climate change are going down: the risks from not acting are rising. The science shows a real growth in our knowledge, and we’re on the right track”

“Donald Trump has forced the rest of the world to make big statements about the climate”, Burke told the Climate News Network. “Look for instance at what China’s president, Xi Jinping, said at the party congress in Beijing last month.

“Trump posed a question: can we renegotiate the Paris Agreement? And no-one else was interested. He showed that almost everyone except the US Administration is entirely serious about doing something on this problem – and that includes most Americans.

“Everyone knows we have to increase our ambition. The primary debate now is about how fast we can build a low-carbon economy. The political risks of acting on climate change are going down: the risks from not acting are rising.

“The science shows a real growth in our knowledge, and we’re on the right track – just not yet fast enough or far enough.” – Climate News Network

The 2017 UN climate summit may not hit the headlines as some of its predecessors have done, but it can speed up global action.

LONDON, 5 November, 2017 – This year’s annual UN climate summit, the twenty-third Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in UN jargon (or COP23 for short), starts on 6 November – and for once it may have an unusual spring in its step.

What it agrees during its two-week session in Bonn probably won’t make many headlines. It’s more about UN house-keeping than grandstanding, and many of its conclusions will be technical and businesslike, designed to make the process of cutting greenhouse gas emissions work better, rather than announcing new goals or targets.

But most countries agree that that’s what the world needs now: work to refine and strengthen the instrument they put together two years ago.

The global average temperature is continuing to rise as a consequence of warming driven by ever higher greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere, in response to the profligate global consumption of fossil fuels. This is despite the undoubted achievement of COP21 in Paris in 2015. 

First step

For years the COPs had been fractious and unproductive affairs, until the 2015 meeting managed to adopt the Paris Agreement. This is an incomplete and far from perfect treaty, but it has certainly succeeded in changing the mood music of the climate negotiations, persuading governments that working to build a low-carbon economy is not only necessary but possible.

For that to happen, though, the Agreement must cut emissions far more stringently than it does yet. A UN report in October said that even fully implementing its goals would deliver only one third of what is needed for the world to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

So the Bonn COP will, for example, be working to ensure the Agreement’s rule book works as it should, providing clear and verifiable information about individual countries’ emissions and consolidating the gains made in Paris.

It will also be preparing for something called the – wait for it – facilitative dialogue. This is planned as a formal discussion between countries in 2018 on progress to achieve the Agreement’s goals, and will seek to encourage rising ambition over countries’ own climate plans (known as NDCs, or Nationally Determined Contributions).

Paying for change

Other priorities will be finance (especially funding to help developing countries to meet the cost of adapting to the impacts of climate change), and building closer relationships between them and the developed world.

The Bonn meeting will open days after a comprehensive review by 13 US federal agencies said evidence of global warning was stronger than ever and that more than 90% of it had been caused by humans. 

The reviewers’ conclusion is not surprising. What may surprise many delegates is that it appears to have been published without any attempt at censorship, despite President Trump’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement and his doubts about the reality of the threat climate change poses.

Tom Burke chairs E3G, an independent think-tank working to accelerate the global transition to a low-carbon economy. He thinks the US president has unwittingly helped the cause which he repudiated.

“The political risks of acting on climate change are going down: the risks from not acting are rising. The science shows a real growth in our knowledge, and we’re on the right track”

“Donald Trump has forced the rest of the world to make big statements about the climate”, Burke told the Climate News Network. “Look for instance at what China’s president, Xi Jinping, said at the party congress in Beijing last month.

“Trump posed a question: can we renegotiate the Paris Agreement? And no-one else was interested. He showed that almost everyone except the US Administration is entirely serious about doing something on this problem – and that includes most Americans.

“Everyone knows we have to increase our ambition. The primary debate now is about how fast we can build a low-carbon economy. The political risks of acting on climate change are going down: the risks from not acting are rising.

“The science shows a real growth in our knowledge, and we’re on the right track – just not yet fast enough or far enough.” – Climate News Network

Climate refugees move up the agenda

One government is considering easing the path for climate refugees to gain admission, and the United Nations is also reviewing ways to help them.

LONDON, 4 November, 2017 – By definition, climate refugees are people with few choices beyond simple survival as sea levels rise, harvests wither and storms batter whatever refuge they have.

But that could be starting to change: as the UN’s annual climate change conference prepares for two weeks of work (6-17 November) in the German city of Bonn, there are signs of hope for those at risk, who by some estimates could number two billion people by 2100

First, New Zealand’s climate change minister has announced that the government may consider creating an experimental visa for people fleeing from climate change. There are few details of the scheme yet, or of how many of the new visas could be available.

But a UK-based group, the Climate and Migration Coalition, has welcomed the minister’s reference to “humanitarian visas”, which it says avoids one of the toughest problems in climate migration law – how to differentiate a group of people who are fleeing climate change from those escaping crises driven by other forces.

“By creating a broader humanitarian visa it may be possible to create a safe legal route into New Zealand, without getting caught up in trying to define exactly how to decide whether someone is fleeing climate change or not”, the Coalition says.

“Accepting that migration is in fact a form of adaptation to climate change, that mobility can be a coping strategy – that’s what we really hope to see”  

New Zealand can already grant people the right to stay on humanitarian grounds, theoretically including humanitarian crises worsened by climate change, and the Coalition says this new proposal must add something new to what New Zealand can offer.

Many people already migrate between Pacific island nations and New Zealand, often safely and legally. The Coalition believes any new visa to address climate-linked movement must be only one tool for creating safe legal routes, and not be seen as a complete solution.

Another positive sign, activists say, is the existence within the body hosting the Bonn meeting, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change(UNFCCC), of a specific Task Force on Displacement.

There are several other international agreements involved with climate refugees, including the Global Compact on Refugees, the Sustainable Development Goals, the Platform on Disaster Displacement and the Sendai Framework

Alex Randall, of the Climate and Migration Coalition, says the UNFCCC’s task force “has left the foothills behind and is approaching the summit”, though he thinks it is likely to make its real impact with the recommendations it is due to present at the UNFCCC’s 2018 meeting.

Funding needed   

He told the Climate News Network: “One key way the UN process can help is with finance. Climate-linked adaptation involves steps like switching to more drought-resistant crops and other ways of coping with a warmer world.

“The UN has funding for adaptation, to help people to survive and thrive in the face of climate change. If they’re at risk of becoming climate refugees as well, then we must be realistic. 

“That means accepting that it’s better to plan for the event rather than simply waiting for a crisis to develop. I don’t expect any UN funding for migration-as-adaptation as early as next year, though: it will take longer than that.

“But accepting that migration is in fact a form of adaptation to climate change, that mobility can be a coping strategy – that’s what we really hope to see.” – Climate News Network 

One government is considering easing the path for climate refugees to gain admission, and the United Nations is also reviewing ways to help them.

LONDON, 4 November, 2017 – By definition, climate refugees are people with few choices beyond simple survival as sea levels rise, harvests wither and storms batter whatever refuge they have.

But that could be starting to change: as the UN’s annual climate change conference prepares for two weeks of work (6-17 November) in the German city of Bonn, there are signs of hope for those at risk, who by some estimates could number two billion people by 2100

First, New Zealand’s climate change minister has announced that the government may consider creating an experimental visa for people fleeing from climate change. There are few details of the scheme yet, or of how many of the new visas could be available.

But a UK-based group, the Climate and Migration Coalition, has welcomed the minister’s reference to “humanitarian visas”, which it says avoids one of the toughest problems in climate migration law – how to differentiate a group of people who are fleeing climate change from those escaping crises driven by other forces.

“By creating a broader humanitarian visa it may be possible to create a safe legal route into New Zealand, without getting caught up in trying to define exactly how to decide whether someone is fleeing climate change or not”, the Coalition says.

“Accepting that migration is in fact a form of adaptation to climate change, that mobility can be a coping strategy – that’s what we really hope to see”  

New Zealand can already grant people the right to stay on humanitarian grounds, theoretically including humanitarian crises worsened by climate change, and the Coalition says this new proposal must add something new to what New Zealand can offer.

Many people already migrate between Pacific island nations and New Zealand, often safely and legally. The Coalition believes any new visa to address climate-linked movement must be only one tool for creating safe legal routes, and not be seen as a complete solution.

Another positive sign, activists say, is the existence within the body hosting the Bonn meeting, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change(UNFCCC), of a specific Task Force on Displacement.

There are several other international agreements involved with climate refugees, including the Global Compact on Refugees, the Sustainable Development Goals, the Platform on Disaster Displacement and the Sendai Framework

Alex Randall, of the Climate and Migration Coalition, says the UNFCCC’s task force “has left the foothills behind and is approaching the summit”, though he thinks it is likely to make its real impact with the recommendations it is due to present at the UNFCCC’s 2018 meeting.

Funding needed   

He told the Climate News Network: “One key way the UN process can help is with finance. Climate-linked adaptation involves steps like switching to more drought-resistant crops and other ways of coping with a warmer world.

“The UN has funding for adaptation, to help people to survive and thrive in the face of climate change. If they’re at risk of becoming climate refugees as well, then we must be realistic. 

“That means accepting that it’s better to plan for the event rather than simply waiting for a crisis to develop. I don’t expect any UN funding for migration-as-adaptation as early as next year, though: it will take longer than that.

“But accepting that migration is in fact a form of adaptation to climate change, that mobility can be a coping strategy – that’s what we really hope to see.” – Climate News Network 

Prepare for a world 3°C warmer in 80 years

The UN expects a world 3oC warmer by 2100, even if countries cut their greenhouse gas emissions as they promised in 2015.

LONDON, 31 October 2017 – Governments should accept that we shall probably be living in a world 3oC warmer than it is today by the end of this century unless they urgently step up the speed at which they cut greenhouse gases, a United Nations assessment says.

As things stand, the UN says, even fully implementing the goals of the Paris Agreement (concluded in 2015) will deliver only one third of what is needed for the world to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

It will make “a temperature increase of at least 3 oC by 2100 very likely” – meaning that governments need to deliver much stronger pledges when they are revised in 2020.

“Should the United States follow through with its stated intention to leave the Paris Agreement in 2020, the picture could become even bleaker,” says the assessment, in this year’s edition of the Emissions Gap report, produced by UN Environment and released ahead of next week’s UN climate change conference in the German city of Bonn.

The report says the national pledges made in the Agreement two years ago will deliver only a third of the reduction in emissions needed by 2030 to meet the climate targets which governments agreed. And it says action by the private sector and by cities and other groups below national level is not increasing fast enough to help to close the gap.

“If we invest in the right technologies, ensuring that the private sector is involved, we can still meet the promise we made to our children to protect their future. But we have to get on the case now”

The Paris Agreement aims to limit global warming to under 2oC, with a more ambitious goal of 1.5oC also on the table. The global average temperature is rising as a consequence of  warming driven by ever higher greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere, in response to the profligate global consumption of fossil fuels.

Meeting the Paris targets would reduce the likelihood of severe climate impacts that could damage human health, livelihoods and economies across the globe.

But the report does suggest practical ways to make deeper and more rapid cuts in emissions through rapidly expanding action to reduce them, based on existing options in the agriculture, buildings, energy, forestry, industry and transport sectors.

Strong action on other climate warmers – such as hydrofluorocarbons, through the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, and other short-lived climate pollutants such as black carbon – could also make a real contribution. The Amendment aims to phase out the use and production of hydrofluorocarbons – chemicals primarily used in air conditioning, refrigeration and foam insulation.

“One year after the Paris Agreement entered into force, we still find ourselves in a situation where we are not doing nearly enough to save hundreds of millions of people from a miserable future,” said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment.

“This is unacceptable. If we invest in the right technologies, ensuring that the private sector is involved, we can still meet the promise we made to our children to protect their future. But we have to get on the case now.”

Emission peak

CO2 emissions have remained stable since 2014, driven in part by renewable energy, notably in China and India, raising hopes that emissions have peaked, as they must by 2020 to remain on a successful climate trajectory.

But the report warns that other greenhouse gases, such as methane, are still rising, and a global economic growth spurt could easily see  CO2 emissions heading upwards again.

On 30 October the World Meteorological Organisation reported that atmospheric concentrations of CO2 rose at record speed in 2016 to their highest level in 800,000 years.  The abrupt changes in the atmosphere witnessed in the past 70 years, it said, are unprecedented.

The Emissions Gap report says current Paris pledges make 2030 emissions likely to reach 11 to 13.5 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) above the level needed to stay on the least-cost path to meeting the 2oC target. One gigatonne is roughly equivalent to one year of transport emissions in the European Union (including aviation).

The emissions gap in the case of the 1.5oC target is 16 to 19 GtCO2e, higher than previous estimates as new studies have become available.

Slackening momentum

“The Paris Agreement boosted climate action, but momentum is clearly faltering,” said Dr. Edgar Gutiérrez-Espeleta, minister of environment and energy of Costa Rica, and president of the 2017 UN Environment Assembly.

Avoiding new coal-fired power plants, and faster phasing out of existing ones, would help. There are an estimated 6,683 operating coal-fired power plants in the world, with a combined capacity of 1,964 GW. 

If they work until the end of their lifetimes and are not retrofitted with carbon capture and storage (a controversial and still commercially unproven technology), they will emit an accumulated 190 Gt of CO2.

In early 2017, an additional 273 GW of coal-fired capacity was under construction and 570 GW planned. These new plants could lead to additional accumulated emissions of approximately 150 Gt CO2. Ten countries make up approximately 85% of the entire coal pipeline: China, India, Turkey, Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan, Egypt, Bangladesh, Pakistan and the Republic of Korea.

Another report, from the 1 Gigaton Coalition, shows that partner-supported renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in developing countries can cut 1.4 GtCO2e by 2020 – provided the international community meets its promise to mobilise US$100 billion per year to help developing countries adapt to climate change and reduce their emissions. – Climate News Network 

The UN expects a world 3oC warmer by 2100, even if countries cut their greenhouse gas emissions as they promised in 2015.

LONDON, 31 October 2017 – Governments should accept that we shall probably be living in a world 3oC warmer than it is today by the end of this century unless they urgently step up the speed at which they cut greenhouse gases, a United Nations assessment says.

As things stand, the UN says, even fully implementing the goals of the Paris Agreement (concluded in 2015) will deliver only one third of what is needed for the world to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

It will make “a temperature increase of at least 3 oC by 2100 very likely” – meaning that governments need to deliver much stronger pledges when they are revised in 2020.

“Should the United States follow through with its stated intention to leave the Paris Agreement in 2020, the picture could become even bleaker,” says the assessment, in this year’s edition of the Emissions Gap report, produced by UN Environment and released ahead of next week’s UN climate change conference in the German city of Bonn.

The report says the national pledges made in the Agreement two years ago will deliver only a third of the reduction in emissions needed by 2030 to meet the climate targets which governments agreed. And it says action by the private sector and by cities and other groups below national level is not increasing fast enough to help to close the gap.

“If we invest in the right technologies, ensuring that the private sector is involved, we can still meet the promise we made to our children to protect their future. But we have to get on the case now”

The Paris Agreement aims to limit global warming to under 2oC, with a more ambitious goal of 1.5oC also on the table. The global average temperature is rising as a consequence of  warming driven by ever higher greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere, in response to the profligate global consumption of fossil fuels.

Meeting the Paris targets would reduce the likelihood of severe climate impacts that could damage human health, livelihoods and economies across the globe.

But the report does suggest practical ways to make deeper and more rapid cuts in emissions through rapidly expanding action to reduce them, based on existing options in the agriculture, buildings, energy, forestry, industry and transport sectors.

Strong action on other climate warmers – such as hydrofluorocarbons, through the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, and other short-lived climate pollutants such as black carbon – could also make a real contribution. The Amendment aims to phase out the use and production of hydrofluorocarbons – chemicals primarily used in air conditioning, refrigeration and foam insulation.

“One year after the Paris Agreement entered into force, we still find ourselves in a situation where we are not doing nearly enough to save hundreds of millions of people from a miserable future,” said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment.

“This is unacceptable. If we invest in the right technologies, ensuring that the private sector is involved, we can still meet the promise we made to our children to protect their future. But we have to get on the case now.”

Emission peak

CO2 emissions have remained stable since 2014, driven in part by renewable energy, notably in China and India, raising hopes that emissions have peaked, as they must by 2020 to remain on a successful climate trajectory.

But the report warns that other greenhouse gases, such as methane, are still rising, and a global economic growth spurt could easily see  CO2 emissions heading upwards again.

On 30 October the World Meteorological Organisation reported that atmospheric concentrations of CO2 rose at record speed in 2016 to their highest level in 800,000 years.  The abrupt changes in the atmosphere witnessed in the past 70 years, it said, are unprecedented.

The Emissions Gap report says current Paris pledges make 2030 emissions likely to reach 11 to 13.5 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) above the level needed to stay on the least-cost path to meeting the 2oC target. One gigatonne is roughly equivalent to one year of transport emissions in the European Union (including aviation).

The emissions gap in the case of the 1.5oC target is 16 to 19 GtCO2e, higher than previous estimates as new studies have become available.

Slackening momentum

“The Paris Agreement boosted climate action, but momentum is clearly faltering,” said Dr. Edgar Gutiérrez-Espeleta, minister of environment and energy of Costa Rica, and president of the 2017 UN Environment Assembly.

Avoiding new coal-fired power plants, and faster phasing out of existing ones, would help. There are an estimated 6,683 operating coal-fired power plants in the world, with a combined capacity of 1,964 GW. 

If they work until the end of their lifetimes and are not retrofitted with carbon capture and storage (a controversial and still commercially unproven technology), they will emit an accumulated 190 Gt of CO2.

In early 2017, an additional 273 GW of coal-fired capacity was under construction and 570 GW planned. These new plants could lead to additional accumulated emissions of approximately 150 Gt CO2. Ten countries make up approximately 85% of the entire coal pipeline: China, India, Turkey, Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan, Egypt, Bangladesh, Pakistan and the Republic of Korea.

Another report, from the 1 Gigaton Coalition, shows that partner-supported renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in developing countries can cut 1.4 GtCO2e by 2020 – provided the international community meets its promise to mobilise US$100 billion per year to help developing countries adapt to climate change and reduce their emissions. – Climate News Network 

UN: ignore Trump on climate

Trump digs coal poster rally

Three senior UN officials urge the world to redouble efforts to tackle climate change in a powerful rebuff of the scientific illiteracy of President Trump.

LONDON, 16 October, 2017 – The hurricanes and wildfires that have severely damaged large areas of the United States in recent weeks have had no impact on US president Donald Trump’s determination to ignore the perils of climate change and support the coal industry.

In a deliberate denial of mainstream science, the Trump administration has issued a strategic four-year plan for the US Environment Protection Agency that does not once mention “greenhouse gas emissions”, “carbon dioxide” or “climate change” in its 48 pages.

Rachel Cleetus, lead economist and climate policy manager of the Union of Concerned Scientists, describes this as “stunning” in its ignorance. “This was not an oversight,” she says, “this is a deliberate strategy by this administration.”

Trump effect

However, President Trump’s repudiation in June of the 2015 Paris Agreement designed to combat global warming, and his refusal to acknowledge any connection between recent extreme weather events and climate change, seems to have made the world even more determined to tackle the issue.

The acid test will be the progress that is made in November at the annual meeting of the parties for the Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, hosted by Fiji, one of the small island states expected to be most affected by sea-level rise and more frequent storms.

Ahead of the conference, three of the UN’s most senior climate change figures have issued a statement urging world leaders to see the recent spate of disasters as a “shocking sign of things to come”.

In a joint statement, Achim Steiner, administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the UN Framework Climate Change Convention and Robert Glasser, the UN secretary-general’s special representative for disaster risk reduction and head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, said the events of the last few months were a reminder that climate change threatens more frequent and severe disasters such as those just witnessed.

“We will continue to live with the abnormal
and often unforeseen consequences of existing
levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,
for many, many years to come”

The three officials emphasise that there have been many more extreme weather events that have not received the publicity given to the hurricanes in the Caribbean and the United States.

They say: “The record floods across Bangladesh, India and Nepal have made life miserable for some 40 million people. More than 1,200 people have died and many people have lost their homes, crops have been destroyed, and many workplaces have been inundated. Meanwhile, in Africa, over the last 18 months 20 countries have declared drought emergencies, with major displacement taking place across the Horn of Africa.

“For those countries that are least developed the impact of disasters can be severe, stripping away livelihoods and progress on health and education; for developed and middle-income countries the economic losses from infrastructure alone can be massive.”

They continue: “During the last two years over 40 million people, mainly in countries which contribute least to global warming, were forced either permanently or temporarily from their homes by disasters.”

The three officials do not mention the Trump administration’s refusal to accept basic science, but describe the rising sea levels of 85 millimetres (3.34 inches) in the last 25 years and the potential catastrophic storm damage that coastal areas face as a result.

Clear consensus

Then they say: “There is clear consensus: rising temperatures are increasing the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere, leading to more intense rainfall and flooding in some places, and drought in others.”

They continue: “Rising and warming seas are contributing to the intensity of tropical storms worldwide. We will continue to live with the abnormal and often unforeseen consequences of existing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, for many, many years to come.”

They point out that the cost of adaptation to climate change will be far cheaper than the repair bill if no action is taken.

“It is critical to remember that the long-term reduction of emissions is THE most important risk reduction tactic we have, and we must deliver on that ambition,” they write.

The three officials conclude: “The November UN Climate Conference in Bonn provides an opportunity to not only accelerate emission reductions but to also boost the serious work of ensuring that the management of climate risk is integrated into disaster risk management. Poverty, rapid urbanisation, poor land use, ecosystems decline and other risk factors will amplify the impacts of climate change.” – Climate News Network

Three senior UN officials urge the world to redouble efforts to tackle climate change in a powerful rebuff of the scientific illiteracy of President Trump.

LONDON, 16 October, 2017 – The hurricanes and wildfires that have severely damaged large areas of the United States in recent weeks have had no impact on US president Donald Trump’s determination to ignore the perils of climate change and support the coal industry.

In a deliberate denial of mainstream science, the Trump administration has issued a strategic four-year plan for the US Environment Protection Agency that does not once mention “greenhouse gas emissions”, “carbon dioxide” or “climate change” in its 48 pages.

Rachel Cleetus, lead economist and climate policy manager of the Union of Concerned Scientists, describes this as “stunning” in its ignorance. “This was not an oversight,” she says, “this is a deliberate strategy by this administration.”

Trump effect

However, President Trump’s repudiation in June of the 2015 Paris Agreement designed to combat global warming, and his refusal to acknowledge any connection between recent extreme weather events and climate change, seems to have made the world even more determined to tackle the issue.

The acid test will be the progress that is made in November at the annual meeting of the parties for the Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, hosted by Fiji, one of the small island states expected to be most affected by sea-level rise and more frequent storms.

Ahead of the conference, three of the UN’s most senior climate change figures have issued a statement urging world leaders to see the recent spate of disasters as a “shocking sign of things to come”.

In a joint statement, Achim Steiner, administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the UN Framework Climate Change Convention and Robert Glasser, the UN secretary-general’s special representative for disaster risk reduction and head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, said the events of the last few months were a reminder that climate change threatens more frequent and severe disasters such as those just witnessed.

“We will continue to live with the abnormal
and often unforeseen consequences of existing
levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,
for many, many years to come”

The three officials emphasise that there have been many more extreme weather events that have not received the publicity given to the hurricanes in the Caribbean and the United States.

They say: “The record floods across Bangladesh, India and Nepal have made life miserable for some 40 million people. More than 1,200 people have died and many people have lost their homes, crops have been destroyed, and many workplaces have been inundated. Meanwhile, in Africa, over the last 18 months 20 countries have declared drought emergencies, with major displacement taking place across the Horn of Africa.

“For those countries that are least developed the impact of disasters can be severe, stripping away livelihoods and progress on health and education; for developed and middle-income countries the economic losses from infrastructure alone can be massive.”

They continue: “During the last two years over 40 million people, mainly in countries which contribute least to global warming, were forced either permanently or temporarily from their homes by disasters.”

The three officials do not mention the Trump administration’s refusal to accept basic science, but describe the rising sea levels of 85 millimetres (3.34 inches) in the last 25 years and the potential catastrophic storm damage that coastal areas face as a result.

Clear consensus

Then they say: “There is clear consensus: rising temperatures are increasing the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere, leading to more intense rainfall and flooding in some places, and drought in others.”

They continue: “Rising and warming seas are contributing to the intensity of tropical storms worldwide. We will continue to live with the abnormal and often unforeseen consequences of existing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, for many, many years to come.”

They point out that the cost of adaptation to climate change will be far cheaper than the repair bill if no action is taken.

“It is critical to remember that the long-term reduction of emissions is THE most important risk reduction tactic we have, and we must deliver on that ambition,” they write.

The three officials conclude: “The November UN Climate Conference in Bonn provides an opportunity to not only accelerate emission reductions but to also boost the serious work of ensuring that the management of climate risk is integrated into disaster risk management. Poverty, rapid urbanisation, poor land use, ecosystems decline and other risk factors will amplify the impacts of climate change.” – Climate News Network

Trump abandons science with climate walk-out

President Trump abandons science with his pull-out from the Paris Agreement on climate change, damaging US interests and the Earth.

LONDON, 2 June, 2017 – President Donald Trump abandons science with his decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement on climate change, saying: “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris” – a wonderfully clear statement of his inability to recognise that the Earth shares one atmosphere.

Chris Rapley, professor of climate science at University College London, says in response: “The essence of climate change can be captured in 10 words: ‘It’s Clear: It’s Real; It’s Us; It’s Bad; There’s Hope’.”

So who wins from the president’s decision? Not the American workers he seeks to defend. Many US jobs are under threat, not from Paris, but from the accelerating decline of the country’s coal industry and the matching rise in renewable energy.

Nor is it just climate negotiators in foreign capitals who are working to turn the world away from fossil fuels. Within the US, states, governors, cities and industries are committed to creating a low-carbon economy, groups like C40 Cities

But, globally, there are warnings that change has a long way to go. Frederik Dahlmann, of Warwick Business School, UK, is assistant professor of global energy at the University of Warwick, and researches the transition to a low-carbon economy. He says the US withdrawal will be largely seen as an unwelcome irritation, rather than a wholesale shift in the political economy.

Losing confidence

But Dr Dahlmann adds: “The challenges of a global transition towards a low-carbon economy remain sizeable. American businesses and non-governmental stakeholders should therefore engage with their partners around the world to drive this process and truly live up to the President’s slogan” to make America great again.

One obvious winner from the repudiation of the Agreement is Donald Trump, many of whose supporters will cheer his fulfilment of a campaign pledge and his assertion of American determination to go its own way. But his victory may come at a price.

An independent UK climate change think tank, E3G, says: “This arbitrary and inexplicable act by President Trump undermines confidence in the future of every international agreement to which the US is a party.

A majority of Americans support remaining in the Paris Agreement, as do many of the countrys largest and most successful companies including Starbucks, Nike, Google and Apple.

And it says the US move will “provide China with a massive opportunity to seize global leadership from the US on climate change and low carbon investment.”

“The essence of climate change can be captured in 10 words: ‘It’s Clear: It’s Real; It’s Us; It’s Bad; There’s Hope’”

Many developing countries are dismayed, notably low-lying island groups facing rising sea levels. The Fijian prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, said the decision had implications far beyond his country’s shores. It was “deeply disappointing, especially for the citizens of vulnerable nations throughout the world.

“It is also a grave disappointment for millions of people living in those areas of the United States that are threatened by the effects of climate change.”

There is concern for the future of the Green Climate Fund, established by the UN to help developing countries to reduce and adapt to climate change. The US has pledged $3bn and so far paid around $1bn.

The work of the Paris Agreement will continue, although the absence of the US is bound to affect it. Its central weakness is its voluntary nature. For all its signatories, their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) are simply statements of what they intend to do to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

Change needed

If they don’t act, there’s nothing that anyone can do about it. If the Paris conference in December 2015 had tried to reach a stronger agreement it would have required ratification by the US Senate – and it would not have received it.

Myles Allen, professor of geosystem science at the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, sees problems ahead. He says: “If we really want to put the future of the planet first, we need to be thinking hard about how to make the Agreement both more effective and more acceptable to nations with substantial fossil reserves or the US won’t be the last one to be taking this step.”

And whatever the Paris Agreement is able to achieve, with or without the help of the world’s richest economy and its second-largest source of greenhouse gases, the real world goes on its way. It is warming fast, perhaps too fast for the Paris goals to be achievable, and processes already under way may mean uncomfortable surprises ahead

Probably the biggest casualty of the decision is US science: US scientists were among the pioneers of climate change research, based on a now overwhelming weight of evidence. They have now been abandoned by their president.

The Paris Agreement is an attempt to deal with the real world as it is likely to be in a few decades from now. Donald Trump seeks to address a world that has gone beyond recall. – Climate News Network

President Trump abandons science with his pull-out from the Paris Agreement on climate change, damaging US interests and the Earth.

LONDON, 2 June, 2017 – President Donald Trump abandons science with his decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement on climate change, saying: “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris” – a wonderfully clear statement of his inability to recognise that the Earth shares one atmosphere.

Chris Rapley, professor of climate science at University College London, says in response: “The essence of climate change can be captured in 10 words: ‘It’s Clear: It’s Real; It’s Us; It’s Bad; There’s Hope’.”

So who wins from the president’s decision? Not the American workers he seeks to defend. Many US jobs are under threat, not from Paris, but from the accelerating decline of the country’s coal industry and the matching rise in renewable energy.

Nor is it just climate negotiators in foreign capitals who are working to turn the world away from fossil fuels. Within the US, states, governors, cities and industries are committed to creating a low-carbon economy, groups like C40 Cities

But, globally, there are warnings that change has a long way to go. Frederik Dahlmann, of Warwick Business School, UK, is assistant professor of global energy at the University of Warwick, and researches the transition to a low-carbon economy. He says the US withdrawal will be largely seen as an unwelcome irritation, rather than a wholesale shift in the political economy.

Losing confidence

But Dr Dahlmann adds: “The challenges of a global transition towards a low-carbon economy remain sizeable. American businesses and non-governmental stakeholders should therefore engage with their partners around the world to drive this process and truly live up to the President’s slogan” to make America great again.

One obvious winner from the repudiation of the Agreement is Donald Trump, many of whose supporters will cheer his fulfilment of a campaign pledge and his assertion of American determination to go its own way. But his victory may come at a price.

An independent UK climate change think tank, E3G, says: “This arbitrary and inexplicable act by President Trump undermines confidence in the future of every international agreement to which the US is a party.

A majority of Americans support remaining in the Paris Agreement, as do many of the countrys largest and most successful companies including Starbucks, Nike, Google and Apple.

And it says the US move will “provide China with a massive opportunity to seize global leadership from the US on climate change and low carbon investment.”

“The essence of climate change can be captured in 10 words: ‘It’s Clear: It’s Real; It’s Us; It’s Bad; There’s Hope’”

Many developing countries are dismayed, notably low-lying island groups facing rising sea levels. The Fijian prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, said the decision had implications far beyond his country’s shores. It was “deeply disappointing, especially for the citizens of vulnerable nations throughout the world.

“It is also a grave disappointment for millions of people living in those areas of the United States that are threatened by the effects of climate change.”

There is concern for the future of the Green Climate Fund, established by the UN to help developing countries to reduce and adapt to climate change. The US has pledged $3bn and so far paid around $1bn.

The work of the Paris Agreement will continue, although the absence of the US is bound to affect it. Its central weakness is its voluntary nature. For all its signatories, their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) are simply statements of what they intend to do to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

Change needed

If they don’t act, there’s nothing that anyone can do about it. If the Paris conference in December 2015 had tried to reach a stronger agreement it would have required ratification by the US Senate – and it would not have received it.

Myles Allen, professor of geosystem science at the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, sees problems ahead. He says: “If we really want to put the future of the planet first, we need to be thinking hard about how to make the Agreement both more effective and more acceptable to nations with substantial fossil reserves or the US won’t be the last one to be taking this step.”

And whatever the Paris Agreement is able to achieve, with or without the help of the world’s richest economy and its second-largest source of greenhouse gases, the real world goes on its way. It is warming fast, perhaps too fast for the Paris goals to be achievable, and processes already under way may mean uncomfortable surprises ahead

Probably the biggest casualty of the decision is US science: US scientists were among the pioneers of climate change research, based on a now overwhelming weight of evidence. They have now been abandoned by their president.

The Paris Agreement is an attempt to deal with the real world as it is likely to be in a few decades from now. Donald Trump seeks to address a world that has gone beyond recall. – Climate News Network

Climate change legislation sees huge increase

Climate change parched ground

More than 1,200 climate laws have been introduced since 1997, with a sharp rise in the number of countries legislating since the 2015 Paris Agreement.

LONDON, 11 May, 2017 – A growing number of countries are passing laws aimed at ensuring they will keep their promises to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, new research shows. But some still need to do more to give their pledges practical effect under national laws.

An analysis by researchers and staff of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UNFCCC, shows a clear rise in the number of countries introducing legislation to support the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) they have undertaken to make under the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

The NDCs detail the emissions cuts each country intends to make to help to reach the goal of keeping global temperature rise below 2°C.

New climate laws

Analysis by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science shows that 14 new laws and 33 new executive policies related to climate change have been introduced since the Paris summit in December 2015. Of the new laws and policies, 18 mainly focus on climate change, while four specifically relate to NDCs.

The analysis relies on a new online database of global climate change legislation developed by Grantham and the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School, US.

The new laws add to more than 1,200 climate-related laws enacted globally since 1997, now involving 164 countries and including 93 of the top 100 emitters – up from 99 countries in 2015.

Patricia Espinosa, the UNFCCC’s executive secretary, says: “We are witnessing serious and significant support for the Paris Agreement from across countries and continents, and from cities and businesses to civil society.”

Today we present further evidence from the world of policymaking that shows how countries are starting to add to and to tailor existing legislative frameworks to respond to the aims and ambitions of the new Agreement.”

Most countries now have the legal basis
on which further action can build”

A 2016 analysis showed that seven of the G20 members, including the EU as a whole, France, Germany, the UK, Japan, Mexico and South Africa, had emission reduction targets in domestic legislation or policy that were entirely consistent with their Paris pledges.

But that study also pointed out that in the 13 other G20 countries there was a gap between the signatories’ pledges to the Paris Agreement and the legal frameworks they had in place to make those cuts.

So they will need to adjust their existing laws and policies to make the level and timeframe of their targets consistent with the NDCs, or to make more significant changes to translate their pledged emissions cuts into domestic frameworks: for example, by upgrading targets from individual sectors to economy-wide.

The new analysis details progress made by Canada, Argentina and China, which has announced a new five-year plan that sets emission peak targets and energy efficiency targets. It notes: “It is not yet clear how new developments in the US might affect its NDC.”

Professor Samuel Fankhauser, Grantham’s co-director, says the new climate legislation and policies marked a twentyfold increase over two decades ago, when there were just 60 such laws in place. “This reflects the large amount of ground that existing climate laws already cover,” he says. “Most countries now have the legal basis on which further action can build.”

Least developed countries

Since the Paris Agreement came into force many least developed countries (LDCs) have also taken their first steps to consolidate their approach to climate change. For example, Malawi has passed its National Climate Change Management Policy, which makes explicit connection to its NDC and to the Paris Agreement.

But gaps remain. The analysis shows that only 42% (20 LDCs) have factored climate change into their development plans, and that as a group LDCs have fewer laws and policies compared with the global average (5.5 per country compared with 7.7).

Martin Chungong, secretary general of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, says: “The database of global climate legislation is a very valuable resource for parliamentarians. It enables them to know what types of laws exist in the world and to look for ways to translate them into the realities of their countries.

In other words, this tool facilitates the law-making process, which is a first critical element for ensuring that the Paris Agreement translates into national legislation.” – Climate News Network

More than 1,200 climate laws have been introduced since 1997, with a sharp rise in the number of countries legislating since the 2015 Paris Agreement.

LONDON, 11 May, 2017 – A growing number of countries are passing laws aimed at ensuring they will keep their promises to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, new research shows. But some still need to do more to give their pledges practical effect under national laws.

An analysis by researchers and staff of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UNFCCC, shows a clear rise in the number of countries introducing legislation to support the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) they have undertaken to make under the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

The NDCs detail the emissions cuts each country intends to make to help to reach the goal of keeping global temperature rise below 2°C.

New climate laws

Analysis by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science shows that 14 new laws and 33 new executive policies related to climate change have been introduced since the Paris summit in December 2015. Of the new laws and policies, 18 mainly focus on climate change, while four specifically relate to NDCs.

The analysis relies on a new online database of global climate change legislation developed by Grantham and the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School, US.

The new laws add to more than 1,200 climate-related laws enacted globally since 1997, now involving 164 countries and including 93 of the top 100 emitters – up from 99 countries in 2015.

Patricia Espinosa, the UNFCCC’s executive secretary, says: “We are witnessing serious and significant support for the Paris Agreement from across countries and continents, and from cities and businesses to civil society.”

Today we present further evidence from the world of policymaking that shows how countries are starting to add to and to tailor existing legislative frameworks to respond to the aims and ambitions of the new Agreement.”

Most countries now have the legal basis
on which further action can build”

A 2016 analysis showed that seven of the G20 members, including the EU as a whole, France, Germany, the UK, Japan, Mexico and South Africa, had emission reduction targets in domestic legislation or policy that were entirely consistent with their Paris pledges.

But that study also pointed out that in the 13 other G20 countries there was a gap between the signatories’ pledges to the Paris Agreement and the legal frameworks they had in place to make those cuts.

So they will need to adjust their existing laws and policies to make the level and timeframe of their targets consistent with the NDCs, or to make more significant changes to translate their pledged emissions cuts into domestic frameworks: for example, by upgrading targets from individual sectors to economy-wide.

The new analysis details progress made by Canada, Argentina and China, which has announced a new five-year plan that sets emission peak targets and energy efficiency targets. It notes: “It is not yet clear how new developments in the US might affect its NDC.”

Professor Samuel Fankhauser, Grantham’s co-director, says the new climate legislation and policies marked a twentyfold increase over two decades ago, when there were just 60 such laws in place. “This reflects the large amount of ground that existing climate laws already cover,” he says. “Most countries now have the legal basis on which further action can build.”

Least developed countries

Since the Paris Agreement came into force many least developed countries (LDCs) have also taken their first steps to consolidate their approach to climate change. For example, Malawi has passed its National Climate Change Management Policy, which makes explicit connection to its NDC and to the Paris Agreement.

But gaps remain. The analysis shows that only 42% (20 LDCs) have factored climate change into their development plans, and that as a group LDCs have fewer laws and policies compared with the global average (5.5 per country compared with 7.7).

Martin Chungong, secretary general of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, says: “The database of global climate legislation is a very valuable resource for parliamentarians. It enables them to know what types of laws exist in the world and to look for ways to translate them into the realities of their countries.

In other words, this tool facilitates the law-making process, which is a first critical element for ensuring that the Paris Agreement translates into national legislation.” – Climate News Network