Highland Council has a Climate Change Co-ordinator

Heidi de Haas,  Climate Change Coordinator
Development and Infrastructure
The Highland Council HQ, Glenurquhart Road
Inverness IV3 5NX
Tel. 01463 702279 | www.highland.gov.uk/climatechange


David Attenborough: collapse of civilisation is on the horizon

Naturalist tells leaders at UN climate summit that fate of world is in their hands

Damian Carrington in Katowice     The Guardian    3 December  2018

The collapse of civilisation and the natural world is on the horizon, Sir David Attenborough has told the UN climate change summit in Poland.

The naturalist was chosen to represent the world’s people in addressing delegates of almost 200 nations who are in Katowice to negotiate how to turn pledges made in the 2015 Paris climate deal into reality.  .  .  .   "Right now we are facing a manmade disaster of global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years: climate change," he said. "If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon."

Attenborough said: “The world’s people have spoken. Time is running out. They want you, the decision-makers, to act now. Leaders of the world, you must lead. The continuation of civilisations and the natural world upon which we depend is in your hands.”
.   .   .   .   
Recent studies show the 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years, and the top four in the past four years. Climate action must be increased fivefold to limit warming to the 1.5C scientists advise, according to the UN.

The COP24 summit was also addressed by António Guterres, the UN secretary general. “Climate change is running faster than we are and we must catch up sooner rather than later before it is too late,” he said. “For many, people, regions and even countries this is already a matter of life or death.”

Guterres said the two-week summit was the most important since Paris and that it must deliver firm funding commitments. “We have a collective responsibility to invest in averting global climate chaos,” he said.

Read the full report 


IPCC Report calls for urgent action to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees

8 October 2018   The Guardian reports:


"The world’s leading climate scientists have warned there is only 12 years to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5C and avoid catastrophic environmental breakdown.


"The authors of the landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said urgent and unprecedented changes are needed to reach the target, which is affordable and feasible although it lies at the most ambitious end of the Paris agreement pledge to keep temperatures between 1.5C and 2C.

"Debra Roberts, a co-chair of the IPCC working group, said: “It’s a line in the sand and what it says to our species is that this is the moment and we must act now. This is the largest clarion bell from the science community and I hope it mobilises people and dents the mood of complacency.”

"Political leaders have been urged to act on the report. Christiana Figueres, the former UN climate chief who led the historic Paris agreement of 2015, said: “There is nothing opaque about this new data. The illustrations of mounting impacts, the fast-approaching and irreversible tipping points are visceral versions of a future that no policy-maker could wish to usher in or be responsible for".”

"The IPCC global warming report spares politicians the worst details - the dangers if governments ignore efforts to limit warming to 1.5C are more grave than the summary makes out."

Comment by Bob Ward,  The Guardian

IPCC report links
     Summary for policymakers
     Headline statements
     Press release  8 October 2018
     Full report by chapter

Overwhelmed by climate change?      Here’s what you can do


Consultation on new Climate Change Bill open until 22 September

30 June 2017

The Scottish Government has published a consultation paper on its proposals for a new Climate Change Bill.  Introducing the consultation paper, the government says

"The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 set world-leading greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, including a target to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050.

"The Scottish Government intends to introduce a new Climate Change Bill with even more ambitious targets. Proposals include setting targets based on actual emissions, increasing the 2050 target to 90% emissions reduction, and making provisions for a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions target to be set when the evidence becomes available.

"A number of technical amendments designed to improve the transparency of the targets and functioning of the Act are also being considered".

In her foreword to the consultation paper, Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, writes

"While Scotland is already a world leader, our proposals for a new Climate Change
Bill reaffirm our commitment to remain at the forefront of global ambition and send
a signal to the international community that Scotland is the place to do low carbon
business. The strong foundations we have built through our ambitious targets and
policies to date mean that strengthening our approach in response to the increased
global ambition represented by the Paris Agreement does not require a fundamental
shift or change of direction. The focus of our proposals is therefore on updating
Scotland’s framework of emission reduction targets, both to increase ambition in line
with an appropriate contribution to limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C, and to improve
transparency by measuring progress to targets without adjusting for the operation of
the EU Emissions Trading System.

"We have taken an evidence led approach and our proposals are based on the
independent expert advice of the Committee on Climate Change. Our aim is to
balance high ambition with credibility and our target proposals, which are at the
limit of what the Committee on Climate Change consider is feasible at this time, do
exactly that. These proposals are intended to provide certainty to investors, businesses and communities and to create the conditions to maximise opportunities to export our technology innovations and knowledge as other economies make their own low carbon transition".

Full text of the consultation paper

The Environmental Report referred to in Part 5 of the Consultation Paper is available here.

Public consultation on the proposed changes is open until 22 September

If you wish to take part in the consultation you will find instructions on how to respond (by answering specific questions) at Annex C of the consultation paper.  Responses can most conveniently be submitted online.  If you respond by mail or email you are required to submit a Respondent Information Form, available here.


Scottish Government Draft Climate Change Plan open for consultation

January  2017

The Scottish Government published its draft Climate Change Plan, containing policies and proposals for the period 2017 - 2032, and opened it for consultation until 10 February (which doesn't give much time to read and digest a 178 page document).

The draft plan can be found at  http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0051/00513102.pdf

Responses to Climate Change Plan emphasise importance of community action

TBI Convenor Martin Sherring noted that this plan was open for consultation until 10 February, and has now submitted a  TBI response.

Dr Philip Revell, Projects Co-ordinator for Sustaining Dunbar, has referred us to two other responses, from Sustaining Dunbar and the Scottish Communities Alliance.

What all these responses have in common is an emphasis on the failure of the Scottish Government's draft plan to recognise the importance of the part that local community action must and can play in combating climate change.


Scotland's climate change progress 'exemplary'

BBC News  10 March  2016

The UN climate change secretary has praised Scotland's progress on climate change as "exemplary".

The Climate Change Act, passed in 2009 by the Scottish Parliament, set binding targets to cut emissions for each year until 2020.

Christiana Figueres told BBC Scotland that, despite the Scottish government not meeting its interim targets, she was impressed by the pace of change.

Read the full article.


The Role of Nature-Based Solutions in combatting the climate crisis

By Stuart Brooks, Chief Executive, John Muir Trust

In Policy Now   issue 13   March 2016

Few people today would dispute the global scientific consensus that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century, impacting on billions of people and ecosystems worldwide.

Policy debate on reducing carbon emissions generally tends to focus on the quest for technical solutions that can reduce and eventually replace fossil fuels with cleaner energy. While that is clearly a key objective in the drive to combat global warming, there is growing recognition that natural solutions to climate change mitigation and adaptation should receive more attention.

Read the full article.


Highland residents concerned about Climate Change

Almost two thirds of residents in the Highland Council area believe that climate change is an immediate and urgent problem according to a survey of the Council’s Citizens Panel.

66.4% of 989 respondents expressed this attitude towards climate change. This is an increase from 53.8%, which was recorded in a similar survey conducted by the Council in 2011.

The survey also revealed that 87.2% of 1,027 respondents felt that climate change is either partly, mainly, or entirely caused by human activity.


Beyond Paris: Are we Ready?

Your December update from Scottish Communities Climate Action Network

Whatever your view on its shortcomings, the agreement in Paris makes it official: the era of fossil fuels is at an end. And the quicker we can bring it to an end, the more reserves of coal, oil and gas can be kept in the ground and the better chance we have of avoiding the most catastrophic consequences of climate change.

This will require a transformation in the way we live our lives and run our economy and gives us an historic, one-off opportunity to move away from our fossil-fuel conditioned mind-set with its focus on centralised, large-scale solutions and to re-imagine the way we do things. With an economy and society based on dispersed, diffuse, decentralised renewables, can we grasp the opportunity and empower our communities to take control of shaping their own futures?

How can we ensure that our communities are resilient enough to use the multiple economic, social and environmental challenges ahead as stimuli for creative change? See here for some thoughts on what makes for a resilient community.

Are we ready?

The recent floods in the Scottish Borders and Cumbria have once again highlighted our changing weather patterns and the increased frequency of prolonged intense rainfall. Scottish Communities CAN is currently working with Adaptation Scotland to refine and develop a simple resource (‘Are We Ready?’). Starting from the premise that we all like to talk about the weather, and how it is changing, the intention is to make this available as a resource for our members to use as a way of engaging people who wouldn’t normally come to a meeting to discuss climate change. We hope it can also lead these conversations beyond short-term responses to emergencies to discuss long-term community resilience. We are still seeking a few communities to host an ‘Are We Ready?’ workshop as we finalise the resource. Please do get in touch if you are interested.

Read the full SCCAN newsletter

Nations Approve Landmark Climate Accord in Paris

LE BOURGET, France   12 December 2015 — Representatives of 195 countries reached a landmark climate accord on Saturday that will, for the first time, commit nearly every country to lowering planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions to help stave off the most drastic effects of climate change.

Delegates who have been negotiating intensely in this Paris suburb for two weeks gathered for the final plenary session, where suddenly, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius of France asked for opposition to the deal and, hearing none, gaveled the session closed.

With that, the delegates achieved what had been unreachable for two decades: a consensus on the need to move away from carbon-based fuels and a plan for the 195 nations to do so.

Though the final deal did not achieve all that environmentalists, scientists and some countries had hoped for, it set the table for further efforts to slow down the slide toward an unlivable planet.

In the end, it was an extraordinary effort at international diplomacy. Supporters of a deal argued that no less than the future of the planet was at stake, and in the days leading up to the final session, they worked relentlessly to push skeptical nations to join their ranks.

As they headed into the cavernous hall late Saturday, representatives of individual countries and blocs publicly expressed their support for a deal that had been hammered out down to the wire in a final overnight session on Friday. The United States, which has been a leader in the negotiations, said it approved of the pact, as did the European Union, Canada, Australia, Brazil, Germany, Japan, the Marshall Islands and the 143 countries that make up the G77.

And so it continued.

At the heart of the final deal is a breakthrough on an issue that has foiled decades of international efforts to address climate change. Traditionally, such pacts have required developed economies, such as the United States, to take action to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, but they have exempted developing countries, such as China and India, from such action.

The new accord changes that dynamic by requiring action in some form from every country, rich or poor. The echoes of those divides persisted during the negotiations, however.

Delegates were presented with the final draft of the document Saturday afternoon, after a tense morning when the text was promised but repeatedly delayed. They immediately began parsing it for language that had been the subject of energetic debate in preparation for a voice vote on whether the deal should become law.

The accord was heralded by three leaders — Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius of France, President François Hollande and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations — who helped shepherd it through the final phase of a two-year effort to forge commitments to lowering the rate in which carbon emissions are released into the atmosphere.

Before the text of the accord was released, the three urged all delegates to seize the opportunity for enormous change, and Mr. Fabius, who has presided over the assembly, made an emotional appeal.

“Our text is the best possible balance,” he said, “a balance which is powerful yet delicate, which will enable each delegation, each group of countries, with his head held high, having achieved something important."

New York Times    Saturday 12 December 2015

More from the New York Times

The story on  The Guardian  news

George Monbiot  
"Grand promises of Paris climate deal undermined by squalid retrenchments".     

Full text of the agreement .


COP21: Climate deal 'final draft' agreed in Paris

Organisers of the climate talks in Paris say a final draft text has been agreed after nearly two weeks of intensive negotiations.

An official in the office of French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told the AFP news agency the draft would be presented to ministers at 10:30 GMT.  No details of the proposed agreement have been released so far.

The tentative deal was reached nearly 16 hours after the talks had been scheduled to close.  "We have a text to present," the official said, adding that the draft would be now translated into the UN's six official languages.

Analysts say that this is not a done deal - ratification will only take place if there are no objections raised at Saturday morning's ministerial meeting, and even this is unlikely to come before afternoon in the French capital.  Mr Fabius, who has presided over the talks, had said earlier that the "conditions were never better" for a strong and ambitious agreement.

COP21 Live: Day 12 as it happened.

Significant progress had been reported on a range of issues, with evidence of real compromise between the parties, the BBC's environment correspondent Matt McGrath in Paris reported earlier.

He added that countries supported a temperature goal of 2C but agreed to make their best efforts to keep the warming rise to 1.5C. However, the language on cutting emissions in the long term was criticised for significantly watering down ambition.

The question of different demands on different countries, depending on their wealth and level of development - called "differentiation" at the talks - was said to be the root cause of the difficulties.

Another major difficulty was transparency - richer countries want a single system of measuring, reporting and verifying the commitments countries make as part of this agreement.

It is said to be crucial to the US, which wants to ensure that China is subject to the same sort of oversight as it is. China and India are not keen on this type of oversight.

Analysis - BBC Environment correspondent Roger Harrabin in Paris

We're in the final hours. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has been meeting in huddles with key players throughout the night, hammering out a compromise.

But there was serious opposition to the previous draft and it's too soon to say how much of that the new document will have defused because delegates will be seeing it for the first time this morning.

It's a UN process so any deal has to be signed off by everyone and that gives disproportionate power in the final last few hours for any nation wanting clauses inserted or removed.

One positive note came with the announcement that Brazil was willing to join the so-called "high-ambition coalition" of countries including the EU, the US and 79 countries. The alliance said it would push for an ambitious and legally binding deal with a strong review mechanism.

US President Barack Obama spoke to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping by phone on Friday, with both leaders saying they were committed to an "ambitious" deal.

"Both leaders agreed that the Paris conference presents a crucial opportunity to galvanise global efforts to meet the climate change challenge," a White House statement said.

"They committed that their negotiating teams in Paris would continue to work closely together and with others to realise the vision of an ambitious climate agreement."

BBC News  Saturday 12 December.


Last-ditch UN climate talks head into second night


Le Bourget (France) (AFP) - Sleep-deprived ministers tasked with saving mankind from a climate catastrophe headed into a second night of non-stop talks on Thursday, battling to overcome a rich-poor divide in search of a historic accord.  Eleven days of UN talks in Paris have failed to achieve agreement on key pillars of the planned post-2020 climate pact, aimed at sparing future generations from worsening drought, flood, storms and rising seas.  After all-night negotiations failed to mend the rifts that have endured for more than two decades, French President Francois Hollande stepped in on Thursday morning, seeking to inject a sense of urgency.  "It is important in this last phase that we remind the negotiators why they are here," Hollande said.  "They are not there simply in the name of their countries... they are there to sort out the issue of the future of the planet."


The Paris accord would rally 195 nations in a quest to roll back emissions of fossil fuels -- which warm the Earth's surface and affect its delicate climate system -- and channel billions of dollars in aid to vulnerable countries.  In a sign of the difficulty and complexity of the talks in Le Bourget on the northern outskirts of Paris, carefully-crafted timetables began to slip Thursday, with the release of a planned new draft delayed twice and by a total of six hours.  French Foreign Minister and conference host Laurent Fabius said he was still aiming to forge the historic deal by Friday's scheduled close.  "I hope, I hope that tomorrow we will have finished," Fabius said.

But others were less sure, with senior Chinese climate envoy Li Junfeng telling reporters he thought a Saturday finish was the best-case scenario.  A second night of negotiations were scheduled for Thursday to debate the planned new text, although this had still yet to be released by dinner time. 

As part of a carefully coordinated US diplomatic push for a deal, US Secretary of State John Kerry met Thursday with Indian Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, a key player in Paris because his country has huge coal resources that it wants to burn to power its economic development.  "We want future generations to get a right and good deal from Paris," Javadekar said after talking with Kerry.

On the sidelines, a host of nations from all sides of the disputes continued to voice entrenched positions.  Still, delegates said that the mood was still positive, and the finger-pointing and back-biting of past climate talks were so far absent.  Developing nations insist the United States and other established economic powerhouses must shoulder the lion's share of responsibility as they have emitted most of the greenhouse gases since the Industrial Revolution.  Rich nations say emerging giants must also do more, arguing that developing countries now account for most of today's emissions and thus will stoke future warming.

One of the battlegrounds is what cap on global warming to enshrine in the accord, set to take effect in 2020.  Many nations most vulnerable to climate change want to limit warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.5 degrees Fahrenheit) compared with pre-Industrial Revolution levels.  However several big polluters, such as China and India, prefer a ceiling of 2C, which would allow them to burn fossil fuels for a while longer.  There was growing confidence within the vulnerable-nation bloc that they would win their high-profile campaign, and secure a reference to the 1.5C target in the key "purpose" section of the planned accord.  This was partly due to the emergence of an informal new lobby group that emerged this week in Paris dubbed the "High Ambition Coalition" that included the United States, the European Union and many vulnerable nations.  The group does not negotiate as a bloc, but has been seen to have had influence in the talks by heavily promoting "ambitious" benchmarks in the planned accord, such as a 1.5C reference.

One of the biggest potential deal-busters remaining is over money.  Rich countries promised six years ago in Copenhagen to muster $100 billion (92 billion euros) a year from 2020 to help developing nations make the costly shift to clean energy, and to cope with the impact of global warming.  But how the pledged funds will be raised still remains unclear -- and developing countries are pushing for a promise to ramp up the aid in future.

Another flashpoint issue is how to compensate developing nations that will be worst hit by climate change yet are least to blame for it, as they have emitted the least greenhouse gas.  Most nations submitted to the UN before Paris their voluntary plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions from 2020, a process that was widely hailed as an important platform for success.  But scientists say that, even if the cuts were fulfilled, they would still put Earth on track for warming of at least 2.7C.  Negotiators remain divided in Paris over when and how often to review national plans so that they can be "scaled up" with pledges for deeper emissions cuts.

Yahoo News   Friday 11 December 2015

COP21 Climate Change Conference

Paris   November - December  2015

Why COP21 ?
It will be the 21st yearly session of the Conference of the Parties to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change - nothing to do with the last climate conference in Copenhagen, which is probably best forgotten.

According to the organizing committee, the objective of the 2015 conference is to achieve, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, a binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world.

On the Guardian website, Pascoe Sabido writes:

As the UN’s climate talks in Paris begin, the lobbying and public relations push from some of the biggest corporations responsible for climate change has gone into overdrive. What are the messages they’re so keen to spread, and what will they mean for the COP21 conference – and for the climate?

A recent report from the NGO Corporate Europe Observatory reveals that what’s on offer at COP21 is nothing short of a climate catastrophe, a guaranteed recipe to cook the planet. But rather than sending the dish back, political leaders have asked for seconds, bringing the very companies responsible for the problem ever closer into the UN fold.

James Bacchus, a trade expert at the International Chamber of Commerce, says: “This issue is important for governments to address but it is far too important to leave to governments alone.”

Fortunately the UN agrees. The problem, however, is that is has also succeeded in creating several platforms to ensure business-friendly proposals are at the heart of climate policy-making, rather than vice versa. New markets, experimental technologies, all endorsed so polluters don’t have to change their business models.

The UN’s climate chief, Christiana Figueres – who before taking up her post was principal climate change advisor to Latin America’s leading energy utility, Endesa – has even told the world to “stop demonising oil and gas companies”.

Full story

More from the Guardian

More from BBC news

"How the private sector is powering a low carbon revolution"  -  DECC.

DECC - the Department of Energy and Climate Change - is promoting a website publicising activities by a range of private sector companies intended to limit energy use and reduce carbon emissions.


December 2015

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