COP21 2015

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

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