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Agreement in Paris Paves Road For The End of Fossil Fuels

Agreement in Paris Paves Road For The End of Fossil Fuels

After two weeks of negotiations here in the airport hangars of Le Bourget, 195 parties are expected to sign a global pact that will curb global warming pollution and rapidly escalate the growth of the clean energy solutions the world needs.

The consensus here is that the Paris deal on the table is a good one. Could it be better? Of course. But this deal is about as good as it is going to get from a consensus process involving 195 countries.

The reduction targets in the plan are in line with what scientists say needs to happen, and most importantly this deal strikes a balance between what has to happen to avoid the most calamitous impacts of climate change, with the realties faced by developing nations that do not have the resources to go it alone in reducing fossil fuel consumption.

On a personal note, having now been involved in this UN negotiating process in various capacities for close to a decade, I have to say that this is truly an historic day for humanity.

It has been a very long road that started long before these talks here in Paris.

The Long History of Climate Negotiations

While this official UN process began 21 years ago, it was in 1988 when a panel of scientists was struck called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), bringing together everything we knew about climate change in a series of papers that would serve as the justification for a global treaty on greenhouse gas emissions. Over the coming years, the IPCC would issue reports on the state of climate science that grew more certain in its conclusions and more dire in it predictions.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

COP21: Canada’s new goal for limiting global warming ‘perhaps a dream’

COP21: Canada’s new goal for limiting global warming ‘perhaps a dream’

Target ambitious but not impossible, scientists say

Canada is currently committed to reducing emissions 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, which is 'nowhere near strong enough' to stay below the country's new stated target, an environmental scientist says.

Canada is currently committed to reducing emissions 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, which is ‘nowhere near strong enough’ to stay below the country’s new stated target, an environmental scientist says. (CBC)

This story is part of CBC News special coverage of climate change issues in connection with the United Nations climate change conference (COP21) being held in Paris from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.


Canada’s new Liberal government has upped the ante on its promises to help slow global warming, joining other countries at the Paris climate talks that say a previously agreed upon global target falls short of protecting everyone’s interests.

Canada supports a long-term goal of limiting rising average temperatures to within 1.5 C of pre-industrial levels, although 2 C remains the official target.

The 1.5 C goal is ambitious, scientists say, but not impossible. Success requires immediate action from all governments, including Canada’s, and enough buy-in from citizens to spark some big changes.

‘Train’s almost left the station’

A half-degree change in the target may not seem like much, but scientists say it means the world’s average emissions would have to decline more sharply, over less time.

“1.5 degrees is a hope — perhaps a dream,” says Rob Jackson, an environmental scientist at Stanford University in California. “As a practical matter, the train’s almost left the station.”

‘That level of commitment is nowhere near strong enough.’– Rob Jackson, environmental scientist at Stanford University

If global carbon dioxide emissions continue to increase by two per cent each year, the world’s average temperature could be 2 C hotter within 20 years and 3 C hotter within 30 years, according to a paper Jackson co-authored and published this summer.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Climate Activists Announce Global Campaign of Civil Disobedience to “Break Free From Fossil Fuels”

Climate Activists Announce Global Campaign of Civil Disobedience to “Break Free From Fossil Fuels”

The groups are planning a concentrated week of global actions in May of 2016. So far, events are being planned in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Nigeria, Philippines, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, and the United States. Additional countries under consideration include Ecuador, India, and the UK.

Activists also plan several peaceful actions in Paris this Saturday, despite the French government’s ban on protest in the wake of the November 13 terrorist attacks here.

The science is clear: we need to keep at least 80%, if not more, of fossil fuels in the ground,” said Payal Parekh, the global managing director of 350.org. “It’s up to us to break free from fossil fuels and accelerate the shift towards a just transition to 100% renewable energy. It’s in our hands to close the ambition gap.”

Governments aren’t getting the job done. It’s up to civil society to do it,” she concluded.

Nnimmo Bassey, a Nigerian activist from the Health of Mother Earth Foundation, also spoke today in Paris about the need for negotiators to  talking about global warming but without stopping the dependence on ff – this is hypocrisy at best.

A 1.5 degree ceiling does not mean anything if a complete fossil fuel freeze is not on the table. How can you achieve this while investments are still going on in the fossil fuel sector?”

He chastised the negotiations for talking about global warming action without discussing the need to end global dependence on fossil fuels . “This is hypocrisy at best,” Bassey said.

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The Paris Climate Accords Will Cause the Planet to Burn

The Paris Climate Accords Will Cause the Planet to Burn

paris-climate

Paris.

The Paris agreement, according to Pablo Solón, a veteran of climate negotiations, “will be an agreement that will burn up the planet.”

The result of the COP21 (Twenty-first United Nations Climate Change Conference), which began on Monday, Nov. 30 and will end on Dec. 11, “can already be announced, because we already know what it will be,” he said in an interview with the Americas Program.

“Here in Paris, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is not being negiotiated under criteria of climate justice or climate science. All that’s being done is taking note of the promises of each country and adding them up,” said the former Bolivian ambassador.

Nearly all of the world’s countries– about 186 to date– have promised to reduce emissions. The official report of these promises, when seen as a global plan, constitutes an announcement of disaster.

The challenge set in 2009 in Copenhagen was to avoid exceeding 2 degrees Celsius of global warming. The official report would mean an increase in global temperature of between 2.7 and 3.9 degrees Celsius. In other words, actual warming could reach double of what was established as the maximum limit.

“And 2 degrees Celsius was the roof of the roof, because many countries have warned that even with a 1.5 degree warming their countries could disappear, especially many island nations. With the Paris agreement, warming is going to reach more than double that figure.”

“But there is another report that says: careful, it could be even 5 degrees Celsius. Many think that we are negotiating contributions to emissions reductions, but that is not the case. That is not being negotiated. This is a farce, a scam. I can’t think of another way to say it.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Apocalyptic Capitalism

Apocalyptic Capitalism

   A slogan referring to the COP21 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris on the Eiffel Tower. (Michel Euler / AP)

The charade of the 21st United Nations climate summit will end, as past climate summits have ended, with lofty rhetoric and ineffectual cosmetic reforms. Since the first summit more than 20 years ago, carbon dioxide emissions have soared. Placing faith in our political and economic elites, who have mastered the arts of duplicity and propaganda on behalf of corporate power, is the triumph of hope over experience. There are only a few ways left to deal honestly with climate change: sustained civil disobedience that disrupts the machinery of exploitation; preparing for the inevitable dislocations and catastrophes that will come from irreversible rising temperatures; and cutting our personal carbon footprints, which means drastically reducing our consumption, particularly of animal products.

“Our civilization,” Dr. Richard Oppenlander writes in “Food Choice and Sustainability, “displays a curious instinct when confronted with a problem related to overconsumption—we simply find a way to produce more of what it is we are consuming, instead of limiting or stopping that consumption.”

The global elites have no intention of interfering with the profits, or ending government subsidies, for the fossil fuel industry and the extraction industries. They will not curtail extraction or impose hefty carbon taxes to keep fossil fuels in the ground. They will not limit the overconsumption that is the engine of global capitalism. They act as if the greatest contributor of greenhouse gases—the animal agriculture industry—does not exist. They siphon off trillions of dollars and employ scientific and technical expertise—expertise that should be directed toward preparing for environmental catastrophe and investing in renewable energy—to wage endless wars in the Middle East.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

What Worries the World’s Most Famous Climate Scientist?

What Worries the World’s Most Famous Climate Scientist?

James Hansen is fretting about the Paris talks, and for good reason.DrJamesHansen_610px.jpg

James Hansen detailed his fears in a recent communiqué posted on his website. Photo by chesapeakeclimate. Creative Commons licensed.

James Hansen is fretting about the Paris climate talks, and for good reason.

You might recall that Hansen was the NASA scientist that boldly warned the United States Congress about the perils of rising global temperatures as early as 1988.

And you might remember that officials with the U.S. administration of George W. Bush instructed the world’s most famous climate change scientist not to talk about how fossil fuel burning could have a dangerous effect on climate in 2004.

But Hansen kept on talking about melting ice, rising seas, flooded coastal cities and super storms. And now he’s worried that Paris will be another bureaucratic gabfest that avoids the true remedy: rapid fossil fuel emissions reductions driven by a carbon levy.

By rapid, Hansen doesn’t think the world’s industrial economies have time to be self-satisfied about stabilizing carbon dioxide emissions around 450 parts per million or even the alarming present amount of 400 ppm. No, to restore the Earth’s energy balance, now unsettled by centuries of greenhouse gas emissions, the world needs to aim for 350 ppm and possibly lower.

Everyone agrees that business as usual will take the world to 600 ppm by 2050, along with a rise of temperature by four degrees.

Hansen worries politicians still don’t get the urgency. He also worries that U.S. President Barack Obama and others will sell our children and theirs “down the river” in Paris with more promises and no action.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Global Leaders Fight for New 1.5 Degrees Warming Target at COP21 Climate Talks

Global Leaders Fight for New 1.5 Degrees Warming Target at COP21 Climate Talks

The group of countries, known as the Climate Vulnerability Forum, argues current efforts to limit global temperature rise to two degrees Celsius is insufficient to protect many nations from the dangers of climate change. The group came to this conclusion, which was announced on the first day of the climate talks, after two years of expert review and diplomatic consultations.

The groups said lives, rights and the prosperity of billions are at stake in the globally agreed temperature limit.

The two degree limit has been widely cited since the Stockholm Environment Institute released a major study on dangerous climate change in 1990. The limit did not become a formal target of global climate negotiations until 2010 with the signing of the Cancun Agreement.

For a more detailed backgrounder on the two degree target, read Carbon Brief’s “Two Degrees: The History of Climate Change’s Speed Limit.”

Thoriq Ibrahim, Maldives minister of environment and energy, said the danger of exceeding a 1.5 degrees target is “especially acute for the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), a group of 44 low-lying island and coastal states from around the world.”

AOSIS is of the view that the Paris agreement must be an ambitious, legally binding protocol capable of limiting warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius,” he said, adding “immediate action is required before the treaty goes into effect in 2020 if we are to keep the window to 1.5 degrees open.”

Recently Cyclone Pam and Typhoon Maysak destroyed homes and killed dozens of people in Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Kiribati and in Micronesia, Ibrahim said.

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200+ detained, tear gas & scuffles at banned Global March for Climate in Paris (VIDEO)

200+ detained, tear gas & scuffles at banned Global March for Climate in Paris (VIDEO)

Crowds gathered in the French capital on Sunday to attend a global march for the climate, despite the ban on gatherings enforced by French authorities. When one of the groups charged a police cordon, tear gas was deployed to push them back.

Huge amounts” of tear gas were fired at protesters near Place de la Republique in central Paris, according to witnesses’ reports on Twitter, with objects flying in the direction of security forces.

The march, which was set to take place in dozens of cities around the world, was restricted in the French capital falling under the ban on gatherings introduced after the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris.

La Republique metro station, closest to the scene, has been closed by authorities, citing security measures.

The riot police repeatedly attempted to push back the activists, spraying the crowds with tear gas. Ahead of the summit, 24 green activists were put under house arrest, with police saying they were suspected of planning violent protests, according to Reuters.

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Protest ban? What protest ban?

Protest ban? What protest ban?

The crowd celebrates in Place de la Republique. by Danny Chivers/New Internationalist

The French government’s attempts to crack down on climate protesters have only made their voices louder, reports Danny Chivers.

Protest is currently banned in Paris. Any outdoor gathering of more than two people with a political message has been strictly prohibited under ‘state of emergency” government powers, following the 13 November terror attacks. Anyone taking part in an illegal demonstration could face fines of $3,972 or up to two months in prison.

The French government imposed the protest ban supposedly in the name of public safety, and yet – as campaigners have pointed out – large gatherings such as football matches and Christmas markets have been allowed to go ahead. Groups of people, it seems, only become hazardous when they have a political point to make. The government has seemed determined to use these powers freely, putting a number of climate campaigners under house arrest, raiding activist squats and attempting to prevent two separate bicycle convoys from reaching Paris.

So protest has been banned, which means if you thought you saw a protest today, you must have been mistaken. If you were at the park opposite the Bataclan at 9 o’clock this morning, where Indigenous peoples from North America and the South Pacific led songs, prayers and blessings for the lives lost in the Paris attacks, and also for the defence of Mother Earth against the extractive industries – well, that wasn’t a protest. It was a ceremony, so no problem there.

Then, at noon, if you happened to see ten thousand people forming a human chain along the pavement from Place de la République to Nation, holding banners and placards demanding climate justice – well, that can’t have been a protest either. Because, you know, protest is banned.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Climate change is our grand narrative now

Climate change is our grand narrative now

There is the story of our personal lives: our family, our friends, our jobs, our hobbies. There is the story of our communities: our civic, religious, business, artistic and recreational lives. There is the story of our nations: their internal political struggles and their struggles with each other.

But now, there is one grand narrative which ties us all together, whether we want to be connected or not, whether we are preoccupied with our personal, community or national narratives or not. That is the narrative of our changing climate and the resulting threat to the continuity of our world civilization. The upcoming climate talks in Paris this week are but one expression of this new reality.

Even people who oppose doing anything about climate change are forced to talk about it. Even people who somehow have convinced themselves that climate change is not happening and oddly, in the same breath, claim that humans have nothing to do with this thing that is not happening–even those people confirm by their very framing of the issue that they are firmly situated inside this narrative.

Climate change is now the grand narrative because what happens to climate and what we do about it will be a worldwide story which no one can ignore. As such there will be few people without an opinion on the issue of climate change. Increasingly, it will reach down into our national, community and personal lives in ways we had hoped would wait until we are gone. The droughts, the heat, the floods, the damage to crops, the lengthening summer, the late fall, and the early spring–none of them can escape our notice.

We are forced to incorporate the changing climate into our everyday conversations. It is already a big topic among anyone who gardens and certainly anyone who farms. Among those in touch with plants the evidence of a changing climate is incontrovertible.

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Hottest five-year period on record is 2011-2015, says WMO

Hottest five-year period on record is 2011-2015, says WMO

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) announced today that 2015 is likely to top the charts as the hottest year in modern observations, with 2011-15 the hottest five-year period on record.

With two full months still to add in, the global average surface temperature for January to October in 2015 was 0.73C above the 1961-1990 average. This already puts it a long way above 2014, in which average global temperature reached 0.57C above the 1961-1990 average.

This year’s record is down to a combination of rising greenhouse gases and a boost from the strong El Niño underway in the Pacific, says the WMO.

Today’s announcement is timed to coincide with the gathering of world leaders on Monday to begin talks in Paris aimed at striking a deal to reduce global emissions.

‘Significant’ milestone

Global annual average temperature relative to 1961-1990

To put today’s news another way, global temperature in 2015 is likely to pass the “symbolic and significant” threshold of 1C above preindustrial levels, says the WMO.

This follows the recent announcement from the Met Office that temperature in the HadCrut4 dataset – one of three global datasets the WMO uses – is expected to pass the 1C mark in 2015. Dr Ed Hawkins from the University of Reading said today:

Roughly 1.0 degrees Celsius of this warming, or around 95%, is due to human activity. Natural cycles in the climate system, including El Nino, solar activity and natural variations in weather, are likely to be responsible for the remainder of the warming.

Earlier this month, the WMO said greenhouse gases in the atmosphere had reached a new high, with spring concentrations in the northern hemisphere exceeding 400 parts per million.

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UN chief warns climate change could have link with terrorism

UN chief warns climate change could have link with terrorism

Ban Ki-moon tells CBC’s Margo McDiarmid social disruption could lead to more ‘terrorist fighters’

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in an interview with CBC, said the effects of climate change will lead to social disruption, fuelling the frustration of the young and unemployed, who may then join extremist causes.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in an interview with CBC, said the effects of climate change will lead to social disruption, fuelling the frustration of the young and unemployed, who may then join extremist causes. (CBC)

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says the attacks in Paris can’t overshadow efforts to reach a climate change agreement at next week’s summit. He also warns in an exclusive interview with CBC News of a possible link between climate change and terrorism.

CBC’s Margo McDiarmid spoke to Ban Ki-moon in Malta on Saturday at the Commonwealth summit and he talked about an indirect link between the effects of climate change and the rise of extremist groups.

“He said climate change has a similar effect to terrorism in that climate change can lead to social disruption, it can lead to climate refugees, which in itself can lead to people looking for other answers or joining terrorist groups, especially among young people,” McDiarmid said.

“When we do not address climate change properly it may also affect many people who are frustrated and who are impacted and there is some possibility that these young people who [are] jobless and frustrated may join these foreign terrorist fighters,” the UN chief said.

“There is a concern whether it may overshadow the climate change agreement and I think we have to move on this climate change [agreement],” he added.

French President Francois Hollande was meeting with environmental groups Saturday, pushing for an ambitious global deal to reduce man-made emissions blamed for global warming.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is among leaders attending the Paris talks, has been in Valetta, Malta for the Commonwealth meeting, where he pledged his government would spend $15.3 million over four years to improve the lives of young people in Africa.

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It’s Too Late to “Save” the Climate, But Not Too Late to Save Ourselves

It’s Too Late to “Save” the Climate, But Not Too Late to Save Ourselves

Paris_VistaYet another United Nations climate confab is about to commence, this time in Paris, France, where the tragic backdrop of terrorism, war, and a growing immigration crisis now grips the country. It’s fitting that global warming talks should happen here, considering the role that climate-induced drought in Syria has played in worsening the wave of the violence and desperate migration that’s spread throughout the region. Perhaps the gravity of the moment will weigh more heavily on UN delegates as they ponder a world where extreme weather, rising seas, and punishing droughts become the norm, leading to ever more conflict and misery.

Still, we’re unlikely to see a plan emerge from the Paris talks that truly stems the tide of rising carbon pollution, much less any binding agreement to ensure that meaningful climate protection goals are met. Those who’ve pinned their hopes on a global accord that ramps down carbon levels are singing from the same songbook as they always have, year after year, from Rio in 1992 to Kyoto in 1997 to Copenhagen in 2009. Time and time again the refrain is always: “It will be different this time.”

Environmental commentator Brian Tokar has outlined each of these progressive failures in his painfully incisive piece, Is the Paris Climate Conference Designed to Fail? With excruciating detail, Tokar provides a behind-the-scenes look into why these global processes have perpetually missed the mark, concluding that “progress toward a meaningful climate agreement has continued to be stifled by big-power politics and diplomatic gridlock.” That appears unlikely to change anytime soon, certainly not in the 20-30 year timeframe that climate activists proclaim is critical to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels to stave off massive climate disruption.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

End of Coal? Tyee’s Climate Reporter on Paris Predictions

End of Coal? Tyee’s Climate Reporter on Paris Predictions

Geoff Dembicki talks tipping points, clean energy and, yes, if we’re screwed.GeoffDembickiForest_610px.jpg

Bon voyage, Geoff!

On Friday, long-time Tyee sustainability reporter Geoff Dembicki will set out for Paris, where he’ll be on the ground covering the United Nations climate change conference.

The 29-year old reporter, who is currently writing his first book Are We Screwed? A Millennial’s Guide to Climate Change, will be filing dispatches for The Tyee.

Planned from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, the ambitious gathering of 196 countries has an even more ambitious goal: to forge “a new international agreement on climate change, applicable to all, to keep global warming below 2 C.”

Reporter David Ball sat down with Dembicki to talk about what he’s watching for in Paris, what’s at stake, and if our world is as screwed as some claim. Interview edited for clarity and length.

David P. Ball: You’re flying to Paris on Friday. Tell me about your preparations and what you’ll be looking for there.

Geoff Dembicki: Over the past couple weeks, I’ve reached out to various environmentalists, journalists and academics to have as many background conversations as I can just to wrap my mind around this event.

Is that overly optimistic, or do you think that could actually happen? We’ve had climate summits before — what’s changed?

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Playing Politics While the Planet Sizzles

Playing Politics While the Planet Sizzles

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The Republican Senate just voted to reject plans by President Obama and the EPA to dramatically reduce emissions from coal power plants. This is reactionary politics. It is also political theater that plays right into the hands of the President. This allows President Obama to create the illusion that he is the embattled climate warrior—going to Paris slaying the Republicans with one sword and the Koch brothers with the other. But both parties and the Democratic-dominated Beltway environmental groups are complicit in a charade. The Republicans are simply carrying out election-year posturing while the president will veto the Republican bill and they don’t have the votes to override him.

The U.S. media, especially those close to the Democratic Party, is now saying that the Republican vote will “weaken” the President’s hand in Paris. In fact, President Obama is the commander in chief of the U.S. army, the CEO of the U.S. Empire, and the manager of 800 military bases all over the world. He runs a drone program that targets and assassinates his political opponents. The president is nobody’s prisoner and nobody is tying his hands.

At the United Nations Framework Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC), the President has told the world’s delegates that he needs to come out of Paris with a victory that can pass Republican objections. Even his allies are laughing because everyone knows there is no possible positive outcome that the Republicans would support. Instead, they blame the president for weakening if not destroying an urgently needed climate agreement in Paris—a plan he is carrying out for Democratic not Republican objectives.

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