Breaking News: Conference of the Parties (COP21)

by Duane Nichols on December 13, 2015

COP21 -- Paris (December 2015)

United Nations Conference on Climate Change — Paris 2015

Dear Friends of the Earth:                     Date — December 12, 2015

Today is a historic day: as tens of thousands of people filled the streets of Paris, politicians finalized a major new global climate agreement. (See also:

The deal in Paris includes an agreement to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, with an aim of 1.5 degrees, and achieve climate ‘neutrality’ that will require phasing out fossil fuels soon after mid-century. That’s not what we hoped for, but it’s still a deal that sends a signal that it’s time to keep fossil fuels in the ground, and for investors to cut their ties with coal, oil and gas by divesting.

This deal represents important progress — but progress alone is not our goal. Our goal is a just and livable planet.

If followed to the letter, the agreement leaves far too many people exposed to the violence of rising seas, stronger storms and deeper drought. It leaves too many loopholes to avoid serious action — despite the heroic efforts from leaders of vulnerable nations and communities who fought for a deal in line with science.

But the coal, oil and gas corporations of the world should take little comfort. That 2 degree pledge would require keeping 80% of the world’s remaining fossil fuels underground, a 1.5 degree target even more — and countries are required to come back to the table every 5 years to increase their ambition in reaching those goals.

Paris isn’t the end of the story, but a conclusion of a particular chapter. Now, it’s up to us to strengthen these promises, make sure they are kept, and then accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels and towards 100% renewable energy.

As world leaders in Paris were finalizing the text of the deal, thousands of people returned to the streets of Paris to demonstrate their commitment to continue the fight:

They were joined by hundreds of solidarity actions around the world, all echoing the same message: it’s up to us to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

Standing together, flowers in hand, we formed red lines in the street — because lines have to be drawn in this fight for justice, and it’s up to all of us to stand on the side of those on the front lines of this crisis.

More lines are being drawn everywhere against the true villain of the last two weeks: the fossil fuel industry, which has done everything possible to weaken even this late, late deal.

Without pressure from ordinary people, world leaders would have gladly ignored this problem entirely. It’s pressure from people that will close the gap between what was signed today and the action we need.

This begins the next chapter. Please watch this space for the announcement of something big in the coming days!

If you are reading this, you’ve been part of the work that got us all to this point, and for that, we say thank you. 2015 was a historic year for us — because we worked together to build a more powerful and hopeful climate movement.

With gratitude, and as always, hope,

Signed: May Boeve (and the whole team)

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Skylark Viewpoint December 13, 2015 at 10:47 am

WASHINGTON POST, December 12, 2015

Paris climate deal: 5 big issues

By Chris Mooney, December 12 at 6:56 PM

Issue: Keeping the warming of the planet within a “safe” range.

Agreement: The text calls for keeping the “increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius [3.6 degrees Fahrenheit] above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.”

What it means: A big win for small island states and other developing nations that have said a temperature increase of over 1.5 degrees would be devastating because of rising seas, loss of coral reefs and other effects.

Issue: Ratcheting down greenhouse-gas emissions

Agreement: To reach “global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible,” followed by “rapid reductions thereafter,” leading to “a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century.”

What it means: Emissions won’t necessarily go to zero after 2050, but they will go low enough to be offset by natural processes, such as the growth of forests and plants, or by advanced technologies that are able to remove greenhouse gases from the air.

Issue: Getting more aggressive action (because current pledges don’t put the world on a path to limiting warming to 2 degrees C, much less 1.5 degrees).

Agreement: Each country will deliver, every five years, a new pledge to further reduce emissions. The pledge should represent a “progression” over the previous one and the “highest possible ambition.”

What it means: The hope is that an expansion in the clean-energy sector between now and when the next round of national pledges would come out will make it possible to cut emissions growth ever-more aggressively, in order to “bend” the emissions curve down and achieve the temperature goals.

Issue: Adapting to damage that will inevitably occur, even with the pact.

Agreement: Countries will step up “adaptation planning.” For effects that cannot be adapted to, the pact has a “loss and damage” section that calls for the use of “risk insurance facilities, climate risk pooling and other insurance solutions.”

What it means: The inclusion of the loss and damage section, while not as strong as some wanted, is a key win for small island states and other developing, vulnerable nations. How much adaptation and loss-and-damage insuring occurs ultimately will come down to one thing: money.

Issue: Who pays?

Agreement: Developed countries, such as the United States, will provide financial resources to developing ones to help them brace for the impact of

climate change and also transition to cleaner energy systems. Wealthier developing countries can also contribute. Developed countries would have to communicate about their climate donations every two years.

What it means: Everybody gets something here. Developing nations get the commitment they were looking for from the developed world. And countries such as the United States will at least know that developing countries can also pitch in.

See also:


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