lima climate deal a good deal ?

yes & no . . . vox writer brad plumer adds it all up – what the world’s national environment reps meeting in peru this month were able to prep for next year’s big paris climate summit.

yes, we’re talking at last, given what’s at stake.
no, hardly on the same page, taken who’s pounding.

lima climate deal: every single country now plans to tackle emissions. sort of.

Updated by Brad Plumer on December 14, 2014, 12:10 p.m. ET@bradplumer / brad@vox.com

coal-fired cottam power station in retford, nottinghamshire, uk

coal-fired cottam power station in retford, nottinghamshire, uk.

 

What the new UN climate deal does (and doesn’t do)

1. UNDER A NEW UN DEAL on climate change agreed to in Lima, Peru, every single country has agreed to submit a plan next year for addressing their greenhouse-gas emissions.

2. That’s a first. Past climate deals only targeted the emissions of wealthier nations and exempted fast-growing countries like China and India.

3. But there are huge caveats. The plans will all be voluntary — countries can promise to cut as much or as little as they want. And there’s no rigorous outside review. (The US wanted one, but this was opposed by China and India.)

4. Experts warn this deal isn’t enough to prevent significant global warming: the world IS STILL ON PACE for temperature increases of 3°C (5.4°F) or more by 2100. Which means how to adapt to warming has become an equally large part of these talks — especially for poor nations.

Lima Climate Action High Level Session, taken December 11, 2014. (Ministerio del Ambiente/Flickr)

At this year’s UN climate conference in Lima, Peru, representatives from 196 countries AGREED TO A DEAL that could eventually commit every nation to slow the growth of its greenhouse-gas emissions.

Over the next six months, each nation will be required to submit a plan for how it will address future emissions. These plans will form the basis of a MAJOR NEW CLIMATE AGREEMENT to be negotiated in Paris at the end of 2015 and take effect by 2020.

The actual content of each country’s plan, however, is entirely voluntary. In principle, countries are supposed to pledge to do more on climate than they’ve already been doing. But there are no rules about how emissions actually get restrained or what the timetable should be. (See items #10 and #14 HERE

Some countries have already put forward pledges:

The Obama administration HAS PLEDGED that US greenhouse-gas emissions will be 26 to 28 percent lower in 2025 than they were in 2005.

The European Union plans to reduce its emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

CHINA ALSO INTENDS TO STOP its emissions from rising past 2030 or so — and plans to ramp up its share of renewable energy.

You’ll notice that not all pledges are equal. This is by design. As part of a US-China DEAL STRUCK BEFORE THIS CONFERENCE , the United States agreed to cut its emissions immediately, whereas China’s emissions wouldn’t peak until 2030. The idea here was that China is poorer and should get more leeway to grow.

That principle was enshrined in this latest UN deal, which notes that national pledges should take into account “different national circumstances.” A country like India — where 400 million people still lack electricity — shouldn’t have to cut as quickly or as deeply as Germany. Countries are merely encouraged to explain how their pledges are both “fair” and “ambitious.”

This new accord is a conceptual break from the past. The last climate treaty, the 1997 KYOTO PROTOCOL , required only wealthy nations to cut emissions. Developing countries like China and India were exempt. There was some logic to that at the time. But nowadays, developing countries make up the majority of global carbon emissions — and excluding them doesn’t make sense:

global carbon project

global carbon project

So this new deal will take a different approach. Each and every country will have to pitch in to help constrain global emissions — although it’s up to them to determine how much.

The Lima deal still has a lot of question marks

There’s still a lot that’s very hazy about this climate agreement. For one, these national climate pledges are UNLIKELY TO PROVE LEGALLY BINDING in any way. That’s something that Europe had been pushing for, but was opposed by both China and the US. (it’s unlikely that Congress would ever ratify a formal treaty).

That means countries can propose whatever climate action they feel like. World leaders that submit weak plans (or fail to follow through on their pledges) won’t face any sanctions or punishments. Progress will mainly depend on peer pressure between countries.

Even monitoring the plans themselves could prove difficult. During the Lima conference, the United States tried to insist on a minimum standard for what emissions pledges must look like. It also pushed for rigorous outside review of all national plans after they were submitted. But these items were strongly opposed by China, India, and others. (India was reportedly ready to scuttle the whole deal if these items were included.)

Instead, THE FINAL LIMA DEAL simply says that countries “may include” detailed information on how and when they intend to cut emissions. (Or they may not!) There will be no formal assessment of each country’s plans. All that will happen is that, in November 2015, the UN will tally up all the national pledges and estimate how they stack up to the broader goal of preventing morethan 2°C of global warming. Otherwise, there’s little monitoring or verification.

The Lima agreement also encourages countries to come up with ways to help poorer nations adapt to the impacts of global warming, like sea-level rise or droughts. But this, too, is vague. The US and Europe have long opposed any deals that would require wealthier nations to compensate poorer countries for “loss and damages” caused by global warming (say, low-lying islands that vanish under the rising seas). So this will continue to be a point of contention.

In the meantime, wealthier nations have pledged to provide (voluntary) climate aid. Under a separate deal, nations AGREED TO RAISE $100 BILLION PER YEAR from public and private sources to help poorer countries adapt and adjust to a hotter planet. It’s still unclear where this money willcome from, however.

 

The deal isn’t enough to prevent significant global warming

global carbon project

global carbon project

Back in 2009, the world’s leaders agreed on how to define “dangerous” global warming. Basically, they said, we shouldn’t let global average temperatures rise more than 2°C (or 3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels. Otherwise, the risks from rising temperatures, extreme weather, and sea-level rise would be too great. (Here’s a MORE IN-DEPTH LOOK at how this target came about.)

Right now, however, the world is on pace to blow past that 2°C limit. And it seems unlikely that this Lima goal will avoid this fate. ONE RECENT ANALYSIS by MIT researchers looked at what was realistic to expect from countries in terms of short-term emissions pledges. (This was based on “national communications, discussions with observers of conditions in various countries, and — by necessity — a good deal of guesswork.”) Their conclusion? The 2015 pledges would fall well short of the cuts needed to stay below 2°C of global warming.

At the conference in Lima, Secretary of State John Kerry put it bluntly in a speech: “We’re still on a course leading to tragedy.”

Other onlookers have been somewhat more sanguine. Even if the latest talks won’t be enough to meet that 2°C goal, they note, building forward momentum on climate action is worthwhile in its own right. Over at Dot Earth, ANDREW REVKIN HAS MADE THE CASE that this newer, “softer” approach to climate negotiations may prove more effective than previous approaches that tried to impose hard emissions limits on countries.

Similarly, Robert Stavins, a Harvard economist who studies global climate talks, PUT IT THIS WAY : “What is mostimportant is long-term action. Each agreement is no more than one step to be followed by others. And most important now for ultimate success later is a sound foundation, which is what the Lima accord provides.”

IN AN AUGUST ESSAY , Michael Liebreich, head of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, noted that conditions are more favorable for climate action than they have been in the past. Many low-carbon energy sources — like wind, solar, and electric cars — are advancing faster than expected. (Others, however, like nuclear power and carbon capture for coal plants, have stalled out.) Clean-energy financing has grown to more than $250 billion per year. A climate deal could, at the very least, help nudge those trends forward.

Ultimately, however, slowing down global warming WILL REQUIRE A MASSIVE SHIFT in how the world uses energy — requiring huge changes in how we fuel our cars, power our homes, heat our buildings. At best, this deal is only a very modest step in that direction.

Further reading

HOW TO STOP GLOBAL WARMING IN 7 STEPS .

HERE’S WHAT THE WORLD WOULD LOOK LIKE if we took global warming seriously.

Past UN climate talks have failed. WILL THIS ONE BE ANY DIFFERENT ?

A GRAPHICAL LOOK at the deep divisions between rich and poor countries on climate change.

UN’s IPCC sets it out yet again- got to change it all !

Bangkok's skyline blanketed in a haze

on the way to next global power gathering in paris -one year away
world scientists put it to them -and us- as clearly as possible

as UN leader ban ki-moon summarizes
leaders must act; time is not on our side

YESTERDAY’S GUARDIAN MUST-READ REVIEW OF THE IPCC REPORT
… AND HERE’S BILL MCKIBBEN’S REVIEW OF THAT REPORT, ALSO IN THE GUARDIAN

climatemarch wrap-up – one good beginning

PEOPLES CLIMATE MARCH ORGANIZERS WRAP-UP – stories, pix around the globe

climate wrap & rummage from bill mckibben . . .

Subject: this fight is for real
From: “Bill McKibben – 350.org”
To: Jim Rucquoi
Date: October 21, 2014 at 5:00:16 PM EDT

Dear friends,

For those of us lucky enough to be in Manhattan exactly one month ago today, perhaps the greatest moment of a great day was the surge of sound that followed our moment of silence.

The “People’s Climate Roar” began on Central Park West and then pulsed down Sixth Avenue and crashed through Times Square. That wave of sound symbolized two things:

1) We’re sounding the alarm on climate change, the greatest problem the world has ever faced.
2) We’re demonstrating the tide of anger, joy, and resolve that is going to do something about it.

And it wasn’t just us who thought it was so important. Here’s what other folks had to say:

- TAKING A CALL FOR CLIMATE CHANGE TO THE STREETS, the front page New York Times story

- INTO THE STREETS, a gorgeous 9-minute video about the march from our friends at Meerkat Media

- INSIDE THE GINORMOUS, HUGE-TASTIC CLIMATE MARCH, a 24- minute radio program from Ben Wikler at The Good Fight

- THE WISDOM OF THE CROWD, by Hendrik Hertzberg in The New Yorker

- WHY SHOULD YOU BE HOPEFUL ABOUT THE CLIMATE MOVEMENT by Todd Gitlin on Grist

- PEOPLE’S CLIMATE MARCH, a short audio story by Bianca Giaever and friends on Cowbird

In the 30 days since the march:

- We’ve seen the greatest fossil fuel fortune on earth commit to divest from coal, oil, and gas — the Rockefellers, with their action, laid down a profound challenge to everyone else on the planet. If the family that built Exxon thinks it’s unwise and immoral to invest in fossil fuels, what excuse does anyone else have?

- We’ve watched divestment spread around the world: from Glasgow University to Australia’s National University, this movement has new beachheads — and new pushback from a scared and peevish fossil fuel industry. (If you ever wondered if divestment mattered, read THIS, right to the last sentence.)

- We’ve witnessed a rising pitch of action against the dirtiest fossil fuel projects on earth. In Canada they’re battling the Energy East pipeline with wit and savvy. And at the largest coal port on earth in Newcastle Australia, our friends from 12 low-lying Pacific nations used their traditional canoes to block massive coal ships. CHECK OUT THIS INCREDIBLE PICTURE OF ACTION.

That picture from Australia joins the one from Sixth Avenue among the classic images of this explosive movement. But there are plenty of others, and we’re pretty sure some of them are on your phones and computers. This is a chance to SHARE SOME OF THE GREAT PICTURES from the People’s Climate March before you forget about them. We all need the inspiration, because this fight is for real.

September was the hottest September ever recorded; it looks like 2014 may be the hottest year in history. The only way to fight that is to make 2015 hotter still — for the politicians and the corporations that will wreck our world if we let them.

Thanks to you, and to the 400,000 in the streets of New York: game on!

~ Bill McKibben for the team at 350.ORG

P.S. The basic energy for movements come from people’s hearts and souls and feet — but they run on money too, so if you want to kick in, HERE’S THE PLACE.

350.ORG is building a global climate movement. Connect with us on FACEBOOK and TWITTER, and SIGN UP FOR EMAIL ALERTS. You can help power our work by DONATING HERE.

illuminate it – how UN itself prepared for climate summit

couldn’t tell it any bigger or better !

( best seen full-screen )

well ok, in so many OTHER words . . .

jon gives it to us direct – stay with him
how come our country’s so far behind

hand-to-hand from here inside

peoples climate march, manhattan, sunday 9/21/14

 

we were nearly half a million
amazingly brought together in one place
by peoplesclimate.org

350.org and avaaz.org both
pulling strings behind the scenes
all around the globe

thanx to julie of some initiative & energy
connecting to bus at the time closest to our central fl
then getting us there right on the mark in her car

to lovely hanna of greenpeace insight & generosity
taking us in her charter bus, charlotte nc to manhattan
oozing with those arranging skills, no fewer charms

to holly, michael, + all new charlotte friends
a faraway georgia couple too of familiar age
all making the trip one unforgettable family spree

we came to support UN sec gen ban ki moon
assembling world leaders two days later
to get on top of this thing at last

hit-on-the-head author
naomi klein, you inspired my lens
with those timely new pages

THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING:
Capitalism vs. The Climate
your pen, our feet sure to bring us home

us peoples climate march

yes, part of something bigger than ourselves – at last!
thanks ma !
( working on my take too )