Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
from Kyoto to Paris 2015
May 11 2015: Two men charged with succeeding in Paris. Ahmed Djoghlaf, is co-chair of the Ad hoc working group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Actions (climate talks) - the effort to get a meaningful global agreement to rein in the greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet. The other co-chair is Daniel Reifsnyder, whose normal job is deputy assistant secretary for environment at the U.S. Department of State. The reason it takes two people to chair these talks, instead of just one person, is that the industrialized world and the developing world don't trust each other. In general, rich nations have wanted to curb emissions, while poor nations have worried about restrictions that might limit economic growth. So to ensure fairness in this process, there's one chair from the U.S. and one from Algeria, countries that usually are in opposing groups. "But an interesting thing happens when you get elected to one of these positions," explains Reifsnyder. "You kind of are expected to, and you do, I think, kind of rise above your group. You cease to become an advocate. You become a broker." "We only have one planet, you know," says Reifsnyder. "We have to protect it."[Pictured: Daniel Reifsnyder (left), and Ahmed Djoghlaf (right), at a February conference in Geneva.] link]___________________________________________________
March 2015: Europe submits UN climate pledge, urges US and China to follow. link (Nations are desperate for the Paris meeting to avoid a repeat of the shambolic gathering in Copenhagen in 2009 that failed in its billing as the summit to save the planet. This time, rich nations have agreed to make their offers well in advance to reduce the chance of last-minute chaos. link)
February 2015: UN agrees draft text for Paris summit. UN climate talks in Geneva have ended with agreement on a formal draft negotiating text for the summit in Paris in December. The document builds on negotiations in Peru last December. The aim is to have a new global climate agreement in place by the end of 2015. "We now have a formal negotiating text, which contains the views and concerns of all countries. The Lima Draft has now been transformed into the negotiating text and enjoys the full ownership of all countries," said Christiana Figueres. link
Geneva – February 2015: Paris talks won’t achieve 2°C goal – does that matter? Officials involved with UN climate talks have been warning that the next pact, which will be negotiated in December in Paris, won’t alone hold global warming to less than 2°C. Ongoing talks are being viewed as an opportunity to launch a wholly new approach to global climate action, an approach that could eventually do far more to constrain temperature rise than the Paris agreement alone. “More and more of the participants in the process recognize that maybe the 2 degree goal is not something that’s going to be achieved out of the Paris agreement,” Environmental Defense Fund climate strategist Alex Hanafi said. Two decades have been spent trying, and failing, to force developed countries to slash greenhouse gas pollution levels by particular amounts within specified timeframes under international law. The Paris agreement will take a new approach, one that bears little resemblance to the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, which attempted to force developed countries to meet homogenous climate targets. (The U.S. never ratified the protocol, Europe met its targets largely because of an economic downturn, and Canada withdrew after it became clear that it would fail to comply). The next agreement will rely instead on peer pressure, national accountability, and global cooperation to voluntarily try to slow the climate-changing impacts of all nations, be they developed, dirt poor or somewhere in between. link
January 2015: Guardian view on Paris talks, and what success would mean. The Paris summit holds out the best hope for a broad, UN-brokered agreement on cutting carbon emissions. It is of universal importance that a deal is struck that is ambitious and achievable. The essentials for an effective deal are easy to spell out. There must be clarity and certainty, so that every country knows what has to be done, and business can see where to invest. It must be a deal for the long term, fair to all its participants, with funding to allow transition to new low-carbon technologies, and to underwrite adaptation for those countries that will be worst affected by the impacts of global warming. There will be plenty of argument over whether this is a treaty or a protocol or a binding instrument with legal force. In the end, what matters is an agreement – of any kind. link
(April 2014) President Obama’s science advisor, John Holdren, explains what to expect from the U.S. at the COP21 talks in Paris in 2015 - link
April 2014: IPCC report – averting catastrophe is eminently affordable. Catastrophic climate change can be averted without sacrificing living standards, according to a new landmark UN report which concludes the transformation required to a world of clean energy and the ditching of dirty fossil fuels is eminently affordable. The authoritative report, produced by 1250 international experts and approved by 194 governments, dismisses fears that slashing carbon emissions would wreck the world economy. It is the final part of a definitive trilogy that has already shown that climate change is "unequivocally" caused by humans, and that, unchecked, poses a a grave threat to people and that could lead to lead to wars and mass migration. Diverting hundred of billions of dollars from fossil fuels into renewable energy and cutting energy waste would shave just 0.06% off expected annual economic growth rates of 1.3%-3%. The benefits, including reducing air pollution and improved energy security could outweigh the costs. link
April 2014: World needs “Plan B’ on climate. The latest IPCC report warns that governments are set to crash through the global CO2 safety threshold by 2030. Humans have tripled CO2 emissions since 1970, it says, and emissions have been accelerating rather than slowing. The experts advise governments that it will be cheaper overall to cut the greenhouse gas before 2030 if they want to hold emissions at 430-480ppm CO2, a level that's calculated to bring a 66% chance of staying within a desired 2C threshold of warming by the end of the century.link
December 2014: New direction for Philippines climate change policy. This article explains why the switch by the Philippine delegation in Lima to side with developed nations and abandon their leading role in the LMDC bloc (Like Minded Developing Countries), is a profound change of direction in COP talks. Developed nations’ pressure, chiefly the USA, is primarily to continue business as usual, profiting fossil fuel corporations, over significant movement on climate change. Refusal to commit support for developing nations suffering from extreme climate events is at the crux of the debate. link
Dec.1 2014: Human rights and social justice take spotlight in Lima. The key questions that face the delegates as they meet in Lima are no longer simply about carbon emissions targets and timetables, but also about people and human rights. One mark of that shift is the $9.6 billion committed so far by rich nations to the U.N.'s Green Climate Fund to help poor countries. But it's not just about money. Nations will consider a pledge not only to "respect, " but also to “protect, promote and fulfill” human rights – and to integrate those protections into all climate action. On deforestation – a huge issue in host country Peru – negotiators are being asked for stronger safeguards to protect human and indigenous rights, traditional knowledge and biodiversity. linkDec.15 2014: A change in fundamental direction. The agreement in Lima removed the longstanding division of the world into developed and developing countries and paves the way for a model of unity. The talks concluded more than 24 hours after the scheduled close with an agreement that everyone wanted, yet no-one much liked. Negotiators from 196 countries patched together a compromise which keeps the show on the road until Paris December 2015, but in doing so left almost everyone unhappy with one element or another. The Lima deal is weak in many respects and the process has been left to the five sessions of talks scheduled for 2015, starting in February. Given the divergence between all the positions, it will be a huge task to make the draft fit for conclusion in Paris. Developing countries wanted contributions to include plans for adaptation to climate change as well as emissions cuts, and for developed countries to include financial support for poorer nations. They got no commitments to new money, and inclusion of adaptation plans will be optional, not compulsory. Developed countries wanted all countries to provide standardised information on their emissions targets and plans, to ensure transparency and comparability. The key elements were agreed, but only in the form of guidance, not as requirements. link
Background. The series of annual UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) talks can trace its roots to the 1992 Earth Summit in
Kyoto extended after 2012: A second commitment period will begin on January 1, 2013 and end December 31, 2020. This period will bridge the gap between the end of the first commitment period and the beginning of the next legally binding climate agreement, to be created in the Durban Platform track, which is set to be finished in 2015 and take effect in 2020.
What is the Kyoto Protocol?
With 191 member states, the U.N. accord is the only global treaty with binding limits on climate-altering greenhouse gases. The treaty commits nearly 40 developed "Annex 1" nations that emit around a quarter of the world's emissions to cut them domestically by an average 5% by 2012 from 1990 levels. The protocol's first leg runs out Dec. 31 2012, and the Doha talks must agree on the modalities of a second commitment period from 2013, a move agreed upon at the last round of U.N. climate talks in South Africa a year ago. The key issues in Doha are how long the second commitment period should last, who will back it and what targets to set.
What is the IPCC? The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the leading international body for the assessment of climate change. It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme the (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts. It is endorsed by the UN General Assembly.
The IPCC is a scientific body. It reviews and assesses the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change. It does not conduct any research nor does it monitor climate related data or parameters.
Thousands of scientists from all over the world contribute to the work of the IPCC on a voluntary basis. The IPCC is an intergovernmental body. It is open to all member countries of the United Nations (UN) and WMO. Currently 194 countries are members of the IPCC. Governments participate in the review process and the plenary Sessions, where main decisions about the IPCC work programme are taken and reports are accepted, adopted and approved. The IPCC Bureau Members, including the Chair, are also elected during the plenary Sessions. link to IPCC
Other news items.
September 2013: Climate scientists call for overhaul of IPCC. link
August 2013: The more CO2 emissions are cut, the better the world economy will be. An IPCC report shows that the more carbon emissions humanity cuts, the better the global economy will perform over the next century. The last report, the AR4, was put out in 2007, and while the AR5 is not due until 2014, numbers from it are already making their way out. The new models build in greenhouse gas emissions, climate changes, population changes, technological development, land use, and a host of other factors and more importantly they also model what would happen if governments got proactive about cutting carbon emissions through policy changes. link
August 2014: Rising economies ‘ahead on climate’. Ahead of the Ban-Ki-moon conference in New York, Brazil, South Africa, India and China (known as the BASIC bloc in international climate negotiations) have accused developed nations of keeping their carbon emission cuts ambitions at a low level. India's environment minister said “Our [climate change] mitigation efforts are more than developed countries. We are going ahead with our voluntary actions which will reduce carbon emissions and also bring about increased energy efficiency from 25% to 50%. We want the developed world to walk the walk." The two sides have been at loggerheads for years, presenting hurdles to a deal on climate change. link
January 2014: Analysis. The diplomatic road to a new
climate agreement may not end in Paris next year. A review of previous
breakdowns since Copenhagen, and too high hopes for Paris talks. link
Nov. 23: Last minute deal saves process. COP19 approved a pathway to a new global climate treaty in Paris in 2015. By themselves, the compromises are not major breakthroughs and delegates know that far bigger battles lie ahead. Harjeet Singh from Action Aid said, "It is the barest minimum that was supposed to be achieved at Warsaw on loss and damage anyway. A few rich countries including the US held it hostage till the very end”. link
November 20: Talks collapse with walk-out. Representatives of most of the world's poor countries have walked out of increasingly fractious climate negotiations after the EU, Australia, the US and other developed countries insisted that the question of who should pay compensation for extreme climate events be discussed only after 2015. linkAn impassioned speech by Yeb Sano of the Philippine delegation has focused attention on the serious consequences of inaction following typhoon Haiyan - view here
December 8: Doha talks end today in colossal failure - link
December 8: Kyoto Protocol survives. At the UN’s annual climate change conference just concluded in Doha, 194 countries agreed to an extension of the Kyoto Protocol through 2020. But the second phase still omits the world’s two biggest greenhouse gas emitters, China and the United States. Without agreement at Doha the protocol would have expired in just 23 days. Governments agreed to work toward a universal climate change agreement covering all countries from 2020, to be adopted by 2015, and to find ways to scale up efforts before 2020 beyond the existing pledges to curb emissions. link
The Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) - or its shorthand "COP17" - will be held in Durban, South Africa from November 28 to December 9 2011. No one expects that any significant new agreement will be signed, and there will be another, bigger conference at the end of 2012 in Rio de Janeiro.
December 2011: Climate talks end with late deal. link
October 2011: The death of the Kyoto process? There seems little possibility that the summit in Durban will produce an emissions reduction
agreement, meaning the world will soon lack any binding CO2 targets. Europe
may soon find itself alone in the fight against global warming. link
Cancun wrap-up - The world's governments agreed to modest steps to combat climate change and to give more money to poor countries, but they put off until next year tough decisions on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
May 2011: Major nations abstain from Kyoto process. Russia, Japan and Canada told the G8 they would not join a second round of carbon cuts under the Kyoto Protocol at United Nations talks this year and the US reiterated it would remain outside the treaty. The future of the Kyoto Protocol has become central to efforts to negotiate reductions of carbon emissions. They argued that the Kyoto format did not require developing countries, including China, the world's No. 1 carbon emitter, to make targeted emission cuts.Last Thursday US President, Barack Obama, confirmed Washington would not join an updated Kyoto Protocol. The US, the second-largest carbon emitter, signed the protocol in 1997 but in 2001 the then president, George W. Bush, said he would not put it to the Senate for ratification. link [June 9: Canada confirms that it would not support an extended Kyoto Protocol after 2012, joining Japan and Russia in rejecting a new round of the climate emissions pact - link]
April 2011: Bangkok. Delegates from nearly 200 countries began a six-day U.N. meeting in the Thai capital Bangkok today on crafting a tougher climate pact that boosts global efforts to curb emissions from industry, farms and deforestation. The radiation crisis at the quake and tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex in Japan will probably have repercussions on the international climate negotiations. link
October 2012: Why climate talks may be failing. According to a new study, focusing on the 2°C goal guaranteed climate talks failure as there’s no hard evidence that any specific temperature target marks a dangerous threshold, with clear consequences for crossing it. Instead, there is plenty of evidence that more and faster warming entails greater risks of major consequences, such as the collapse of the polar ice sheets. This uncertainty, the study argues, provides an incentive for countries to be free-loaders, jumping on board with the agreement without making potentially costly emissions reductions. link
of Copenhagen - What
was agreed and what was left out
Bolivia- April 20-22 2010: More than 90 governments are sending delegations to Cochabamba, Bolivia's third largest city. Also expected to attend are scientists such as James Hansen, James Cameron, Noam Chomsky, and actors Danny Glover, Robert Redford and Susan Sarandon. Bolivian President Evo Morales will use the meeting to announce the world's largest referendum, with up to 2 billion people being asked to vote on ways out of the climate crisis. Morales says it will give a voice to the poorest people of the world and encourage governments to be far more ambitious following the failure in Copenhagen. i"There will be no secret discussions behind closed doors. The debate and the proposals will be led by communities on the frontlines of climate change and by organisations and individuals from civil society dedicated to tackling the climate crisis," said Morales. link
Call for International Climate Court. Cochabamba conference closes with call for rich countries to halve greenhouse gas emissions and set up a court to punish climate crimes - linkNearly 100 Countries Formally 'Associate' with Copenhagen Accord. Since the Conference of the Parties neither adopted nor endorsed the Accord, but merely took note of it, its provisions do not have any legal standing within the UNFCCC process even if some Parties decide to associate themselves with it. … The accord is a political agreement rather than a treaty instrument. The fact that so many countries have explicitly associated with the Accord (and at least as important, have submitted targets and actions) goes a long way to towards curing some of the procedural difficulties that surrounded the finalization of the Accord in Copenhagen. link
January 2010: Investors
with $13 trillion in assets call for governments rules.