Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
from Kyoto to Warsaw, 2013
July 20 2014: Is Paris a cause for optimism? In climate terms, Paris has become the new Copenhagen. Following the failed attempt in Denmark five years ago. Ed Davey, UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary says, “I think there's a desire in many capitals to do a deal - there's been a real shift. People are now thinking about what'll be in a deal not 'will there be a deal?' Concluding America, the second biggest emitter, is changing, Davey calls that seismic. And China’s Communist Party's term "ecological civilization" is seen as an official stamp on the need for a green approach. The third biggest emitter, India, is now in the hands of newly-elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi whose time running Gujarat saw huge investments in solar power and how he's "been making some very encouraging noises". The European Commission wants a target of a 40% cut in emissions by 2030. Britain is pushing for 50% provided there's a deal at Paris. link
June 15 2014: Talks continue in Bonn and show some signs of progress at last. Two weeks of climate talks in Bonn ended with widespread agreement that, in spite of obstacles ahead, the climate process could be on track towards a new world climate agreement in Paris in 2015. By March 2015 countries need to state the contributions they will make. Meanwhile, it is hoped a special summit to be hosted by UN Secretary General Ban-Ki-Moon in New York in September could be the stage for top-level announcements of commitments to the new global treaty. link
What happens next?
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
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
September 2013: Climate scientists call for overhaul of IPCC. link
May 2013: Alternative approach to Kyoto will probably fail. A U.S.-led plan to let all countries set their own goals for fighting climate change is gaining grudging support at U.N. talks, even though the current level of pledges is far too low to limit rising temperatures substantially. 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
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. linkNovember 6: As delegates from around the world descend on Warsaw for talks toward a new climate treaty, scientists are issuing more and more dire warnings that time is running out to avoid dangerous global warming. link November 15: Adaptation cash becomes ’red line’ for developing world. Developing countries say they need money now to help adapt to a changing world. Failure of rich countries to fulfill a promise made in Copenhagen four years ago threatens to seize up efforts to reach a global agreement on emissions. link
An 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. Talks have stalled for a host of reasons, though most developing nations blame rich countries like the United States, Canada and Japan for refusing to sign an interim successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol that would bind them to emissions reductions. 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. linkNovember 2012: Doubts on $30 billion climate aid pledges being met. The question over how much finance was provided under the “fast-start” program has the potential to undermine trust between donor and recipient nations during two weeks of Doha talks. “We can’t say if it was delivered or not because we can’t be sure,” said an envoy who speaks for a bloc of African nations referring to the $30 billion pledge. 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
U.S. is structurally unable to ever sign up to a global climate treaty with binding targets. Where do the talks go from here? For most of the last 20 years, people worried about climate change have been trying to deal with the problem by negotiating a binding global treaty to reduce the emissions that cause it. But after years of high-profile climate talks, at Rio, Nairobi, Bali, Copenhagen, Cancun, “the negotiations haven’t got us close to that deal,” says Robert Falkner, an expert on international relations and global governance at the London School of Economics. Even Christina Figueres, the United Nations’ climate change chief, now says publicly that “this planet is not going to be saved by any big bang agreement.” “The fact is that it’s unreasonable to expect that there is going to be one large comprehensive agreement that will address all issues and will miraculously change the way that we’ve been doing things for a hundred years,” she said before the last major climate negotiations, in Cancun.
With the world on a path to a 4-degree Celsius or higher temperature rise by 2100, are the negotiations simply a waste of time and resources? Is there a better way of trying to rein in emissions and help the world’s more vulnerable people deal with the impacts of climate change? A growing number of climate experts say the answer is to try adopting a “building blocks” approach to addressing climate change. That means pushing forward with thousands of smaller international, national, regional and local efforts to address the problem while keeping the talks going to, with luck, provide a framework for all the disparate pieces down the road. “That is, I would argue, the future for climate negotiations,” Falkner said at a recent conference on climate change in the Caribbean. “It is a second-best future but one we must accept as a fact.”
Efforts to negotiate one global climate treaty, he said, face several fatal flaws. The first, as virtually everyone is aware by this point, is that the United States, the world’s second biggest carbon emitter behind China, and the biggest historical producer of the gases, is unlikely to ever join a binding climate treaty. Because of the country’s divisive politics and the need for a two-thirds vote in the Senate to ratify any international treaty, “I would argue the U.S. is structurally unable to ever sign up to a global climate treaty with binding targets,” Falkner said. link
Bonn 2011 wrap-up -
June: Bonn climate talks end with no agreement on Kyoto, finance. 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 30 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
September: Meeting in Geneva. About 45 nations met to seek ways of raising billions of dollars pledged to help poor nations combat climate change, warning them of a 'long haul' as rich nations are hit by austerity cuts. Christiana Figeuras, head of the Bonn-based U.N. Climate Change Secretariat since July 2010, predicted there would be no new global treaty resulting from Cancun in December despite the Pakistan flooding and Russian heatwaves being "warning bells" about the risks of inaction. Cancun could at best end up setting a new deadline for working out a more binding deal by the end of 2012. (pictured, Christiana Figeures, appointed Executive Secretary - UNFCCC.)
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
March 2010: China and India join Copenhagen accord. Since Copenhagen, there has been confusion over how a legally binding treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can be achieved. All observers, including the UN's top climate official, Yvo de Boer, are now clear that no such deal will be signed in 2010, with a meeting in South Africa in December 2011 now seen as the earliest date. The US now appears isolated as India, China, and many other countries, firmly support the idea of continuing with the two existing UN negotiating tracks to try to achieve a consensus. link
January 2010: Investors
with $13 trillion in assets call for governments rules.