The Polluters the Paris Treaty Ignores


By Julian Spector, CityLab – 10 January 16


International shipping and aviation emit as much as entire wealthy nations, but they’re not bound by the COP21 deal.


With the Paris climate talks coming to a close, participating nations are hashing out the details of how to hold each other to their carbon reduction goals and finance the whole transition to a cleaner world. Non-state actors are present, too; 400 cities signed a Compact of Mayors to set and track climate goals. And financial institutions have made big commitments to shift investment away from fossil fuels and better disclose climate-related business risks.

But there are two particular industries that must factor into any plan to cut carbon and yet aren’t directly represented in the current COP21 talks: international shipping and aviation.

They’re both big. International shipping produces 2.4 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to all of Germany. Meanwhile total aviation yields about 2 percent of global GHGs, and international flights account for 65 percent of that figure. These emissions won’t be covered by reductions being discussed at COP21, because they don’t happen within the boundaries of any specific countries. They’re also projected to rise dramatically by 2050.

Two major obstacles stand in the way of resolving emissions from international shipping and aviation. The first is procedural: those industries are not bound by the Paris climate deal. The second is practical: the world currently lacks a promising technology to replace carbon-based propulsion systems, as well as a promising alternative to carbon-based fuel.

The limits of COP21

The acronym-laden gathering of 196 nations in Paris is administered by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. That’s the organization created in 1994 to rein in greenhouse gases before they caused dangerous climate interference. The UN agencies charged with overseeing the environmental impacts of international transport are the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

The ICAO has said that next year at its assembly the group will decide on a global market-based measure to reduce carbon emissions. (Meantime airlines have acted on their own; in 2009, the International Air Transport Association industry group pledged to improve fuel efficiency 1.5 percent each year until 2020, when emissions will peak, and to halve 2005-level emissions by 2050.) And the IMO has set an energy efficiency requirement for ships built in 2025, but not an overall carbon emissions target.

The parties at COP21 could include language to direct those organizations to cut emissions from international shipping. But, as Politico reports, that requires a delicate balancing act: many of the maritime nations most threatened by rising sea levels also rely on shipping and air travel for their economic health. As of Thursday evening, the draft text for the Paris treaty did not contain the words “shipping” or “aviation.”

Technological challenges

Even if world leaders could determine carbon cuts for these industries, significant advances in technology and deployment would need to happen to make them possible.

Electric cars are growing cheaper and more accessible by the day, but electric propulsion doesn’t seem likely for international transit. When you’re out at sea or up in the air, you can’t stop to plug in and recharge your batteries. Additionally, air travel is extremely sensitive to the weight of an aircraft, and the batteries needed to power a long flight will weigh too much for the foreseeable future.

The industries can cut some emissions by looking at fuel efficiency, but not a lot. Airlines already did the more attainable upgrades in that regard during the fuel price spike of 2008, says environmental consultant Suzanne Hunt, president of Hunt Green LLC. Fuel prices impose the largest cost airlines face (up to two-fifths of total costs), so they have a strong incentive to trim their demand wherever possible.

The shipping industry doesn’t face the same pressures, because in most cases the company hiring a ship to transport cargo pays for the fuel required, says Galen Hon, who manages the shipping efficiency operation at the Carbon War Room, a D.C.-based nonprofit that advocates market-based ways to reduce carbon emissions. That means the ship owner doesn’t feel financial pressure to improve efficiency, unless customers start factoring in environmental qualities when they select a transporter (Carbon War Room developed a tool to do just that).

In both shipping and aviation, then, the most significant carbon reductions will come from adopting different fuels or propulsion technologies.

The green future of aviation

In his ambitious roadmap for decarbonizing society by 2050, Stanford engineering professor Mark Jacobson calls for all new aircraft to fly on liquid hydrogen by 2040. That’s what rockets burn, and if you want a rundown of the fantastically difficult requirements of a volatile fuel that must be kept at -423°F, head to NASA. The Soviet Union successfully flew an experimental hydrogen-propelled airliner called the Tu 155, so it can be done; it just can’t be done economically.

Part of the expense and time involved in creating a new generation of jet fuel is the safety requirements, Hunt says. That’s why she thinks the most likely non-fossil fuel for planes will be biofuels, which can be grown sustainably and poured into existing aircraft fuel tanks.

“There’s absolutely no margin for error, so the safety precautions for flying are really rigorous—it can take them many, many years to bring new technology into the airspace in terms of the aircraft,” she says. “One of the reasons people are so excited about aviation biofuel is that you don’t need to change the airplane or the engine.”

These biofuels typically derive from oils or fats (from plants or animals), or sugars. These are processed into hydrocarbons that function much like oil, but with the potential for much less carbon emission than conventional fuel (the accounting for this is very complicated, and some biofuels are more greenhouse gassy than others). More importantly, three types of biofuel have already been approved for blending with jet fuel for aviation and have entered into commercial use.

But just because they’re allowed doesn’t mean there will be enough of them. The biofuel industry, still quite young, needs to scale up to compete with traditional fuels, and so far the investment just isn’t there. Once it is, biofuel manufacturing will consume more raw ingredients, which calls for more farmland to grow them. If that takes away land from food production it creates tricky justice questions; if manufacturers use leftover materials from other industries, it might be hard to meet the global demand. The key is doing it at scale and at a price that airlines can actually pay.

“It’s really, really hard to make large quantities of sustainable biofuels for aviation,” Hunt says. “The industry is very much in its infancy and very capital intensive and it’s competing against the most powerful industry on the planet, oil.”

All hands on deck to clean up shipping

Electric propulsion has been gaining steam for smaller ships, but not for large cargo haulers. That’s because currently, electric generation on large ships tends to be a few percentage points less efficient than conventional propulsion, and those few points add up to a lot of money on a long voyage, says Hon of the Carbon War Room.

In the short term, then, carbon savings will come from efficiency upgrades to the hulls and rotors of ships. Some companies are turning back to wind power: the German company SkySails, for instance, produces large kite-like sails that attach to ships and give them a boost. A spokesperson for the company says they have installed the sails on five ships and that, in good wind conditions, they can save 30 tons of CO2 emissions per day. (Since winds don’t always blow steadily, the average comes down to two or three tons per day.) These can work well for bulk carriers—ships with large tanks for transporting grains or ore—but not on container ships, which carry almost all non-bulk cargo.

Again, the big carbon cuts will come from switching fuel sources. Ships burn what’s called bunker fuel, which is the heaviest, sludgiest oil left over when refineries distill gasoline, butane, and other useful hydrocarbons. Since it’s less refined, it’s also cheaper. And since ships burn it out at sea, the effects are less visible to the landlubbers who might be writing environmental policy.

The New York Times recently profiled the first container ships to run on liquefied natural gas, which burns cleaner than bunker fuel, especially in terms of particulate matter and acid rain-producing sulfur dioxide. But this approach doesn’t look like it will provide much of a net gain in greenhouse gas reductions, due to the technical requirements of running the ship and the possibility of methane leaks. It’s also expensive, because like liquid hydrogen, the liquefied natural gas must be kept at extremely low temperatures.

Then there’s nuclear. The U.S. Navy has successfully run naval vessels on nuclear power for decades, so that technology is totally feasible and does not burn fossil fuels. A handful of commercial ships ran on nuclear, but it never caught on widely. With civil shipping, the security risks are higher: What if Somali pirates didn’t just capture hostages but a nuclear reactor? There are also environmental concerns about what to do with the waste and what happens if a nuclear vessel sinks. And there are more expenses up front, with savings on fuel costs coming over time.

The most likely clean fuel for shipping might be biofuels or fuel cells, Hon says. Biofuels offer the same benefits and drawbacks as they do for airplanes—they don’t require technological changes to the craft, but they’re hard to source at scale. Fuel cells connected to electric engines would be a clean way of producing energy—they use chemical processes, not combustion, to provide the needed electrons.

“None of these technologies are viable right now,” he says. “Efficiency is totally possible with net-negative costs, that’s what we’re trying to figure out how to make happen sooner.”

The first hurdles

Since international transportation is, well, international, any policies to clean it up need to be global in scope. If the European Union passes a strong law for lowering emissions from international flights, airlines could just divert air travel to other places with more lenient approaches to carbon. And a patchwork of different policies in different nations will make global travel exceedingly complicated.

A worldwide carbon tax could go a long way to driving cleaner performance from ships and aircraft and increasing market pressure for alternative fuels. Michael Gill, director for aviation environment at the International Air Transport Association, says the aviation industry supports the ICAO developing a global, market-based regulation to cut carbon from flying, but they’re wary of a carbon tax: that might constrict the growth of the industry. Instead, he’d like to see a carbon offset scheme that includes incentives for switching to cleaner fuels.

If nations do want to act on their own, they could do a lot worse than ending subsidies for fossil fuels. A working paper by researchers at the International Monetary Fund estimated global post-tax subsidies for energy—mostly coal, natural gas, and oil, with a tiny sliver going to electricity—at an astounding $5.3 trillion for 2015, or 6.5 percent of global GDP. Stopping direct budgetary support for fossil fuels would be a logical place to start.

“Getting rid of subsidies for mature industries would be something you’d think would be palatable for liberals and conservatives alike,” Hunt notes.

It’s still possible, if unlikely, that some language about international transportation will make it into the final Paris treaty. Even if it doesn’t, there can still be progress. A successful deal at COP21 will generate political momentum for the ICAO’s next meeting in September 2016, says Gill. And the IMO will work on reducing emissions at a meeting in April, says Hon.

Environmentalists may well say that timeline isn’t fast enough. But that sounds like more of a testament to just how quickly the COP process has accelerated in the last few years. As recently as 2009 the question was: “Will the world ever forge a meaningful climate treaty?” Now we’ve advanced to asking: “Once we get the deal, how soon can international transit follow suit?”


COP21: The Most Possible Agreement Text


tour Eiffel 1,5degrees

The Eiffel tower is lit up with a reference to the tougher global warming target of 1.5C that is expected to appear in the final draft Paris climate text. Photograph: Chesnot/Getty Images

Conference of the Parties
Twenty-first session Paris, 30 November to 11December 2015
Agenda item 4(b)
Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (decision 1/CP.17)
Adoption of a protocol, another legal instrument, or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties
Proposal by the President
Draft decision-/CP.21

READ: Adoption Of The Paris Agreement (COP21)


Environmental Terrorists Meet In Paris


Activists of global anti-poverty charity Oxfam, wearing masks depicting some of the world leaders, stage a protest ahead of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, known as the COP21 summit, in Paris, France, November 28, 2015. (photo: Benoit Tessier/Reuters)

Activists of global anti-poverty charity Oxfam, wearing masks depicting some of the world leaders, stage a protest ahead of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, known as the COP21 summit, in Paris, France, November 28, 2015. (photo: Benoit Tessier/Reuters)

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News – 03 December 15


World “leaders” hold world hostage, no release seen soon


Maybe that sub-head is too bleak, maybe it’s unjustified, maybe there is an invisible political will to survive more than the next fiscal quarter or election. If COP21, the UN climate conference that began November 30, actually manages to provide some reason to believe the world will not continue to stumble deliberately toward self-incineration, that would beat present expectations. But even that unlikely result would be far short of the profound changes needed to prevent the world from heating more than the 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) already considered inevitable – and calamitous.

COP21 stands for the 21st session of the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), an international treaty established in 1992 (at the Rio Earth Summit) “to consider what they could do to limit global temperature increases and the resulting climate change, and to cope with its impacts.” Like the UN, UNFCCC is dominated by the richest and most powerful countries, whose perceived interests give little weight to the needs of the poorest or most vulnerable countries. 

That underlying structural problem of power imbalance is amplified at COP21 by sheer numbers. COP 21 has at least 36,276 registered individual participants. Of these, 23,161 people represent 198 countries (two of which are only observers). There are another 1,236 observer organizations, including 36 units of the UN, 71 intergovernmental organizations, and 1,109 non-governmental organizations, altogether represented by 9,411 people. And there are 1,366 media organizations with 3,704 registered participants. All of them (and all of us) will have to slog through jargon and Orwellian language which have the effect of obscuring meaning, not exposing it. 

The official goal of this gathering of world leaders is: “COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, will, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.”

COP21 is theatre of the absurd, diverting the frogs as the water boils

What passes for global “leadership” has already pissed away more than three decades since climate change was identified as a clear and present danger to life on earth. Even now the world’s leaders appear content to lounge in their comfortable bubbles of denial of reality and conflicts of interest that reinforce that useful denial. We live in a time when shameful leaders almost everywhere appear to lack the capacity for shame, much less the capacity to change their shameful behavior.

They aim to achieve a legally binding agreement on climate? If they wanted a legally binding agreement, or even an agreement that worked, they would have had one long since. 

They aim to achieve a universal agreement on climate? They don’t need a universal agreement on climate, they need only to agree among the powerful few and the agreement would then be universal.  

Those making a globe-saving agreement unlikely, if not impossible, are the ones who brought the globe to the climate brink in the first place. These are the governments that have for decades subsidized their oil and coal companies, whose social conscience is exemplified by Exxon. Almost 40 years ago, in 1977, Exxon learned that carbon dioxide produced by burning oil and gas was warming the planet and could threaten humanity. Exxon immediately blew the whistle – on sharing that information. Continuing to accept government subsidies, Exxon poured millions of dollars into a decades-long disinformation campaign debunking the climate change it knew to be real. In effect, even after the government knew through other sources about global warming, government continued to subsidize Exxon’s possibly criminal lies to the government and the public. Forbes magazine defends Exxon, arguing that Exxon was right because global warming has increased more slowly than predicted by some.

Corporate polluters embedded in UNFCCC (go ahead, pronounce it)

Exxon and its ilk have long had a heavy hand in UN activities to address climate change and they are well-represented at COP21. It is not in their interest to have the conference reach an enforceable and universal agreement, because most of their corporate assets are oil and coal in the ground and they can’t cash in on the value of those assets without burning them, no matter what they do to the planet. 

When a society, in this case a global society, sets out to confront criminal behavior, if they’re serious, they don’t convene a conference of criminals. Assuming that planetary destruction is at least a crime against humanity (this is controversial in some circles) what earthly sense does it make to have the world’s global plunderers, governmental and corporate, choose themselves to figure out how to reduce their plunder without reducing their profits and power?

Having absolute authority to take ameliorative steps on their own initiative, the plunderers swamp the credulous media with claims that an unwieldy conference with a track record of 23 years of failure is the only possible way to find a solution to the dangers of climate change. To emphasize that opinion, the plunderers exclude the most articulate voices against plunder from their conference. Those are the lucky ones. The less lucky are deposed by military coup and jailed, while the US is quick to recognize the coup government of the Maldives as it promptly issues offshore oil leases, showing their willingness to see their own people drown sooner or later. Like the Marshall Islands (under US “protection”), the Maldives are a looming test case of whether the world prefers long term humanity over short term profit. 

The Marshall Islands were the subject of a long, lavishly illustrated page one piece in the December 2 New York Times fatalistically headlined “Pacific Island Nation Struggles Against Relentless Rising Sea (and worse online: “The Marshall Islands Are Disappearing”). The story is strangely disconnected from COP21, as if assuming there’s nothing that can be done to save the Marshall Islands. The Times even characterizes foreign minister Tony A. deBrum as somewhat unconcerned with saving his country:  

Mr. deBrum’s focus is squarely on the West’s wallets – recouping “loss and damage,” in negotiators’ parlance, for the destruction wrought by the rich nations’ industrial might on the global environment. Many other low-lying nations are just as threatened by rising seas.… But the Marshall Islands holds an important card: Under a 1986 compact, the roughly 70,000 residents of the Marshalls, because of their long military ties to Washington, are free to emigrate to the United States, a pass that will become more enticing as the water rises on the islands’ shores.

Speaking, as it typically does, in the voice of the plundering class, the Times frames the destruction of a sovereign nation in terms of issues that matter to the plunderers: they want our money, and they want to come here – the horror. But the full moral squalor of the Times as plunderer mouthpiece comes later. The Times describes neighborhoods in the Marshall Islands that already suffer periodic flooding with salt water and raw sewage, followed by sickness and disease, fever and dysentery, in a cycle that will only repeat more quickly as warming continues. Such health conditions would be forbidden in the US. The Times, sounding like Marie Antoinette with the monstrous detachment of the rich and unaffected, worries only that Marshall Islanders “could see their homes unfit for human habitation within the coming decades.”

“If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu”

The plunderers also ban peaceful protest against plundering, using the “terrorism” threat as an excuse to prevent protest against the eco-terrorism of the plunderers. When the plunderers’ gag on free speech is met with non-violent protest, the plunderers’ police respond with a violent put down and 200 arrests. This is Paris now. The local police state also used the “terrorism” smear to raid the homes of climate change activists, putting them in house arrest without charges. French President François Hollande, a head of a leading plunderer state, lied about the police actions this way:

This is why these protests are not authorized. We knew there would be troublemakers, who by the way have nothing to do with climate activists, or those who want the conference to succeed, and who are there only to create problems. That’s why they were put under house arrest. And it’s doubly unfortunate, I’d even say scandalous, Place de la Republique, where there are all these flowers and also candles placed in memory of those who were killed by the bullets of terrorists.

While Hollande’s first remarks are commonly dishonest, unprovable smears of unnamed and uncharged citizens, his last remark is a callous, demagogic lie. Video of the police attack shows that the memorial at the Place de la Republique was protected by the protesters and trashed by the police.

As with past UN climate meetings, peaceful protesters have been kept away from the eyes and ears of registered participants. What does it say about the participants’ arguments about climate change to see that they need police to protect them from counter-arguments? As one protester said, commenting on their exclusion from any meaningful part in the process: “If you’re not at the table, you are on the menu. So, we want to be at the table.”

Do the people at the table care what happens after they’re dead?

If the people at the table actually thought and felt in global terms, if they actually thought and felt in generational terms, they could not possibly act as they do, fecklessly, ineffectively, self-servingly and soullessly. Their terrorism is magnitudes larger than the “terrorism” they pretend to “protect” us against with their creeping totalitarian controls. If it were otherwise, there would not be so many casualties among climate change action advocates. Another such excluded expert is Pablo Solon, a former chief negotiator for Bolivia, now denied a seat at the table. He went to Paris to protest against the scripted charade of COP21, where there is no negotiation of unenforceable national promises to reduce emissions. Perhaps the conference would be better named COP-OUT21, if Solon is right:  

There is an official document from the UNFCCC that says,… we are going to be increasing the temperature between 2.7 to 3.9 degrees Celsius…. And now to be speaking about [global warming of] four degrees or five degrees Celsius is, to put it in other terms, to burn the planet. So the Paris agreement is an agreement that will see the planet burn.

For that prediction to be wrong, our global “leaders” need to change their behavior in radical ways that they have so far shown every intention of resisting. More likely Paris is another sham. It’s as if a ship captain with a vessel taking on water demands that the crew bail faster, and viciously punishes anyone trying to plug the hole. Faced with the need to reverse course to avoid calamity, the captains of our ships of state have gathered to discuss only the possibility of slowing down, while maintaining the same course.

    • 50% of the world’s population, the poorer half, cause only 10% of greenhouse gas emissions.


  • 10% of the world’s population, the richest 10%, cause almost 50% of greenhouse gas emissions.   

The plunderers show little interest in sacrificing their wealth to save the poor, or the planet. Among US presidential candidates so far, only Bernie Sanders has acknowledged that climate change is the most serious national security issue this (or any other) country faces. His campaign is predicated on the possibility of a political revolution from below, which might allow the possibility of US actions consistent with protecting the planet. It’s not that the ways to protect the planet are unknown or unachievable. But the best ways to protect the planet – especially keeping fossil fuels in the ground – are fundamentally unacceptable to those whose present interests are in conflict with efforts to keep the planet from burning. And the plunderers still control the game at the top.

Call for an end to “business as usual” option on climate

Call for an end to ‘business as usual’ option on climate

The devastating effects of typhoons and other extreme weather events are undermining development in countries such as the Philippines.
Image: Henry Donati/DFID via Wikimedia Commons

UN special envoy urges a unified approach to global action on tackling the interlinked issues of climate change, sustainable development and human rights.

LONDON, 23 April, 2015 − Mary Robinson, the UN Secretary General’s special envoy on climate change, has warned that the whole issue of climate is much too important to be left to governments and their leaders.

Robinson, who was the first woman president of Ireland and is now head of the MRFCJ foundation promoting climate justice, said it is a battle for all of us − and that now is the time for action, not for the continuation of business as usual.

Speaking at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College, London, Robinson said that the UN conference on climate change in Paris at the end of this year must achieve concrete, ambitious results.


“Now is not the moment to manage expectations or get cold feet – 2015 is the moment to catalyse a transformation,” she said.

She also called for a more unified approach to global action on the interlinked issues of development, climate change and human rights.

“Till very recently,” she said, “climate change was thought of in terms of the science and the environment – not as a human rights and sustainable development issue. Now governments and the UN are changing their approach.”

“This is a serious moment – we must have funds to build a new kind of economy”

Many countries struggling to develop are having to spend enormous amounts on adaptation measures in relation to climate change, she said. It means that countries such as the Philippines − hit by typhoons and other disasters − are spending millions just to stand still.

“We have to change course,” Robinson argued. “This is a serious moment – we must have funds to build a new kind of economy.”

Robinson said that what she termed the “business as usual” model of development “has resulted in dangerous levels of pollution, caused climate change and biodiversity loss, and has failed to eradicate poverty and inequality”.

All countries, she said, should make a transition towards a zero-carbon economy − which is ultimately the key to long-term prosperity, but is a tremendous challenge, particularly for developing countries.

Alternative way

“No country has developed without fossil fuels to date, so co-operation is key to providing the technology, finance, skills and systems to create an alternative way of developing,” she said.

Robinson also expressed concern that the International Monetary Fund is still focusing on economic growth and not on climate change. It must alter its outlook, she said.

In her UN role, Robinson will be at the centre of a series of big international meetings on climate change and development issues this year.

A conference in July in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, will urge countries to commit more funds to climate finance, and to institutions such as the Green Climate Fund.

In September, the UN General Assembly is due to adopt a post-2015 strategy for achieving various development goals around the world.

And in December, in Paris, a new global climate change agreement is due to be worked out, under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. − Climate News Network

Climate Movement Across Movements

Climate- Coalition climat
By: Patrick Bond
Published 26 March 2015
Will a “climate movement across the movements” produce Seattle-style shutdowns or a Paris cul de sac?
TUNIS —Looming ahead in eight months’ time is another Conference of Polluters, or COP (technically, the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). The last twenty did zilch to save us from climate catastrophe. Judging by early rough drafts of the Paris COP21 agreement recently leaked, another UN fiasco is inevitable.The Coalition Climat21 strategy meeting on March 23-24 began in Tunis just before the World Social Forum. I had a momentary sense this could be a breakthrough gathering, if indeed fusions were ripe now, to move local versions of “Blockadia” — i.e. hundreds of courageous physical resistances to CO2 and methane emissions sources — towards a genuine global political project. The diverse climate activists present seemed ready for progressive ideology, analysis, strategy, tactics and alliances. Between 150 and 400 people jammed a university auditorium over the course of the two days, mixing French, English and Arabic.It was far more promising than the last time people gathered for a European COP, in 2009 at Copenhagen, when the “Seal the Deal” narrative served to draw activist lemmings towards — and over — a cliff: first up the hill of raised expectations placed on UN negotiators, before crashing down into a despondency void lasting several years once leaders of the US, Brazil, South Africa, India and China did a backroom deal that sabotaged a binding emissions follow-up to the Kyoto Protocol. In “Hopenhagen,” even phrases like “System change not climate change” were co-opted, as green capital educated by NGO allies agreed that a definition of “system” (e.g. from fossil fuels to nuclear) could be sufficiently malleable to meet their rhetorical needs.

That precedent notwithstanding, the phrase “A climate movement across the movements” used here seemed to justify an urgent unity of diverse climate activists, along with heightened attempts to draw in those who should be using climate in their own specific sectoral work.

Unity – without clarity, responsibility and accountability?

Over the last nine months, since an August gathering in Paris, a great deal of coalition building has occurred in France and indeed across Europe. The proximate goal is to use awareness of the Paris COP21 to generate events around the world in national capitals on both November 28-29th – just before the summit begins – and onDecember 12, as it climaxes. There was consensus that later events should be more robust than the first, and that momentum should carry into 2016. (The December 2016 COP22 will be in Morocco.)

Christophe Aguiton, one of Attac’s founders, opened the event: “In the room are Climate Justice Now! (CJN!), Climate Action Network (CAN), international unions, the faith community, and the newer actors in the global movement, especially and Avaaz. We have had a massive New York City march and some other inspiring recent experiences in the Basque country and with the Belgium Climate Express.”

But, he went on, there are some serious problems ahead that must be soberly faced:

” there is no CJ movement in most countries;
grounded local CJ organisations are lacking;
we need not just resistances but alternatives; and
there are some important ideological divisions.”

Still, he explained, “We won’t talk content because in the same room, there are some who are moderate, some who are radical — so we will stress mobilisation, because we all agree, without mobilisation we won’t save the climate.”

But this unity-seeking-minus-politics was reminiscent of a process four years in South Africa known as “C17,” a collection of 17 civil society organisations that did local preparatory work before the UN’s COP17 Durban climate summit. Actually, fewer than a half-dozen of the 17 representatives really pitched in throughout, and the moderate organisations which had promised to mobilise financial resources, media attention and bodies ultimately did none of these. South Africa’s Big Green groups and trade unions failed to take C17 ownership, to commit resources and to add the institutional muscle needed.

The Durban counter-summit messaging was vapid and virtually no impact was made on the COP or on South Africa’s own reactionary emissions policy. The final rally of 10,000 activists midway through the COP17 unfortunately presented UN elites and local politicians with a legitimating platform. Nor did we use the event to build a South African climate justice movement worthy of the name. So my own assessment of the “state failure, market failure and critic failure” in Durban strongly emphasised the problem of excessiveunity, without ideological clarity, institutional responsibility or political accountability.

At COP21, radicals outside and only moderates left standing inside

Maybe it will be different in France, because their movements are mobilising impressively, with projects like November 27-29 mass actions aimed at municipalities; a Brussels-Paris activist train; a “run for life” with 1000 people running 4km each from northern Sweden to Paris; the “Alternatiba” alternatives project with 200 participating villages from the Basque country to Brussels which will culminate on September 26-27; and getting warmed up, onMay 30-31, an anticipated 1000 local climate initiatives around the country.

Yet the local context sounds as difficult in 2015 as it was in South Africa in 2011. As Malika Peyraut from Friends of the Earth-France pointed out, national climate policy is “inconsistent and unambitious” and the country’s politics are poisoned by the rise of the far right to 25 percent support in municipal elections. French society will be distracted by regional elections from December 6-12 and “there is a high risk of co-optation,” she warned.

Indeed there are no reliable state allies of climate justice at present and there really are no high-profile progressives working within the COPs. It’s a huge problem for UN reformers because it leaves them without a policy jam-maker inside to accompany activist tree-shaking outside. Although once there were heroic delegates badgering the COP process, they are all gone now:

Lumumba Di-Aping led the G77 countries at the Copenhagen COP15 — where in a dramatic accusation aimed at the Global North, he named climate a coming holocaust requiring millions of coffins for Africa — and so was lauded outside and despised inside, but then was redeployed to constructing the new state of South Sudan;

President Mohamed Nasheed from the Maldives — also a high-profile critic at Copenhagen — was outed by WikiLeaks for agreeing to a $50 million deal to get support for the Copenhagen Accord, was couped by rightwingers in 2012 and, earlier this month, was illegitimately jailed for a dozen years;

Bolivia’s UN Ambassador Pablo Solon was booted from his country’s delegation after the 2010 Cancun COP16, where, solo, he had bravely tried to block the awful deal there;

an Amazon jungle road-building controversy divided Evo Morales’ supporters, and in 2013 the COP’s progressive leadership void grew wide after the death of Hugo Chavez and the battle by Rafael Correa against green-indigenous-feminist critics for his decision that year to drill for oil in the Yasuni Amazon (after having once proposed an innovative climate debt downpayment to avoid its extraction); and

Filippino Climate Commissioner Yeb Saño had a dramatic 2013 role in Warsaw condemning COP19 inaction after his hometown was demolished by Super Typhoon Haiyan, but he was evicted by a more conservative environment ministry (apparently under Washington’s thumb) just before the Lima COP in 2014.

If you are serious about climate justice, the message from these COP experiences is unmistakeable: going inside is suicide.

Framing for failure

It is for this reason that the original protest narrative suggestions that CAN’s Mark Raven proposed were generally seen as too reformist. Acknowledging the obvious — “People losing faith in the broken system, corporations sabotaging change” and “We need a just transition” — his network then offered these as favoured headline memes: “Showdown in 2015 leads to a vision of just transition to fossil-free world” and “Paris is where the world decides to end fossil fuel age.”

Yet with no real prospects of reform, the more militant activists were dissatisfied. Nnimmo Bassey from Oilwatch International was adamant, “We need not merely a just transition, but an immediatetransition: keep the oil in the soil, the coal in the hole, the tar sands in the land and the fracking shale gas under the grass.” That, after all, is what grassroots activists are mobilising for.

Added Nicola Bullard: “This narrative is too optimistic especially in terms of what will surely be seen as a failed COP21.” Bullard was a core Focus on the Global South activist in the 2007 Bali COP13 when Climate Justice Now! was formed. The movement’s principles were further fleshed out at the April 2010 World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Bolivia, to include emissions cut targets — 45 percent below 1990 levels in the advanced capitalist economies by 2020 — plus a climate tribunal and the decommissioning of destructive carbon markets which have proven incapable of fair, rational and non-corrupt trading. Dating to well before the CJN! split from CAN in Bali, that latter fantasy — letting bankers determine the fate of the planet by privatising the air — remains one of the main dividing lines between the two ideologies of climate justice and climate action.

The necessity of a radical narrative

Concrete actions against the emitters themselves were suggested, including more projects like the Dutch “Climate Games” which saw a coal line and port supply chain disrupted last year. There are coming protests over coal in Germany’s Rhineland and we will likely see direct actions at Paris events such as Solution 21, a corporate ‘false solutions’ event where geoengineering, Carbon Capture and Storage, and carbon trading will be promoted.

Likewise, ActionAid’s Teresa Anderson reported back from a Narrative Working Group on lessons from Copenhagen: “Don’t tell a lie that Paris will fix the climate. People were arrested in Copenhagen for this lie. No unrealistic expectations — but we need to give people hope that there is a purpose to the mobilisation.”

Most important, she reminded, “There is Global North historical responsibility, and those who are most vulnerable have done the least to cause the problem.” This is vital because in Durban, UN delegates began the process of ending the “common but differentiated responsibility” clause. As a result, finding ways to ensure climate “loss & damage” invoices are both issued and paid is more difficult. The UN’s Green Climate Fund is a decisive write-off in that respect; a different approach to climate debt is needed.

Looking at more optimistic messaging, Anderson concluded the report-back: “Powerful positive actions are in play. We are life — fossil fuels are death. Paris is a moment to build movements, to show we are powerful and will fight into 2016 and beyond to solve the climate crisis. It takes roots to weather the storm ahead.”

Responding, said former Bolivian negotiator Solon (now Bangkok-based director of Focus on the Global South), “I think we need a clearer narrative: let’s stop an agreement that’s going to burn the climate. We are against carbon markets, geoengineering and the weak emissions targets.”

But the clearest message of all came from veteran strategist Pat Mooney of the research network called the etc group, describing to the mass meeting what he wanted to see in Paris: “It should start like New York and end like Seattle. Shut the thing down.”

Back in 2009, just weeks before he died, this was what Dennis Brutus — the mentor of so many South African and international progressives — also advised: “Seattle Copenhagen!” The Paris Conference of Polluters also needs that kind of shock doctrine, so that from an activist cyclone a much clearer path can emerge towards climate justice in the months and years ahead.

Patrick Bond directs the University of KwaZulu-Natal Centre for Civil Society in Durban.

Source: teleSUR

Climate Summit 2014 (The ”good” news)

Summit 2014 Banner

I challenge you to bring to the Summit bold pledges. Innovate, scale-up, cooperate and deliver concrete action that will close the emissions gap and put us on track for an ambitious legal agreement through the UNFCCC process.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

As part of a global effort to mobilize action and ambition on climate change, United Nations
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is inviting Heads of State and Government along with business, finance, civil society and local leaders to a Climate Summit in September 2014, New York.

This Summit will be a different kind of Climate Summit. It is aimed at catalyzing action by governments, business, finance, industry, and civil society in areas for new commitments and substantial, scalable and replicable contributions to the Summit that will help the world shift toward a low-carbon economy.

The Summit will come one year before countries aim to conclude a global climate agreement in 2015 through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Although the 2014 Climate Summit is not part of the negotiating process, countries have recognized the value of the Summit, including by welcoming the Secretary-General’s efforts in a Decision of the Doha climate conference in 2012.

By catalyzing action on climate change prior to the UNFCCC Climate Change Conference in 2015, the
Secretary-General intends to build a solid foundation on which to anchor successful negotiations and sustained progress on the road to reducing emissions and strengthening adaptation strategies.

Source:  UN Climate Change

Διάσκεψη του ΟΗΕ για το κλίμα στη Βαρσοβία: κυριαρχία του ανθρακικού λόμπι και αντιδράσεις

???????????????????????????????Υπό τη βαριά σκιά των χιλιάδων θυμάτων και των καταστροφών που άφησε πίσω του ο τυφώνας Χαϊγιάν, η πιο πρόσφατη από τις συνέπειες της κλιματικής αλλαγής που έπληξε τις Φιλιππίνες, πραγματοποιήθηκε 11-22 Νοεμβρίου στη Βαρσοβία η Διάσκεψη του ΟΗΕ για την Κλιματική Αλλαγή COP19/CMP9, με τη συμμετοχή τουλάχιστον 190 χωρών.

Η εναρκτήρια ομιλία του εκπροσώπου των Φιλιππίνων Ναντέρεφ ‘‘Γιέμπ’’ Σάνο υπήρξε συγκινητική, αφού μίλησε όπως είπε, «για λογαριασμό των αμέτρητων ανθρώπων που δεν μπορούν πλέον να μιλήσουν για λογαριασμό τους», δηλαδή τα θύματα και τους κατοίκους των χωρών που υφίστανται τις επιπτώσεις της υπερθέρμανσης του πλανήτη και ιδιαίτερα εκείνων που χωρίς να «απολαμβάνουν» τα οφέλη της βιομηχανικής ανάπτυξης και χωρίς να συμβάλουν με εκπομπές διοξειδίου του άνθρακα (CO2), υφίστανται καταστροφές και απώλειες. Ο ίδιος δήλωσε οτι θα απέχει από τροφή στη διάρκεια της Διάσκεψης ως ένδειξη συμπαράστασης στους συμπατριώτες του και μέχρι την εξαγωγή ουσιαστικού αποτελέσματος από τις συζητήσεις, ενώ χαρακτήρισε «παράνοια» την υπόθεση της κλιματικής κρίσης «την οποία πρέπει να σταματήσουμε εδώ, στη Βαρσοβία».

Τραγική ειρωνεία αποτελεί οτι ο Σάνο στην περσινή Διάσκεψη της Ντόχα, Κατάρ, όταν η πατρίδα του πάλι θρηνούσε θύματα από τον τυφώνα Μπόφα, είχε εκφράσει την ελπίδα οι αποφάσεις «να υπακούν στις απαιτήσεις των επτά δισεκατομμυρίων κατοίκων της γης».

Η διοργανώτρια Πολωνία, που υπέστη καταστροφές τον περασμένο χειμώνα από τις πλημμύρες εξαιτίας των καταρρακτωδών βροχών στην βόρεια Ευρώπη, μόνο με την φιλοξενία της συμβάλλει θετικά στην υπόθεση της κλιματικής αλλαγής. Στην διόλου τιμητική 19η θέση στις εκπομπές CO2 και ένατη στην παραγωγή άνθρακα παγκοσμίως, με αποθέματα λιγνίτη και φυσικού αερίου τα οποία εκμεταλλεύεται και με δηλωμένη την πρόθεση να αναπτύξει μονάδες πυρηνικής ενέργειας, έχει αιτηθεί από την ένταξή της στην Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση το 2004, να της παρασχεθεί μεγαλύτερος χρόνος συμμόρφωσης με τους στόχους του 20/20/20, ενώ έχει τοποθετηθεί αρνητικά για τον Οδικό Χάρτη Μειώσεων των Εκπομπών μετά το 2020.

Η Εκτελεστική Γραμματέας της Συνθήκης Πλαισίου του ΟΗΕ για την Κλιματική Αλλαγή (UNFCCC), Κριστιάνα Φιγκέρες, επικρίθηκε για την ομιλία της την περασμένη Δευτέρα στην αμφιλεγόμενη Διεθνή Σύνοδο Κορυφής για τον Άνθρακα, που διεξαγόταν παράλληλα με τις κλιματικές συνομιλίες στην Βαρσοβία. Η Γραμματέας κάλεσε τις βιομηχανίες άνθρακα «να αλλάξουν άμεσα και δραστικά», αναφέροντας το μάλλον οξύμωρο: «Ως τώρα έχει γίνει απολύτως σαφές οτι περαιτέρω επενδύσεις στον τομέα του άνθρακα μπορούν να προχωρήσουν μόνο εάν είναι συμβατές με το όριο των δύο βαθμών κελσίου [ανόδου της παγκόσμιας μέσης θερμοκρασίας]».

Την ίδια ώρα, ακτιβιστές της Greenpeace σκαρφάλωσαν στην πρόσοψη του κτηρίου του Υπουργείου Οικονομικών όπου γινόταν η Σύνοδος και ανάρτησαν πανώ που έγραφε: «Ποιος κυβερνά την Πολωνία; Η βιομηχανία άνθρακα ή ο λαός;»

ClimateProtestsPoland_640Διαδηλωτές και από περιβαλλοντικές οργανώσεις της Γερμανίας και χωρών της Αφρικής, πήραν μέρος σε πορεία που οργάνωσε το Κόμμα Πρασίνων της Πολωνίας, αντιδρώντας στην ταυτόχρονη διοργάνωση συνομιλιών για τον άνθρακα και για την κλιματική αλλαγή αλλά και στην αρνητική στάση κρατών για τις εκπομπές CO2, με συνθήματα όπως: «Δεν υπάρχει πλανήτης Β» και «Αφήστε το κάρβουνο μέσα στο έδαφος».

Εύλογα γεννιέται το ερώτημα, τί θετικό μπορεί να προκύψει από την Διάσκεψη σε καθεστώς οικονομικής ύφεσης, προσπάθειας ανάκαμψης από πολλές χώρες, έξαρσης της βιομηχανικής παραγωγής σε άλλες, διαρκούς -στα όρια της εμμονής- ενεργειακής ανασφάλειας των βιομηχανικών χωρών, μετάθεσης των περιβαλλοντικών ευθυνών στους «άλλους» και χωρίς αποσαφηνισμένο καθεστώς για μεγάλους ρυπαντές (Κίνα, Ινδία, Βραζιλία και όχι μόνο) οι οποίοι «απολαμβάνουν» τον χαρακτηρισμό των αναπτυσσομένων χωρών και απαλλάσσονται από τις δεσμεύσεις για μειώσεις των εκπομπών τους και από τα συνεπαγόμενα κόστη.

Οι ΗΠΑ, δεύτερες μετά την Κίνα στις εκπομπές CO2, σύμφωνα με τον απεσταλμένο τους, αντί περαιτέρω δεσμεύσεων «έχουν επικεντρωθεί» και «βρίσκονται στον σωστό δρόμο» για την επίτευξη της μείωσης των εκπομπών τους κατά 17% από το 2005, μέχρι το 2020, η Ιαπωνία υπαναχώρησε από τους στόχους της για την περικοπή των εκπομπών της, ενώ ΗΠΑ και Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση απέρριψαν την πρόταση αναπτυσσόμενων χωρών να μετρηθεί η διαχρονική συμβολή κάθε χώρας στην υπερθέρμανση του πλανήτη.

Η έκθεση της IPCC

Με δεδομένο τον μάλλον προπαρασκευαστικό ρόλο της φετεινής Διάσκεψης για τις συμφωνίες που προσδοκώνται στην διάσκεψη του Παρισιού το 2015 και με πρόσφατη ακόμα την 5η Έκθεση Αξιολόγησης της Διακυβερνητικής Επιτροπής για την Κλιματική Αλλαγή (IPCC) που ανακοινώθηκε τον Σεπτέμβριο και η συνοπτική έκδοσή της δημοσιεύτηκε την ημέρα της έναρξης της Διάσκεψης, «μεγάλο στοίχημα» παραμένουν οι χρηματοδοτήσεις.

Κυρίαρχα οικονομικά θέματα αποτελούν: Η από το 2009 στην Κοπεγχάγη δέσμευση των ανεπτυγμένων χωρών να καταβάλουν 10 δισεκατομμύρια δολάρια ετησίως μέχρι το 2012, που θα αυξηθούν σταδιακά στα 100 δισ. δολάρια μέχρι το 2020, προς τις αναπτυσσόμενες χώρες, προκειμένου να αναπτύξουν «καθαρές» τεχνολογίες, η ενεργοποίηση του Πράσινου Κλιματικού Ταμείου (Green Climate Fund), στόχος του οποίου είναι «να υποστηρίξει έργα, προγράμματα, πολιτικές και άλλες δραστηριότητες στις αναπτυσσόμενες χώρες Μέλη με την χρήση θεματικών πλαισίων χρηματοδοτήσεων», σύμφωνα με το προταθέν προσχέδιο και ο μηχανισμός «απωλειών και ζημιών» ο οποίος θα παρέχει αποζημιώσεις στις χώρες που πλήττονται από αναπόφευκτα κλιματικά φαινόμενα.

Οικονομικής θεματολογίας αναμενόταν και η τετραήμερη συνάντηση υψηλόβαθμων κυβερνητικών στελεχών με την παρουσία του Γ.Γ. του ΟΗΕ Μπαν Κι-μουν, από την περασμένη Τρίτη. Οι πρώτες ανακοινώσεις δικαίωσαν τον Μπράντον Γου, ανώτερο αναλυτή της Action Aid, ο οποίος είχε χαρακτηρίσει «εκκωφαντική» την σιωπή των πλούσιων χωρών όταν τους ζητείται να δώσουν συγκεκριμένες πληροφορίες για το ύψος και τον χρόνο των χρηματοδοτήσεων, παρότι «η κλιματική χρηματοδότηση και η μεταφορά τεχνογνωσίας είναι κρίσιμες για τις αναπτυσσόμενες χώρες, ιδιαίτερα για τις πιο ευάλωτες όπως οι Φιλιππίνες, προκειμένου να αντιμετωπίσουν την παγκόσμια κλιματική κρίση», όπως είπε.

Οι πλούσιες χώρες, κατά τον Γου, «υποδεικνύουν τον ιδιωτικό τομέα, παρότι παραδέχονται οτι οι επενδύσεις του δεν μπορούν να ανταποκριθούν στις ανάγκες των πλέον φτωχών και ευάλωτων. Πρόκειται για απαράδεκτη αποφυγή της ηθικής και νομικής ευθύνης», κάτι που επιβεβαιώνει η ατζέντα των συνομιλιών κορυφής.

Ωστόσο, το «δια ταύτα» για τη συντριπτική πλειοψηφία των κατοίκων της γης, παραμένει η μείωση των εκπομπών CO2 και άλλων αερίων θερμοκηπίου (GHG), στον αντίποδα του πλουτισμού εκείνων που εκμεταλλεύονται τα ορυκτά καύσιμα. Απώτερος στόχος οφείλει να είναι ο περιορισμός της ανόδου της παγκόσμιας μέσης θερμοκρασίας κάτω από τους 2°C σε σχέση με την προβιομηχανική εποχή, δεδομένου οτι, όπως υπενθύμισε η Φιγκέρες στην εισαγωγική ομιλία της, η συγκέντρωση CO2 στην ατμόσφαιρα έχει πλησιάσει (και τον περασμένο Μάιο έφθασε) τα 400 σωματίδια ανά εκατομμύριο (ppm), την υψηλότερη από το 1958.

Η IPCC στην έκθεσή της χαρακτηρίζει την υπερθέρμανση αδιαμφισβήτητη με βάση τις κλιματικές μεταβολές που έχουν μελετηθεί, θεωρεί ως «εξαιρετικά πιθανή» αιτία της την ανθρώπινη επέμβαση και χαρακτηρίζει «σαφή» και αυξημένη από την προηγούμενη έκθεση την ανθρώπινη επίδραση στο κλιματικό σύστημα και στον κύκλο υδάτων.

Ως αποτέλεσμα: «Η ατμόσφαιρα και οι ωκεανοί έχουν θερμανθεί, οι ποσότητες χιονιού και πάγων έχουν ελαττωθεί, η στάθμη της θάλασσας έχει ανέλθει και οι συγκεντρώσεις αερίων θερμοκηπίου έχουν αυξηθεί».

Για τον άνθρακα και τα βιοχημικά αέρια σημειώνει: «Οι ατμοσφαιρικές συγκεντρώσεις διοξειδίου του άνθρακα, μεθανίου και υποξειδίου του αζώτου έχουν αυξηθεί σε πρωτοφανή επίπεδα στα τελευταία 800.000 χρόνια. Οι συγκεντρώσεις CO2 έχουν αυξηθεί κατά 40% από την προβιομηχανική εποχή, πρωτίστως από τις εκπομπές των ορυκτών καυσίμων και δευτερευόντως από τις εκπομπές χρήσης της γης. Οι ωκεανοί έχουν απορροφήσει το 30% των ανθρωπογενών εκπομπών CO2, με αποτέλεσμα την οξίνιση των υδάτων τους».

Για την αναστρεψιμότητα των φαινομένων καταλήγει στο δυσοίωνο συμπέρασμα οτι οι σωρευτικές εκπομπές θα καθορίσουν την μέση παγκόσμια θέρμανση μέχρι ή και μετά το τέλος του 21ου αιώνα, ενώ η διατήρηση των εκδηλώσεών της ακόμα και αν οι εκπομπές μηδενιστούν σημαίνει «αισθητή μακραίωνη δέσμευση στην κλιματική αλλαγή που δημιουργήθηκε από το παρελθόν, το παρόν και το μέλλον των εκπομπών CO2».


ΠΗΓΗ: Οικοτριβές
Κυριακή 1.12.2013

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