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Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
 from Kyoto to Paris 2015
   
    
The UN talks commenced in 1992 with annual conferences since then producing no comprehensive binding agreements. The Kyoto Protocol came into force February 2005; disagreements at subsequent international meetings (Copenhagen, Cancun etc.) have indicated that at the governmental level, ability to bring climate change under control is failing. With global warming accelerating and rising carbon emissions, the world is moving too slowly to prevent serious damage to the ecosystem on which life depends. This raises prospects of rising sea-levels, food shortages and increasingly extreme weather disasters such as floods and droughts which have occurred with greater frequency, particularly since 2010.

Hope may rest increasingly on initiatives by other organizations such as IRENA, the C40 cities imitative, and actions by business leaders and entrepreneurs to act where governments, especially Canada and the USA, which are deadlocked and subject to pressure from “Business-as-Usual” energy corporations which have led to a virtual paralysis in leadership.The Doha conference (2012) reached an agreement to extend the life of the Kyoto Protocol until 2020, meaning that a successor to the protocol is set to be developed by 2015 and implemented by 2020.

 Fiji holds the presidency of the November 2017 COP-23 meeting which will be held in Bonn, 

         Below:

  • Post Paris - Morocco summit
  • History of Kyoto
  • COP-21 - Paris 2015
  • COP-20 in Lima, Peru
  • Highlights from earlier COP conferences

Other pages on international actions:
  • IRENA  International Renewal Energy Association 
  • Other initiatives - C-40Cities / Branson's Carbon War Room / Rio+20 
Post Paris -  Morocco summit

Nov. 18 2016: What did Marrakech climate summit deliver? It will go down in history as the Trump COP. with an orange cloud hanging over it - not from the desrert dust. Countries agreed that 2018 will be the next major meeting of talks under the Paris Agreement, and also that they’ll try and get the rulebook for it ready that year too. It doesn’t mean they get a year off in 2017: they’ll have to work on the nuts and bolts of the agreement through two sessions in spring and winter, both of which will take place in Bonn. link

October 2016:
Company climate plans too weak to meet Paris goals. About 85% of 1,089 major companies in survey said they have set goals for lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by big companies represent only 25% of the amounts needed to limit global warming under targets agreed last year in Paris.
link    (The Paris Agreement entered into force on November 4 2016.)
November 2016: Poor nations pledge deep emissions cuts. Some of the world’s poorest countries have pledged to dramatically cut their carbon emissions and rapidly move to 100% renewable power, as the UN climate summit in Marrakech drew to a close. The talks ended with what the outgoing president of the conference called a developing emergency over climate finance. link

September 2016: Paris climate goal will be difficult, if not impossible to hit. The global target to prevent climate catastrophe, crafted in Paris, will be very difficult if not impossible to hit, said some of world’s top scientists meeting this week in Oxford. All but a few of the hundreds of complex computer models plotting the rapid reduction of greenhouse gases that drive climate change, in other words, zoom right past it. The question stretches back to the chaotic Copenhagen climate summit in 2009, which nearly derailed more than a decade of UN talks, set the threshold for dangerous global warming at 2C.   link  

September 2016: Poorer countries represented badly at COP talks. A UN cash crunch means negotiators for poor countries are often at a disadvantage at UN summits, lacking the numbers, technology and institutional support of richer countries. link 

July 2016: After Paris, how are governments tackling climate change? Paris was the beginning not the end: the pledges made amount to less than a third of those needed to reach the 2 degree target, let alone the aspiration of 1.5C. Intended National Determined Contribution (INDCs) is UN jargon for pledges and was produced in a hurry for Paris, with limited consultation: weakly integrated with the rest of the economy, business, politics and other sectors. link

June 2016: Paris summit put planet on course for ‘catastrophic’ warming. In a major analysis of 10 different studies into the effect of what world leaders promised to do, researchers calculated that the planet was still on course for a temperature increase of 2.6C to 3.1C by the end of this century. Their finding was in sharp contrast to the landmark declaration in Paris in November last year that action would be taken to keep the rise to “well below” 2C and try to restrict it to 1.5C.  link

April 2016: Paris climate goals may already be slipping beyond reach. While more than 170 countries converge at the UN for the landmark deal to fight climate change reached at Paris last December, economists and scientists warned the accord’s goal of keeping temperatures below 1.5-2C may already be slipping beyond reach. So far, the commitments covered by the Paris agreement would allow warming of about 2.7C which would unleash rising seas, extreme heat and other upheavals.  link

April 2016: IPCC green-lights 1.5C report.
The UN’s climate science body will produce a special report by 2018 on the impacts of 1.5C global warming and emissions cuts needed to stay within that threshold. link


History of Kyoto Protocol 


Background. The series of annual UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) talks can trace its roots to the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In 1997 it spawned the Kyoto Protocol which was initially adopted on December 11, 1997 and entered into force on February 16, 2005. It is a protocol to the UNFCCC and as of January 2009, 183 parties had ratified the protocol (though not the USA). Under this Protocol, industrialized countries agreed to reduce their collective greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 5.2% from the level in 1990. The Kyoto Protocol established legally binding commitments for the reduction of four greenhouse gases - carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and sulphur hexafluoride.  (See Severn Suzuki's speech at the Rio conference here) 

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.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, say that 97% to 98% of climate researchers actively publishing in the field of climate change agree with the main conclusions of the IPCC that most of the “unequivocal” warming of the average global temperature over the second half of the 20th century is because of people. link  

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 web site

September 2013: Climate scientists call for overhaul of IPCC.   link

Other news items.
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

COP-21 - Paris 2015

January 2016: Paris climate deal seen costing $12.1 trillion over 25 years. If the world is
s
erious about halting the worst effects of global warming, the renewable energy industry will require $12.1 trillion of investment over the next quarter century, or about 75% more than current projections show for its growth. That’s the conclusion of a report setting out the scale of the challenge facing policymakers. link

Paris COP-21 summary. The deal reached in Paris set goals to limit warming, phase out carbon emissions by the middle of the century, help poor countries realign their economies, and review their progress towards hitting those targets at regular intervals and designed to make it Republican-proof in the USA. (link)  However James Hansen called the agreement a fraud. “It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises. As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned. (linkWriting in the Guardian, George Monbiot said: “By comparison to what it could have been, it’s a miracle. By comparison to what it should have been, it’s a disaster. In fairness, the failure does not belong to the Paris talks, but to the whole process. A maximum of 1.5C, now an aspirational and unlikely target, was eminently achievable when the first UN climate change conference took place in Berlin in 1995. Two decades of procrastination, caused by lobbying – overt, covert and often downright sinister – by the fossil fuel lobby, coupled with the reluctance of governments to explain to their electorates that short-term thinking has long-term costs, ensure that the window of opportunity is now three-quarters shut. The talks in Paris are the best there have ever been. And that is a terrible indictment." (link)

Short notes:

September 2016: $100 billion a year pledge advanceslink
Geneva – February 2015: Paris talks won’t achieve 2°C goal – does that matter? link 
April 2014: IPCC report – averting catastrophe is eminently affordable.  link
April 2014: World needs “Plan B’ on climate.   link   

COP-20 - Lima, Peru

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   

Other highlights from Lima Conference:
Dec.1 2014: Human rights and social justice take spotlight in Lima  link
December 2014: A change in fundamental direction link

Hihglights from earlier COP conferences

2013 COP-19: Warsaw 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
An impassioned speech by Yeb 
Saño of the Philippine delegation has focused attention on the serious consequences of inaction following typhoon Haiyan - view here

2012 COP 18:  Doha talks end today in colossal failure -  link  

2011 COP 17- Durban: Climate talks end with late deal.  link
Canada to withdraw from Kyoto protocol  link

2010 COP 16: 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.

2009 COP 15 - Copenhagen
Analysis of Copenhagen
-   What was agreed and what was left out 

Editorial on Copenhagen by Alan Burns  -
 read
  



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