Ban Ki-moon: World Leaders Are Ready to Sign Climate Deal
November 4, 2014
Sophie Yeo / RTCC & Associated Press
World leaders are ready to sign an international agreement to combat climate change, says UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon. In contrast to their failed efforts five years ago in Copenhagen, politicians will head to Paris in 2015 prepared to sign a meaningful climate deal, said Ban, speaking at the launch of the UN's latest climate science report.
Amazing Video: "The Earth, A Living Creature"
(October 31, 2014) -- This video was recently released by NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio. Using real data, this simulation's volume-rendered clouds depict seven days in 2005 when a category-4 typhoon developed off the coast of China.
Ban Ki-moon: World Leaders
Are Ready to Sign Climate Deal
Sophie Yeo / RTCC
(November 2, 2014) -- World leaders are ready to sign an international agreement to combat climate change, says UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon.
In contrast to their failed efforts five years ago in Copenhagen, politicians will head to Paris in 2015 prepared to sign a meaningful climate deal, said Ban, speaking at the launch of the UN's latest climate science report.
"We had intensive in depth discussions in 2009 in Copenhagen, but maybe looking back at that time the world leaders might not have been fully ready to engage themselves. They were more focusing on national priorities rather than global priorities," he said. "Since then we have been building up on what we discussed in Copenhagen."
The secretary general added that the UN was working very hard to ensure a draft text of the new agreement is delivered by this year's discussions in Lima, so that negotiations are no longer "just talking".
"I'm confident that we will do it, we can make it happen."
Ban spoke today at the launch of the latest report by the UN's science panel, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC].
The report spells out the impacts of climate change, and confirms that the majority of the warming seen since the industrial era is a result of human activity.
Scientists and governments have worked intensively over the last week to prepare the report, meeting once again in Copenhagen.
The location has been a bitter reminder for some of the 2009 conference, branded at the time as "No Hopenhagen" thanks to its failure to secure a deal committing governments to meaningful action on climate change.
A recent round of talks in Bonn ended in stalemate, with countries unable to agree on what their contributions to a proposed 2015 climate deal could look like.
But also speaking at the IPCC launch, Manuel Pulgar Vidal, environment minister of Peru and president of this year's set of main UN negotiations in Lima said he felt hopeful about the prospects of success.
"We are in a completely different process in contrast to what we have in Copenhagen five years ago. We are closer to the science, with more actors like business and civil society."
Much of his optimism will hinge on whether satisfactory levels of finance are delivered by rich countries in order to fund the green transition in the poorest nations.
Pulgar Vidal called on politicians to make strong pledges to the UN's Green Climate Fund in two weeks' time when they meet in Berlin.
The IPCC report released today will also have an impact on the negotiations, providing a robust scientific basis on which world leaders can base their commitments, said Michel Jarraud, head of the World Meteorological Association.
"Ignorance can no longer be used as an excuse. This is a fundamental difference compared to 2009," he said. And the process now involves more actors than ever before.
At the UN climate summit hosted by Ban Ki-moon in September, over a thousand businesses signalled their support for a global price on carbon, while hundreds of thousands of people marched in cities across the world to demand more action on climate change.
"There is a strong head of positive steam building towards Lima and Paris," said Christiana Figueres, head of the UN's climate body.
"The IPCC has and will continue to play a crucial role in bringing forward the science upon which the transformational policies needed to realize a low carbon, and ultimately climate neutral world in the second half of the century, can be forged."
The Earth - A Living Creature
UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Climate Assessment
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (November 2, 2014) -- Climate change is happening, it's almost entirely man's fault and limiting its impacts may require reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero this century, the UN's panel on climate science said Sunday.
The fourth and final volume of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's giant climate assessment didn't offer any surprises, nor was it expected to since it combined the findings of three earlier reports released in the past 13 months.
But it underlined the scope of the climate challenge in stark terms. Emissions, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels, may need to drop to zero by the end of this century for the world to have a decent chance of keeping the temperature rise below a level that many consider dangerous.
Failure to do so, which could require deployment of technologies that suck greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere, could lock the world on a trajectory with "irreversible" impacts on people and the environment, the report said. Some impacts are already being observed, including rising sea levels, a warmer and more acidic ocean, melting glaciers and Arctic sea ice and more frequent and intense heat waves.
"Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in their message. Leaders must act. Time is not on our side," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at the report's launch in Copenhagen.
Amid its grim projections, the report also offered hope. The tools needed to set the world on a low-emissions path are there; it just has to break its addiction to the oil, coal and gas that power the global energy system while polluting the atmosphere with heat-trapping CO2, the chief greenhouse gas.
"We have the means to limit climate change," IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri said. "All we need is the will to change, which we trust will be motivated by knowledge and an understanding of the science of climate change."
The IPCC was set up in 1988 to assess global warming and its impacts. The report released Sunday caps its latest assessment, a mega-review of 30,000 climate change studies that establishes with 95-percent certainty that nearly all warming seen since the 1950s is man-made.
Today only a small minority of scientists challenge the mainstream conclusion that climate change is linked to human activity.
Sleep-deprived delegates approved the final documents Saturday afternoon after a weeklong line-by-line review in Copenhagen that underscored that the IPCC process is not just about science. The reports must be approved both by scientists and governments, which means political issues from UN climate negotiations, which are nearing a 2015 deadline for a global agreement, inevitably affect the outcome.
The rift between developed and developing countries in the UN talks opened up in Copenhagen over a box of text that discussed what levels of warming could be considered dangerous. After a protracted battle, the delegates couldn't agree on the wording, and the box was dropped from a key summary for policy-makers to the disappointment of some scientists.
"If the governments are going to expect the IPCC to do their job," said Princeton professor Michael Oppenheimer, a lead author of the IPCC's second report, they shouldn't "get caught up in fights that have nothing to do with the IPCC."
The omission of the box meant the word "dangerous" disappeared from the summary altogether. It appeared only twice in a longer underlying report compared to seven times in a draft produced before the Copenhagen session.
But the less loaded word "risk" was mentioned 65 times in the final 40-page summary.
"Rising rates and magnitudes of warming and other changes in the climate system, accompanied by ocean acidification, increase the risk of severe, pervasive, and in some cases irreversible detrimental impacts," the report said.
World governments in 2009 set a goal of keeping the temperature rise below 2 degrees C (3.6 F) compared to before the industrial revolution. Temperatures have gone up about 0.8 C (1.4 F) since the 19th century.
Meanwhile, emissions have risen so fast in recent years that the world has already used up two-thirds of its carbon budget, the maximum amount of CO2 that can be emitted to have a likely chance of avoiding 2 degrees of warming, the IPCC report said.
"This report makes it clear that if you are serious about the 2-degree goal . . . there is nowhere to hide," said Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy group. "You can't wait several decades to address this issue."
US Secretary of State John Kerry called the report "another canary in the coal mine."
"The bottom line is that our planet is warming due to human actions, the damage is already visible, and the challenge requires ambitious, decisive and immediate action," Kerry said in a statement. "Those who choose to ignore or dispute the science so clearly laid out in this report do so at great risk for all of us and for our kids and grandkids."
Pointing to the solution, the IPCC said the costs associated with mitigation action such as shifting the energy system to solar and wind power and other renewable sources and improving energy efficiency would reduce economic growth only by 0.06 percent annually.
And Pachauri said that cost should be measured against the implications of doing nothing, putting "all species that live on this planet" at peril.
The report is meant as a scientific roadmap for the UN climate negotiations, which continue next month in Lima, Peru. That's the last major conference before a summit in Paris next year, where a global agreement on climate action is supposed to be adopted.
"Lima should be the place where we put the pieces together so we can move toward success" in Paris, said Peruvian Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal.
The biggest hurdle is deciding who should do what, with rich countries calling on China and other major developing countries to take on ambitious targets, and developing countries saying the rich have a historical responsibility to lead the fight against warming and to help poorer nations cope with its impacts.
The IPCC carefully avoided taking sides in that discussion, saying the risks of climate change "are generally greater for disadvantaged people and communities in countries at all levels of development."
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.