December 15, 2015 Nick Dearden / Global Justice Now & The Institute for Public Accuracy & Bjorn Lomborg / The Copenhagen Consensus Center
"For us people who are really affected by climate change, we need to change the slogan '1.5 to stay alive' to '1.5 we might survive', because already at 0.8 degrees, we're already suffering loss of lives." Despite the self-congratulatory statements from world leaders praising themselves for single-handedly saving the world from climate catastrophe on December 12, 2015, the reality is that they have set the planet on course to burn.
The western media has reported the Paris climate deal as a great success. So why did thousands take to the streets yesterday to denounce it?
The Real Fight for Climate Justice Starts Here Nick Dearden / Global Justice Now
PARIS -- "For us people who are really affected by climate change, we need to change the [slogan] '1.5 to stay alive' to '1.5 we might survive', because already at 0.8 degrees, we're already suffering loss of lives."
Addressing a crowd at the climate talks protests in Paris, Lidy Nacpil -- from our allies at Jubilee South-Asia/Pacific -- added: "We will pay in the South in terms of millions of lives and millions of people displaced."
This weekend Global Justice Now supporters and staff also joined tens of thousands of people in Paris to say: "world leaders have failed us on climate change, it's time for us to change things".
Despite the state of emergency, the energy and enthusiasm were overwhelming. Now we need to support the many struggles for a better world over the next year and turn this energy into real change. You can help us by joining Global Justice Now today.
Inside the climate talks -- known as COP21 (or the 21st Conference of the Parties) -- things were less positive. Yes, we have a deal, and yes, it says world leaders will try to limit global warming to 1.5°C. But there are no means to actually achieve this.
The collective reductions promised by world powers head us closer to a catastrophic 3°C. And even those reductions are not legally binding.
Worse still, rich countries used their supposed ambition to gut the deal of any sort of equity. The US and allies worked tirelessly to undermine the whole promise of climate talks up till now -- that rich industrial countries are responsible for climate change and should take the lead in fighting it. Anything else means climate change can only be halted at the price of never-ending poverty.
But we always knew that the same world leaders pushing industrial agriculture, supporting big fossil fuel businesses, and promoting free-trade agreements like TTIP, would be unable to halt climate change. That falls to campaigns and movements of ordinary people; people like you.
We've made a start. There is hope and opportunity. By joining us as a member, you'll become part of the movement for a fairer, more equal world and act in solidarity with those resisting injustice around the world.
At Global Justice Now we believe that to really tackle climate change, we need to fundamentally change the way the global economy works. This change will not be made by corporations or world leaders. Rather, it will be made by us as a global movement of citizens.
In the months ahead we will build a stronger movement -- to defeat TTIP, to support small-scale agriculture and to promote energy democracy, along with our allies across the world. This change in our economic system is at the centre of halting climate change. We hope you'll join us.
Nick Dearden is Director of Global Justice Now
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(Formerly the World Development Movement)
(December 14, 2015) -- The Guardian reports: "James Hansen, father of climate change awareness, calls Paris talks 'a fraud.'" Says Hansen: "It's just bullshit for them to say: 'We'll have a 2 [degrees] C warming target and then try to do a little better every five years.' 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."
CHRIS WILLIAMS, ecologyandsocialism at gmail.com
Williams wrote the book Ecology & Socialism: Solutions to Capitalist Ecological Crisis. He is a long-time environmental activist with a scientific background and has authored numerous articles on the science and politics of climate change and energy for various media outlets. He's a writer-in-residence at Truthout, educator and professor at Pace University.
Williams said today:
"Despite the self-congratulatory statements from world leaders praising themselves for single-handedly saving the world from climate catastrophe on December 12th, 2015, the reality is that they have set the planet on course to burn.
Science tells us that emissions of greenhouse gases, principally carbon dioxide emitted by the combustion of fossil fuels, need to peak by 2020 and come down by 6 to 10 percent every year after that, yet 'fossil fuels' are not mentioned once in the entire agreement signed in Paris.
Hence, there is no mention of stopping exploration for more, stopping building coal plants, oil pipelines, or fracking for more natural gas. Even more pathetic than the non-deal and failure in Copenhagen in 2009, the Paris text doesn't even include emissions from air travel or international shipping; a glaring omission when one realizes the two combined add up to the emissions of Germany and Britain, and are projected to increase by 350 percent over the lifetime of the agreement.
"[The agreement] is entirely voluntary and therefore has no enforcement mechanism. Should there be a need to tighten voluntary pledges (and there most certainly is a need, as they have been assessed as putting us on track for 2.7-3.5 degrees C of warming), nothing will be reassessed for another eight years, as world leaders can sit around until 2023.
"While fossil fuels production continues to get incentivized and subsidized to the tune of trillions of dollars per year, the rich developed world, responsible for 75 percent of historic emissions, can barely muster a commitment to $100 billion annually (let alone the actual cash), in climate finance to help developing countries transition from fossil fuels.
"Should any developing country have the temerity to attempt legal means of redress after suffering from the change in climate that this [agreement] guarantees, the United States made sure language was included that prevented seeking recompense for 'loss and damage.'"
(December 13, 2015) -- After two weeks, huge amounts of political rhetoric, and much activity behind closed doors, we have a treaty. While there will be celebrations among activists, the Paris Treaty will do very little to rein in temperature reductions.
The Paris Treaty promises to keep temperature rises below 2°C. However, the actual promises made here will do almost nothing to achieve that. It is widely accepted that to keep temperature rises below 2°C, we have to reduce CO₂ emissions by 6,000Gt.
The UNFCCC estimates that if every country makes every single promised Paris Treaty carbon cut between 2016 and 2030 to the fullest extent possible and there is no carbon leakage, CO₂ emissions will be cut by 56 Gt by 2030.
The math is simple: in an implausibly optimistic best-case scenario, Paris leaves 99% of the problem in place.
To say that Paris will get us to 2°C is cynical posturing at best. It relies on wishful thinking. It's like going on a diet to slim down, but declaring victory after the first salad.
Paris will be extraordinarily costly. It is likely this is the most expensive treaty in the history of the world. Using the best individual and collectively peer-reviewed economic models, the total cost of Paris -- through slower GDP growth from higher energy costs -- will reach $1-2 trillion every year from 2030. We owe the world much more -- both in terms of tackling climate change better, and in spending resources smarter.
The best thing to come out of Paris was the announcement of the Bill Gates-led green energy innovation fund together with private individuals, and governments including Australia, USA, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Germany, France, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, South Korea, and UAE.
This is an excellent initiative. I have argued for greater spending on R&D for a decade. Even more funding is needed, the Gates-led fund is what is really going to make a difference to the climate.
Until there is a breakthrough that makes green energy competitive on its own merits, massive carbon cuts are extremely unlikely to happen.
Claims that carbon cuts will be free or even generate economic growth don't stack up given today's technology. Every economic model shows real costs. If not, we wouldn't need the Paris treaty: every nation would stampede to voluntarily cut CO₂ and get rich.
The agreement to spend $100bn on climate aid is a poor way to help the developing world. Their citizens clearly say, this is their lowest policy priority and climate aid provided by handing out solar panels has meager benefits compared with the many better, cheaper ways to help, like investing in immunization, girls' education, and family planning. While billions lack food, health, water and education, distributing solar panels is simply immoral.
The Gates innovation push is great news and the only way we can start tackling the 99% of the climate problem not addressed by Paris.
After Paris, I will be advocating for an even greater investment in green energy research and development. Funding in the region of $100 billion annually is what is needed.
Bjorn Lomborg is an environmental contrarian (a "climate inactivist aka the "Danish Delayer"). He is president of Copenhagen Consensus Center, a US-based think tank that has been accused of accepting major funding from the oil billionaire Koch brothers.
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