A climate of Peace in Paris?

As I write I’m in London, in unseasonably warm weather (bar a cold snap over the weekend), nearly the end of November and there’s still green leaves on the trees.

Screen Shot 2015-11-27 at 12.45.27 amThe World Meteorological Organisation has now confirmed that 2010-2015 has been the hottest five year period in recorded history, and 2015 is shaping up to be the hottest ever. We’re heading into possibly the strongest El Niño ever recorded, with its full fury yet to really hit. Batten down the hatches people, it’s going to be a wild ride.

And it’s not just the weather that’s heating up.   With just a few days until the Climate Summit begins in Paris, the meeting itself is now set to break a record, as negotiations will start on Sunday evening, an unprecedented move for a climate meeting.

The French Government is doing its best to avoid another Copenhagen, carefully placing the 130 World Leader event at the beginning of the summit, not the end, to avoid risking the “agree to anything and call it a groundbreaking deal” situation that happened in 2009.

I was going to march through Paris on Sunday with hundreds of thousands, but that’s now gone out the window, after the awful attacks on the city a couple of weeks ago.   The Brits are now seriously considering bombing Syria, and the Turks shot down a Russian warplane. Syrian refugees are freezing in camps across Europe.

Hang on, weren’t we talking about climate change?   Let’s take a closer look at this security thing. As Prince Charles said the other day, in an interview recorded before the Paris attacks, the Syrian crisis absolutely has climate change in its roots.

Two scientific papers have been published in the last year about the years-long, crippling drought in Syria that destroyed crops, animals, and drove millions of people off the land into the cities. Of course Assad’s subsequent removal of food and fuel subsidies and a number of other elements contributed to the current crisis, but climate change was absolutely a factor.

Anthropogenic forcing, according to a paper published in PNAS earlier this year,

“made the occurrence of a 3-year drought as severe as that of 2007−2010 two to three times more likely than by natural variability alone. We conclude that human influences on the climate system are implicated in the current Syrian conflict.”

Peter Gleick, in a different paper about water scarcity in Syria last year, said

The drastic decrease in water availability, water mismanagement, agricultural failures, and related economic deterioration contributed to Syria’s population dislocations and the migration of rural communities to nearby cities.”

The issue has been raised by US Democrat President hopeful, Bernie Sanders, and it was confirmed by the administration that climate change, in this situation, was a “threat multiplier.”

Someone I’ve long admired for his work in this area is Michael T. Klare, professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and the author, most recently, of The Race for What’s Left.

On 3 November, well before the Paris attacks, Klare posted an article positing that the Paris Climate Summit entitled “Why the Paris Climate Summit Will Be a Peace Conference.”

Combine the effects of climate change with already existing poverty, hunger, resource scarcity, incompetent and corrupt governance, and ethnic, religious, or national resentments, and you’re likely to end up with bitter conflicts over access to food, water, land, and other necessities of life.”

It was ironic, I thought, that the G20 heads of state, meeting in Turkey the weekend of the ISIS hideousness in Paris, de-prioritised their focus on climate change in favour of discussing security and how to deal with the refugee crisis.   The sooner they join these dots, the better for everyone.

So the this climate and peace conference begins on Sunday night, after a weekend where hundreds of thousands, if not millions, will take to the streets to call for action.  It would be good if their calls could be heeded, if Goverments could rise above their corporate backers, and listen to the voices from the streets, from the world’s most vulnerable countries who are calling for the meeting to recognise that 1.5˚C really is what’s needed to survive.

The thousands of activists converging on the city, however, are not giving up – keep an eye on the Climate Games and the Red Lines that will still be drawn at the end of the meeting – worth watching out for.

But I’ll save all that for the next post.   And while I compose my thoughts about how to get into details of the negotiations for the next blog, I hope all of you in Aotearoa join with the rest of the world in creating the biggest global mobilisation on climate in history.  March for me, please people. Find your nearest march here.

A bientôt.

48 thoughts on “A climate of Peace in Paris?”

  1. In the early sixties I read in a book, published I think in the fourties, this statement:
    “The settled unity of mankind is our goal”. This statement grabbed me then and does still. However, with climate change the weather forecast has to include the term “unsettled”.

    1. Weather may be just weather, but sometimes it is genuinely extreme – as were the first 10 days of November over much of Europe. Weather historian Chris Burt didn’t mince his words:

      Amazing as the warmth in the U.S. may have been, it paled in comparison to the unprecedented warmth that has engulfed much of Europe since late October.

    2. You can hardly complain about the CO2 generated by delegates flying to Paris if you regularly flit between the highlands of Scotland and southern New Zealand. I hope you plant some trees when you get back.

        1. No I claimed that protestors ignored the ban and threw rocks at the police.

          Of course, you might think Paris is a safe place to visit. There have only been two massacres there so far this year. Perhaps a large group of people meeting in public poses no threat to their safety.

        2. As independant media and video makes clear: the police sealed off all exits from the square and then pushed the people attending the rally into a small space using riot police and their vehicles. Then the police attacked.

          The question that no one seems to be asking is why did the police allow people to congregate for the rally? They had the means in place to stop people congregating in the first place.

          Unfortunately, this is just the latest in a series of set pieces by the French government that aims to paint environmentalists as radical and violent.

  2. Optimism. Why?
    A bunch of non-binding INDCs that fail to reach the 2 degrees ceiling.

    The 2 degrees ceiling is completely arbitrary and was settled on mainly because it was thought to have been the lowest possible achievable target.
    The INDCs have timeframes that are outside the accountability of current governments. In other words, these are easy putative promises to make as it will be later administrations that actually have to act.

    Set binding agreements that require countries to set the target dates for 1%, 2%, 5% and 10% reductions from 1990 levels – as a starting point and there might be some meaningful output from COPnn.

    Meantime, I suggest that Greenpeace, 350.org, The Greens and all other activists (groups and individuals) who want meaningful reductions within the required timeframes to avert catastrophic events turn their collective backs on these charades and start personal action and civil disobedience.

    If Gandhi had followed the current strategy, India would still be a colony.

  3. NoWombats! ‘…start personal action…’ Nice. I could not agree more. This silly idea of ME trying to get THEM (Government) to tell ME to make the personal changes necessary to reduce our individual carbon footprint seems a waste of effort to me. Why not Me tell Me and cut out the expensive and ineffective middle-men of Government??

    In early 2014 I offered a simple calculator to give a view of carbon emissions from personal fuel use (Here: http://the100metreline.blogspot.co.nz/2014/02/reducing-emissions-it-starts-at-home.html). Back then our household was emitting about 200% of our allowance, and (grrr) in spite of changes to my energy pattern and off-grid systems we are still at about 200% 18 months later.

    So I am in no position to preach “Reduce or we all die!!!” to anybody, yet.

    How can I take ‘Direct Action’ to ask others to do what I am not?? Gandhi and his followers did walk the talk, they suffered the consequences, and eventually enjoyed the rewards.

    Give me ten good Western men who are living on less than 140 kg of CO2 per month. Then, when I have proved myself capable of doing the same, I will march with them to take Truth to the highest Powers on Earth.

    1. Well said! This is precisely the way forward but so hard to do.
      The hope is that the technology coalition of Bill Gates and others will come up with goods that will speed this transition up.
      Otherwise, I would think that pretty much all is lost. Even if we would get 10% of the population to live at a frugal 140kg CO2/m diet, this would still be far of the required zero emissions we need in a few decades to perhaps turn the ship(wreck) around. I do not believe we will get governments impose draconian restrictions anytime soon if ever. And unless we wean ourselves of the CO2 because of better alternatives, I can’t see that the masses will walk the walk.
      Gandi won because even a small but critical mass could sway the British, but only a vast majority of polluters abstaining from CO2 consumption will make a dent in the rising CO2 concentration. This is the crux.

      1. I was waiting for the bus yesterday, here in Norway, at 4pm, in the dark. It was less than -5C. Lots of Tesla cars drove by. I was cold, the bus was diesel, and we were the only people on it.

      2. nigwil
        By your formula my personal emissions this year come to 41 kgm/mth,
        last year 56 kg/mth. However I do not know how to allow for about 60 km of bus trips per month and what about the carbon footprint of the solar panels. If I calculate personal solar usage on the same basis as imported power that would add 42 kg/mth over this year.

        The biggest improvement was throwing away the car and other fossil fueled engines.

        I agree, demand is the real issue. For demand read desire. “Kill out desire” said Gautama and every spiritual teacher since, one way or another. Let’s kill out in-your-face advertising. Yay! Advertising is the way desire is stimulated and manipulated to maintain the consumer society.

  4. I still think that there is not a hope in hell of there being a meaningful outcome from COP21. The CRUA countries of Canada,Russia,USA and Australia have so much of their economy in fossil fuels that they are never going to give it up. The best bet would be for Europe, China and India,whose government are already committed to renewable energy and who collectively have half the worlds population, to form a climate block and steadily reduce fossil fuel consumption. Without customers the CRUA countries would be forced to remodel their economies. http://www.climateoutcome.kiwi.nz/latest-posts–news/un-climate-change-negotiations

    1. I think in the case of the USA the blame will squarely sit with the Republicans who more and more morph into a dark force that can only be described broadly as “enemies of reason”. From climate change to gun violence and affordable health care, what these people are orchestrating in the name the American people is truly shocking and deeply unsettling. Humanity can ill afford such a cabal of machiavellian nut cases sitting at the levers of power in the world’s most powerful nation.
      In case of climate policy the Republicans: voted to repeal Obama’s clean power plant rules, are mobilising to overturn increased fuel efficiency rules, proposed to eliminate all significant American national climate policies, ban government employees (Florida) from using terms like “climate change,” “global warming” or “sea-level rise” ,
      vote to slash NASA’s funding in order to stop the agency from researching and speaking about climate change…. and the list could go on and on.

      It is the Republican party of the USA who is the worst villain in the current Western world. It is an entity that is a significant danger to all of humanity and disastrous for the American people and the reputation of America.

    1. Not sure I am getting “roasted”. However, I am enjoying insulting them and vice versa, so if you want to be insulted, please head over to the link Simon provided and I will lay into you without compassion.

        1. Because that’s your job andy.. and I hope the trees are native – not more wilding pines on fragile central soils 🙂
          Caring for Pohutakawa and Ngaio and others on wetland by the Waihou for me. The Ngaio are now above the nursery mangroves, and the pohutakawa are sending down aerial roots. The planting is around 1km by 50m along the river bank either side of the Kopu bridge. Cook noted in his Journal when he sailed up the Waihou the forest of Pohutakawa along both sides of the river, and as it was December the river was bordered in red. Until recently there were no trees left on the river banks – all had been removed by farmers and foresters. Now we are putting them back.

    2. Over at the great link: https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/adam-ramsay/climate-skeptics-agree-their-key-messages-for-journalists-with-journalist-in-room to the tiny denier clique hashing it out, these jokers show once more for all to see that they have not the slightest idea of what they are talking about.
      After all these years, they still confuse the half life time of our CO2 pulse in the biosphere with the half life time of CO2 within the air/ocean balance. This is high school carbon cycle stuff. The former is measured in centuries, the later in years. What a hoot.

      1. Over at the great link I had my short stay but have been banned and deleted. However, I did have some fun explaining in great detail my complete contempt for some of the regulars here who happened to leave their mark their at “Open Democracy” (sic)

        1. Yes, andyS showed us what a nasty piece of work he is. I re-posted his vile comment directed at me on DeSmogBlog. I think it is time he was banned for ever on every decent and honest blog there is. Though it is nice to see what a despicable crowd of nasty human beings, if they can indeed be called that, these deniers are.


          1. Thank you Ian for reposting my comment expressing my undiluted hatred and contempt for you on the worlds most famous smear site, financed by a convicted money launderer.

            It really is a privilege to me and I look forward to is expressing our mutual contempt in future!

            [That’s enough mutual contempt, both of you. Further invective will be expunged. GR]

        2. Andy quickly changes the subject I see. He is trying to hide the complete incompetence of Harris (and his friends of the so-called “International Climate Science Coalition”) on matters of climate change. It really pays to read their “bullet points” over at the open democracy link. What complete nonsense from A to Z.
          Anyway, the climate science denial movement is dead. Some zombies like Andy will be lingering about. The rest of the world is moving on now. Just as the Republican party is finally having enough of Trump, they might eventually also ditch the other rotten branch on the tree: Science Denial. Even the most die-hard loggerheads eventually will leave the sinking ship.

  5. So Tim’s off to Washington leaving behind a failed portfolio where he has overseen NZ’s emissions rise by 10% during his tenure, and put in place – nothing , zilch, and nada as a means to reduce them.
    But what a negotiator he is! I mean how effective is he at at driving a hard bargain! Nothing slips under his radar. Just a trail of destruction, and sea surface levels to set to inundate Island states. We asked you not to go to Paris Tim….. Why did you?

    1. I completely agree. There is no point whatsoever in NZ sending a taxpayer funded junket to COP21. The whole exercise is completely pointless.

      Canada sent around 370 delegates (business class?) to COP21. Some even flew back and forth several times.

      COP21 is the epitome of environmental hypocrisy. It’s about time that we canned the entire movement.

      1. Surely the presence of so many delegates and countries indicate how important it is? Imagine if an agreement is signed, the consequences will be wide and far-reaching. Could it affect your future employment?
        Meanwhile,the Heartland sponsored counter conference only got 30 delegates to a third-rate Parisian hotel and that was before they kicked out all of the journalists.

            1. Article 28
              1. At any time after three years from the date on which this Agreement has entered into force for a Party, that Party may withdraw from this Agreement by giving written notification to the Depositary.
              2. Any such withdrawal shall take effect upon expiry of one year from the date of receipt by the Depositary of the notification of withdrawal, or on such later date as may be specified in the notification of withdrawal.
              3. Any Party that withdraws from the Convention shall be considered as also having withdrawn from this Agreement.


            2. That clause exists because of the difficulty in getting a binding agreement through individual country’s legislature (i.e. the US). Any country that exits will be treated as a pariah state. That might not bother some leaders (e.g. Putin) but goodwill goes a long way in international politics.

            3. ” That might not bother some leaders”
              I think that you are quite right.
              The leaders of China , India and Russia , all made their intentions quite clear, and seem to be in no way bothered by any possible threat of pariah status, for fairly obvious reasons I would have thought.
              The Chinese delegation declared quite forthrightly that they were only attending for the “posturing”.

              I presume that “posturing” is an accurate translation of what they actually said , primarily because they had already given notice of their intention to increase emissions to peak around 2030.

  6. My, my – why such venom, Andy?

    Could it be that it is actually your rent-boy activities on behalf of the pollutocrats that have turned out to be of no consequence?

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