Paris: winners and losers

Pillow diplomacyWhat can I add to the millions of words in dozens of languages that have already been written by the thousands of journalists and commentators around the Paris Agreement? We now have a globally binding agreement that really looks like it could curtail the use of a fuel that has been central to our way of life for more than 150 years.

Of course, if we’d managed to actually make deep cuts in emissions 25 years ago, getting governments to limit warming to 1.5 degrees would have been an awful prospect – who would want that much warming.  When I started working on this, it might have been possible to have no warming at all.

And if industrialised countries had actually made deep cuts in emissions when they said they would,  would we even be having an argument about equity?  Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but let’s look forward here. What’s in this agreement?

Continue reading “Paris: winners and losers”

Will the Paris agreement side with the angels?

IMG_4904One of the most beautiful things I saw on my facebook feed last week were some angels at Republique, the scene of the attacks last month. Those same angels appeared at the entrance to the UN zone at the climate talks out at Le Bourget the other day as we walked into the centre. Today it was the Greenpeace polar bear, Aurora, roaring at everyone.  But whatever is set up to amuse us  on the way in, there’s no getting around it:  we’re heading to the pointy end of the Paris agreement, and it’s no longer really about pictures. It’s all about words. The text.

I’ve been here a few times now: these last 48 hours at a climate talks where nobody gets any sleep, and everybody’s obsessed with the regular new rounds of the draft agreement.

We’ve been waiting all day:  governments battled over words all night last night, and the French Environment Minister Fabius’s team started drafting a new version of the draft agreement early this morning.

Continue reading “Will the Paris agreement side with the angels?”

1.5 to stay alive: big issues for small countries as Paris climate talks get down to nitty gritty

EiffelchairsI’ve been in Paris for over a week now, and the speed at which everything goes past, including time, is frightening.   I think the 40,000 expected have now all arrived.  I’m getting worried the only Eiffel Tower I’ll see is the one made of red folding chairs at the end of the “Champs Elysee” at the meeting.

We began last week with the Heads of State arriving and making grand statements about grandchildren, climate impacts, the importance of the issue, etc..

Arnold Schwarzenegger was here today, Richard Branson was here yesterday.  We’ve had Leo Dicaprio, Sean Penn, Al Gore, Jane Goodall, Sylvia Earle: a veritable feast of celebrity and wisdom.  Ben & Jerry’s are giving out free ice cream.

There’s been major announcements on progress from climate finance, to cities taking action, and absolutely everything and anything to do with climate change and workers, and indigenous peoples, and everything else under the sun. There’s a lot of noise, everyone trying to get their message heard.  My quote of the day today was a journalist saying “my inbox is my enemy.”

Now we’re into the second week and the French Presidency is doing its best to keep this show on the road.  After a week of officials fighting over the text, we saw the Draft Paris Outcome (note: not “agreement” but “outcome”) posted on the UNFCCC website on Saturday, and government ministers took over from officials on Sunday. Continue reading “1.5 to stay alive: big issues for small countries as Paris climate talks get down to nitty gritty”

Funding climate action: support Sarah Thomson’s judicial review of NZ climate policy

sarahaucklandmarch150Sarah Thomson, the Waikato law student who made news last month when she announced her intention to sue the New Zealand government for its weak climate targets, has launched a crowd-funding campaign to help cover the costs of a judicial review. The Give A Little campaign, created by former Hamilton City councillor Daphne Bell, launched today. At the time of writing it has already raised over $1,000.

Mrs Bell explained why she supports Sarah’s initiative:

The Give A Little page will enable the many people around the country who support her an easy and practical way to help. They include those who cheered her speeches at the climate change marches in Auckland and Hamilton, and many more around New Zealand who applaud her ground-breaking legal action.

At the Auckland climate march last month, Sarah said:

“It is young people who will pay the true cost of today’s inaction. Our government has a duty to its people, to ensure a safe place for us and our children to live. But, if they are not fulfilling that duty, it is up to us to demand action.”

Although Sarah’s lawyers are donating their time, money is still needed for the filing fee at the High Court, other legal costs and disbursements and associated costs for Sarah relating to her court action — which will be heard in Wellington. Expert witnesses already lined up to give evidence include Jim Hansen and professor Jim Renwick of VUW.

Any money not used will be kept in a solicitor’s trust account and disbursed to a registered environmental charity or charities.

If you have a few dollars to spare, why not Give A Little in a good cause? At the very least, Sarah’s action will remind John Key and new climate minister Paula Bennett that they owe a duty of care to everyone in New Zealand, not just their fossil fool friends.

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. Continue reading “A climate of Peace in Paris?”