Monday, December 17, 2018

Paris Agreement Rulebook (mostly) delivered at COP24 but ambition still lacking

Well The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Katowice - COP24 - did give us a deal, it did provide the Paris Rulebook (mostly), but it failed to substantially increase ambition.

For the moment it kept the momentum of the Paris Agreement Moment alive, despite the climate denial of the Trump administration, and despite Brazil's new President elect Jair Bolsanaro.

The negotiations were highly technical focusing on the detail of the Paris Agreement, the so called rule book for how to apply, implement and operationalize the agreement signed in Paris three years ago. The UNFCCC works by consensus by the 197 parties, so achieving agreement is always difficult, and when it gets down to the fine details even more so.

The science has become very clear that we need to rapidly act to reduce emissions, so the glacial pace of negotiations is very frustrating. Delays and incremental advancement is as good as failure.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

ALP conference acknowledges climate emergency and IPCC 1.5C report, but not the need to Stop Adani and phase out coal

Federal ALP conference has adopted a climate change motion that highlights the IPCC Special Report on 1.5C and that we are in a climate emergency. Labor MP for Batman (being renamed Cooper), Ged Kearney, moved the motion on climate change at the ALP national conference.

The contemporary challenge:

There is no longer any credible or serious scientific doubt that human-induced climate change represents a massive risk to Australia and the world. The recent IPCC report indicates that we are experiencing a climate emergency and, as a result, meaningful action on climate change is urgent, at home and internationally. Labor will take strong action on climate change to mitigate the risks and impacts of climate change on Australian society and economy, and to take advantage of the opportunities transitioning to a low pollution economy represent for workers, businesses and Australia more broadly.

The motion was carried, without a vote from the floor.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Sydney and Melbourne join Powering Past Coal Alliance at COP24

The Powering Past Coal Alliance announced on Friday that Sydney and Melbourne had joined the Alliance at an event: Accelerating the global coal transition. This follows the Australian Capital Territory joining in September 2018. Other states and businesses that joined at COP24 included Israel, Scotland, Senegal, and Scottish Power.

The Alliance, formed in Bonn in 2017 at COP23, now includes 80 members including national governments, state or regional governments, cities, and businesses.

Canada's Environment Minister Catherine McKenna Made the announcement.

Stop Adani raised at COP24 in youth climate action side event

17 year old Toby Thorpe, from Hobart, a member of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), raised the need to stop the Adani coal mine in a press conference at the United Nations Climate Conference COP14 on Thursday, as the climate conference was drawing to a conclusion.

He was one of four youth activists at this press conference speaking on the need to increase climate ambition and targets, to include climate justice in the writing and final negotiations of the Paris rulebook.

He sent a message to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to stop Adani, to stop the politicisation of acting on climate change.

"So right now I am calling on my Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, to stop politicising this issue and accept this threat to our future, and our descendants future."

Friday, December 14, 2018

Climate emergency: "We cannot solve the crisis without treating it as a crisis" Greta Thunberg warns COP24 Plenary

"You are not mature enough to tell it like it is, even that burden you leave to us children. But I don't care about being unpopular. I care about climate justice and the living planet. Our civilisation is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money."

Fifteen year old Greta Thunberg, who started 'climate fridays' and 'climate strike' outside of the Swedish parliament some 17 weeks ago, addressed the high level segment of the United Nations climate conference, COP24 on December 12. Her speech was so clear, concise and direct, Is it any wonder that she is inspiring student climate strikes around the world.

She inspired a small group of Castlemaine students to step up in Australia ion November with School strike for climate action which saw 15,000 people March in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Cairns Demanding Labor Stop Adani’s coal mine on 30 November.

She demolished the argument that just because you are small, or a country has a very small proportion of global pollution, that action should not be taken. She addressed the issues of generational theft and equity.

While not calling it an emergency, she articulated that we can't solve the crisis until we name it as such.

Greta called for us to focus on what needs to be done, not on what is politically possible.

She called to keep fossil fuels in the ground and also to do so with a focus on equity. Just Transition should be a very important part of what is done to solve the climate crisis.

She is so young to articulate cynicism at the climate talks, but they have been going for some 24 years with so little progress. She warned the plenary and the parties assembled that change is coming, whether they like it or not.

"We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. You have ignored us in the past, and you will ignore us again. We have run out of excuses and we are running out of time. We have come here to let you know that change is coming, whether you like it or not."

Pacific and Climate Vulnerable Concerns over lack of ambition at COP24 given the climate emergency

Pacific Island Nations, Least Developed Countries, and Climate Vulnerable Forum have all raised concerns over the level of ambition by the developed countries, including Australia.

While some progress appears to have been made on development of the Paris rulebook, talks appear to have reached a substantial deadlock. While some nations have lifted ambition at COP24, many are still yet to commit to increasing targets or climate action.

It should be noted the Marshall Islands has lead by example and is the first nation to submit a new more ambitious NDC to the UNFCCC on 22 November around the margin of the virtual climate summit hosted in November.

Of particular relevance to Australia is the Pacific Islands' declaration calling on all OECD countries to quickly phase out their use of coal by 2030 "There must be no expansion of existing coal mines or the creation of new mines." says the declaration.

Australia's ministerial statement by Environment Minister Melissa Price failed to address any ambition and ignored the calls to reign in coal expansion and stop the Adani Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin of Queensland.

Poland wins Colossal Fossil award of #COP24, while Pacific nations provide a Ray of Light

No surprises here that host Country Poland has received the Colossal Fossil Award of COP24 for it's behaviour incongruent with a climate change conference, including continuing emphasis on coal development, and coal company sponsorship of the COP.

What was even more concerning was the security legislation passed early this year, and it's by Polish authorities to deny entry and/or deport at least 12 members of civil society groups due to attend the UN climate talks in Poland.

Note the Amnesty International report on Poland: Arrests and Refusal of entry to environmentalists during the COP24 climate talks, which documented that at least 13 staff members and activists of environmental organizations were refused entry to Poland during the UN Conference on Climate Change, COP24, held in Katowice. In addition, three staff members of environmental organizations were questioned in their hotels about their IDs by the border police in Katowice. Two of them were arrested and detained for 12 hours.

Some consolation was provided by the awarding of a Ray of the Day, actually a Ray of the COP to Pacific Island Developing nations, specifically Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Samoa, Tuvalu, Fiji, Maldives, Tuvalu for stepping up in this pivotal moment in history (unlike some countries Cough Cough Australia.)

The official Award commendations from Climate Action Network International:

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Deciphering Australia's High Level statement to COP24 by Melissa Price

As I watched and listened to Australian Environment Minister Melissa Price statement on behalf of Australia to the High Level Segment of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, Conference of the Parties (COP24), I decided I wanted to annotate, correct falsities, mistruths or distortions and place her words into political historical context. I transcribed her speech, then circulated it inviting other people to add details. Several people did so, and I fact checked these contributions, but most of the annotation were my own.

Australia displayed a total lack of ambition, in stark contrast to quite a few other nations who made announcements of increased climate ambition actions.
  • No mention was made of the IPCC Special Report on 1.5C
  • No mention was made on the need for raising Australia's ambition in the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC)
  • No mention of lifting Australia's targets, currently rated as insufficient.
  • No mention that Climate Finance has been incorporated as part of the Foreign Aid budget which has suffered substantial real reductions over the last four years.
  • No mention was made of Australia continuing to expand coal export trade and the protests and opposition to the Adani Carmichael mine.
  • No mention of latest energy policy announced by Energy Minister Angus Taylor for Federal Government support for existing and new coal fired power stations
  • No mention that Prime Minister Scott Morrison withdrew the minimal funding support to the Green Climate Fund in October 2018.
  • Some of the actions being lauded, such as the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Government actually tried to abolish but had been stymied by a hostile Senate.
  • Use of excess Kyoto credits as carryover to meet Paris 2030 targets not ruled out

The transcription was based on the UNFCCC on-demand video of the second part of the High Level Segment conducted on Wednesday 12 December 2018. An un-annotated version of Minister Price's speech to COP24 follows at the end.

See Also Tracking Australia's Environment Minister Melissa Price at COP24

Fossil Award to Australia for not ruling out Kyoto carbon credits for Paris target use

It just wouldn't be a United Nations Climate Change conference COP in recent years without Australia at the Fossil of the Day Awards. And this year does not disappoint.

The failure to rule out use of Kyoto carbon credits to meet it's low Paris Agreement 2030 targets while demanding robust accounting and transparency is just too galling. Even best buddy New Zealand reckons, Crikey, using Kyoto credits is just too much.

And watching the Australian ambassador for the Environment on the panel of the US side-event promoting coal the other day....

As well as Australia standing back being silent over whether to 'note' or 'welcome' the IPCC Special Report on 1.5C. But hardly surprising given Environment Minister Melissa Price had rejected the findings of this report in the Australian Parliament when it was published in October.

And then there is Energy Minister Angus Taylor trying his damndest to help new coal fired power into the Australian grid, when firmed renewables are already a far cheaper option.

Or Prime Minister Scott Morrison telling students striking over climate change to be 'less activist', and Resources Minister Matt Canavan saying a student climate strike would lead to the dole queue, none of which deterred tens of thousands of students from joining protests around Australia organised by School Strike for climate action.

All this while Australia abolished a perfectly good carbon pricing scheme in 2014, to produce record rising emissions over the last 4 years.

So give it up for the return of Australia at COP24.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Climate policies on the rise globally, but ambition level still lacking

The latest assessment of country emissions and climate policies aggregated globally shows that there is still a substantial gap to meet, according to Climate Analytics, who have been analysing and tracking country climate policies and global emissions for the last decade on their Climate Action Tracker website.

If all governments achieve their largely insufficient climate targets, the world will see 3.0˚C of warming by 2100, twice the 1.5˚C limit they agreed in Paris three years ago their latest analysis shows. This analysis does not include the potential for climate feedbacks and tipping points in the climate system that might boost the level of global warming to 'Hothouse Earth' conditions (Study).

Current Government pledges in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) would lead to warming of 3.3˚C.

If governments were to implement the planned or additional policies they have in the pipeline, warming would also be limited to 3.0°C by 2100.