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Friday, December 11, 2015

Elements for a global climate agreement on the table. Will Ministers deliver? Day 10 of COP21

Climate Action Network held a press conference at 11am this morning. It is obvious that all the elements for an agreement are on the table, but it is still too early to call the final outcome.

Negotiators worked overnight to get a new version of the draft text ready. But further iterations are likely.

Alix Mazounie from RAC France said, “The French presidency is seeing an unprecedented level of support, and this is important because we’ve seen how process can derail talks. But this process, however good, has not yet succeeded in dealing with all the crunch issues. The Paris ambition mechanism, the loss and damage language, and scaling up commitments by 2018—these issues all need to get sorted.

"There are still too many red lines on the table. Compromises need to be made, but there are two kinds of compromises: the ones we want and the ones we don’t. There are ones that will threaten ambition, and ones that will work to deliver the kind of deal we need.” said Mazounie.

As the final text comes closer we see the form more clearly that this is likely to be a binding agreement.

Alex Hanafi from the Environmental Defense Fund said, "The consensus is that this will be a legally binding agreement under international law. Some pieces of the agreement will be applied according to domestic laws, and that’s not unusual. The silver lining on non-binding commitments is that this allows countries to put forward stronger targets, move with stronger ambition, and bring more countries into the goal-setting process. We’ll need a solid legal foundation that locks in a rule prohibiting double-counting of emission cuts, as well as a solid legal framework for monitoring and reviewing progress—these elements are critical for a successful, transparent, and universal deal.”

Mohamed Adow from Christian Aid articulated what is needed to make this a robust and just agreement.

"This deal needs three things. It needs loss and damage, because without that, we’ll leave the more vulnerable behind. Finance, because without it, we will leave the poorest behind. Ambition, because without it, we leave everyone behind. In order for this deal to be revolutionary, it must be evolutionary. That is why the ratchet mechanism is so important. The Paris outcome needs to be able to evolve to meet the needs of a changing world. It is essential that we have a big political moment like this in 2018 to review and scale up our progress. Countries will only act if the eyes of the world are upon them." said Adow.

Two days ago at the Le Bourget conference centre civil society delegates mapped out in street theatre the essential facets needed in this agreement. These include ratcheting up pre-2020 ambition or action now (workstream 2), pre-2020 INDC reviews, pre-2020 implementation review, implementation of 5 year finance and mitigation cycle, and setting a Long Term Goal.

Petition for climate action with over 6 million signatures delivered to UN head

In other developments, former US Vice President and Chairman of The Climate Reality Project Al Gore joined the leadership of other civil society organizations in delivering a petition with more than 6.2 million signatures worldwide demanding climate action to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The petition statement reads:

World leaders are meeting to decide the future of the planet. As leaders of civil society, we are here to deliver the voices of more than 6 million people worldwide who are demanding that leaders sign a strong agreement that will shift the world away from carbon pollution and rapidly towards climate solutions.

Al Gore called for the ministers and negotiators to deliver "a truly ambitious agreement that includes a meaningful long-term goal with regular five-year updates that ratchet our commitment progressively higher and thus sets the world on the path to a clean energy economy."

"Above all, we must unite the voices of civil society around the world to deliver one simple message to our leaders: the time to act is now." said Gore, in delivering the petition. Executive Director May Boeve said “Politicians in Paris must send a clear signal they're ready to join us. Millions of us have marched in the streets and millions more will follow. We know our work for a fossil free world is just getting started."

Fossil of the Day 2nd prize to all 196 countries

I have been following Fossil of the Day, not only at this COP, but at previous COPs. It provides an accessible way to judge negotiations and which Governments are playing a destructive role and which, occasionally, are being very constructive.

Tonight ion Day 10 we had all of it. A first prize to the Umbrella Group of countries plus Europe for their lack of pre-2020 ambition. A Ray of the day to the Maldives and Philippines for walking the talk on targets, renewables and ambition. And a special 2nd prize given to all 196 countries at this conference for focusing too much on the petty distinctions and language and forgetting the big picture why we are all here: climate change affecting all life and ecosystems on the planet.

Here is the media release in full:
Today’s first place Fossil of the Day Award goes to...the EU and Umbrella Group countries (Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Kazakhstan, Norway, the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the USA). They take the prize for standing in the way of increasing ambition before 2020. If they shifted on their position, LMDCs would have to deliver on their promise to allow an opportunity to revisit all INDCs (with support) before 2020. Together these actions could help get us on track to keep warming below 2C degrees, and ideally 1.5C.

Our second place fossil award goes to all 196 countries! Yesterday in the meeting of the Committee of Paris, it did not seem like this was a negotiation for the people or for the planet but more about highlighting different short-term self-interests that governments have. Governments from across the world need to realize that this COP is an opportunity to steer the world to a fossil free future with 100 % renewable energy for all and shape the long-term future for a prosperous and safe world for all citizens rather than just their own.

The third place fossil award goes to the EU (again!) for total hypocrisy and inconsistency. The EU has been speaking against decarbonisation while at the same time putting up statements on aiming for below 1.5 °C rather than 2°C. Being in any way serious about staying even below 2°C means there is no space for any more new coal, while phasing out existing plants. The EU needs to phase out coal and focus on a just transition to renewable energy. We have heard this story a few times here in Paris and we don’t like it, not one bit.

We have a Ray of the Day award for the Maldives and the Philippines. It was extremely encouraging to hear these countries - both prominent members of the Climate Vulnerable Forum - say very clear yesterday that the Paris agreement needs to ensure countries come back to the table in 2018, ready to table new and improved targets. Otherwise we are locking a supremely insufficient level of ambition for up to 15 years and thereby closing the door on 1.5 in practice. Maldives and the Philippines - we are behind you on this one!

Holy See endorses 1.5 to stay alive

Latest news is that a total of 114 countries now endorse the inclusion of the below 1.5°C global warming target in the final Paris climate agreement. The Holy See has added it's voice to the 1.5 to stay alive.

“Free the text. Take down the brackets. We support option two [in article 2 of the Paris agreement],” said Monsignor Bernardito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio to the United Nations, referring to the section of the current negotiating text that calls to “rapidly scale up global efforts to limit temperature increase to below 1.5 °C.”

Monsignor Auza and colleagues, Paolo Conversi, the Secretariat of State, and Tebaldo Vinciguerra, of the Pontifical Council Justice and Peace, engaged in an active exchange with Secretary Nereus O. Acosta, of the Office of the President of the Philippines, and Commissioner Heherson Alvarez, of the Philippine Climate Change Commission, addressing key points in the Paris agreement and the tenets of Laudato Si, the Pope’s encyclical on climate and the environment.

“We welcome the support of the Holy See behind the overwhelming majority of parties to the UNFCCC who want to see the below 1.5 °C limit enshrined in the Paris accord,” Acosta said.

“We hope the Vatican’s position can give strength to the remaining countries hesitating to support real climate ambition. In these last hours, we are calling on all countries to stand in solidarity with billions of people alive and unborn, and to support the below 1.5°C global warming goal.” Acosta said, “We have a moral duty to keep warming to a minimum, and it is still feasible to limit warming to 1.5°C,” he added.

Activists announce escalation of mobilisations against fossil fuels

At a press conference this morning activists with, Greenpeace and other groups said that mobilisations against the fossil fuel industry will be stepped up, including peaceful direct action and civil disobedience campaign. Those who fund fossil fuels will also be targeted in the campaign.

A number of peaceful actions are being planned in Paris on Saturday, December 12, at iconic locations. One set of actions for have been organised by, Attac, Climate Games, Confédération Paysanne, Réseau Sortir du Nucléaire, Reclaim the Power, AITEC, Climate Justice Action (CJA), Climate Justice Now (CJN), Ecologistas en Acción, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJA), Réseau No Vox, Réseau-Ipam, and Solidaires. Participation in this action has required acceptance of action agreements and training which has been running over the last 2 weeks.

France is still under a State of Emergency with protest gatherings banned. While the Human Chain at Boulevard Voltaire was peaceful on November 29, a later protest at Place de la Republique was met with riot police and tear gas. Similarly, last Friday a peaceful protest of about 150 people in the regional city of Nantes was met with a violent baton charge and teargas by riot police.

Bill McKibben, founder of was at the launch, but was not on the press panel. Former chair of Friends of the Earth and now head of Health of Mother Earth Foundation Nnimmo Bassey articulated the environmental damage, he called it ecocide, that the fossil fuel sector has already inflicted in many regions including his own country of Nigeria.

Here in Paris the Climate Angels have today drawn a redline and blockaded the front doors of the headquarters of French multinational company Engie (formerly known as GDF Suez). The French state has a one third ownership of Engie. Engie is the majority owner of International Power which operates Hazelwood, Australia's and the industrial world's most polluting coal fired power station and mine.

and in Australia action was also happening...

and in Melbourne...

10 Dec 2015 Flood the System Melbourne from Kim Paul Nguyen on Vimeo.

Fighting for Climate Justice #Flood the System - Melbourne, 10 Dec 2015 from Kim Paul Nguyen on Vimeo.

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