21st Conference of the Parties on Climate

UNFCCC COP 21/ CMP 11.  30 Nov – 11 Dec, 2015

Has Paris found the magic bullet for climate change? It looks that way. In Copenhagen, no one agreed. In Paris, however, over 150 countries will sign an historic Climate Protocol. They say the world will change track from 4.5°C to under 3°C. And according to Christiana Figueres, the UN climate chief, that’s just a down payment. It’s like starting a trip from Chicago to New York, she says; you don’t get there on the first step, but we are well on our way.

But we’re puzzled. Why didn’t anyone think of this 20 years ago? Just let everyone sign up to do whatever they want, and make sure there are no consequences if they don’t. Everyone will be happy. But will this really get countries to do more than they would have done otherwise? The EU and the UN have done the calculations and say, “Yes, they will do more.” But let’s look more closely. Perhaps, the politicians and negotiators just want to look like heroes instead of looking like schmucks, as they did in Copenhagen. It’s best to keep our eyes open:

  1. Why does Christiana say, “No one’s doing this to save the planet, it’s just self-interest”?
  2. Why is China’s domestic energy policy the same as their climate policy?
  3. Why does India want $2,500,000,000 to keep its pledge?
  4. How does the UN calculate the impact of INDCs without asking what would happen without them?
  5. Why does the UN Newsroom say INDCs keep the door open to 2⁰C, when the UN scientists say INDCs make that next to impossible?
  6. Why does Christiana say she will “chop off the head” of anyone that asks why we are going to miss the 2C target?

Here’s why we’re worried: Figueres tells us the INDCs are pure self-interest, and it looks like it’s almost that bad. China is just fixing its smog problem. India wants $2.5 trillion to meet its pledge. Republican’s will limit the US to its self-interest.

  • This still looks good for three main reasons:
    • China’s smog problem put a limit on their coal binge.
    • Trillions of $$ would enable optimistic INDCs.
    • Some countries just over-promise—there’s no penalty.
  • But the UN scientists tell us that by 2030, the 2°C goal will be far more difficult and costly to reach.
  • So the real climate problem—how to get countries to cooperate and do more than narrow self-interest, has just been postponed and made much harder in 2030.

The science of cooperation actually explains how to break through the narrow self-interest barrier, but Figueres has banned any discussion of it in Paris. And 2030 will be too late.

Official Sites:

Paris Conference, 2015: UNFCCC site,  French site, Practical FAQs,

Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform (ADP)

Bonn conference, Oct 2015 & draft agreement

News Sites:

EurActive: Climate & Environment

The Guardian: Climate Change

US Clmate Network: Recent International Climate Negotiations

From our news blog:

Christiana Figueres takes swipe at Barack Obama

Nov 4, 2015. "China is now leading the world when it comes to fighting climate change – handily beating the US’s efforts under Barack Obama," said Figueres, according to the Guardian.

This is not just mean-spirited, but also highly misleading. Between 2000 and 2014 China increased its CO2 emissions 178% while the US decreased its emissions by 6%. China's CO2 emissions per capita are triple (2.95) those of the US. And China is now causing [Read more...]

UN Newsroom Distorts UN Findings on INDCs

Oct 30, 2015. Today (2015/10/30) the UN released its report on the aggregate effect of INDCs. The findings are inconclusive, and not very optimistic, so the Newsroom did its best to spin them. For example, it reported:

One of the key findings is that the INDCs will bring global average emissions per capita down by as much as 8% in 2025 and 9% in by 2030.

But if the report says that those are changes starting in 1990, so the 8% and 9% are mainly not due to INDCs, but happened earlier. In fact, the improvement from 1990 until 2010 was 4% and from 2010 to 2030 was 5%. So it appears [Read more...]

Paris Climate Improvement Is Overstated

Oct 19, 2015. Many news stories have reported that because of the climate pledges made for the Paris climate conference, the world will warm by 3°C instead of by 5°C. This comes from a report of the EU Commission. But that report does not say 5°C, it says 3.8 – 4.7°C, which is 4.25°C on average. But even this value is too high.

This high starting value is what would happen with "No Policy." That means incentives for renewables or energy conservation. But consider China. They have said that without any consideration of climate they would have done exactly the same [Read more...]

UN releases new negotiating text

Oct 5, 2015. The 5 October version of the text is available here.

The text mentions that financing could be more than the $100 billion per year already promised by 2020, coming from both public and private sources.

Countries would be required to communicate their emissions goals every five years, a process seen as crucial to implementing an agreement. [Read more...]



From the mouths of babes...



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  • Don Morgan
    commented 2015-11-07 11:35:35 -0800
    We need a change at this conference!
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