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human activity and the destruction of the planet


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Wildfires and record temperatures in Siberia

From the Editorial Board of the Financial Times – 26.6.20

Siberia is one of the coldest inhabited places in the world. But a few days ago, the small Russian town of Verkhoyansk recorded a temperature of 38°C. It was a record high temperature locally and, probably also, for the Arctic Circle. What made the heatwave all the more alarming, however, is that we have been warned that, if the Siberian permafrost were to melt, huge amounts of carbon dioxide and methane would be released into the atmosphere, accelerating global warming.

This year, much of Siberia has been experiencing unusual heat. In May, surface temperatures in parts of the vast Russian region were up to 10°C above average. The immediate consequences have been the melting of ice and snow, outbreaks of large wildfires and a thawing permafrost. The high temperatures, together with above-average heat elsewhere, ensured that May 2020 tied with 2016 as the warmest May on record.

permafrost

Map showing the large area of permafrost in Siberia (dark blue)

 

siberian heat wave

Map showing the area of the 2020 Siberian heat wave

The central aim of the 2015 Paris agreement on climate is to keep global warming well below 2°C. Combating climate change is a global effort but the evidence that any concerted action is being taken is slim. There are concerns that the world’s two largest polluters, China and the US, will both fail to curb their emissions. In the US, President Donald Trump’s administration is preparing to withdraw formally from the Paris accord in November. China is already showing signs that the need to stimulate its economy after the coronavirus pandemic is proving greater than a desire to use more low-carbon energy sources. The country is approving plans for new coal power plant capacity at the fastest rate since 2015.

Europe is proving the exception. Here, the European Commission has put climate programmes at the heart of its €1.85tn economic recovery effort. The problem is that a “green” Europe alone will not be enough to combat climate change. Just over 9 per cent of world emissions come from Europe, compared with China’s share of more than 24 per cent. Given what is at stake, the size of the challenge should not be a deterrent for action. There is some scope for optimism. The scale of the energy transition taking place among the oil majors — BP being the latest example — is testament to the progress being made at the sharp end of the climate debate.

There is also evidence that investing in climate change does not have to come at the expense of sustainable economic growth. A recent analysis conducted by the International Energy Agency, together with the IMF, outlined a broad shift to clean power and new investments in areas such as electric vehicles. The plan, which would cost $1tn annually, would create 9m jobs a year and help to cut annual greenhouse gas emissions by 4.5bn tonnes once implemented. Policymakers should not ignore the warnings, or the opportunity. Decisions made today will determine not just the future of Siberia but that of the rest of the planet.

See also another report posted elsewhere in this website under 2019.



 


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Kyoto Protocol’s second phase emissions on target – but don’t celebrate just yet!

This post is copied from the website of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and is encouraging news, though do note the sentences below in bold, which sound a note of caution.  Please note also that several significant countries did not sign up to the Kyoto Protocol and these are some of the worst polluters (eg USA; Canada; Russia; Japan).

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The report from the UNFCCC (released June 2020):

https://unfccc.int/news/kyoto-s-second-phase-emission-reductions-achievable-but-greater-ambition-needed

A new UN Climate Change assessment shows that greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions of 18% compared to 1990 levels under the Kyoto Protocol’s second phase seem fully achievable and likely to be exceeded.

The Protocol’s second phase, called the second commitment period, was established by means of the Doha Amendment in 2012 and runs from 2013 – 2020. The Amendment strengthened quantified emission limitation or reduction commitments for developed countries and set a goal of reducing GHG emissions by 18% compared to 1990 levels.

The assessment of the latest information received from Parties with commitments under the Doha Amendment (Annex B Parties), based on data for the period 1990-2018, shows that total aggregate GHG emissions in 2018 were 25.3% lower than in 1990.

Annex 1 emissions trends

Moreover, if current annual average emissions of Annex B Parties (amounting to 5,696 Mt CO2eqin the period 2013–2018) remain at this level for 2019 and 2020, the emission reduction target of 18% could be further exceeded.

Assigned amount vs cumulative emissions

“While the results of this assessment are very encouraging, they only apply to a group of some 37 countries that agreed to emission reduction targets under the Doha Amendment,” said Ms. Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change. “Globally however, emissions have been rising, which clarifies the urgent need for greater ambition,” she added.

This year is critical with respect to climate change ambition as 2020 is the year in which Parties will submit their new or updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

NDCs are at the heart of the Paris Climate Change Agreement and embody efforts by each country to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. Each NDC reflects the country’s ambition, taking into account its domestic circumstances and capabilities.

“The submission of new or updated NDCs represents an important opportunity for all countries to raise their ambition and to put the entire world onto a reduced emissions pathway,” said Ms. Espinosa.

“The current global emissions pathway would likely result in an increase of global average temperatures of 3C or more,” she explained. “This would be significantly higher than the temperature limits of less than 2C and as close to 1.5C as possible as contained in the Paris Agreement – hence the urgent need for greater ambition.” 

The assessment under the Doha Amendment revealed that the GHG reductions have generally been achieved through national mitigation actions.

“This shows the potential of consistently implementing climate change policies and actions at the national level. Through the NDC process, countries have the opportunity to further advance climate policies and actions, and to ratchet them up over time” Ms. Espinosa underlined.

The new figures present themselves without the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol having officially entered into force and the commitments thus having become legally binding. To date, 138 of the needed 144 instruments of acceptance to enter the amendment into force have been received.

Ms. Espinosa said: “The United Nations is actively engaging with countries to encourage governments to ratify the Doha Amendment as soon as possible. The amendment’s entry into force would be a valuable signal of a unified, multilateral commitment to the fight against climate change”.

The Kyoto Protocol, which took effect in 2005, sets binding emission reduction targets for developed countries. Its first commitment period ran from 2008-2012 and set an average reduction target of 5% compared to 1990 levels.

During this time, the emissions of the 37 developed countries that had reduction targets declined by more than 22% compared to 1990, far exceeding the initial target of 5% compared to 1990.

The Protocol thus clearly plays a key part in reaching the objective of the UN Climate Change Convention, namely to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations and reduce the consequences of climate change.



 


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Australia is burning: is this a portent of what is to come?

As our hearts go out to the people of Australia, as they battle with unprecedented and devastating fires across the country, with lives lost, as well as homes and a billion of their unique marsupial and other wildlife species being burnt to death, I have to ask the question:

Is this one of the first of many such events that we are going to witness over the next decades?  Is this going to be the face of the effects of climate change in the future?  Are we going to witness even more harrowing events and deaths across the world?

AustralianBushfire

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Photographs from Australia during the fires in recent weeks

wombat after fire

Animals that survive the fires, like this wombat pictured in New South Wales, will struggle to find food and shelter

How much more dreadful is it going to become globally, as we see multiple fires, floods, hurricanes, monsoons, high temperatures, coastal erosion and mass loss of species? Ecologists are already saying that they fear two rare species (found only on Kangaroo Island, to the south of Australia), may have been wiped out in the recent fires.  These include a small mouse-like marsupial, called a dunnart, and glossy black cockatoos. See:

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/empowering-the-planet/australia-wildfires-entire-species-may-have-been-wiped-out-by-inferno-conservationists-say/ar-BBYDoQk?ocid=spartandhp

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The endangered marsupial: Kangaroo Island Dunnart

See also: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/04/ecologists-warn-silent-death-australia-bushfires-endangered-species-extinction

An article in Nature, by an Australian ecologist Michael Clarke, describes the aftermath of such terrible fires.  He says,

“It is deathly silent when you go into a forest after a fire. Apart from the ‘undertakers’ — the carrion eaters like currawongs, ravens and shrike-thrushes — picking off the dead bodies, there’s nothing much left in the forest. It’s a chilling experience.

For survivors, it’s a perilous existence in the months that follow. Any animal that manages to make it through the fire uninjured faces three major challenges. One is finding shelter from climatic extremes — places they can hide from bad weather, like a hollow tree or a hole in the ground. The second is the risk of starvation. And third, they’ve got to avoid predators like feral cats and foxes. They’re exposed; there’s nowhere to hide in a barren landscape.

Even if an animal makes it to an unburnt patch, the density of organisms trying to eke out a living will be way beyond the area’s carrying capacity. After fires in 2007, one unburnt patch I visited in the Mallee [a region in the far north of Victoria] was literally crawling with birds, all chasing one another, trying to work out who owned the last little bit of turf. It was clearly insufficient to sustain them all.

Animals like koalas that live above ground in small, isolated populations and that have a limited capacity to flee or discover unburnt patches of forest are in all sorts of trouble. During past fires, we’ve seen some really surprising creative behaviours, like lyrebirds and wallabies going down wombat burrows to escape fire. But a large majority of animals are simply incinerated. Even really big, fast-flying birds like falcons and crimson rosellas can succumb to fire.

Some animals are more resilient to fire than others. The best adapted are those that can get underground. Termite colonies happily hum along underneath these all-consuming fires. Burrow-dwelling lizards are similar.”

See: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00043-2

michaelClarke

Professor Michael Clarke



 

Australia is not alone in facing wildfires. In 2018, a similar thing happened in California.  The 2018 wildfire season was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire season ever recorded in California, with a total of 8,527 fires burning an area of 1,893,913 acres (766,439 ha), the largest area of burned acreage recorded in a fire season, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) and the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), as of December 21. Through to the end of August 2018, Cal Fire alone spent $432 million on operations. As of May 2019, insurance claims related to this fire season had reached $12 billion, most related to the Camp Fire, in Butte County (see Wikipedia). And wildfires happened in Europe too.

In India, from June to September 2019, the country received the highest amount of monsoonal rain in the past 25 years. According to the India Meteorological Department, those rains are not expected to retreat until at least October 10th, which would be the latest withdrawal of the monsoon in the country’s recorded history.

indian monsoon floods

2019 monsoon flooding in India

According to Wikepedia, climate change in China is having major effects on the economy, society and the environment. The energy structure and human activities caused global warming and climate change, and China suffered from negative effects of global warming in agriculture, forestry and water resources.

Beijing-Smog

Photograph taken in Beijing, China, where smog pollution reaches 24 times the WHO recommended safe level and children are kept from attending school as a result.

I have chosen to mention these three countries – Australia, India and China – because they were exempted from the UN Kyoto Protocol agreement, because at that time, they pleaded that they were only just beginning to industrialise and needed to be given a chance to compete with industrialised countries. This chance was given and, now, they have become amongst the highest polluting countries in the world, with China in the lead, despite its intentions to tackle climate change.  Ironic, isn’t it?

It’s easy to criticise with hindsight but I believe the UNFCCC should have had the confidence to stand firm over the Kyoto Protocol.  Because of this, many countries (including the USA – another high polluter) did not ratify it.

I came across an interesting graph a few months ago, which shows that carbon emissions have continued to climb, despite UN efforts and agreements: Rio, Kyoto and Paris and beyond.  The dates of these initiatives is marked on an ever-upwardly climbing graph of global carbon emissions.

cemissionsgraph

As I’ve watched the events of this summer unfolding, I’ve found myself wondering whether the Earth system has now breached a tipping point, an irreversible shift in the stability of the planetary system.

There may now be so much heat trapped in the system that we may have already triggered a domino effect that could unleash a cascade of abrupt changes that will continue to play out in the years and decades to come.

Rapid climate change has the potential to reconfigure life on the planet as we know it.

 

However, I believe that global warming and climate change will have multiple effects across the world; some of it will be related to food scarcity but the other effects will be more random: fires, floods, hurricanes, heat stroke, coastal erosion and the loss of islands, as well as land in low-lying countries. And, of course, the disappearance of many iconic species of wildlife. And, as a Biologist and an animal lover, I feel enormous grief over this devastating loss – and I know that I am not the only one.

Unless huge co-operative efforts are made to limit the burning of fossil fuels, the future looks bleak for all of us, including some of the wonderful and unique species with whom we share this planet. If we are seeing these effects with just 1 degree of global warming, what will it be like at 1.5 degrees, 2 degrees or even higher?  Three degrees and above are predicted if carbon emissions do not start to fall in the very near future.



 


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UK business giants put fresh pressure on government over net-zero

A coalition of 128 UK-based businesses, industry networks and investors to have written to Ministers demanding that a net-zero target for 2050 is legislated “immediately”. The coalition includes BT, Coca-Cola European Partners and Sainsbury’s.

A letter was sent to Prime Minister Theresa May on 31st May.  The group was convened by The Confederation of British Industry (CBI), The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG), the Aldersgate Group, and the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC).

Collectively, the letter’s 128 signatories represent more than seven million workers, as well as £20trn in assets under management across 190,000 businesses.

It calls on the Government to adopt the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC’s) recommendations on legislating for a net-zero carbon economy by 2050 in full, with immediate effect.

“By being the first major economy to legislate an ambitious, domestically achieved net-zero target supported by a comprehensive policy package, the UK can show leadership on a global level while strengthening the UK economy,” the letter states.

“This action would position the country as a strong host, as the UK bids for hosting COP26 – a critical moment in global action to tackle climate change and an opportunity to leave a legacy of clean growth across the UK. However, the credibility of a net-zero target relies on it being rapidly underpinned by a robust set of policies.”

The letter points out that many of its signatories have aligned themselves with the Paris Agreement, either by setting science-based emissions targets or pledging to achieve net-zero by mid-century, and urges the Government to follow suit. This move, the letter states, would help businesses deliver the “innovation and investment required” for a zero-carbon economy while ensuring that the low-carbon transition is “delivered fairly”.

Increasing pressure

Today’s letter is one of many to have been sent by businesses to policymakers to demand net-zero legislation since last October, when the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its landmark report on climate change. Last November, the bosses of Anglian Water, Coca-Cola European Partners, Danone, IAG, Interface, Scottish Power, Signify UK & Ireland, SSE, Thames Water Utilities and Unilever sent such a document to May’s office, while similar requests have also been penned to EU leaders.

The push for net-zero legislation has also been coming from MPs, with a group of more than 100 from across all major parties requesting pre-2050 climate-neutral policies before the IPCC even published its findings. Calls from the general public are additionally mounting, with the main demand of protestors during London’s recent Extinction Rebellion activism being net-zero by 2025 for the UK.

This week has seen a strengthening of these demands on May, who steps down from her post on 7 June after announcing her resignation last week. In tandem with the letter from the business community, a group of leading scientists has written to the Prime Minister arguing that her “legacy” could – and should – be the passing of net-zero legislation, rather than her failure to pass a Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

Responding to the letters, a Government spokesperson said that a decision on the CCC’s recommendation will be made “in a timeframe which reflects the urgency of the issue”.

See:   https://www.edie.net/news/9/UK-business-giants-put-fresh-pressure-on-government-over-net-zero/



 


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Global Pact for the Environment

One of the things I discuss in my book is the need for global co-operation to implement the changes that are needed to reduce carbon emissions and global warming and to save the planet. A new initiative by a panel of international jurists seems to be taking the first steps to bring this about, by looking at the legal aspects of such co-operation.

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See: http://pactenvironment.org/



Text of a letter published in the Guardian on 9th October 2018 to draw attention to the pact:

The Time is now for a global pact for the Environment

“On 10 April 2018, the United Nations general assembly adopted a resolution that paved the way for negotiations on a global pact for the environment. This international treaty would combine the guiding legal principles for environmental action into one single and far-reaching text. In 2015, the adoption of the sustainable development goals and the Paris climate agreement represented major progress. However, environmental damage persists and is more serious than ever before. The years 2017 and 2018 have seen record-breaking temperatures. Biodiversity continues to decline at a rapid pace.

With the global pact for the environment, the international community would be equipped for the first time with a treaty of a general nature that covers all environmental areas. It would be the cornerstone of international environmental law, therefore overseeing the different existing sectoral agreements (climate, biodiversity, waste, pollution, etc), filling the gaps and facilitating their implementation.

The treaty would gather principles found in key national and international texts, giving them legal value. Each state legislator would find references to the adoption of more robust environmental laws. The supreme courts would draw from it as a common source of inspiration to build the foundations for global environmental law. Citizens and NGOs would see their environmental rights strengthened while businesses would benefit from the harmonisation of the rules of the game.

While we celebrate the 70-year anniversary of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the moment has come for a new chapter in the history of international law. We are calling for the adoption of a third pact, enshrining a new generation of fundamental commitments: the rights and duties of states, public and private entities, and individuals relating to environmental protection.”

131 Signatories to the letter:

List of signatories of the Jurists Call for a Global Environment Pact for the Environment (131 jurists) Paris October 9, 2018

Yann Aguila, President of the Environment Commission of the Club des juristes, Antonio Herman Benjamin, Justice at the National High Court of Brazil, Chair of the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law, Laurent Fabius, former President of the COP 21, Bruce Ackerman, Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science, Yale Law School, Laurence Boisson de Chazournes, Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Geneva, David Boyd, Professor of Law, Policy and Sustainable Development, University of British Columbia, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, Lord Robert Carnwath, Justice UK Supreme Court, Parvez Hassan, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of Pakistan Chairman Emeritus IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law, Marie
Jacobsson, former Member of the UN International Law Commission and Special Rapporteur, Donald Kaniaru, former Director of Environmental Implementation at UNEP, Swatanter Kumar, former Judge at the Supreme Court of India, former Chairperson of the Indian National Green Tribunal, Luc Lavrysen, Judge at the Constitutional Court of Belgium, President of the European forum of Judges for the
Environment, Professor of Environmental Law, Ghent University, Pilar Moraga Sariego, Professor at Environmental Law Center of Faculty of Law, University of Chile, Head of the Human Dimension research line of the Center for Climate and Resilience Research (CR)2, Tianbao Qin, Professor at the Wuhan University, Secretary General of Chinese Society of Environment and Resources Law, Nicholas A. Robinson, Professor at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law, Pace University, Executive Governor, International Council of Environmental Law (ICEL), Jorge E. Vinuales, Harold Samuel Chair of Law and
Environmental Policy Fellow of C-EENRG Fellow of Clare College, University of Cambridge, Chairman of the Compliance Committee of the UNECE/WHO-Europe Protocol on Water and Health, Margaret Young, Associate Professor, Melbourne Law School, Pauline Abadie, Lecturer, University Paris Saclay, Domenico Amirante, Full Professor of Comparative Law and Environmental Law, Director of the PhD School in Human Sciences, University “Luigi Vanvitelli”, Marisol Angles Hernandez, Full-time researcher
at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Institute for Legal Research, Dr. Virginie Barral, Associate Professor in International Law, University of Hertfordshire, Mishig Batsuuri, Presiding Justice of Chamber for Administrative Cases, The Supreme Court of Mongolia, Ben Boer, Distinguished Professor, Research Institute of Environmental Law, Wuhan University, Emeritus Professor, University of Sydney, former Deputy Chair, IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law (2012-2016), Klaus
Bosselmann, Professor, University of Auckland, Chair, IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law Ethics Specialist Group, Chair, Ecological Law and Governance Association, Simone Borg, Legal Expert in International Law, President of the Institute for Climate Change and Sustainable Development, Head of the Department of Environmental and Resources Law, Professor of International Law, University of
Malta, Ioana Botezatu, International Civilian – Environmental Safety, Michael Bothe, Professor Emeritus of Public Law, J.W. Goethe University Frankfurt/Main, former President, European Environmental Law Association, former Vice-Chair, IUCN Commission for Environmental Law, former Secretary General, German Society for Environmental Law, Thomas Boudreau, Ph.D. Interdisciplinary Professor Salisbury
University Maryland, Edith Brown Weiss, Francis Cabell Brown Professor of International Law, Georgetown Law, Soukaina Bouraoui, Director of the Centre of Arab Women for Training & Research, Stefano Burchi, Chairman of the Executive Council International Association for Water Law, Mingde Cao, Professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, Joëlle Casanova, former Director of legal and administrative affairs, Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, Fernando Carillo Florez, Inspector Attorney General of Colombia, Nathalie Chalifour, Associate Professor, Center for
Environmental Law and Global Sustainability, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, Leila
Chikhaoui, Professor of Public Law, University of Tunis, Member of the Tunisian provisional Constitutional court, Dino Bellorio Clabot, Dean of the University of Belgrano, Professor of Environmental Law, Sarah H. Cleveland, Louis Henkin Professor of Human and Constitutional Rights, Columbia Law School, Marie-Anne Cohendet, Constitutional expert, Professor of Public Law, Sorbonne Law School, University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Bradly Condon, Professor, Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico (ITAM), founding Director of the Centre of International Economic Law, Carina Costa De Oliveira, Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Brasilia, Neil Craik, Associate Professor of Law, University of Waterloo, Luca D’Ambrosio, Research Fellow at the Collège de France, Peter Darak, President of the Curia of Hungary, Pierre D’Argent, Professor of international law, Catholic University of Louvain, Associate Member of the Institute of International Law, Carlos De Miguel Perales, Lawyer, Professor, Faculty of Law, Pontificia Comillas University (ICADE), Madrid, Olivier De Schutter, Professor, Catholic University of Louvain and the College of Europe, Member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Dr. Bharat H. Desai, Professor of International Law, Chair in International Environmental Law, Chairman, Center for International Legal Studies,
University of Jawaharlal Nehru, Leila Devia, Professor of Environmental Law, Universities of Salvador and of Buenos Aires, Director of the Basel Regional Center in South America, Stéphane Doumbé-Billé, Professor, University of Jean-Moulin Lyon, Geneviève Dufour, Professor at the University of Sherbrooke, President of the Quebec International Law Society, President of the francophone network for International Law, Wolfgang Durner, Professor, Institute for Public Law, University of Bonn, LeslieAnne
Duvic Paoli, Lecturer, The Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London, Jonas Ebbesson, Professor of Environmental Law, Director Stockholm Environmental Law and Policy Centre, Department of Law, Stockholm University, Daniel C. Esty, Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law & Policy, Yale University, Alexandre Faro, Lawyer at the Paris Bar, Michael Faure, Professor of Comparative and International Environmental Law, Maastricht University, Professor of Comparative Private Law and Economics, Institute of Law and Economics (RILE), Erasmus University, Rotterdam, Wahid
Ferchichi, Associate Professor of Law, University of Carthage, Rosario Ferrara, Professor, LUISS University, Roma, Liz Fisher, Professor of Environmental Law, Faculty of Law & Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford, Dan Galpern, Attorney at law, Eugene, Oregon, Patrícia Galvão Teles, Member of the UN International Law Commission, Professor of International Law at the Autonomous University of Lisbon, Senior Legal Consultant on International Law at the Legal Department of the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maria Gavouneli, Associate Professor of International Law, National &
Kapodistrian University of Athens, Jan Glazewski, Professor in the Institute of Marine and Environmental Law, University of Cape Town, former Advisor to the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Juan Manuel Gomez Robledo, member of the UN International Law Commission, Jenny Hall, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Johannesburg, Paule Halley, Professor, Lawyer, Canada Research Chair in Environmental Law, Faculty of Law, Laval University, Quebec, Delphine Hedary, former Head of
the preparation of the Environmental Charter, former President of the General Assembly for the Modernization of Environmental Law, Joel Hernandez, Member of the Inter American Commission on Human Rights, Isabel Hernandez San Juan, Professor of Administrative Law Carlos III de Madrid University, Davide Jr. Hilario G., former Chief Justice of the Philippines, former Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, Angel Horna, Peruvian diplomat and public international lawyer, Harold Hongju Koh, Sterling Professor of International Law, Yale Law School, former Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State (2009-2013), Océni Hounkpatin Amoussa, Jurist in
Environmental Law, President of the African Jurists for the Environment Association, Maria Ivanova, Associate Professor of Global Governance and Director, Center for Governance and Sustainability, John McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston, Maria Magdalena Kenig-Witkowska, Professor of legal sciences, University of Warsaw, Yann Kerbrat, Professor, Sorbonne Law School, University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Director of the Sorbonne Research Institute of International and European Law, Louis J. Kotze, Research Professor
North-West University, South Africa, Marie Curie Research Fellow, University of Lincoln, United Kingdom, Pascale Kromarek, Lawyer, Sophie Lavallée, Professor, Lawyer, Faculty of Law, Laval University, Quebec, Marja-Liisa Lehto, member of the UN International Law Commission, Special Rapporteur on Protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts, Qingbao Li, Professor, University of North China Electric Power, Ibrahima Ly, Associate Professor of Public Law and Political Science, Director of the Laboratory for Studies and Research in Politics, Environmental and Health Law,
Faculty of Juridical and Political Sciences, University Cheikh Anta Diop Dakar, Sébastien Mabile, Lawyer, Doctor of Law, President of the Law and Environmental Policies Commission of IUCN France, Luis Fernando Macias Gomez, Environmental Law Attorney, President of the Colombian Institute of Environmental Law and Sustainable Development, Sandrine Maljean-Dubois, Research Director at CNRS, Director of the mixed research unit International, Comparative and European Law, Professor of
International Law, University of Aix-Marseille, Gilles J. Martin, Professor Emeritus, University Côte d’Azur, CNRS, GREDEG, Benoit Mayer, Assistant Professor, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Mohamed Ali Mekouar, Vice-President of the International Center for Comparative Environmental Law, Shinya Murase, Member and Special Rapporteur of the UN International Law Commission, Bouchra Nadir, Professor, Mohammed V University of Rabat, Martin Ndende, Professor, University of Nantes,
Senior Legal Advisor at the UN, Laurent Neyret, Professor, University of Versailles Paris Saclay, Nilufer Oral, Professor, Faculty of Law, Istanbul Bilgi University, Member of the UN International Law Commission, Hermann E. Ott, Professor, Head of the ClientEarth Berlin Office, Hassan Ouazzani Chahdi, Member of the UN International Law Commission, Luciano Parejo Alfonso, Administrative Law Professor Emeritus Carlos III de Madrid University, Teresa Parejo Navajas, Associate Professor of Law Carlos III de Madrid University, Senior Advisor UN SDSN, Cymie Payne, Associate Professor, Rutgers
University, Alain Pellet, Professor Emeritus, University Paris Nanterre, former Chairperson, UN International Law Commission, President, French Society for International Law, Member, Institute of International Law, Michel Prieur, President of the International Center for Comparative Environmental Law, Fabienne Quillere Majzoub, Professor, IODE-CNRS UMR 6262, University of Rennes 1, Lavanya
Rajamani, Professor, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, Rama S. Rao, former Director of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Yvan Razafindratandra, Environmental Affairs Advisor, Vincent Reberyrol, Professor of Law, EM Lyon Business School, Eckard Rehbinder, Professor Emeritus of economic and environmental law, Research Centre for Environmental Law, Goethe University Frankfurt, former member and chair of the German Advisory Council on the Environment, former Regional Governor of the International Council of Environmental Law (ICEL), José Luis Rey Pérez, Ph. D. Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Pontificia Comillas, Madrid, Carol Rose, Gordon Bradford Tweedy Professor Emeritus of Law and Organization, Professorial Lecturer in Law, Yale Law School, Susan Rose-Ackerman, Henry R. Luce Professor of Law and Political Science, Emerita, Yale Law School, Montserrat Rovalo Otero, Professor of Environmental Law, National Autonomous University of
Mexico, Douglas A. Ruley, General Counsel, ClientEarth, Gilberto Saboia, Member of the UN International Law Commission, Lisa Sachs, Director, Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, Columbia Law School, James Salzman, Bren Distinguished Professor of Environmental Law, UCLA Law School, Borja Sánchez Barroso, Professor, University of Pontificia Comillas, Madrid, Dr. Meinhard Schröder, Professor, Institute for Environmental and Technology Law, Trier University, Tullio Scovazzi,
Professor of International Law, University of Milan-Bicocca, Tim Stephens, Professor of International Law and ARC Future Fellow, University of Sydney Law School, Marcin Stoczkiewicz, Senior Lawyer, Head of Central & Eastern Europe, ClientEarth, Hennie Strydom, Professor, University of Johannesburg, President of the South African Branch of the International Law Association (ILA), Sophie Thériault, Associate Professor, Civil Law Section, University of Ottawa, Patrick Thieffry, Lawyer at the Paris and New York Bars, Associate Professor at the Sorbonne Law School, James Thornton, Founding CEO of
ClientEarth, Amado Jr. Tolentino, Professor of Environmental Law, Philippines, François-Guy Trebulle, Professor, University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Director of the Sorbonne Law School, Eduardo Valencia Ospina, Chair, International Law Commission of the United Nations, Canfa Wang, Professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, Director of the Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims (CLAPV), Gerd Winter, Research Professor for Environmental Law Research Unit for European Environmental Law (FEU), University of Bremen, Guillerma Yanguas Montero, Spanish Judge, Doctor in Law, Jinfeng Zhou, Secretary General of China Biodiversity
Conservation and Green Development Foundation, Vice Chairman of World Green Design Organization.

Full details of a draft Global Environmental Pact for the Environment, written in ten different languages, can be found at: http://pactenvironment.org/

visuel-projet-en-220x300



There have been discussions about whether such a pact is workable, such as the following:

The Global Pact for the Environment continues to raise questions about ways to harmonize it with the current international rules, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, commenting on Russia’s decision to vote against a resolution to take steps toward establishing the pact.“The idea to draw up such a pact initially caused serious concern to us and a number of other countries, raising questions about ways to combine the new document with international law,” the statement reads. “In this regard, we called for adopting a balanced approach to the process of drawing up the document, refraining from hasty decisions and providing countries with an opportunity to make sure this initiative is feasible. Unfortunately, our concerns were not taken into consideration,” the Russian Foreign Ministry added.
At the same time, the statement emphasized Russia’s commitment to the implementation of international environmental agreements it took part in. “We believe that ensuring the timely and effective implementation of goals enshrined in relevant documents to be a top priority,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
France presented the Global Pact for the Environment to the United Nations General Assembly in September 2017. The document calls for protecting nature and preserving it for the future generations.
The Global Pact particularly provides for liability for polluting environment, emphasizes the need to ensure access to necessary information about that and creating conditions for judicial procedures. However, the document does not define any mechanisms to achieve these goals, reports TASS.”

See: http://greenwatchbd.com/global-pact-for-environment-raises-questions-russian-foreign-ministry/

 



 


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FT: Shinzo Abe has called on all countries to join Japan to “act now to save our planet”

This piece is copied with acknowledgments to both the Financial Times, for whom Japanese PM, Shinzo Abe wrote a recent groundbreaking article, and to the editor (BP) of

https://preparingforgovernment.wordpress.com/2018/09/25/ft-shinzo-abe-has-called-on-all-countries-to-join-japan-and-act-now-to-save-our-planet/

for giving me permission to use her piece taken from the FT article, to which she added illustrations and emphases:

In the Financial Times, he writes:

The summer of 2018 broke meteorological records, devastating entire regions along the coast of western Japan. There were unprecedented levels of rain, heat, landslides and hurricanes. 

The country’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has called on all countries to join Japan and act now to save our planet. In the Financie writes:

This summer western Japan was battered by the strongest typhoon to hit the country in 25 years. Unprecedented torrential rain and landslides ravaged the residents of western Japan this summer, killing more than 200 people, and ruining hundreds of thousands of livelihoods.

Roads are cut off by a mudslide at a section of the Kyushu Expressway in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture (all pictures and emphases added)

Meanwhile, severe scorching heatwaves struck the country and resulted in approximately 160 deaths. Fierce heat also gripped North America and Europe, and hurricanes and typhoons hit the US and Philippines.

Global warming increases carbon dioxide and acidifies the ocean, damaging its ability to self-purify. Even worse, proliferating marine plastic pollution threatens marine ecosystems and eventually, our own health.

The international community has taken steps to address climate change with forward-looking and long-term goals. An agreement was adopted in Paris in 2015 with the participation of all major economies including China and India. The following year, I went a step further at the Ise-Shima summit in Japan, as G7 members committed to devising long-term strategies.

Climate change can be life-threatening to all generations, be it the elderly or the young and in developed and developing countries alike.

Rescuers help local residents to evacuate in the town of Saka, Hiroshima Prefecture

The problem is exacerbating more quickly than we expected. We must take more robust actions. And swiftly.

The way forward is clear. We must save both the green of the earth and the blue of its oceans.

Our goals must be firmly based on the latest scientific knowledge. As we learn more, through the work and expertise of the scientists at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the entire world should take appropriate measures accordingly.

All countries must engage with the same level of urgency. Some are still increasing greenhouse gas emissions and emit more than 2bn tonnes annually according to the International Energy Agency. All countries must put promises into practice. Developed countries should provide support to developing countries for fulfilling their obligations.

As part of their long-term strategies, governments should promote innovation to drive new growth and spread the net widely for new ideas.

No alternatives should be excluded. Japan has goals such as creating ultra-high-capacity storage batteries, further decentralising and digitising automated energy control systems, and evolving into a hydrogen-based energy society. Countries should also rank the competitiveness of a company based on its development and dissemination of future-oriented technologies. This would encourage companies to invest for the long term.

Momentum is already growing in the private sector. The number of companies engaging in environment, social and governance-focused investment or issuing green bonds is rising dramatically. Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund is one of them. Investors now require businesses to analyse environmental challenges and disclose potential risks as well as opportunities.

We must also focus on reducing emissions from infrastructure.

In Japan, our Shinkansen high-speed rail network prevents congestion and boosts the overall fuel efficiency of transportation nationwide. We also have set our carmakers a goal to cut the greenhouse gas emissions per vehicle they produce by 80 per cent by 2050 so as to realise “Well-to-Wheel Zero Emission”.

We must simultaneously boost economic growth and reduce the use of fossil fuels. That means cutting the costs and improving the reliability of renewable energy. In Japan, the volume of electricity generated from renewable sources has increased 2.5-fold in the past four years. Japan will host the world’s first ministerial meeting focused on hydrogen energy. We cannot overlook safe nuclear power generation and controls on emissions of methane and hydrofluorocarbons.

Manufacturers with large-scale greenhouse gas emissions should be encouraged to update their production methods. Countries should stop excessive steel production, which causes massive greenhouse gas emissions and creates imbalances in markets.

Finally we should tap data processing and communications advances to speed up the innovation cycle. Investing in energy transition and the sharing economy will ensure economic growth and dramatically reduce greenhouse gases.

Addressing climate change, marine pollution, and disaster risk reduction are critical pillars for achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Japan will preside over the G20 next year and focus on accelerating the virtuous cycle of environmental protection and economic growth.

When the seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development is held in Japan, we will extend support to African countries. We invite the rest of the world to join us in tackling this tough challenge.'”


 

PLEASE NOTE THAT IN ANOTHER BLOG ON THIS WEBSITE, “20 Countries Most At Risk From Sea Level Rise”, Japan features as having the 3rd highest risk in the world of exposure to sea level rise, with 10% of their population exposed by it.

 


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France and Canada announce a new partnership on climate change

The leaders of Canada and France, PM Trudeau and President Macron, are joining forces to combat climate change together.  They met in Paris last week and agreed to work more closely on tackling targets laid out by the Paris Agreement. This partnership on climate and the environment will include pushing measures like securing global carbon pricing, encouraging energy efficiency and reducing emissions in transport sectors.

Canada is hosting the G7 summit in Charlevoix, Quebec, this June, and will hand over the G7 presidency to France in 2019. Canadian officials hope that the other G7 countries will follow the Canada-France example and continue trying to reach the targets set out in the Paris agreement, according to the Canadian Press.

The Canadian government is also using this moment to prove that Canada is serious about tackling climate change.

France has voiced concerns around the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) and its investor-protection clauses that could result in feebler environmental rules, according to the Canadian Press.


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An obsession with GDP and economic growth is acting to worsen climate change

An obsession with GDP and economic growth is acting to worsen climate change.

A number of progressive economists have been pointing out the facts relating to this statement for the last few years.  Yet, political leaders across the world still seem to be deaf to their words and obsessed with a need to find ways to fuel economic growth through a market economy and promoting austerity, and then praise themselves for doing it, even though their austerity measures affect the poorest in society and damage the environment.  It is part of an adherence to a competitive world, in which one’s own country must come out on top.  This blinkered approach encourages the manufacturing industry, much of which uses fossil fuels, and trading across the globe, in order to balance the difference between imports and exports – what is termed ” a balanced economy”.  I deal with the issue in Chapter 7 of my book, which can be found elsewhere on this website.

fioramonti

In the UK, this approach was perhaps pioneered by Margaret Thatcher and her crony in the US, Ronald Reagan.  But it was later picked up with enthusiasm by Tony Blair and developed further, until it became an obsession with economists.  According to George Monbiot, they are using the wrong mathematics and this approach is both outdated and harmful to the environment. See:

George Monbiot (2015) Guardian 24th November 2015.  “Consume more, conserve more: Sorry but we just can’t do both.”

A number of progressive economists have been saying a similar thing for a number of years.  Perhaps the late Richard Douthwaite was the first to say this in his book “The Growth Illusion” (1999) but there have been others too:  Molly Scott Cato MEP (“Green Economics”), Kate Raworth (Doughnut Economics and also “Old economics is based on false ‘laws of physics’ – new economics can save us” Guardian 6th April 2017), Ian Fletcher (“Free Trade Doesn’t Work”), Paul Krugman  (“How did economists get it so wrong?” in the New York Times), Pat Conaty and the New Economics Foundation among others (full details of each in my references section on this website).

The current UK Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell MP, also wrote a booklet about this in June 2007, whilst a member of Tony Blair’s “market economy party”.  It is entitled “Another World is Possible” and shows amazing foresight about the consequences of market economy politics, which we are living with now. He was courageous to write this, at a time when Blair was pursuing another path.

AWIP

“Another World is Possible”  (2007) is published by the Labour representation Committee, PO Box 2378, London E5 9QU.  ISBN 978-0-9555771-0-9.

This excellent booklet includes a section entitled “A Planet Plundered for Profit” in which McDonnell states that “we cannot tackle climate change unless we address the system which has caused it…….the wasteful consumption of the wealthier nations has brought environmental impacts, which…. disproportionately affect the poorest countries….The UK has a wealth of natural resources that lend themselves to renewable energy production which, once set up, are low cost to run and cause no pollution… a programme of investment in renewable would not only create thousands of jobs in engineering and manufacturing sectors that have declined in recent years….”

According to Kate Raworth in her Guardian article, “Things are not going well in the world’s richest economies. Most OECD countries are facing their highest levels of income inequality in 30 years, while generating ecological footprints of a size that would require four, five or six planet Earths if every country were to follow suit. These economies have, in essence, become divisive and degenerative by default. Mainstream economic theory long promised that the solution starts with growth – but why does that theory seem so ill-equipped to deal with the social and ecological fallout of its own prescriptions?”

In May 2017, Lorenzo Fioramonti*, Professor of Political Economy, University of Pretoria, wrote an article for The Conversation, republished in Quartz. He opens: “GDP as a measure of growth fails to account for damages caused to the environment by industrial activity”. In his new book “Wellbeing Economy: Success in a World Without Growth” he points out that the “growth first” rule has dominated the world since the early 20th century. No other ideology has ever been so powerful: the obsession with growth even cut through both capitalist and socialist societies”.  He asks the question, “What exactly is growth” and further expounds the idea that it is not a silver bullet to success.  Further details of this concept in his book are summarised in:

https://britain2020.wordpress.com/2017/07/04/fioramonti-growth-is-dying-as-the-silver-bullet-for-success-this-may-be-good-thing/

Kate Raworth has also circulated her latest blog, which contains a video, which tries to explain the issue in easily understandable terms, using puppets.  She hopes that this will be used in secondary schools and in teaching economics undergraduates that the GDP/growth model does not work:

Economic Man vs. Humanity: a puppet rap battle

by Kate Raworth

An economist, a songwriter, and a puppet-maker walked into a recording studio. What do you think came out?. . . An economics puppet rap battle, of course.

One of the most dangerous stories at the heart of 20th century economics is the depiction of humanity as rational economic man. In my book Doughnut Economics I decided he needed a portrait so I drew him, standing alone, with money in his hand, ego in his heart, a calculator in his head and nature at his feet. He hates work, he loves luxury and he knows the price of everything.

Now here’s the most fascinating (and unnerving) thing I discovered while researching the history and influence of this character. The more that economics students learn about him – from Year 1 to Year 2 to Year 3 of their studies – the more they say they value traits such as self-interest and competition over traits such as altruism and collaboration.

The implication? Who we tell ourselves we are shapes who we become.

Over the past year I have been contacted by many economics teachers around the world – especially those in secondary schools – who want to encourage their students to critique this text-book model and offer them a far more nuanced understanding of human behaviour.

So that got me thinking…

I teamed up with the brilliant puppet designer Emma Powell and the ingenious musician Simon Panrucker and, with funding from the Network for Social Change (big thanks, folks!), we created this video – Economic Man vs Humanity: a puppet rap battle.

We’d love to see it in use in classrooms, conferences, reading groups, community groups, and shared widely on social media, on web platforms, on teaching resource sites.

If you are a teacher, please do use it to start a debate in your classroom (the video ends with a question for that very reason). Download the complete lyrics of the rap, and if your students want to dive further into the back story and future possibilities of Rational Economic Man, then I recommend Chapter 3 of Doughnut Economics, which was the basis for the whole project.

If you are a student, please do share the video with your fellow future economists, get your teacher involved, and help kick off a much-needed discussion.

And if you host a web discussion, a new economics resource site, a community network, or a teachers’ forum, you are very welcome to feature the film on your site – we’d love to hear what you do with it.

So sit back and enjoy the Puppet Rap Battle – sing along, pass it on, and let’s say farewell to Rational Economic Man. Today’s students know that it’s time to create a better portrait of who we are for 21st century economics.”

Kate Raworth | 5 September 2018 at 10:14 | URL: https://wp.me/p3sUHn-Bb

 

And yet, despite all of these highly knowledgeable progressive economists writing at length about it, the old way of seeking “growth, growth and more growth” still persists. The present conservative government in the UK has used this maxim extensively over the last 10 years, and even used it as a hammer to batter the opposition with – that they are weak on the economy – a deceitful myth that a gullible public unwittingly believed, when voting at the ballot box – until June 2017, that is.  And the present Chancellor constantly brings statistical data to parliament, in an attempt to show that their economic austerity policies are working.  What he does not say is that they are contributing to climate change, as well as making many marginalised people much worse off.  Indeed, they seem to have abandoned any pretence of working towards attaining the targets set by the Paris Agreement in 2015.  George Monbiot has slated their 25-year environment plan, as “A Grand Plan to do Nothing”. See: http://www.monbiot.com

This last year, we have seen some of the extreme consequences of climate change:

  • excessive heatwaves this summer;
  • a prolonged unusual freeze-up last winter;
  • last year having the most violent and numerous hurricanes;
  • island nations losing some of their territory due to sea level rise;
  • the last few years, global temperatures being the hottest ever on record.

Some of these issues have been described in more detail in other recent blogs on this website.

Just recently, I have read an article by Alan Cottey, a member of Scientists for Global Responsibility: “Environment change, economy change and reducing conflict at source”, just published in AI & Society, where he sets out alternatives.  Here is an extract from the Abstract:

At a time when fossil fuel burning, nationalism, ethnic and religious intolerance, and other retrograde steps are being promoted, the prospects for world peace and environmental systems stability may appear dim. Exactly because of this is it the more important to continue to examine the sources of conflict. A major obstacle to general progress is the currently dominant economic practice and theory, which is here called the economy-as-usual, or economics-as-usual, as appropriate. A special obstacle to constructive change is the language in which economic matters are usually discussed. This language is narrow, conservative, technical and often obscure. The rapid changes in the environment (physical and living) are largely kept in a separate compartment. If, however, the partition is removed, economics-as-usual, with its dependence on growth and its widening inequality, is seen to be unsustainable. Radical economic change, for better or worse, is to be expected. Such change is here called economy change. The change could be for the better if it involved an expansion of the concept of economics itself, along the lines of oikonomia, a modern revival of a classical Greek term for management or household. In such an expanded view, not everything of economic value can be measured. It is argued that economics-as-usual is the source of much strife. Some features are indicated of a less conflictual economy—more just, cooperative and peaceful. These features include a dignified life available to all people as of right, the word ‘wealth’ being reconnected with weal, well and well-being, and ‘work’ being understood as including all useful activity.”

The whole article can be found at:

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00146-018-0816-x


I think that many of us have stood on the sidelines of this issue for long enough now.  It is time for the progressive economists I have named above, and those cited in Cottey’s article, to come together, in formulating together a new economic theory, with a clear structure, that takes care of the environment, does not increase the gap between rich and poor, and which reduces conflict and competition between nations.  They have written separately for too long.  Now, we are looking for a new partnership, a new structure – a really new economics, based on compassion and equality, not austerity, which will also work towards reducing the damaging effects of climate change.


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Paris Agreement is leading to changes in investment strategies

According to John Plender, writing for the Financial Times on December 15th 2017, there are rapid changes underway to support greener economies, triggered by the Paris Agreement.  Details of this can be found in his article, “Rapid Changes in the climate for carbon-heavy investments”:

https://www.ft.com/content/c4a6f996-e003-11e7-a8a4-0a1e63a52f9c?accessToken=zwAAAWBuKbfgkdPEpvmW4AMR59OopAoeY6UvnA.MEYCIQDtLsT_sdkXbW-Q5_nxhSF07nxX_8QZZMFRbs4c5hSMmwIhAKpQ8GLevHy1q_NZ5P6CgpgOQqoNSgBhxE6AeupwMejP&sharetype=gift

According to Plender, this is even affecting the notorious ExxonMobil, the world’s biggest oil and gas group, which is bowing to investor pressure to increase disclosure on climate risks to its business.  At it’s May AGM, there was a 62% vote against the board on a shareholders’ proposal calling for a yearly assessment of the long-term portfolio impact of climate change policies.  The company has now agreed to demonstrate how it would be affected by the Paris Agreement, as well as explaining its positioning on a lower carbon future.  This is a considerable climb down from previous resistance to similar proposals in earlier years.

In addition, in a separate initiative, 225 global institutional investors are putting pressure on 100 of the world’s more carbon intensive companies, to increase their actions to reduce climate change.  These investors control assets worth $26.3 tn.  This initiative is known as Climate Action 100+ and is the biggest shareholder action plan ever launched.

According to Plender, it is Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, who has been influential in outlining the financial risks in continuing to burn fossil fuels, as well as the risks to the future of the planet. Many companies are not properly positioned for a low carbon economy and much capital is currently being misallocated.

fig73

If these changes in investment strategies are happening, then it is a huge step forward.  However, to meet the 2015 Paris commitments, most companies will need to reduce their carbon emissions by up to 80%.

 


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Outcomes of the COP23 climate talks in Bonn, November 2017, including plans for the Talanoa dialogue

An excellent summary of the conference can be found on the Carbon Brief website:

https://www.carbonbrief.org/cop23-key-outcomes-agreed-un-climate-talks-bonn

A rather wordy official document from the UNFCCC can be found at:

Click to access l13.pdf

It includes as Annex II, an informal note on the plans to implement the Talanoa Dialogue, which is copied below:

Talanoa dialogue
Approach

The Presidencies of COP 22 and COP 23 conducted extensive consultations on the Talanoa
dialogue throughout 2017, which continued during the twenty-third session of the COP. This informal note has been prepared by the Presidencies of COP 22 and COP 23 on this basis.
Mandate
The COP by its decision 1/CP.21, paragraph 20, decided to “convene a facilitative dialogue
among Parties in 2018 to take stock of the collective efforts of Parties in relation to progress towards the long-term goal referred to in Article 4, paragraph 1, of the Agreement and to inform the preparation of nationally determined contributions pursuant to Article 4, paragraph 8, of the Agreement”.
Features of the Talanoa dialogue
Based on input received by Parties, the main features of the dialogue are as follows:
− The dialogue should be constructive, facilitative and solutions oriented;
− The dialogue should not lead to discussions of a confrontational nature in which
individual Parties or groups of Parties are singled out;
− The dialogue will be conducted in the spirit of the Pacific tradition of Talanoa:
o Talanoa is a traditional approach used in Fiji and the Pacific to engage in
an inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue;
o The purpose of Talanoa is to share stories, build empathy and trust;
o During the process, participants advance their knowledge through common
understanding;
o It creates a platform of dialogue, which results in better decision-making
for the collective good;
o By focusing on the benefits of collective action, this process will inform
decision-making and move the global climate agenda forward;
− The dialogue should be conducted in a manner that promotes cooperation;

* Reproduced as received from the Presidents of the twenty-second and twenty-third sessions of the Conference of
the Parties.
FCCC/CP/2017/L.13
8
− The dialogue will be structured around three general topics:
o Where are we?
o Where do we want to go?
o How do we get there?
− The dialogue will be conducted in a manner that promotes enhanced ambition. The
dialogue will consider, as one of its elements, the efforts of Parties on action and
support, as appropriate, in the pre-2020 period;
− The dialogue will fulfil its mandate, in a comprehensive and non-restrictive
manner;
− The dialogue will consist of a preparatory and a political phase;
− The Presidencies of COP 23 and COP 24 will jointly lead both phases of the
dialogue and co-chair the political phase at COP 24;
− A dedicated space will be provided in the dialogue, both during the preparatory and
the political phase to facilitate the understanding of the implications of the Special
Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Global Warming of
1.5°C;
− As regards inputs to the dialogue:
o The Special Report by the IPCC on global warming of 1.5°C requested by
the COP will inform the dialogue;
o Parties, stakeholders and expert institutions are encouraged to prepare
analytical and policy relevant inputs to inform the dialogue and submit
these and other proposed inputs, including those from intergovernmental
organisations and UNFCCC bodies, by 2 April 2018 for discussions in
conjunction with the May session, and by 29 October 2018 for discussions
in conjunction with COP 24;
o The Presidencies of COP 23 and COP 24 will also provide inputs to inform
the dialogue;
o An online platform will facilitate access to all inputs to the dialogue, which
will be overseen by the Presidencies of COP 23 and COP 24;
o The secretariat will be requested to prepare relevant inputs and to develop
and manage the online platform under the guidance of the Presidencies of
COP 23 and COP 24;
− The preparatory phase will seek to build a strong evidence-based foundation for the
political phase:
o The preparatory phase will start after the dialogue is launched at COP 23,
in January 2018, and will end at COP 24;
o Parties and non-Party stakeholders are invited to cooperate in convening
local, national, regional or global events in support of the dialogue and to
prepare and make available relevant inputs;
o The May discussions will be used to explore the three central topics
informed by inputs by various actors and institutions, including from the
Technical Examination Process and Global Climate Action, with the
support of the high-level champions;
o Summaries from all discussions will be prepared under the authority of the
Presidencies of COP 23 and COP 24;

o The information and insights gained during the preparatory phase will be
synthesised by the Presidencies of COP 23 and COP 24 to provide a
foundation for the political phase;

Figure 1 – Preparatory phase (the figure can be found in the original document)
− The political phase will bring high-level representatives of Parties together to take
stock of the collective efforts of Parties in relation to progress towards the long-term
goal referred to in Article 4, paragraph 1, of the Agreement and to inform the
preparation of nationally determined contributions pursuant to Article 4, paragraph
8, of the Agreement:
o The political phase will take place at COP 24 with the participation of
Ministers;
o This phase will build on the preparatory phase and focus on the objectives
of the dialogue;
o Political discussions will include roundtables to ensure focussed and
interactive discussions among Ministers;
o At the closing meeting of the dialogue, the Presidencies of COP 23 and
COP 24 will provide a summary of key messages from the roundtables;

(Fig. 2 – the political phase – can be found in the original document)

− It will be important to send clear forward looking signals to ensure that the outcome
of the dialogue is greater confidence, courage and enhanced ambition;
− The outcome of the dialogue is expected to capture the political momentum, and
help Parties to inform the preparation of nationally determined contributions;
− The outputs of the dialogue will include reports and summaries of the discussions.

The Carbon Brief website also includes a section on what needs to happen before next year’s COP24 meeting in Poland:

https://www.carbonbrief.org/what-needs-happen-cop24-keep-paris-agreement-track

including a video which gives comments on this from people from around the world: