Monday, 25 January, 2016

Progress, but more to do on climate change

Emely Stone | 10 January, 2016, 06:30

Now that the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris is completed, it is time for us in Charleston to begin to determine what we should be doing to address climate change. We must be ambitious and hold our public officials, our business leaders, and ourselves accountable.

There are lessons that India could learn from China, which has accessed green technology as well as a good deal at the climate talks because of its trade and business relations with the US. One of the important tasks for Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar is to see that the 14th Finance Commission award of listing forests as one of the criteria for the devolution of finance is implemented sincerely by the State Governments as there are reports that it is not being done. The achievement recorded in Paris has surpassed all the previous conferences.

Relatively few of the attendees were dealing directly with the global negotiations, Murray said. And, to many countries, passing those temperature limits could be a disaster. Climate change has significantly affected African economies through relentless droughts, floods, and storms which, in turn, have negatively impacted food security. It seemed to speak to the futility of trying to bridge so many interests, so many regional voting blocks, that no agreement could possibly be crafted to meet all the multilateral conditions for a global climate deal. In fact, the private sector is the largest source of climate finance, devoting $243 billion United States dollars in 2014 to climate-related investments, according to the Climate Policy Initiative's Global Landscape of Climate Finance 2015. A late-November New York Times-CBS News poll found that most Americans, including Republicans, now believe that the climate is changing and want our government to take action. He also reiterated the ambitious announcement by the Indian Government to go in for massive solar energy production targets and to cut down India's emission level by 33-35 % by the year 2030.

The two-week negotiations opened with well-timed announcements, such as the launch of the "Breakthrough energy coalition", initiated by Bill Gates and uniting the efforts of two dozens of other billionaire philanthropists such as Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jeff Bezos to sponsor clean energy.

"We've seen the positive impacts", Polak said.

The agreement doesn't start until 2020. They contend that doomsday climate forecasts are exaggerated and reduction of fossil fuel usage would hurt economic growth. How else do you interpret the goal of net zero emission by 2050?

The overriding tone of the conference was that the fossil fuel economy is in the rear-view mirror. Energy company share prices took a dive more because of fall in crude oil prices than anything that happened in Paris but have picked up slightly in recent days. It will require bold policy changes and planning.

In 2009, many claimed the chaos surrounding COP15 in Copenhagen marked the end of multilateralism - a fatal blow to the UN.

Awarding these powers to the fossil fuel industry is a direct affront to the Paris agreement. Some thinkers are already talking about environment justice. Carbon budget analyses show it will be next to impossible to avoid the 1.5°C limit without "negative emissions" - sucking carbon dioxide out of the air, using technologies that are unproven or not yet in existence. This should lead to the obvious choice of new technology and nuclear power. And those numbers will rise sharply in the face of inaction, posing the huge costs for developed and developing economies.

He added: "The sooner people understand about the cause the better will be able to defend their homes, loved ones and businesses by making sure that climate change doesn't make things even worse". What can our country do to honor our emissions pledge?

The Paris climate agreement is not ideal. "An emissions reduction goal, for a peak year in global emissions or for language on decarbonisation or emissions neutrality have all failed to make it into the final agreement". Every country has to play its part and contribute in dealing with climate change.

Philosophically, the agreement is a categorical refutation of the orthodoxy that unbridled competition among nations and organisations is the only pull for progress. And a healthier population can help spur healthy economic growth - growth delinked from carbon emissions. Consider what the Paris Agreement might mean to the lives of our children in five, 10 or 30 years. Uncertainty remains in attributing the expansion or resurgence of diseases to climate change, owing to lack of long-term, high-quality data sets as well as the large influence of socio-economic factors and changes in immunity and drug resistance. This deal includes the non-party stakeholders such as civil society, the private sector, financial institutions, cities and other sub-national authorities and urges them to scale up their efforts and support actions to reduce the emissions and/or to build resilience, decrease vulnerability to the adverse effects of climate change and demonstrate those efforts for which the Declaration has created the Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Action platform.

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