The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference
To achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate,
from all the nations of the world.
This is an exciting event globally, and to the students, faculty and alumni of GMC, it is a momentous occasion to be tracked closely, discussed at length and wrapped into our ongoing studies! Here we’ll keep updated with the latest information on talks as they unfold. Our correspondent on the ground in Paris is Adjunct Professor and ’10 Alumna Mindy Blank, attending the talks on behalf of HELIO International, where she works as a Project Coordinator.
Dec 11: A Live Update from our Correspondent
Adjunct professor Mindy Blank takes a moment outside the conference to update us on negotiations as they progress.
Dec 9: New Draft, Steady Progress
The new Draft Paris Outcome text was released on Wednesday, giving Parties an overview of the progress made so far, a starting point for proposing compromise, and outlining open questions that still need more work to be done (without intending to prejudge any conclusions on the contentious issues needing political decision). It is still fully open for negotiation, and UNFCC Executive Secretary, Christiana Figueres, stressed today that this should not be seen as the final text of the agreement. Compared to the previous version from Saturday, the number of pages has been reduced from 43 (21 draft agreement + 22 draft decision) to 29 (14 draft agreement + 15 draft decision). The number of pairs of square brackets in the text has been reduced from 940 to 367! As predicted by many, the topics still in need of much work are Mitigation and Finance, which are currently heavily bracketed, messy pages.
Dec 7-8: Sustainable Innovation Forum
At the 6th annual Sustainable Innovation Forum, focus was on trillion dollar investment opportunities that would allow countries to transition towards sustainable energy sources and away from fossil fuels while simultaneously boosting their economies. More than 750 delegates and over 80 speakers from around the world attended the event to discuss how their respective countries can work together to create clean investment opportunities for the future. Among the many innovations being discussed, there are a handful that are particularly noteworthy:
~ CarbonWealth announced a profitable method of removing carbon from the atmosphere to store it in the earth and convert the remainder into fuel.
~ Impossible Foods announced the development of a burger made entirely from plants that looks and tastes like meat (aptly named, the “Impossible Burger”) to combat the detrimental effects of large-scale meat production.
~ Autodesk discussed how their cutting-edge software can be used to design comprehensive 3D models of cities that take into account the many factors needed to mitigate the effects of climate change, including greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, and carbon prices.
~ BMW discussed ways their vehicles can help reduce emissions, both through electric powered engines and their car-sharing service, DriveNow.
While technology will play a large role in the discussions, the conference will also showcase countries that are becoming leaders in green innovation, such as Morocco, Iceland, and the U.S., as well as particular organizations that are leading the movement towards a green economy, including The European Investment Bank and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Carbon Trade Exchange (CTX), and The Carbon Tracker Initiative. The delegates will also discuss how the growth of such an economy can be sustained, and how potential problems with the transition can be avoided. The Sustainable Innovation Forum will present a key opportunity for business leaders, entrepreneurs, and politicians to demonstrate how technology and global networking can effectively catalyze economic growth without exacerbating the effects of climate change. Eben Schumacher, Environmental Ethics
Dec 7: In Search of an Energy Transformation
World-wide, governments, businesses, and cities are making strong commitments to improve energy efficiency and invest in renewable technologies. This day at COP21, three underlying goals were announced:
~ Utilize all available technologies and push forward new research and development
~ Increase ambition to change among all actors in all regions of the world
~ Mobilize the funds needed to enable the transition
Dec 5: Coffee and Agro-ecology Innovation
On December 5, 2015 at Palais de Congres de Paris, Humanist Institution for Co-operation with Developing Countries (HIVOS) and International Coffee Organization (ICO) participated “in an event that looks at the role of agro-ecology for helping smallholder coffee farmers becoming more resilient to the effects of climate change.” (goldstandard.org) The ICO is the main intergovernmental organization for coffee, tackling the challenges facing the world coffee sector through international cooperation. (ico.org) They discussed “the role of agro-ecology in exploring innovative, viable adaptation measures for resilient smallholder coffee landscapes.” Coffee is an important commodity that small growers in developing countries depend on for income. “Over 90% of coffee production takes place in developing countries with 25 million small producers relying on coffee for a living worldwide.” (The Latte Revolution) Unroasted coffee is one of the most traded agriculture commodities in the world and developing countries need help in learning modern faming techniques to produce the most products while also being sustainable and taking care of the soil. Jamie Perlstein, Environmental Ethics See More: http://www.ico.org http://unfccc.int/meetings/paris_nov_2015/meeting/8926/php/view/seors.php http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=710e1af2e5aa5a1629e0baa2c&id=01c8246ddf&e=9e84a4f7f3
Dec 4: Making it easier to #Divest
Have you heard of Portfolio Decarbonization? Your local banker has – and it’s making #divestment from fossil fuel giants not only the right thing to do, but a feasible option as well. On December 2nd, gofossilfree.com announced that more than 500 institutions representing over $3.4 trillion in assets have made some form of divestment commitment.
Dec 3: How we get around, why it’s hurting us and what we’ll do about it
Recognizing that transportation has the highest growth of CO2 emissions of any industrial sector, transport representatives present 10 initiatives at COP21 in Paris today that will reduce emissions and build more sustainable transport systems.
~ 65 countries committed to improve vehicles efficiency, a high impact opportunity!
~ Companies, Cities, National Governments, and Associations converge to commit to electro-mobility and call for others to join
~ Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans in 100 fast-growing cities and 20 countries
~ 50 partners embark on transforming freight, the fastest growing contributor to transport emissions.
~ New efforts in the initiatives announced at the New York Climate Summit on aviation, public transport and rail
The Art of Progress
For a project called 1 Heart 1 Tree, artist, architect and projection mapping pioneer Naziha Mestaoui is planning a benevolent takeover of the city’s major landmarks to send the UN a strong message about sustainability and deforestation in modern policy. “The aim is to reconnect us with ourselves, others and our environment and give the power to anyone to act to change the world,” she tells The Creators Project.
Dec 2: New International Initiatives Increase Resilience Protecting Millions of People
Fast action is needed to protect those most vulnerable from climate impacts; to that end, major international partnerships under the Lima to Paris Action Agenda are mobilizing large-scale financing, some one billion dollars, to cover the full spread of peoples´ needs as they face increasing climate impacts. Solving for one issue while ignoring others has not worked, and resilience needs to be approached in a comprehensive fashion in order to be effective!
So, let’s get comprehensive – the initiatives set forth by the LPAA include:
~ Early warning systems for over 50 least developed countries and small island states
~ Providing access to insurance to 400 million vulnerable people in 5 years
~ Increase resilience for local communities in the Sahara and Sahel
~ US$ 150 million partnership looks to mobilize more funding for Africa and Asia
~ EU mobilizes €125 million for countries affected by ‘El Niño’
~ UN initiative strengthens ability to anticipate, absorb and “reshape” climate impacts
Dec 1: Global Agricultural Revolution?
At the LPAA Focus on Agriculture, Governments and food and agriculture organizations met to discuss the future of agriculture, and agreed upon six major initiatives that would support farmers through impending Climate Change impacts. From the Press Release:
The “4/1000 Initiative: Soils for Food Security and Climate”: A small increase of 4/1000 per year of the soil carbon stock is a major leverage in order to improve soil fertility, resilience of farmers and contribute to the long-term objective of keeping the global average temperature increase below 2 degrees. Read More »
Live Beef Carbon: Promoting innovative livestock farming systems and associated practices will ensure the technical, economic, environmental and social sustainability of beef farms, and thus to reduce the beef carbon footprint by 15% over 10 years in France, Ireland, Italy and Spain. Read More »
Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP): Partners commit to investing climate finance in poor smallholder farmers in developing countries and, by 2034, funding through this initiative will avoid or sequester 80 million tons of GHG emissions (CO2e) and strengthen the resilience of 8 million smallholders.
15 West-African Countries Transitioning to Agro-ecology: This impact-full initiative delivers both adaptation and emission mitigation benefit, and will allow the adoption of agro-ecological practices by 25 million households by 2025. Read More »
The Blue Growth Initiative (BGI): These actions aim at a 10% reduction in carbon emissions from fishery value chains in 10 target countries within 5 years (and 25% within 10 years), and the reduction of overfishing by 20% in the target countries within 5 years (50% within 10 years). Read More »
The SAVE FOOD Initiative: Altogether, this initiative should allow a major reduction in agriculture emissions, as global food waste and loss account for 3.3Gt of CO2 equivalent per year. Read More »
The Consumer Goods Forum: The Consumer Goods Forum, an organization of the global retail industry’s leaders, pledged to achieve zero net deforestation by 2020, and are also committed to reduce food waste within their value chain and make consumers aware of this issue. Read More »
Nov 30: $248 USD million pledged to GEF climate fund for most vulnerable countries
During the opening day of the #COP21 talks, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States of America announced their intended contributions to the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF). In his statement, President Barack Obama spoke about the most vulnerable countries bearing the most impact from global climate change. “For some, particularly island nations […], climate change is a threat to their very existence. That’s why today, in concert with other nations, America confirms our strong and ongoing commitment to the Least Developed Countries Fund. And tomorrow, we’ll pledge new contributions to risk insurance initiatives that help vulnerable populations rebuild stronger after climate related disasters“. Continue reading the press release here.
Nov 30: The COP21 Conference Officially Opens
“That future is one that we have the power to change. Right here. Right now. But only if we rise to this moment. As one of America’s governors has said, “We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change, and the last generation that can do something about it.” With bold statements by President Obama, the talks have officially begun in Paris. Read the full text of statements made during the Leaders Event at the Paris Climate Change Conference here, and get inspired!