COP

COP23 Finished

This past week, the historical climate lawsuit has taken place in Oslo District Court, but I will follow that up in next weeks blog post, when the court case is finished. However, another monumental climate event, COP23, finished this week, and this is what we know so far. 

The climate awareness spreading site Climatetracker has put together this helpful infograph to visualise what happened at COP. A positive outcome is that parties (UN lingo for countries) agreed that the processes must move quicker. The main objective, namely creating a way forward with he Paris agreement, was achieved. 

The process forward is called the Tanaloua Dialogue. This is a process that helps each country to hold each other accountable with the emission cuts they promised in the Paris agreement. These emission cuts are referred to as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). However, it turns out that the emissions each country intends to cut is not enough for the world to reach the 2 degree target, and definitely not the 1,5 degree target. Therefore there needs to be a process that reviews and increases these NDCs over time. This is the Tanaloua Dialogue. 

The COP is happening near the end of each year, but in the meantime there is a constant negotiation process going on in the UFCCC. These sessions are referred to as intersessionals, and are also worth following. For an overview of important dates on the climate calendar, have a look at the bottom of this piece from Carbonbrief

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COP23

Today, COP23 (Conference of the Parties) started. This is the UN's climate negotiations, under the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). Did I mention that they love abbreviations at COP?

This years COP is taking place in Bonn, Germany, but is hosted by Fiji. This is the first time a small island state is hosting COP. Fiji was the first state to formally ratify the Paris agreement, the global climate agreement from 2015 where almost all nations has come together to limit global warming to 2 degree celsius, but aiming for 1,5 degree celsius. Before coming to COP, Fijis prime minister announced that having a small island state as host would affect this years negotiations. In his opening speech, he also said that: 'It is a message to the world that all 7.5 billion people on earth are in the same canoe. We are all affected by climate change and we all need to act'. This is the very true, even though some states, as small island states will feel the effects of climate change sooner than others. 

The key thing to sort out during this COP is making a 'rulebook' for how the Paris agreement should be implemented, and how states should be able to hold each other accountable and have transparency to see that each other are delivering their set targets. Norway's minister of climate and environment, Vidar Helgesen actually went as far as saying that 'it's a good sign if nothing much is heard from this meeting'. This might be also be a reference to the tense fact that Trump previously this year announced that he was going to withdraw the US from the Paris agreement. Formally though, this is a process that takes years, so as per this COP, the US is still in the negotiations. Therefore, the hopes are that they won't try to block good initiatives even though they don't see a reason to helping this planet come together to solve the climate problem. 

Because COP isn't needed less now, it is needed more. 2017 is currently in the lead to become one of the three warmest years currently on record, including that it has been a year with an abnormal amount of extreme weather events all across the globe. Currently, we are on the track for a 3 degree celsius warmer globe, which means that our current efforts are not enough to combat the rising temperatures. 

Another key discussion topic of COP23 is 'loss and damage' - the mechanisms that is compensating developing nations that has done little to cause the climate change, but has been affected the most. 

The outcome that is most desired from COP23 is both getting the 'rulebook' in place for next years negotiations, but also the belief that UN still has a vital part to play in how we organise joint efforts on a global scale to tackle problems facing humanity. This isn't asking for little, but as Christiana Figueres, COP president of the COP21 in Paris said 'Paris (agreement) is everyone’s deal. It belongs to cities, businesses, NGOs and all of global civil society as much as it belongs to nation-states'. Also, it is the best we've got. 

 

The COP22 is finished, and this is what we got out of it

COP22 finished in the early hours this morning, and what we have as a result from it is this document http://unfccc.int/files/meetings/marrakech_nov_2016/application/pdf/marrakech_action_proclamation.pdf It is a fairly short read, but to summarise it for you, the main points are these: 

- The Parties acknowledges the importance of the Paris agreements earlier commitment

- They have set themselves a 2 year time frame to come up with all the technical measurement mechanisms from the Paris agreement. 

Besides from this, the COP22 set out to promise to be an ActionCOP, but turned out to be more of an in-actionCOP. However, the climate minister of Norway are pleased with the outcome, and this framework gives the parties clear ground rules on how to work ahead, so COP24 should promise to be an action filled on yet again! 

Divestment!

Todays blog post regards one of the solutions to global warming; namely divestment. You might have come by the term before, the definition of 'divestment' according to Wikipedia is 'In finance and economics, divestment or divestiture is the reduction of some kind of asset for financial, ethical, or political objectives or sale of an existing business by a firm. A divestment is the opposite of an investment.' Still unsure what divestment means? The Guardian states it like this: 'Divestment is the opposite of investment – it is the removal of your investment capital from stocks, bonds or funds. The global movement for fossil fuel divestment (sometimes also called disinvestment) is asking institutions to move their money out of oil, coal and gas companies for both moral and financial reasons. These institutions include '  at https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jun/23/a-beginners-guide-to-fossil-fuel-divestment

The divestment that is relevant in terms of global warming is the divestment from the fossile fuels industry. This excellent video by European Greens illustrate how divestment works https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOkGdXuhKLo  (2,49 min) 

It has previously been a massive problem at COP that the fossile fuel industry have such a strong hold over so many nations, and even at the COP itself. But by divesting, the industry does not get to dictate the terms to such a degree that they have done in the past over the future of the climate.

There are several organisation that works on the divestment part of the climate solutions. If you are interested in learning more, I can recommend the following sites: 

Go Fossile Free http://gofossilfree.org/what-is-fossil-fuel-divestment/ 

Divest Invest http://divestinvest.org 

350 Org https://350.org/category/topic/divestment/

Thank you for reading. 

 

COP22!

It is once again COP season and I am following the updates with Argus eyes. There is a lot happening at the same time, and the best way to illustrate this is both through words but also infographics as this http://climatetracker.org/week1cop22overview/ on what happened during the first week at COP. 

If you are new to the UN language I can recommend this site http://cop22.ma/en/#whatscop/post/161 for some of the useful the acronyms.

And to be fully in on the process, this is the official website where the UN releases the text proposals that are being discussed: http://unfccc.int/meetings/marrakech_nov_2016/meeting/9567.php  

As you can see, this is a slightly different blog post, but with all the encouragement to keep yourself updated on what is happening to the future of our climate. There is a strong need for all of us to keep ourself informed, saying this in regards of the US election this week, the need for information is more pressing than ever. This article http://sciencecommunicationmedia.com/science-and-politics-where-do-we-go-carl-sagan/ discusses exactly this, that we need to keep the scientific community within the political debates. Also, we as voters, and global citizens needs to keep ourself informed in order to not drop out of the bigger conversation; where our Earth is headed. 

There is a lot of hope, and a lot to be optimistic about. Overall we are making progress. It might not seem like it all the time, but overall we are. I am including this video "Some Good News: 16 Ways 2015 Is Not A Total Dumpster Fire by online educators The Vlogbrothers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wei8M9IuqPc , and with this ending this blog post. 

As always, thank you for reading and taking the time. 

 

Suing the Norwegian State over constitutional violations

The past two years we have seen every previous heat record to date being broken. We know the reason why this is happening. The burning of fossile fuels as oil, coal and gas give us carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions that escalates the global heating. This is causing the world we live in to be more unevenly distributed, where those who have done the least to contribute to the global heating are the ones suffering the most. 

In June 2016, the Norwegian government handed out permissions to drill for oil in the Barents Sea, through the 23rd licensing round. In total, 53 new search licences were distributed and Statoil announced that they would start the oil drilling already next summer. Not many months after, the Norwegian government handed out even more licences in the 24rd licence round. 

This does not make any sense due to two good reasons: 

  1. We have a Environmental paragraph in our constitution, paragraph 112, that states: ‘Everyone has the right to an environment that ensures the health, and to a nature where production capability and diversity is preserved. Natural resources should be allocated on the basis of a long-term and versatile consideration that safeguards this right also to the coming generations’ and ‘the States authorities shall implement measures to conduct these principles.’ 
  2. In Paris in December last year, Norway ratified, as one of the first countries, on the new climate agreement that states that we wish to hold the human created global heating to less than 1,5 degrees.

A new report from Oil Change International has also stated that if we are to reach these climate goals, we have to leave all the undiscovered oil in the ground. The report also states that the oil resources we already are drilling will contribute to a higher CO2 emission target than 2 degrees, if we are to burn the oil. This makes it pointless to drill for more new oil. 

Norway likes to think of itself as a green country, and the best in the class, but our actions speaks louder than words. 

Because of this is a number of environmental organisations now suing the Norwegian State for violations on our constitution. 

‘We think that the state has broken its responsibility for future generations by opening for large scale oil drilling. If we are to have a Earth to live on in the future, we need to take the climate changes seriously and leave the oil in the soil’ said Ingrid Skjoldvær, leader of Nature and Youth. 

‘At the same time as Erna Solberg, Norwegian Prime minister, signed the Paris agreement and promised big emission cuts, the Norwegian government opened for large scale oil drilling in the Barents Sea. We ask the court to make these licences void, because more oil will lead to higher emissions, not lower’, said Truls Gulowsen, leader of Greenpeace Norway. 

‘Norway seems determined on sabotaging the Paris-agreement even before it went into action’ wrote Nasa scientist James Hansen, in an open letter to Erna Solberg. 

With this lawsuit, the environmental organisations aim to focus on that environmental damages is not only a political problem. This regards the livelihoods of the humans that live now, but also the ones that will come after us. Given that we have a Constitution that states as clearly as the Norwegian environmental paragraph does, there are certain limits what the Norwegian government can do. The resources found in our nature are to be distributed with thoughts to a longterm and safe future. 

If you wish to follow the lawsuit, and add your name to show your support, you can follow this link: https://www.savethearctic.org/en/the-people-vs-arctic-oil/?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=post&utm_term=People%20vs%20Arctic%20Oil,arctic,action%20page,oil&utm_campaign=Polar&__surl__=IgOs9&__ots__=1476909143400&__step__=1

Today the World did it!

We finally have a binding global climate agreement! Today, on the 5th of October, we reached the threshold of 55% of the countries that contributes to the most climate emissions, have signed the agreement! This happened when the EU ratified the agreement. From now and onwards, we have to follow up on the content. It is not an easy task, but it is completely necessary to go through with. 

Earlier today, I wrote an article for a Norwegian environmentalist magazine about how the Norwegian oil industry is still given the green light to continue to look for oil, even though we know we have to kick the habit. In my research for the article, I looked up what is known as "Earth Overshoot Day" http://www.overshootday.org It is the day that marks when we had reached this years carbon emissions limit, if we are to stay below 1,5 degrees temperature rise. This year we reached that day on the 8th of August. This means that every CO2 emission every country make after this date and towards the rest of the year, is why we won't reach our joint target this year. Even the fact that we have something called Earth Overshoot Day is a sad fact, but in order to combat our ways, we have to face the reality. That reality is that we are still letting out too much CO2. One of the pledges you can do on the website is to familiarize yourself with how much more CO2 your country let out, and how many Earths would be needed if everyone lived the way they do in your country. For me in Norway, that is 3,5 Earths. But we don't have that many, we only have the one. That is why we need this agreement, and that is why we need it to work. Have a look at the Earth Overshoot Day for some friendly tips on what you can do to do your share.

We are almost there..!

This is the current status of the Paris agreement - but what does that mean? As previously stated in another blogpost http://theclimateschool.com/news/2016/9/4/progress-on-the-paris-agreement  the Paris agreement will first take effect when at least 55 countries has ratified (UN language to say agreed to). As of 23rd of September, we have 60 countries that have ratified the agreement. There is however one more formality that remains, and that is that of the 55+ the countries that have ratified the agreement, we need to have those countries who contribute to at least 55% of the globale climate emissions. Currently we have reached 47, 78%, so nearly there! 

This is exciting! Look forward to climate related celebrations when we hit the right number! 

As always, thank you for reading and caring about the climate. 

Why we need to keep the global temperature below 1,5 degrees

This is one of the most pressing issues within the climate movement. The difference between the 2 degrees celsius target (above 1990-level) and the 1,5 degrees celsius is the difference between life and death for several small island developing states (often referred to as SIDS in climate literature) or Alliance of Small Island States (Aosis). 

Within the UN world of climate negotiations, this group consist of 44 countries, mainly small, low-lying states in Africa, the Caribbean, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, Pacific and South China Sea, including Belize, Cape Verde, the Maldives, Jamaica, Singapore and Papua New Guinea. The difference to the hundreds of millions of people who live in these places are whether or not their homes are inhabitable. Some islands, like Tuvalu has already lost significant landmass to the ocean, and it is only losing more each year. 

There is also a disproportionate spiraling effect that sets in when the climate change with half a degree more. The difference between 1,5 and 2 degrees will for example lead to: 

  • Heat waves and rainstorms will last longer, with higher intensity
  • Certain crops could become scarce
  • Tropical coral reefs would cease to exist 
  • Sea-level would rise by roughly one third more, and is likely to keep rising long after air temperature is stabilized. 

The sea level rising is a topic for another blog post, but to illustrate it for now, I will include an infographic that shows which cities would disappear first if sea levels were to rise from anywhere from 1 to 8 meters. (for the source http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/when-sea-levels-attack-2/

as always, thank you for reading. 

Progress on the Paris agreement!

The biggest climate news of this week is that both China and the US ratified the Paris agreement. This means that they made it legally binding, and it also sends a strong signal to countries that have yet to ratify it. If you follow this link  http://www.paris-agreement.fr you can see which countries that have agreed, and how long we are into the process of having it ratified globally. 

A quick summary of what the Paris agreement contains:  

- A promise to keep the global warming emissions below 2 degrees celsius, and try to limit it to below 1,5 degrees (a blog post on why this is so will come soon)

- Will contribute with adaptation and loss and damages from the effects of climate change, and secure the financial part of the low emission development

- The agreement will take effect when at least 55 countries - who are contributing to at least 55 % of the global climate emissions - formally has signed the agreement

- So far 177 countries have signed the agreement and 24 countries have ratified it