climatechange

Rana Plaza and Talanoa Dialogue 

Happy May Sunday, dear climateschool readers! I've had a short hiatus due to exam season starting up here at NTNU, but in just 6 weeks time I will have finished the teacher degree. In the meantime; climate-news does not take exam breaks. Therefore, this blog post will be a short summary of two important things that's been happening while I've been away reading pedagogy literature: 

- The 24th of April was the 5 year mark since the clothing factory Rana Plaza collapsed in Bangladesh and 1138 textile workers died that day. Last year, I attended a meeting about the 4 year mark, and it was then announced that what needed to come in place was a binding agreement where the brands we know sign a uniform agreement of openness and transparency, so that an accident and working conditions like Rana Plaza can never happen again. The Future in Our hands has done a great job following the progress of this security agreement. However, they revealed that the giant IKEA has not signed this agreement. This is a huge shame, because the agreement works, and is already making a significant change in the life of the textile workers. To get a visual of how it was like to experience an ordinary day before the collapse of the Rana Plaza, The Future in our Hands has put together this short video.  

If you want to take action after knowing this, like I do, you can go to IKEAs facebook page and ask them to sign the agreement.  For example: (in Norwegian) "Kjære IKEA, skriv under den livreddende sikkerhetsavtalen for tekstilarbeiderne i Bangladesh!" (And you may also link to the Future in our Hands article) 

- There has also been a UNFCCC Climate change meeting in Bonn from the 30th of April - 10th of May. This was the start of the Talanoa Dialogue : "

"Talanoa is a traditional word used in Fiji and across the Pacific to reflect a process of inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue. The purpose of Talanoa is to share stories, build empathy and to make wise decisions for the collective good. The process of Talanoa involves the sharing of ideas, skills and experience through storytelling.

During the process, participants build trust and advance knowledge through empathy and understanding. Blaming others and making critical observations are inconsistent with building mutual trust and respect, and therefore inconsistent with the Talanoa concept. Talanoa fosters stability and inclusiveness in dialogue, by creating a safe space that embraces mutual respect for a platform for decision making for a greater good.". 

A short recap of the outcome of this meeting: 

  • There was progress made in the the Paris "rulebook"
  • The next meeting will be held in Bangkok, so a negotiation text will be made to prepare for this session
  • There is still key factors in the technical and financial negotiations that needs to be worked out

Thanks to ClimateTracker for the infographic

BONN-SB48What-did-we-achieve_-2.png

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. 

 

This changes everything

I have finally gotten around to read Naomi Kleins 'This Changes Everything" (2014) (yes, I know, a little late to the game) However, even if you read it now, you will still get some really good insights as to where we are currently in the climate discourse.

Klein is a Canadian journalist, author and political activist, and 'This Changes Everything' draws most of its example from the current day US climate policies. The main idea of the book is that its the current economical system, capitalism, that is ruling how we make all other decisions, including those for the climate. If you are either interested in climate, as I sort of assume you are if you've found your way to this blog, but also if you are interested in how economy influence all aspects of society, then this might be the book for you.

One of my most 'aha!' moments when reading the book, was when she discusses how the fossile fuel industry per definition neither can't stop nor won't stop before they have literally searched every inch of our common Earth. This has to do with how it is financed; oil companies gets new investments based on what they estimate that they will be able to produce. So with this cycle, they can never stop searching. Klein gives some devastating examples in the book about small island communities that perished because of this extractive industry. For a more thorough explanation of this and a lot more, I can really recommend this book. It is also a good road map if you have just gotten into the climate debate, but want to get a bit more back history on how the movement came to be. 

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