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



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. 


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" 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  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. 

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 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