Sunday, November 19, 2017
COP23 in Bonn has concluded, and the discussions managed to negotiate outcomes agreed to at the UN climate talks. This article by Jocelyn Timperley of Carbon Brief is a succinct summary of the proceedings. She notes a significant comment by Mohamed Adow, international climate lead at Christian Aid London : "The days when you looked to one country to be able to actually lead the transition are gone. We’re now in a new era, where we are actually seeing more shared distributed leadership emerging, where 200 countries have collectively contributed to the global effort." So the process has now become far more consensus-based.
In another article from Bianca Jagger for Huffpost, the emphasis is that the stakes at COP23 are higher than ever, and time is running out. At COP 23, James Hansen provided a strong pronouncement on the urgency of the climate change situation, and took clear and unequivocal scientific positions on the danger that the planet is in. This video of his Nov.10 press conference, Scientific Reticence: A Threat to Humanity and Nature, records Jim Hansen, Pam Pearson and Philip Duffy in a dialogue about the rapidly escalating temperatures in the arctic. Their stance is that legal avenues need to be pursued to force goals that reflect science with actions that ensure that the limit of 1.5C temperature is not exceeded, per the agreement struck at COP 21 in Paris.
The big question at COP 23 was the question of who would step into the leadership role that the United States has abdicated on climate change. Perhaps no group has made a bigger splash on the world stage this year than the coalition of United States governors, mayors and businesses who call themselves We Are Still In coalition. Informally led by Gov. Jerry Brown of California; Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, and Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, the group has vowed to uphold the Paris agreement and move ahead with policies to fight climate change.This group of state and local officials are determined to begin implementing strategies that bring US emissions to net zero in the near future. It's a big challenge, not just because of Trump's intransigence on the subject, but also the uphill battle with the fossil fuel majors. The tragedy of this is that we're already in the process of ramping up emissions, when we should be moving as quickly as possible to zero. This is why it's critically important to use accurate, scientific data and measurements to make the substance of the negotiations actually work to prevent runaway climate change.
The WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin reports on atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. Emissions represent what goes into the atmosphere. Concentrations represent what remains in the atmosphere after the complex system of interactions between the atmosphere, biosphere, cryosphere and the oceans. About a quarter of the total emissions is taken up by the oceans and another quarter by the biosphere, reducing in this way the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. A separate Emissions Gap Report by UN Environment, released on October 31, tracks the policy commitments made by countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and analyses how these policies will translate into emissions reductions through 2030, clearly outlining the emissions gap and what it would take to bridge it.
"The numbers don't lie. We are still emitting far too much and this needs to be reversed. The last few years have seen enormous uptake of renewable energy, but we must now redouble our efforts to ensure these new low-carbon technologies are able to thrive. We have many of the solutions already to address this challenge. What we need now is global political will and a new sense of urgency," said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment.
Together, the Greenhouse Gas Bulletin and Emissions Gap Report provided a scientific base for decision-making at the UN climate change negotiations.
Update 11/20/17: Nations have agreed to launch the next steps toward higher climate action ambition before 2020
Update 11/22/17: Anthony Doerr: We Were Warned 25 years ago
Update 11/25/17: Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, research archives, Nov. 12 2017
Posted by LPB at 1:00 AM