Kyoto-Protocol

In the 2000 election, Bush won Florida (and therefore the election) by only 537 votes over Gore. 

The result was a shitty republican presidency and all that came with it, including, but certainly not limited to: 

  • a worldwide recession
  • millions of Americans lost their jobs and homes
  • conservative supreme court justices were nominated (all of which were against gay marriage)
  • the middle east was unjustly invaded and still hasn't recovered (see also: the creation of ISIS)
  • income inequality increased to atrocious levels due to tax cuts 
  • torturing suspected terrorists, a crime that bush admitted to “enthusiastically authorizing”
  • failing to accurately respond to the Hurricane Katrina disaster, which could have prevented hundreds of people from dying 
  • pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol because greenhouse gas emission limits “would be bad for the economy” 
  • so many other things including furthering the war on drugs, ignoring the UN, profiting off of the iraq war, creating gitmo, and spying on americans.

Wow, that stuff is pretty bad huh? It could have been prevented by more people coming out to the polls and simply voting for Gore (the 2000 election had a 51% turnout rate). Many voters believed that Gore wasn’t liberal enough, so they resulted to voting for the Green party’s Nader. Nader didn’t win any states. 

While Bernie Sanders has led a great campaign and brought national attention to important issues, he’s not the nominee and has no chance of being elected president. This “bernie or bust” rhetoric is ridiculous and simply ignorant of history and politics. “But if enough of us band together and vote-” you still couldn’t beat Donald Trump by winning enough states. 

So to those of you who think Sanders, Stein or Johnson would make a great president, the fact is that third parties have never won a national election, and are notorious for splitting the vote and upsetting the election. A vote for a third party is a vote for Trump. 

Simply abstaining to vote “to make a point” is just as absurd. What point are you trying to make? That you don’t like politics? Do you not understand that our elected officials impact our daily lives, and the only way we can control who makes the laws is by voting. 

I really don’t want a fearmongering misogynistic racist xenophobic man controlling the United states, so on November 8th, I’m voting for Hillary Clinton. I’m also going to be voting democrat on the rest of the ballot because this election is also for congress, the house, and other local and statewide offices. 

If you aren’t registered to vote, you can register at https://vote.usa.gov/ ! You can also google how to register in your state, and it’ll walk you through the process. 


Anyway: make sure you vote, third parties are stupid and unreasonable, and I’m with Her. 

avaaz.org
sign this petition.

“Our oceans are dying, our air changing, and our forests and grasslands turning to deserts. From fish and plants to wildlife to human beings, we are killing the planet that sustains us, and fast. There is one single greatest cause of this destruction of the natural world – climate change, and in the next 48 hours, we have a chance to stop it.

The UN treaty on climate change – our best hope for action – expires next year. But a greedy US-led coalition of oil-captured countries is trying to kill it forever. It’s staggeringly difficult to believe: they are trading short term profits for the survival of our natural world.

The EU, Brazil and China are all on the fence – they are not slaves to oil companies the way the US is, but they need to hear a massive call to action from people before they really lead financially and politically to save the UN treaty. The world is gathered at the climate summit for the next 48 hours to make the big decision. Let’s send our leaders a massive call to stand up to big oil and save the planet – an Avaaz team at the summit will deliver our call directly. Sign the petition!

The Death of the Kyoto Process

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There seems little possibility that next month’s climate summit in Durban will produce an emissions reduction agreement – meaning the world will soon lack any binding CO2 targets. Europe may soon find itself alone in the fight against global warming.

A climate catastrophe descended on the German Foreign Ministry in Berlin early last week. Politicians and diplomats from around the world were attending a conference to discuss how global warming will affect the world. They examined scenarios depicting how millions of people living in coastal areas could escape flooding, what will happen to the fishing and mineral rights of island nations when they no longer exist and how China and Russia will benefit from an ice-free Arctic.

In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said that it intended to “openly and creatively address” the dangers of climate change. The exercise was designed to help “find new paths of international cooperation.”

But the belief that global warming can be halted through international cooperation is elusive. The Kyoto Protocol, the world’s only binding climate agreement, will soon expire. The most important means to date of compelling industrialized nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions seems likely to become a mere footnote in history.

The current CO2-reduction agreements expire at the end of 2012, and there is enormous resistance to new targets. The environment ministers and negotiators from roughly 200 countries, who will travel to Durban, South Africa at the end of November for the latest global climate conference, are a long way from breathing new life into the Kyoto process.

Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, is making the bold claim that there is “a strong desire from all sides to see a final political decision made” in Durban. But this decision will probably consist of doing without fixed agreements on CO2 reduction in the future. “The meeting in Durban could become an act of mourning,” warns Reimund Schwarze of the Climate Service Center in Hamburg, which analyzes climate policy on behalf of the German government.

Merkel’s Optimism Has Faded

When Angela Merkel, then the German Environment Minister, returned from the 1997 UN climate summit in the Japanese imperial city of Kyoto, she was exhausted after long nights of negotiations. But she was also proud. The industrialized nations had pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions for the period from 2008 to 2012 by 5 percent from the 1990 levels. The conference was a “milestone in the history of environmental protection,” she said, noting that an “irreversible process” to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases had been initiated.

Although the industrialized countries will achieve the goal set in 1997, Merkel, now Germany’s chancellor, has lost almost all the optimism she had at the time. In fact, she now warns that the international negotiations could turn into a “huge disappointment.”

To stop global warming, a much faster and greater reduction in CO2 levels would be needed than the Kyoto Protocol has produced to date. But this is nowhere in sight. The reductions in emissions so far are primarily the result of economic crises and the collapse of industry in the former Soviet bloc. Noble rhetoric aside, oil, natural gas and coal have remained the foundation of modern prosperity. Major industrialized nations like Australia and Canada have even increased their emissions.

Little has remained of Merkel’s “irreversible process” to protect the climate. In emerging economies like China, which produces consumer goods for the world market, emissions have risen to such a great extent that they now far exceed those of the United States and Europe. Despite the economic crisis, worldwide CO2 emissions resulting from energy consumption reached a new record high of 33 billion tons last year, a 45 percent increase over the 1990 level.

Clean Energy as a ‘Dirty Word’

The Kyoto Protocol was never ratified in the United States, and the country remains unwilling to submit to international commitments on energy consumption out of a concern that doing so could cost jobs. “Clean energy has become a dirty word in the United States,” a close advisor to US President Barack Obama said during a recent visit to Berlin.

And now other important countries, like Japan, Canada and Russia, are refusing to commit to new binding CO2 targets for the period after 2012, as long as India and China do not cooperate. The emerging powers are calling for decisive action by the industrialized nations before they are willing to do anything, creating a vicious cycle.

“Without new reduction targets, Kyoto is nothing but an empty shell,” says environmental economist Schwarze.

In times of financial crisis, many politicians apparently no longer attach very much importance to a threat that will only unleash its full fury after many years. In addition, mistakes and slip-ups have harmed the credibility of climate scientists. In particular, an incorrect prediction about the melting of Himalayan glaciers by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has given opponents of climate protection new ammunition.

Trying to Buy Time

The Europeans are the only ones still fighting for new binding targets within the framework of the Kyoto Protocol. Last week, EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard and environment ministers from the 27 EU member states agreed to campaign for more negotiations in Durban, but with a transitional period lasting until 2015, even though the CO2 reduction targets are set to expire in 2012. It is an attempt to buy time and to keep the Kyoto Protocol artificially alive, even though it’s already clinically dead.

The malaise began in 2009, if not earlier. At the UN climate conference in Copenhagen, the Europeans, most notably German Chancellor Merkel, failed in their attempt to achieve a comprehensive climate treaty. The United States and three emerging powers, China, India and Brazil, aligned themselves against Europe in Copenhagen and blocked binding targets. None of them were willing to allow foreign countries to tell them how much fossil fuel they could burn in their factories, cars and buildings.

On the surface, the German government is fighting for a new agreement and regularly brings together decision-makers from around the world to save what can still be saved. But preparations to withdraw from the protocol have been underway for some time. Privately, no German negotiator still believes that the Kyoto Protocol can still be saved.

“At best, the EU can go it alone, but it represents only 15 percent of worldwide emissions,” says a leading government climate strategist. The “only result would be that after Durban, 27 European parliaments would have to ratify CO2 targets that we already pursue in the EU.”

Since the Copenhagen summit, the practical alternative to the binding climate treaty is to maintain an informal list. Each country voluntarily enters its national climate protection goals into this document. There likely would be some sort of mechanism to monitor compliance with these goals. But there would be no consequences whatsoever for countries that fail to meet their own targets. Given this half-hearted approach, it is likely that in the coming decades global warming will exceed the 2 degrees Celsius defined by the UN as the threshold to a dangerously overheated world.

There is no plan in place to prevent this from happening. Instead, in late November the diplomats in Durban will concentrate on programs that might be, at best, minor details of a major treaty, such as a “Green Climate Fund” designed to channel billions of euros from wealthy to poor countries to fund environmentally friendly economic development there. Other projects will involve creating financial incentives to protect intact forests.

Climate Policy at Its Low Point

UN climate chief Figueres admits that all of this is far from sufficient to avoid a dangerous warming of the planet. “The sum total of current national pledges to reduce global emissions falls 40 percent short of keeping below 2 degrees Celsius and that gap will have to be filled in the future,” she says.

Jochem Marotzke, director of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg and chairman of the German Climate Consortium, believes that global climate policy has reached a low point and that both politicians and the public are losing interest in climate issues. “But we can’t negotiate against the climate,” Marotzke warns.

“Scientists are more and more convinced of their results, but citizens are becoming increasingly saturated,” says climatologist Hans von Storch, director of the Institute for Coastal Research in Geesthacht near Hamburg. According to Storch, public concern over climate change has declined for the fourth year in a row. He also sees the apathy as a consequence of the increasingly shrill, alarmist tones with which environmentalists and even a few scientists have attracted attention to themselves in recent years.

This did not stop the German Foreign Ministry from simulating scenarios of unchecked climate change last week. Minister of State Cornelia Pieper’s comments in the presence of the environment ministers from Bangladesh and the Maldives sounded almost like capitulation. She noted that we must prepare ourselves to manage in a world “that will be scarred by global warming and other climate changes.”

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

By Christian Schwägerl and Gerald Traufetter

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,792224,00.html

Canada's exit from Kyoto accord heads off fines

Canada’s Conservative government has pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol, the world’s binding climate treaty, to avoid paying $14 billion in penalties.

Environment Minister Peter Kent said the penalties for Canada not achieving its targets would cost thousands of jobs with no impact on emissions or the environment.

Instead, Canada is looking for a new global deal to force all countries to lower greenhouse-gas emissions.

The announcement by Kent to invoke Canada’s “legal right” to withdraw came after his return from United Nations climate talks in South Africa.

The talks resulted in an agreement to establish a new climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol by 2015.

Russia and Japan also refused to continue with the protocol, while Kent said he expected others to withdraw also.

Environmental groups and opposition politicians condemned Canada’s action on Kyoto, signed in the late 1990s by a Liberal government.

By Jim Fox, Times CorrespondentTampa Bay Times
In Print: Sunday, December 18, 2011


businessgreen.com
Good news: Europe's 'climate policy is working'

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From Business Green:

The EU remains on track to exceed the international carbon emissions targets imposed through the Kyoto Protocol, despite a 2.4 per cent in emissions last year driven by the bloc’s gradual economic recovery.

According to figures released today as part of the European Commission’s annual report on its progress to meeting its Kyoto targets, EU greenhouse gas emissions for 2010 were 15.5 per cent below 1990 levels despite economic growth of 41 per cent over the same period.

Significantly, emissions across the EU fell for six consecutive years through to and including 2009, even when the bloc was enjoying economic growth.

EU climate change commissioner Connie Hedegaard hailed the report as evidence the EU has successfully decoupled emissions from economic growth through the wider use of low carbon technologies.

“The EU continued decoupling emissions from GDP during the recession,” she said in a statement. “Between 2008 and 2009, emissions fell by 7.1 per cent in the EU-27, much more than the around four per cent contraction in GDP.”

However, she added that the estimated 2.4 per cent increase in emissions last year “shows that we need to continue the decoupling process”.

“Pursuing our efforts to make Europe a low-carbon society is the way forward,” she said. “It will stimulate technological innovation, spur economic growth and create jobs while further reducing emissions so that we meet our 2020 climate and energy targets and long term goals.”

The report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) also confirms the EU-15 countries that face a legally binding requirement to cut emissions by eight per cent against 1990 levels by 2012 under the Kyoto Protocol are on track to meet the target and are “most likely to overachieve it”.

Check out the rest of the article here.

(Image credit: European Climate Foundation via Fast Company)

Open Letter to the Government of Canada

Le français suit

To the Government of Canada: 

We are the Canadian Youth Delegation, supported by more than sixty environmental non-profits, labour groups, and youth organizations. We are youth from across Canada who are attending the upcoming UN international climate change negotiations (COP 20) in Lima, Peru. As we prepare for our participation at the negotiations, we realize how important it is for us to introduce ourselves and tell you that we refuse to tolerate the inaction of the Canadian Government when it comes to climate change. We intend to hold you accountable for the decisions you make at COP 20.  

We have grown up in a world threatened by the impacts of a changing climate. For our entire lives, world leaders have been aware of the irreversible damage that humans are inflicting on our planet, but have done almost nothing to reverse it. You, the Government of Canada, have made it clear that you are more interested in the profit and power you gain from a fossil fuel based economy than you are in ensuring a sustainable and livable planet for generations to come. Since assuming power you have:

- withdrawn from the Kyoto Protocol in 2012 and continually blocked progress at international climate negotiations;
- refused to put meaningful effort into supporting climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts;
- lowered and reneged on emissions reductions commitments and zealously lobbied other governments to do the same;
- pushed back relentlessly on the Climate Change Accountability Act (Bill C-311) and silenced the young people who protested its failure in October 2009 by dragging them from the House of Commons, where you laughed at them for demanding collective and ambitious climate action and policy;
- championed an omnibus bill in 2012 that stripped federal environmental protections and muzzled climate scientists;
- systematically audited and threatened organizations that aim to shed light on the disgraceful actions of the government;
- and denied the treaty rights of Indigenous peoples in this country. 

We, the Canadian Youth Delegation, stand alongside the millions of young people worldwide who refuse to inherit a planet in crisis. We stand beside Indigenous peoples, front-line communities, people of colour and low income populations who are living the frightening realities and injustices of climate change, and who will continue to be disproportionately impacted in the absence of sufficient action. 

From coast to coast to coast First Nations, Inuit, and Métis, industry workers, new immigrants, parents, farmers, fishers, unions, students and many more are demanding climate justice. Yet the Government of Canada continues to lead us down a highway of unfettered expansion of the tar sands, paired with unwieldy trade agreements, and a complete lack of respect for Indigenous land and treaty rights. We reject the notion that the environment and the economy are mutually exclusive or pitted against each other. There is no price tag on forests, rivers, wetlands, air, culture, communities, or our lives and livelihoods.  We know that it is not for lack of technological advancement, public opinion, or financial resources that we have not stopped climate change in its tracks; the culprit is lack of political will. Along with action on climate change, we demand that the Government of Canada honour the treaties and land rights of Indigenous people in this country.

You have the opportunity to be a leader in creating a just transition to a clean energy future, but you consistently fail to rise to the challenge. By now, any excuses for delay have long expired, yet we anticipate with heavy hearts that you will continue to stall negotiations at COP 20 and promote carbon-intensive projects at home. If this is the case, we will continue to challenge the ongoing development of the single most destructive development anywhere on Earth, and we will not give up until you acknowledge and take urgent and ambitious action to demonstrate that our future is more important to you than the money in your pockets, the oil on your hands, or the power you hold. To us, our future is everything, and we will do all that we can to protect it. Let it echo through the halls and boardrooms of every legislating body and corporate headquarters in this country: we deserve better. 

Sincerely, 

The Canadian Youth Delegation to COP 20  
350.org
Bringing Youth Towards Equality (BYTE) 
Canadian Federation of Students 
Canadian Labour Congress
Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice
Canadian Youth Climate Coalition
ClimateFast
Climate Justice Saskatoon
Committee for Future Generations
Conservation Council of New Brunswick
Council of Canadians
Dalhousie Student Union Office of Sustainability
Divest Dalhousie
Divest McGill 
Divest Mount Allison
Divest UVic 
Divest York
Douglas Channel Watch 
Ecology Action Centre 
Ecology North
Ecology Ottawa 
Environmental Studies Student Association, University of Saskatchewan
Fossil Fuel Divestment at Grenfell 
Fossil Free Guelph
Fossil Free Kwantlen 
Fossil Free Lakehead
Fossil Free McMaster 
Fossil Free uOttawa 
Friends of the Earth Canada
Geography, Planning and Environmental Graduate Students of Concordia University 
Greenpeace Canada
Inter-Church Uranium Committee Educational Co-operative 
Keepers of the Athabasca
Leadnow.ca
Living Oceans Society
Mother Earth Action Co-operative Ltd.
Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association
Pro Information Pro Environmental United People (PIPE UP) Network
Polaris Institute
Public Interest Alberta
Queen’s Backing Action on Climate Change
rabble.ca 
RPIC (Renewable Power - the Intelligent Choice) 
Saskatoon Peoples’ Climate March
Saskatchewan Citizens’ Hearings on Climate Change Organizing Committee 
Saskatchewan Eco-Network
Sierra Club BC
Sierra Club Canada Foundation
Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group
Starfish Canada 
Stop Energy East Halifax
Sustainable SFU 
Sustainable Trent 
Student’s Society of McGill University 
Toronto350.org 
Transition Initiative Kenora
UBCC350
UofT350.org 
UR Sustainability 
Vegans and Vegetarians of Alberta
West Coast Environmental Law Association
Wilderness Committee

International 
Aotearoa New Zealand Human Rights Lawyers Association
Australian Youth Climate Coalition 
Friends of the Earth Europe 
Generation Zero 
New Zealand Youth Delegation 
P3 Foundation 
SustainUS: U.S. Youth for Sustainable Development Young

———

Au gouvernement canadien:  

Nous sommes la Délégation jeunesse canadienne, soutenue par plus de soixante organismes à but non lucratif, syndicats et organisations jeunesse. Nous sommes des jeunes de partout au Canada qui seront présents à la Conférence des parties sur le climat (COP 20), à Lima du 1er au 12 décembre. Alors que nous nous préparons à participer à ces négociations, nous avons cru bon de nous présenter et de vous annoncer que nous ne tolérons pas l’inaction du gouvernement canadien en matière de changements climatiques. À COP20, nous avons l’intention de vous tenir responsable des décisions que vous avez prises au courant de la dernière décennie. 

Nous avons grandi dans un monde menacé par les impacts d’un climat en changement. Durant l’intégralité de nos vies, les leaders mondiaux ont été au courant des dommages que l’humain inflige à la planète, mais n’ont pas agi pour l’en empêcher. Vous, le gouvernement canadien, avez fait clairement comprendre que vous êtes davantage intéressé par le profit et le pouvoir que vous obtenez d’une économie basée sur les énergies fossiles que vous l’êtes par l’assurance d’un environnement sain pour les générations à venir. Depuis la prise de pouvoir de M. Harper, vous avez: 

- retiré le Canada du Protocole de Kyoto en 2012 et continuellement empêché le progrès des négociations internationales sur le climat;
- refusé d’investir quelque effort que ce soit au soutien de l’adaptation et de la mitigation des impacts des changements climatiques;
- manqué à vos obligations de réduction des émissions tout en encourageant d’autres gouvernements à suivre votre exemple;
- réprimé le projet de loi sur la responsabilité en matière de changements climatiques (C-311) et retiré la voix des jeunes manifestant leur désaccord à l’abandon de cette loi en les traînant hors de la Chambre des communes et en riant de leurs demandes d’action concrète;
- introduit et adopté le projet de loi C-45 annulant les protections environnementales fédérales tout en muselant les scientifiques;
- audité et menacé de manière systématique des organismes tentant de dénoncer les actions douteuses du gouvernement;
- renié les droits ancestraux des peuples autochtones du pays. 

La Délégation jeunesse canadienne se tient debout avec les millions de jeunes à travers le monde qui refusent d’hériter d’une planète en crise. Nous nous tenons debout avec les Autochtones, les communautés au front des impacts climatiques, les personnes de couleur et les populations à revenu modique qui vivent quotidiennement les réalités et les injustices climatiques, et qui continueront de les vivre de manière disproportionnée si vous maintenez vos positions et restez dans l’inaction. 

À l’échelle du pays, des Premières Nations, Inuit, Métis, travailleuses et travailleurs, parents, fermières et fermiers, pêcheurs et pêcheuses, syndiqué(e)s, étudiantes et étudiants ainsi que des milliers d’autres personnes demandent la justice pour le climat. Pourtant, le gouvernement canadien maintient ses positions d’industrialisation débridée, d’exploitation de nos ressources naturelles et d’accords d’échange peu fructueux, sans se soucier des impacts sur le territoire ou des droits des Autochtones. Nous rejetons la notion selon laquelle l’environnement et l’économie sont exclusifs ou en opposition. Nos forêts, nos rivières, les milieux humides, l’air, notre culture, nos communautés, nos vies et nos moyens de subsistance n’ont pas de prix. Ce ne sont pourtant pas le manque d’avancées technologiques, l’opinion publique ou le manque de ressources financières qui nous empêchent de contrer les changements climatiques : le manque de volonté politique est le vrai coupable. En plus de l’action concrète sur les changements climatiques, nous exigeons que le gouvernement du Canada respecte les traités et les droits des Autochtones. 

Vous avez la chance de devenir des leaders pour un futur propre, mais vous échouez constamment à relever ce défi. Aujourd’hui, le délai pour fournir des excuses a expiré depuis fort longtemps, pourtant nous anticipons avec tristesse que vous continuerez de retarder les négociations à COP 20 et de promouvoir des projets d’extraction sur la scène nationale. Si c’est le cas, nous continuerons de défier le développement des sables bitumineux, soit le projet d’exploitation le plus destructeur au monde. Nous ne cesserons pas jusqu’à ce que vous reconnaissiez que notre futur vaut plus que l’argent dans vos poches, le pétrole sur vos mains ou le pouvoir que vous détenez. Nous exigeons des actions en ce sens. Pour nous, le futur est tout ce que nous possédons et nous ferons tout ce qui est en notre pouvoir pour le protéger. Que notre message résonne à travers les chambres d’assemblées et les sièges sociaux du pays: nous méritons mieux.

Sincèrement,

La Délégation jeunesse canadienne à COP 20
350.org
Bringing Youth Towards Equality (BYTE) 
Canadian Federation of Students 
Canadian Labour Congress
Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice
Canadian Youth Climate Coalition
ClimateFast
Climate Justice Saskatoon
Committee for Future Generations
Conservation Council of New Brunswick
Council of Canadians
Dalhousie Student Union Office of Sustainability
Divest Dalhousie
Divest McGill 
Divest Mount Allison
Divest UVic 
Divest York
Douglas Channel Watch 
Ecology Action Centre
Ecology North
Ecology Ottawa 
Environmental Studies Student Association, University of Saskatchewan
Fossil Fuel Divestment at Grenfell 
Fossil Free Guelph
Fossil Free Kwantlen 
Fossil Free Lakehead
Fossil Free McMaster 
Fossil Free uOttawa 
Friends of the Earth Canada
Geography, Planning and Environmental Graduate Students of Concordia University 
Greenpeace Canada
Inter-Church Uranium Committee Educational Co-operative 
Keepers of the Athabasca
Leadnow.ca
Living Oceans Society
Mother Earth Action Co-operative Ltd.
Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association
Pro Information Pro Environmental United People (PIPE UP) Network
Polaris Institute
Public Interest Alberta
Queen’s Backing Action on Climate Change
rabble.ca
RPIC (Renewable Power - the Intelligent Choice) 
Saskatoon Peoples’ Climate March
Saskatchewan Citizens’ Hearings on Climate Change Organizing Committee 
Saskatchewan Eco-Network
Sierra Club BC
Sierra Club Canada Foundation
Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group
Starfish Canada 
Stop Energy East Halifax
Sustainable SFU 
Sustainable Trent 
Student’s Society of McGill University 
Toronto350.org 
Transition Initiative Kenora
UBCC350
UofT350.org 
UR Sustainability 
Vegans and Vegetarians of Alberta
West Coast Environmental Law Association
Wilderness Committee

Organisations internationales
Aotearoa New Zealand Human Rights Lawyers Association
Australian Youth Climate Coalition
Generation Zero
New Zealand Youth Delegation 
P3 Foundation
SustainUS: U.S. Youth for Sustainable Development
Young Friends of the Earth Europe  

As nearly 200 countries meet in oil-and-gas-rich Qatar for annual talks starting Monday on slowing global warming, one of the main challenges will be raising climate aid for poor countries at a time when budgets are strained by financial turmoil.

Borrowing a buzzword from the U.S. budget debate, Tim Gore of the British charity Oxfam said developing countries, including island nations for whom rising sea levels pose a threat to their existence, stand before a “climate fiscal cliff.”

“So what we need for those countries in the next two weeks are firm commitments from rich countries to keep giving money to help them to adapt to climate change,” he told The Associated Press on Sunday.

Creating a structure for climate financing has so far been one of the few tangible outcomes of the two-decade-old U.N. climate talks, which have failed in their main purpose: reducing emissions of heat-trapping gases that scientists say are warming the planet, melting ice caps, glaciers and permafrost, shifting weather patterns and raising sea levels.

The only binding treaty to limit such emissions, the Kyoto Protocol, expires this year, so agreeing on an extension is seen as the most urgent task by environment ministers and climate officials meeting in the Qatari capital.

Watch on climateadaptation.tumblr.com

Breaking: World leaders agree to extend Kyoto Protocol at COP18. U.S. and China skip talks. Environmentalists are super pissed. Click to watch Al Jazeera’s superior reporting. Full story with link, below. I’ll have more on the adaptation portions of the negotiations throughout the upcoming week.

Deal reached in Doha to extend Kyoto protocol

Delegates end conference with agreement to keep alive legally binding plan limiting greenhouse-gas emissions until 2020.

UN climate talks in Doha have come to a point of agreement on the extension of the Kyoto protocol, despite an objection from the Russian Federation.

After 36 hours of non-stop negotiation, delegates from nearly 200 nations in the Qatari capital agreed on Saturday to extend the protocol limiting greenhouse gas emissions until 2020.

Almost immediately after Qatar’s energy minister announced an agreement, Russia stated its objection.

Al Jazeera’s Nick Clark, reporting from the conference venue, said Russia’s objection showed that despite the agreement, “not everybody is totally happy” with the outcome of the two-week-long conference.

The extension of the 1997 UN-backed Kyoto Protocol will keep it alive as the only legally binding plan for combating global warming even though it will cover developed nations whose share of world greenhouse-gas emissions is less than 15 per cent.

The 27-member European Union, Australia, Switzerland and eight other industrialised nations agreed to the binding emission cuts by 2020. Each signatory had already legislated individual targets.

The United States has refused to ratify Kyoto. The Protocol also excludes major developing polluters like China, the nation with the higest rate of pollution, and India.

“It is a modest but essential step forward”, Connie Hedegaard, European climate commissioner, said at the conclusion of Doha Climate Gateway.

Full story: Al Jazeera

Everything You Need to Know About the COP21

The closer we get to the event, the more you will hear the word COP21. Indeed, in just a few weeks, the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21), will start in Le Bourget, France, a small suburb north of Paris, and is already anticipated to be critical for climate change mitigation strategies.

  • What is the COP?

COP stands for Conference of the Parties (COP). Since 1995, the vast majority of heads of state and the UN meet once a year to talk about climate change and what needs to be done. This year’s summit will be held in Paris, France from November 30 to December 11, 2015. France has confirmed it will proceed despite the recent terrorist attack on the country’s capital.

The countries participating in this conference are the countries that have signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992 during the Rio Earth Convention. That summit first recognized the existence of a human-induced climate change, and gave industrialized countries the main responsibility to find solutions. The main objective of the annual COP is to review the Convention’s implementation.  The UNFCCC now has a near-universal membership of 195 countries. 

  •  Three important COP to know about:

- 1997: The 3rd COP allowed for the adoption of the famous Kyoto Protocol, which was the first international accord forcing countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. This agreement was successful in a way that it was a great first step to combat climate change, and many countries respected their part of the contracts. Nevertheless, the protocol was only signed by 55 industrialized countries, the United States never ratified it (i.e made it officially valid by signing it or giving it formal consent), Canada and Russia withdrew from it, and China (who is nowadays the 1st contributor of greenhouse gases) was not concerned at the time.

- 2009: The COP in Copenhagen (Denmark) is considered a big failure. Each decision and agreement needs to be approved unanimously or by consensus during the COP. Here, countries failed to find a proper consensus, and no actual decisions were made to actively slow down climate change.

- 2011: During this COP in Durban (South Africa), countries decided that 2015 would be the year that a universal agreement would have to be taken to combat climate change. Since then, all following COP have prepared the agreement that should be voted on and negotiated in December in France.

  •  What are the goals of the COP21?

The COP21 is considered pivotal in climate change decisions. For the first time in essentially 20 years of UN negotiations, the conference will aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the goal of keeping global warming below 2°C. This agreement will replace the Kyoto Protocol that set to end in 2020.

The universal agreement is more or less set already. Indeed, many heads of state have been meeting multiple times this year to discuss and work on it beforehand. Each country also had until October to hand in their national plans to reduce greenhouse gases. The two weeks of the COP21 will mostly be a debate on how to act and implement on these different mitigation and adaptation strategies, and how to finance them.

As we are nearing the end of 2015, the hottest year on record and where we saw the increased occurrence of extreme weather events, it is crucial that countries agree and act urgently to fight the consequences of our changing climate.

  •  What about the oceans?

For the last few months, the platform Ocean and Climate, which regroups numerous NGOs and scientific institutes, has been in the forefront of the COP21 discussions, led by their ambassador Sylvia Earle. The ocean has been largely ignored in the previous COP’s discussions on climate change. It has now become necessary to include it, as it has been proven time and time again that it is a crucial piece of the Earth’s climate regulator.

Ocean and Climate aims to not only integrate the oceans within the discussion of climate negotiations, but also to inform the general public and policy makers about the importance of our marine ecosystems and of marine conservation. There will be 5 days dedicated to the oceans during the events surrounding the COP21.

You can also show your support for the oceans and the necessity to give them a voice during these negotiations by signing this petition created by Sylvia Earle.

youtube

Canada pulling out of Kyoto accord
“It’s now clear that Kyoto is not the path forward for a global solution to climate change. If anything, it’s an impediment.” Canada will formally withdraw from the Kyoto accord on climate change, Environment Minister Peter Kent said Monday.

Meanwhile NMA-TV, a Taiwan-based company that produces animation based on current news events, put together a different view on Canada’s decision.

cbc.ca
Paris climate summit faces dilemma of how to set binding targets
The much-anticipated UN climate summit officially starts in Paris today with a growing sense that it may not deliver any kind of hammer to force countries to curb their emissions, other than a moral one.

This article mentions but doesn’t go into why we pulled out of Kyoto.

Canada is a federation. Our constitution splits powers between the federal and provincial governments, and those powers are totally sovereign to the separate levels of government. When it comes to the environment, the federal government’s most important powers are over federal/Crown lands, Fisheries & Oceans, international corridors (ex. migratory bird habitats), and Toxic Substances. They enforce most of these through CEPA (Canadian Environmental Protection Act 1999), SARA (Species At Risk Act 1999), the Fisheries Act, etc. [You can find our federal environmental acts here.]

What does this mean? It means that if the federal government wants to impose nationwide environmental laws, they have to either make sure that they don’t infringe upon provincial jurisdiction (these laws will inevitably be nullified by the courts) or that the provinces are on board and willing to implement the laws.

Going into Kyoto, Chretien had met and negotiated with all of Canada’s provincial premiers and they had collectively agreed upon a set of (edit) promises and targets they could meet. When the US pushed the targets to be more strict, Chretien chose to agree to those new targets without considering or discussing it with the premiers, so when he came back with a signed treaty they were understandably unimpressed. The tricky thing about international treaties is that the Canadian federal government can SIGN them but they can’t RATIFY them without the provinces. If the provinces choose not to jump on the bandwagon...well... *shrug* In the US, a similar situation faces the President: if Congress won’t ratify, it was all for nothing. Hence, the US never ratified Kyoto and Canada backed out when it became clear we weren’t going to meet the targets.

The poster child for successful international treaties regarding the environment is the Montreal Protocol, which completely stopped new emissions of CFC’s and slowed the depletion of the ozone layer (though CFC’s are still emitted from goods produced before the treaty that are lounging around in dumps and there are other ozone-depleting chemicals like HFC’s still hanging out in the tropo/stratosphere). However, this was a special case for several reasons. It was a narrow issue that didn’t have nearly as large a social/economic impact as carbon, there were cost-effective alternatives that were largely owned by the same companies producing CFC’s in the first place, there were compensation incentives for both rich countries and the poorer countries who couldn’t afford to abate emissions on their own, and the US was totally on board because the health costs were substantially higher than the cost to ban and replace CFC’s (we’re talking millions of lives lost to skin cancer and millions of cataracts cases in the US alone). Thus, even though it was extremely successful and all 197 countries ratified it, the Montreal Protocol is unlikely to be replicated in Paris.

Now for the Canadian context:
For the last decade Alberta has been known as the climate laggard and has been holding us back in terms of climate change action. I’m not saying this because I hate/have anything against Alberta. I’m saying this because Alberta’s economy has been extremely reliant on the oil sands and other environmentally-unfriendly industries -- in fact, oil made it arguably the most wealthy province in Canada, taking the crown from Ontario and bringing attention to the west -- and they have been reluctant to give that up. They also had a Prime Minister who represented their province and interests above all others, really. I mean, the man was literally a representative of an Alberta riding and had friends in the oil industry that directly benefited from his policies. (We can disagree on this if you like, but it’s not the main point of this post, so I’m going to move on.) Last week, Alberta flipped all that on its head when it signed into law a carbon tax that is one of the most ambitious and stringent in the world. It is more badass than BC’s, Quebec’s, Ontario’s... $30/tonne of carbon to start. Yes, $60/tonne is the point at which big changes will actually start to happen but it’s still a big deal -- and they did it by getting the industry on board.

How will this affect our behaviour at COP21? Canada has arrived in Paris as a united federal/provincial delegation. They have discussed and negotiated ahead of time and have chosen to act together. This is extremely important, and a step forward. However, we must acknowledge that it’s going to be tricky to sign a treaty with extremely ambitious cuts/targets. Canada is not going to sign a treaty that imposes more costs than benefits on our governments and taxpayers.

This morning, Obama warned that while he knows it’s an important issue and he wants to take action, the UN member states must recognize that he will not be able to convince Congress to ratify a treaty that is too ambitious. For UN states this isn’t news but it is something they have to consider moving forward. If the US, one of the biggest emitters of carbon and drivers of climate change, is not on board and isn’t acting, then choosing to sign and ratify a treaty that imposes high costs on their own country would be economically disastrous for no reason -- there would be no impact on the common purpose/good and they’d suffer the costs. Canada is not exempt from these realities and you’ve probably all heard it before: “We’re not even a big emitter, so why should we do anything if the big emitters won’t?” Fair enough. But you need to also understand that Trudeau cannot do anythingwithout the agreement of the Premiers. Full stop. His hands are tied. And while the media may vilify him or laud him, UN member countries understand that. They may not like it, but they understand that. His role will literally be bouncing back and forth between negotiating with the Premiers and negotiating with the other UN member state leaders.

To this effect, all subnational leaders are going to have their own day in Paris. Canada is by no means the only federation and we’re not the only ones with subnational levels of government that have power and influence. COP21 is unique in that they are finally acknowledging this and have invited the subnational leaders to the table. They aren’t part of the main negotiations and they won’t be able to directly influence decisions, but their presence shows that national governments are finally willing to listen and consider them in their decisions.

I just wanted to make all this clear as we get into the thick of things this week. It’s going to be intense, and I really wish more Canadians understood the reality of how law and policy actually work in this country. Unfortunately, it often doesn’t make it into grade 10 Civics class, and we can’t blame people for not understanding when they’ve never had to take a constitutional law class. That said, we can help to inform them.

If anyone has questions about Canadian environmental policy or law, feel free to ask. I’m currently completing a Masters of Environmental Sustainability and while I’m not an expert I’ll do my best to answer. If I can’t, I’ll ask my Law professor Stewart Elgie (founder of EcoJustice) or my Policy professor Luc Juillet. The majority of what I know is thanks to them. Also, if you have questions about the differences/pros and cons of carbon tax vs cap and trade policies (which I get the feeling are going to come up) I can provide some information on that as well.

‘Groundbreaking data tracks carbon emissions back to their source’

From The Guardian:

For the purposes of the Kyoto treaty, a nation’s carbon footprint is considered to be a sum of all the greenhouse gas released within its borders. But as many people – myself included – have been pointing out for years, that approach ignores all the laptops, leggings, lampshades and other goods that rich countries import from China and elsewhere.

If we want any chance of a fair global climate deal, the now-familiar argument goes, we need to rethink the way we measure emissions to allocate some of the carbon pouring out of Chinese, Indian and Mexican factories and power plants to the countries importing good from those countries.

The new scientific paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, points out that this argument – though persuasive – tells only half of the story. If you want to understand how carbon footprints are affected by international trade flows, the paper argues, you need to consider trade not only in gadgets and garments but also in fossil fuels themselves. After all, though country X might import a television that was made in country Y, it’s quite possible that country Y in turn imported some of the coal, oil or gas consumed by the television factory from country Z.

Of course, there’s nothing revelatory in the idea that fossil fuels are traded between nations. We all know that, say, Saudi Arabia produces much of the world’s oil. But what the academics behind the new data have done is a remarkable feat of number crunching: they’ve tracked the carbon flows of virtually the whole world, from the countries extracting the oil, gas and coal via the countries in which it’s burned to the countries that ultimately consume the goods and services all that energy is used to create.

All of which will appeal to climate data enthusiasts, but is the study actually important? I think it is – not so much because it has any obvious practical applications, but because the data helps reminds campaigners, consumers and policymakers alike that

the climate-change problem is ultimately about fossil fuel coming out of the ground. That sounds an obvious thing to say but it’s a point often forgotten in all the discussions about clean energy or national emissions cuts – both of which are necessary but not sufficient to meet the challenge of leaving most of the world’s hydrocarbons in the ground.

Check out the rest of the article and an accompanying “Extraction to Consumption” chart that shows the source of the fuels used to support the lifestyles in each country here.

washingtonpost.com
At U.N. climate talks, delegates salvage last-minute compromise

“Delegates to the U.N. climate talks adopted a significant agreement Sunday setting nations on a new path toward an international accord by 2015 to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

The outcome of contentious negotiations taking place in Durban — punctuated by finger pointing among the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters and heckling by activists — reflected a fundamental shift in the geopolitics behind global environmental disputes.

Developing countries have long been a unified bloc, demanding that industrialized nations take most of the responsibility for cutting global greenhouse gas emissions. But faced with the fact that a handful of emerging economies — led by China and India — are helping drive carbon emissions to new heights, the world’s smallest nations joined forces with the European Union to demand decisive action from their former allies as well as the United States.

The Durban agreement provides countries with the latitude to forge something that would apply to all nations, called an “agreed outcome with legal force,” a last-minute compromise that creates a less stringent alternative to a traditional treaty. Several experts said such an agreement would be stronger than the voluntary accords reached last year in Cancun, Mexico.”

Read more @ Washington Post