5 May 2016 – Recalling that just two weeks ago, 175 countries came to the United Nations to sign the historic Paris Agreement on climate change, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said it is time to take climate action to the next level. “We need to accelerate the speed, scope and scale of our response, locally and globally,” Mr. Ban told participants of the Climate Action Summit 2016 in Washington D.C, a two-day meeting that started today and aims to strengthen the multi-stakeholder approach to climate implementation. In particular, it is expected to deepen and expand the action coalitions of government, business, finance, philanthropy, civil society and academic leaders launched at the Secretary-General’s Climate Summit 2014 in New York. “I have been looking forward to this event because it is about solutions – innovation and imagination; collaboration and partnerships between the public and private sectors. Today as never before, the stars are aligning in favour of climate action. Everywhere I look, I see signs of hope,” he said. Noting that the current Summit would focus on six, high-value areas of multi-stakeholder partnership: sustainable energy; sustainable land-use; cities; transport; and tools for decision-making, the UN chief underscored that strong partnership would be needed at all levels to tackle those challenges. “No sector of society and no nation can succeed alone. I encourage you to collaborate. Innovate. Invest. Together we can build the world we want,” he said. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Jim is greeted by Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group. Former Vice President Al Gore of the United States looks on. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe ‹› The signing of the Paris Agreement on 22 April received overwhelming support from all regions of the world; never before had so many countries signed an international accord in one day. Adopted in Paris by the 196 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at a conference known as COP21 last December, the Agreement’s objective is to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and to strive for 1.5 degrees Celsius. It will enter into force 30 days after at least 55 countries, accounting for 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, deposit their instruments of ratification. “Two of the world’s largest emitters – China and the United States – have pledged their continued commitment and collaboration,” Mr. Ban stressed, noting that leaders must turn the “promise of Paris” into action and implementation as soon as possible. The UN chief also announced that in September, on the margins of the G20 meeting, he intends to co-convene a meeting in China similar to this one to further solidify coalitions. Also speaking at the event, the President of the World Bank Group, Jim Yong Kim said there is no time waste.
OPINION: The Government’s plan for meeting our Kyoto Protocol commitment and 2020 emissions reduction target was released this month. It reveals a shocking truth: New Zealand has been a willing participant in a wholesale climate fraud. We’ve been dealing with criminals and fraudsters in order to meet our international obligations. If our reputation wasn’t shot to pieces after Paris – where we revealed our weak kneed 2030 target – it will be now. Carbon trading is a fine idea, but it only works if the credits we buy actually represent a true emissions reduction somewhere else. The sad truth is that the foreign credits New Zealand has gorged on up until now have produced little to no climate benefit. New Zealand’s main vice has been a particular type of carbon credit called the Emissions Reduction Unit (ERU). These are issued for emissions-reducing projects in countries participating in the Kyoto Protocol. The idea is that the revenue from selling ERUs would make projects viable that wouldn’t be otherwise. Over 90 per cent of ERUs have come out of Russia and Ukraine, and under Kyoto they were allowed to authorise their own projects. No surprise that when they were externally audited this year, 85 per cent of the units didn’t stand up to scrutiny. They are essentially worthless bits of paper. The EU got wind of the games being played years back and started to clamp down on the use of these credits…
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Prime Minister Trudeau is calling for Canadians to take an active role in implementing the global climate change deal reached this weekend in Paris.
From the vantage point of being at COP21, I have to agree with the statements made here. And I’ll add this; despite the halting agreements and the commitments (double-talk not withstanding), the advances in technologies for methane capture (such as those dairy herds that the New Zealand Prime Minister is so determined to hang onto), it remains my conviction that the kind of change required for long-term survival of the remaining ecosystems can only be effected from the ground up. That is where the real will resides. Nonetheless I share the concern of fellow climate activists and concerned citizens, that the greatest challenge of all may be to convince our fellow human occupants of the planet. And not only them. I may be willing to give up driving a car, but my smart phone? my iPad? my laptop? That is the rub.
“A major sticking point to getting all countries to sign onto any agreement is the question of historical responsibility and the concern of poorer nations that climate mitigation not hamper their continued “development.” China’s President, Xi Jinping, said in a speech on the first day of the Paris talks that “addressing climate change should not deny the legitimate needs of developing countries to reduce poverty and improve living standards.” Another key question is whether the Paris agreement will be legally binding. In this, countries’ preferences may come down to their political realities at home. It’s kind of hard for President Obama to commit to a legally binding agreement (which would require ratification) when he’s busy trying to fend off Congressional attempts to undo his Clean Power Plan and block US contributions to the United Nations Green Climate Fund. So at the end of this historic meeting we may well wind up with a nonbinding agreement that badly overshoots the 2°C target, doesn’t go into effect until 2020, ends ten years later, and counts on unproven technologies and unspecified promises of financial aid to countries most at risk. It’s hard to square that with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s opening admonition: “We cannot afford indecision, half measures or merely gradual approaches. Our goal must be a transformation.” Despite all this, I happen to agree with those that believe an agreement in Paris is absolutely critical, even if it is woefully, dangerously insufficient – especially if that agreement has transparency provisions and legally-binding periodic reviews, which President Obama champions. It’s much easier to build momentum when you’re already moving forward, however slowly and haltingly.
AMY GOODMAN: On Monday, France and India launched an international alliance to deliver solar energy to some of the planet’s poorest. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the initiative. NARENDRA MODI: One must turn to sun to power the future. As developing world leaps billions of people into prosperity, our hope for a sustainable planet rests on a bold global initiative. It will mean advanced countries living in a carbon space for developing countries to grow. It will create unlimited economic opportunities that will be the foundation of the new economy of the century. This is an alliance that brings together developed and developing countries. AMY GOODMAN: While India is pushing solar energy, it’s also heavily promoting coal power. India is expected to open a new coal plant every single month until 2020 as the country plans to double its coal production. Chinese President Xi Jinping called on the world’s wealthiest nations to help the developing world adapt to a changing climate.