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“CARICOM’s interests were strongly represented in a focused and coordinated manner by heads of government, ministers, the CARICOM secretary-general (Irwin LaRocque)and his staff, and a team of experienced and skilled negotiators led by Dr the Honourable James Fletcher. We are satisfied that our strong advocacy helped to ensure that the [final] agreement reflected the region’s position on our major red-line issues,” Stuart, who is also prime minister of Barbados, said in a release issued by the CARICOM Secretariat through Panos Caribbean.
“The region’s successful campaign, built around the slogan ‘1.5 to Stay Alive’, received energetic support from several groups and organisations, including youth and cultural artistes, whose efforts must be applauded,” added Stuart.
The campaign kicked off in October with a launch event held in St Lucia. At the same time, a website, Facebook page, and Twitter account were established to promote Caribbean negotiating positions and to expose the region’s climate challenges.
Later, a theme song – the collaborative effort of a number of regional acts – was released.
Several other activities, including a Selfie Video Challenge and a flash mob, were also implemented to get Caribbean people in the know and behind the campaign effort.
At the talks, the region, for the first time, had a pavilion – called the Wider Caribbean Pavilion – that afforded the space for strategy meetings by regional negotiators and networking among players.
Caribbean artistes Aaron Silk of Jamaica and Adrian ‘The Doc’ Martinez of Belize were also on hand to spread, through music, the ‘1.5 To Stay Alive’ message, and were big hits with participants.
In the end, Stuart said it all paid off.
“We believe that the actions and investment approved in the agreement will bring us closer to the goal of maintaining global average temperature rise well below two degrees Celsius and along a clear trajectory downwards towards 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels,” he said.
“That agreement will also help to realise the goals of lower greenhouse gas emissions, greater resilience, and sustainable development, especially among the small-island and low-lying coastal developing states (SIDS), with the most vulnerable populations such as the countries of the Caribbean. We determinedly and successfully promoted recognition of the special circumstances and vulnerabilities of SIDS, which are among the lowest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, but are the most threatened by climate change,” Stuart added.
One Jamaican actor involved in the negotiations agreed that the Caribbean could feel satisfied with the result.
“The CARICOM region can be satisfied with the outcome, which retains the recognition under the (United Nations Framework) Convention (on Climate Change), of the fact that SIDS have specific needs and face special circumstances which render our territories particularly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change. We have also secured a decision for equal funding for adaptation and mitigation,” noted Colonel Oral Khan, a member of the Jamaica delegation to Paris and chief technical director in the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment, and Climate Change.
“This is very significant for us as the science is telling us that the concentration of greenhouse gases is already at a level that can be catastrophic. We, therefore, cannot await the benefits from current mitigation efforts, which will be realised over the next half a century. There are things we must do now to protect vital sectors of our economy and the lives of our people,” he added.
What remains is to have these things actioned.
“The international community must now retain the energising and uplifting spirit of Paris in the process going forward. The world expects no less,” Stuart said.
Credit: Jamaica Gleaner
In what supporters are calling a historic achievement, 196 nations attending the COP21 climate meetings outside Paris voted to adopt an agreement Saturday that covers both developed and developing countries. Their respective governments will now need to adopt the deal.
Presenting the plan aimed at curbing global warming ahead of Saturday’s vote, France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told the delegations, “You go into this room to decide a historic agreement. The world holds its breath and it counts on you.”
The agreement, which was publicly released Saturday morning (ET), sets the goal of limiting the world’s rise in average temperature to “well below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.”
Reporting on details of the deal, NPR’s Christopher Joyce says, “To help developing countries switch from fossil fuels to greener sources of energy and adapt to the effects of climate change, the developed world will provide $100 billion a year.”
He adds that the 1.5-degree cap was sought by island nations.
Under the agreement, the Obama administration says that for the first time, all countries will be required to report on “national inventories of emissions by source” and also to report on their mitigation efforts.
President Obama will reportedly discuss the agreement at 5:30 p.m. ET.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: “With these elements in place, markets now have the clear signal they need to unleash the full force of human ingenuity and scale up investments that will generate low-emissions, resilient growth,” adding that “what was once unthinkable has now become unstoppable.”
You can watch the stream of the Paris event online.
LE BOURGET, France — The Paris climate-change conference was supposed to be about the needs of big countries and what they are willing to do to slow the warming of Earth’s atmosphere. But in the end, the two weeks of sometimes round-the-clock negotiations have focused at least as much on some of the smallest, most defenseless nations whose very existence could hinge on the outcome of the talks.
The result could be a tougher set of policy goals than anyone originally thought could emerge from the conference. While the ultimate agreement is expected to embrace a goal of limiting global warming to less than two degrees Celsius, it also is likely to recognize a far more challenging and aspirational goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius.
That tougher language might not be legally binding for countries such as the United States, but the fact that it is in the running is testament to the tireless work of delegations from remote countries facing an urgent threat from the rising seas of a warmer Earth.
The growing momentum behind 1.5 degrees is a story of fast-breaking science, savvy politics and a change in tone in the climate debate — one that, pushed by Pope Francis, has focused increasing attention on the needs of the most vulnerable countries. (The Vatican on Thursday came out in favor of the 1.5-degree target.)
“The small guys have managed to push the big guys, and that is a big story,” Monica Araya, founder and executive director of the Costa Rican nongovernmental organization Nivela and special adviser to the Climate Vulnerable Forum, said at the conference Friday.
Early Saturday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced that a proposed draft of the new climate agreement was ready for debate and possible approval by delegates of the 196 countries attending the talks. Fabius described the proposed agreement as “historic,” “ambitious and balanced,” providing a pathway that would allow countries to sharply reduce greenhouse-gas pollution and avoid a dangerous warming of the planet.
“Today we are close to the final outcome,” Fabius told the assembled delegates at a conference center in Paris’ northern outskirts. He called on diplomats to approve the compromise reached by negotiators overnight, one that he said “affirms our objective … to have a temperature [increase] well below 2 degrees [Celsius] and to endeavor to limit that increase to 1.5 degrees, which should make it possible to reduce the risks and impacts linked to climate change.” As he spoke the words, the conference hall erupted in applause. “The world is holding its breath,” Fabius said.
Diplomats labored nonstop for the last 48 hours of the conference to resolve differences over a handful of thorny issues, including financial aid to developing countries hit hard by climate change, as well as rules and procedures for judging whether countries are honoring their commitments to cut pollution.Secretary of State John F. Kerry, in Paris to help push for a deal, said Friday there had been “a lot of progress” but also a few snags during late-night bargaining.
“I’m hopeful,” he told reporters. “I think there is a way to go forward, that there’s a reasonableness.”
For many years, small island nations such as the Maldives — joined more recently by a broader group of climate-vulnerable countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America — have pushed to make the world recognize tougher climate goals. It has been a long-shot fight because of the massive effort required to meet even the less stringent goal of restricting warming to less than two degrees Celsius above preindustrial temperatures, and also because of their relative lack of political and economic power.
“Maldives itself has over 3,000 years of history,” said Ahmed Sareer, the Maldives’ permanent representative to the United Nations and its ambassador to the United States. “The location, the culture, the language, the traditions, the history, all this would be wiped off” if sea levels are allowed to rise high enough.
Nonetheless, holding warming to 1.5 degrees hardly seemed realistic. With the world already at about one degrees Celsius over preindustrial levels and current national emissions pledges well off target even for two degrees, how would 1.5 ever happen?
Still, small island nations brought their case to Paris. Their message was epitomized by a poster at the Wider Caribbean Pavilion at the vast Le Bourget conference center. The poster shows a young girl up to her neck in ocean water. Behind her, the now-submerged beach she’s standing on sports a drowned sign: “1.5 to stay alive,” it reads.
The talks in Paris were barely getting underway last week when representatives from Antigua and Barbuda made a series of impassioned pleas to the nations gathered to negotiate a climate treaty. In speeches and in a written appeal, officials from the islands warned that their homeland was literally in danger of being swept away by rising sea levels.
Even if all countries honored their current promises to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, global temperatures would rise by 2.7 degrees Celsius — and “that would be too much,” the delegation said, summarizing its view on its official Twitter account.
“The ministers came to the [talks] so that we might escape a world of plus-3 degrees, and for refusing to sign the death warrant of certain countries,” the message read. “It seems that this promise is forgotten.”
Antiguan officials delivered similar messages in closed meetings, warning that other island nations faced “an existential threat” unless the negotiators increased their ambition and sought even stricter emission controls to keep the temperature rise from exceeding 1.5 degrees, according to a diplomat present during the session. For these countries, the risks include not just the loss of land but the death of vital fisheries as more coral reefs die because of higher temperatures and increased acidity.
Similar appeals have been made for years, but in Paris the islanders acquired new allies: African nations, Europeans, even some Americans expressed sympathy, the diplomat said.
As the Paris meeting unfolded, the 1.5 target received more and more acknowledgment from major economies such as France, Canada and the United States. Then, a near-final draft agreement released Thursday enshrined it as the aspirational climate goal of the entire world. Countries, the draft said, will take steps to “hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C.”
The language was retained in a draft that was scheduled for debate and final approval on Saturday. Officials cautioned that changes could still be made in the talk’s final hours. “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” Fabius said earlier in the week.
Still, observers say that the moral appeal of small-islanders has merged with a growing body of troubling science suggesting that their temperature target turns out to be a meaningful one.
It was not until 2008, at the Poznan climate meetings in Poland, that the coalition of small island nations called the Alliance of Small Island States formally stood up for the position of a 1.5-degree temperature target, said Bill Hare, a physicist and a founder of Climate Analytics. The group has conducted considerable research on the 1.5-degree target to help small island nations and developing countries.
But there was not much science at the time to differentiate 1.5 degrees from two degrees. Climate Analytics science director Michiel Schaeffer and scientific consultant Joeri Rogelj note that many climate studies have tended to compare impacts at two degrees with impacts at much higher temperature increases, rather than to suss out the differences between 1.5 and two, which turn out to be fairly substantial.
“There’s a significant difference between one and a half degrees and two degrees if you look at survival of coral reefs, and shifts in heat and precipitation extremes,” Schaeffer said, “and for example, a doubling of risk for food security at two degrees compared with one and a half degrees.”
And then, most of all, there is sea-level rise. Recent research suggests not only that every one degree of temperature increase (Celsius) will lead to about 2.3 meters of long-term sea-level rise (over seven feet), but that the long-term stability threshold of the Greenland ice sheet may also lie at around 1.5 degrees, or just above it. (The stability threshold of the West Antarctic ice sheet may already have been reached).
So even as small island states pushed more and more for 1.5 degrees — and as their coalition grew to include more developing countries — scientific research on ice-sheet vulnerability and sea-level rise started to paint a two-degree warmer world as quite a scary one.
“That combination of science and morality I think brought it here in a way that was just undeniable,” said Jennifer Morgan, director of the climate-change program at the World Resources Institute. “That’s how I think it got as far as it’s gotten.”
But the talk of 1.5 degrees brings with it deeply sobering implications that, until now, many in the climate debate largely managed to avoid or ignore. Increasing talk about this target also opens up, more than ever, a troubling discussion about “negative emissions” technologies that do not exist on any mass scale at present but theoretically would be able to pull carbon dioxide out of the air. Perhaps the most popular of them is bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, or BECCS, which would involve burning plants for power and then storing the carbon released in the ground.
These technologies will be needed, scientists say, for 1.5 to be possible. It may be that the only way to land the planet at 1.5 degrees is to temporarily overshoot that target and then cool things back down again through massive carbon removal from the air, according to scientists.
Criticisms of “negative emissions” technologies are mounting. Recently, a large group of scientists said it would be “extremely risky” to rely on such technologies rather than simply cutting carbon emissions sharply, because they all have major trade-offs (BECCS, for instance, would require a huge amount of land). But nonetheless, they’ve become a part of the debate out of necessity.
Thus, the powerful moral case made by small island nations and other climate-vulnerable countries now runs head on into the extraordinarily complex math of the global carbon budget, with a little science fiction thrown in to boot. But even if humans cannot manage to keep the planet from warming more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, there could be a benefit to the effort.
“Having aimed for 1.5 in the first place,” Rogelj said, “if we are not lucky, if some technologies don’t turn out, then maybe we will be safe enough to stay below two degrees.”
Credit: Washington Post
The Caribbean region is enduring the brunt of the ravaging effects of climate change. Sea level rise, frequent and intense natural hazards; extended dry seasons, loss of livelihood and the very disappearance of some of our islands are among the clear and present dangers that we face. The economic costs of climate change are beyond the capacity of these countries to bear without the provision of considerably more concessionary resources to address the impacts. This is why it is so important that our global partners support the call to limit warming to below 1.5C. This is achievable. This is urgent. Our very survival depends on it.
This video was produced by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). The CDB is a regional financial institution which was established by an Agreement signed on October 18, 1969, in Kingston, Jamaica, and entered into force on January 26, 1970. The Bank came into existence for the purpose of contributing to the harmonious economic growth and development of the member countries in the Caribbean and promoting economic cooperation and integration among them, having special and urgent regard to the needs of the less developed members of the region.