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Tag: UNFCCC

The Climate Movement’s Moment ©

By Suzanne Maxx

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Outside COP21 with the flags of the United Nations.

LE BOURGET, FRANCE.   Fortunately here at COP21 there is no longer the question of if climate change is happening, check out this slide show.  It now is a question of how quickly we all can act to meet the challenge, and when we will have strong global policy. COP21 was supposed to end yesterday, but true to the history and form of the complexity of these agreements, it is still in process.

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Photo of Suzanne Maxx by Albert Boulanger for World Team Now at Climate Generations Area

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) holds annual meetings of the delegates Conference of the Parties (COP) and each year it grows older, left without a process to manage the world’s actions, climate change’s impact on our world increases.  COP has come of age at 21 here in Paris, now it is truly like a 21 year old— legal but not yet quite responsible— perhaps an appropriate metaphor for the upcoming results of the much-anticipated Paris Convention/Accord.

The bottom-up approach to each country choosing what they are capable of contributing seems to be working with the “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” (INDCs) all countries submissions are public here. COP21 had a jump start, and with the delivery of so many INDCs, COP21 was set on a fast track to global transformation, which lit the fire of possibility to “dream the impossible dream.”

On the opening day of the COP21 when the family photo of world leaders was taken, and Mission Innovation was announced, all eyes saw the possibility of transformational global policy. Clean Energy Innovation R & D will be doubled by 20 major economies with the help of the private sector.  Billionaire Bill Gates at the helm of an impressive Breakthrough Energy Coalition that reads like a “who’s who” of game changers helps Mission Innovation.With so many world leaders in Paris for the beginning of

With so many world leaders in Paris for the beginning of COP21 the stage of this conference was set to change the game. In 2015, there were multiple preparatory conferences all producing a draft of the policy. The regular meetings increased the chance that all could agree here in Paris, and we would have global environmental policy.  Historically, the leaders would arrive at the end of the COPs after a few weeks where their representatives would try to negotiate a deal.  This year’s COP was different, not just because all world leaders agreed to come at the beginning of the COP, having worked out what they are able to contribute on their own, but were standing for the success of finally attaining climate policy. To have these world leaders in the same place after the vulnerable attacks here in Paris demonstrates a commitment to the statement: “There is no darkness that can overcome the light.”

Photo Credit: Photo by Yann Arthus-Bertrand / Spectra

A Message of Freedom and 100% Renewable Energy from Paris. Eiffel Tower Peace Symbol © Yann Arthus-Bertrand  / Spectral Q

The people, NGOs, and corporations also set up a powerful approaches to action, including a massive march planned for the Global Climate Movement. However, many Paris events were canceled, including the climate marches after the terrorist attacks, and subsequent state of emergency.  Fortunately, the Global Climate Movement adapted with action around the world. We used our bodies as a font in the Eiffel Tower aerial art piece,  that 300  of us or so took part in, led by artist John Quigley and Dancing without Boarders,  This event miraculously prevailed and has become the iconic image of COP21, gracing the cover of many  publications. Other powerful events in Paris for this COP21 time frame were pulled off successfully augmenting the action over at Le Bourget’s COP21 conferences like “Earth to Paris,” and the “Energy for Tomorrow Conference’’ hosted by the International New York Times.  The Green Zone public “Climate Generation Area” allowed all people to be involved in the action, and there were some solid panels like “Energy Matters,” sponsored by the International Energy Agency.

Global Emissions Target of 1.5 degrees Celsius is what’s needed by at least 2020— it was needed yesterday — so ideally with a pre-2020 five year review and calibration. The target date may end up being 2050; this is one of the points of conflict in the negotiation.  Will this be a realistic target that sets us on a trajectory that honors what we know to be true about climate change, and how it affects not only human health, but also the balance of all species on earth? The other sensitive point is: when will the energy transition occur?  We would like to see 100% renewable energy by at least 2050. A firm date of when to phase out of fossil fuel is at the root of this controversial debate.  The majority of countries now agree that 100% cut of fossil fuel will happen, but by when— is the question.

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Courtesy of Climate Generations Area COP21

The forests and oceans breathe for our planet— they are more than our lungs.  Together they are teeming with the bio-diversity— the flora, fauna, and all necessary for our human species. survival.  We are waiting for the text of the final document to have language about the commitment to zero de-forestation globally.  Our oceans need protection from acidification, and warming temperatures—this is imperative to take into account, and have specific measurable results in mind, along with global emission targets.  We need to have goals for our oceans, islands, and responsibly embrace policy that is accountable for not only our air, but also the land, waters, and people. Global policy that allows all people to belong to the earth is needed, especially when whole nations, island states like Tuvalu are being annihilated by our collective use of resources. Justice is needed to balance the poor Small Islands and Least Developed Countries who are most affected by the results of climate change, with richer nations sourcing the problem.

Fossil Fuel subsidies are going to be phased out globally— much to both the dismay and celebration of many people and industries.  Why subsidize the most profitable global industry anyway?  Old paradigms can be hard for some to let go, yet our future depends on embracing this renewable energy transition, and also how fast we can move on a large scale. More than a trillion dollars a year— just think of how quickly we could change the energy game with those same subsidies going to renewable energy or into the Green Climate Fund. The 100 billion annual contribution to the Green Climate Fund would become a reality.

Naturally, it will be better to have an ambitious framework with a big enough vision for growth and change.  There needs to be checks and balances in place — most likely discussed in more detail next year at Morocco COP22.  An independent agency will need to be formed organically to both check and enforce agreed upon targets, much like the International Atomic Energy Agency reports to the Security Council.

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Wind energy captured by these faux trees –outside COP21 Paris–sustainable device for biodiversity

The long term key will be the enforceable, critical language added, and systems put in place to realize the outcome of the global goals. It will take time to work out the logistics of how we live into these objectives collectively.  That is why this is a convention with the goals to have a framework to build out over time, so it reflects the truth of what we are collectively committed to achieving. Transparent, enforceable global policy with mechanisms, systems, and a structure that we all— all nations and all people— can live into after COP21.  This will take more time than allotted at COP21— that is why this is a process.  This process can direct global markets, as well as steer the re-prioritization of our collective values— this is where change can take root. Here is a copy of the yesterday’s draft doc, and some of the key sticking points . It may take years to realize the “how,” but at this point, what is important is that we agree to common global goals and objectives that will set us in a direction to live into our future.

Global Warming, Climate Change, COP17— it is the UNFCCC

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In Durban, South Africa, it is more than a metaphor that any kind of agreement at the annual United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in year 17, (COP17) is realized .  After the conference officially ended— it went two days into overtime. This was not the first time, overtime has become the norm in the past— it’s a pattern that may be a warning about our future.  COP17 came dangerously close to no deal at all, but ended with the bare minimum as the controversial and the only international binding climate policy, the Kyoto Protocol, will continue.

The Kyoto Protocol which originated in Japan in 1997 still has flaws, loopholes, weak rules, bad definitions, and it still lacks key countries commitments, but its 2012 expiration was extended for another five years (until the end of 2017) with a  mandate for a future treaty.  There is a work plan to begin next year with deliberately blurred targets.  The AdHoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action will negotiate new global agreement by  2015 to be ratified by all countries, that would come in force by 2020.  The who, what, where, and legally binding details need to still be worked out.

The issue is 2020 may be too late, but there is now at least a mapped out path to a legally binding agreement on emissions reductions—  will they be enough, in time? The Durban negotiations did not manage to extend the emissions cut pledges made in both Copenhagen in 2009 and 2010 in Cancun, but the agreement  intends to have a more transparent process. The Kyoto scheme rewards governments or companies with carbon credits when they invest in clean energy projects in developing countries, which they can trade and sell for profit.

The Green Climate Fund was created, which is great, but it has yet to have any funds from governments. However  its shell is a start. Also included are measures involving the preservation of tropical forests and international cooperation in clean-energy technology transfer.

Many small island states and developing nations are at risk of rising sea levels and extreme weather—  this deal marked the lowest common denominator possible.

After Durban, we are still headed for over 3°C warming, so more ambitious actions from each country are needed. The proposed reductions of greenhouse gasses on the table are not sufficient to limit temperature increase to 2°C. A warming over 3°C might bring the world close to several potential global-scale tipping points such as:

  • The Amazon rainforest could die back—  instead we want the lungs of our planet to be protected and to thrive.
  • Corals reefs could be permanently replaced by algae and sea grass—  we want to see our coral reefs grow, thrive, and be restored to their beautiful colors, encouraging a more vibrant ecosystem.
  • Greenland ice sheets melted, lost for many centuries to thousands of years—  we want to see them sustained without further melting.
  • Risk of release of methane hydrates in ocean floor sediments further adding to the warming—  we want our oceans go back to their extraordinary sustainable state.
  • Permafrost thawing due to fast rising arctic temperatures—  we want that to slow down and ideally stop!

A depiction of the types of impacts from 1.5°C -2°C and 3-4°C has been posted on the Climate Action Tracker website. As a result, carbon emissions are now setting the world on course for possibly four degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit), twice the 2° C (3.6 °F) goal declared by UNFCCC parties last year as a safe maximum.

The Maldives takes the lead with powerful action. Countries like Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand followed the US’s embarrassing lead by stalling at COP17. China and India showed flexibility and both have in recent years installed powerful environmental policy.  Click here to see how the each country is taking action in relation to specific measurable results based on science.

As the world leaders continued to talk, it’s was not just the climate’s temperature that kept rising. People around the world that were frustrated started to protest.

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“Occupy the COP” was one of the many chants . “I’m for Climate Justice,” they exclaimed by human microphone, “We are here today for the people who can’t be here. We are here today for the people who will suffer the weight of climate change. We are here today for Africa. We are here today for the island nations. We are here today for the world to say ‘listen to the people, not the polluters.’ We are here today to support those that are inside who are still fighting for a real climate deal. ” Listen to the people.  Abigail Borah, a New Jersey resident was able to interrupt the US concluding remarks by calling for action during the Plenary, which caused her to be “ejected” from the event, and that generated global media attention.  Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace, was removed in plastic handcuffs.  Canadian youth  stood up and turned their backs on their country’s representative when he spoke— actions of protest continued. Check out this slide show.

Another form of protest was the many signatures sent directly to the White House to President Obama—  all going viral through the same multi-media tactic Obama had used to build his constituency of supporters in the US during the election.  During the climax, as well as all during COP17, powerful petitions gathered signatures of people and circulated by AVAZ,  and  350.org that showed that people care about “eco”—  it’s not just the economy, but also our ecology.

Our World Team Now participates in the Tcktcktck campaign, representing almost 300 of the most active environmental NGOs. Leading up to COP17 and during the negotiations, Tcktcktck gave daily reports with briefings, summaries, and updates that kept us all informed.

Vacant chairs at the end of UNFCCC “COP” is a disturbingly familiar frustration that comes from the lack of agreement.  Then those leaders left resort to private, closed doors conversations— which are where action happens.  Haunting memories of COP15’s ending where the people committed to change spoke up and many of the world leaders, if they came, had left.   It took many of us years to process and digest COP15 ‘s extended time where we didn’t sleep much. This time, the “Occupy” tactic took hold, pronounced at the end of the United Nations Climate Change Conference for the youth— NGO’s and the people who represented the 99% who stayed and  “Occupied” COP17.

Bianca Jagger, who I was with at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, explained the situation, “There is a clear disconnect between the science and the UNFCCC climate negotiations. Scientific fact is being ignored by politicians who are putting their short term agendas before the survival of humankind. I am not being alarmist. The situation is alarming”. Check out Bianca’s article in the Huffington Post  about the inevitability of COP17 being “Occupied”.

From the world perspective, the behavior of the United States is at best, difficult to understand.  Why did the US just send climate envoy Todd Stern to negotiate without any powerful leaders?  After all, at COP15 Secretary of State Hilary Clinton was there with President Obama, who declared, “We’re back,” which gave us all hope.  The US which is one of the largest polluters is causing other countries to suffer from the actions of our industrialization.  Climate change has most affected some of the poorest regions of the world.  The devastating consequences for human civilization and all life on Earth are already evident and getting worse, especially on the vulnerable African continent that hosted these talks.  So why is there no action with the US now?

One view is President Obama needs a constituency of support from the US, and he does not have a large enough one yet.  Instead we have a grid locked congress that has been unable to agree on energy policy.  The majority of the people of the US do not even know about these conferences, as the majority of the “1% media” does not cover this on a large scale.  Thankful for the NYTimes’ coverage).   Although with the EPA’s statement that greenhouse gasses are hazardous to our health gives Obama the authority to act on behalf of the people of the US, which we all hoped he would have the courage to do in Copenhagen at COP15, he had only a relatively small constituency of support from the people of the US.  We hope that this inaction is merely an act to prompt people to become aware—  as he is a “public servant” and needs a constituency.  Strategically, it would more likely be that the US will take action at Rio, during the Earth Summit where there will be more global attention for the twenty year reunion (Rio+20) and it will be closer to the November Presidential Election, and more would be involved, so a victory at Rio of this magnitude, on the global stage, will be fresher in people’s short attention spans, giving a win at the last minute, and capturing once again the drama of the game.

Another view is maybe the United Nations, like many other outmoded systems that are being reevaluated around the world, will need to collapse and be replaced? It’s not easy drafting a new U.N. treaty.  In this case, if the US continues to ignore the rest of the world, it could be the beginning of a greater down fall.  Maybe an ideal outcome would be a new system (structure) to be re-created to actually represent the people of the world, considering the world at large, as one.  Or it could be just growing the present structure as planned from Durban.

Mate Nkoana-Mashabane, the president of the conference and South Africa’s foreign minister said,“We have saved planet earth for the future of our children and our great grand children to come. We have made history”.

It may be wishful thinking that with the 2012  COP18 in Qatar, which will be turning 18 years of the annual meeting.  COP18 will not only be of legal age, but maybe it will also begin to produce strong legally binding global policy that the world will embrace in respect for our environment, and for our whole world.

Copenhagen”Off Sets” –The Big Picture Game

Courtesy of NASA

Courtesy of NASA

 

Copenhagen Cont’d. 

Think Global: Act Local Act for ALL

by Suzanne Maxx

 

We put the countdown to Copenhagen’s Climate Conference up on World Team Now’s website with exactly how much time we have left, because of the mounting pressure to have some specific measurable results in Copenhagen (UNFCCC).  The importance of raising awareness about this critical global treaty for our world is palpable — especially now before the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012 as per the road map created in Bali, approved by the 2007 UN Climate Change Conference.  There are several events designed to increase the chances of Copenhagen’s success from the UN’s framework; one announced at G20 by President Obama.  The USA will host a “Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate” in a preparatory session with 16 major economies, April 27th & 28th in Washington DC. to help facilitate a U.N. agreement on global warming according to The White House, inviting both “developed” and “developing” counties. The U. N. scheduled events leading up to Copenhagen, the first round was March 29th –April 8th, the others are June 1st-12th and then August 10th-14th all of these in Bonn, Germany; September 28th-October 9th in Bangkok and last November 2nd-6th with the location to be confirmed.  In addition to these events Media Mogul turned Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi will host a conference in La Maddalena, Italy in July, riding G8. These events intend to strengthen communications, and step up points of agreement such as deforestation and clear cutting of tropical rainforests, global levels we can cut carbon emissions that will at least create sustainability, a deadline date, and a plan for enforceability, all so the Summit in Copenhagen we will end up with a global treaty with targets that are reasonable.  So far the areas of agreement are around clear cutting our trees and rainforests, the precious lungs of our planet — the logging and burning of which accounts for a fifth of CO2 pollution. When I flew over these sites of deforestation I wept with the pain of baring witness to a massacre.

 

There is a need for a leadership position here amongst all the countries that are members of the UN that demand “the lead by example” model of accountability. With the help of some behind the scenes experts and people who have spend years in the financial world designing a market made of “carbon off sets”, or the cost of pollution, like the UK & USA team, Blood and Gore-they have a first movers advantage as does the USA now with “green” opportunity.  I am not sure if China’s push for a global currency reserve should be dismissed easily. This is one of the first times in my life since beginning World Team in 1989, which I have not been embarrassed about being born in the United States, since embarking on this mission.  Obama’s stand for change shows he is willing to pick up where Gore left off with regards to the environment, and to carve out an action plan by 2012 on the premise of the Carbon offset game that would auction the U.S.’ emission trading credits and cut back  to 1990 emission levels by 2020. The Dec 7-18 conference will map out what is next for the future with an emission reduction plan, and hopefully spell out a game of carbon credits, wherein the caps-and-trade are offsets and will become a global market with commodities that will re-value and transform our monetary system, but with new legislation, if all goes according to plan.

In time for the events that happened in Bonn this March and perhaps going by the “big picture” plan, Chairman Henry A. Waxman of the Energy and Commerce Committee and Chairman Edward J. Markey of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee drafted clean energy legislation for the USA. The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES) is a comprehensive approach to America’s energy policy that charts a new course towards a clean energy economy.  According to Waxman, “The American Clean Energy and Security Act” will create millions of new clean energy jobs, save consumers hundreds of billions of dollars in energy costs, enhance America’s energy independence, and cut global warming pollution and for more detailed information visit the Committee on Energy and Commerce’s site .

The stakes are high, it is our future and if you still don’t believe all the scientists who have proven that our planet is warming by human activities, NASA‘s look and this new report from the National Snow and Ice Data Center shows the decade-long trend of shrinking sea ice cover is continuing at a surprisingly fast rate. New evidence from satellite observations show ice caps thinning as well. Researchers from the Snow and Ice Center report the largest cover this winter was 278-thousand square miles less than the average largest cover for 1979 to 2000, making this winter’s maximum ice extent the fifth lowest on record. They explain, “Arctic sea ice works like an air conditioner for the global climate system. It naturally cools air and water masses, plays a key role in ocean circulation, and reflects solar radiation back into space. Scientists believe ice cover to be an important measure of the health of the Arctic.  Look at the vanishing ice to bear witness to the change of our earth. 

 If you are wonder what you can do about all of this besides trying to understand it, join World Team Now, and allow the synergy of team to move us all into a responsible future, and join us in celebrating Earth Day,

 

Copenhagan-The Big Picture

 

Courtesy of NASA

Courtesy of NASA

 

Think Global: Act Local  Act for ALL 

By Suzanne Maxx

The reality of one home and shared resources for us all is starting to take priority for many who had been previously concerned only about personal survival or achievement.    Global philanthropy is an at all time high —  ironically this comes at a time when personal survival is challenged and despite these times many people seem to  continue to seek the bigger picture, beyond their own challenges.  Regardless of country, we are all dealing with the world now, and our potential future.  We all have a need for air, water, earth, and energy.  Our collective resources are shared and how we use them regardless of where we are, affects us all.  An emergent question is how we put a value or “price” on responsibility to these elements.  What can that replace or transform our present monetary structures and support the global “eco”mony/ology ?  This is what humanity is beginning to awaken to with our global environmental movement.  How do we live on earth in balance with our resources?
 
Growth is challenging.  Is there a higher reason we all are being called to look at the way we have structured the game of life in our world now? Here’s to human evolution, and global transformation.

 

This is an exciting time for those of living inside the environmental and social movement for two decades or more…. Our time is now — people, like you are listening, and want to participate, as we are all stake holders in our children’s home.  With perseverance, the battles to convince people of the existence of environmental and social challenges facing the planet are not over, but we have succeeded to begin to educate the masses.  Multi-media telecommunications have shrunk the world, and some powerful leaders (without countries) have emerged on the global scene — thank you, Yvo de Boer, Al Gore, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and Bono. Now the challenge lies in doing the work to create the change in enough time for the change to take hold so humanity has more options.  The speed at which we are able to move now is exhilarating, if not overwhelming.  Just when I’m ready to post about G20”, or “solar energy”, something changes or the technology advances — it is a challenge to keep pace with accuracy with the speed at which the transformation is happening.  Please forgive me if by the time you are reading this the information is obsolete.

For the future direction of humanity and our global environment, one thing is clear; there is a lot riding on the potential of the upcoming United Nation’s Conference in Copenhagen.   The possibility of a global treaty that is enforceable and honored by the world for our world — could be a global game changer or life transformer.  One of the challenges with the U.N. model is the way the world is divided, described, and regulated — by the concepts of categorizing countries by their “development”.  Is there a more powerful framework to view with the world?  Does it serve us to label the USA as “developed” and China and India as “developing” nations?  We have to at least try to work within the U.N.’s global framework as it is the only global framework we have now.  Just like we have to work within our challenged systems like our legal, educational, political, monetary and healthcare systems, as that is what we have now.  How can the “systems” better serve humanity, and what role can the machine play in the transformation?

The outcome of a powerful Global Treaty could be like what The Constitution is for the USA, or like what the Declaration of Human Rights distinguishes for the world. Personally I have been following this dream of a global treaty for our environment, since Rio De Janeiro 1992, when I was there where it all began in the global community, at The Earth Summit/Global Forum.  Then the treaty was just emerging as the “The Climate Change Treaty” or more formally; “The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC or FCCC), with more nations ratifying this global document than any other in the history of our world — for our environment. The idea behind the climate treaty is aimed at stabilizing greenhouse gases, in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent change in our climate system.  It became The Kyoto Protocol, after a rocky history of trying to get the USA to ratify, but the distinctions between developing and developed countries made the playing field questionable, when developing giants like China and India would not have to play by the same rules as the USA, for more history click here.  The UNFCCC or FCCC roots grew back to The Earth Summit /Global Forum, formerly The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The acronym “UNCED” remained the joke that many told which summed up a strong underlying truth, of the outcome for many with the frustration of what was “UN-SAID” in the United Nations’ conferences. We believe at World Team Now name’s are significant.  What about a new name for what could become “The Copenhagen Treaty” (It would be nice if we could evolve past the place it was created, and call it something that could have meaning for all in the World;  like “The World’s Action Treaty for Environmental  Resources and Sustainability”, with the acronym; “WATERS”…. This name is more encompassing as it could allow the off set, trading game to apply to more than Climate Change but also to other environmental contaminants that affect our earth and humanity offing a reward for the clean up, and cost to pay for those who chose to take our collective resources.
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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