Year after year, the world turns it’s eyes towards the UN climate conference, and again and again final results do all but give a reasonable answer to the climate crisis. What is wrong, and how can we bring negotiations on track?

20 years ago, in 1992, the climate convention defined as its main objective the stabilization of the GHG concentrations in the atmosphere. Up till now, there is no decision on what these levels should be, and even worse, the issue is being swept of the negotiation table. Meanwhile, they rose up till 392 ppm, far above the safe upper limit  of 350 ppm as defined by respected climate scientists, like James Hanssen. The results are already clear: unprecedented arctic melting, major floods, never-seen storms, and impressive draughts.

The criteria for the blame game

One of the main reason why climate negotiations don’t advance is a never-ending blame game: most countries condition their proposed actions to commitments by others, or have reasons -like ending poverty first- to postpone climate action. They all have some criteria – reasonable or not- for passing their responsibilities to others. A serious discussion on what should be the criteria to divide the burden of the climate problem among the countries never took place. More »

20 years ago, the ecological crisis was already quite evident. Enough for world leaders to worry about it, and to call for a global “Earth Summit”.

At the time, humanity yearly consumed resources and caused pollution at a rate that Nature could regenerate in approximately one year time. But it was clear that this rate was growing. The environmental crisis was growing and the unsustainability of the (even then) current way of life was obvious.

The response of the Earth Summit in Rio (1992), was the launching of the concept of “sustainable development”. The concept was based on three “interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars”: economic development, social development, and environmental protection. The basic idea was that the three are compatible, and that there does not need to be a contradiction between economic development and protection of the environment.

Evaluating the “pilars”

20 years is quite some time to see if a proposed scheme works, so, time for an evaluation of the evolution of the three interdependent pillars:

More »

One day, some thirty years ago, as a six-year-old little girl, living in a European country, I thought it was so cold outside, and I thought it would be a “good deed” to leave the doors open, so the warmth of our central-heated house could compensate a little the too cold world outside.

My mother quickly came over, and explained to me that not only this was bad for family economics, but also it would contribute to something ‘she had read about’, which was the greenhouse effect, and that actually it could be the case that the world was warming up, which could have several negative effects…

My mother is somebody who would read about this kind of stuff, who would get informed. The mothers of my classmates hadn’t heard of climate change at that time. Well, that was understandable, the problem was only incipiently known, temperatures had risen only slightly in the last century or so, arctic ice extent was relatively stable, and no major climate disasters had happened.

How we live the climate change reality now

Now, thirty years later, even my 5-year old daughter knows about climate change, we got all used to hearing about climate disasters, and the local effects of climate change became part of the small talk of the people. We now live in a world with only half of the summer ice extent of that of the world where the 6-year old me lived.

But by now, nobody gets really shocked about climate change news anymore. At what point this little me got used to the effects of global warming? To the continuous news on more “natural disasters”, which are now proven not to be natural disasters but man-made anthropogenic-climate disasters? To the news on once again increasing green house gas emissions? To the news that once again we trespassed a climatological record? More »

Scientists have the picture clear. James Hansen et al, in “The Case for Young People and Nature: A Path to a Healthy, Natural, Prosperous Future”,  explain us very clearly that the impact of the actual 0,8°C global warming is causing already several global warming reinforcing mechanisms, like ice melting, ocean acidification, expansion of hot dry subtropical climate belts, etc.

They warn us, with clear scientific arguments, that sustained greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations of more than 350 parts per million (ppm) will lead to very dangerous climate disruption. We now live in a world with 390 ppm.

In 1992, time when the climate convention was agreed upon, an objective was set: “The ultimate objective of this Convention is to achieve stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” At that time, the GHG concentration in the atmosphere was of 354 ppm. More »

The official package deal of Durban consisted of 4 main documents, apart of several other decisions, most of them less critical, that have been adopted:

  1. A decision on the second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol 
  2. The LCA outcome: the partial implementation of the Bali Action Plan and the Cancun Agreements
  3. A Durban Platform for Enhanced Action: the decision to work towards a new “agreed outcome with legal force, applicable to all”
  4. The green climate fund

The package was officially sold to the world as a success, but having a closer look, it’s easy to see it doesn’t do what it is suposed to do, and it does what it shouldn’t do. More »

The following text was written before the approval of the decision on the second commitment period. It was approved in the early hours of Sunday 11th December in Durban, as part of a more extented “Durban Package”.

In essence, all the analysis stayed the same. The only very remarkable point is that in the proposal, it the commitment period would have been 5 years. Now it is in doubt if it will be 5 or 8 years!

In the approved decision, it says:

1.  Decides that the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol shall begin on 1 January 2013 and end either on 31 December 2017 or 31 December 2020, to be decided by the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol at its seventeenth session;

Throughout the whole “proposed amendment Annex” the text has both options in brackets: e.g in 3.1bis: “(…) in the commitment period 2013 to [2017][2020]“. 

Thereby, it is fundamental to take into account that a reduction of 20% in an 8-year period, is in fact 50% less than 20% reduction in a 5 year period!

On all other issues, the analysis written before the approval of the text is unchanged.

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(Original text)

The new text proposal for the Kyoto Protocol states that a second commitment period will be established. That seems good news; it was what everybody was waiting for.

But, a second commitment period for what? For the sake of having it? For the sake of carbon markets? For calming public opinion?
Let’s see the good points and the bad points of the actual proposal. More »

After this morning a set of 2 negotiation texts, giving the “bigger picture” for the Durban outcome were presented, and later rejected by the G77, now a second trial has been presented.

Let’s see what it says. More »