What to take away from the UN Climate Talks in Paris

The one-sentence, moral solution to climate change

“We call on all world leaders at COP 21 to embrace Pope Francis’ pleas, to adopt just, honest and transparent accounting practices and, after hundreds of years of giving companies and governments a free ride, to finally and simply require that those who pollute our planet pay for the damage that they cause.”

“We ask the world leaders and their delegates to agree on one sentence. A sentence that will end the root cause of the pollution of the planet, a sentence that will end the overt and covert subsidies that artificially encourage the emission of greenhouse gases, a sentence that celebrates true, full and honest “free market capitalism” and a sentence that will restore morality to the conduct of governments and corporations around the world. That sentence would read something like this:

“We hereby agree to phase into effect, as quickly as practically possible, measures to fully and transparently account for the costs of developing, producing, transporting, selling and consuming those products generating greenhouse gases and to honestly and fully factor the costs and impact of all such emissions, including all future downstream ‘negative externalities,’ into the costs of these products.”

An Open Letter to Those Attending COP 21:
The One-Sentence, Moral Solution to Climate Change

Sting, Musician and Environmentalist
Sheldon Whitehouse, Member of The United States Senate
Alan Grayson, Member of The United States House of Representatives
Lord Anthony St. John of Bledsoe, Member of The British House of Lords
…and more

» Read the open letter on www.huffingtonpost.com

» www.peoplesparliament.com.au/peoples-parliament

“Coal and oil will be redundant anyway”

“2°C is not a target. Zero emissions is a target. We cannot control 2°C, but we can control zero carbon.”
Tony Seba, a leading academic from Stanford University

Tony Seba is not that concerned with the outcome in Paris, and the fact that it will likely fall short of the ultimate goal – a binding agreement to limit global warming to well below 2°C. Climate talks may not matter, because coal and oil will be redundant anyway, he says:

“When you look at the industry from a technology cost curve and the adoption of the market of technologies such as solar and electric vehicles, and energy storage, and the astonishing progress in self driving cars, it’s actually happening more quickly than I predicted.”

For more than a century, energy generation has been centralised and all the decisions were made by big banks and regulatory agencies. Consumers had no input. That is now changing. The uptake of solar PV is consumer driven, and it will be the same with electric vehicles and battery storage.

“When something is consumer driven and distributed, it is different. The conventional industry either doesn’t understand that, or doesn’t want to understand that,” Seba says.

» Read Giles Parkinson’s report from Paris on 4 December 2015 in RenewEconomy:
Paris COP21: Climate talks may not matter, because coal and oil will be redundant anyway


Going 100% renewable

In Paris City Hall, 1,000 mayors and local leaders from cities including Paris, Las Vegas, Vancouver and Stockholm announced that they would go 100% renewable.

» See the declaration on www.uclg.org (PDF)

“Anyone who has ever solved a problem or chaired a meeting knows that it doesn’t take 40,000 negotiators and “observers” to break an impasse or solve a problem. Indeed, a cynic might argue that the creation of a process that requires so many participants was designed to ensure that the market for coal and oil continues to grow each year.”
Richard Denniss, The Australia Institute chief economist, in Canberra Times on 4 December 2015: If only the climate was as important as big banks

Quality reporting from Paris: The Verb

Here are some stories from Melbourne-based The Verb during the Paris summit:

“In light of the recent attacks in Paris, is there a distinction between terrorism and climate insecurity? Despite security restrictions, support in Paris for the conference the weekend prior was strong with a human chain. Around the world, over 2,000 events in 150 countries, including in the city of London, saw people turning to the streets, to demonstrate to governments the urgency for climate action.

The climate negotiations began with the largest ever gathering of world leaders (also available in Spanish). Beyond rhetoric, a number of countries including China, India and the US announced new initiatives in renewable energy investment. Additionally, this last week has seen one trillion dollars be divested from fossil fuels as the Climate Vulnerables Forum has come out in support of decarbonisation by 2050.

Pulling together a conference for over 40,000 participants is no easy feat, and to accomplish this the French government has turned to corporates to help fund COP21. Is the presence of corporations, particularly fossil fuel companies, greenwashing or “engagement”? Equally bizarre is Shell’s recent ad attempting to discredit renewable energy.

In other parts of the world, Sweden committed to transitioning to 100 per cent renewable energy, climate impacts are evident through the recent Chennai flooding and small islands are becoming renewable energy havens.

» You can follow individual Verb team members directly on Twitter, or stay up to date as our team regularly provides rolling updates as the conference unfolds.

» live space.

“Best of the rest”:
What the Verb reporters have been reading, or just things that they “secretly wish they had written”:

  • An interactive guide to the different elements via Carbon Brief.
  • Comedian Dan Ilic and how the infamous Fossil awards are the best thing of Paris via Slate.
  • A look at how sea level rise is impacting the Marshall Islands via the New York Times.
  • What is COP21, an explainer via WWF.
  • Where are the negotiations taking place, an insiders look via Financial Times.
  • Parodies of Shell’s attempts to engage with young people via Energy Desk.
  • Paris is only the beginning of what is to come on climate change action via New York Times.
  • How there will be $2 trillion of stranded assets in fossil fuels via Carbon Tracker.
  • Outside of the negotiations, what are cities doing to tackle climate change via BBC.
  • India and finding the balance between development and climate change via France24.

Related actions

John Englart and his daughter Tarryn are closely following the COP21 summit in Pais “to see if Australia is obstructive at these climate negotiations rather than just a climate laggard not doing it’s fair share of pollution reduction and support for other nations in more dire circumstances.”

» Follow Englart’s blog on www.takvera.blogspot.com.au

‘Brandalism 2015’ – COP21 Paris Climate Talks

Two days before the launch of the UN COP21 Climate Conference, 600 posters were installed in outdoor media spaces across Paris. 82 Artists from 19 different countries made artworks to challenge the corporate takeover of COP21 and to reveal the connections between advertising, the promotion of consumerism and climate change.

Published on youtube.com on 28 November 2015

Summit news from The Guardian

Updates and articles from Lenore Taylor, political editor, Guardian Australia:

» PayPal founder and tech entrepreneur Elon Musk says the world need a carbon price

» World’s richest 10% produce half the emissions, says Oxfam report

» Survey reveals ‘greenwash’ of summit sponsors

» How backchannel talks could decide fate of the summit

» Why India is crucial to the talks

Other Guardian articles from the summit:

» Fantasy climate football: A footy fan’s guide to the Paris summit

» Zuckerberg, Gates and other tech titans form clean energy investment coalition

» Barack Obama: parts of Paris climate deal must carry legal force

» 4C rise will have dire effect on world hunger, UN warns

» Paris talks: Behind the scenes – in pictures

How cycling could help the Paris climate talks change the world

Amid the discussions about green energy and carbon capture, it should be remembered that a switch to two wheels could significantly cut emissions

A study by The European Cycling Federation calculated that if all the EU’s nations achieved Danish levels of cycling this alone would account for between 5% and 11% of the emissions reductions needed to reach the EU’s official 2020 emissions targets

» www.theguardian.com

Tweets from UN Climate Talks Live