Daily Archives: December 11, 2015

Scientists Warn: The Paris Climate Agreement Needs Massive Improvement

http://www.thenation.com/article/scientists-warn-paris-climate-agreement-needs-massive-improvement/

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Bill McKibben Speaks on Divestment at Cities & Regions Pavilion at COP21

On 11 December, Bill McKibben – world-renowned author, environmentalist and activist, and co-founder of campaign group 350.org – joined a panel at the Cites & Regions Pavilion at COP21 to discuss the global divestment movement.

350.org is one of the organizations at the forefront of the movement, which urges universities, businesses, cities and nations to stop investing money in companies that produce and distribute fossil fuels.

McKibben described how the divestment movement had grown at an extraordinary rate, with over USD3.4 billion divested since the beginning. He also emphasized the importance of cities, stating:

“Cities are great accelerators as they are smaller than nation states and can move faster, but they are big enough to matter and make a big difference.”

McKibben said that city leaders are increasingly receptive to the divestment argument:

“You’re investing lots in climate change adaptation; why are you investing in companies that are making it all necessary?”

Presentations were also given by May Boeve,­ Executive Director of of 350.org; Dr. Jeremy Legett, founder of Solarcentury; Clara Vondrich, Global Director, Divest­Invest Philanthropy; and Yunus Arikan, Head of Global Policy and Advocacy, ICLEI.

…(read more).

Global Climate Change
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China’s Emissions Pledges Are Undercut by Boom in Coal Projects Abroad – The New York Times

By MICHAEL FORSYTHEDEC. 11, 2015

Photo

The Duyen Hai complex in Tra Vinh Province is one of several coal-fired power plants that Chinese firms are building in Vietnam. Credit Christian Berg for The New York Times

The plant is one of a pair that have begun operating in the past five years in this village near the Vietnamese port city of Haiphong. A Shanghai firm completed work on a third plant this year by the old border that separated north from south during the Vietnam War. And another major plant financed by Chinese loans is under construction on the Mekong River Delta south of Ho Chi Minh City.

Altogether, Chinese engineering firms have built or signed contracts to build 14 coal-fired plants along the Vietnamese coast over the past five years, most of them with the help of loans from the government’s China Export-Import Bank.

The building spree here is hardly unique. Since 2010, Chinese state enterprises have finished, begun building or formally announced plans to build at least 92 coal-fired power plants in 27 countries, according to a review of public documents by The New York Times.

…(read more).

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Ban Ki-moon calls Paris climate talks ‘most complicated and difficult’ ever

As summit enters closing stages, UN secretary general urges negotiators to set aside national interests to reach a strong global deal for all

UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, with UN climate chief Christiana Figueres (L), at the COP21 climate change conference in Paris, France. Photograph: Stephane Mahe/Reuters

Adam Vaughan in Paris

Friday 11 December 2015 08.23 EST Last modified on Friday 11 December 2015 08.32 EST

The UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon has said the international climate talks that are edging towards a conclusion in Paris have been the most complicated and difficult negotiations he has ever been involved in.

Ban said that differences still remain among the nearly 200 governments searching for a climate deal in Paris but he urged negotiators to set aside their national interests to reach a compromise.

The latest developments from COP21 as the UN climate summit enters its penultimate day

“This is not a moment of talking about national perspectives. A good global solution will help good local solutions,” he said. “I am urging and appealing to all the state parties to take the final decision for humanity.”

“I have been attending many difficult multilateral negotiations, but by any standard, this negotiation is most complicated, most difficult, but most important for humanity. We have just very limited hours remaining,” he added.

Ban was speaking as a fortnight of negotiations near their end, with governments seeking a legally-binding deal on curbing carbon emissions beyond 2020, when current commitments end. Around 150 leaders including Barack Obama and Xi Jinping, of the world’s two biggest emitting countries, attended the summit at the start but have since made way to politicians and negotiators who kept talking through Wednesday and Thursday nights.

…(read more).

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Will Mining Celestial Bodies Ruin Space? | Cognoscenti

Wed, Dec 09, 2015 by Joelle Renstrom

Joelle Renstrom: “Will wars over resources relocate to space? In the race to turn billions into trillions, will the rich hammer flags into asteroids and planets to claim them?” Pictured: Ceres, a dwarf planet located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. On Wednesday, November 25, 2015, President Obama signed the Asteroid Resources Property Rights Act, clearing the way for mining in space. (NASA via AP)

Last month, President Obama signed into law the Asteroid Resources Property Rights Acts, which means that American citizens can “engage in commercial exploration for and commercial recovery of space resources free from harmful interference.”

The bill defines space resources as non-terrestrial, non-biological assets, including water and minerals. Specifically, it refers to resources found on asteroids, which companies such as Planetary Resources will soon mine. The signing of this bill has been met with applause those whose sights have long been set on making fortunes from cosmic companies. In the long run, this bill may make the ruination of space more likely.

Once the technology and resources are in place, other companies from the U.S. and elsewhere will join them in the hunt for viable, resource-rich asteroids. And then what?

Our solar system has three types of asteroids: C-type (carbonaceous), S-type (silicaceous), and M-type (metallic). Most near-Earth asteroids are S-type, composed primarily of rock, and are probably the least useful for mining. C-type asteroids, the most common type, contain vast quantities of water, which could prove useful both in space and on Earth. Ceres, the largest asteroid yet discovered, may harbor more fresh water than our entire planet.

…(read more).

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Dispatch From COP21: The Convenient Truth About Soil | Cognoscenti

Fri, Dec 11, 2015 by Seth Itzkan and Karl Thidemann

Seth Itzkan and Karl Thidemann: “Soil restoration is a necessary second front in our battle against the heating up of Earth’s atmosphere.” Pictured: Drought-stricken land in Iraq in 2009. (Hadi Mizban/AP)

As the climate talks in Paris draw to a close, climate activists have taken note: Soil restoration is our ally in the fight against global warming. It is inexpensive (or even profitable), effective and easy to implement, and it yields multiple benefits. Besides capturing carbon and reversing desertification caused by severe drought, soil restoration enhances regional cooling, strengthens resilience against droughts and floods, and improves food quality. It is a necessary second front in our battle against the heating up of Earth’s atmosphere.

How so? Soil holds carbon — lots of it. Other than the oceans and fossil fuel deposits, soils are the largest reservoirs of carbon on the planet, holding approximately two times the amount in the atmosphere and vegetation combined. The dark color of fertile soil comes from the presence of organic carbon compounds.

Soil restoration is our ally in the fight against global warming.

Unfortunately, over the centuries, a great deal of carbon has been released from soils through agriculture — both primitive and modern. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recognizes that reducing emissions alone will not stop global warming.  Disruptions, it says, are “irreversible” unless there is a “large net removal of CO2 from the atmosphere over a sustained period.”

The good news is that what has been lost can be returned. The excess atmospheric carbon creating anxiety would be far more content in cozy soil. Photosynthesis is how it will get there, through the process whereby plants convert carbon in the air into organic molecules exuded by roots to feed hungry microbes underground.

…(read more).

See also

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

ENB Report | UNFCCC COP 21/CMP 11 (Negotiations) | 10 Dec 2015 | Paris, FR | IISD Reporting Services

Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB)

Volume 12 Number 662 | Friday, 11 December 2015

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice