Wednesday, December 23, 2015

22 Countries Join ‘Because the Ocean’ to Support Action on Climate Change and Oceans

10 December 2015: At the Paris Climate Change Conference, 22 countries supported the 'Because the Ocean' Declaration and agreed to work towards three objectives to advance action on climate change, oceans and sustainable development.

The Chilean Foreign Affairs Ministry, the French Ministry of Ecology, the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, the Global Ocean Commission (GOC), the Institute on Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI) and Tara Expeditions organized the 'Because the Ocean' event on the sidelines of the Paris Climate Change Conference.

“The ocean will—today and every day—extract four kilograms of carbon dioxide per person on the planet from our atmosphere,” explained Global Ocean Commission (GOC) Co-Chair José María Figueres at the event. He highlighted the ocean's role in shielding the earth from “intense and accelerated climate change impacts,” noting that it absorbs 25% of carbon and absorbs 90% of excess heat, and urged countries to “cherish and protect the ocean.”

“Because the Ocean sustains life on earth and our collective well-being” the signatory countries urge action to enhance global ocean resilience to the impacts of carbon dioxide emissions and climate change. The Declaration describes the ocean's contribution to economic wealth and climate-related impacts on the ocean, observing climate change seriously affects marine life and causes irreversible damage to coral reefs and related ecosystems and species. The Declaration emphasizes the importance of the ocean for small island developing States (SIDS) and for the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Because the Ocean will work towards: 1) a special report on the ocean by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); 2) development of an ocean action plan under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including continuing to meet as a group to address the challenges identified in the Declaration; and 3) the UN Ocean Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Conference in Fiji in June 2017, which is expected to establish a regular review of SDG 14 on oceans and marine resources.

Eleven countries signed the Declaration at the high-level event. An additional four countries joined the initiative at a private ceremony hosted by Prince Albert II of Monaco on 4 December. Seven more countries signed the Declaration at a ceremony hosted by the Chilean delegation.

The participating countries are Aruba, Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Fiji, France, Guinea Bissau, Kiribati, Madagascar, Mexico, Monaco, Morocco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Palau, Senegal, Seychelles, Spain, and Sweden. [GOC Press Release, 10 December] [GOC Press Release, 30 November] [Because the Ocean Declaration] [IISD RS Coverage of Paris Climate Change Conference] More


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Paris climate deal prompts call for action in Cayman

The Cayman Islands must set more aggressive targets on increasing renewable energy and reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the light of the Paris agreement on climate change, green energy advocates have said.

The Paris climate deal, hailed as an historic feat of international diplomacy, established a commitment from 195 countries to contain planet-warming carbon emissions.

Cayman, as a British territory, was not involved in the talks and is not a direct signatory to the agreement, which set a goal of reducing global temperature rises to less than 2C. The final submissions to the agreement are not enforceable and carry no consequences.

However. James Whittaker, president of the Cayman Renewable Energy Association, said the Paris accord represents a “paradigm shift” in the international approach to climate change and suggested Cayman would have to get on board.

Tim Austin, deputy director of the Department of Environment, said the National Conservation Council is also pushing for clearer and more ambitious targets.

A draft national energy policy, published in 2013, sets a goal that 13.5 percent of electricity sold should be generated from renewable sources by 2030. It also targets a 19 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to a “business as usual scenario.”

Mr. Whittaker said the Paris agreement, referred to as COP 21, represents an international consensus that far more radical action is needed. He said Cayman’s targets on renewable energy are among the least ambitious of any country.

While Cayman’s net contribution to climate change is negligible, the territory is among the highest producers of carbon emissions per capita in the world, according to Mr. Austin.

Mr. Whittaker, added, “I believe COP 21 sets ambitious climate change benchmarks globally and it clearly suggests that Cayman must take a more aggressive approach to adopting renewable energy and reducing our carbon emissions. This is something CREA have been telling the government for some time now. That said, it still doesn’t appear the decision-makers in government are yet paying attention to the critical issues of renewable energy and carbon reduction.”

He added, “I am cautiously optimistic that the government will finally wake up and realize that this paradigm shift is happening all over the world for a reason and will start to ensure it happens in Cayman soon.”

Mr. Austin said the Cayman Islands could request to be included in commitments coming out of the agreement.

“At the moment, the U.K. does not push out those climate agreements to its territories, but this could potentially change with Cayman’s recent request to the U.K. government to include Cayman in its second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol (2013-2020).

“The National Conservation Council is currently working on a climate change policy and would like to see clearer, more ambitious targets, in line with what the U.K. has signed up to.”

He said the Paris summit represents a significant milestone in gaining an international consensus that something needs to be done to curb the amounts of CO2 going into the atmosphere and limit the consequences of global warming.

Mr. Austin said the ambitious targets set in Paris were driven, in part, by small-island states concerned about the consequences of climate change.

Tim Austin - DOE

In 2009, the Maldives, one of the flattest countries on Earth, held a Cabinet meeting underwater in scuba gear as a stunt to generate publicity for the consequences of not acting on the issue.

Cayman’s position is less grave, but Mr. Austin warns that with the majority of Cayman’s population and major infrastructure located a short distance from the coastline, increasing storm intensity and flood risk present a potentially significant challenge.

He said the impact of climate change is already evident on coral reefs around Cayman.

Mr. Whittaker said Cayman’s size should not stop it from doing its part.

“While our aggregate emissions are small compared to large economies, we emit a lot of carbon per capita on this little island. I believe it’s a hypocritical and shortsighted position to just let the rest of the world handle it when we are expecting others to do things we are not willing to do ourselves.

“We need to show leadership here, regionally and globally. If we expect the world to change we have to be part of that change.” More


Monday, December 14, 2015

Renewable Energy After COP21: Nine issues for climate leaders to think about on the journey home

COP21 in Paris is over. Now it’s back to the hard work of fighting for, and implementing, the energy transition.

We all know that the transition away from fossil fuels is key to maintaining a livable planet. Several organizations have formulated proposals for transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy; some of those proposals focus on the national level, some the state level, while a few look at the global challenge. David Fridley (staff scientist of the energy analysis program at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory) and I have been working for the past few months to analyze and assess many of those proposals, and to dig deeper into energy transition issues—particularly how our use of energy will need to adapt in a ~100 percent renewable future. We have a book in the works, titled Our Renewable Future, that examines the adjustments society will have to make in the transition to new energy sources. We started this project with some general understanding of the likely constraints and opportunities in this transition; nevertheless, researching and writing Our Renewable Future has been a journey of discovery. Along the way, we identified not only technical issues requiring more attention, but also important implications for advocacy and policy. What follows is a short summary—tailored mostly to the United States—of what we’ve learned, along with some recommendations.

1. We really need a plan; no, lots of them

Germany has arguably accomplished more toward the transition than any other nation largely because it has a plan—the Energiewende. This plan targets a 60 percent reduction in all fossil fuel use (not just in the electricity sector) by 2050, achieving a 50 percent cut in overall energy use through efficiency in power generation (fossil fueled power plants entail huge losses), buildings, and transport. It’s not a perfect plan, in that it really should aim higher than 60 percent. But it’s better than nothing, and the effort is off to a good start. Although the United States has a stated goal of generating 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, it does not have an equivalent official plan. Without it, we are at a significant disadvantage.

What would a plan do? It would identify the low-hanging fruit, show how resources need to be allocated, and identify needed policies. We would of course need to revise the plan frequently as we gained practical experience (as Germany is doing).

What follows are some components of a possible plan, based on work already done by many researchers in the United States and elsewhere; far more detail (with timelines, cost schedules, and policies) would be required for a fleshed-out version. It groups tasks into levels of difficulty; work would need to commence right away on tasks at all levels of difficulty, but for planning purposes it’s useful to know what can be achieved relatively quickly and cheaply, and what will take long, expensive, sustained effort.

Level One: The “easy” stuff

Nearly everyone agrees that the easiest way to kick-start the transition would be to replace coal with solar and wind power for electricity generation. That would require building lots of panels and turbines while regulating coal out of existence. Distributed generation and storage (rooftop solar panels with home- or business-scale battery packs) will help. Replacing natural gas will be harder, because gas-fired “peaking” plants are often used to buffer the intermittency of industrial-scale wind and solar inputs to the grid (see Level Two). More


No longer National Security: It is now Planetary Security

George Monbiot superbly sums up the talks, saying: “By comparison to what it could have been, it’s a miracle. By comparison to what it should have been, it’s a disaster.”

The Path From Paris

He writes that: “A maximum of 1.5C, now an aspirational and unlikely target, was eminently achievable when the first UN climate change conference took place in Berlin in 1995. Two decades of procrastination, caused by lobbying – overt, covert and often downright sinister – by the fossil fuel lobby, coupled with the reluctance of governments to explain to their electorates that short-term thinking has long-term costs, ensure that the window of opportunity is now three-quarters shut. The talks in Paris are the best there have ever been. And that is a terrible indictment.””

Here is 350’s Bill McKibben, following up on the Avaaz positive clarion call to arms with a powerful article in today’s Guardian titled ‘Climate deal: the pistol has fired, so why aren’t we running?’

“With the climate talks in Paris now over, the world has set itself a serious goal: limit temperature rise to 1.5C. Or failing that, 2C. Hitting those targets is absolutely necessary: even the one-degree rise that we’ve already seen is wreaking havoc on everything from ice caps to ocean chemistry. But meeting it won’t be easy, given that we’re currently on track for between 4C and 5C. Our only hope is to decisively pick up the pace . . . the only important question, is: how fast . . .

“You’ve got to stop fracking right away (in fact, that may be the greatest imperative of all, since methane gas does its climate damage so fast). You have to start installing solar panels and windmills at a breakneck pace – and all over the world. The huge subsidies doled out to fossil fuel have to end yesterday, and the huge subsidies to renewable energy had better begin tomorrow. You have to raise the price of carbon steeply and quickly, so everyone gets a clear signal to get off of it . . .

“The world’s fossil fuel companies still have five times the carbon we can burn and have any hope of meeting even the 2C target – and they’re still determined to burn it. The Koch Brothers will spend $900m on this year’s American elections. As we know from the ongoing Exxon scandal, there’s every reason to think that this industry will lie at every turn in an effort to hold on to their power –

What this boils down to is not an issue of National Security, but of Global Security, of Planetary Security. The huge subsidies doled out to fossil fuel companies must be clawed back and put towards the Clean Energy Agenda. This is particularly an issue given what we know from the ongoing Exxon scandal, there’s every reason to think that this industry will lie at every turn unless made to pay for their endangerment of humanity.

We have to raise the price of carbon steeply and quickly and use this income to mitigate and sequester carbon in the atmosphere.

Kevin Anderson concludes that we have to make: “Fundamental changes to the political and economic framing of contemporary society. This is a mitigation challenge far beyond anything discussed in Paris – yet without it our well-intended aspirations will all too soon wither and die on the vine. We owe our children, our planet and ourselves more than that. So let Paris be the catalyst for a new paradigm – one in which we deliver a sustainable, equitable and prosperous future for all.”

We must remember that the Montreal Treaty did work. Kofi Annan, Former Secretary General of the United Nations stated "Perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date has been the Montreal Protocol" Remember; "It always seems impossible until it's done" Nelson Mandela. More


Monday, December 7, 2015

Save Our Oceans: COP21 Climate Negotiators put Ocean Protection back in the COP 21 Climate Agreement!

Demand Ocean Protection is included within the COP21 Climate Agreement

Ocean Protection has been removed from the COP 21 Climate Agreement, its protection is fundamental in mitigating climate change and global biodiversity loss. Allowing removal of Oceans from the Agreement provides nations that don't care "a charter" to continue raping and destroying vital ocean biodiversity globally. We must fight to save what is left; if your care then NOW is your time to ACT. Support this campaign and within seconds of clicking SEND your message will be delivered to the COP21 negotiators in Paris.

Message to all CLIMATE NEGOTIATORS at COP21 Paris

Subject: SAVE OUR OCEANS: COP21 Climate Negotiators put Ocean Protectionback in the COP 21 Climate Agreement!


It is staggering that Ocean protection is to be removed from the COP21 Climate Agreement.

Oceans and their biodiversity are fundamental to managing climate change, stabilising planetary climate systems and providing a sustainable future food supply for mankind. There is no greater cause than to protect our Oceans; simply because they transcend political geographic boundaries does not mean you should not care and leave to somebody else, there is nobody else, please think again and fight for their and our survival by including them in the Agreement.

Thank you.


Yours sincerely, [Your Name]


Please go to Gaia: Defenders of Biodirversity to sign the letter