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NEWS UPDATE #76 (Climate special)

Lekha Sridhar writes: The picture that emerges is of India demanding climate justice from an unrepentant West, which happily belched out carbon emissions for centuries and now does not want to allow developing countries their fair share of the carbon space. However, the Indian media should steer clear from lionising India’s rhetoric on climate change.

Landmark Agreement on Climate Is Reached in Paris to Cap Warming
Fred Pearce, Yale Environment 360
Climate negotiators meeting here in Paris have achieved a deal that could change the world. The Paris Agreement commits the world to capping global warming to “well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees C.” To achieve that, it requires the world to “reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible” and “to undertake rapid reductions thereafter, in accordance with best available science.” (Download/view: Full text of the COP21 agreeement (pdf))

The Paris deal is done, but is weak on climate finance for countries like India
Nayantara Narayanan, Scroll.in
After two weeks on intense haggling and negotiations that dragged into overtime the Conference of Parties, a gathering of 196 countries, adopted an agreement on action to clamp down on climate change. At 7.30 pm local time France’s foreign minister Laurent Fabius gavelled in the new deal in. World leaders speaking at the Le Bourget conference venue may have called the deal “historic”, “momentous”’ and “balanced” but it is quite a mixed bag in terms of achievement and what it means for India. Here is a run down of what’s good for the developing world that’s being ht hardest by climate change, and what’s not.

Why Indians need to closely examine our government’s sanctimonious rhetoric on Climate Justice
Lekha Sridhar, Scroll.in
The picture that emerges is of India demanding climate justice from an unrepentant West, which happily belched out carbon emissions for centuries and now does not want to allow developing countries their fair share of the carbon space. However, the Indian media and civil society should equally steer clear from lionising India’s rhetoric with respect to climate change. As the author Chimamanda Adichie warned us of the dangers of telling a single story, it is dangerous to uncritically accept the single “1.6 tCO2/year per capita” statistic. (Also read: India defends most red lines in Paris pact)

COP21 Could See a Political Victory But There’s a Reason to Be Very Cautious
Nagraj Adve, The Wire
As the crucial 21st Conference of the Parties winds up in Paris, there’s reason to be tempered in our response. And be wary of the fact that a huge failure may be presented as a triumph.

Greenpeace Sting Exposes Climate-Denying Academics-for-Hire
Common Dreams
As climate change deniers face growing scrutiny and skepticism, a new undercover investigation by the environmental group Greenpeace shines new light on academics-for-hire, who are willing to accept secret payments from fossil fuel companies to sow doubt about global warming. Professors from Penn State and Princeton University “agreed to write the reports and said they did not need to disclose the source of the funding,” according to reporting by Greenpeace Energydesk, a journalistic arm of the international environmental organization.

Paris climate talks: what difference will temperature rises really make?
Adam Vaughan, The Guardian
Without action, climate scientists have warned that temperatures could rise by nearly 5C above pre-industrial levels by 2100. World leaders meeting in Paris hope to keep average global surface temperature rises below 2C – but their pledges to cut emissions could still see up to 3C according to analyses. While it is very hard to make firm predictions, here are some of the potential impacts. All are for possible temperature rises occurring by 2100.

Paris emissions cuts aren’t enough – we’ll have to put carbon back in the ground
Myles Allen, The Conversation
We’re unlikely to hit “net zero” emissions before temperatures reach 2℃, and even less likely before they reach 1.5℃. Warming is currently at about 1℃ and rising by 0.1℃ every five to ten years. We could slow the warming by reducing emissions, of course. But if we fail to reduce at the required rate – and the inadequate emissions targets indicate this is the intention – then we will be left with no option but to scrub the excess CO2 back out of the atmosphere in future. (Also read: George Monbiot: Grand promises of Paris climate deal undermined by squalid retrenchments)

How the Earth itself could undermine a Paris climate agreement
Chris Mooney, The Washington Post
“The goal is an agreement that would set the world on a path to limit warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, or perhaps even 1.5 degrees Celsius, above pre-industrial levels. But at a news conference here at the Le Bourget conference center Wednesday morning, scientists pointed out a factor that could make hitting these targets quite a lot harder. It’s called permafrost. As the planet warms, this frozen northern soil is going to continue to thaw — and as it thaws, it’s going to release carbon dioxide and methane into the air. Potentially enough to really throw off the carbon budgets that have been calculated in order to determine the maximum emissions that we can release and still have a good chance of keeping warming to 2 C or below it.”

How 1.5 became the most important number at the Paris climate talks
Kate Dooley and Doreen Stabinsky, The Conversation
What does staying below 1.5℃ mean in practice? Nothing less than full decarbonisation of the global economy by 2050. We must stop burning all fossil fuels before the middle of the century, along with a massive effort to keep forests standing and protect biodiversity. That is no small feat. While some say limiting warming to less than 1.5℃, or even 2℃, is out of reach, ultimately 1.5℃ is a political signal for greater ambition, and a more serious global engagement in addressing climate change.

Paris climate negotiations won’t stop the planet burning
Nafeez Ahmed, Middle East Eye
Current emissions pledges already guarantee disaster. A report by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) released in October calculated that: “Compared with the emission levels consistent with the least-cost 2 °C scenarios, aggregate GHG emission levels resulting from the INDCs [intended nationally determined contributions] are expected to be higher by 8.7 (4.7–13.0) Gt CO2 eq (19 percent, range 10–29 percent) in 2025 and by 15.1 (11.1–21.7) Gt CO2 eq (35 per cent, range 26–59 percent) in 2030.” The targets set in stone before Paris, in other words, are already insufficient to avoid a global average temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius – accepted by policymakers as the safe limit beyond which the planet enters the realm of dangerous climate change.

The World is Broken and the Hypocrisy of COP 21 Isn’t Going to Put it Back Together
John Foran, Resilience.org
The latest version of the proposed Draft Outcome, issued by COP 21 President Laurent Fabius on December 9, has reduced the climate treaty text from 48 to 29 pages. It consists of a 15 page “Agreement” in the form of 26 Articles, followed by a 14 page proposed draft “Decision” text, which lays out the results of COP 21 and touches on matters that while important to the outcome, have not made it into the Agreement, thus improving the chances that parts of it can be legally binding but watering down the whole. It is all sleight of hand.

The International Energy Agency’s “Cookbook” For Paris : A “Last Chance” That Only Continues Forty Years of Failure
Nicholas C. Arguimbau, Countercurrents.org
Some time in the last couple of years while we weren’t paying attention, the powers that be changed the goal from a 66% chance of staying under 2 degrees to a 50% chance. They don’t talk about it very much but that’s the equivalent of raising the target atmospheric emissions goal from 450 ppm to 500 ppm, which is the equivalent of raising the “emissions budget,” (the CO2 emissions we can allow ourselves before we have to stop) by 390.5 gigatonnes of CO2 or 106.5 gt of carbon. So without being aware of it we just let IEA (International Energy Agency) reduce the probability that our grandchildren will live on a habitable planet from 2/3 to 1/2 so as simultaneously to give the fossil fuel industry something like $30 trillion. Easy come, easy go.

Sidelining the Most Vulnerable
Darryl D’Monte, EPW
A lot of hand-wringing and promises aside, COP21 is turning out to be another climate conference where the developed countries refuse to commit to norms set by previous summits. While India has maintained a principled and independent stance at COP21 so far, it remains to be seen if it is sidelined in the coming days. A report from the 2015 United Nations Conference of Parties (COP) 21 on climate change in Paris.

REPORT: Hot Air: climate negotiations and India (PDF)
Joydeep Gupta, Tirthankar Mandal, India Climate Dialogue
This report traces the evolution of India’s climate policy and its stance at climate negotiations over the last few decades. It also asks: how India has championed the cause of the developing world?

Seventy Years After Hiroshima, Will an India-Japan Nuclear Deal Set Back Global Nonproliferation Efforts?
Kumar Sundaram, Truthout
Will 2015 be remembered in history as a year when the human race decided to abandon the lessons of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? If the first part of this year saw the Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) ending in a failure, the closing of 2015 might witness a final and de facto expansion of the nuclear weapons club. Not surprisingly, the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have spoken out strongly against the proposed agreement. (Also read: 10 Reasons Why India-Japan Nuclear Agreement Must Be Opposed)

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