U.N. Climate Talks have 'Failed the People'
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UPDATE 15. December 2019: COP25 WAS A TOTAL FLOP - The entire purpose of COP25 was for nations to scale up their own ambitions and raise the decarbonization targets established under Paris. After an extra day of contentious negotiation, all language referring to that goal has been stripped from the resolution.
"Never have I seen the almost total disconnection we've seen here (...) between what the science requires and the people of the world demand, and what the climate negotiators are delivering,” said Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
... and Greta Thunberg had to sit on the floor in an overcrowed German train from Basel in the very South of Germany on her way back home. Embarrassed Deutsche Bahn (DB) tried to do some damage-control by finally and after many hours giving the TIMES person of the year a firstclass-seat from Hannover in the North of Germany. DB got a twitterstorm, but Greta cooled the mood of her fans:
"Our train from Basel was taken out of traffic. So we sat on the floor on 2 different trains. After Göttingen I got a seat.This is no problem of course and I never said it was. Overcrowded trains is a great sign because it means the demand for train travel is high!"
Ms Thunberg also stated she needs now a break, but the climate strike will continue unabated and will be scaled up.
Anger erupts at U.N. climate summit as major economies resist bold action
Campaigners and many nations slam Chile, presiding over the talks, for drafting a summit text that they say risks throwing the 2015 Paris Agreement into reverse
By Matthew Green and Valerie Volcovici - 14. December 2019
MADRID, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Major economies resisted calls for bolder climate commitments as a U.N. summit in Madrid limped towards a delayed conclusion on Saturday, dimming hopes that nations will act in time to stop rising temperatures devastating people and the natural world.
With the two-week gathering spilling into the weekend, campaigners and many delegates slammed Chile, presiding over the talks, for drafting a summit text that they said risked throwing the 2015 Paris Agreement to tackle global warming into reverse.
"At a time when scientists are queuing up to warn about terrifying consequences if emissions keep rising, and school children are taking to the streets in their millions, what we have here in Madrid is a betrayal of people across the world," said Mohamed Adow, director of Power Shift Africa, a climate and energy think-tank in Nairobi.
The annual climate marathon had been due to conclude on Friday, but dragged on with ministers mired in multiple disputes over implementing the Paris deal, which has so far failed to stem the upward march of global carbon emissions.
Long-time participants in the talks expressed outrage at the unwillingness of major polluters to show ambition commensurate with the gravity of the climate crisis, after a year of wildfires, cyclones, droughts and floods.
The European Union, small island states and many other nations had been calling for the Madrid decision to signal that the more than 190 countries participating in the Paris process will submit bolder pledges to cut emissions next year.
The agreement enters a crucial implementation phase in 2020, when countries are supposed to ratchet up their ambitions ahead of the next major round of talks in Glasgow.
Members of the obstacle providing Australian Delegation - Reuters Nacho Doce
If big economies such as China, India, Japan, Brazil, USA, Australia and others fail to agree more meaningful climate action soon, then scientists say already slim hopes of averting catastrophic temperature rises will all but vanish.
... and this was "Nero" Bolsonaro's stickholder at COP25, contributing only obstacles.
Although no advanced economy is yet on track for the kind of action scientists say is needed to steer the climate onto a safer path, all the EU's 28 member states, bar Poland, agreed in Brussels on Thursday to target net zero emissions by 2050.
Krista Mikkonen, Finland's environment minister, speaking on behalf of the EU, told the talks it would be "impossible to leave" without agreeing a "strong message" on the need to redouble pledges to cut emissions next year.
Ministers broke into groups on Saturday for eleventh-hour negotiations on a tangle of issues, including finance for climate-vulnerable countries, carbon markets, and the all-important issue of the strength of the summit's final text.
With the clock ticking, Andrés Landerretche, Chile's summit coordinator, said the goal was to conclude on Saturday. "The vast majority of delegations are asking for a more ambitious text, and that's what we're aiming at," he told reporters.
Campaigners had said a draft text circulating earlier was among the worst they had seen at climate negotiations.
"The approach Chile has taken on this text shows how it has listened to the polluters and not to the people," said Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International.
The Paris process has been weakened by a move by U.S. President Donald Trump to begin withdrawing the world's largest historical emitter from the agreement last month, making it easier for other big countries to backslide.
(Writing by Matthew Green; Editing by Alex Richardson, Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Helen Popper)
Frustrated with climate talks, activists dump manure outside Madrid summit
Extiction Rebellion activist dumped cow manure on the COP25 premises to demonstrate against the bullshit some delegations talk.
By Elena Rodriguez - 14 December 2019
MADRID, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Green activists dumped horse manure and staged a mock hanging outside the venue of a U.N. climate summit in Madrid on Saturday, airing their frustration at the failure of world leaders to take meaningful action against global warming.
Led by grassroots group Extinction Rebellion, the actions were timed to coincide with the closing of the COP25 summit, where negotiators have been unable to agree on how to implement the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
"Just like rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic, this COP's fiddling of carbon accounting and negotiating of Article 6 is not commensurate to the planetary emergency we face," Extinction Rebellion said in a statement.
Twelve members of the group stood on melting blocks of ice, nooses drawn tight around their necks to symbolise the 12 months remaining until the next summit, when the Paris deal enters a make-or-break implementation phase.
Attached to the pile of manure was a short message to leaders saying "the horseshit stops here."
In contrast to a protest held last weekend, in which hundreds of demonstrators blocked one of Madrid's central shopping streets for a mass disco-dance, the mood at the gathering was subdued.
"Even if they reach an agreement it's still not enough. This is the 25th COP they've had and nothing has really changed," protester Emma Deane told Reuters from her perch atop an ice block, holding her young daughter in her arms.
"She's going to grow up in a world where there's no food on the shelves and that breaks my heart."
Still, Extinction Rebellion spokesman Ronan McNern stressed the importance of humour in the face of the climate crisis
"Out of shit comes the best roses. We hope that the international community comes together to create a beautiful future," McNern said.
(Reporting by Elena Rodriguez, Michael Gore and Naco Doce Writing by Nathan Allen Editing by David Holmes)
U.N. climate talks have 'failed the people', activists say
As talks drag on into a day of overtime, climate change activists say they fear an outcome tilted towards the interests of powerful polluters
By Megan Rowling - 14 December 2019
MADRID, Dec 14 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - In Chad, livestock herders are struggling to find grazing for their animals, and crops are not growing as they should due to worsening droughts and floods, according to Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, a member of the African country's Mbororo pastoralist community.
As a result, people are being pushed deeper into poverty and are fighting over shrinking resources, she told a gathering on the sidelines of the U.N. climate conference in Madrid on Saturday, as the talks pushed into a day of overtime.
"The climate emergency is now," she said. "We need our voices to be here... action must start now."
As the two-week negotiations struggled to overcome sharp disagreements, with Friday's scheduled ending repeatedly pushed back, Ibrahim spoke at a "Peoples' Closing Plenary" alongside others advocating on behalf of groups including women, youth, workers and people with disabilities.
Many said the summit, known as COP25, had "failed the people and the planet" and called for "climate justice" instead of an outcome tilted towards the interests of powerful polluters.
In the formal talks, European governments, small island states and the poorest nations struggled to persuade big-emitting countries - from the United States and Brazil to India, China and Japan - to commit in 2020 to making their climate action plans more ambitious.
Jason Boberg, a New Zealand disability rights campaigner and filmmaker, told the people's assembly those with disabilities faced serious threats from climate change.
"From fires and power shut-offs in California to floods and other disasters, disabled people... are the first to be left behind and the first to die," he said.
Speakers criticised the reluctance of wealthy governments to provide financial support for people left hungry, water-short and homeless by worsening extreme weather and rising seas.
And some decried plans to expand carbon emissions trading markets to include forests without guarantees the schemes would reduce emissions or protect local people's rights.
"Our forests are not for sale," said Ibrahim from Chad.
Tasneem Essop, executive director of the Climate Action Network International, said the anti-apartheid movement in her native South Africa had not believed it could ever end the system of racial segregation - but did in the end, thanks to global solidarity.
"People's leadership will save us from devastating climate change," the former government official told a crowd of listeners, of all ages and nationalities, seated on the conference centre floor.
This year's U.N. talks have exposed a wide and growing gap between an increasingly vocal mass movement calling on politicians to step up climate action, and the slow pace of their response.
Scientists have said efforts to cut planet-warming emissions further and faster are urgently needed if the world is to have a chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the lower goal adopted in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Current national climate plans, if achieved, would lead to a temperature rise of at least 3 degrees, a level of warming that scientists say could lead to widespread food and water scarcity, more weather disasters and rising seas.
The science and growing public demand for action is heaping pressure on governments to meet a deadline to strengthen their climate plans by the end of next year - but only about 80 smaller-emitting countries have so far said they will.
Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists, said he had attended the climate negotiations since they first started in 1991.
"But never have I seen the almost total disconnect we've seen here at COP25 in Madrid between what the science requires and the people of the world demand, and what the climate negotiations are delivering in terms of meaningful action," he said.
"The planet is on fire and our window of escape is getting harder and harder to reach the longer we wait to act," he added.
Outside the talks, supporters of the international direct action group Extinction Rebellion stood on 12 blocks of ice with nooses around their necks to symbolise the disappearing time left to "change the trajectory and truly face the reality of the planetary climate and ecological emergency", the group said.
There was a "need to come together now and think bigger" in the run-up to next year's U.N. summit in the Scottish city of Glasgow, it added.
The group also dumped a pile of horse manure on a roundabout in front of the Madrid conference venue, as a metaphor for its view on what was happening inside and where societies would end up unless they transform to a greener way of life, it said.
On Saturday morning, Colombia's Vice Minister for Multilateral Affairs Adriana Mejía Hernández told the U.N. conference a weak outcome from the Madrid talks would be "unacceptable for millions of people around the world asking for ambitious action".
Her words echoed similar calls by Chile and Spain.
Speaking for young people at the people's assembly, Jorge Martinez of Mexico said millions of people were striking on the streets "not because they want to, but because they are terrified of their future and the future of our planet".
Younger generations will continue to fight for a safer, cleaner world, he said, even if governments failed to step up enough to keep dangerous warming in check.
"We will never accept the destruction you are bringing as inevitable," he added.
(Reporting by Megan Rowling | @meganrowling | Thomson Reuters Foundation ; editing by Laurie Goering. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, climate change, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking and property rights. Visit https://news.trust.org/climate)
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
By Peter Koenig (*) 21. December 2019
Does anyone know what COP25 stands for? Probably very few. Its unimportant. As unimportant as the whole roadshow itself. Just for the hell of it, for those who read this article, COP means Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The 25 stands for the 25th year that such annual conferences have taken place – every year in another country – what a tourist bonanza for the hundreds, if not thousands of attendees and participants who travel – by air – many of them business class, to these most questionable, even useless conferences.
The first of the COP summits took place in Berlin, Germany, in March 1995. The COP’s Presidency rotates among the 5 UN recognized regions and so do the conferences – to make “eco-tourism” most of the time for the same UN and government bureaucrats and jokers more attractive. I can’t help thinking of the enormous cost of these conferences – travel, food, lodging and everything in between – for two weeks – in the case of COP25 Madrid (2-16 December 2019), two days more than planned, because after the scheduled two weeks no agreements were reached, so it was decided to add two days. Add to this all the preparatory meetings and related travels – tens of millions of dollars, possibly more, are spent for nothing, absolutely zilch, nada. That’s the officially recognized outcome at the end of the extended COP25 in Madrid – nothing.
There are UN staff, directors mostly, at the UN in Geneva and in New York, who earn huge salaries in the hundreds of thousands a year, for doing what? Some of them are directing their staff to preparing the extravagant but mostly useless COPs – and of course, they are also attending them. When I see monetary figures like this, and we are now talking of only one kind of UN conferences, it occurs to me that this is money stolen from the poor. It is taken from the very people whom the UN is committed by its Charter to help. – How many simple drinking water supply and sanitation systems could you build with all this money? How many millions of people could you serve with the money wasted for such conferences with safe drinking water and safe sanitation?
According to the WHO-UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program (JMP), some 2.1 billion people have no safe drinking water at home and more than twice this number lacks safe sanitation. At the same time, these agencies also monitor the death toll among less than 5-year-old children from unsafe water and sanitation, from the lack of hygiene, from diarrheal diseases – nearly 400,000 die per year. In addition, contaminated water and poor sanitation also contribute to the transmission of cholera, dysentery, hepatitis A and typhoid. This does not even take into account those who die due to a famine-reduced immune system.
Precious money deviated from the UN system by men-invented rather unproductive, but usually lush conferences – of which the COPs are just one category – could save millions of lives.
This is a real environmental issue, in fact more vital than just environment, it is environmental health. It is certainly competing in importance with the man-made CO2 issue. Climate change is happening, no doubt, it always did for the 4.5 billion years of Mother Earth’s existence. But the way the west is dealing with it is a sheer farce; no, it’s actually worse, much worse, it’s criminal, because it’s knowingly made into a commercial globalized profit-making enterprise. Knowingly, because the elite that pulls the strings behind these events – the same who finance Greta Thunberg – are well aware of what they are doing and why they are doing what they are doing. It helps none, but global corporate finance. Those who suffer most are the people living in the Global South which is, as with most natural disasters, most affected by naturally occurring climate change.
It’s still worse, because the western propaganda message promises actions towards saving the world from climate change which are entirely deceptive. So, the poor are again being lied to. They are being lured into making huge investments with huge loans – the World Bank, IMF and bilateral lending institutions, let alone Wall Street, stand ready – loans and interest which the borrowing countries have to repay. If they can’t, they have to give their collateral, meaning, let the west privatize their public services and assets, and grab their natural resources for a pittance. That’s how it works – the west preventing climate change from happening.
Not to mention the enormous arrogance with which the eminent COP attendees pretend humans can control Mother Earth’s temperature fluctuations, i.e. to less than 2 degree C. Or arguing, whether “we” (almighty humans) should agree on limiting a temperature rise in the next 30 or 50 or 100 years to 2 or 3 degrees C, exceeds any reasonable level of human absurdity and conceit. Our assumed power over nature is at best ridiculous.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. IPCC has 195 members and some 2000 scientists who contribute to IPCC’s work. Any serious scientist knows that the main cause for climate change are variations of solar activities, but they sell us CO2 as chief villain, knowing well, that the world, especially the western world, functioning under a turbo-neoliberal corporate and finance driven capitalist system, based on ‘eternal’ consumption and eternal growth – which drives the ever-growing profit margins – will not change its behavior vis-à-vis nature, unless it collapses under its own weight. Not with a million COPs it will change its profit-making thinking and business motives. – These mostly famous scientists know it. If they don’t follow the line, they risk losing their reputation and, who knows, their jobs?
Ice core records studied by scientists, combined with many types of proxy records to reconstruct past atmospheres and environmental conditions, back from thousands to many millions of years, suggest that climate changes in large cycles, and within them, in smaller cycles. For example, it appears that between 2.6 and 5.3 million years ago, during the Pliocene Epoch, CO2 levels were comparable to those of today. Models suggest global temperatures were 3 to 4 degrees C warmer than pre-industrial levels.
Similar patterns were repeated 400,000 to 600,000 years ago. What is important to notice though, is that temperatures rise first, followed by CO2 levels which is logical, since the sun is hearting the earth. It is the complete opposite to what today’s climate gurus are telling us. In the second half of the 1900s, NASA studied during some 30 years temperature fluctuations in the Pacific Ocean, investigating causes and effects of El Niño. The result was similar; the higher the water temperature of the Pacific, the more CO2 was released by the sea into the atmosphere. High CO2 levels are eventually followed by lower temperatures.
The world still runs mainly on unrenewable energy, mostly hydrocarbons, oil, gas and even coal – the chief producers of CO2. Of course, we should stop using hydrocarbons and convert our economic systems to renewable energies. Hydrocarbons with their carbon dioxide output pollute the air, soil, surface and underground water ways. They contaminate even our food. Their secondary and tertiary products, plastic bottles and plastic-related packing materials, most of which are not biodegradable and contaminate our oceans, our landscapes, and kill wildlife.
But who convinces the highly profitable petrol titans, packaging giants – not to mention the pharma industry which also thrives on petrochemicals – to turn the wheel back to the 1950’s and 1960s, when we went to the corner stores to buy our staple food, like rice, sugar, flour, potatoes in bulk, put it in used and reusable paper bags. We were not unhappier than we are today. To the contrary. Cancer rates were considerably lower. In 1960, CO2 levels in the atmosphere stood on average at 316 ppm. We had no cell phones. Time moved slower. And – importantly – in the fifties and sixties we lived even in the west in a world more or less in balance; we used less than the total of the resources Mother Earth generously provides for us.
In the mid-sixties, during the post-WWII economic boom, we started rapidly exceeding the world’s resources balance. Today, the west, or Global North, uses some 4 times as many resources as Mother Earth can provide. In Africa and some parts of Asia that ratio is between 0.5 and 0.6. – But no worries, there comes a point when Mother Earth will self-regenerate, that means with a break from us, destructive humans. Looking at geo-history – that has most likely happened already a few times: Civilizations disappeared – often “suicide by greed” – and once Mother Earth has recovered, she may give mankind another chance. She has a lot of patience.
In 2009, at the time of the (in)famous Copenhagen Climate Conference, the average level of CO2 in the air was 386 ppm (parts per million). The goal was to reduce the level to 350 ten years later. The Copenhagen Climate Conference coined the “350-sologan”. In November 2019, the carbon dioxide level has exceeded 410 ppm – and rising. It is an illusion to believe that Big Business, Big Industry, Big Finance – and Big Growth-driven Profit – will yield to environmental or climate concerns.
And again, those who call the shots know it, but they keep fooling the world, making the purposefully brainwashed and poorly informed populace believe that special taxes, for example on flying, or other taxes on hydrocarbon-based energy, will make a difference; or that “carbon credits” will improve the environment. This is of course nonsense. And the taxes eventually end up in the pockets of the usual villain, the globalized private banking system, instead of being dedicated to intense research into alternative energies. Such efforts happen only in China and Russia.
In the west, intense research into solar energy, the ultimate renewable energy, is not allowed to happen. The big energy lobbies, hydrocarbon, nuclear, and even hydropower, will block any such attempt. Can you imagine, the sun provides the earth with more than 10,000 times as much energy per day than what we use in the entire world in the same period.
Carbon credits are the most ludicrous deceitful banking invention of the last 50 years. How do they work? – A huge corporation in the Global North, instead of making the necessary investments to reduce their CO2 output, they buy “carbon credits” from a country in the Global South, where the pollution level is below a certain limit, so the northern corporation may continue postponing the CO2-reducing investments, and the country in the global south should theoretically invest the money they got from the “carbon credit” sale into alternative energy or otherwise environmentally friendly projects. It hardly ever happens. Many of these countries lack the projects and / or the absorptive capacity for the required investments. And even when it does happen, the carbon dioxide pollution of the monster corporation in the north continues. What a farce!
Maybe one day, in the not too distant future, the breakthrough will happen. It must, if we, mankind, want to survive and not collapse as civilization under the weight of our own wasteful, growth-based luxury lifestyle. We suddenly see the light – the sunlight – and use it, instead of CO2 generating hydrocarbon – and we free ourselves from this horrendous petro-corporate dependency. Our arrogant climate control attitude, temperature-rise fixing and human-manipulating by centigrade – gone – out of the window. Our linear 30, 50- and 100-year projections gone. Finito. What a feeling! – A feeling of real freedom. A full change-over of lifestyle. This moment may come faster than we think. The Chinese, always bashed by the west, have been concentrating at least the last decade much of their research on efficient and sustainable renewable energy – sun energy is in their focus. The East is the future. The East is where the sun rises.
Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. After working for over 30 years with the World Bank he penned Implosion, an economic thriller, based on his first-hand experience. Exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”