Climate News of the Week Roundup: Warsaw Climate Conference Takes Baby Steps Towards 2015 Agreement

This week’s roundup features the UN climate conference in Warsaw, an interview with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on his “ambition conference” next September, projections that sea-level rise may exceed one meter in this century, commentators arguing that progress on combating climate change will come bottom-up rather than top-down, Ontario phasing out coal power completely next year, a study saying that efficiency and renewables could get world on a 450ppm trajectory at little or no extra cost, China installing 1/4 of all new solar PV right now, California’s ETS being oversupplied, two new Wuppertal publications on the future climate regime, and more.

COP 19: Warsaw climate deal finalised as deadlock broken. The Warsaw climate conference ended with agreement on the bare minimum necessary to move forward with the negotiations on a new comprehensive climate agreement that is supposed to be concluded in 2015. Language on “commitments” was watered down to “contributions” and there is no clear process on how countries’s first offers are going to be evaluated. James Murray and Jessica Shankleman have a rather good summary of the results here. The Wuppertal Institute will as usual soon publish an assessment of the conference outcomes.

UN’s Ban seeks bold climate pledges at 2014 summit; not a deadline. Reuter’s Alister Doyle did an interview with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. He wants to get emission reduction pledges at the climate summit he’s organising next September, but US and others want to put their stuff on the table only later.

Sea-level rise could exceed one meter in this century. In more good news, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research considers that sea-level rise in this century is likely to be 70-120 centimeters by 2100 if greenhouse-gas emissions are reined in.

An international deal on climate change is within our reach. Given what happened in Warsaw, one part of this op-ed by Nicholas Stern and Christiana Figueres looks rather strange. I fail to see where exactly they spotted a renewed sense of urgency in the climate negotiations. But they are right in saying that there is a groundswell of bottom-up action to tackle climate change.

Progress on climate change will be led from the bottom, not the UN. “Fortunately, the UN negotiations are not the sum total of the global response to climate change.” Matthew Hoffmann notes that while the UN climate negotiations are stuck, a lot of things are moving in the right direction at the level of cities, provinces, companies and NGOs.

Ontario Phases Out Coal-Fired Power. In one concrete example, Ontario will reportedly shutter its last coal power plant in 2014. A decade ago coal’s share in electricity generation was still about 1/4.

Negotiating climate change as if development really mattered. Alexander Ochs argues that emission reductions must be discussed as what can be won, rather than what must be given up. Rather than focusing on what we can no longer do (emit GHGs), we should in his view focus on the benefits: “a more peaceful world, sustained economies with better jobs, greener and safer cities, and happier and healthier lives in intact environments.”

Reality check on renewable energy could unblock climate talks. One key reason why the climate negotiations are not moving forward is that governments doubt the viability of going low carbon. But these views have increasingly little resemblance to what’s happening in the real world. Giles Parkinson reports on a forthcoming study saying that efficiency and renewables could get world on a 450ppm trajectory at little or no extra cost.

China is largest photovoltaics market. Sven Ullrich and Craig Morris report that a fourth of newly installed solar PV capacity is being installed in China right now.

California emissions scheme oversupplied by more than expectedAccording to Bloomberg, California’s ETS seems to be another one that’s hobbled by flawed emission projections. But in contrast to the EU’s they at least have a floor price, at about twice the price of the EU’s current price.

Two new publications by the Wuppertal Institute and others:

Squaring the Circle of Mitigation Adequacy and Equity: Options and Perspectives” by Ecofys, Climate Analytics, Fraunhofer ISI, the Öko-Institute and the Wuppertal Institute surveys current proposals and positions on issues such as differentiated participation of countries in the new agreement, a differentiated spectrum of commitments, effort sharing and options for how to organise the negotiation process. The paper has the status of a discussion draft and the project team would highly appreciate feedback.

Analysis of Pledges of Emerging Economies: Assumptions, Potentials, Implementation by Ecofys, Climate Analytics and the Wuppertal Institute evaluates the emission limitation pledges of Brazil, China, India, Mexico, South Africa and South Korea relative to their “business-as-usual” development, as well as political activities that support mitigation activities in the six countries.

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