Pathway to Paris #11: Where are we after the Bonn talks?

A biweekly climate briefing for municipalities

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In this Issue #11

  • The last two weeks

  • UN preparatory meeting in the lead up to Paris

  • Countries issue their national targets

  • How can towns and cities contribute to a fair and ambitious climate deal in Paris?

  • New GHGProof pilot

  • Climate vulnerability monitor

  • Climate Publishers Network

  • Featured network: The Climate Vulnerability Network

A very eventful two weeks

It has been two weeks since the last newsletter and it seems like a generation, as everything is shifting very quickly. The G7 outlined a plan to phase out fossil fuels by 2100. While this plan is likely insufficient to prevent dangerous climate change, it is the first time that many key leaders have used the word decarbonisation, a shift in the discourse and a signal to investors, as the Guardian describes. Other unanticipated pronouncements: the CEOs of Europe’s largest oil companies including Shell, BP, BG Group, Eni, Statoil and Total wrote to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change requesting an international price on carbon. Chevron and ExxonMobil did not sign the letter. For those of you with kids (or otherwise), check out the Climate Hope City built in Minecraft. The Pope is about to issue an encyclical on climate change. Newspapers launched a pioneering effort to share stories on climate change. A study found that Canada’s GHG emissions cost the world 8,800 lives and $15.4 Billion every year. An IMF analysis found that fossil fuel subsidies totalled $4.9 trillion (6.5 percent of global GDP) in 2013. Eliminating these subsidies in 2015 could raise government revenue by $2.9 trillion (3.6 percent of global GDP), cut global CO2 emissions by more than 20 percent, and cut premature air pollution deaths by more than half.

UN preparatory meeting in the lead up to Paris

Countries gathered in Bonn for two weeks to work on the draft climate change text for Paris. The aim was to cut the document down from 89 pages to a manageable size, but they only managed to remove four pages. A quick scan reveals pages of options and brackets. They did, however, empower the co-chairs to work on the document which is hopeful. Page 9 still retains a reference to decarbonisation by 2050. “The path to Paris is now happening on both the political and negotiating levels and with a mood of exceptional confidence and engagement—what is being managed here is no longer resistance to an agreement but complexity, enthusiasm and an understanding that every nation is playing its part,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Countries issue their national targets

More than 40 countries have submitted their targets or as they are called in UN-speak, intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs). The lingering question is whether these targets will constitute a sufficient level of ambition to prevent dangerous climate change. The Climate Action Tracker rates each of these contributions; US is rated “medium”, while Canada is rated “inadequate”, a category occupied also by Russia and Japan.

How can towns and cities contribute to a fair and ambitious climate deal in Paris?

We have identified three options. Option 1: Join the Compact of Mayors, an international commitment to register and conduct a GHG inventory, establish a target, and develop a plan to reduce emissions. In Canada, only Montreal and Vancouver have signed up. Option 2: The Under2MOU California and a region of Germany, Baden-Wurttenburg have a launched an MOU that commits parties to limit emissions between eighty to ninety-five percent below 1990 levels, or below two metric tons per capita, by 2050. Ontario and BC have already signed on but no towns or cities so far. Option 3: Commit to a target of 100% renewable energy. Highlighted by the City of Vancouver’s motion passed earlier this year, this is a positive vision to combat climate change. Other ideas? Please let us know.

Illustration of existing renewable energy generation around the world from  from Carbon Brief and CartoDB

Illustration of existing renewable energy generation around the world from from Carbon Brief and CartoDB

Piloting a new open source community energy and emissions model

SSG is working with whatIf? technologies to develop a new open source community energy and GHG emissions model. The model will be launched in Paris and will be compatible with the GHGProtocol for Cities, the now global city-scale inventory accounting framework. This model will facilitate the testing of policies and actions for different emissions reductions scenarios into the future. SSG is seeking one or more cities to pilot the model in the next six months. Please get in touch if you are interested.

Climate vulnerability monitor

The Climate Vulnerability Forum (explained below) has partnered with DARA, an international humanitarian organization funded by UNICEF, to bring us the Climate Vulnerability Monitor, one of the most comprehensive attempts to quantify the deaths and economic damage from climate change. This could change the way climate change and the consequences thereof are reported, and tap into a more humanitarian, emotional response. Canada’s impact claimed 8,800 lives and USD$15.4 billion a year. The UK alarmingly emits 5.8% of total global emissions since industrial revolution, 23,200 lives a year and USD$40.60 billion.

Content sharing alliance of 25 global newspapers to keep climate change in the news

One landmark outcome from the global divest movement, and in particular The Guardian’s active ‘Keep it in the Ground’ campaign, this alliance of 25 international newspapers has agreed to share content across their outlets, from Le Monde in France to China Daily News, in a steadfast attempt to bring climate news to the top of the agenda for diplomats in light of the Paris talks in December.

Featured network: The Climate Vulnerability Forum

An alliance of 20 developing countries who feel they are a the frontline of the consequences of climate change. This alliance was formed in the Maldives in November 2009, just before COP15 in Copenhagen. Here they issued their first declaration in response to the changing climate as a result of man-made climate change. Since then they have gathered four times and doubled in membership.


A briefing prepared by SSG’s Office of the Research