Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Are there still some reasons to hope the success of COP21 ?
“There is a significant gap between aggregate national intentions (of reducing greenhouses gases) and a pathway that is consistent with avoiding” a dangerous climate change. A few month from COP21, the economist Nicholas Stern wanted on Monday to remind to the nations of the planet the compelling issue of the agreement that should be concluded in Paris in next December. The total amount of reduction of greenhouse gases has not achieved and the time is running out.
According to the analysis of the economist, the world emissions should approach 35 billions of tons of CO2 equivalent till 2030 tacking into account the known commitments of different countries set to arrive in Paris. This is in stark to the advised limits of 23 billions of tons of CO2 equivalent to hope to limit global warming to 2°C. The international energy agency published a prospective report in which they forecasted a catastrophic scenario of temperature raising of up to 3,6°C till the end of the century. At the moment, United-States, China and European Union announced their quantified targets for 2030 (which represent between 21 and 22 billions of tons of equivalent CO2.
Without waiting that the other big emitting countries such as Australia, Japan, Brazil or Canada make know at Bonn their own target, the play seems badly committed. Is ther reason to lose hope in the usefulness of COP21 ? No, say in essence Nicholas Stern who wants to believe that a good agreement can be found : “there is still time before Paris (to reinforce the potential agreement)”.Why such optimism ? What are the reasons to hope ? First point : all observers agree that all the nations want an agreement, even minimum. Merging countries can no longer adopt the behavior they had in Copenhagen, arguing that developing countries are responsible, because right now they are part of the big emitting countries of the planet. The tremendous growth of China was accompanied by a similar growth of energy consumption which is based on fossil fuel. Coal supply 70 % of the energetic needs, which has made China the biggest CO2 emitting country in the world. And even CO2 emissions per capita exceed those of certain European countries like France. Beside, the energetic situation is no longer sustainable for China, because of the strong energetic dependency to foreign countries that it implies and also, such as in India, of the problem of air quality and its health consequencies for the population until 2025 compared to 2005
Besides, China concluded an agreement in last November on climate with United States, outside COP21. Chinese undertook to lower their emissions starting from 2025 whereas American will reduce their emission to 26 % or 28 %. . It is a very strong signal for both countries which represent the half of the greenhouse gases emissions of the planet. Indeed, the targets are insufficient in view of the climate but it is the first time that the two protagonists, traditionally opposed in climate negociations, agree. Besides, they were careful to add it is a first step.
Another reason to hope : the considerable decrease of the price of renewable energy. “The cost of electricity production produces from a renewable energy resource reached parity or stay under the cost of fossil fuel for many technologies in losts of part of the world”, affirmed the international renewable energy agency (IRENA) in a report published in last January. The solar electricity price has dramatically decreased by 65 from 2010 to 2014.
Finally, last positive signal : the movement of the Finance that begins. Careful by now in very carbonated investments, it even starts carbon divestments. The biggest foreign investment fund worldwide, the Norwish fund, considered as the leader of the responsible investment, divest in 53 companies involved in coal. Since several months, a movement born in the United States and called Fossil Free push investors to disinvest in coal assets. Considerations are not only ethic and environmental but also financial. Because, it exists at long term a carbon risk. We have three times more fossil fuel reserves than we could use if we wish to limit the global warming. The journalist Emma Howard from the Guardian emphasizes that there is a risk of a “carbon bubble” based on carbon assets that could be useless given the states commitments and the civil society position. The Bank of England is carrying on a study at the moment to know if the assets overvaluation could plunge the world in a new economical crisis similar to that of subprime.*
Of course, NGOs consider rightly that this movement is still too limited. Of course, the commitment announcements of reducing the greenhouse gases emissions are not to a level of the issue. Of course, American Senat is mainly Republican and at least has got reservations on commitments towards climate change. Of course, the adaptation assistance towards developing countries is largely insufficient and that riks to erode their pledge. And that is right, but COP21 should give a strong signal to the whole 195 nations that will be in Paris. It will be a step, a first step that it cannot be content.
Monday, February 2, 2015
2014 Earth's warmest year on record
2014 was the warmest year ever recorded. That’s what the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has just confirmed.
The average global temperature has exceeded the average temperature calculated for the reference period 1961-1990 by 0,57°C when it was 14°C. This record is very close to those recorded in 2010 and 2005. The temperature has exceeded by 0,55°C and by 0,54°C this temperature. A very small difference close to the margin of incertainty.
The WMO has noted above all that this temperature fall within the trend of the last 15 years. “Fourteen of the fifteen hottest years have all been this century. We expect global warming to continue, given that rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the increasing heat content of the oceans are committing us to a warmer future” has noted the Secretary-General of the WMO. “In 2014, record-breaking heat combined with torrential rainfall and floods in many countries and drought in some others – consistent with the expectation of a changing climate,” he added.
The 2014 record is reached whereas El Niño is very weak. This phenomenon El Niño that occurs in the east Pacific is sometimes so strong that it can raise highly the global temperature. This is what occurred in 1998, the only hottest year in the short set of years of the ten last record years ever recorded. This strengthens the interpretation of the 2014 exceptional temperature as an enduring impact of the anthropic climate change.
But El Niño hasn’t said the last word. The American center of climate prediction (CPC) forecast a real El Nino en 2015, which will raise temperatures this year.
The WMO has published this analysis in the perspective of annual negociation on climate change that will take place in Geneva from 9 until the 14th of February, which will help in the preparation for the climate conference in Paris in 2015.