What the COP21 Paris Climate Summit Accomplished, What it Failed to Do, And Our Next Steps

What the COP21 Paris Climate Summit Accomplished,

What it Failed to Do,

And Our Next Steps

by Glen Anderson ten days later on December 22, 2015

The global climate summit in Paris (the 21st Conference of the Parties – COP21) ran from November 30 to December 12, 2015 (lasting one day later than originally scheduled).  Within a week after adjournment, many articles have been written about:

  • What COP21 accomplished
  • What it failed to accomplish
  • What next steps the climate movement to take, starting from the grassroots.

The articles that had been written before COP21 varied widely in viewpoints and framing.  Some asserted that the Paris climate summit would be a “make or break” summit on which everything depends, so if this fails we are doomed.  Meanwhile, other articles cynically lamented that we are already doomed, that the powerful interests (rich polluting nations, oil companies, etc.) would prevent anything meaningful from being accomplished.

To some extent, these extremes are reflected in the articles written after COP21.  Also, some of the post-COP21 articles struck me as rather self-congratulatory and self-serving forms of self-promotion for the non-profit organizations that wrote them and were asking for further donations.  But many articles seemed genuinely informative and insightful, and some of the best ones focused on how the climate movement can move ahead.

Below (in no particular order) I have listed a variety of good articles published less than one week after the event ended.  If I needed more than one paragraph to summarize an article, I put a box around them so you can see these paragraphs grouped together.  Nearly all of these include links at the end, so you can read the articles if you want.

Dec 18:  Sonali Kolhatkar for Truthdig + Common Dreams:  After Paris, the Movement for Climate Justice Has Only Just Begun:  “Climate Justice” was one of the most common messages on signs people held at public gatherings in Paris.  A Swedish woman holding such a sign explained that “we need to acknowledge that everyone on this planet has the right to a decent living standard within the limits of the environment, which means that particularly in Western Europe we are overconsuming.  Our lifestyles assume that other people don’t have the right to [decent living standards].  And I don’t think that’s right.”  However, this goal was not prominent enough at COP21.  “Although poor and developing nations won the right to be held to different standards in their abilities to cut emissions, the agreement fell short of what was needed for “climate justice.”  This article points out that “words like ‘recognize,’ ‘emphasize’ and ‘acknowledge’ are legally meaningless.”  Several kinds of justice are interrelated, including energy, race and inequality, although the COP21 negotiations did not link these.  Someone told this author, “We need to fight for all the issues at the same time.”  The “climate justice” that people worldwide are calling for “is essentially what poor communities of color in the United States have been calling for under the term ‘environmental justice.’”  http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/12/18/after-paris-movement-climate-justice-has-only-just-begun

Dec. 16:  Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan on Truthdig:  Climate Change and the Road through Paris:  The 32-page “Paris Agreement was approved by nearly 200 nations on Saturday December 12.  The French government had banned public demonstrations after declaring a “state of emergency,” but “activists s defied the ban, saying that same phrase, ‘state of emergency,’ describes the planet’s climate.  Protests, at times violently repressed by police, occurred throughout the two-week United Nations summit.”  Two days after the talks ended, British journalist George Monbiot told Amy Goodman or Denis Moynihan, “What I see is an agreement with no timetables, no targets, with vague, wild aspirations.  I see a lot of back-slapping, a lot of self-congratulation, and I see very little in terms of the actual substance that is required to avert climate breakdown.”  Many environmental groups were much more positive about the results.

This article continued, “Just about everywhere on the planet, climate science is accepted as fact.  It is only in the United States, the largest polluter in world history and home to some of the wealthiest and most politically influential fossil-fuel corporations, that climate-science deniers are given credence.”  Climate scientists provided a variety of information at COP21.  “We have already warmed 1 degree Celsius over preindustrial levels, with devastating impacts, so the negotiators faced much pressure to keep the peak future figure much less than “2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) above preindustrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) above preindustrial levels.”  “At 2 degrees Celsius, polar ice melts, water warms and thus expands, and global sea levels rise more than 3 feet.  Several small island nations, like the Maldives or the Marshall Islands, will be completely submerged and will disappear.”  The Paris Agreement set a 1.5 degree goal, but that will be “pretty well impossible to reach,” according to George Monbiot.

“Author and activist Naomi Klein said the deal will “steamroll over crucial scientific red lines … it is also going to steamroll over equity red lines.” She added, ‘We know, from doing the math and adding up the targets that the major economies have brought to Paris, that those targets lead us to a very dangerous future. They lead us to a future between 3 and 4 degrees Celsius warming.’”

Rich countries will be making financial payments to poor countries that are suffering the worst damage from climate change – damaged caused mostly by rich countries.  But this will not be nearly enough.

Greenpeace’s Kumi Naidoo said, “Most of us in civil society never said ‘the road to Paris,’ we always said ‘the road through Paris.’”


Dec. 15:  Stephen Colbert:  VIDEO:  The world set a very low bar in Paris:  This 5½-minute video pokes fun at the results.  Stephen Colbert says, “World leaders set the bar as “low as it could possibly go.”  They are being awfully self-congratulatory about doing the absolute minimum to keep the planet “hospitable for human life.’”  http://www.truthdig.com/avbooth/item/video_stephen_colbert _paris_climate_agreement_sets_bar_low_20151215


Dec 14:  Bill McKibben wrote in the New York Times that COP21 fell short:   While news coverage focused on the climate summit in Paris, news media overlooked hundreds of people who died in Chennai, India, where “flooding turned a city of five million into an island,” and overlooked “the heaviest rains ever measured over 24 hours in the Lake District” of Britain, and overlooked record rainfalls in the Maldives in the Indian Ocean.  His article said that what was accomplished in Paris in 2015 should have been occurring 20 years ago in 1995, “when the first conference of parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change took place in Berlin.”

McKibben says the COP21 agreement calls for “voluntary pledges to begin reducing their carbon emissions” in only modest amounts.  The nations that needed to reduce their emissions the most “calibrated their targets” to be just “enough to keep both environmentalists and the fossil fuel industry from complaining too much.  They have managed to provide enough financing to keep poor countries from walking out of the talks, but not enough to really push the renewables revolution into high gear.”  He said that the $800 million the U.S. pledged “is more than Congress is likely to appropriate, but [not nearly enough to meet] the need.”

This unenforceable agreement is far too weak.  He wrote, “If all parties kept their promises, the planet would warm by an estimated 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit, or 3.5 degrees Celsius, above preindustrial levels. And that is way, way too much.”  But McKibben says that “the mighty movement that activists around the world have built over the last five years” is the reason we have any agreement at all in 2015.

He says, “we need to build the movement even bigger in the coming years, so that the Paris agreement turns into a floor and not a ceiling for action.”  We’ll need to work hard in a number of ways.



Dec 15:  David Roberts:  Why the Paris climate agreement is a big deal:  This article explains how global climate negotiations have been working over the past two decades.  This article offers much information that I did not know and do not have space to summarize here, so I recommend reading the original article at the link at the end of this summary.  People know the final agreement is only a beginning toward turning things around.  This author says the big deal is the “conceptual breakthrough, a shift in the way the world’s countries approach their common task.”  He explains that in the late 1980s scientists and environmentalists started working on this global problem and recognized the need for a global treaty.  A fair and effective treaty would need “two key features” – “First, it must assign the bulk of the work and expense to developed nations, which were responsible for most of the cumulative global carbon emissions to date.  And second, it must contain science-based, legally binding emission targets for each developed nation.”

But nations “failed year after year, to produce a durable agreement.”  The 1997 Kyoto Protocol went into effect in 2005, but it had “woefully inadequate” targets.  Worse yet, “the US Senate promptly voted 95-0 not to ratify it and in 2001 George W. Bush withdrew the US entirely.  A number of the countries that did sign it, notably Canada and Australia, failed to meet their targets, with no apparent penalty. And China, free from any restraints, sent its emissions soaring on the back of a coal-fueled growth binge, catching up to the US to become the world’s top emitter.  Arguably, Kyoto made no difference to global emissions at all.”

“Even as the basic architecture failed produce the global shift needed, the UNFCCC clung to it: targets must be legally binding, but only developed nations must adopt them.  The US resisted signing on to legally binding targets.  China resisted giving up its developing nation status.  Other countries dug into various camps and refused to budge.”  Expectations for the 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen were high, but a “stalemate over treaty architecture” caused that summit to crash.  Many participants in UNFCCC started working on a different strategy.

The world’s nations are more diverse along a spectrum than a “neat dichotomy between developed and developing nations.”  Also, all of “the world’s high-emitting countries” (China, India, Brazil, etc.) must be engaged to participate and help, along with the big emitters such as the U.S.

Also, planners needed to find ways to engage nations’ own governments to be willing to act on the outcome of international negotiations.  The international process must offer “transparency and moral suasion.”  It did this by aggregating “the voluntary national commitments into a common database” and making mathematical adjustments “so that they can be fairly compared.”  It also could set up a verification process to monitor progress.  A treaty could establish relationships among the various kinds of nations.  “That’s the architecture of the Paris deal.”  Ultimately, it relies upon “perception and peer pressure.  The bet is that nations will behave differently when a) no one is telling them what to do, but b) everyone is watching. Social scientists know that for individuals, making goals public is one of the most effective ways of ensuring they’re met.  Perhaps the same is true of nations.”  The recent bilateral deal between China and the U.S. serves as a model for other nations, which no longer had political cover [from two countries that had been problems in 2009 in Copenhagen.]

This worked well, as a number of nations that had bene recalcitrant before stepped up with good positions now in Paris.  Global activism also prodded them to act.



Dec 14:  Richard Heinberg, a long-time expert on oil-related matters, wrote about 9 issues for renewable energy’s next steps after COP21:  Heinberg’s writing is always informative and insightful.  See much information at www.postcarbon.org and this particular article at:  http://www.postcarbon.org/renewable-energy-after-cop21/ or download it as a .pdf at http://www.postcarbon.org/renewable-energy-after-cop21/#  Heinberg wrote much useful information under 9 main points:  Germany has arguably accomplished more toward the transition than any other nation largely because it has a plan.  The U.S. has no such plan.  He proposes several important recommendations.  Start with the easy “low-hanging fruit” such as “regulating coal out of existence” and building much renewable energy such as solar and wind.  While “[e]lectricity accounts for less than a quarter of all final energy used in the U.S.,” he urges us to address other aspects of our energy usage, including transportation, food, and energy efficiency for heating buildings.  We also need better energy storage.  Even electric cars still are built with raw materials that use a lot of electricity and other energy.  Some of our energy use would be hard to replace (e.g., the high amount of electricity needed for making cement).  Beyond solar and wind, we need other alternatives, including hydropower.  What about “the assumption that industrial societies can and should maintain very high levels of energy use”?  We need to actually use less energy altogether.  Also, we need to do more than consume more efficiently.  We need to consume less overall and convert to a “slower and more local” economy and reverse the “growth” model.  We need to reduce population.  Do not let “the market” determine how we allocate fossil fuels.  We must address “equity within and between nations.”  Everything is interconnected.  We will need to “reboot” some aspects of our civilization.

Dec 14:  Center for American Progress (CAP Action War Room)The Center for American Progress wrote this under the title “United on Climate” — 195 Countries Agree On A Historic Deal To Combat Global Climate Change:  Despite the steep odds against getting 195 nations to agree, two weeks of negotiations produced an historic international climate deal.  “The Paris agreement marks a victory for our environment, our prosperity, our public health, and our security.” French President Hollande referred to the deal as “beautiful,” and President Obama called it “the most ambitious climate change agreement in history.”  Listed below are several kinds of accomplishments explained in a few sentence each in the original article at the link at the end of this item.

Strengthens long-term ambition

Establishes an individualized approach for all countries

Sends a market signal

Puts in place a transparency system

Fights deforestation

Doubles down on existing financial commitments

“The Paris agreement makes significant strides towards avoiding unmanageable climate change.  But, perhaps most importantly, the deal shows that nearly 200 countries – rich and poor, developed and developing – are united in the fight against climate change.  There is only one group who isn’t united in this fight, and is threatening to undercut America’s leadership on climate issues at home and abroad:  Congressional Republicans.”

Dec 12:  Naomi Klein wrote a very short article saying that climate change will destroy some countries:  This link also has a video only 2 minutes 44 seconds long:  http://www.thenation.com/article/naomi-klein-climate-change-will-destroy-these-countries/

Dec 12:  The Climate Reality Project (www.climatereality.com) called the Paris agreement “a big, big deal” in their article that explain three things they want everybody to know:  Worldwide, 6.2 million people took action to demand strong action at COP21.  See https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/cop21-paris-agreement

Dec 13:  Mark Hertsgaard wrote a smart, balanced article:    He has been writing e informative, insightful, and clear articles about the climate crisis and international efforts.  His latest article for The Nation about what happened in Paris’s COP21 global climate summit expresses support for “moving the goalposts” from 2 degrees C to 1.5 degrees, and he reports some other positive aspects in this smart, balanced article, which recognizes the serious obstacle of Congressional Republicans and the extremely serious dangers for the Global South.  He calls for very bold and very rapid action – including divestment – to achieve the 1.5 degree limit.  He praises the strong grassroots movement for climate justice as the driving force behind recent progress.  I recommend http://www.thenation.com/article/the-fate-of-the-world-changed-in-paris-but-by-how-much/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=New%20Campaign&utm_term=daily

Dec 14:  Democracy Now! featured Michael Brune vs. George Monbiot discussing “A Turning Point for the Climate or a Disaster” – See http://www.democracynow.org/2015/12/14/a_turning_point_for_the_climate?utm_source=Democracy+Now%21&utm_campaign=7813c68e10-Daily_Digest&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fa2346a853-7813c68e10-191704661

Dec 12:  Adam Vaughan, Environment Editor of The Guardian, offered several pieces of information:  One article explains that the delegates from 195 countries agreed on the first ever universal deal on climate change:  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/dec/12/paris-climate-deal-200-nations-sign-finish-fossil-fuel-era?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=KIITG_PCC_Final&utm_term=143715&subid=15182418&CMP=ema-60

Several governmental leaders hailed the 31-page agreement with superlative language about being “a game-changer,” “a turning point in human history, transformative, momentous, historical,” etc.   However, many people think the deal does not go far enough and complained that the limits to carbon pollution are entirely voluntary.  See more information through www.theguardian.com/environment, including:

How the deal was done

The deal at a glance

Countries signal fossil fuel phase-out

The Guardian view on the deal

SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS    The Union of Concerned Scientists – a highly reputable non-profit organization – offered this information: 

The climate agreement reached in Paris has many of the essential components needed to change the course of history–but it will only succeed if we continue with powerful action to reduce the burning of fossil fuels.

Check out our blog series for all the details.

I have just returned from the Paris international climate negotiations with renewed hope and excitement about the work ahead of us. The agreement reached by almost 200 nations late on Saturday establishes, for the first time ever, a worldwide commitment to limit global temperature increases by phasing out the use of fossil fuels over time. If we make good on this promise, we will have changed the course of history and demonstrated the power of an entire world united in a common cause.

The final agreement has many of the essential components for success. It sets an aggressive global temperature limitation goal of well below two degrees Celsius. It compiles pledges by 195 countries to cut global warming emissions within the next 10 to 15 years. It calls for a common set of monitoring, verification, and reporting procedures. And wealthier countries, which have benefitted the most from burning fossil fuels, are obliged to provide funds and technology to help poorer countries lower their emissions and adapt to the consequences of climate change.

But, as important as it is, this agreement matters only if it truly spurs action.

The Union of Concerned Scientists will continue to play a vital role in making history, as we have for more than forty years. Ongoing U.S. leadership remains critical, so we will push for the next level of policies that will reduce global warming emissions in this country even further, such as charging companies for the carbon they emit, ending fossil fuel subsidies, and doubling our investment in clean energy research. We will put our scientists to work to devise better policies that preserve and enhance forests and farms and their ability to absorb the carbon we emit. And we will demand change from those who stand in the way of progress, like the fossil fuel industry, who for decades has deceived the public about climate science and tried to block action to reduce carbon emissions. But if we do not succeed in moving all of these issues forward, the agreement will not come close to achieving it lofty ambitions.

For more details read my blog, as well as our in-depth wrap up from UCS Director of Strategy and Policy Alden Myer who has been pushing for a strong international climate agreement for more than two decades.

This agreement is the culmination of decades of work by so many—scientists, faith leaders, business leaders, activists, state and local regulators, and, I am proud to say, groups like the Union of Concerned Scientists. Together with supporters like you, we have persuasively warned of global warming’s impending danger for many years, and successfully pushed for policies like the doubling of fuel economy standards in cars and trucks and limits on carbon pollution from power plants that put the United States in a strong position to be a leader in these negotiations.

Dec 12:  John Atcheson for Common Dreams:  This article on what the climate deal does and does not accomplish is informative.  It mentions the positive fact that “a group of nations who are advocating a stringent reporting regime to measure the extent to which countries are meeting their pledges, as well as limiting warming to no more than 1.5 C.” picked up steam during the conference’s final days and attracted some developed nations (Canada, the US, the EU, Brazil, etc.) to support their proposals.

However, the article cautions that “1.5 C is nothing more than aspirational.”  The current and likely future amounts of emissions will cause the world to exceed that goal by the year 2020, when the Paris agreements will only start to be implemented.  We have only a slim likelihood of staying within a safe limit.

While 180 of the participating nations submitted pledges that are binding, the agreements coming out of COP21 are not binding, so there is no enforcement mechanism.  The transparency of reporting progress toward the goals should provide some pressure on the nations, but “there are not sanctions for failing to act.”

Here are the hardest scientific facts:  “The agreement will NOT hold warming to 2 C, or even 2.7 degrees C.  Even assuming every country meets its pledges, if countries do not agree to greater cuts after those being made in Paris, the world will likely warm by 3.5 C or more—perhaps as high as 4.6 C, which is more than 8 degrees F.  This is nothing less than catastrophic.  But even this devastating outcome ignores a mighty big elephant in the global living room.  Scientists know that we are at or near thresholds which have/will trigger feedbacks that will cause even more warming.  For example, just 3 of these known feedbacks, by themselves, would add about 2.5 C more warming on top of the 3.5 resulting from the Paris agreements, bringing total warming to 6 C or nearly 11 F.  At this point, we’re really talking about a different planet, not simply a warmed up Earth.  And there are no fewer than 12 feedbacks that could amplify warming, so even this could be an understatement.”

What COP 21 accomplished: This climate summit set up a new framework for reaching international agreements to reduce carbon.  Both developed and developing nations are on board with that.  There is still disagreement about how developed and developing nations share responsibility and costs, however.

What it did not accomplish:  The agreement falls far, far short of what is needed.  The “carbon budgets used to establish permissible emissions of GHGs have essentially—and all but surreptitiously—rewritten how much risk we are willing to impose on future generations.”  This is because the nations have been avoiding serious grappling with the climate crisis for many years, and they have made weak assumptions about safety margins in order to pretend that we could defer serious action until later.  “Suggesting that a 66% likelihood of actually meeting our goals is acceptable is a form of intergenerational terrorism at worst, an act of intergenerational immorality at best.  It’s as if we were looking into the eyes of our grandchildren and asking them to endure outlandish risks so that we might follow a slightly less disruptive path.”

Read this article at:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/cop_21_what_it_does_-_and_doesnt_-_accomplish_20151212

Dec 12:  Inside Climate News:  Article about the results of COP21:  The global climate summits during the past 25 years have been “mostly fruitless.”  The COP21 agreement might be “the most historic global treaty since Versailles,” but a huge amount of hard work still lies ahead.  Future years will be hotter.  The treaty will go into effect after 2020 and include reviews and revisions to tighten promises every five years or so.  Fortunately, science influenced this year’s discussions.  This article seemed overly cheerful and optimistic about the likelihood of making real progress.  Developed and less-developed nations have (in the United Nations’ terminology) “common but differentiated responsibilities.”  One last-minute revision changed “shall” to “should” in order to make it less difficult for the U.S. Senate to ratify the agreement and to make the agreement sound less like a treaty that might have caused the Senate to resist it.  The agreement requires nations to resubmit their plans every five years, with increasing toughness.  The U.S. also required wording that would prevent developed nations’ financial aid to poorer nations suffering climate damage from constituting “a legal liability claim for compensation from the rich countries.”  Read more at this link:  http://insideclimatenews.org/news/12122015/nations-approve-historic-global-climate-treaty-road-ahead-not-easy?utm_source=Inside+Climate+News&utm_campaign=4a5ac59eb4-Weekly_Newsletter_12_13_201512_11_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_29c928ffb5-4a5ac59eb4-327502737

Dec 13:  Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers:  While some info sources are happy with COP21, this one sees serious shortcomings:  To really understand how to move ahead after the COP21 global climate summit, we need to appreciate what it accomplished and also the shortcomings and our tasks for the months and years ahead.  While some sources of information are reasonably happy that the COP21 global climate summit accomplished some good things, the authors of the material below point to serious shortfalls.  The information at this link — https://www.popularresistance.org/newsletter-opportunity-for-climate-justice-if-we-mobilize/ — comes from a reputable source (a boldly progressive organization has high standards) and was written by people whose writing and insights I have respected for several years.  The article’s authors are smart and insightful on issues – not simply negative.  While critical of COP21’s shortcomings, they affirm positive ways forward.  Also note the paragraph most of the way through this article saying that the three pending “free trade” deals would make it virtually impossible to enforce environmental standards that will be necessary to reduce damage to the climate.

Energy Action Coalition calls itself “the hub of the youth climate movement” and organizes Power Shift:  This youth-oriented non-profit organization hailed the Paris agreement as “a major step forward on climate, but says it fall far short, so a strong grassroots movement – including young people – is necessary with actions in local communities and in the streets.  They have held some Power Shift events in the past few years, and they are planning for 2016’s Power Shift.  To be kept informed, sign up at this link:  http://act.energyactioncoalition.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=18833  For more information see www.energyactioncoalition.org

Dec 14:  Sierra Club’s Carl Pope said the Paris deal is the “Greatest Single Victory Since Emergence of Modern Environmental Movement” – Although the agreement is less than what we need, it is significant because the world’s nations gathered and worked seriously to address a grave crisis.  COP21’s final agreement “opened three major avenues for climate advocates and solutions.”  “First, perhaps most important, the entire world, including Iran and Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, agreed that the fossil fuel era will end this century. It will thus end while most of the world’s already identified fossil fuel reserves are still in the ground.  …  The collapse in the market value of coal companies was just the early warning signal of a sudden shift in economic power and importance.  It may be too late for most institutional investors to avoid taking a bath on their fossil fuel portfolios.  Second, this reality will unlock a freshet of new investment in a huge variety of low carbon solutions.  …  Third, the Paris Accord plucked most of the low-hanging fruit for climate diplomacy.  …”  http://ecowatch.com/2015/12/14/paris-agreement/?utm_source=EcoWatch+List&utm_campaign=8b4680b31d-Top_News_12_14_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_49c7d43dc9-8b4680b31d-85369701

Dec 13:  Natural Resources Defense Council:  NRDC’s “12 Key Takeaways From the Paris Climate Talks” – NRDC’s list of “12 Key Takeways” includes supporting information.  To read those, click the link at the end of this list to see the original article.

  1. We’ve turned a corner on the central environmental challenge of our time: For the first time in history, the world is united to cut the carbon pollution that’s driving climate change by moving beyond the dirty fossil fuels.…
  2. This agreement is ambitious.
  3. This agreement is comprehensive: It calls for real action by nearly every country in the world that account for roughly 95 percent of the dangerous carbon pollution that’s driving climate chaos.
  4. This agreement has teeth: For the first time, countries must take inventory of their major sources of carbon pollution and share that information with the rest of the world. When we know where the pollution is coming from, we’ll know how to go after it.
  5. This agreement supports the global transition to a low-carbon economy: The coal, gas and oil that is driving global climate change accounts for roughly 80 percent of world energy use.”  But there is huge progress toward “cleaner, smarter energy options.”
  6. Every country will do its part, through plans tailored to each nation’s circumstances. [This approach to international agreement is common in other subject areas, and now nations are applying it to the climate crisis.]
  7. We’ll get back together again every five years, beginning in 2020, to build on the progress we’ve made.
  8. We’re doing what’s best for our country.
  9. No country has a more comprehensive plan to cut carbon pollution than China, and this agreement both enshrines those efforts and aligns it with the larger global movement. China is doing something no other country in history has done: moving hundreds of millions of people from abject poverty to the global middle class in the span of a single generation.  The economic growth that supports that transition, though, has come at a high and unsustainable cost.  China is the world’s largest producer of carbon emissions, just one of a litany of horrendous pollution problems the people of China face.  China has pledged to cap its carbon emissions by 2030, and is working to do so sooner if possible, even as it does something no other nation in history has ever done: move hundreds of millions of people from abject poverty to the global middle class in the span of a single generation.  Cleaning up this carbon pollution is in China’s own interest.  …  The main problem: 80 percent of China’s power is now coming from coal.  …  Over the past five years, 40 percent of all the world’s investment in wind and solar power has been in China, which invested some $90 billion in those renewable power sources last year alone.  By 2030, China will be producing as much electricity from the wind and the sun as the U.S. currently produces in its entire generating system.  China is putting a price on carbon, by creating the world’s largest cap and trade system, to launch in 2017.  …
  10. India is working to hold down the growth of its carbon footprint while improving lives in a country with a fast-growing population and rapidly expanding economy. 
  11. It is time for Congress to get on board with the progress we need.
  12. American leadership, American interests. …  [T]he GOP leaders in the House and Senate are doing all they can to block the centerpiece of the president’s fight against climate change, the Clean Power Plan to cut the carbon pollution from our single largest source – the dirty power plants that account for 40 percent of the U.S. carbon footprint.  Republican leaders in Congress want to block this initiative, with no plan of their own for dealing with the central environmental challenge of our time.  … The refusal of congressional Republicans to join in the fight against climate change has put the majority party in both houses of Congress at odds with sound science, out of touch with the hardship already being visited upon our nation and all others by climate change and missing in action from the clean energy revolution that is remaking the global economy.  [T]hey’re at odds with the collective will of the world.

Read the more detailed article here:  http://ecowatch.com/2015/12/13/key-takeaways-cop21/?utm_source=EcoWatch+List&utm_campaign=8b4680b31d-Top_News_12_14_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_49c7d43dc9-8b4680b31d-85369701

Dec 13:  President Obama said the Paris climate agreement is a “turning point for the world”http://ecowatch.com/2015/12/13/obama-paris-climate-agreement/?utm_source=EcoWatch+List&utm_campaign=8b4680b31d-Top_News_12_14_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_49c7d43dc9-8b4680b31d-85369701

Dec 12:  Ben Adler for Grist:  Here is a good article from Grist about the significance of the COP2 climate agreement:  The agreement “will be remembered as a big step forward and at the same time a frustrating set of compromises and omissions.”  It “brought every country to the table, they all accepted the science of climate change, and they agreed to work together to do something about it.  But some proved more ambitious than others, and the rich countries didn’t come up with enough money to get the best deal possible.”  Also, the actual reductions in greenhouse gases we’ll achieve in future the years “will depend on whether countries meet their targets for curbing emissions and deploying renewable energy and whether they ramp up their ambition in the years ahead.”

What the Paris Agreement does:

It “commits 196 countries to work together to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with a stretch goal of keeping below 1.5 C.  …  Before the Paris conference began, each country submitted an action pledge, known as an Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), laying out what it will do to curb emissions, increase renewable energy, and/or reduce deforestation.  The pledges vary wildly.”

This article identifies “two very, very big loopholes: The INDC commitments are voluntary, which means there is no penalty for failing to meet them.  And even if they are met, they will not put the world on a path to less than 2 C of warming.  Under the most optimistic assumptions, the INDCs still set us on a path to 2.7 to 3.5 C of warming.  That’s why climate experts like Joe Romm of Think Progress (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/11/03/3718146/misleading-un-report-confuses-media-paris-climate-talks/) say they are merely buying us more time to take real action.  But that’s better than just heading straight off the cliff.”

But the article points out, “the agreement includes a process for strengthening INDCs.  In 2018, countries will take stock of their progress on meeting their pledges, and by 2020 they will have to produce new INDCs.  They could simply restate the same goals, but the hope is that they will go further as the problem grows more urgent, the political movement for climate action becomes more powerful, and clean technology gets cheaper and more widespread.”

The Paris Agreement is not a “treaty,” so “countries’ INDCs are not binding.  (The Obama administration made sure of this so it wouldn’t have to submit the deal to the U.S. Senate for approval.)”  Nevertheless, some of its elements are binding, “such as requiring countries to participate in a system for measuring their progress on achieving their goals.”

Important aspects of the agreement:

  • “Everyone is involved. Previous agreements put all the responsibility for reducing emissions on rich countries.  In the Paris Agreement, all 196 signatories agreed that every country must take action, while acknowledging that richer countries should start immediately and cut emissions more steeply, while poorer countries’ contributions will depend on their individual situations.”
  • “A ‘ratchet mechanism.’ This is the technical term for the agreement to submit new pledges by 2020.  It’s the most important victory within the agreement, as many large developing nations, like India and Indonesia, were reluctant to agree to a system that would pressure them to up their ambition within the next decade.  Most INDCs set goals through 2030, but if we don’t improve upon them, it will be impossible to stay below 1.5 C and almost impossible to stay below 2 C.  The ratchet mechanism requires countries to return to the table in 2020 and spell out their plans for 2025 to 2030.  This creates the opportunity for the world to potentially put itself on a course to stay below 2 C, but we won’t know the outcome until 2020 and beyond.”
  • “Small increases in climate finance, including adaptation aid.” From COP21’s first day, many of the poorer countries suffering already were calling for “increased aid for adaptation.”  Some rich countries pledged a lot of help, but some of this was not specifically earmarked for adaptation.
  • “Richer developing countries have started contributing to climate finance.”
  • “Ambitious abstract goals.”

What got left out of the deal?

  • “Keep it in the ground. The movement to stop fossil fuel extraction has grown dramatically recently, especially in the U.S.  It is transforming climate politics, and yet it was not reflected in any way in the Paris Agreement.”  …  “Perhaps next time activists will persuade countries to include limits on domestic fossil fuel extraction in their INDCs.  They certainly will try.  But the odds will be stacked against them.”
  • “Indigenous rights. A close cousin to ‘keep it in the ground’ language would be language protecting the rights of communities, in particular indigenous communities, from the effects of fossil fuel extraction.  Indigenous activists from all over the world came to Paris to advocate for that, but were unsuccessful.  Indigenous rights are mentioned in the preamble, but left out entirely of the operational text.”
  • “Sufficiently ambitious national targets. It’s no surprise that INDCs were weak, since countries announced them long before negotiators arrived in Paris.  … Virtually no rich countries are giving anywhere near enough to meet their historical obligations, but the U.S. comes in for particular blame.  It is giving less, relative to the size of its economy, than less populous countries such as Canada and many European nations.  And congressional Republicans are trying to prevent payment of even the minimal amount of funding the U.S. has pledged.”
  • “Decarbonization. The Paris Agreement calls for the world to “achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases … sometime between 2050 and 2100.”  [M]ore hardcore climate hawks wanted a goal of a carbon-free economy by 2050.  …  But countries that are completely economically reliant on oil or gas extraction would not agree to this language – for example, Saudi Arabia, which was frequently tagged as the most obstructive country at the talks.  And countries with powerful fossil fuel corporations wouldn’t get on board with such language either.”

“For activists all over the world, the Paris Agreement shows there is still hope for maintaining a livable climate, but there’s a lot more work to be done pushing world governments to meet the challenge.”  The entire article is at http://grist.org/climate-energy/heres-what-you-need-to-know-about-the-new-paris-climate-agreement/

Dec 15:  Avaaz:  The progressive multi-issue international non-profit organization www.avaaz.org, cheers the Paris agreement and provides information and encouragement for more progress:  “Out of great crises, humanity has borne beautiful visions. World War II gave rise to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an enduring standard for our spirit and capacity as one people. The fall of Apartheid led South Africa to the single most bold and progressive constitution in the world.  Ambitious visions like these rely on movements to carry them into the mainstream, and on movements to make them reality in our everyday lives.”  Avaaz puts COP21’s accomplishments in that context.  Click to read the story of our climate journey and join the celebration: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/climate_story_loc/?bkhkpjb&v=70760&cl=9157283950  Avaaz celebrates the goal of “net-zero human emissions,” which balances what we release into the air and what is taken out,” and seeks clean energy as one way to achieve that.  Christiana Figueres, head of UN climate talks, stated, “When in 2014 the UN Secretary General convened his UN Climate Change Summit and hundreds of thousands of people marched in the streets of New York, it was then that we knew that we had the power of the people on our side.” 

Public awareness and pressure in real time pushed COP21 to achieve much.

“After the Indian Finance Minister came out against 100% clean energy, Avaazers filmed Chennai under water and it was projected with messages from across India on a screen inside the talks.  A day later the media announced Modi had changed course and said, ‘So what has brought about this U-turn?  … A video with interviews of Chennai flood survivors was played out on giant projector screens inside the venue of climate change talks.’”

“[O]ur marches, messages, and video appeals were played on loop outside of the main negotiation room.  Heads of state, ministers, and all of their staff were reminded of us and our calls to action every day.  Then, after we plastered Paris with posters of the faces of the worst fossil fuel lobbyists and climate deniers, calling on ministers to ignore them, the lobbyist for the world’s largest mining company withdrew from the talks altogether!

“When it became apparent Argentina and Saudi Arabia were major blockers, Avaaz members in both regions went into urgent action, and we were all over the media.  In Argentina, the newly elected President, who had committed to renewable energy, was inundated with messages to send a delegation to Paris.  And within days they came.  The Saudi government was so worried by the public attention that a lawyer representing the Kingdom called our staff to say they would sue.

“And just a few hours ago, the German minister personally thanked Avaaz members for making her and her delegation feel consistently supported throughout the negotiations.

“But probably the single most effective thing our community did was raising hundreds of thousands to support a strong Marshall Islands presence at the talks.  Their Minister has become one of the heroes of Paris – announcing a High Ambition Coalition that cut through the toxic North / South divide, and got 100 countries to work together.  When they called for others to join them, Avaazers launched campaigns and started texting the delegates of big emerging economies — within hours Brazil responded to Avaaz staff, and 48 hours later they joined the High Ambition Coalition, too.”

When the French government prohibited public protest, people gathered and publicly displayed more than 22,000 shoes (including shoes from the Pope and the UN Secretary-General) symbolizing all the protesters who couldn’t march.  Worldwide, more than “785,000 people marched at 2,300 events in 175 countries united in one voice calling for a 100% clean energy future to save everything we love.”

Dec 12:  United Nations:  World Leaders Agree to Historic Global Climate Agreement:  This article is based on the news release issued by the United Nations immediately after adjournment:  http://ecowatch.com/2015/12/12/climate-agreement-cop21-paris/?utm_source=EcoWatch+List&utm_campaign=84fbc7eb29-Top_News_12_12_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_49c7d43dc9-84fbc7eb29-85369701

Dec 12:  350.org and EcoWatch:  10,000+ Took to the Streets in Paris Pledging Escalated Actions in the Fight for Climate Justice:  Just before adjournment, 350.org and other climate groups produced a 10,000-person march in Paris, according to 350.org’s news release reported on at ecowatch.com, a great source of information about the climate.  Also, “[a]ctivists announced a wave of nonviolent direct mass actions for May 2016 to confront some of the most dangerous fossil fuel projects on the planet and build support for ambitious renewable energy initiatives.”  Read the article at http://ecowatch.com/2015/12/12/red-line-cop21-climate-change/?utm_source=EcoWatch+List&utm_campaign=84fbc7eb29-Top_News_12_12_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_49c7d43dc9-84fbc7eb29-85369701


Dec 12:  James Hansen:  Longtime climate scientist James Hansen says the COP21 agreement is basically just empty words:  While some people are pleased that the COP21 climate summit in Paris staked out some good goals, other people are frustrated with its lack of accountability.  James Hansen, the former NASA scientist who is one of the world’s leading experts on the climate crisis, explains with very harsh words (e.g., “fraud,” “fake,” “bullshit”) in this article:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/james-hansen-paris-talks_566c48dce4b011b83a6b7acc?rne6zuxr

Dec 12:  Read the 31-page text embedded in this article’s link:  COP21 in Paris accomplished some good things but deferred some others:  Two authors at the Mother Jones website produced an article promptly after adjournment.  This article says the kinds of things that I have summarized from other articles (some great successes, but some serious shortcomings, etc.).  What’s special about this is that the link includes a link to the Paris Agreement, which is 31 pages long.  The article itself is well worth reading.  See:  http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/12/breaking-news-paris-climate-agreement

Dec 12:  Bob Zeigler provided information about indigenous people:  Right after COP21 ended on December 12 (one day later than expected), Bob publicized some information he had been following.  He praised the positive step of seeking to limit temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius, rather than 2 degrees.  He was glad that wording about Human Rights and Indigenous Rights was put back into the main text, but he noted that the language was less strong (“governments should respect”) instead of “shall.  He noted that the final agreement was weaker than Pope Francis and the world’s bishops and most religious leaders and Native peoples had been urging.  But the agreement – while not perfect – “gives a stage for building a change with local bottom-up efforts that collectively do the work and can push governments to do the right thing.  It is a start and not the finish so the journey to climate justice continues.”

Dec 12:  350.org offers a prompt, brief summary:  “Today is a historic day:  as tens of thousands of people filled the streets of Paris, politicians finalized a major new global climate agreement.  The deal in Paris includes an agreement to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, with an aim of 1.5 degrees, and achieve climate ‘neutrality’ that will require phasing out fossil fuels soon after mid-century. That’s not what we hoped for, but it’s still a deal that sends a signal that it’s time to keep fossil fuels in the ground, and for investors to cut their ties with coal, oil and gas by divesting.  This deal represents important progress — but progress alone is not our goal. Our goal is a just and livable planet.

“If followed to the letter, the agreement leaves far too many people exposed to the violence of rising seas, stronger storms and deeper drought. It leaves too many loopholes to avoid serious action — despite the heroic efforts from leaders of vulnerable nations and communities who fought for a deal in line with science.

“But the coal, oil and gas corporations of the world should take little comfort. That 2 degree pledge would require keeping 80% of the world’s remaining fossil fuels underground, a 1.5 degree target even more — and countries are required to come back to the table every 5 years to increase their ambition in reaching those goals.

“Paris isn’t the end of the story, but a conclusion of a particular chapter.  Now, it’s up to us to strengthen these promises, make sure they are kept, and then accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels and towards 100% renewable energy.

“As world leaders in Paris were finalizing the text of the deal, thousands of people returned to the streets of Paris to demonstrate their commitment to continue the fight.”  http://d12.paris/?utm_medium=email

Dec 12:  Jill Stein from the U.S.’s Green Party sent this message immediately after adjournment:  “As the summit progressed and its final outcome took shape, it became clear that COP21 has failed to take the action necessary to prevent global climate catastrophe.  The voluntary, unenforceable pledges being produced by COP21 are entirely insufficient to prevent climate crisis. Scientific analysis shows that these pledges will lead us to 3 degrees centigrade global temperature rise – and that will be catastrophic.  …

“Despite the seriousness of the threat, some of the major polluters remain committed to protecting the fossil fuel industry rather than taking serious action.  I include in that group the United States, where President Obama’s promotion of the hydrofracking industry is leading to a spreading cancer of polluted groundwater and fracked gas pipelines.  These pipelines, along with expansion of offshore oil drilling, have to be stopped if we are to make our required contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“The United States and other industrial nations are failing to adequately fund transition and adaptation efforts in developing countries.  It is the US and major industrialized countries that are primarily responsible for climate change.  We have both a moral and legal responsibility to compensate other countries for the damages we have inflicted, and to enable them to find sustainable paths to development that will raise their standards of living.

One area of progress in Paris was growing recognition of the need to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees centigrade, rather than 2.0 degrees.  It is now clear that many countries will experience catastrophic damage from the higher target.  Unfortunately, the current agreements won’t even keep global warming below 3 degrees.  However, the new international target of 1.5 degrees does provide a tool to push our local, state and national governments to accelerate the transition to 100% clean renewable energy as quickly as possible.  …

Dec 15:  Robert James Parsons for Truthout:  Like Copenhagen, Paris was mostly smoke and mirrors:   In 2009’s Conference of the Parties (COP) in Copenhagen, the heads of state arrived at the end, but in 2015’s COP21 in Paris they participated at the very beginning, for the biggest gathering of heads of state in history (except for some in the United Nations headquarters).  But this article says both climate summits produced “more woefully inadequate commitments in the face of impending climate disaster.”

The goals that the nations had pledged in advance – even if actually implemented – would still result in a warming of 3 to 5 degrees Celsius.  This article reminds us that “the 2-degree limit was never a scientific estimate.”  Rather, it was simply a ballpark compromise between scientists’ claim that major disruptions would occur at 1 degree and polluters’ willingness to reach 3 degrees.

Critics complained about the longstanding obstructions by Saudi Arabia and the U.S.  This article devotes several paragraphs to appreciating the vigor of NGOs and “civil society” in other nations for making world leaders deal with substantive issues that they had been trying to avoid.  The climate crisis is just the latest in a long string.  “There are numerous other examples of the triumphs of civil society over bought governments and corrupt corporations.  Paris and its document are a sham, yes, but civil society is coming into its own on this major issue, and civil society refuses to be silenced and refuses to be subjugated.  The future looks grim, but if there is yet hope, even if it is only the hope for attenuation of the worst, it is because civil society groups are again leading the way.  http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/34038-like-copenhagen-talks-paris-climate-negotiations-were-mostly-smoke-and-mirrors

Dec 15:  Zhiwa Woodbury:  Now we need a people-powered transition to a new climate culture, especially related to food:   This article begins by listing some serious facts and draws an interesting conclusion:

  • “If we stopped burning all fossil fuels tomorrow, the earth would continue to warm at an alarming rate for many decades to come.
  • “Chemically intensive agribusiness and factory farming of livestock are responsible for 30 to 50 percent of global warming, and are enough in themselves to seal our collective fate.
  • “If we converted all agribusiness and factory farming to regenerative agriculture and family farming, we would see a reversal of global warming immediately — even if we continued burning fossil fuels at current levels.
  • “Nearly one-third of the world’s food-producing land has been lost in the last 40 years. If we do not transition away from the agribusiness model of industrial monoculture, which has the effect of sterilizing the very soils upon which our life depends, experts with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimate that the land will no longer support growing crops before this century is out.

The author concludes:  “It is time to rethink the climate movement.  We the people already have all the tools and know-how we need to solve the climate crisis among ourselves, working in community on health-based initiatives, without any need for treaties, laws, regulations or corporate altruism.  And if everyone who has been working so hard to instill a conscience in global politicians would simply choose to devote the same amount of time and energy to acting on their own conscience in ways devoted to bringing about healthy changes in their own communities, we could probably achieve this transition to a “climate culture” in less time than governments and corporations have been “talking” about the need to limit greenhouse gas emissions.”

The author states:  “The Paris accord mirrors President Obama’s own climate legacy of saying all the right things while doing all the wrong things.”  The author asks, “Why do we continue to look to our broken, unresponsive political institutions for answers on the most important issue of this or any other time?”  See the author’s information and analysis – and strong encouragement for grassroots climate activists to change our food system – at this link:  http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/34034-after-paris-making-the-case-for-a-people-powered-transition-to-a-new-climate-culture

Dec 15:  Mark Karlin, Editor of Buzzflash at Truthout: The Paris Climate Agreement Is Unenforceable: It’s a Nonbinding Resolution:  This article focuses especially on replacing the word “shall” with the word “should” in the Paris Agreement’s final version.  “A December 13 Politico European Edition article discusses how the replacement of the word ‘shall’ with ‘should’ became a vital necessity to the signing of the final COP21 agreement.  According to Politico, the last-minute switch to ‘should’ – in reference to compliance with agreement goals by the signatory nations – was made at the request of the United States. President Obama was allegedly worried that the use of the word ‘shall’ would require legal obligations of the US, ensuring almost certain defeat of ratification of what then would be deemed a treaty by the Republican-controlled Senate.

“However, it can be speculated that other nations were also concerned about the legal implications of a mandate as opposed to voluntary compliance with the COP21 goals.  In short, by replacing the word ‘shall’ with ‘should,’ the nations most responsible for ruinous global warming policies will have a lot of wiggle room in implementing the final document.”

The article proceeds to discuss the final agreement and its unenforceability in this context and related contexts.  It says peer pressure among nations would not likely move us toward more progress.  http://truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/paris-climate-agreement-is-like-congress-passing-a-resolution-instead-of-a-law-it-s-unenforceable

Dec 15:  Dominique Browning for Moms Clean Air Force:  “Hope and Reality on Paris Climate Accord” – This non-profit organization focuses on environmental and other issues that affect children’s health and well-being.  Of course, they care about air pollution, the climate, etc., and send e-mails that allow us to click to tell governmental decision-makers what to do.  They support the Paris Agreement but wish it had gone further.  Consider signing up for their e-mail action alerts:  www.momscleanairforce.org

Dec 15:  Lauren McCauley for Common Dreams:  After Paris, Fossil Fuels Flail While Solar Stocks Soar:  On the next day of stock trading after the Paris Agreement, “[f]ossil fuel stocks tumbled while renewable energy soared.”  This sent a strong message to investors and significantly boosted the movement to divest from fossil fuel stocks.  Besides being morally bad, fossil fuel companies are a bad investment now.  A recent announcement noted that “investors representing over $3.4 trillion in total assets have pledged to divest their holdings from fossil fuels.”  The climate needs a very rapid transition away from fossil fuels.  Bill McKibben urged people to see the Paris Agreement “as a floor, not a ceiling, for change.”  http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/12/15/after-paris-fossil-fuels-flail-while-solar-stocks-soar

Dec 16:  Environmental Defense Fund celebrates the Paris Climate Agreement:  For the first time, this is a clear change in direction for a stronger movement for climate action.  The Environmental Defense fund says, “governments and institutions around the world reject the cynical voices of denial and delay and embrace the opportunity to build a cleaner energy future.  The question we now face is whether we can move quickly enough to continue to drive down global emissions in time to avert climate catastrophe.”  EDF was one of many non-profit organizations pushing for a strong deal in Paris.  See their website www.edf.org for several articles and this blog post:  https://www.edf.org/blog/2015/12/15/report-back-paris-what-new-climate-deal-means-and-where-we-go-here?autologin=true&utm_source=EDF%20action%20network&utm_campaign=edf_climate_upd_mem&utm_medium=email-49749&utm_id=1450294328

Dec. 16:  Margaret Klein Salamon and Ezra Silk The Paris Climate Talks and the 1.5C Target: Wartime-Scale Mobilization is Our Only Option Left:  These two young organizers for the climate affirm what COP21 accomplished – especially a “shared global understanding of the crisis” and the choice of 1.5 degrees C instead of 2 degrees.  But – like virtually everyone else who is well informed – they are “disturbed that it has taken this long” and frustrated that “the agreement is not even close to strong enough to effectively protect civilization and the natural world.”  They are “seriously concerned, however, that a new narrative is emerging portraying 1.5°C of warming as relatively “safe.”  The fact is that the earth is already dangerously too hot at current warming of 1°C – which is higher than human civilization has ever experienced.  The truth is that all further global warming is extremely dangerous.  We have no carbon budget left to burn.”  Indeed, “the Paris Agreement’s target of global net zero greenhouse gas emissions in ‘the second half of this century’ represents a cataclysmic failure of leadership – and likely a crime against humanity and the natural world – that will devastate the planet and civilization if it is realized.”

They say that our only hope for averting the amount of global warming that would destroy civilization would be to “undertake a WWII-scale Mobilization to restore a safe climate immediately.  We need to transition off of fossil fuels and carbon-intensive agriculture as soon as humanly possible.  That means an emergency restructuring of the entire economy at wartime speed to achieve net zero emissions in the U.S. by 2025, net zero emissions globally by 2030, as well as an urgent effort to draw down the excess carbon dioxide that has accumulated in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution.”

This is what their non-profit organization, The Climate Mobilization, (www.theclimatemobilization) seeks to achieve.  They urge every person on earth to sign The Pledge to Mobilize (www.theclimatemobilization.org/sign_the_pledge) and help push for this.  Before Paris, they and some prominent persons sent an open letter to President Obama urging such a mobilization.

Market-based solutions such as carbon pricing are not powerful enough or fast enough to quickly transition to zero emissions.  “Only a wartime-style mobilization, in which government regulation mandates the early retirement or conversion to zero emissions of all greenhouse-gas emitting plant and equipment, could possibly facilitate such drastic changes on such a tight time-frame without crashing the economy.”

These authors see some hope and urge people to visit their website for more information (including resources from several knowledgeable persons) and more encouragement to build the mobilization movement.

Also see their article at this link:  http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/12/16/paris-climate-talks-and-15c-target-wartime-scale-mobilization-our-only-option-left

Dec 13: Khomotso Ntuli, 350.org’s South African Field OrganizerAfrican Catholic Groups Call on Pope Francis to Support Divestment From Fossil Fuels Movement:  Inspired by Pope Francis and by the energy arising from COP21 in Paris, Catholics in several African countries are organizing around several aspects of the climate movement, including local impacts, and including urging Pope Francis to more vigorously support divestment.  Also, the Anglican Church of Southern Africa recently resolved to explore withdrawing their investments from fossil fuel companies.  See more at http://ecowatch.com/2015/12/13/pope-francis-divest-fossil-fuels/?utm_source=EcoWatch+List&utm_campaign=5da35ed06d-Top_News_12_18_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_49c7d43dc9-5da35ed06d-85369701


Dec 15:  The United Nations Foundation calls it “a bold new agreement” – Two weeks of intense negotiations (Mon Nov 28 to Sat night Dec 12 – extended one day later than planned) by representatives from nearly 200 nations produced an historic 31-page document.  The United Nations Foundation thanked the people-power (“The world is watching”) that prodded them to accomplish more than they otherwise would have.  Read about the agreement at this link:  The world committed to a sustainable future in Paris with your help. Read about the agreement — and what’s next — now.  More info:  United Nations Foundation www.unfoundation.org

Dec 14:  New York Times Editorial:  Silence on the Climate Pact from the Republican Candidates:  This editorial says that “silent” is not a way to describe the 2016 Republican presidential candidates – except regarding the COP21 climate agreement.  “There could be two reasons for this.  They’re not interested in acknowledging a victory for President Obama.  Perhaps more important, blocking international action on climate change is not necessarily what Republican voters want.”  While the Republican-dominated Congress voted in December to scuttle the EPA’s new rules to cut emissions from coal-fired power plants, presidential candidates (as of the date of the NY Times’ editorial) had not raised a stink about the global climate deal.  The editorial said, “About two-thirds of Americans want the United States to join an international pact to curb the growth of greenhouse gas emissions.”  The same poll showed widespread public recognition– including 58% of Republicans – that global warming was seriously affecting the environment, or that it would in the future.  “That makes things tricky for a Republican candidate hoping to lure climate change skeptics in the primary, then pull more moderates in the general election — which may explain the silence.”

Dec 15:  350.org offers very short videos and more information about “A Road Through Paris” – They say, “together, we aimed high, and what we accomplished is huge.”  But they also strongly affirm that ordinary people must carry the work forward boldly after Paris by strengthening the grassroots climate movement.  The link below also provides additional information from 350.org.  The first short video at the link includes a caption, “The hard truth about the Paris climate deal” and can be watched at this link:  http://350.org/paris/?akid=9646.50582.3ggnlO&rd=1&t=1&utm_medium=email

Dec 14:  Paul Krugman:  Hope From Paris:  After decades of underperforming international climate conversations, this agreement was a turnaround.  Paul Krugman reported that China has changed its policies about environment – especially air pollution – and the need to sharply reduce damage to the climate.  Meanwhile, the U.S.’s Republican party “is spiraling ever deeper into a black hole of denial and anti-science conspiracy theorizing.”  But he says this might be less important than we think.  He says Obama’s move to limit emissions from power plants has helped “U.S. climate credibility abroad.”  Renewable energy technology is rapidly improving, and costs are declining, so [r]enewable energy has also become a big employer, much bigger these days than the coal industry.”  Unless a Republican climate denier is elected in November 2016, he sees hope.  http://www.opednews.com/Quicklink/Paul-Krugman-Hope-From-Pa-in-Best_Web_OpEds-Climate_Paris-Climate-Talks_Paul-Krugman_Republican-151214-857.html

Dec 15:  Oscar Reyes for Foreign Policy in Focus:  Seven Wrinkles in the Paris Climate Deal:  Foreign Policy in Focus (www.fpif.org) is an excellent source of information about international matters – very often with fresh insights rarely found elsewhere.  This article is no exception.  (Olympia’s Steve Niva often writes for Foreign Policy in Focus, so you know this is a good source!)  Will the landmark UN climate deal mark a turning point in the fight against climate change?  The devil’s in the details.  This article’s author says some articles’ exuberant headlines overstate the actual results, although he does acknowledge the relief “that 195 countries managed to agree to any kind of climate deal at all.”  The very diverse negotiators came together and “managed to seal a pact that sets a surprisingly ambitious target for limiting global warming, reflects the vast differences between countries in terms of their different historical and current responsibilities for causing climate change, and recognizes poorer countries’ need to eradicate poverty even as they embark on a more sustainable development path.”  However, he write, “the main text of the agreement is long on rhetoric and short on action.  Here are seven takeaways from a closer parsing of the deal.”  In my summary I’m listing his “seven takeaways” with very little of the rich supporting information that the author provided, so I encourage you to read his article at the link at the end of this item.

“1.  Its targets are ambitious, but they’re unlikely to be met.  [A]ctually achieving the 1.5°C goal is more than even many climate campaigners have the audacity to hope for.  It would mean the world would have to stop burning fossil fuels by 2030.  Unfortunately, nothing in the Paris deal itself suggests that’s likely to happen.  This is even acknowledged in the introductory blurb to the treaty itself, which says that “much greater emissions reduction efforts will be required” to meet even the 2-degree target.  The new agreement doesn’t take effect until 2020, the chance to achieve the 1.5-degree goal will have already gone, unless all of the world’s largest economies dramatically change course.  But big polluters like the United States have been dragging their feet for years ….”  Going into Paris, 176 of the world’s 195 countries wrote down what they intended to do to address climate change.  But even if all of these promises were met, the world would still be heading for 3 degrees or more of global warming.”  …  Leaving Paris, that’s still the case.

“2.  There are no legally binding targets to cut climate pollution.  There’s a big legal devil in the details that made the Paris Agreement possible.  While the now defunct Kyoto Protocol set binding targets for rich countries related to their responsibility for causing climate change (admittedly, with some considerable loopholes), the new deal takes an “anything goes” approach.  Countries are free to promise whatever they want, and there’s no penalty if they break these promises.  All a country needs to do to meet its obligations under the Paris Agreement is to come back in 2023 (and every 5 years after that) and say they’ll do a little more.  That leaves a risk that if some countries clearly aren’t pulling their weight, others might take it as an excuse to call a halt on their own efforts.  …

“3.  No new money is promised to address climate change in developing countries.  The 1992 global treaty that gave birth to the Paris Agreement this year gets one thing straight: developed countries should give “new and additional financial resources” to developing countries to cover the costs of addressing climate change.  This “climate finance” isn’t aid or charity.  It’s better thought of as a form of debt.  Imagine it this way:  You hosted a party in a friend’s house, things got out of hand, and now you’re paying for the clean up.  There are even some things that will never work the same way again, so you’d better pay a bit more to patch those together or replace them, too.  Climate finance means paying developing countries to move beyond the reliance on fossil fuels that made the U.S. and other developed countries rich.  It also means paying for vulnerable communities and ecosystems to adapt to the climate change that’s already happening.  Yet rich countries have repeatedly failed to provide climate finance on anything close to the scale needed.  …  The Paris Agreement offers no new numbers.  Instead, it introduces language about making the fundraising a “global effort,” which sounds innocuous but is intended to chip away at the liability of developed countries.  During the talks, rich countries snubbed efforts led by African negotiators to set a better target for adaptation funding over the next five years.

“4.  Climate reparations are off limits.  Unfortunately, the discussions of climate finance that did occur were limited from the outset.  That’s because the U.S. categorically refused to consider any proposals for reparations for the damage rich countries’ emissions have already caused.  “The idea of even discussing loss and damage now or in the future was off limits.  The Americans told us it would kill” the agreement, said Leisha Beardmore, chief negotiator for the Seychelles.  …  Washington’s negotiators shut down this discussion through a mix of bullying and bribery. The carrot was a promise that the U.S. would sign up to the 1.5-degree Celsius goal, or something approximating that – as long as it wasn’t binding, and as long as the U.S. didn’t have to take on its fair share of meeting that target.  The stick was a threat to bring the whole show crashing down if compensation was mentioned.  The U.S. even sought to go further, proposing that the Paris Agreement should insure wealthy countries against any future claims for “liability or compensation” for the loss and damage caused by climate change.  That phrase was kicked out of the final Paris treaty, although it remains in the accompanying guidance on how it will be implemented.  That’s a devastating blow to poor and vulnerable countries already facing the worst impacts of climate change.

“5.  It doesn’t tell oil, gas, or coal producers to leave fossil fuels in the ground.  Avoiding runaway climate change means leaving over 80 percent of the world’s remaining fossil fuel reserves in the ground, according to climate scientists.  Earlier drafts of the Paris Agreement included options that reflect this, suggesting that countries should “decarbonize” over the course of the century.  Even this languid approach to getting out of fossil fuels is absent from the final text.  A call to “reduce international support for high-emissions investments” was struck out too, at the behest of the big oil producers.  Instead of getting out of fossil fuels, the Paris Agreement aims only to achieve “a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century.”  Loosely translated: We’ll fake it if we don’t make it.  …

 “6.  It opens the same carbon trading loopholes that undermined the last global climate deal.  The Paris Agreement is intended to replace the Kyoto Protocol, a planet-sized flop that established a target for reduced greenhouse gas emissions far below what science suggested was needed – and then set up a series of loopholes that allowed developed countries to avoid climate action.  It relied on a system called the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), a carbon “offsetting” scheme that allowed rich countries to buy “carbon credits” from poorer countries instead of reducing their own emissions.  The credits were meant to represent a ton of carbon cuts, but were based on dubious accounting that meant polluting companies got paid for doing almost nothing, or even expanding harmful projects.  The market for CDM credits “essentially collapsed” in 2012 ….  The idea of trading emissions hasn’t gone away.  …  Nonetheless, a new carbon market mechanism won’t get off the ground without a fight.  …

“7.  Carbon pollution from international shipping and flights doesn’t count.  Carbon emissions from international transportation already have as much climate impact as those from Germany or South Korea.  And it’s going to get worse:  Emissions from international flights are on course to triple by 2050, and shipping emissions set to quadruple.  But for some reason, that pollution doesn’t count as greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Paris Agreement.  That’s scandalous, but sadly predictable. A similar hole was worked into the Kyoto Protocol ….

See more at:  http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/12/15/seven-wrinkles-paris-climate-deal


Dec 14:  Greenpeace International’s Kumi Naidoo on Democracy Now!  Protest in Paris: Climate Justice Activists Decry Accord as “Death Sentence” for Millions:  Amy Goodman reported that two weeks after the French government had prohibited all public protest, climate activists persuaded the government to issue a permit near the end of COP21, and 10,000 persons gathered to demand more progress.  Pablo Solón, former climate negotiator for Bolivia, stated, “The Paris Agreement is a death sentence for many people.  A world with temperature increases more than 3 degrees Celsius is a world where not everyone will survive.”  Greenpeace International’s Kumi Naidoo spoke on Democracy Now!, saying “This is neither a moment for triumphalism or for despair.  We cannot be triumphalistic of the deal that is done here when tens of thousands of lives have been lost already as a result of climate impacts and where, furthermore, tens of thousands of lives are on the precipice of survival – indigenous peoples, people in low-lying states and so on.  Neither should it be a message of despair for us in the climate movement.  We have won the core argument that climate crisis is serious, it requires urgent action.  And we will continue to mobilize from tomorrow to make sure that the end of the fossil fuel era starts today and that we see the transition to 100 percent renewable energy future by no later than 2050.  Video and transcript at:  http://www.democracynow.org/2015/12/14/protest_in_paris_climate_justice_activists?autostart=true&get_clicky_key=suggested_next_story

Dec 13:  Coral Davenport for New York Times:  Nations approve landmark climate accord in Paris:  This very short article celebrates the accomplishments and says the deal expects something from every country, not just the rich industrial ones.  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/13/world/europe/climate-change-accord-paris.html

George Monbiot wrote this in The Guardian soon after the Paris COP21 agreement:  “By comparison to what it could have been, it’s a miracle.  By comparison to what it should have been, it’s a disaster.”  Amy Goodman quoted this in her December 14 Democracy Now! broadcast.

Dec 4 (while the talks were underway):  James Hansen on Democracy Now!  James Hansen, the former NASA scientist who has been called the father of climate change awareness, criticized the COP21 talks in Paris while they are half way through.  He called them “a total fraud” with “no action, just promises.”  He did call for a carbon tax:  It should be an across-the-board carbon fee and in a democracy, it’s going to — the money should be given to the public. Just give an equal amount to every — you collect the money from the fossil fuel companies. The rate would go up over time, but the money should be distributed 100 percent to the public; an equal amount to every legal resident.  See video and transcript:  http://www.democracynow.org/2015/12/4/climate_scientist_james_hansen_warns_world

Dec 12:  Bill McKibben:  “This agreement won’t save the planet, not even close.  But it’s possible that it saves the chance of saving the planet – if movements push even harder from here on out.”  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/climate-change-paris_566c2048e4b0e292150e169b?dthme7b9

Dec:  350.org’s good summary of what the Paris Agreement does and does not say:  See the handy list below.  Some of the information in this document was explained above, so I simply list them here without details, but there are a few new items, which I have specified below.

–  Temperature Goal:  This was not even on the agenda initially, so the goal of 1.5°C is important good news (thanks to island and developing nations for this!), even though no enforcement.  The text says:  “Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.”

–  Indigenous Rights, human rights, women’s rights:  Have been moved to sections of the text where they aren’t legally protected or operationalized.  Read a joint response from indigenous groups about the talks at this link:  http://indigenousrising.org/indigenous-peoples-take-lead-at-d12-day-of-action-in-paris-official-response-to-cop21-agreement/

–  Pledges to Cut Emissions:  Before COP21 began, countries submitted plans to reduce emissions, but those plans would still cause temperatures to rise about 2.7 – 3.7 degrees C.  While not enough, this would be better than “business as usual” without COP21, which would have resulted in about a 5 degree C increase.

–  Setting the long term goal to get off fossil fuels:  A number of advocates pushed for 2050 the goal for when the world would be 100% off of fossil fuels, but COP21 did not do that.  The final text has some “weasel words” such as “Parties aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, recognizing that peaking will take longer for developing country Parties, and to undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with best available science, so as to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century.”  The article I’m summarizing here says, “People are still figuring out what “a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases” actually means.  Experts say it means getting to “net zero emissions” between 2050 and 2100, which could open the door to risky geo-engineering schemes. If we want to have a good chance of keeping global warming below 2°C (staying below 1.5°C or getting back there quickly would require bolder action), then we clearly need full decarbonization by 2050.”  This article says we should “break the power that the fossil fuel industry holds on our political and energy systems.”

–  5 year review mechanism:  I have summarized this in some other items in this cluster of article summaries.  This “ratchet mechanism” could prod countries to do better.  This article says, “Countries have been asked to start reviewing their pledges in 2018 so that new commitments could be ready to go by 2020.”

–  Supporting most vulnerable:  This article says that the nations most impacted by climate change will not get nearly as much support as they need.

Here is the source for this information:  http://350.org/what-the-paris-agreement-does-and-doesnt-do/?akid=9586.1908194.2QOhyy&rd=1&t=3&utm_medium=email


Dec 11:  Democracy Now! interviewed several persons:  Climate Justice Movement “Extremely Disappointed” in COP21 Draft’s “Failure to Step Up” – Watch the interview or read the transcript at http://www.democracynow.org/2015/12/11/climate_justice_movement_extremely_disappointed_in?utm_source=Democracy+Now%21&utm_campaign=12df0c480e-Daily_Digest&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fa2346a853-12df0c480e-191704661

Dec 11:  Danica Jorden wrote for Z Communications:  From the Arctic to the South Pacific, Most Vulnerable Countries Demand Climate Justice at COP21:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/34002-from-the-arctic-to-the-south-pacific-most-vulnerable-countries-demand-climate-justice-at-cop21

Dec 9:  Naomi Klein:  Sane climate policies are being undermined by corporate-friendly trade deals:  Before the COP21 climate summit ended, Naomi Klein’s 4-minute VIDEO commentary connects the dots with the pending “free trade” deals and the Republican control of Congress.  http://www.thenation.com/article/naomi-klein-sane-climate-policies-are-being-undermined-by-corporate-friendly-trade-deals/

Dec 11:  Candice Bernd for Truthout:  Twelve Days That Cooked the World: Combating the Climate Counterrevolution in Paris:  Before the climate summit ended, this author lamented that the pending agreement would fail to recognize that “capitalism is inherently unsustainable as a system that demands infinite growth on a planet with finite resources.”  She criticized the French government’s restrictions on public protests and put that also in the context of capitalism.  She lamented that “the highest civic duties in so-called ‘developed’ nations are consumption and the protection of the capitalist markets that are fueling the climate crisis.”  She hoped for bold protest actions after adjournment.  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/34003-twelve-days-that-cooked-the-world-combating-the-climate-counterrevolution-in-paris

Dec 11:  Sarah Lazare for Common Dreams:  Climate draft “fails humanity,” so climate supporters protest:  This article’s first few paragraphs summarize this article’s main point:  “People from around the world on Friday stretched a large ‘red line’ through the COP21 summit to register their outrage at politicians’ failure to strike an ambitious draft climate deal—and to call for social movements in Paris and internationally to continue to take to the streets.  ‘Once again, world leaders have shown they lack the political courage, decency, and integrity to stand up for the needs of the most impacted communities around the world in the biggest ecological crisis of our time,’ Ananda Lee Tan, a Vancouver-based organizer with Climate Justice Alliance, told Common Dreams over the phone from Paris.  ‘Our assessment is that, again, it is left up to us,’ Lee Tan added. ‘We know it is people and communities that have to lead us out of this ecological crisis.’”  Lee Tan also said, “What we have gained out of COP21 is deepened relationships with other social movement forces, like peasants, Indigenous communities, international trade union federations, and environmental activists.”  http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/12/11/decrying-draft-deal-fails-humanity-cop21-protesters-draw-red-line

Dec 11:  Adam Vaughan for The Guardian:  UN Chief Ban Ki-moon calls Paris climate talks the “most complicated and difficult” ever.  Several persons said that despite the complexities and difficulties, the relations among the various nations were also seriously productive and collaborative because they recognized the importance and urgency of the climate crisis.  Beyond that refreshing observation, there was not much substantial or new in this article.  http://www.alternet.org/environment/un-chief-ban-ki-moon-calls-paris-climate-talks-most-complicated-and-difficult-ever?akid=13763.2186.4BzNrS&rd=1&src=newsletter1047177&t=22

Dec 12:  Bernie Sanders:  Paris Climate Pact “Goes Nowhere Near Far Enough”  Timothy Cama wrote for The Hill that Bernie Sanders called the agreement not much more than a good first step.  Sanders said, “The planet is in crisis.  We need bold action in the very near future and this does not provide that.  …  “In the United States we have a Republican Party which is much more interested in contributions from the fossil fuel industry than they care about the future of the planet.  That is true all over the globe.”  Timothy Cama wrote, “Sanders has consistently fought against fossil fuels and for more action to fight climate change, often openly challenging Clinton’s commitment to the climate.  He wants to stop all new oil, natural gas and coal development on public lands and offshore, and introduced legislation this week to put a tax on carbon emissions, aiming to cut the country’s greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.”  http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/318-66/34009-sanders-paris-climate-pact-goes-nowhere-near-far-enough

Dec 9:  Brittany Wienke from the Rainforest Alliance:  7 Ways the Outcome of Paris Climate Talks Will Impact Your Day-to-Day Life:  Her article offers information supporting each of these seven impacts:

  1. This is kind of the last chance we have to take concerted global action. We will only succeed in addressing the climate crisis by unifying governments, businesses and citizens to act together.
  2. Climate Instability = Increased Food Insecurity and Violence.
  3. The Deforestation Double-Whammy
  4. Acidic Oceans
  5. Coffee and Coffee Farmers
  6. Women, Children and Indigenous Communities First
  7. There’s No Plan[et] B


Dec 13:  T.J. Demos for Truthout:  Playful Protesters Use Art to Draw Attention to Inadequacy of Paris Climate Talks:  This article says:  “[T]he France-based Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination (Labofii) [is] a rebellious collective focused on popular theater, permaculture and protest.  The laboratory traces its roots to the anti-globalization movement of the 1990s and has ties to the Climate Camp, the anti-airport expansion movement in the UK.  Their current project invites international participants to enact protest actions anywhere in the world ….

“One contender for winning ‘Climate Games,’ an action-adventure competition for the best artistic-activist civil disobedience unleashed during COP21, the UN-organized climate change conference in Paris, is surely ‘Operation Vivaldi’ by the Zoological Ensemble for the Liberation of Nature (their French acronym EZLN being a playful spin on the Spanish acronym for the Zapatista insurgency).

“Appropriately set to the canonical ‘Four Seasons,’ the group invaded a Volkswagen dealership in Brussels.  Its members dressed as trees, monkeys, sheep, fruit and vegetables, threw leaves in the air, and placed banana skins under car tires, creating a scene of wild abandon. Generally wreaking havoc, and targeting VW owing to recent scandalous revelations that its cars were systematically designed to cheat on emissions tests, the brief sortie ended by chanting the slogan:  ‘We are nature defending itself!’

See the “Climate Games” website at www.climategames.net/en/home.  This article says Climate Games “targets UN climate negotiators for repeatedly failing to come up with a plan to address the environmental crisis.”  The article also says, “the Climate Games and related forms of COP21 activism challenge corporate-dominated climate governance and its free-market and trade-friendly imperatives.  These are viewed by opponents as amounting to so many misguided ‘solutions’ – such as carbon capture, biotechnology, geoengineering and financial incentives like debt-for-nature swaps – that instrumentalize environmental crisis as an engine of profit-seeking green capitalism.”

The article asserts:  “Joy is needed if we are to overcome the cynicism and depression that results from the international dependency on the failed solutions of the COP system.”

The article offers much more information and analysis – and many examples of these creative nonviolent actions.  See http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/34006-playful-protesters-use-art-to-draw-attention-to-inadequacy-of-paris-climate-talks


Dec 12:  Alissa J. Rubin and Elian Peltier for New York Times:  Climate activists say Paris agreement is far too weak:  Protesters who gathered in Paris called for more “people power” and much stronger action to protect the climate, which has suffered under inadequate actions by the world’s governments.  Read about some examples at http://www.opednews.com/Quicklink/Protesters-Are-in-Agreemen-in-General_News-Agreement_Cop21_Paris-Climate-Talks_Protest-151213-571.html

Dec 12:  John Lundin for Politicus USA:  Republicans immediately blast the Paris climate agreement:  Notorious climate change denier U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) blasted the newly signed deal and said it won’t help.  He (inaccurately) said the 2015 deal is not much different from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.  http://www.opednews.com/Quicklink/With-The-Ink-Not-Even-Dry-in-Best_Web_OpEds-Climate-Change-Deniers_Paris-Climate-Talks_Republican-Hypocrisy_Senator-Jim-Inhofe-151213-505.html

Dec 12:  Seattle Times article on the climate agreement:  This article focuses largely on quotations from various politicians from both of the big political parties.  There are no big surprises in this article, but you can see their talking points.  http://www.seattletimes.com/news/white-house-hails-most-ambitious-climate-change-pact-ever/?utm_source=Sightline%20Institute&utm_medium=web-email&utm_campaign=Sightline%20News%20Selections&utm_source=Sightline+Newsletters&utm_campaign=6b2162111d-SightlineWeekly&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_18df351f8f-6b2162111d-296275913

Dec 14:  Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now!  Disaster? Michael Brune vs. George Monbiot on the Paris Accord:  Her introduction says, “Nearly 200 nations agreed in Paris on Saturday to a global accord to rein in rising greenhouse gas emissions.  The deal is being hailed by some, such as Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, as a historic starting point.  However, others, such as journalist George Monbiot, say the agreement offers very little substance.”  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/34026-a-turning-point-for-the-climate-or-a-disaster-michael-brune-vs-george-monbiot-on-the-paris-accord

Dec 14:  Natasha Geiling:  How Paris Turned The Climate Movement Into An Everyone Movement:  The ordinary people who came from all over the world were different from the high-level people who conducted the negotiations, but ordinary people-power was powerful.  The COP21 agreement will have significant ongoing effects.  The article says, “The agreement sends a clear signal to governments and the market that the tide is turning against fossil fuels and towards a renewable, greener economy.  It gives diplomatic and political clout to ideas that had previously been reserved for climate activists.”  It reinforces climate activists’ demands that most of our fossil fuels must remain in the ground.  Also, it’s a blueprint for businesses looking for their next investment, for politicians looking for a way to guide their constituency to a low-carbon future.”

The Paris agreement will likely lead to an enormous shift in capital, as investors and enterprises race to capitalize on a new, green economy. But the underlying strength of the agreement — the aspirations that will drive the market shifts — didn’t come from governments or industry. They were ideas born from the climate movement, from activists and scientists who warned of the consequences that could come from inaction on climate change.”  The article cited powerful forces that pushed COP21 ahead, including efforts by Pope Francis and Puget Sound’s kayaktivists that opposed Shell’s Arctic drilling.  While negotiations were underway, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the climate movement “a huge trend” and said, “Nobody can go against this wave.”  See other encouraging information at http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/12/14/3731402/paris-climate-agreement-movement-is-power/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=cptop3

Dec 14:  Institute for Public Accuracy:  While James Hansen calls the Paris climate deal a “fraud,” another expert (Chris Williams) offers more nuanced – but still critical – analysis:  Chris Williams – a long-time environmental activist with a scientific background – wrote the book Ecology & Socialism: Solutions to Capitalist Ecological Crisis.  His article at this link — http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2015/12/14/paris-climate-deal-fraud — is stronger than what he describes as “the self-congratulatory statements from world leaders praising themselves for single-handedly saving the world from climate catastrophe.”  He wrote, “Science tells us that emissions of greenhouse gases, principally carbon dioxide emitted by the combustion of fossil fuels, need to peak by 2020 and come down by 6 to 10 percent every year after that, yet ‘fossil fuels’ are not mentioned once in the entire agreement signed in Paris. Hence, there is no mention of stopping exploration for more, stopping building coal plants, oil pipelines, or fracking for more natural gas.”  He also faults the Paris Agreement for not mentioning air travel or international shipping.  This article’s other information says things that other articles in this compilation say.


Dec 14:  National People’s Action:  After World Leaders Reach Inadequate Agreement at COP21, It’s Our Turn to Act:  The progressive grassroots-based National People’s Action applauded world leaders’ finally responding to science and grassroots leadership, but NPA says, “the plan is designed to protect the interests of the fossil fuel industry, and as a result falls far short of what is needed to save the planet and its most vulnerable people from climate disaster.”  NPA’s statement says the Paris Agreement should have contained “mandates” instead of “non-binding good intentions.”  It says that the climate supporters outside were even more important than the world leaders inside.  http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2015/12/14/after-world-leaders-reach-inadequate-agreement-cop21-its-our-turn-act

Dec 14:  Michael Klare:  A New World Beckons: The Future Belongs to Renewables:  This longstanding expert on oil, foreign policy, and other issues wrote a great article that appeared in two places:  www.commondreams.org/views/2015/12/14/new-world-beckons-future-belongs-renewables and www.thenation.com/article/after-paris-there-is-some-room-for-hope/, where it was titled, After Paris, There Is Some Room for Hope.  This article cites 2015 as the year when the transition from fossil fuels to renewables really took off.  He wrote, “This shift will take place no matter how well or poorly the deal just achieved at the U.N. climate summit in Paris is carried out.”  He notes that major transitions require much time, and fossil fuels will not disappear by 2014 because so much infrastructure is rooted in fossil fuels.  “Too much existing infrastructure — refineries, distribution networks, transportation systems, power plants, and the like — are dependent on oil, coal, and natural gas, which means, unfortunately, that these fuels will continue to play a prominent role for decades.  But the primary thrust of new policies, new investment, and new technology will be in the advancement of renewables.”

Klare cheered two “breakthrough initiatives” – “the announcement of an International Solar Alliance by India and France, and the launching of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition by Bill Gates of Microsoft, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, and a host of other billionaires.”  He also celebrates the tremendous shift toward renewables among many developing nations, a trend that he sees increasing in the near future and beyond.  Read his article for more information about these encouraging new opportunities.

Dec 14:  Jagoda Munic on Common Dreams:  Paris Agreement Will Not Stop Climate Change, But People Power Can:  The most inspiring moment of December 12 was not the adoption of the United Nations Paris agreement but the sight of more than 20,000 people on the streets, building the power of the people, demanding climate justice and an end to dirty energy.  …  After more than twenty years of climate negotiations, developed countries demonstrated once again that they can talk the climate justice talk, but not walk the walk.  …  In June 2015, the ‘People’s Test on Climate’ [www.peoplestestonclimate.org] was developed by a large group of civil society organizations to evaluate the Paris agreement based on what science and justice require.  The People’s Test identified four criteria for a success in Paris:

  1. Catalyze immediate, urgent and drastic carbon emissions reductions;
  2. Provide adequate support for transformation;
  3. Deliver justice for impacted people;
  4. Focus on genuine, effective action rather than false solutions.

Measured against these criteria the Paris agreement is a failure.”  While officials negotiated a scientifically inadequate agreement, “The good news is that we can see real leadership and transformation taking place everywhere else.”  The author celebrated and provided information about the growing worldwide movement for climate justice.  See http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/12/14/paris-agreement-will-not-stop-climate-change-people-power-can

Dec 14:  Alexandra Karambelas:  What the Paris Climate Agreement Means for Indigenous Rights and Hydroelectric Dams:  This article begins by focusing on indigenous rights by clarifying what the agreement says – and does not say – about indigenous rights.  After laying this foundation, it proceeds to examine hydroelectric dams in Brazil.  Rather than summarize the substantive information, I’ll simply refer you to this informative article at http://ecowatch.com/2015/12/14/indigenous-rights-cop21/?utm_source=EcoWatch+List&utm_campaign=b11345d240-Top_News_12_15_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_49c7d43dc9-b11345d240-85369701

Dec 10:  Amy Goodman interviews several international persons for Democracy Now!  This episode’s title is:  “It’s Going to Burn Our Planet”: Hundreds Protest “Unacceptable” Draft Climate Accord Inside COP21:  Young people in frontline communities in several parts of the world speak out.  One is Yeb Saño, who had previously been the Philippines’ chief negotiator, but who is now leader of the People’s Pilgrimage.  He told Amy Goodman, “[O]ur voices and a lot of our issues and things that we care about have not been included in this draft text ….  And beyond Paris, all of us will be going back to our communities, building resilient communities who can stand up, produce food on our own and build renewables, clean energy in our communities.  [We will just do what needs to be done, because we are tired of waiting for world leaders to act on the climate crisis.”  Other speakers were strong too.  For example, Majandra Rodriguez from Peru said, “We are not talking about 1.5 to survive; we are talking about 1.5 to maybe have a chance at surviving, because we are already dying. We are here to demand that every single country take action. However, some countries need to take more action, because they have polluted our atmosphere for 200 years, and their wealth is based upon our poverty.”  Watch the video and/or read the transcript at http://www.democracynow.org/2015/12/10/its_going_to_burn_our_planet

Dec 18:  Antonia Juhasz wrote in NewsweekParis is just one step in the march against climate change:  Antonia Juhasz is an expert in researching and writing about issues related to oil, etc.  This article — www.newsweek.com/2016/01/08/paris-agreement-just-first-step-fighting-climate-change-406655.html or at www.newsweek.com/paris-agreement-just-first-step-fighting-climate-change-406655 — mentions that portions of the agreement actually are legally binding, contrary to many people and organizations have reported.  (She had written four previous articles for Newsweek dealing with North Dakota, the November 29 protests in Paris, oceans, and Saudi Arabia.)

She says, “If you want to know what actions come next to keep fossil fuels in the ground, please be sure to read to the very end!”

She also says, “The lesson of COP21 is that we can’t wait for COP22 to solve the climate crisis.”

“On November 29, over 1 million people in 175 nations took to the streets, in the largest protest demanding immediate action on climate change in history.  Among them were 10,000 people in Paris forming a mass human chain, despite a ban on protests enforced by police with batons, tear gas and concussion grenades, and who would go on to make arrests.  The next day, 150 heads of state – the largest such gathering ever – came together in Paris to work towards a legally binding global accord on climate change.  Thirteen days later, they succeeded.”

She notes that – amid the world’s other serious problems – “perhaps the most extraordinary accomplishment of the United Nations’s 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) climate talks that concluded in Paris on December 12 was that representatives of 196 nations sat around a table and politely hashed out extreme differences on how to spend their money, build their economies, use their natural resources, treat their citizens and engage with their neighbors.”  …

“Portions of the agreement are legally binding.  The most significant is the commitment of each nation to submit – and review every five years – plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as wealthy nations’ pledge to provide by 2020 $100 billion to help poorer countries transition to alternative energy economies.  An additional $100 billion will be provided every year thereafter until at least 2025.  The agreement also requires a new level of transparency in governments, which must now not only report national greenhouse gas emissions but also detail the source (such as a coal plant or automobiles) and be subject to a technical review of their plans by the U.N.”

She acknowledges “plenty of problems with the agreement” including the absence of consequences for failing to meet commitments, and that many nations’ individual plans are inadequate, and that “even if the individual country climate plans are fully and perfectly implemented, they would be insufficient, potentially resulting in temperature increases of over double the limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels ….

Our warming has already reached 1 degree Celsius above the pre-industrial level, “and the U.N. estimates that 26 million people are displaced every year due to natural disasters.”  Oxfam International says 75% of those catastrophes “are now climate-related, with the overwhelming majority of lives lost in developing countries.”

Her article provides specific information on a number of shortcomings in dealing with several kinds of problems.  “In 2014, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that in order to limit the world to 2 degrees C of warming, three-quarters of fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground.  Yet the words ‘fossil fuels,’ ‘oil,’ ‘natural gas’ and ‘coal’” appear nowhere in the Paris Agreement.  The agreement ignores production and focuses exclusively on emissions, allowing, for example, Saudi Arabia to continue and even increase production of oil for exportation as long as it attempts to reduce domestic emissions.”

“Kassie Siegel, director of the Climate Law Institute at the Center for Biological Diversity, it’s still up to ‘grass-roots activists to create the pressure on governments around the world as quickly as possible’ to ensure that countries ratchet up and meet their climate commitments.”  Lindsey Allen, the leader of Rainforest Action Network, noted that in Canada – and even in Alberta – voters replaced the oil industry’s favorites with candidates who support clean energy.

The climate movement has been planning for “the road through Paris,” rather than fixating on COP21 as the goal.  The international climate movement is growing and spreading into a “global escalation against the fossil fuel industry” involving “coordinated actions of thousands of people on iconic fossil fuel projects and companies across the globe,” according to one leader.

For more information – or to sign up to receive her e-mails – see www.AntoniaJuhasz.net

Also, the Dec 2015 – Jan 2016 issue of The Progressive Magazine has EXCELLENT articles by Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein:  These two articles have more good stuff than I could summarize here.  Read the print version and/or visit www.progressive.org

Dec 15:  John Sterman (professor of management an expert on sustainability at Massachusetts Institute of Technology), article at Huffington Post:  The Paris Climate Agreement: Deliverance or Disappointment?  This article offers a balanced view of the progress achieved at Paris along with remaining challenges.  The author says the agreement is both “a triumph” and also “another weak pronouncement that will do little to stave off climate catastrophe.”  He says, “The Paris agreement represents real progress.  It also falls significantly short.  His article alternates between specifying some “glass half full” facts and some “”glass half empty” facts.  Rather than list them all here, I encourage you to read the interesting and informative article at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alliance-for-research-on-corporate-sustainability-/the-paris-clmate-agreemen_b_8812466.html  Topics include “goals versus reality, emissions reductions, the need for stronger action, and verification,

Leave a Reply