Climate Emergency:’ February Temperatures Hottest in a Century

Source:  TeleSUR
March 142016

Experts have warned that earth is entering a “climate emergency” as NASA announced that the month of February was the hottest on record in decades.

female villager 2.jpgA female villager walks after collecting water from the base of a dried-up reservoir, due to the long dry season, at Kedung Sumber village, Indonesia. | Photo: Reuters

The world is entering a “climate emergency” as global surface temperatures across land and sea were 1.35 C warmer in February than the average temperature for this time of year month, making it the hottest in a century, NASA said Sunday.

The previous record was set in January, which was 1.14°C warmer than the baseline average for that month, NASA said.

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RELATED: Experts: Climate Change Is Global Health Emergency

“We are in a kind of climate emergency now,” Stefan Rahmstorf, from Germany’s Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research, told the Sydney Morning Herald Monday. “Governments have promised to act [to curb greenhouse gas emissions] and they need to do better than what they promised in Paris” at the global climate summit last December, he said.

Analysing the results for Weather Underground, weather experts Jeff Masters and Bob Henson wrote, “we are now hurtling at a frightening pace toward the globally agreed maximum of 2.0°C warming over pre-industrial levels.”

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They added that the result was “another reminder of the incessant long-term rise in global temperature resulting from human-produced greenhouse gases.”

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Experts say that the El Nino phenomenon is considered to have contributed to the current record of global temperatures. It causes an increase in the area of warm surface water across the Pacific, allowing global oceans to transfer heat more readily into the atmosphere.

OPINION: The Challenges of Gender Equality and Climate Change

However, compared with the El Nino record of 1997-98, global temperatures are around 0.5 degrees hotter, meaning that other factors such as greenhouse gases are contributing to the increase in global warming.

5 Ways the COP21 Deal Dooms the Planet to Climate Change Chaos

Source:  TeleSUR
14 December 2015

state of climate emergency.jpgRepresentatives of Indigenous communities protest and demand respect for Indigenous rights at COP21 in Paris on Dec. 12, 2015. | Photo: Reuters

The COP21 deal has been celebrated as a binding agreement, but what exactly countries are bound to is a telling sign of how far short the deal falls.

Global leaders are celebrating the outcome of the COP21 Paris climate talks as a “historic” deal and a “monumental triumph” for the climate.

But as environmental organizations and activists slam the agreement for doing too little too late and dooming the world to climate chaos, here are five things you should know about the COP21 climate deal.

  1. It puts the world on track for 3 degrees Celsius global warming.

The COP21 text states that the purpose of the climate deal is to keep global warming “well below” 2 degrees Celsius while aiming for 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, but the agreement lacks the mechanisms to make this goal a reality.

Instead, the deal puts the world on track to far overshoot these targets and hit 3 degrees Celsius warming. Global emissions reductions are achieved through voluntary, intended national pledges. These pledges mean the biggest climate culprits that carry the historical burden of climate change can voluntarily contribute emissions reductions that they think they can achieve, not what is globally necessary.

Scientists say that 2 degrees Celsius warming is the maximum limit the world can hit before facing catastrophic and irreparable planetary damage that could bring an end to human life as we know it. Many Latin American countries and front-line affected communities, already feeling the impacts of climate change, have pushed for the more ambitious 1.5 degrees Celsius limit, which climate scientists agree is the appropriate target to protect the most vulnerable.

But so far, global leader have not risen to the high-stakes challenge.

  1. It has no legal commitment to climate reparations.

The deal refers to “loss and damage” related to climate change and its impacts, but explicitly states that the relevant article in the core text of the deal is not a basis for liability and compensation. This means that climate reparations though would see wealthy countries largely responsible for fueling climate change pay their carbon debts to poorer countries are still far from a reality.

OPINION: World Leaders Signed a ‘Death Warrant for the Planet’ at COP21

obama 12c.jpgAccording to a report from Democracy Now!, President Barack Obama only agreed to include loss and damage in the COP21 deal if the clause could not be used as a legal basis for paying climate compensation. The issue was a key area of dispute throughout the negotiations.

Climate reparations were never on the agenda at COP21, despite being put forward by Global South countries such as Ecuador and Bolivia as a strategy to help the most vulnerable in the face of climate change, while holding rich and polluting countries accountable.

But the loss and damage component is a big disappointment for climate justice campaigners, and likely to doom developing countries to climate-induced suffering due to the lack of legally-binding compensation for big polluters’ damage to the climate.

  1. The legally binding commitments are weak, while key items are not binding at all.

While the COP21 deal has been widely celebrated as a binding agreement, what exactly countries are bound to is a telling sign of how far short the deal falls.

There is no legally binding agreement on climate finance, a critical but highly disputed part of the agreement. While the deal urges rich countries to take the lead on helping to provide developing countries with financing and technologies to help adapt and mitigate climate change, all financing is voluntary.

RELATED: 5 Things You Need to Know About COP21

Voluntary financing is a huge let down for climate activists, which have been calling for wealthy countries to help finance global transition to clean energy.

The utter lack of mention of fossil fuels in the text of the deal also points to failure of the deal to grapple with urgent climate change priorities. It calls for globally emissions to peak “as soon as possible,” but does not mandate a specific timeline for emissions reductions, leaving countries ​free to keep polluting.

The deal also does not come close to laying out a plan for phasing out fossil fuels. As a result, the agreement is even weaker than the preliminary draft deal set out by G-7 nations earlier at the U.N. Climate Change Conference this year, slammed by climate advocates for dooming the world to “climate chaos” by proposing to phase out fossil fuels by the end of the century.

What’s more, though 195 countries have signed onto the climate deal, which will only come into effect after being ratified by at least 55 nations, any country can withdraw from the deal after three years.

So while global leaders pat themselves on the back for overcoming the failure of COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009 by reaching a so-called legally binding agreement, the deal has still failed to force world leaders to commit to changes on core issues to tackle climate change in an urgent, effective, and holistic way.

  1. There are no measure to hold corporations accountable.

The deal focuses on the responsibilities of countries to lower carbon emissions by their own voluntary pledges, and as a result leaves corporations off the hook from legally binding climate action.

The agreement “welcomes” and “invites” stakeholders other than countries, including private corporations, to participate in efforts to tackle climate change, it does not mandate corporations to change their practices in response to an increasingly warming world. This leaves the door open for fossil fuels companies to continue to pollute.

RELATED: TPP Dooms World to Climate Crisis

What’s more, many of the same global leaders who made high-profile speeches about the urgency of climate change at COP21 are at the same time cozying up to big corporate polluters with the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership, currently pending approval. The draft text of the TPP reveals enhanced power for corporations, including fossil fuels giants, such as rules to allow corporations to challenge national and international laws in secret trade courts.

This means the TPP could undermine any action that does result from the COP21 agreement by setting new limits on governments’ abilities to introduce strong policy to tackle climate change, such as renewable energy programs.

At the core, the COP21 agreement fails to recognize the underlying roots of climate change and the systemic and economic reasons for global carbon inequality and increasingly boiling global temperatures.

  1. It has no mention of human rights in the core body of the text.

The only mention of human rights in the final COP21 text appears in the preamble, not the core articles, which means there is no legally binding commitment to human rights in the deal.

While the draft text included a provisional mention of human rights in the section highlighting the purpose of the deal, world leaders ultimately opted for the weaker option of removing human rights from the purpose, leaving it only in the non-binding preamble.

OPINION: Climate Action: Why Justice in Paris is Unlikely

The deal also have no substantial attention to the rights of Indigenous peoples, among the hardest hit by climate change, and recognition of the role Indigenous communities play as stewards of the environment. There is also no mention of intergenerational equity or biodiversity in the core of the text, sidelining any commitment to protecting future generations and integrated ecosystems from the devastation of climate change.

As a result, the deal fails to take into account systemic causes and the key issues of human and environmental rights in the context of climate change and falls far short of a just climate deal.

Source:  5 Ways the COP21 Deal Dooms the Planet to Climate Change Chaos

UN conference on climate change begins in France

France will chair and host the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21/CMP11), from 30 November to 11 December 2015. The conference is crucial because the expected outcome is a new international agreement on climate change, applicable to all, to keep global warming below 2°C.

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French President Francois Hollande (centre) poses for a photo with fellow world leaders during the opening day of the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, on Monday. | Photo: Reuters

Civil society, relegated largely to the sidelines, is stressing the urgency of reaching a meaningful, just, and binding deal. Several high-profile delegates began addressing the audience at the COP21 conference in the town of Le Bourget, about 65 miles north of Paris Monday morning. And in the meantime, amid intense security measures coming just two and half weeks after the deadly terror attacks in Paris that claimed the lives of 130 people, the 147 world leaders began addressing the plenary.

The opening follows huge marches around the world demanding that leaders take concrete steps to combat climate change. While 40,000 people will be in attendance with some 3,000 journalists, along with scientists and exhibitors.

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World Bank: Climate change could push 100 million into extreme poverty

Source:  Independent
November 9 2015

climate change 2.jpgClimate change could push more than 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030 by disrupting agriculture and fueling the spread of malaria and other diseases, the World Bank has said in a report.

UN climate summit in Paris

Released just weeks ahead of a UN climate summit in Paris, the report highlighted how the impact of global warming is borne unevenly, with the world’s poor woefully unprepared to deal with climate shocks such as rising seas or severe droughts.

“They have fewer resources and receive less support from family, community, the financial system, and even social safety nets to prevent, cope and adapt,” the Washington-based World Bank said.

How to help poor countries — and poor communities within countries — deal with climate change is one of the crunch issues in talks on a global climate accord that’s supposed to be adopted next month in Paris.

The demand for climate finance to developing countries

Those who say that rich countries aren’t doing enough to help the poor said the report added emphasis to demands for billions of dollars in so-called climate finance to developing countries.

“The statistics in the World Bank report are suitably shocking and I hope they force world leaders to sit up and take notice,” said Mohamed Adow of Christian Aid.

“The Paris deal needs to support the poor and vulnerable communities to cope with unavoidable climate crises better, and to be more resilient to a changed climate.”

Emissions of global warming gases

Despite pledges to rein in emissions of carbon dioxide and other global warming gases, climate change isn’t likely to stop anytime soon.

Carbon emissions are expected to rise for many years as China, India and other developing countries expand the use of fossil fuels to power their economies.

But efforts to protect the poor, such as generally improving access to health care and social safety nets, and targeted measures to upgrade flood defences and deploy more heat-tolerant crops could prevent most of the negative consequences of climate change on poverty, the bank said.

With the absence of  such good developments, “climate change could result in an additional 100 million people living in extreme poverty by 2030,” the report said.

Stephane Hallegatte, one of the authors, told The Associated Press that one of the unique features of the report was that instead of analysing the macro-economic impact of climate change it was based in part on surveys of 1.4 million people in 92 countries.

Three major factors that push people into poverty

“When we ask people why they fall into poverty there are three major factors,” he said. “Agricultural shocks, including an increase in food prices; natural disasters such as floods, droughts, storms; and health issues, including malaria, diarrhoea.”

The report referred to studies showing climate change could result in global crop yield losses as large as five percent by 2030 and 30 percent by 2080. It also referenced studies showing warming temperatures could increase the number of people at risk for malaria by 150 million.

Mr Hallegatte said the “hotspots” for climate impacts on poor people were sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

The US and other countries have collectively pledged to scale up climate financing to developed countries to $100 billion annually by 2020 to help them adapt to climate change and reduce their emissions.

Developing countries are calling for commitments beyond 2020 in the Paris agreement but rich nations are reluctant to make firm promises, in part due to budget uncertainties.

A recent report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development estimated climate finance flows to developing countries reached $62 billion in 2014.

Source:  World Bank: Climate change could push 100 million into extreme poverty