Lima: Climate Report

photo-1LIma

By Lang Banks. Lang is the director of WWF Scotland and is part of the Stop Climate Chaos Scotland delegation to the UNFCCC. Follow all the latest from Lima on Twitter: @LangBanks and @sccscot

After two days of pleasantries and a focus on process instead of substance, the temperature was well and truly cranked up for delegates at the UN climate talks on Wednesday.

It may have been well trailed by some media in the days leading up to the talks, but during a morning press conference the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) officially confirmed that 2014 is currently on track to be the hottest year ever recorded.

According to preliminary data published by the agency, the period between January and October was the hottest ever globally.

“Our climate is changing and every year the risks of extreme weather events and impacts on humanity rise,” came the response from Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

MET office temperature rise graph[1]-1

This sobering news from the WMO was backed up moments later by representatives of the UK Met Office here in Lima. In their side event entitled ‘Climate risk – an update on the science’, the organisation’s Dr Peter Stott made clear that not only were global temperatures rising, but that they were observing “even stronger evidence that human activity is affecting climate change.”

Nevertheless, given the snail’s pace of the talks so far, the jury is still out on whether even this latest warning will be enough to spur delegates to action. Sadly, we’ve yet to observe any substantial discussion on possible texts of a draft agreement – one of the key outcomes these talks are supposed to deliver.

Even before the WMO press conference took place, delegates were welcomed to the convention centre to chants of: “Keep the oil in the soil. Keep the coal in the hole. Climate justice now!”

The small but vocal protest by a range of NGOs and young people called for strong and clear rules relating to climate finance, after it was revealed that Japan is claiming funds to a coal-power plant as being ‘green’.

While Japan has not broken any rules, the very fact that funds can be spent on projects that cause climate change – like coal-fired power plants – shows how broken the existing rules for the new Green Climate Fund are.

As part of the same protest, some 250 organisations signed a letter to the Green Climate Fund board calling for an ‘exclusion list’ or a list of projects that cannot receive funds as they do not align with the fund’s objectives.

And, proof of the value of NGOs being present at these types of events came pretty swiftly. Hardly had the protest finished, than the UNFCCC’s Standing Committee on Finance suddenly announced they would consider strengthening the rules – including an aim to establish a common definition of climate finance. After three days of talking, this was at least some progress on something of importance at last.

However, the reality is that much, much more will need to be progressed here by the end of this week if the politicians – who arrive next week – are to be in a position to secure an outcome that will protect those people most affected and the least responsible.

 



Categories: Environmental Justice

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2 replies

  1. I’m sitting here in the office from where I work at home feeling warm as toast, 20 degrees inside with an outside temperature of 6, and a carbon footprint that has fallen by nearly 2/3 from 5.4 to 2.2 tons of C02 in the past year because of 4 kW of solar panels on the roof (cost £5k), a small air-to-air source heat pump (£2k, 1.2 kW input) which gives completely free heating even in December when the sun is on the panels, and recently, 2 of 3 outside walls externally insulated to 10 cm thanks to a Scottish Govt “green homes cashback” grant that allowed £8k of work to be done for just £2k. Data on the first 2 of these 3 measures on the web at http://www.alastairmcintosh.com/general/energy/solar-heating.htm .

    I’m snug, but not trying to sound smug when many of my neighbours live in fuel poverty. The point is that if as a society we can be bothered to do it, we have it within our capability radically to cut carbon footprints with existing technology. People say to me: “Not everyone can afford a £9k investment.” I say, true, but plenty of people have far more than that parked outside their homes or in a kitchen refit. I also say that measures should be targeted to those on the lowest incomes. Mind you, the social housing round here in Drumoyne, Govan, has all been externally insulated: it’s the privately bought ones now that feel the chill.

    In the big picure, look at what’s parked up at Faslane in the name of “security”. Where lie the real security fronts in the world today? Are they primarily military, or is the cold more of a threat to the a average Scot than the Cold War, and as a corollary to that, the threat of global warming as we pump energy into uninsulated homes?

    When I wrote a book on climate change just a few years ago I never imagined it would prove possible to do so much in our own Victorian end-terraced house. However, even in that short time (since 2008) technology and govt assistance has made a transformation possible. It needs to go much further but to do so we need to open people’s minds to the practical benefits that they can accrue from tackling climate change, and not just let the denialists sum it all up as doom and gloom and try to stir resentment at green policy measures. Scotland is leading the way – with a remarkable degree of cross-party consensus at Holyrood – on what can be done. Much of that is thanks to years of lobbying from the likes of WWF, FoES and the development agencies like SCIAF, Oxfam and Christian Aid. Well done, folks.

  2. Why is there only one reply to this post? If it was about the incestuous doings of the labour party or a ‘who said what’ report from some meeting; there would be torrents of comments.
    but its only the climate, that’s not’ real politics’, that’s not something that affects working class people in Scotland.
    …er, wrong! If all the money that’s invested in financial ‘products’ and extracting oil and gas (for multinational businesses’ benefit) was turned towards making communities warmer and better connected; you could lift thousand upon thousand out of poverty, create helpful and positive jobs in those communities, build connectivity and social capital – especially for/by those who cannot build their own boat to float off on the rising waters.

    Where is the righteous clamour for sustainable economic development and local control over assets from across all of the left? Why is it ‘just’ the Greens that see the link between poverty and profit and climate damage?

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