World View of Global Warming is at the UN climate negotiations, the COP21, which began November 30 in Paris. I wrote in my book in 2007, “Creating a safer, cleaner—and cooler—world. This is the direction for change. The world’s nations will recognize in global warming a common danger to their people, their cultures, and the Earth that supports them all.” We will see if we have finally reached that day.
Climate Photo of the Week
Optimism remains high for a strong, fair climate agreement, as native communities, developing nation women, small island states fight to retain human rights, equity and aid.
For more photos from COP21 and associated events in Paris, please see
Optimism prevailed as the 21st meeting of the UN climate convention in Paris reached its halfway point. Since the dramatic gathering here Monday of more than 140 world leaders who made a nearly unanimous call for strong and rapid action to limit global warming emissions, national experts and negotiators have moved into closed meeting rooms to construct word-by-word the final language. The draft agreement has been whittled down from 54 pages of alternate wording to about 20 by week’s end.
Crucial to the power and meaning of an agreement will be how much it protects and aids less-developed nations, poor local communities, women and children and minorities who now and in the future will be hit with the brunt of climate disruption. The negotiators will also decide to keep the goal set in previous meetings, to limit temperature from rising 2 degrees C (3.6 degree F) above the preindustrial level (the earth is already one degree warmer due mainly to unconstrained fossil fuel burning) or commit to trying to keep the temperature 1.5 degrees C above preindustrial.
The work to create the first international agreement with strong provisions to limit global warming effects and protect the less-developed people who now suffer the brunt of disruption, is expected to be complete a week from now. Already the process is a success, in that emissions reduction plans (INDCs) representing 184 nations who create almost all the climate pollution have been submitted to the UN. U.S. chief negotiator Todd Stern called this “absolutely unbelievable,” to have such coherence in what has been a fragmented and unsuccessful system so far.
Many diplomats, environmentalists, civic spokespeople and business leaders gathered here in the largest meeting of its kind ever remained upbeat about chances of success – an ambitious, comprehensive, fair and binding pact among all nations to act to reduce global warming carbon emissions to near zero before he end of this century, by following, reporting on and strengthening those INDCs. It would be first such agreement and the culmination of a scientific, social and diplomatic movement that began with the ratification of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992.
However at the meeting just north of Paris proper at the old airport Le Bourget, old divisions were still visible among the rich and poor nations, between those who have much coal and oil and those who do not, and between the powerful and those who often suffer when that power is used to create energy. Prime among the issues that will have to be worked out by the end of next week are:
-- How the promised national emission reduction plans would be monitored, reported and strengthened. Many nations including the U.S. will resist being bound to exact reduction timetables, but will want all nations to be transparent in how they calculate, monitor, report and change their plans, according to their own national circumstances.
-- Full recognition of the plight of the most affected by climate change, island states and the less developed nations, and aid in the form of insurance, loss and damage payments, and funds for reduction of climate pollution and adaptation to sea level rise and other changes. President Obama promised an insurance plan for nations at risk like the small island states of the Pacific Ocean, but his negotiator Todd Stern flatly said the U.S.” can’t cross the line into liability.” Protection from and compensation for climate damage has been a major cry from women’s and less developed community groups in demonstrations and press conferences this week.
-- Whether the concept of climate justice will be addressed in binding terms. A proposed version of an agreement was being circulated that spelled out human rights, gender equality, the right to health, recognition of indigenous cultures, and the integrity of ecosystems and of the Earth. Climate justice is being urged by a wide span of interests from business groups to indigenous individuals from Peru who wore native dress into meetings and press conferences. Many people from forested regions were advocating various forms of forest protection to cut pollution, sequester carbon and harbor biodiversity (called REDD in convention language), and some opposed any continuation of forest “management” by corporations and industrialized nations.
Central to all of this and more was whether the consensus process within the UN convention could deliver a strong, binding, transparent and equitable agreement now. Already nations like Saudi Arabia are blocking provisions in draft wording relating to a 1.5 degree temperature limit. A UN study which the Saudis stopped from being referenced in a current agreement draft said 100 million people would be affected if temperature were allowed to rise 2 degrees rather than 1.5. A majority of climate convention members supports a 1.5 degree limit.
Renewable and clean energy to carry out the needs of the world for health, climate and fairness was being put forward in many studies and reports, in advance of the climate meeting. The first day of the COP, with Obama and President Hollande of France, Bill Gates announced a multi-billion dollar fund for accelerated clean energy development and deployment.
COP21, UN climate negotiations, Paris, Nov-Dec 2015
15 years of World View of Global Warming, documenting climate change 1999-2015
This project would be impossible without scientists and observers around the world who have provided hundreds of scientific contacts and papers. See Background, Advisors, and Reference for documentation, funders and major advisors, without whom I could not complete the work.
World View of Global Warming is a project of the Blue Earth Alliance, Seattle Washington, a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization. The project is supported entirely by donations, grants, and license fees for the photographs. Please see information about how to contribute.
For other information about Gary Braasch's climate change projects and books, please see the books Earth Under Fire and How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Climate, and the exhibit "Climate Change in Our World" at the Books and Exhibits link on the top menu of this page.
Photography and text Copyright © 2005 - 2017 (and before) Gary Braasch All rights reserved. Use of photographs in any manner without permission is prohibited by US copyright law. Photography is available for license to publications and other uses. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. View more of Gary Braasch's photography here.