“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” Winston Churchill
Quite a few commentators of the results of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris (November/December 2015) have evoked this quote from Winston Churchill. It seems that, indeed, Paris marks the end of the beginning of debating anthropogenic climate change.
It has become accepted wisdom here that Paris 2015 is not Copenhagen 2009. This time, the US and China are on board; the price of renewables has dropped by more than half; the vast majority of countries have already pledged emission cuts and Paris is seen as a “staging post”, rather than a final destination.
But in one way at least, Paris 2015 is a re-run of 2009 Copenhagen. There are a staggering 3,700 ‘media representatives’ accredited in attendance, which is just short of the 4,000 (from 119 countries) present at Copenhagen.
As the climate negotiations in Paris near their final rounds, some might be surprised by rather contradictory developments, which relate to the much discussed 2 degree threshold.
This limit aims to keep warming within 2°C of the pre-industrial average.While the emissions reduction pledges put forward by the countries ahead of COP 21 in Paris were not sufficiently ambitious to keep within this limit, in the final phase of the negotiations many countries wish for an even lower limit: below 1.5 degrees.
Pedro is a Brazilian journalist currently working towards his master’s in journalism and globalisation at City University London. His Twitter handle is @pedrohcbarreto
In Brazil, the political turmoil is overshadowing the media coverage of the COP21. This weekend, Venezuela had general elections which received major attention from Brazilian outlets. Nevertheless, all the main newspapers had a special section on their websites dedicated to the conference – they are updated daily with articles written by correspondents, international news agencies and opinion pieces.
Monday morning the climate summit started with scores of state leaders arriving in their black cars, delegates and press mostly in hybrid shuttle buses.
But Espace Générations Climat – the forum for all the non-accredited NGOs and activists, remained closed. They were not allowed to open until Tuesday, evidently for security reasons. The amount one has to pay to be there is rather steep. A woman representing a small NGO said they had to pay 1700 Euro for just 9m2.
In the ancient mythical saga Ulysses, sirens were beautiful creatures with enchanting voices who would lure sailors to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island with their sweet intoxicating music.
Ulyses, curious to hear the the siren’s song, ordered his men to bind him to the mast. He implored the crew, who had their ears plugged with wax, to leave him tied tightly to the mast, no matter how much he would beg. Upon hearing the sirens’ beautiful melody, Ulysses urged the sailors to untie him but they instead bound him tighter. The ship then navigated the narrow channel to safety: Ulysses actions had saved the lives of himself and the crew.
Climate conferences serve multiple purposes. Besides being important political events, they are also global media spectacles which push the topic of climate change to the top of political, scientific and public agendas.
Scientific data is always at the heart of the way climate change is discussed. Whether it be weather records, measurement of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere or the PH-value of the oceans.
Professor Hans von Storch is a highly distinguished ocean and climate scientist. He has written 20 books and sits on numerous climate advisory boards. He usually writes for the climate blog: Die Klimazwiebel
Recently, a journalist asked me in passing – which was the best COP so far, which the worst?
Honestly, I have not been a good observer of these meetings. All I know there were many and the next is #21. There was Copenhagen, sometimes labelled Hopenhagen by enthusiasts. It was COP15 and the year was 2009. Copenhagen, the last exit, it was called, the last chance for instituting a binding policy which would make “us” limit global anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change to a stable 2 deg in 2100.
The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference opens in Paris today. This is the 21st ‘Conference of the Parties’ or COP since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992.
Since then each year, without fail, governments have discussed when, where and how much to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to engage in the mitigation of and, increasingly, adaptation to the impacts of climate change.