Cancún half way

Cancún

That image is courtesy Climate Progress where Joe Romm points out that the beaches are washing away. One can also easily imagine why there may have been traffic problems. (See also here.)

While there is plenty of material around on the web, I have found Giles Parkinson at Climate Spectator particularly helpful. A pity, therefore, that he was sufficiently distracted on Friday not to do a post after the conference session. Nevertheless Thursday’s post provides a good summary of what is at play. He summarises progress on the so-called six-pack of issues thus:

Four of the so-called six-pack of agreements appear within reach – financing, adaptation, forests, and technology – although there are still hurdles to overcome, such as whether a green fund should be managed by the UN or an outside body. The two most difficult – mitigation (effectively locking in the pledges made since Copenhagen) and transparency – remain a challenge. The head of one of the key working groups told NGOs today that there remained “a big gap” on mitigation.

Continue reading Cancún half way

Climate kills

According to Oxfam 21,000 people died due to weather-related disasters in the first nine months of 2010 – more than twice the number (10,000) for the whole of 2009. Their information comes from reinsurance company Munich Re.

The number of extreme weather events was 725 to September, as against 850 for 2009. The number of extreme events is likely to exceed the ten-year average of 770, but not by a large margin. This year included some particularly serious ones, such as the floods in Pakistan and the heatwave in Russia.

The Pakistan floods affected more than 20 million people, submerging about a fifth of the country, claiming 2,000 lives and causing $9.7 billion in damage. Summer temperatures in Russia exceeded the long-term average by 7.8°C, doubling the daily death rate in Moscow to 700 and causing fires that destroyed 26 per cent of the country’s wheat crop. Russia banned grain exports as a result and soon after world grain prices increased, affecting poor people particularly.

Statistics relating to extreme weather events are tricky. The number of deaths obviously relates to the severity of the individual events and how many people were living in areas where the events occurred and hence vulnerable. Continue reading Climate kills

Climate clippings 5

These posts include a brief mention of a number of news items relating to climate change. They don’t preclude treating any of these topics at more length in a separate post.

They can also serve as an open thread so that we can keep each other informed on important climate news.

Cancun’s beaches are washing away

Indeed they are.

Rising sea levels and a series of unusually powerful hurricanes have aggravated the folly of building a tourist destination atop shifting sand dunes on a narrow peninsula.

Two huge dredgers are being used to pump tons of sand from offshore sandbars. Continue reading Climate clippings 5

Cancún gets under way

The annual meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP) is now under way in Cancún from 29 November to 10 December.

When we last looked at Cancún alexinbologna explained that in 2007 in Bali countries agreed to two paths, firstly, negotiating a further commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol and secondly, to negotiate ‘longterm cooperative action’ (LCA). The chances of the first of these getting up in Cancún approach zero. The best that could be achieved is to position talks to achieve an agreement in Durban at the next COP in December 2011.

Since Copenhagen some 140 countries have associated themselves with the Copenhagen Accord and 85 of these have made commitments to reduce or limit the growth of their emissions up to 2020. There may be a tendency to regard this as replacing a binding commitment, but we should remember that the Copenhagen Accord was only formally noted by the meeting in Copenhagen not agreed to. Some countries, for example the ALBA group and AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States), will see this as the developed countries avoiding their responsibilities. Rather than allowing developed countries to do whatever suits them these countries want legally binding progress towards deep cuts. Continue reading Cancún gets under way

Cochabamba to Cancún: The Rights of Mother Earth


Back in April 17-19 this year Bolivia organised a World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in a university town on the outskirts of Cochabamba. I bring it up now because it was a radical reaction to Copenhagen in an effort to set a new agenda for Cancún, which will commence on November 29. Bolivia was acting on behalf of the ALBA countries (The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America). ALBA has a membership of six countries with a population a bit larger than three times ours and a combined GDP about half ours.

Some island states react to climate change out of a threat of sea level change and inundation. Naomi Klein points out that Bolivia has it’s own existential crisis because “its glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, threatening the water supply in two major cities.”

The Council of Canadians tells us in their report that some 10,000 of the 34,000 participants came from outside South America. Government representatives from 147 countries were present, and at least 45 were active participants.

It seems clear that the conference outcomes were designed into the structure of the 17 working groups. The main formal outcome was a Peoples agreement. Here are a few extracts to give you the flavour: Continue reading Cochabamba to Cancún: The Rights of Mother Earth

Climate clippings 4

These posts include a brief mention of a number of news items relating to climate change. They don’t preclude treating any of these topics at more length in a separate post.

They can also serve as an open thread so that we can keep each other informed on important climate news.

Electric aircraft

Cessna is developing an electric version of the four-seat, single-engine 172 Skyhawk. A ‘proof of concept’ prototype is due to fly by the end of this year. Continue reading Climate clippings 4

Dangerous global warming is here

After an attack of pessimism by BilB I thought this post at Climate Progress was timely. Methane is just one of 10 issues to worry about.

The last year or so has seen more scientific papers and presentations that raise the genuine prospect of catastrophe (if we stay on our current emissions path) that I can recall seeing in any other year.

Continue reading Dangerous global warming is here

Climate change and the Murray Darling Basin

With record rainfall in large parts of Australia in recent months there has been a bit of a tendency to think that normal service has been returned. But record rainfall is by definition exceptional. This is how the last three months look on the BOM maps: Continue reading Climate change and the Murray Darling Basin

Climate clippings 3

It’s been almost a year since Climate clippings 2. Shall I say that intentions are good now, as they always have been.

I have included a brief mention of a number of news items relating to climate change. It doesn’t preclude treating any of these topics at more length in a separate post.

It can also serve as an open thread so that we can keep each other informed of important climate news.

Continue reading Climate clippings 3

What can save the majestic rainforests of West Kalimantan?

One of the most depressing articles I’ve read in a while is Borneo’s majestic rainforest is being killed by the timber mafia recently in The Guardian. This comes on top TV programs on of what seem like futile attempts to save the Orangutan. Wikipedia tells us:

The total number of Bornean orangutans is estimated to be less than 14 percent of what it was in the recent past (from around 10,000 years ago until the middle of the twentieth century) and this sharp decline has occurred mostly over the past few decades due to human activities and development.

The IPCC AR4 report put the net emissions from forestry at 17.4% of the total:

Continue reading What can save the majestic rainforests of West Kalimantan?

Coral bleaching hits the Coral Triangle

From the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies:

International marine scientists say that a huge coral death which has struck Southeast Asian and Indian Ocean reefs over recent months has highlighted the urgency of controlling global carbon emissions.

Many reefs are dead or dying across the Indian Ocean and into the Coral Triangle following a bleaching event that extends from the Seychelles in the west to Sulawesi and the Philippines in the east and include reefs in Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and many sites in western and eastern Indonesia.

“It is certainly the worst coral die-off we have seen since 1998. It may prove to be the worst such event known to science,” says Dr Andrew Baird of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook Universities. “So far around 80 percent of Acropora colonies and 50 per cent of colonies from other species have died since the outbreak began in May this year.”

This means coral cover in the region could drop from an average of 50% to around 10%, and the spatial scale of the event could mean it will take years to recover, striking at local fishing and regional tourism industries, he says.

The bleaching event has also hit the richest marine biodiversity zone on the planet, the ‘Amazon Rainforest’ of the seas, known as the Coral Triangle (CT), which is bounded by Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Continue reading Coral bleaching hits the Coral Triangle

Cancun looms, ready or not

Climate talks in Tianjin, China have ended. That’s it now until Cancun, Mexico on 29 November-10 December, where the optimists hope than a binding post-Kyoto treaty on climate change might be concluded.

That can’t happen without China and the US patching up their differences. The chances of that approach zero, according to Bloomberg.

The BBC report goes further:

On Saturday, one of the Chinese climate negotiators reportedly accused the US of behaving like a preening pig, complaining about Beijing when Washington had done so little itself.

Reuters explains this reference to Chinese classical literature:

Su likened the U.S. criticism to Zhubajie, a pig in a classic Chinese novel, which in a traditional saying preens itself in a mirror.

“It has no measures or actions to show for itself, and instead it criticizes China, which is actively taking measures and actions,” Su said of the United States.

Continue reading Cancun looms, ready or not

Climate change, sustainability, plus sundry other stuff