The Adopt a Negotiator Project tracking international efforts to deal with climate change Wed, 08 Oct 2014 16:55:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 TREE ALERT: New research shows oceans warming faster than predicted Wed, 08 Oct 2014 16:55:19 +0000 140702_Fig1

Two new studies released this week have shed further light on the complex picture of ocean warming, showing that surface layers have been warming faster than we thought since the 1970s. According to one new study, the top 700 meters of the world’s oceans have warmed up to 58% faster than previously estimated. The accumulating heat is an unequivocal sign that the planet is heating up as a result of human activities, and shows that more heat may have been added to the Earth’s surface than previously thought. The findings also suggest that empirical estimates of the effects of global warming may need to be increased. Meanwhile, a separate study published on the same day showed that temperatures in the deepest reaches of the ocean remained stable in the period from 2005-2014. This indicates that—at least for now—global warming hasn’t fully penetrated the most remote undersea depths and that the shallow waters are bearing the brunt of climate change. This is particularly alarming for scientists as it is the warmth stored in these top layers of the ocean that is more likely to return to the atmosphere.



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TREE ALERT: Divestment push gathers pace as large Australian pension fund abandons coal Wed, 08 Oct 2014 16:35:39 +0000


If China’s moves to scale back coal use were not enough to cast an increasingly dark shadow over the coal industry’s future, the rapid growth in divestment ought to be sending shivers down its spine. Local Government Super (LGS) – one of Australia’s largest public sector pension funds with $8bn in managed assets – has announced its intent to expunge coal investments from its portfolio, saying the “unarguable scientific reality” creates “very real investment risk”. The move by LGS illustrates the growing momentum of the divestment movement, both internationally – with the Rockefeller Foundation – and in Australia, with the Australian National University, the HESTA health industry super fund, churches in Australia and New Zealand abandoning dirty, destructive investments.

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TREE ALERT: EU faces uproar as they look to scrap tar sands danger label Tue, 07 Oct 2014 19:10:46 +0000 Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 12.08.23 PM

The European Union is facing intense criticism today as it looks to abandon its plan to label tar sands oil as highly polluting; a move hailed as a “tragedy for the climate” by NGOs. Despite a five year battle by environmental groups in Canada and Europe to label oil from the Alberta tar sands as more polluting than conventional crude, today’s proposal from the EU Commission shows this wording has been removed from the bloc’s Fuel Quality Directive – the EU’s crucial climate legislation aimed at reducing emissions from transport fuels. NGOs warn that the EU has caved to lobbying efforts by the Canadian government and the oil industry, and fear that the decision will pave the way for tar sands imports into the continent. Just days ahead of the announcement, Exxon also announced it would begin work to upgrade an Antwerp refinery, hoping to increase production of hydrocarbon fluids by nearly 10%. The Commission proposal must now be approved by EU member states and signed-off by the European Parliament before coming into force and environmentalists are calling on heads of state to address this “blind spot” of European climate policy before its too late.

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TREE ALERT: Businesses & NGOs push for ambitious 2030 EU targets as October deadline approaches Tue, 07 Oct 2014 18:40:36 +0000 Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 11.40.10 AM

As the deadline for European ministers to agree an ambitious 2030 climate and energy package fast approaches, NGOs and business leaders are this week increasing the pressure on the bloc to agree a “robust” set of targets when they meet in Brussels in late October. In an open letter to heads of state, coinciding with a ministers meeting in Milan yesterday, a coalition of nearly 60 leading businesses called on the EU to find a resolution to the current disagreements over the potential goal for greenhouse gas emission reductions, while NGOs are also calling for tougher targets on energy efficiency. Not only will ambitious targets bring multiple benefits for Europeans – leaked EU figures show cutting energy use by 40% will create jobs and boost GDP – but it is also vital to securing the much needed global momentum towards the strong international treaty on climate change that citizens across the globe are already demanding.

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Oceans’ greater heat explains warming ‘pause’ Tue, 07 Oct 2014 18:33:51 +0000 CSIRO_ScienceImage_7543_Argo_floats-e1412678629670

New technology is helping scientists to re-assess how much heat is being absorbed by the world’s oceans – much more in some regions than realised, they say.

One of the most hotly-argued questions in climate research – whether global warming has slowed or even stopped – appears to have been definitively answered. And the scientists’ conclusion is unambiguous: the Earth continues to warm at a dangerous pace.

All that’s happening, they say, is that the extra heat being produced – mainly by the burning of fossil fuels – is concentrating not in the skies but in the seas. They have found new evidence that backs them up.

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EU drops plan to label oilsands crude ‘dirty’ Tue, 07 Oct 2014 18:31:16 +0000 syncrude-oilsands-extraction-facility

The European Union has backed off a plan to label oil from Alberta’s oilsands as dirtier than other oils and to make it harder to import.​

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, published a proposal early Tuesday that removes one of the biggest hurdles that was standing in the way of Canada exporting its oil directly to Europe, something that isn’t currently happening in any significant way.

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If China announces a limit on carbon emissions, could India follow? Tue, 07 Oct 2014 02:40:03 +0000 When countries unveil their plans for curbing carbon over the coming decade, the climate-conscious world knows that it wants to see aggressive, economywide cuts from the United States. Similarly, consensus is building that China, which now emits more carbon dioxide than any other country, should announce a peak year after which its emissions will fall.


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Weekly Fresh Air Brief: October 3rd Fri, 03 Oct 2014 02:44:19 +0000 WHAT GCCA PARTNERS & PEERS ARES WORKING ON


Hundreds walking 1,000km on Typhoon Haiyan anniversary to demand climate action
One year after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines, and just over a week since hundreds of thousands of people marched in New York and around the world for climate action; activists are again putting one foot in front of the other to urge world leaders to “walk their climate talk.” The Climate Walk – a 38 day, 1,000km journey by some of the people most vulnerable to the impacts of global warming – kicked off today at Kilometer Zero in Manila, and will end on November eight in Tacloban, Ground Zero of Typhoon Haiyan.

The walk is intended as a tribute to those facing increasing climate risks, and is led by Philippines Climate commissioner Naderev “Yeb” Saño who is again flying the flag of urgency for world leaders after calling for them to “get off their ivory towers” and act at last year’s COP19 in Warsaw. Read more about the effort in our Tree Alert.

More signs of hope in coal fight after European Human Chain action
Energy giant, Vattenfall, has had its coal ambitions dashed this week, as the incoming Swedish government reiterated its plan to ban the state-owned company from expanding lignite-mining. In an online statement, the coalition government – led by the Social Democrats and the Greens – also called on the company to lead the country’s transitions towards 100% renewables. What the announcement means for the proposed mine expansion in the Lausitz region remains unclear, but it is being seen as a major win for the thousands of campaigners who, last month, joined a human chain across the German-Polish border to protest lignite mine expansion in the region. Our Tree Alert has more.

Also on our radar:

The Americas
The Pacific
2 degree target still a strong, sensible goal for policymakers
A recent paper published in the journal Nature stirred fierce debate after calling for the international community to ditch the 2º temperature target in favor of a suite of “vital signs” that would let us track the Earth’s health. A number of prominent scientists and policymakers countered that focusing on a 2 degree Celsius limit on global warming remains the clearest way to keep the world from experiencing catastrophic impacts of climate change. Not only has the 2 degree Celsius target been endorsed by nearly every country in the world, it represents the threshold beyond which disastrous impacts from flooding, heatwaves, droughts will kick in. Crossing this limit will heighten the probability of runaway climate change as unstoppable feedback loops speed up global warming. By aiming at a 2 degree limitation, world governments can initiate a transition away from harmful fossil fuels and toward clean energy sources that already exist and are becoming more affordable with each passing day. More here.US and India agree to joint action on climate change
President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Modi agreed to new steps to fight climate change on Tuesday. Following this week’s meetings, the White House issued a joint statement detailing new commitments from India and the United States. The most concrete development was the announcement of a program to strengthen each nation’s resilience to the impacts of climate change. The leaders also announced the U.S.-India Climate Fellowship Program, which will help build long-term infrastructure and investment in clean energy sources like wind and solar, and continued to build momentum to phase out planet-warming HFCs. While these new announcements are not considered groundbreaking, they signal a renewed commitment by two of the world’s largest emitters to reduce carbon pollution and build toward a new global agreement on climate change at the critical UNFCCC talks in Paris next year. Our Tree Alert has more.

Also on our radar:
Policies and politics
Climate impacts & extreme weather
Tracking the polluters
Business and technology

Upcoming events:

2 Oct – 8 Nov – The Climate Walk (Philippines)

  • The Climate Walk is a journey that climate advocates will be embarking on for 40 days covering about 1,000 kilometers from the Philippines’ Kilometer Zero in Manila to Ground Zero of Typhoon Haiyan.
  • Commencing on October 2, the International Day of Non-Violence, the Walk aims to further raise the clarion call for urgent climate action. The journey reaches Tacloban City on November 8, the anniversary of Haiyan’s destructive landfall. More here.

4 Oct – Brazil holds national elections (Brazil)

10-12 Oct – Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group World Bank (US)

  • The Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group (WBG) bring together central bankers, ministers of finance and development, private sector executives, and academics to discuss issues of global concern, including the world economic outlook, poverty eradication, economic development, and aid effectiveness.
  • This year’s Annual Meetings will take place in Washington, DC. Learn more here.

10-18 Oct – Reclaim Power Global Week of Action on Energy (Global)

  • Across the world activists, communities and local movements will be taking action against dirty energy to help prevent dangerous climate change.
  • The week of action aims to highlight the Reclaim Power networks demands and build solidarity across communities. More here.

11 Oct – Global Frackdown (Global)

  • The Global Frackdown is an international day of action initiated by Food & Water Watch to ban fracking. The event aims to unite concerned residents everywhere for a day of action on October 11, 2014 to send a message to elected officials across the globe that we want a future powered by clean, renewable energy—not dirty, polluting fossil fuels.
  • Find an event near you here.

13 Oct – One Planet Living” TEDxWWF event (Brussels, Belgium)

  • Under the theme “One Planet Living”, forward-thinking speakers from around the world will share fresh ideas on how to create a sustainable future for our planet at TEDxWWF.
  • For more information visit

15 Oct – Sandbag’s Annual Report: The state of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (Belgium)

  • The Emissions Trading Scheme is at a crossroads. New legislation has been tabled to tackle the mounting oversupply of carbon allowances and a steeper trajectory has been proposed under the 2030 framework. But are these fixes enough to make Europe’s flagship climate policy relevant again?
  • The new report from Sandbag documents where things have improved, where the new measures have proved inadequate, and explore further options for reform.
  • The report will be launched at a panel event in Brussels. More here.

18 Oct – Environmental Media Association Awards (USA)

  • The annual EMA Awards honor film and television personalities, productions, musicians and musical tours that convey environmental messages in the most creative and influential ways.

20-24 Oct – UNFCCC Bonn Climate Change Conference (GERMANY)

  • The Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP)  will hold the sixth part of its second session from 20-25 October 2014 in Bonn, Germany.
  • More information here.

27 Oct – 2 Nov – IPPC 40th Session, Synthesis Report (Copenhagen)

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will consider the Synthesis Report of the Fifth Assessment Report – bringing together findings from all working groups.
  • The Summary for Policymakers will be approved at the meeting and the Synthesis Report adopted. More here.

29 Oct – Superstorm Sandy Anniversary to be marked with day of remembrance and resilience (USA)

  • On the 2nd anniversary of Sandy, people are coming together all across the country in a digital day of action, in communities large and small, to remember the undeniable impacts of climate change pollution.
  • State and local organizers, who are planning actions around this day have asked folks to use the hashtag #O29 as they promote their actions on this day.

4 Nov – Midterm elections (USA)

  • The US midterm elections will be an opportunity to highlight several environmental issues in 2014, including climate change, fracking, renewable policies, the Keystone XL pipeline and EPA regulations.


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Change change not in sceptic Modi’s bucket list Thu, 02 Oct 2014 08:51:24 +0000 Across the world millions of people marched for the climate, to demand substantive action from world leaders. India being a key player in global climate politics, Narendra Modi, instead of showing his commitment towards environment by attending the Ban Ki-moon climate summit, chose to ignore it.


Where was Modi?

On September 23, leaders from across the world are converged in New York for what was one of the biggest climate summits in history, responding to a call of United Nation Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The summit was hosted to generate “political momentum on climate action” ahead of the December climate talks in Lima, Peru. In the end, more than 120 heads of state are heading for the one-day-long climate summit, aimed to forge a global partnership to tackle the menace of climate change, keeping in view the 2015 Paris deal.

The Paris deal is expected to finalise the legal obligations for countries for not only cutting down their emissions of greenhouse gases in a time-bound manner but also taking their mitigation and adaptation efforts at higher level to deal with climate change post-2020.

From US President Barack Obama to actor Leonardo DiCaprio the list of visiting dignitaries to the Ban Ki-moon Climate Summit was quite impressive. But as impressive as the guest list is, what was more impressive is who gave it a miss.

Interestingly, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin top that list. It is hard to think of three more influential leaders in the world right now — together India and China lead more than three billion people, and more than a third of world’s population. Russia is the fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gas. Not only that but also with the recent development in world’s geo-politics following Mr Modi’s decisive victory in the general election in India that led to the formation of a strong majority right-wing Government, and Mr Modi’s foreign policy favouring the Eastern power blocs, the BRICS meeting, choices that countries like India, China and Russia take can make a paradigm shift in the state-of-affairs of international negotiations.

China and India besides being the first and second-most populous countries on Earth are also the first and third biggest emitters of carbon dioxide. India and China are two of the most powerful players at negotiation tables of climate summit; they shape the policies of some of the blocs like G77+China and Like Minded Developing Countries. Mr Modi’s absence will be seen as a serious snub to Ban Ki-moon and the UN process. India has a key role in talks on developing a global response.

According to a report that has appeared at The Times of India, Mr Modi has decided to skip the climate summit since “the summit is not connected with the negotiations on climate change, except to build a political momentum at the highest levels before the key negotiations”, and since, Mr Modi “would have nothing to do until September 30 when he meets Mr Obama” for the UN General Assembly meeting.

After much criticism from civil societies, the Modi administration is sending its Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Mr Prakash Javadekar, to represent the summit. Mr Tony de Brum, Foreign Minister of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, expressed his shock and disappointment at Mr Modi’s and President Xi’s decision to skip such an important meet. He has stated that “every study I have ever read makes it clear that developing countries have the most to lose from runaway climate change….we expect solidarity from our developing country compatriots, not excuses”.

Mr Modi, who once seemed to be vocal about climate change, and had authored one book on it — Convenient Action: Gujarat’s Response To Challenges of Climate Change— while he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, have recently suggested that he may have to view the issue (of climate change) “less seriously than other issues facing India”. In the last few months the ModiGovernment have relaxed environmental norms and eased green clearances to serve the interests of the industry under the garb of fast-tracking ‘developmental projects’. The Union Government has virtually rendered toothless several bodies like National Wildlife Board and National Green Tribunal; cleared field trials for genetically modified crops and diluted certain key sections of Forest Rights Act and so on.

Not just ‘belittling’ the issue of climate change, but the Prime Minister came as a climate sceptic when in his speech earlier this month he said, “Climate change has not occurred. People have changed”

Ironically, climate change is one of the pressing problems that India is bearing the brunt of right now. From 2013 Uttarakhand flash floods to hailstorm in Maharashtra and from severe drought in Bihar to Kashmir floods earlier this month, the instances of the impact of climate change and the loss and damage to life and property emanating out of it are many.

When the BJP Government led by Mr Modi assumed power in May, this year, it was expected that he has an opportunity to play to his avowed strength and leave a new legacy – of executing foreign commitments efficiently, which includes India’s commitment to tackle climate change and lead the talks at a global level.

India’s stance at the international climate talks so far has been tough and tensed, with many issues still remained to be smoothed out between them and other big emitters such as the EU and US. The BKM Summit could have been a launch pad for the Modi Government to define its stand on climate policies and its resolve to tackle the issues, given Mr Modi’s strong mandate and India’s changing dynamics of foreign affairs. Mr Modi could have made the best use of this summit to familiarise himself more with the international politics of climate change before the Lima meet in December. However, sadly, the decisive Prime Minister of India chose to ignore the plea of millions of people, including the UN Secretary General himself.

Experts are calling Mr Modi’s decision to skip the BKM Summit as a good strategic move. No country is required to show its contribution to the 2015 agreement before March 2015 — certainly not the developing countries.But, Delhi’s decision will raise yet more questions over the Indian Government’s commitment to addressing climate change, despite the country’s known vulnerability to changing weather patterns.

Climate change is affecting all of us in many disastrous ways, no matter who or what we are. Two days back millions across the world created a history by marching for the climate and calling for substantive action by the Governments and world powers to tackle climate change. In New Delhi, too, I walked the streets at People’s Climate March with thousand others to demand action from the Government, for us, for the future. If we don’t start cleaning up today there will be no future left to fix tomorrow.

India’s energy security does not lie in lofty promises of fast-track clearances for coal mines and thermal power projects, something the industry pack is baying for. In a country of more than a billion people, you cannot ride roughshod over peoples’ rights and livelihoods by brute force – not for long.

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TREE ALERT: US and India agree to joint action on climate change Wed, 01 Oct 2014 17:00:48 +0000 President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Modi agreed to new steps to fight climate change on Tuesday. The two leaders met in Washington exactly one week after 122 heads of state gathered in New York City for the UN Climate Summit, where countries made a slew of announcements on their efforts to slow global warming, protect forests, and shield against the impacts of climate change. Following this week’s meetings, the White House issued a joint statement detailing new commitments from India and the United States. The most concrete development was the announcement of a program to strengthen each nation’s resilience to the impacts of climate change. The leaders also announced the U.S.-India Climate Fellowship Program, which will help build long-term infrastructure and investment in clean energy sources like wind and solar, and continued to build momentum to phase out planet-warming HFCs. While these new announcements are not considered groundbreaking, they signal a renewed commitment by two of the world’s largest emitters to reduce carbon pollution and build toward a new global agreement on climate change at the critical UNFCCC talks in Paris next year.

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