Paris summit is eye of storm as nations across the globe weather climate impacts

Intro

India may be thousands of miles from Paris, but the deadly monsoons raging there are a reminder to climate negotiators in the French capital that risk and resilience must stay high on the agenda. India – one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to extreme weather – is dealing with fierce flooding, killing 188 people and shutting down production facilities vital to the local economy. In their latest Climate Risk Index released on Wednesday, Germanwatch detailed the huge destruction caused by extreme weather events in 2014 across the globe, showing that no country is immune from the threats of rising temperatures. But the poorest nations are most at risk, according to the report, with poverty and inequality rampant among the 10 most affected countries. The world’s most powerful figures are tasked with building on the strong momentum from all walks of life and  deliver an agreement which sees national climate plans reviewed and scaled-up every five years in line with a long-term goal of the complete decarbonisation of the global economy, and keeps the world on track to limit warming below the internationally agreed 2DegC danger threshold, while keeping the door open to meet a 1.5DegC target. India knows more than most about what is at stake in Paris, but this week’s events should be a warning for all governments of what the future looks like with worsening climate change. It also highlights the importance of a strong package which provides financial support to poorer nations to maximise ambition and build resilience, and a mechanism to deal with the irreversible impacts from climate change that can not be adapted to.

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Key Points

  • Paris needs to deliver a far-reaching and durable climate regime that safeguards affected populations from the harshest impacts. From central Europe to the Philippines and Bolivia, extreme weather is threatening health, livelihoods and communities. While progress has been made on support for vulnerable nations to deal with the unavoidable and permanent impacts of climate change, the ongoing extreme weather chaos in places as far apart as India, the US and Australia is a devastating reminder that climate change is already wreaking havoc on both richer and poorer nations and will only get worse unless leaders are able to find common ground in Paris.
  • A 100 per cent renewable energy economy is the best shot countries have to keep global warming under 1.5DegC. Climate impacts are already biting hard and by refusing to keep the door open to limiting warming below 1.5DegC, countries like Saudi Arabia are undermining of the world’s most vulnerable nations chances for survival. Addressing loss and damage in a Paris agreement, making a clear commitment to the full fossil fuel phase-out urged by both richer and poorer countries and offering support to poorer nations to build resilience will help those already reeling from the impacts of climate change and consign such impacts to the history books once and for all.

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Key Quotes

  • “Although we cannot say that climate change has been a direct cause of the [Chennai] floods, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said that we can expect an increase in intensity and frequency of these kinds of events. In India this year we are seeing both. – Ram Kishan, Christian Aid’s Regional Emergency Manager South Asia
  • “With leaders having left Paris, negotiators are buckling down to the final stage of their work on the text of the Paris agreement.  Progress is mixed, and it’s clear that several key issues will be left to ministers to resolve next week. Finance issues continue to be the most difficult, with little movement forward as negotiators continue to hold their chips close to their chest. Scaled up and predictable climate finance remains the linchpin to progress on other key issues, including mitigation ambition and adaptation.  The atmospherics around loss and damage seem to have improved, on the heels of a productive meeting yesterday between President Obama and leaders of small island states.  But negotiators have yet to reach agreement on compromise text on the loss and damage issue, and it’s unclear whether they will do so before the ADP wraps up its work by this Saturday.”  – Alden Meyer, Union of Concerned Scientists
  • “EU member nations often express positions in line with those of vulnerable countries, but solidarity is more than just words. It needs to be measured by whether the EU stands for a strong deal here in Paris. On finance, the EU can make a difference by supporting strong anchors for finance in the agreement, particularly for adaptation, as well as moving on the financial transaction tax, which will be voted on next week. The EU’s carbon market could also raise revenue for developing countries to deal with the costs of climate change. They should keep these options ready to provide predictable finance, speak out on a strong long-term goal, and stand up for the inclusion of loss and damage.”  – Lies Craeynest, Oxfam
  • “While India is the third-largest emitter, it also has massive energy needs, with hundreds of millions of Indians lacking access to electricity. It also experiences serious climate impacts—as we speak, India is battling unprecedented floods. India has a very different starting point from many nations, but finance and technology transfer will be the accelerator to get us to the common finish line of a strong long-term goal. Let’s sequence these talks in Paris to start with finance and technology assistance from the developed countries. That’s how negotiators can address the issue of responsibility and help India solve the puzzle of cutting emissions.” – Harjeet Singh, ActionAid
  • “Developing countries won the day, and it was refreshing to hear again a concrete call for ambitious action. India came to play ball—they’re not here to disrupt the talks, they want an agreement, and they’ve shown flexibility on issues like the stocktake. Despite all the positive energy and announcements on things like finance for least developed countries, however, there weren’t enough concrete offers and breakthroughs on key components. The rhetoric is set. The question now is whether the negotiators and ministers will deliver.” – Liz Gallagher, E3G
  • “Renewables are here in Paris in a big way –  vulnerable countries want the Paris Agreement to deliver a global 100% renewable energy goal, India launched a solar alliance to boost the technology in poor countries and Africa committed to 300GW of clean power by 2030. If you’d asked anyone in Beijing a couple of years ago whether coal consumption would fall within the next ten years, no-one would have believed it possible.  But it fell last year by 2.9% and is falling even more, with an accelerated take-up in renewables.  That shows just how fast change can happen.” – Li Shuo, Greenpeace China
  • “While two degrees will protect most people, most countries, and most ecosystems, it will not protect them all. If we want to protect everyone, we need to set the target at 1.5 degrees. If we set the target at 2 degrees, roughly 100 million people will fall through that crack—most, but not all, in developing countries. Globally, there is sufficient technology and sufficient money, but there is insufficient political will. We have 13 days to develop the political will.” – Saleemul Huq, ICCCAD
  • “While India is the third-largest emitter, it also has massive energy needs, with hundreds of millions of Indians lacking access to electricity. It also experiences serious climate impacts—as we speak, India is battling unprecedented floods. India has a very different starting point from many nations, but finance and technology transfer will be the accelerator to get us to the common finish line of a strong long-term goal. Let’s sequence these talks in Paris to start with finance and technology assistance from the developed countries. That’s how negotiators can address the issue of responsibility and help India solve the puzzle of cutting emissions.” – Harjeet Singh, ActionAid
  • With leaders having left Paris, negotiators are buckling down to the final stage of their work on the text of the Paris agreement.  Progress is mixed, and it’s clear that several key issues will be left to ministers to resolve next week. Finance issues continue to be the most difficult, with little movement forward as negotiators continue to hold their chips close to their chest. Scaled up and predictable climate finance remains the linchpin to progress on other key issues, including mitigation ambition and adaptation.  The atmospherics around loss and damage seem to have improved, on the heels of a productive meeting yesterday between President Obama and leaders of small island states.  But negotiators have yet to reach agreement on compromise text on the loss and damage issue, and it’s unclear whether they will do so before the ADP wraps up its work by this Saturday.”  – Alden Meyer, Union of Concerned Scientists
  • “Pacific islanders are facing the brunt of climate change impacts and are increasingly finding themselves with few options.” – Right Honorable Enele Sosene Sopoaga, Prime Minister of Tuvalu
  • “Africa has already been short-changed by climate change. Now, we must ensure that Africa is not short-changed in terms of climate finance. The African Development Bank stands fully ready to support greater climate financing for Africa.” – Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank Group
  • “In Paris, we call on world leaders to address climate change and human mobility in the new climate agreement […] This issue is not only a Pacific issue; it is a global issue. All countries will be affected by people on the move in relation to climate change, whether they are origin, transit, or destination countries.” – Dr. Koko Warner, Senior Expert at UNU-EHS
  • “For migration to help people adapt, it must be one of a wide array of choices that improve living conditions, not as a last resort […] However, for migration to be an option that improves people’s lives rather than making them more vulnerable, countries need to account for human mobility in their domestic and regional policies to ensure that if people must move they can do so in safety and dignity.” – Peter Craig-McQuaide, Head of Sustainable Energy and Climate Change Unit in EuropeAid
  • “Climate finance is critical to mitigate and adapt to climate change impacts. However, finance alone is not enough. It is imperative that we combine increased finance with smarter technology, stronger partnerships and deeper knowledge.” – Takehiko Nakao, President of ADB
  • “It is only by working together that we will meet the challenge of climate change. I am optimistic that by pooling the efforts of the Development Banks to attract the private finance that is so critically needed, we can transform the ambitions of the leaders into a reality on the ground/” – President of the European Investment Bank Werner Hoyer
  • “On climate change, the development banks are shifting into high gear […]  We have the resources, we have the collective will, and we have a clear roadmap in the national plans that our clients have submitted ahead of Paris.”  –  Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group
  • “Many poor people hang on the precipice as waters rise and storms batter homes with alarming frequency.  World leaders gathered in Paris rightly acknowledge reaching a deal is about the survival of human life on our planet. Those same leaders desperately need to practise what they preach and include firm commitments to help poor communities already battling irreversible impacts.” – Harjeet Singh, ActionAid’s Climate Policy Manager
  • “Governments have already taken first steps to solve their disagreements, but to ensure that they commit to long-term action, we need to see a robust measure to address loss and damage anchored into the new climate agreement. Countries should take concrete actions and also further strengthen the existing Warsaw International Mechanism. The poorest and most vulnerable people in the world must not be left alone on the frontlines of worsening climate shocks,” – Sven Harmeling, CARE International’s Climate Change Advocacy Coordinator
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  • “For too long, reducing emissions and scaling up adaptation support has been hopelessly inadequate. This has resulted in worsening climate change impacts that exceed the ability of people and ecosystems to cope. World leaders have to pay attention when their people and the systems that sustain them are crying for help,” – Sandeep Chamling Rai, Senior Advisor on Global Adaptation Policy, WWF Global Climate and Energy Initiative
  • “Announcements made this year are welcome but offer little comfort for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people who desperately need funding to adapt and protect themselves from climate change. Despite living in the face of rising sea-levels, hunger and increasingly extreme and unpredictable weather, they have so far been left out in the cold. Oxfam estimates that the new pledges would lead to only between $5bn and $8bn in adaptation grants by 2020.” – Oxfam’s Director of Advocacy and Campaigns Celine Charveriat

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