Storm clouds gather as Pope prepares climate warning

CRIB NOTES JUNE 15-19: Papal encyclical, China INDC, EU green week & London climate march

(Pic: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe)

(Pic: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe)

By Ed King

Morning all. Here’s what to look forward to this week. If it’s missing something please email me – [email protected].

POPE – This is the week when a 78-year-old Argentine Jesuit with a science degree really (really) drops one on devout Catholics Tony Abbott, John Boehner, Rick Santorum and all the other Romans who think climate science is a hoax.

The Pope’s environmental encyclical is out this week, and politically it could be huge. He’s likely to stress the moral imperative to slash emissions and protect the world’s poorest. Already conservative Americans are crying foul. They can’t really go for the man so they’re going for everyone else at the Vatican.

CHINA’S INDC – This could be the moment when people start believing a global climate pact is (or isn’t) possible. On Wednesday China releases its ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contribution’ (INDC) for a UN deal. As we report this morning premier Li Keqiang indicated his support for the country to peak greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, as announced as part of a US-China climate agreement last November. The press release is already finished, RTCC understands, and a source tells us it’s likely to be more specific on targets and actions than that 2014 announcement.

CHEAP CUTS – The latest study outlining how climate action isn’t expensive arrives today courtesy of the International Energy Agency. “A peak in global energy-related emissions could be achieved as early as 2020 and at no net economic cost” says the press release. Note this is just “energy” and thus excludes other sectors like aviation, shipping and more generally transport. But by wiping out old coal power plants, investing big in efficiency and slashing fossil fuel subsidies they say it’s possible. There’s a press call in London first thing Monday morning. We’ll be there and will publish our thoughts after midday.

JAPAN BLOCKING – Days after signing up to a G7 agreement to end fossil fuels, Japan has been busy blocking efforts to slow the growth of coal. Specifically, Tokyo ensured the OECD, a forum for the world’s developed countries, failed to agree on eliminating coal equipment from the allowed list of export credits for members. Note – it’s about exporting equipment to construct coal-fired power plants, not about exporting coal itself.

EU GREEN WEEK – It’s sustainable energy week in Brussels. That means lots of speeches by EU climate chief Miguel Arias Canete.

EU MARKET WOES – Staying in the EU, the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG), EURELECTRIC and IETA have written to Canete asking him to accelerate plans to reform the region’s emissions trading scheme.

“We respectfully ask you to build on the momentum generated by the G7 leaders by bringing out the proposals on the next phase of the Emissions Trading Scheme before the summer break” they write.

Not everyone is keen – take our recent interview with Poland’s Marcin Korolec as one example.

EU FORESTS – On Thursday the EU concludes its consultation on the role that land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF consultation) should play in EU emissions reductions efforts. Why is this critical? We explored the debate earlier this year.

LONDON PRIDE – There’s a big climate march planned for Wednesday, organised by the Climate Coalition. I say big – last week they said 7750 are signed up to take part in a mass lobby of the Houses of Parliament.

The organisers have one request: “We are also in need of talented, funny, magical, entertaining people to keep the lobby line excited and entertain throughout the afternoon, from 1-4. If you know how to sing, juggle, crack ‘good’ jokes, or anything else, or know someone who does, we would love to hear from you.” I have none of these skills. If you do email [email protected].

CLIMATE 25 – What do Hank Paulson, Thomas Friedman, John Holdren, Rear Admiral David Titley and former Republican Bob Inglis have in common? They all think climate change is a major risk. Find out more with the Weather Channel.

BP – When the oil giant sponsored Tate, which runs four art galleries in London, Cornwall and Liverpool – they probably did not anticipate how controversial it would prove. The latest effort by climate campaigners to get Tate to axe links with BP took place over the weekend at the Tate Modern – a coal power plant turned gallery next to the Thames in London . Check out their efforts below.

Here’s what happened, according to Yasmin De Silva from ‘Liberate Tate’: “Performers entered Tate at high tide, 11.53am Saturday, wearing all black. Then, starting from the bottom of the Turbine Hall slope and slowly moving up to fill the space as the tide rises, performers took it in turns to transcribe quotes with charcoal on the concrete floor, covering 1,000m2.”


NEW WMO CHIEF – There’s a new head of the World Meteorological Organisation. Petteri Taalas, Director-General of the Finnish Meteorological Institute takes over from Michel Jarraud on 1 January 2016. Also agreed at the quadrennial Congress, which ended on Friday, was a plan to expand the reach of global forecasting to help climate change adaptation and sustainable development.

Jarraud left his colleagues with this warning… “Even as Congress met, we witnessed a number of extreme events including the deadly heatwave in India and the torrential rain and flooding in the southern United States of America. “High impact weather and climate extremes are likely to occur with greater frequency and intensity due to climate change.” More here.

LONG TEXT – Thought the 80+ page text for a UN climate deal was a little long? Thank the lord you speak English. According to Le Monde, the French version was 136 pages. Still, that’s 64 shorter than the document that arrived at the 2009 Copenhagen UN climate summit. Read what happened there here.

G7 TEXT – A seasoned watcher of climate negotiations writes concerning the G7 communique and the heavy publicity a supposed pledge to wipe out fossil fuels by 2100 received. “Nowhere in the text is there a commitment to phase out fossil fuels by 2100. Just a recognition that decarbonisation is necessary during the century. But the Germans skilfully span it otherwise.” That said, many will say what was in the final deal was progress. Not convinced? Read the communique yourself.

ROW ROW ROW YOUR BOAT – This from Daniel Reifsnyder – co-chair of the UN climate talks – on the BBC. “I think the ambition for Paris is to launch a global effort. That effort will take many years to unfold but I think if we can get everyone moving in the same direction – everyone pulling an oar – some people will have a bigger oar – some will have a smaller oar. But we’re all rowing the boat. That’s going to be a critical win in Paris.”

Have I missed something? Email me: [email protected]

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