Weekly wrap: Don’t judge Paris on 2C climate target, Aus INDC hammered

This week’s top climate politics and policy stories. Sign up here to have our Friday briefing sent to your inbox.

The agenda debate has overshadowed the talks so far (Source: flickr/UNFCCC)

(Source: flickr/UNFCCC)

By Ed King

How should we measure the success of the upcoming Paris climate talks?

This week the two officials guiding UN talks told RTCC it should not be marked on whether it prevents dangerous warming.

Confused? Dan Reifsnyder and Ahmed Djoghlaf stressed real success will be a deal that encourages all 196 parties to the talks to come on board a global drive to slash greenhouse gas emissions.

Longer term that may prevent warming of above 2C, the globally agreed limit, but that’s not the initial aim of the Paris talks.

Australia slammed

If everyone is ambitious on climate change as Australia, 2C will be history.

That was the overwhelming verdict from analysts this week, as Canberra submitted its contribution to the UN.

PM Tony Abbott said the pledge to cut emissions 26-28% from 2005 levels by 2030 was ambitious, but Australia’s Climate Institute disagreed, saying it would leave the country vulnerable to extreme weather events.

The “weak” target would “send a serious shudder” through the Pacific, said Marshall Islands foreign minister Tony de Brum, whose country is threatened by rising seas.

In a column for RTCC, one of the country’s former climate diplomats Jane Wilkinson said the country will need to take tougher steps soon or face being limited by its legacy economy.

**Sign up here to get this sent to your inbox every Friday 

INDC watch

In the Philippines, there are increased concerns that a coal-focused government will not deliver an ambitious set of goals. Climate commissioner Heherson Alvarez set out his fears in an article for us.

The debate over India’s climate plan continues. This week, the country’s chief economic advisor Arvind Subramanian called for complete rethink of Delhi’s negotiating strategy.

And what of Saudi Arabia? Hit hard by falling oil prices, some analysts say the country needs to diversify its economy away from hydrocarbons. Will this lead to a new renewables drive?

Connie backs divestment!

The EU’s former climate chief broke her silence on the UN climate talks since quitting office and gave an exclusive interview to RTCC’s Megan Darby.

Connie Hedegaard says shifting funds from fossil fuels could make a “very important” contribution to a Paris deal. “I would very much hope that this could be part of a package around the Paris agreement,” she said.

Listen to the full interview when we launch our Road to Paris podcast on 24 August.


“It’s a wake-up call – the alarm bells are ringing – and as long as I am president American will lead the world to meet this threat,” – US president Barack Obama warns of Arctic melt threat

Oil ambition

What should we make of new pledges by top oil and gas companies to address the causes of climate change?

This week we looked at recent statements from Shell and BG Group stressing their determination to target lower carbon solutions. So why this green PR push?

“No doubt what [oil companies] are trying to do is shift the terms of debate away from the stranded assets issue proposed by the Carbon Tracker Initiative – I think they have been spooked by that,” said Mark Lewis, chief economist at Kepler Cheuvreux.

“As recently as a year ago both Exxon and Shell were very dismissive of any notion of carbon risk. Here we are 12-15 months later realising investor concerns are not going away.”

Not that Shell is listening too hard. It commenced Arctic drilling this week.


16 weeks. That’s how long UK councils have to process fracking applications, after which the government will step in.

Religious briefing

Islamic declaration: Muslims worldwide have a duty to tackle climate change, say leaders
Green day: For Catholics this will be 1 September, Pope Francis proclaimed
Green jihad: Senegalese imam declares war on pollution

Climate debate

What to young people want from a Paris climate deal? We asked 7 youth leaders for their views. Add your comments on Facebook, Twitter or at the bottom of the story.

Read more on: Breaking News |