Pope primed for US Congress climate warning

CRIB NOTES SEPT 21-27: Capitol Hill welcomes Catholic leader, US and China to discuss climate, UK backs nuclear

(Pic: Pixabay)

(Pic: Pixabay)

By Ed King

It’s a huge week coming up for climate diplomacy, centring around New York and Washington DC.

We’ll start in DC, where Pope Francis will address US lawmakers on September 24 and warn what could be a hostile audience they need to open their eyes to global warming.

Many Republicans were left deeply unimpressed by the Pontiff’s encyclical on the environment this June, with its pointed critique of capitalism and what he suggested was a lack of compassion from rich countries.

He’ll meet President Barack Obama while in DC, and the day after will head to NYC to speak to the UN General Assembly ahead of a three-day meeting on the Sustainable Development Goals, due to be signed off on the 27th.

Xi meets Barack

Also in DC, Chinese president Xi Jinping will receive a warm welcome to the White House – with Obama keen to shore up Beijing’s support for the global climate pact due this December.

Last week the US and China agreed a series of sub national deals on slashing greenhouse gas emissions, building on last year’s historic joint climate agreement.

Greenpeace climate analyst Li Shuo has this assessment of the meet: “The Xi-Obama meeting is a good opportunity to align the two countries on some of these issues, to reassure each other about the delivery of their targets with enhanced domestic policies and new bilateral initiatives.

“The final outcome of these talks is expected to further guide the UN talks.”

General Assembly

As well as the SDGs, the annual GA in New York is expected to be the forum for India, Brazil, Indonesia and possibly South Africa to release their climate plans ahead of Paris.

These are the last of the big polluters to reveal their hands and are also serious players diplomatically – so it’s a significant moment.

According to the World Resources Institute, Indonesia’s plan will be an improvement on its goal to cut emissions 26% relative to a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario by 2020.

It will also emphasise significant efforts to stem deforestation, “calling for an unconditional 29 percent emissions reduction by 2030 and a conditional reduction of 41 percent with international assistance and cooperation.”

Keep an eye on September 27 – the day when 40 leaders invited by France to a private NY climate meeting will discuss their goals for Paris.

New York climate week

Plenty of background noise in the Big Apple this week too, as climate week kicks off. Expect celebs, business leaders and calls for more action. Don’t expect too much in terms of concrete announcements.

Still – who needs those when you have Danny de Vito, Matt Damon and the Angry Birds sounding off.

UK + Nuclear

Huge announcement from UK chancellor George Osborne this week, during his China tour. The Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant has been handed a £2 billion infrastructure guarantee.

This, says a government press release, “will pave the way for a final investment decision by energy company EDF, supported by China General Nuclear Corporation and China National Nuclear Corporation, later this year, and with further amounts potentially available in the longer-term.”

“I am delighted to announce this guarantee for Hinkley Point today and to be in China to discuss their investments in Britain’s nuclear industry,” said Osborne.

“It is another move forward for the golden relationship between Britain and China – the world’s oldest civil nuclear power and the world’s fastest growing civil nuclear power.”

“Ultimate rip-off”

Still – fair to say Greenpeace isn’t impressed. Here’s their chief scientist Doug Parr in a statement sent to media on Sunday evening.

“This announcement is a PR smokescreen to give the impression that this project is moving forward when it’s actually bogged down in a swamp of troubles.

“Hinkley hasn’t got funding or safety clearance, and everyone outside the nuclear industry and our blinkered government thinks it’s absurd, yet the Chancellor is ignoring them all to plough ahead with this overpriced, overrated, and overtime project.

Climate refugees

Megan Darby, Labour MP Barry Gardiner and Chatham House’s Glada Lahn discuss global warming & migration links in our latest podcast. It’s well worth a listen:

EU ambition

Europe will not settle for anything other than a tough climate deal in Paris, said Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete on Friday as he unveiled the bloc’s negotiation positions.

Of course – anyone at the 2014 UN climate summit in Lima knows the EU settled for precisely that – boxed in by the US and China.

Brussels won’t target any new GHG goals ahead of Paris (the current 2030 goal is 40% cuts on 1990 levels) but it is considering offering more climate finance to poor countries, Canete said. Details plus the full statement here.

Like Minded?

The UN climate talks pantomime villains met in Delhi last week. We’re talking the Like Minded Developing Group of countries, made up (among others) of India, China, Argentina, Malaysia, Iran, Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.

According to the Business Standard India PM Modi “impressed them [negotiators] with his knowledge and clear enunciation of the issues central to the climate change debate.”

“The PM said the negotiations ahead had to be seen as an issue of climate justice, not only climate change — a reference to the demand of developing countries that developed nations account for their historical responsibilities and obligations.”

COP21 tour Can’t wait for December’s UN climate summit? Here’s a taster…

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