Friday, 23 January 2015

How much CO2 are humans producing, anyway?

By Jocelyn Turnbull, Senior Scientist, GNS Science

Jocelyn Turnbull collecting air samples
downwind of the Kapuni natural gas plant
in Taranaki in October 2014. 
Photo credit: Jessica Mills, GNS Science
With the historic news that China and the USA have agreed to limit their greenhouse gas emissions and the progress at the latest round of climate talks just finished in December 2014, it is worth thinking about how we determine what those emissions actually are, and how we will know if they (and we!) are meeting emission goals.

We know what the current emission levels are because governments and industry have agreed to report them.  For the energy sector, industries and governments track usage of coal, oil and natural gas, and governments tally up the totals and report them to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, following a detailed set of guidelines.  As far as we know, those reports have been made in good faith, and reports undergo international peer review, but in a future where we agree to regulate emissions, how can we establish greater trust and be more confident that other nations are meeting their obligations?

Friday, 16 January 2015

New Zealand’s multilateral assessment at COP20

Yong Ly is an analyst with a background in engineering and technology. He was a youth delegate to the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties in Lima, Peru in December 2014.

This year New Zealand was one of 17 developed countries whose quantified emission reduction targets for 2020 were assessed as part of a newly established international assessment and review process under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The purpose of these assessments was to provide a mechanism to engage, assess and compare the progress of developed countries in meeting their emission reduction targets.

Other countries were able to submit questions in advance to the 17 featured countries pertaining to what emission reductions had been achieved, how they achieved these reductions, and how they planned to meet their targets.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Lima climate talks showcase another path to global climate action: through states, provinces and cities

By Derek Walker, Associate Vice President, US Climate and Energy Program, Environmental Defense Fund

Note from Catherine Leining at Motu:  This post carries a powerful story from the December 2014 climate change conference in Lima about constructive efforts by subnational governments to promote global progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It highlights the leadership being demonstrated by the US state of California, which has implemented a cap-and-trade scheme and is actively encouraging international collaboration.

The chattering classes of the climate policy world are abuzz with their customary post-mortems following the latest breathless two-week session of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change 20th Conference of Parties (also known simply as COP 20), held in Lima, Peru.

Consensus is forming around a “slightly better than nothing” assessment of the Lima Call for Climate Action, which was adopted in the wee hours of Sunday amidst the usual skirmishes over money, monitoring, and mandates.

Lima clarified some of the expected content of the national pledges (“Intended Nationally Determined Contributions,” INDCs in COP shorthand) to be presented by all countries next year.

Notwithstanding the softness engendered by the word “intended,” at least we aren’t firmly stuck in the “old world order” where only developed countries are taking on mitigation actions.