COP21 Update

The following is an update from COP21 Action from yesterday and today.


Read all about COP21 and the fight to curb climate change in our new special edition of EcoAlert Magazine

McKenna grilled on Energy East pipeline plans
Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna avoided talking about specific projects when asked at a press conference how TransCanada’s proposed Energy East bitumen pipeline will not hurt Canada’s new committed target of not more than a 1.5° C global temperature rise.

Bronwen Tucker of the Climate Change Youth Delegation says that building the Energy East pipeline is incompatible with keeping the global temperature from rising greater than 1.5° C.

If the pipeline is built, it will increase emissions by 32 million tons a year equal to seven million new cars on the road.  The pipeline is currently under the National Energy Board Environmental Assessment Process. Read about what this bitumen pipeline proposal would mean for the Bay of Fundy and Gulf of Maine in our report.

Civil Society Keeping Up the Pressure
Today (Thursday, Dec. 10), there is a peaceful sit-in taking place in the conference halls at the UN climate summit. Civil society members have piled in to keep the pressure on negotiators and government ministers to be ambitious with their remaining time at the meeting.

Hurdles remain for the UN Climate Change Summit negotiations
Michael Oppenheimer, a Princeton University climate scientist and observer of the international climate negotiations, says the temperature rise containment goal of 1.5° C needs to be supported with concrete actions and not just paper pushing.

Three pathways have emerged at the end of day Wednesday, Dec 9 from the French drafts.   The first is keeping the temperature increase to an unspecified point below 2 °C.  The second is keeping the temperature increase farther below 2 °C , heading towards 1.5° C.  The third is squarely keeping the temperature increase to only 1.5° C.  According to this Guardian analysis, in order to achieve any of these goals, there has to be zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.  

The idea of decarbonizing completely has been circulating among civil society leaders, business leaders and even the pope as a necessary goal.  However, rather than a hard line on CO2 emissions, the Guardian’s analysis suggests it may be more viable to achieve a net zero greenhouse gas emissions goal where greenhouse gas emissions match the amount of greenhouse gases pulled from the atmosphere through sinks.

On emissions, the draft from Wednesday has two options.  The first is for developed countries to reach peak emissions as fast as possible and then scale down right away towards net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.  The lesser option is to meet the goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions sometime over the course of this century with no timeline.  Wednesday’s draft also specifies reporting requirements for all nations to make public their emissions reduction progress to shame countries which are holding back.

Corporations getting on the band wagon
Many of the most powerful brand corporations are committing to 100% renewable energy through the RE100 programme such as BMW Group and Coca-Cola. The total list of companies to register in this programme is 53. This adoption is expected to start a trend that will see many more major corporate players taking the plunge.

Projected carbon dioxide emission reductions from corporations making the switch over to renewables.

Projected carbon dioxide emission reductions from corporations making the switch over to renewables.

Google has purchased 842 MW of renewable energy from operations around the world.  It has also made the commitment to “triple its purchase of renewable energy by 2025.”  Through this huge purchase, Google is providing the financing needed to help these renewable energy projects grow.

supported renewable energy projects by google 2

Projected amount of power generated from Google’s purchase of renewable energy power. -Google Infographic

Tapping the Earth for Energy Potential
The Global Geothermal Energy Alliance is a newly formed alliance of countries in Africa, Asia, South America, Europe, and small, developing island nations. The alliance seeks to mainstream geothermal energy by rolling it out across the world.  The alliance maintains that geothermal energy is an under tapped resource that can help achieve a clean energy future.  The goal is a 200% increase in geothermal energy capacity and 500% increase in energy generation.

 US Increasing Aid to Avoid Climate Calamities
US Secretary of State John Kerry announced Wednesday that the US will double its financial aid to developing nations.  $860 million will go towards adaptation. There is pressure on other developed countries to increase their financial contribution as well.

Bad Move Prime Minister David Cameron
There is outcry over Prime Minister David Cameron hiking the VTA (value-added tax similar to sales tax) on solar panels and wind turbines.  The tax hike is scheduled to start summer of 2016.

For updates on the first week of COP21 see here.

For updates on the beginning of the second week of COP21 see here.

Part of our Renewable Solutions NB Project