So for the next couple of months here at FCCT we are going to do something slightly different in terms of blogs and look at the very exciting (if you like that sort of thing) talks that are coming up in Paris in December.
What are these talks I hear you ask? Well a quick Google search along the lines of COP21 or Paris Climate Talks will bring you up a range of media articles, opinion pieces and some really fascinating EU and United Nations web pages with strategies and rationale and ratification documents, which if you are having any trouble sleeping are my recommended reading.
Here at FCCT, we think these talks are potentially a big deal. As we will discover over the next couple of months, what is (or isn’t) agreed at these talks could have ramifications for our government in terms of targets for carbon reduction, and alongside that, a potential stronger approach to agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. If they all talk nicely and reach an agreement, then it will shape the future of what our carbon reduction strategy looks like; if they can’t agree, it will continue being fought out until an agreed reduction target for the period 2020 – 2030 can be finalised.
So one of our missions over the next couple of months is to bring you all the facts and information on what is happening in this exciting time leading up to the climate talks and what it will mean on the ground for managing and sustaining our farming businesses.
To kick off then I thought that we would look at where we are currently and how we have got to the 21st conference of the United Nations framework Convention of Climate change (apologies if you’ve missed the last 20).
I promise to try and not get too bogged down in policy, jargon or European / United Nations history
The basic policy
The United Nations framework Convention on Climate Change sets an overall framework for intergovernmental efforts to tackle the challenge posed to us by climate change.
The process was started at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 where countries joined an international treaty to jointly consider what could be done to limit average global temperature increases and cope with the inevitable impacts.
The framework entered into force (by the time they had all agreed) on 21st March 1994, and 195 countries are now signed up to it.
The ultimate aim of the convention is:
“......stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthrogenic (induced by man) interference with the climate system.”
What does it do?
In summary the convention:
1.Recognised that there was a problem (which was a pretty big deal in 1994, when the science wasn’t as sure as it is now)
2.Set a big but specific goal – ultimate objective of convention is to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations
3.Gets developed countries to lead the way. The theory goes that developed countries are the source of most past and current GHG emissions, industrialised countries are expected to do the most to cut emissions on home ground.
4.Directs new funds to climate change activities in developing countries, and this includes industrialised countries sharing knowledge, skills and technologies with less developed nations
5.Keeps tabs on the problem and what is being done about it – including mandatory reporting on emissions levels, what nations climate change policies are and what measures they are implementing
6.Charts the beginning of a path to strike a delicate balance – this deals with accepting the fact that the shape of GHG emissions produced by developing countries as they develop economically will grow, however the convention aims to help such countries limit emissions in a way that won’t hinder economic progress
7.Kick off a formal consideration of adaptation to climate change
Source: The European Commission
Where are we at the moment?
So there are a couple of famous meetings and regulations that have led up to where we are now including:
The Kyoto Protocol
This was developed in 1997, and finally entered into force in 2005. This protocol commits industrialised countries to stabilise GHG emissions by setting binding emissions reduction targets or 37 industrialised countries. The targets add up to an average 5% emissions reduction compared to 1990 levels over the period 2008 – 2012 (1st commitment period).
Doha (8th December 2012)
The Doha Amedment launched a second commitment period of emissions reduction targets, which started on the 1st January 2013 and ran until 2020.
Paris talks in a nutshell
The COP (Conference of parties) which includes all party states, meets every year. At the Paris Summit, the aim is to develop a new international climate change agreement that will cover all 195 countries.
The new agreement is set to be agreed at Paris in December and implemented from 2020.
Climate conferences in Warsaw (2013) and Lima (2014) agreed that all countries had to put forward their proposed emissions reductions targets well ahead of the Paris conference (so its not a case of I left it at home).
The UN would then publish these contributions and report (by the 1st November) to assess whether the proposals are sufficient to keep global warming below 2 degrees.
(Source European Commission)
So its going to be an interesting time. Watch this space for more blogs over the next few weeks which will hopefully keep you informed as to what’s happening.