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COP21 making history

Written By: - Date published: 12:52 am, December 13th, 2015 - 129 comments
Categories: climate change, global warming, International, leadership - Tags: , , , ,

Update: Guardian summary this morning: Paris climate deal: nearly 200 nations sign in end of fossil fuel era. Inspiring but:

The overall agreement is legally binding, but some elements – including the pledges to curb emissions by individual countries and the climate finance elements – are not.

Ummm – what?

There were big announcements from COP21 in Paris on (their) Saturday morning (midnight our time), with the final draft text of the international agreement to be released soon (Update: the text has been released). There is one more day of negotiations to go. But the final draft is sounding good – surprisingly good.

The Guardian’s Live Blog is here. Here is one of the main entries:

Fabius: Paris deal is a historic turning point

“We all worked a great deal, we didn’t sleep very much, several ministers, facillitators worked to reach a deal, a compromise. “

At each stage the objective was to bring us closer to the agreement we desire. Parties were consulted on best method and substance to bring us closer to a deal, he says.

“Today we are close to the final outcome. It is my deep conviction that we have come up with an ambitious and balanced agreement.”

This text which is necesarily a balanced text, contains the principle elements that we feel or did feel before would be impssobile to agree. The agreement is fair, durable, balanced and legally-binding. It is faithful to the Durban mandate. It acknoweldges the notion of climate justice and takes into account differentiated responsibilites of countries

Says deal has objective of keeping temperatures well below 2C and would endeavour to work towards 1.5C. The mention of the tough 1.5C goal gets applause.

The reduciton of greenhosue gases has become the business of all, thanks to updates of pledges every five year which can only be more ambitious, he says.

The text recognises need for compensation under loss and damage, more help for adaptation, he says.

“It provides that every five years there will be a collective stock-taking of progress made,” he says.

“This text will mark a historic turning point,” in tackling emissions, he says.

Each party put forward its own red lines. Each country will not obtain everything it wanted, he says. If every country had 100% of its wishlist fulfilled our collective efforts would have amounted to zero, he says.

“We need to show the world our collective effort is worth more than the sum of our individual actions.”

We have come to focus not on the red lines but on green lines of universal commitment, he says.

Our text is the best possible balance… it will enable each country to “go back with heads held high”, having achieved something important.

“Today it is a moment of truth,” he says.

It will help island countries to protect themselves from sea-level rise which is already beginning to submerge their coastlines.

This agreement will help food security, human rights and maintaining peace, he says.

“Here in Paris there is a certain momentum, particularly in connection with mobilising civil society,” he says. “This is a positive environment, this type of planetary configuration has never been as good as today. Our responsbility to history is immense.”

No one here wants a repetition of what happened in Copenhagen, he says.

There were many inadequacies in Copenhagen, he says.

“If today if we were to fail how could we rebuild this hope,” he says. Trust would be lost among countries “irrevocably” if Paris failed, he says.


Alastair Thompson at Scoop: #COP21 Delivers On Its Promise And Really Changes Everything

Note, useful piece from the BBC: Six graphics that explain climate change.

The New Zealand footnote:

Appropriate I guess since NZ has been a sorry footnote to this whole process. Our position has been a disgrace. Greenpeace asked NZ not to send delegates fearing that we would do more harm than good. John Key’s speech was widely derided for its hypocrisy. We were awarded Fossil of the Day – twice.

By far the best discussion of the cowardice of our government’s position that I have read is this piece by David Gawith and Paul Young at The Verb:

Putting Lipstick on a Kiwi

It’s a world stage of unique importance and, at times, New Zealand’s acting has been painful to watch.

The government has been working hard to make our emissions reduction targets look sufficient. John Key used a large part of his statement at the world leaders segment of the Paris climate talks making excuses for New Zealand’s low ambition.

In a speech that jarred with the optimistic and urgent tone of other leaders, Mr Key claimed that “New Zealand faces unique domestic challenges in reducing its emissions,” referring to our high proportion of renewable electricity generation and emissions from agriculture.

The word ‘unique’ is misused here, given that there are 29 countries with a higher proportion of renewable electricity – more still with a higher proportion of renewables and nuclear combined –  and many of the world’s poorer countries have higher proportions of agricultural emissions than New Zealand. …

129 comments on “COP21 making history”

  1. One Two 1

    9m ago13:04

    The leading US climate scientist James Hansen has denounced the Paris talks as a “fraud” in an interview with my colleague Oliver Milman.

    Here’s an extract:

    “It’s a fraud really, a fake,” he says, rubbing his head. “It’s just bullshit for them to say: ‘We’ll have a 2C warming target and then try to do a little better every five years.’ It’s just worthless words. There is no action, just promises. As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned.”

    This lot are not gods they are the same people who created the mess

    ‘The people’ are expected to believe in godlike powers, because they speak and write

    • Tautuhi 1.1

      Sounds like another big talk fest interesting China are not involved and they are one of the worlds main polluters?

    • johnm 1.2

      The climate thang is doing its own thang now and humanity is irrelevant even if emissions went down to 0 tomorrow and stayed there. Severe climate change is baked in in the cake.

      • Manuka AOR 1.2.1

        Thanks for posting this vid – Amazing audio of the ice breaking.
        “It’s like changing the limit on the freeway, from 55 miles an hour to 550 miles an hour.”

        “This part of Western Antarctica is going to fall apart no matter what.”
        “If that whole sector goes down to sea, it will entrain the retreat of the rest of Western Antarctica.”
        “We’re talking about 3 – 5 metres of sea level rise.”

        • RedLogix

          That’s ok … we will just send the bill for relocating all the big coastal cities in the world to the fossil fuel companies who for 30 years lied to us about it.

          Oh and a whole lot of right wing trolls whose names will be on ISP records. Whatever assets they and their families own can be confiscated to help.

          Being such strong believers in personal responsibility they’ll be happy to help.

      • johnm 1.2.2

        Humans will go extinct soon because of global warming

        “It is inconceivable to me that the negotiators would reach an agreement that will prevent completely destroying the planet,” Professor Guy McPherson told Press TV on Friday.

        An American climate scientist says humans will go extinct soon because of global warming and there is no way the global community can turn this around.

        Dr. Guy McPherson, professor emeritus of natural resources – ecology – and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona, made the remarks in a phone interview with Press TV on Friday.

        Nearly 200 countries are attending the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which opened on November 30 in France and was scheduled to conclude on December 11.

        But international negotiators in Paris missed their self-imposed Friday deadline to reach a comprehensive agreement to counter the threat of global warming before it dooms the planet.

        US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday advanced nations must make tough decisions in order to reach a global climate deal.

        “It is inconceivable to me that the negotiators would reach an agreement that will prevent completely destroying the planet,” Professor McPherson said.

        “I mean we’ve known for a long time based on work published in refereed journals that civilization itself is a heat engine, that if we maintain civilization in any form, whether it is through solar panels, wind turbines or wave powers or fossil fuels, it produces the same effect: the civilization itself is a heat engine,” he stated.

        “And I don’t see any negotiators promoting the idea of terminating civilization,” he added.

        “We also know now based on abundance of research recently – within last five years or so – on global dimming that if we do suddenly terminate civilization, it will cause such an abrupt heating of the planet as a result of loss global dimming that it will certainly doom humans to extinction,” the scientist said.

        “So either we keep the heat engine going and doom our own species and many others or we turn off the heat engine and we deliver our own species and many others to extinction. So it seem that we’re in one of those ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ situation,” he pointed out.

        “I just don’t see negotiators doing anything that is even moving in the right direction, much last taking a truly radical approach that might harvest carbon from the atmosphere, for example, and reduce emissions along the way. I don’t see that happening,” he observed.

        Climate change greater threat than terrorism

        “If I were a conspiracy theorist I might be inclined to believe that the focus on terrorism was by design to specifically move attention away from dealing with important issues such as abrupt climate change,” Professor McPherson said.

        “It is pretty clear that we are in the midst of abrupt climate change. It is the greatest existentialist threat ever to face our species, and instead the media and the governments have us focusing on the ‘terrorism threat’ that has killed very very very few people in the entire history of the invented war on terror,” he said.

        “So I think as a society, as a culture we are just pursuing the wrong priorities, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon,” the American climate change expert said.


      • johnm 1.2.3

        Afewknowthetruth says:
        December 13, 2015 at 8:34 pm

        Yes, as expected, COP21 was a spectacular failure which is being touted by ‘the powers that be’ as a spectacular success in order to keep the masses docile and compliant.

        The reality most people seem to not understand and which TPTB have decided to ignore is that an industrial civilisation based on burning fossil fuels is completely incompatible with the human species (and most other vertebrate species) existing a few decades from now. Numerous self-reinforcing and mutually-reinforcing feedbacks have been triggered and continuing to pour CO2 into the atmosphere will reinforce those already triggered and very likely trigger new ones. There is no stopping at 1.5oC, 2oC, 3oC or even 5oC. We[ve known that for at least a decade.

        We are in the midst of the Sixth Great Extinction, and four out of five of the previous great extinction events were due to massive shifts in the chemistry of the atmosphere which resulted from volcanic activity. However, this time round it is the rapid burning of hundreds of billions of tonnes of sequestered carbon by humans that is causing geochemical systems to be disturbed, and at a faster rate than at any time in geological history going back 600 million years! Continuation on the same path [of burning coal, oil and gas] will result in accelerating meltdown: we are not talking about nowhere for polar bears to live but are talking about temperatures too high for industrial agriculture to persist and eventually too high for humans to maintain body temperature by perspiring.

        Back in 2004 Sir David King, scientific advisor to the Blair government, talked about Antarctica being literally the only habitable land mass by the end of the 21st century….and he was ignored, just as everyone else who has pointed out reality over the past decade or so has been ignored.

        The corporations and money-lenders who rule this planet via their bought-and-paid-for lackeys have decided corporate profits come before a habitable planet and clearly intend to keep the current game going until they can’t.

        Pity the next generation.
        – See more at: http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2015/12/13/the-paris-agreement-an-important-feel-good-failure/#sthash.vEAhmsuC.ShCGnYXE.dpuf

  2. Ad 2

    Very encouraging.

    Thanks for covering this late into the night Anthony.

  3. The mention of the tough 1.5C goal gets applause.

    Applauding their own cynicism? If you’ve no intention of meeting a particular target, you can make that target as bold as you like. For example, if I commit to being able to run a 4-minute mile within six months, and I plan to actually spend the next six months lying on the couch watching Netflix and drinking beer, I might as well commit to trying for a three-minute mile while I’m at it – neither one’s going to happen, so “Sure, yeah, a three-minute mile, why the fuck not? Wanna make it two? Write that down.” I can’t think of any other reason why they’d allow such an unrealistic target to be mentioned.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1


      Setting impossible goals guarantees failure.

      • weka 3.1.1

        so what should they have done? (realistically).

        • Psycho Milt

          It depends on what level of realism we’re talking about. Realistically, most of the governments participating will be like ours, ie looking for ways they can appear to be making an effort while actually not doing anything. So, on that level, a “realistic” goal would be to figure out what temperature rise we get with most governments doing nothing until they’re forced to, and make that the target.

          Or, if we were to assume a genuine willingness to take action (say, by most governments, because we know for a fact that ours at least doesn’t have that), a realistic approach would be for each government to state what it genuinely intends to act on, and work out from that what the likely temperature increase will be.

          • weka

            I was meaning realistically real (so that excludes govts that want to not change).

            What I was curious about is how to resolve the dilemma that the negotiators are in, which is that the change that is needed is considered not realistic by many, but if we don’t do the unrealistic change we’re basicly screwed. From my perspective, we have to do the economically unrealistic, but I can see how COP21 would end up with a different kind of unrealistic because that’s all their allowed to do. Imagine if they came out and said we have to powerdown from FF within the next 15 years (as in powerdown, not tech up to something else that’s unrealistic). Actually I can’t even imagine how such a huge conference could come to such a thing at this time. We’re getting there though.

            • Bill

              Well, realistically they could have made a simple declaration of facts based on the scientific data instead of arguing over and agreeing to unfulfillable political promises.

              Realistically, they could have put reality before economic and political ideology or dogma.

              Realistically, they could have been fucking well honest and told the truth.

              • weka

                presumably none of those options seemed realistic to them. Otherwise why not do them?

              • Pat

                when have the greater public ever been trusted with the truth by the powers that be?

              • b waghorn

                One of the infuriating things about key is that he still is popular enough that he could sway a vast majority of kiwis into believing that we need to act now . he needs to get some guts.

            • RedLogix

              I’ll standby to be proven wrong by future events, but this time I think the people in Paris actually intend for real change to happen.

              Whether their good intentions turn out to be enough, or timely, remains to be seen. Nor can we underestimate the enormous inertia built into our economic system that will make deep, fundamental change very difficult. At least initially.

              But truly I think they do understand the consequences of not acting, and are becoming just a little bit afraid of them.

              • weka

                That’s pretty much how I see it too. And there are very good reasons why those people are there and not us lot who would be shouting a different message from the rooftops. Change has a path and if it were only a matter of some people telling truth then we wouldn’t have the problems we have.

                • One Two

                  And there are very good reasons why those people are there and not us lot

                  What are the ‘very good reasons why those people are there’ ?

                  Do they have powers which other human beings do not ?

                  • weka

                    Well they’re from specific parts of the establishment for a start. For many of them their jobs will be dependent on taking certain positions on CC, and that means that their livelihood and the safety and security of their lives and their families are at stake. As opposed to us here who can have any opinion we like and the worst that’s going to happen is being called an idiot.

                    • One Two

                      To answer my own question

                      No , they do not have more power than other human beings

                      These people are not even the higest point of the decision tree. Far from it

                      Until the root causes are exposed and extinguished, we are all the recipients of the agenda pushed by faceless entities

              • Sans Cle

                The agreement is no mean feat. There is a quiet optimism that collectively we will tackle changing behaviour world wide. Signees cannot ignore the pressure that we as citizens need to continue place on our government. They have no scape goat excuses for inaction now; and first task is to tackle Paula Bennett’s disgraceful attitude of viewing scientists and concerned citizens as “just a bunch of environmentalists”.
                Much work to be done, but at least we are in the right direction.

            • Draco T Bastard

              From my perspective, we have to do the economically unrealistic,

              Doing what we need to do is economically realistic and, in fact, is the only truly economic action. The problem isn’t economics, the problem is finances and once you realise that then you realise that the problem is a few people who are concerned that they won’t be rich any more.

              • weka

                sure, and it was reasonably obvious from the context that I was referring to the neoliberal global economy, which is not sustainable.

                I think the few rich people who want to keep their money are a concern, but I’m more concerned about the middle and working classes in developped countries who want to keep the privileges of their lifestyles and are therefore resisting change.

                • The Chairman

                  What privileges do you expect the working class in developed countries to give up? A number already struggle to make ends meet.

                  And can lowering living standards really be considered a practical solution?

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    What privileges do you expect the working class in developed countries to give up?

                    Cars for a start.

                    Then we could look to imported foods/clothes from countries that don’t meet our own GHG emission practices (Of course, this one does require us to have decent GHG emission practices). Of course, importation/exportation unnecessarily increases GHG emissions so we should probably look at minimising those anyway.

                    Decrease the amount of meat and dairy that we consume.

                    That’s a start.

                    • The Chairman

                      Why not transition to more sustainable vehicles?

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      I would expect that to happen for those organisations that use cars.

                      Personal cars are uneconomic and thus could not be considered sustainable. The fact that people own personal cars is an economic failure and is the singular proof that we don’t have an economic system.

                  • weka

                    “What privileges do you expect the working class in developed countries to give up? A number already struggle to make ends meet.”

                    Depends on what you mean by working class of course. I wasn’t referring to the underclass. And by definition from my statement I’m talking about people who have privilege so that’s not people who are struggling to make ends meet. But as Draco says, there are things we will all have to give up.

                    “And can lowering living standards really be considered a practical solution?”

                    Do you think we have a choice?

                    I think the over developped countries need to take a drop in lifestyle, and probably standard of living, so that poorer countries can get some infrastructure in place before we run out of FF. But there is no way that the world can afford (ecologically) to have the developped countries continuing as BAU.

                    I also think the standard of living thing is a red herring. My grandparents lived on a rural NZ farms all their lives for most of the 20th Century and when they raised their family they didn’t have a fridge or tv or even a car initially. But they had a pretty good life. There is no good reason that we can’t take a selective drop in the standard of living and not still live good lives. We have so much more to work with than my grandparents did. Unless we are greedy and selfish of course. Do you really think that people having overseas holidays or a new iphone every few years is worth the devastation of climate change?

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      But there is no way that the world can afford (ecologically) to have the developped countries continuing as BAU.

                      We can’t have the developing countries continuing BAU either. This isn’t to say that they shouldn’t develop – they should. They just have to develop upon a different path than we did.

                    • weka


                    • The Chairman

                      I think stating developed countries need to take a drop in lifestyle is far too much of a generalization.

                      You seem to be forgetting all those children currently living in poverty while also residing in developed countries.

                      Yes, people may have had a good life back then (albeit a harder existence) but expecting people in developed countries to go without fridges is what I consider extreme and will struggle to muster general support.

                      Thus, talk of such is detrimental to the cause.

                    • weka

                      “You seem to be forgetting all those children currently living in poverty while also residing in developed countries.”

                      Not at all. NZ has children living in poverty because of how we choose to run the economy. It has nothing to do with our resources or ability to live within our means. In fact a drop in lifestyle and sharing things around more fairly would help children in poverty.

                      I’m not suggesting that NZers give up their fridges. I’m saying that it’s possible for us to live with less and I have some examples from the not too distance past of people living good lives on a lot less than we have now. Time we got past that idea that giving things up would be horrible.

                      We don’t need a huge fridge for instance, we could live with a small one. We could go back to building fridges that last decades instead of years. We could be building fridges that at the end of their life have parts that can be reused. But that whole conversation is pretty redundant when we consider that we live in a society where some people feel entitled to have heated towel rails ffs. That’s a society that culturally and economically sanctions child poverty and catastrophic climate change btw. I’m not the extremist here.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Do you really think that people having overseas holidays or a new iphone every few years is worth the devastation of climate change?

                      Not sure why you brought this up in this way.

                      As you well know, every aspect of modern life is driven by energy and materials consumption, not just the “luxuries” of overseas travel or flash new consumer gadgets.

                      You and I know that ending the economy as we know it now i.e. ending the need for people to have to go to work at jobs which consume and encourage consumption, is becoming more and more critical.

        • Lanthanide

          Faced the music, assume that there is going to be a 3.5C warming and start making policies on that basis.

          Denying reality doesn’t do anything but harm.

          • Manuka AOR

            Yes. Exactly.

          • weka

            “Faced the music, assume that there is going to be a 3.5C warming and start making policies on that basis.”

            Except we don’t really know that. We don’t actually know what is going to happen. We know various scenarios, and we can extrapolate from those. That’s the best we can do (and even those are pretty loose from what I can tell).

            Besides, if we are locked into 3.5C doesn’t that mean it’s too late and we’re screwed so why not just party until the end?

            • Lanthanide

              Everything is an assumption.

              The 2C target is full of assumptions:
              – That countries will stick to their targets
              – That technology will be invented to allow efficient sequestration of carbon
              – That there won’t be feedback loops that start themselves up once a certain level of warming is reached

              Those assumptions are all a lot more far-fetched than assuming the temperature is going to rise to 3.5C

              For the next part: assume the worst, hope and plan for the best, and the worst may not happen.

              • weka

                Yes, and my point is that this isn’t about the truth alone. It’s as much about what humans can manage individually and collectively. Ideally, I agree with you that it would be better for them to tell the truth and act accordingly. But I think that there are very real reasons for why they don’t that need to be taken into account.

                I think it’s also worth pointing out that probably none of the people in this thread are taking AGW that seriously either. So we could just as easily look at our own behaviour and situations for reasons why we’re not changing fast enough.

              • lprent

                That technology will be invented to allow efficient sequestration of carbon

                I can’t see that myself. It’d need a new cheap source of energy that doesn’t appear to be even a gleam in anyones eye. Otherwise the amount of energy to sequester carbon for thousands of years means that you expend as more energy doing that cleaning up the mistakes made by their grandparents than you do in supplying current-day humans.

                You missed reducing the solar infall. However that will always be a tech solution (cloud formation, orbital systems, etc) that is susceptible breaking unless properly maintained for thousands of years. If it stops, then the heat build-up will be very rapid.

                Personally I’m looking at closer to and average of 6C than 3.7C by the end of the century regardless of what the political bozos think. I can’t see how you can have the populations we have and expect them to not create and use steel, concrete or intensive farming as they raise their standards of living. Those three on their own account for most of the increases in recent decades.

                Giving up burning fossil fuels for personal fuel is an easier tech fix, but it is a temporary fix. All it does is decrease that rate of growth in greenhouse gases for a while.

                • Lanthanide

                  “You missed reducing the solar infall. ”

                  I did actually consider it and ultimately decided not to mention it because I figured my comment was complete enough as it was.

                  You should consider that we actually are already reducing solar infall, in an ad-hoc manner in the form of high-altitude jet contrails, and of course industrial pollution. These two items presumably are expected to be reduced in the future in order to meet the CO2 emissions limits, but this reduction in itself could increase warming.

                • Lanthanide

                  Also, your statement “It’d need a new cheap source of energy that doesn’t appear to be even a gleam in anyones eye.” isn’t true. There are important developments being made in fusion research, that are flying mainly under the radar.

                  The most impressive claim comes from Lockheed Martin’s Skunkworks division, who clearly have credibility when it comes to high-tech innovation.

                  Also undergoing development, with (pitiful) funding from the US Navy is Polywell fusion (and Lockheed’s plans seem quite similar to what Polywell is attempting). There are many sites that talk about Pollywell, this one puts it in perspective compared to other potential energy sources:

                  There are various other fusion initiatives as well, like “focus fusion”.

                  It’s plausible that at least one of these research paths could bear useful fruit in the next 10-20 years.

                  • lprent

                    I tend to discount reports like this. I started watching fusion research in 1975. On average I have seen optimistic reports about sustainable fusion every other year ever since.

                    • Lanthanide

                      How many reports have you seen from highly regarded engineering institutes with a history of achieving their claims?

                      Anyway you’re effectively engaging in the No True Scotsman fallacy. You claim that its not “even a gleam in anyones eye” and yet we have a very credible company actively working on it. But that doesn’t count, for some reason.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Firstly Lanth I agree with you we need to be preparing infrastructure and social systems for a 3.5 deg C or thereabouts rise, at the same time as winding down fossil fuel energy use.

                      Secondly, until I see a 10MW fusion reactor providing continuous power into the grid it’s completely safe to assume that any mass commercial use of fusion remains more than 10 years away.

                    • Lanthanide

                      @CV: Depends entirely on the form the fusion reactor takes.

                      The Polywell and presumably Lockheed Martin reactors should be much smaller and cheaper than the Tokamak reactors.

                      it is also notable that these research projects have had a budget in the vicinity of 1/1000th that which is going into tokamaks.

                      If there is a breakthrough in this style of fusion reactor, achieved on such a shoestring budget, this indicates both that the technology is cost effective, and also that when the existing fusion research budget is redirected into the proven methodology (and any closely related methodologies) away from the present tokamak focus, that development and commercialisation of the reactors should speed up quite rapidly.

              • Draco T Bastard

                For the next part: assume the worst, hope and plan for the best, and the worst may not happen.

                Actually, that’s Hope for the best and prepare for the worst

            • Manuka AOR

              “Besides, if we are locked into 3.5C doesn’t that mean it’s too late and we’re screwed so why not just party until the end?”

              That would likely be the choice of some people (and seems to be the reaction of some on the far right already) – But if there was complete honesty about climate change and the future, then different voting choices would be made – we would have different leaders.

              And honesty would allow ordinary people to adapt in time – to start adapting to those changes right now. As, for example, with the floating schools of Bangladesh: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/01/world/asia/floating-schools-in-bangladesh.html?_r=0

              • weka

                “But if there was complete honesty about climate change and the future, then different voting choices would be made – we would have different leaders.”

                The reverse is equally true. That if we (the people) believed in the truth about CC we would be voting for the politicians that would take appropriate action (ffs, there are lefties who still won’t Green but will give their vote to parties that cannot be part of the solution). I don’t think we are there quite yet.

                As I’ve just pointed out the Lanth, we in this thread are also not acting according to the truth, but we are expecting others to do so. I wonder why that is?

              • lprent

                It is pretty hard to adapt to a 50-75 metre increase in sea level. Which is what I suspect the world will be facing over the next couple of centuries.

                One of the biggest issues in human forced climate change is that what we see happening over tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of years in the geological record, we have managed to do in 150 years. There is no baseline for seeing how fast the effects will play out.

                The risk is that attempts to adapt will be too slow or too fast, but always uncertain. So the usual response is going be to do too little and then do it too late.

                I don’t hold out too much hope for adaption. I think we will adapt by getting a lot of mass migration and mass death instead, along with the wars that go along with those.

                • Manuka AOR

                  True – I was not thinking in terms of vast continental populations adapting for survival, just small groups and communities. As long as temperature changes (and ocean acidification) don’t render life on Earth completely unsustainable, then communities should be able to survive.

                  People have adapted to extreme conditions here and there around the planet. For example, the underground houses of Lightning Ridge http://www.energy-without-carbon.org/GeothermalAirConditioning

            • b waghorn

              “A team comprised of geological and environmental science researchers from Stanford University has been studying the impact that early European exploration had on the New World and have found evidence that they say suggests the European cold period from 1500 to 1750, commonly known as the Little Ice Age, was due to the rapid decline in native human populations shortly after early explorers arrived.””

              Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2011-10-team-european-ice-age-due.html#jCp

              Their could be many things that change what happens.

              • weka

                Yes, and no-one in their right minds is going to have a serious conversation about rapid depopulation (although there are websites for that) 😉

                • b waghorn

                  I wasn’t suggesting we start thinning the herd but I suspect that between
                  Large parts of the planet becoming uninhabitable and the pressure that will cause both on resources and politically it may be thinned quite quickly.
                  What lprent says above about sums it up.

                  • weka

                    true, and by that stage (once we get to the starving/war point) it will be too late.

                    cheery conversation, I’m off for a walk 🙂

                • b waghorn

                  The idea in my head when I posted that link was more to do with the chance of there being positives that could slow or mitigate the effects of Cc come out of the negatives.

                  • weka

                    Thanks b. I agree, and it’s good to look at all the things that can make a difference whether we control them or not.

                    In the article, the amount of carbon sequestered is relatively small compared to what we emit currently. But I’d be interested to know if it’s more significant were we to go to zero carbon.

  4. Urban Redneck 4

    The Chicoms and the Indians do not believe in climate fairies, so they, in all reality will not lift a finger to curb their emissions – and will resort to form and lie about doing so when pushed on the subject. Also the richer nations will have to find ways to wriggle out of having to egregiously fleece their own citizenry to pay for it all.

    But lets assume that everyone adheres to their carbon-reduction commitments, and, if the IPCC figures are correct, then the effect of “global warming” by the end of this century by reduced 0.170 degrees C – at an annual cost to the global economy of $1.5 trillion.

    • “The Chicoms and the Indians do not believe in climate fairies, so they, in all reality will not lift a finger to curb their emissions…”

      Geez – you really chose an appropriate alias, didn’t you, redneck? Try to take off the offensively racist lens through which you seem to see the world, and consider the level of despoilment and climate damage already done by “developed” countries, where people have enough to waste and spoil, before condemning countries like India and China, which have not done nearly as much damage and where so many people are still struggling to lift themselves out of lives of poverty and despair.

      Obviously, all countries need to commit to significant reductions, but the heaviest burdens should be carried by those who have built up the strength to bear them. Or maybe you think climate change is some kind of delusion or conspiracy? If that’s so, you really do live in Never-neverland.

    • GregJ 4.2

      at an annual cost to the global economy of $1.5 trillion

      Perhaps we could take it out of the $5.3 trillion a year subsidies paid to the Oil industry.

    • Colonial Viper 4.3

      at an annual cost to the global economy of $1.5 trillion.

      That’s fucking nothing. It’s only electronic money manufactured by keyboard strokes any way. And by the way, what’s the cost of seeing the east coast of the USA and Florida go under water?

  5. Ant 5

    “By comparison to what it could have been, it’s a miracle. By comparison to what it should have been, it’s a disaster.” (Monbiot, The Guardian)

    • Manuka AOR 5.1

      From that Monbiot’s blog post: “Progressive as the outcome is by comparison to all that has gone before, it leaves us with an almost comically lopsided agreement. While negotiations on almost all other global hazards seek to address both ends of the problem, the UN climate process has focused entirely on the consumption of fossil fuels, while ignoring their production.

      “In Paris the delegates have solemnly agreed to cut demand, but at home they seek to maximise supply. The UK government has even imposed a legal obligation upon itself…. to “maximise economic recovery” of the UK’s oil and gas. ” http://www.theguardian.com/environment/georgemonbiot/2015/dec/12/paris-climate-deal-governments-fossil-fuels

      • Ad 5.1.1

        Consumption was the right place to focus.

        • The Chairman

          Your reasoning, thanks.

          Surely if production ceases consumption no longer becomes a problem.

          • Lanthanide

            “Surely if production ceases consumption becomes a different problem.”


            • The Chairman

              Your reasoning, thanks.

              • Lanthanide

                Stopping production precipitously would obviously create new problems, eg how do you feed everyone who lives in New York city when there are no fossil fuels for transportation any more.

                • The Chairman

                  Right, I now see where you’re coming from.

                  I was talking in the context of the environment.

                  But yes, limiting consumption or production will lead to other problems. Which is part of the challenge (for the environmental solution) that apparently has yet to be overcome.

                • weka

                  Stopping production precipitously would obviously create new problems, eg how do you feed everyone who lives in New York city when there are no fossil fuels for transportation any more.

                  You do what Cuba did when it had its localised Peak Oil after the collapse of the USSR.

                  • The Chairman

                    Food rationing and famine?

                    Apparently, domestic cats disappeared from the streets, reappearing on dinner tables.

                  • Lanthanide

                    Yeah, Cuba doesn’t have the population density of New York city.

                    • weka

                      true, but that in and of itself doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Half of all the food eaten in Havana was grown in Havana. If you had more infrastructure and wealth to start with you could probably increase that.

                    • Jones

                      Vertical food farms and I’m sure some of the roof tops across Manhattan could be re purposed to grow food. But that may still not be enough. I suspect that cities beyond a certain size will be unsustainable in a fossil fuel-less world.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      I suspect that cities beyond a certain size will be unsustainable in a fossil fuel-less world.

                      You only have to look at the 1500s and 1600s to see what size cities were sustainable without fossil fuels.

                    • weka

                      I’m sure NY would have to lessen its population somewhat, but it’s an existing city, with infrastructure that can be repurposed. People already urban farm, so it’s not like we have to reinvent things, but I’m sure when the crunch comes city folk will find all sorts of innovative ways to grow food and keep themselves going.

                      I agree we won’t be building new big cities like that again. It helps to see existing cities as made up of many smaller cities and towns, that changes things alot.

                  • The Chairman

                    @ weka

                    Over the long term they had to adapt due to the dire hardship confronting them. Thus, survival largely drove the change.

                    Whereas, the most severe projected impacts of climate change have yet to be felt. Moreover, projections maybe incorrect, therefore may not eventuate. Thus, generally people aren’t willing to go through such an extreme adjustment.

                    Luckily, we don’t. Your desires seem extreme compared to the requirements of the Paris climate deal.

                    There is no talk of Kiwis having to give up the use of their cars or ceasing consumption of meat and dairy.

                    • weka

                      Somalian drought and war is dire hardship. Having to learn how to live without FF again isn’t. Yes, they had a steep learning curve because of the pace, and I don’t want to minimise the suffering, but in the course of human history this is not that dire. For us in the West it’s eminently doable, we’re just not doing it and are going to wait until we are forced to, by which time it will be too late.

                      “Moreover, projections maybe incorrect, therefore may not eventuate.”

                      “Moreover, projections maybe incorrect, therefore may not eventuate.”

                      Actually the science and informed commentary is pretty clear that unless we take urgent action we’re screwed. That’s not in doubt and it’s pretty mainstream thinking within the groups of people involved in climate change. The only way that won’t eventuate is if we powerdown very soon. What you are confusing that with, is that some people believe we can transition to another source of energy. A source of energy we don’t have yet, and we’re about to run out of cheap oil for that transition. Tick tock.

                      “Thus, generally people aren’t willing to go through such an extreme adjustment.”

                      Of course they’re not, but most of them like you seem unaware that eventually we will have not choice. The only way you can justifify not taking action now is if you feel like it’s the problem of people later on. That’s unethical.

                      “There is no talk of Kiwis having to give up the use of their cars or ceasing consumption of meat and dairy.”

                      If you think that NZers can keep driving cars in the same way they are now, please explain how that can be done without fossil fuels. Don’t just say renewables, be specific about how it would happen.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      weka – our society is not going to do the rational thing, and our leadership class is uninterested in changes which remove their privilege.

                  • The Chairman

                    Oh please, the science and informed commentary is largely based on modeling and projections, thus is not totally conclusive.

                    You’re missing the point attempting to downplay the hardship. The point was we don’t face the same pressure to take such extreme action, thus won’t until such pressures actually eventuate. Unless you plan to use the carrot or the stick.

                    Leaving it to see what actually develops, thus to generations that come, maybe unethical but it’s clearly how many feel, otherwise a lot more would be doing more themselves.

                    Mustering public support won’t be achieved by spouting extreme solutions, that will only put people off.

                    • weka

                      “Oh please, the science and informed commentary is largely based on modeling and projections, thus is not totally conclusive.”

                      The direction and general momentum IS conclusive (as much as it can be). What’s on the table is whether we change and the impact that has. COP21 projections are based on Carbon Capture and Storage, i.e. technology that doesn’t exist yet. In that sense COP21 is conservative but risky. I prefer the precautionary principle, esp given so much is at stake.

                      You’re missing the point attempting to downplay the hardship. The point was we don’t face the same pressure to take such extreme action, thus won’t until such pressures actually eventuate. Unless you plan to use the carrot or the stick.

                      No, I’m not missing that point at all. If you go back reread what I’ve said I’ve been clear that at the moment we’re not doing what is required and are instead waiting until we are forced to. Fortunately societies are changing and there is still some hope that people will step up.

                      Leaving it to see what actually develops, thus to generations that come, maybe unethical but it’s clearly how many feel, otherwise a lot more would be doing more themselves.

                      Actually, the greater majority of NZers want the govt to do more about climate change. I think the lack of action is in part to people feeling powerless. People also find it hard to imagine a world without fossil fuels. Then there is cognitive dissonance. Even those of us that have looked the future straight in the face still aren’t doing what is required.

      • David 5.1.2

        “the UN climate process has focused entirely on the consumption of fossil fuels, while ignoring their production.”

        You want the Saudi’s to turn the taps off then?

  6. Heather Grimwood 6

    On reading /watching as much as possible this morning, and in spite of the non-binding FOSSILS , I take heart in the huge awareness of the problem that’s been aroused globally, and the countless activists that will keep it to the fore. Indeed the seeming sudden escalation in understanding of the need for action has been a major miracle as seen by this long-time observer, and the best possible birthday present for my youngest great-grandson.

    • weka 6.1


      The most important thing that can happen is for mass numbers of people to wake up to how serious and threatening the situation is. Yes, we’re running out of time fast, and yes, we’re not doing enough, but to get to do the things we need to do, we have to have more people awake to the problem. That is happening now.

      We (activists and concerned people) then need to be ready to provide solutions when others start realising that the change required is going to be huge. We cannot rely on our leaders alone, we have to show them the way.

    • Anne 6.2

      Good one Heather Grimwood but a small caution:

      Back in the early 1970s staff of the NZ Met Service began discussing greenhouse gases and their effect on the world’s climate” and look how long it has taken for the rest of society to catch up – 40 plus years! Fingers crossed the politicians are finally listening but it’s no surprise our government is still living in the land of the Neanderthals.

      • weka 6.2.1

        That seems a fairly normal rate of change for whole societies. Humans aren’t really geared for understanding and processing global problems, it’s only in recent times that we’ve had to deal with global threats). Many can understand it intellectually, but we need to be able to take it on board much more deeply than that, and that takes time.

        If we look at the rate of change regarding CC awareness since the 70s there is no doubt it is speeding up. That’s where the hope is, that we get to a tipping point soon, and when the tipping point comes we are ready to influence it in ways that give us the best chance of doing something useful.

        • RedLogix

          Humans aren’t really geared for understanding and processing global problems, it’s only in recent times that we’ve had to deal with global threats). Many can understand it intellectually, but we need to be able to take it on board much more deeply than that, and that takes time.

          Absolutely the crux of the matter.

          We grow up with most intense emotional ties to family, then diminishing outwards to friends, community, culture and nation. Expanding this one step further to a global concept of a single humanity is a stretch, but not an impossible one. If we start teaching the basic concepts to our children, then as they mature it will seem natural to them.

          Most of the divisions we create between nations, cultures and so on are based on a misunderstanding. We naturally accept that our family members and friends are all different. Indeed we love them all the more because they are not just like us. Difference is something we can celebrate and embrace when there is a power balance and it does not threaten us.

          But at the present time – absent an authentic global authority we entrust with establishing global peace and justice – the differences and diversity of the nations and cultures is perceived as a threat. While many intellectually understand the need to think globally … the fear of diversity means we still struggle with it emotionally.

          • weka

            Unfortunately we don’t have time to educate the next generation, although I agree it’s an excellent thing we should be doing anyway.

            I wasn’t thinking so much about global international awareness. I was thinking about ecology. We can understand when the local river gets so polluted that our kids can’t swim in it and we can feel that deeply enough to take action. Climate change is much more abstract and in terms of human evolution and being equipped to respond to impending disaster we’re going to have to learn some new skills pretty damn quick.

            • Sacha

              Heck, it’s not the next generation who are unaware – it’s their stupid grandparents who are sitting on the brakes.

              • weka

                If the next generation are sufficiently aware, why are they not doing what is required?

                • Sacha

                  Because they do not have power to make the big structural changes needed.

                  • weka

                    So? We’re all just going to sit around and wait for the people with the most power to do the right thing? Sorry, but that’s not too far from the excuses that people in power use. Younger people still want all those things that fossil fuels bring, so while I agree that the general awareness is higher (haven’t seen the figures but I bet denial rates are much lower in younger age brackets) I don’t see a higher awareness of what needs to be done.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Nah, only in an upside down society would you expect those who are less mature, poorest and most powerless in their 20s to shoulder the responsibilities of long term thinking.

                      Its the ones with families in their 40s and 50s who should have the power and resources and maturity to do the heavy lifting.

                    • Sacha

                      Not what I’m saying. Can’t sit around. Support organisations like Generation Zero and young candidates for office with the right ideas. Do what we can in our personal spheres of influence to transfer funding and power to younger people and organisations. Encourage fossils out of their way by not re-electing or promoting them. That sort of thing.

                    • weka

                      True. What I was saying above is that the next generations are doing to need educating on what to do (and how to survive). Gen Zero for instance appear to believe in a transition to green tech. I’m not sure whether that’s because the alternative is too difficult, or like most other people they’re attached to the standard of living we have currently. I think they are an important organisation and I support them, but I don’t see them as being somehow better equipped to change (certainly more motivated for obvious reasons, and youth are generally more adaptable than oldies).

      • Heather Grimwood 6.2.2

        Yes Anne…I was a teacher writing, lecturing and teaching this stuff since 70’s and have despaired at the head-in-sand culture of so many especially ( with few exceptions)of those in government. My father in such situations quoted the old saying about there being “100 years between the pulpit and the pew”. We of course have not the hundred years.

  7. Bill 7

    I think Anderson kind of hit the nail on the head when he said that politics and economics had trumped physics.

    COPOUT 21? If this is it, we’ve had it.

  8. maui 8

    Sweet, so NZ will no doubt be cancelling all its motorway projects in the coming days, a $1 carbon surcharge will be put on the petrol pump. Unprecedented investment in public transport will start and so on and so on…

    • Manuka AOR 8.1

      … And all new houses will now have solar energy supply – compulsory

      (So that’s why they gave Climate Change to the State Services/ Social Housing Minister!)

      …yeah, right

    • Heather Grimwood 8.2

      to Maui at 8….now those are ways Key COULD show himself as a person of stature to be remembered ! Is he up to the challenge?

    • Colonial Viper 8.3

      Do we have any political parties in NZ offering to do those things? Or are they all captured by the brain handcuffs of orthodox neoclassical economics?

  9. Nessalt 9

    pretty awful our government is signing us up to an agreement that we didn’t know the full text or ramifications of. one that allows non-nz governments and NGO’s to sue us if we act against their interests, whatever the motive may be.

    • weka 10.1

      I don’t think that explains things to the average lay person. “What’s wrong with palm trees at the poles?”

      • Lanthanide 10.1.1

        There is nothing intrinsically wrong with palm trees at the poles.

        It’s everything else that that situation means which is the problem, eg massive biodiversity loss and a climate generally inhospitable to civilisation.

        • Manuka AOR

          and the sudden way it will happen – far too fast to adjust and adapt to, unless we have already begun

        • weka

          Yes, I know that Lanth, but the cartoon doesn’t explain that. It just says that palm trees at the poles and no glaciers will be a consequence of 4C. It doesn’t tell the general layperson why that’s an issue.

        • lprent

          There is nothing intrinsically wrong with palm trees at the poles.

          They were there as recently as the late Jurassic when Antarctica was starting to drift over the pole (and Antarticia still land bridged to Austrailia). Of course they were somwhat odd palmtrees because they were adapted to the short days of the polar winter.

  10. Anne 11

    They were there as recently as the late Jurassic when Antarctica was starting to drift over the pole (and Antarticia still land bridged to Austrailia). Of course they were somwhat odd palmtrees because they were adapted to the short days of the polar winter.

    Fascinating. Now could you draw one so we can see what it looked like. 😈

  11. Wayne 12

    While I understand that this point will not be appreciated or accepted by most commenters on The Standard, Tim Groser will have been very influential in ensuring the deal was structured so that all the major nations would sign up to it. In particular the agreement around verifiable targets.

    So that meant new Zealand had to have a position that was broadly in line with that so that Tim had a credible position from which to argue this point.

    Of course New Zealand could have had another approach, favored by the Greens, which would have had us essentially offside with China and the US. But it would also meant no influence.

    It depends on how you view international diplomacy and how to achieve objectives. Do you constrain yourself, but be able to act as a facilitator or do you play to the NGO’s and activists but have no ability to influence the negotiations?

    National is mostly going to answer this with the first approach, the Greens the second. Labour generally goes for the first but not always.

    On this particular issue getting a deal in Paris was a crucial goal, so the first approach was much more in line with our interests.

    However for our domestic policy we can afford to be more ambitious than we are, but that was not the main issue in Paris. Getting the deal done was what mattered.

    • Macro 12.1

      Good Grief!

      (that’s just about all I can say here and keep a civil tongue)

      You are aware Wayne that under your and Tim Groser watch NZ’s GHG emissions have soared – and all as a result of your Government and in particular Groser’s inaction with respect to curbing NZ’s GHG emissions.
      You and your lot, will have much to answer for in the years ahead – you did everything you could to fight the Carbon tax that was proposed by Labour in the early 2000’s and extinguish it. Such was your constant opposition that the ETS that was finally introduced was a pail shadow of what might have been done. You then thrashed that as soon as you had you bums on the treasury benches so that it became a laughing stock, and now you have the gall to suggest that the Agreement in Paris was Groser doing! The hypocrisy is astounding!

    • RedBaronCV 12.2

      Sorry but I don’t see any conflict between New Zealand being very ambitious with its own targets but still able to play a facilitator role. As to the idea that Tim Grosser was highly influential – I’m still snorting – pull the other one.

      But hey is this the NACT dead cat (underdone Grosser) on the table moment – where we are all gobsmacked by the assertion that TG negotiated “such a great deal” that we forget the lousy deal NZ took to the table?

      Or is it spinning that the lousy deal from NZ was to make everyone else feel sooo comfortable that they would sign up to a great outcome- oh please, as if any other country would do that. Not a lot of joined up thinking there.

      Don’t forget that neither Grosser nor any other ministers turned up at the local climate change meetings – please explain. Oh and could some one please answer one of the questions asked at the local meeting, – was agriculture left out of the emissions because of a ministerial directive to public servants or not – we are still waiting.

    • Sans Cle 12.3

      You expect us to take such a comment seriously?! We need serious action on changing behaviour in society to curb climate change….and we get…..Paula Bennett! Try spouting your propaganda elsewhere! But good comic attempt Wayne!

      • Wayne 12.3.1

        As I said I don’t expect you to agree.

        So far as most Standardnistas are concerned there is absolutely nothing that National could do that would make any sense whatsoever. That every National MP and Minister is a fool. And that the nearly half of New Zealanders who vote National are either selfish, or craven or dupes.

        However, New Zealand has been influential in both TPP and COP21, and a great deal of that is due to Tim Groser’s skills in international diplomacy. Very few Ministers anywhere in the world can operate so well in the interface between the world of professional diplomats and the Ministerial level in the intensive negotiations that were a feature of both COP 21 and TPP.

        • RedBaronCV

          Yes – NAct don’t make much sense

          Nact ministers and MP’s are on the high side of manipulative, rat cunning, self centred and devious maybe but these could be summed up as being a fool.

          Nact isn’t challenged nearly as often or hard as it should be by the media and we have clear evidence that they manipulate same, attack those who voice disagreement and other such lovely tactics. If you said what you were really going to do loudly, nothing to fear nothing to hide right?
          TS readers are taking more interest than most so they see the disconnects more clearly.

          We only have your unsubstantiated word that Tim is “a great guy with great skills” . Really???
          The same skills that had him refer to New Zealanders with legitimate concerns about TPPA as children.
          Did he tell the Paris lot “to stop acting like children ” & voila they all agreed? Ha Ha ha

          Are you likely to be moving on to new pastures soon Wayne?
          And again, since you consider us so misguided and out of touch why do you even bother to come here? Save your time and energy – do some jobs around the house?

        • Sacha

          Gordon Campbell writes on “Tim Groser’s skills in international diplomacy”:

  12. Wayne 13

    Well, I will concede that Tim’s skills are not really in the domain of retail politics. But he has extremely acute sense of how international negotiations work and where the likely points of agreement will lie. On COP he was spot on many months ago where the landing point would be. Similarly with TPP.

    • Colonial Viper 13.1

      Well that’s great for Tim and his future career, eh.

      Meanwhile your and my grandkids are screwed but thanks for clarifying how good Groser is at his job.

    • RedBaronCV 13.2

      “Tim’s skills… not retail politics” -no kidding. Is there any other sort?
      Or by wholesale poltics do you mean sucking up to countries who do not have NZ’s best interests at heart and doing deals with the already over rewarded and what about the spying on the other candidtaes for that big international job that cost us taxpayers $$$.

      But I still sense a distraction – should dead cat on the table be replced by TimGroser on the table as skilled diplomat.

      And could you answer the question under 12.2 please – about agriculture as you are clearly beltway insider?

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