2014 was a year of major events that galvanized many climate change initiatives. Here’s just a few highlights:
U.S. and China team up for new Climate Change goals.
In what is considered an historic agreement, last November the United States and China announced new goals to reduce global warming over the next 10-15 years. Both countries are the biggest carbon polluters, emitting over one third of the world’s carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases every year. The announcement was made right after the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation www.apec.org/ (APEC) summit in Beijing by President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China. The U.S. target is to cut emissions to 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. China would allow emissions to peak in 2030 or earlier while the country increases its use of non-fossil fuel to about 20 percent by 2030. The Chinese also plan to cap the use of coal within five years. The two countries also agreed to expand their commitment to the Clean Energy Research Center (CERC). Other goals include extending the CERC mandate for an additional five years, from 2016-2020, renewing funding to build efficient, clean vehicles, developing advanced coal technologies with carbon capture, and launching a new initiative to study the interaction of energy and water that the agreement dubs the energy/water ‘nexus’.
CLIMATE SUMMIT IN NYC
Last September, 400,000 people marched in New York City to overshadow the United Nations Climate Summit. They demanded action to address the impending adverse impacts of global warming. New York wasn’t the only city that attracted multitudes of demonstrators – London to Melbourne, Johannesburg to Berlin, Paris to Jakarta, 160 countries in total, drew vast numbers of protestors. Among the New York demonstrators were Al Gore, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Jane Goodall, Riverkeeper’s Robert F. Kennedy, Jr, and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. At the United Nations Summit, 100 heads of state were joined by over 800 leaders from business, finance and government, all working to finalize a draft agreement for the Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at COP-21, in Paris, 2015. The agreement aims to reduce emissions and prepare for adverse impacts on climate change. 228 cities offered strategies to reduce 3 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Monetary pledges for the Green Climate Fund totaled $2.3 billion. Other achievements included pricing carbon to fund climate solutions and securing commitments from the new Compact of Mayors (http://www.iclei.org/details/article/global-mayors-compact-shows-unity-and-ambition-to-tackle-climate-change-1.html) from over 2,000 cities to implement climate action steps. A full summary of the 2014 Climate Change Summit: http://www.un.org/climatechange/summit/2014/09/2014-climate-change-summary-chairs-summary/
Climate Conference in Lima Peru, COP20
In December, 2014, the Climate Conference in Lima Peru, COP20 http://unfccc.int/meetings/lima_dec_2014/meeting/8141.php, solidified pledges made at the September, UN Climate Summit in New York. Lima made history – for the first time representatives from 194 countries agreed to reduce carbon emissions. Pledges and goals were stated in the resulting four-page document, “Lima Call for Climate Action,” a work plan expected to lead the way to COP21/Paris in December, 2015. The conference initially saw many roadblocks including non-binding pledges by developed countries to act on climate change. The poor countries, who are already dealing with serious climate change issues, were troubled by many of the Lima Accord agreements. It was interesting to note that two oil magnates, Shell Oil and Chevron, had a presence at the conference. Shell spoke at the main session detailing how they would fight carbon emissions and Chevron sponsored side events. Also present was the World Meteorological Organization reporting that their data showed 2014 was one of the world’s hottest years on record. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed that developed countries must submit their commitments prior to COP21. Pledges for the Green Climate Fund reached $10 billion, aimed to finance climate change projects in the more vulnerable, developing countries, some of who are already experiencing adverse impacts of global warming.