Aviation and Climate Change – Law & Policy is a collaborative effort of the firms of Condon & Forsyth LLP and HodgkinsonJohnson Pty Ltd. to address and analyze current topics related to the issue of aviation and climate change. Each edition aims to familiarize the reader with important climate change issues, serving as a resource for comprehensive analysis of potential solutions.
This Newsletter is in two parts. The first examines and assesses the outcomes from COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, and attaches both the “Paris Agreement” and the “Decision Text.” Part two briefly reviews the aviation emissions problem in the context of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and COP21, and also attaches a March 2016 published Draft Assembly Resolution text on a Global Market-based Measure (GMBM) Scheme for the aviation industry – the first of its kind.
Condon & Forsyth LLP Editors: Stephen R. Stegich, Marshall S. Turner and Jane M. Sigda
HodgkinsonJohnston Pty Ltd Editors: David Hodgkinson and Rebecca Johnston
“A Genuine Triumph … and total Fantasy”: The Outcome of the Paris Climate Change Talks and the Future of the Planet
Kevin Anderson, deputy director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in the UK, says this about the Paris climate change talks this past December:
The climate agreement delivered … in Paris is a genuine triumph of international diplomacy. It is a tribute to how France was able to bring a fractious world together. And it is testament to how assiduous and painstaking science can defeat the unremitting programme of misinformation that is perpetuated by powerful vested interests. It is the twenty-first century’s equivalent to the victory of [Copernicus] over the inquisition. Yet it risks being total fantasy.1
This Newsletter is in two parts. The first examines and assesses the outcomes from COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, and attaches both the “Paris Agreement” and the “Decision Text.” Part two briefly reviews the aviation emissions problem in the context of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and COP21, and also attaches a March 2016 published Draft Assembly Resolution text on a Global Market-based Measure (GMBM) Scheme2 for the aviation industry – the first of its kind.
Part One: The Paris Agreement
Background – No More “Common but differentiated responsibilities”
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted in 1992 and entered into force in 1994, with almost universal state participation. It provides a framework for future action and cooperation by states on climate change. Meetings of the UNFCCC are called “Conferences of the Parties” (or COPs).
The Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC was adopted in 1997 and entered into force in 2005. It places legally binding limits on developed state parties’ emissions for a 2008-2012 “first commitment period” and, after a fashion, does so for the second period from 2013-2020. No major emitter has adopted the Kyoto Protocol.
At COP15 (Copenhagen, 2009), the foundations were set for the Paris COP last December – although the parties did not know it at the time. Generally regarded as a failure, it represented the first effort to move toward a new structure based on bottom-up, non-binding commitments from all major emitting countries (the result of COP21). In fact, a number of the key principles of the Paris Agreement can be found in what was termed the Copenhagen Accord (a political agreement from COP15 by which world leaders pledged specific actions they would undertake to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions).
At COP17 (Durban, 2011), a working group was created with a mandate “to develop a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force”3 under the UNFCCC and applicable to all state parties – both developed and developing – to be finalized in December in Paris at COP21 and to take effect from 2020.
This removes the “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” principle set out in the Kyoto Protocol under which only developed states take the lead in addressing – in mitigating – the climate change problem.
As a result of COP19 (Warsaw, 2013), developed states no longer have binding emissions reduction targets (a result negotiated by all developed states) but, rather, all states (whether developed or developing) have “intended nationally determined contributions” – or INDCs.
INDCs remove the need for states to agree on a single approach to climate change mitigation, or even to disagree. Each state simply brings its own emission reduction target to the table. At COP21 the targets – the INDCs – (unlike Kyoto) were not negotiated. They were simply stated and announced before the meeting. And, again, they are non-binding.
The Paris Agreement: Mitigation
In Paris last December at COP21, 195 states agreed to an ongoing process to make commitments to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This 12-page “Paris Agreement”4 contains 29 legally binding articles, binding commitments, but it does not contain legally binding obligations on any state to meet emissions reduction targets.
The Paris Agreement is accompanied by a 20-page “Decision Text”5 in which the COP adopts the Paris Agreement under the UNFCCC and will be open for signature at the Agreement signing ceremony on 22 April at the UN headquarters in New York. The COP invites states to ratify, accept, approve or accede to the agreement as soon as possible.
The Decision Text recognizes that
… climate change represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet and thus requires the widest possible cooperation by all countries, and their participation in an effective and appropriate international response, with a view to accelerating the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions …6
Again, the Decision Text makes decisions to give effect to the Paris Agreement.
The Paris Agreement could, it has been argued,
… have far-reaching implications. It establishes a more robust and durable architecture for international cooperation on climate change. It contemplates a framework under which countries come forward with emission reduction commitments on an ongoing basis. The framework will also subject those commitments to public review and assessment.7
All of that may prove to be true, but it is not the whole story. The whole story is revealed in a few key provisions.
GOALS: Article 2.1(a) [and Article 4(1)]
Article 2.1(a) – Temperature
This Agreement … aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change … by: (a) Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change …8
One view is that this is simply a statement of intent and the reference to 1.5 °C was added after pressure from those countries most at threat from the effects of climate change.
Another view, though, would hold that for the first time, an international climate agreement has at its heart a goal to not just hold warming below 2 °C, but to hold warming well below that temperature and to pursue limitation of that temperature rise to 1.5 °C. Bill McKibben (American environmentalist, author, and journalist who has written extensively on the impact of global warming), has stated that this is remarkable – that “[i]t lays out in no uncertain terms the most ambitious project the world has ever embarked on.”9
In this optimistic vein, the Paris Agreement looks further than near-term emissions reductions, and specifies that human-induced emissions and removals have to “balance” in the second half of the century (Article 4(1)).10
This would seem to mean that global human GHG emissions need to reach zero.
Climate Action Tracker, an independent scientific analysis that measures government climate action against the globally agreed aim of holding warming below 2°C of warming (and produced by four research organizations: Climate Analytics, Ecofys, NewClimate Institute and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research) tracks the actions of 30 selected countries. Climate Action Tracker states11 that the national mitigation contributions now associated with the Paris Agreement – INDCs – would lead to a median warming of around 2.7°C by 2100 (the full range is 2.2 to 3.4°C). Compared to the 3.6°C by 2100 warming that is projected to result from current policies, the climate pledges submitted in the INDCs lower warming by about 0.9°C – but only if all governments fully implement their pledges.
Climate Action Tracker broadly reflects other analysis post-COP21.
The World Resources Institute, a global organization whose work focuses on six critical issues at the intersection of environment and development: climate, energy, food, forests, water, and cities and transport, states that
[t]he subset of studies that assess temperature increases suggest that with the INDCs, we will witness 2.7-3.7 degrees C … of warming compared with pre-industrial levels. This is an improvement over business-as-usual trends, which would lead to 4-5 degrees C of warming, but falls short of the goal to limit warming to below 2 degrees C. Since temperature impacts are calculated out to 2100, the studies’ findings depend significantly on assumptions about what happens to emissions after the target date specified in the INDC — 2030 for most countries, and 2025 for the United States.12
Article 2.1(a), therefore, is a temperature goal.
Article 4(1) – Emissions
Parties aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, recognizing that peaking will take longer for developing country Parties, and to undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with best available science…13
The Paris Agreement, in addition to a temperature goal of “well below” 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and reference to 1.5°C, provides for a targeted emissions peak – through Article 4(1) – “as soon as possible.”
Article 4(1) acknowledges that emissions have yet to peak.
As nationally determined contributions to the global response to climate change, all Parties are to undertake and communicate ambitious efforts as defined in Articles 4, 7, 9, 10, 11 and 13 with the view to achieving the purpose of this Agreement as set out in Article 2. The efforts of all Parties will represent a progression over time … [emphasis added]14
The Paris Agreement does not make INDCs legally binding; they are simply “welcomed.” This approach made it possible not only for most states to sign up to the agreement but to maximize the ambition of those pledges. This non-binding, bottom-up approach meant that large emitters – the U.S., China, India – could make commitments rather more ambitious than they otherwise might have done. Practically all 195 parties pledged INDCs. While there continues to be references to “common but differentiated responsibilities,” that divide in terms of emissions reductions has been done away with.
INDCs are also now “NDCs” (Nationally Determined Contributions) under the Paris Agreement.
Though the content of emissions reduction commitments is voluntary, the Paris Agreement underpins the NDCs with a set of binding procedural requirements to promote transparency. This structure includes rules for submitting information on how a commitment was formulated and for monitoring, review, and verification (MRV) of performance. These MRV rules apply equally to developed and developing countries.
At COP21, the targets – the INDCs – (unlike Kyoto) were not negotiated. They were simply stated and announced before the meeting. Again, they are non-binding.
Review and Increasing Ambition of Emission Reduction Commitments
It is clear from the Paris Agreement that the INDCs as currently submitted are insufficient to meet its own emission and temperature targets or goals. In this regard, then Article 4(2) and (3) of the Paris Agreement are crucial. Article 4(2) provides that each party
shall prepare, communicate and maintain successive nationally determined contributions that it intends to achieve.15
Article 4(3) further provides that
Each Party’s successive nationally determined contribution will represent a progression beyond the Party’s then current nationally determined contribution and reflect its highest possible ambition, [but still] reflecting its common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances [emphasis added].16
Parties are exhorted to submit new NDCs by 2020, and to revise these NDCs every 5 year period after that date. There will be reviews of the targets under the Agreement every five years, with the first review in 2018 (two years prior to the Paris Agreement taking effect).
As stated in Article 4(4), finally, as always, it is developed states that should
continue taking the lead by undertaking economy-wide absolute emission reduction targets. Developing country Parties should continue enhancing their mitigation efforts, and are encouraged to move over time towards economy-wide emission reduction or limitation targets in the light of different national circumstances.17
Reference was made earlier to Article 4(1) in part. This article provides that
In order to achieve the long-term temperature goal set out in Article 2, Parties aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, recognizing that peaking will take longer for developing country Parties, and to undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with best available science …18
But, it continues as follows:
so as to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century, on the basis of equity, and in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty.19
This goes to what is referred to as “negative emissions” – on one view, the heart of the Paris Agreement.
In other words, to achieve the Agreement’s temperature goal, Member States aim to reach a global emissions “high” as soon as possible, and then to make rapid emissions reductions. This would achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of GHG during the period of 2050-2100.
It is not perhaps the best expression, because to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C, emissions have to be cut urgently and significantly. But, that is not what Article 2 – nor the Agreement – requires. It is understood that Article 4(1) (as reviewed above) is meant to (or should) reflect the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5)20 which states that emissions will need to go to zero and then below (negative emissions) in the second half of the century, although that is not what Article 4(1) of the Paris Agreement says directly.
In this vein, after COP21, a number of prominent climate scientists from around the world collaborated on a letter to the UK newspaper the Independent warning that the agreement was dangerously inadequate:
The scientists [argue] … that “deadly flaws” in the deal struck in the French capital last month mean it gives the impression that global warming is now being properly addressed when in fact the measures fall woefully short of what is needed to avoid runaway climate change.
This means that the kind of extreme action that needs to be taken immediately to have any chance of avoiding devastating global warming, such as massive and swift cuts to worldwide carbon emissions – which only fell by about 1 per cent last year – will not now be taken, they say.21
As the scientists stated,
“What people wanted to hear was that an agreement had been reached on climate change that would save the world while leaving lifestyles and aspirations unchanged. The solution it proposes is not to agree on an urgent mechanism to ensure immediate cuts in emissions, but to kick the can down the road.”22
The Independent newspaper article continued:
The [climate scientists] … don’t dispute the huge diplomatic achievement of the Paris Agreement – getting 195 world leaders to sign up to a global warming target of between 1.5C to 2C and pledging action to cut carbon emissions.
But they [the climate scientists] say the actions agreed are far too weak to get anywhere close to that target. Furthermore, the pledges countries have made to cut their carbon emissions are not sufficiently binding to ensure they are met, while the Paris Agreement will not force them to “rachet” them up as often as they need to.
Of even greater concern, they say, is the lack of dramatic immediate action that was agreed to tackle global warming. The Paris Agreement only comes into force in 2020 – by which point huge amounts of additional CO2 will have been pumped into the atmosphere. The signatories claim this makes it all but impossible to limit global warming to 2C, let alone 1.5C.23
As a result of the Paris failure, the climate scientists in essence are saying the world’s only chance of saving itself from rampant global warming is a giant push into technologies that seek to cool the planet by manipulating the Earth’s climate system. This is geo-engineering – and that is what Article 4(1) of the Paris Agreement may lead to in referring to the achievement (as stated before) of
a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century.24
What, then, does “a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century” mean? Kate Dooley, an Independent Consultant on climate, land-use and forest policy, working with FERN (a non-governmental organization created in 1995 to keep track of the European Union’s involvement in forests) notes,
[b]ecause forests and other vegetation naturally sequester carbon, and because this terrestrial carbon pool has been depleted through deforestation and land clearing, the goal refers to the fact that increased sequestration can remove emissions from the atmosphere.
A “balance” effectively means the same as net-zero – that anthropogenic emissions from any sector will be compensated for by the same level of (anthropogenic) removals. Given that in some sectors, such as agriculture, it will be impossible to bring emissions to zero, this “balance” will be required to stabilize atmospheric emissions, although it is how quickly and how deeply fossil emissions are reduced that will ultimately determine the level of temperature rise.25
In the mitigation chapter of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5)26
[t]he IPCC revealed that to achieve even a recognizably normal future climate the models they reviewed relied on not only drastically reducing emissions in the future, but also on widespread use of some advanced technology that can remove some of the CO2 that is already in the atmosphere … most (101 of 116 models they reviewed to achieve 430-480 PPM stabilization) incorporated some sort of “negative emissions” technological fix.27
And, “negative emissions” loomed large in Paris during the December climate talks. Notwithstanding that, the technology is currently nonexistent and
[t]he only approach to sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere mentioned by the IPCC as “near term available” is bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, commonly referred to as “BECCS” (Bio-Energy with Carbon Capture and Sequestration). BECCS involves producing biomass in massive amounts and either refining it into liquid biofuels (ethanol etc.) or burning it for electricity and heat, while also capturing the resulting CO2 emissions and burying them underground.28
The IPCC acknowledges the risks and uncertainties associated with large scale BECCS. In a November 2015 Biofuelwatch report titled “Last-ditch climate option, or wishful thinking? – Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage,”29 reference is made to reliance on BECCS to address the climate change problem as being analogous to “counting on a visit from carbon sucking extra terrestrials from another planet.”30
Writing in The Conversation (an independent online source of news and views from the academic and research community), authors Kate Dooley (an Independent Consultant on climate, land-use and forest policy) and Doreen Stabinsky (a Professor of Global Environmental Politics) note that options for negative emissions “are severely limited by the scale of land required.”31 They also note that
[o]f the scenarios in the IPCC database with a 50% or greater chance of limiting warming to below 2℃, around 85% assume large-scale uptake of negative emissions. For 1.5℃, all scenarios rely on even larger volumes of negative emissions.
Relying on taking carbon out of the atmosphere later in the century brings a risk that we might delay action in the next few critical decades while waiting for the technology to catch up). This could result in runaway warming if the negative emissions options prove to be unfeasible or too expensive, or socially unacceptable.32
By way of conclusion, in terms of BECCS, Kevin Anderson (a professor of energy and climate change in the School of Mechanical, Aeronautical and Civil Engineering at the University of Manchester who recently finished a two-year position as director of the Tyndall Centre,33 the UK’s leading academic climate change research organization) has this to say:
The unquestioned reliance on negative-emission technologies to deliver on the Paris goals is the greatest threat to the new agreement. Yet BECCS, or even negative-emission technologies, received no direct reference throughout the 32-page package. Despite this, the framing of the 2°C goal and, even more, the 1.5°C one, is premised on the massive uptake of BECCS some time in the latter half of the century. Disturbingly, this is also the case for most of the temperature estimates ascribed to the outcome of the voluntary emissions cuts made by nations before the Paris meeting.34
“The scale of this assumption,” Anderson concludes, “is breathtaking.”35
The Paris Agreement: Adaptation
Climate change mitigation involves reducing GHG emissions. It involves reducing the rate and magnitude of global warming through, for example, price-based mechanisms. Many of the impacts of climate change can be reduced or delayed by mitigation.
Climate change adaptation means coping with or adjusting to climate change. With mitigation, adaptation becomes easier (but it should be noted that these are not, of course, alternatives).
Previously, developed states had agreed (without being legally bound) to provide US$100 billion each year in public and private investment by and from 2020 to assist poorer and less developed states adapt to the effects of climate change. In the Paris Agreement, developed countries agree that they “intent to continue” this funding, and that a new and more ambitious goal will be established before the COP in 2025. The Decision Text at paragraph 54 states that
developed countries intend to continue their existing collective mobilization goal through 2025 in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation; prior to 2025 the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement shall set a new collective quantified goal from a floor of USD 100 billion per year, taking into account the needs and priorities of developing countries …36
Loss and Damage
“Loss and Damage,” in COP terms, refers to compensation to those states vulnerable and unable to adapt to climate change. It goes to irreparable losses and damages that can be recovered through a failure both of adaptation and mitigation. It also goes to “climate justice”37 or legal liability.
In 2013, at COP19, a mechanism for loss and damage associated with climate change impacts was established. That mechanism will now continue beyond 2016. The Paris Agreement, however, represents no real or substantive advance on COP19.
The COP21 decision established a clearinghouse for risk transfer matters and information that will serve as a repository for insurance and risk transfer data, and a taskforce to develop recommendations to address climate change displacement.
Importantly, the COP also agrees that Article 8 of the Paris Agreement “does not involve or provide a basis for any liability or compensation” [emphasis added]. Article 8 essentially provides that parties should cooperatively enhance understanding, action and support regarding loss and damage and sets out areas of cooperation and facilitation.
A study in the April 2016 issue of the journal Nature and Climate Change38 estimates that an average US$2.5 trillion, or 1.8 percent, of the world’s financial assets would be at risk from the impacts of climate change if global temperatures rise by 2.5°C above its pre-industrial level by 2100. But uncertainties in estimating this risk mean that “there is a one percent chance” that warming of 2.5°C could threaten US$24 trillion, or 16.8 percent, of global financial assets in 2010.39
In addition, a report released in November 2015 for COP21 by Oxfam International (“Game-Changers in the Paris Climate Deal”)40 revealed that developing countries will face US$1.7 trillion each year in just economic damage annually by 2050 if global average temperatures rise by 3 degrees.41
In that and other contexts, the decision and the agreement made at COP21 go only a very small way to address loss and damage issues.
Carbon Markets, the CDM, and “Carbon Clubs”
Given the structure of the Paris Agreement, market-based mechanisms are not as central to the agreement as they were to the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC. However, it will be open to parties to voluntarily use their “internationally transferred mitigation outcomes towards [their] nationally determined contributions” [NDCs] (Article 6(1)).
The Agreement (with Article 6(4)) establishes a “mechanism to contribute to the mitigation of GHG emission and support sustainable development.” Essentially, the mechanism would assist transfers between “host” and “purchasing” states – a new, improved mechanism from Kyoto’s Clean Development Mechanism, or CDM.
This new Paris mechanism (as stated in Article 6(4)(c)) will
contribute to the reduction of emission levels in the host Party, which will benefit from mitigation activities resulting in emission reductions that can also be used by another Party to fulfil its nationally determined contribution.
COP (as with the meeting of the parties to the Paris Agreement) will develop rules and procedures for this mechanism to support trading and avoid double counting.
While both developed and developing states have NDCs (“targets”), it seems that the developed/developing divide still shadows the Paris Agreement, as is best evidenced by a new/improved “CDM mechanism,” although that term won’t be used.
The relevant provisions (in terms of these new developments and rules) are set forth in the Paris Agreement under Article 6, paragraphs (2), (4) and (7).
By eliminating the negotiation of national emissions targets, the Paris Agreement might make it easier for smaller groups of like-minded countries to link their NDCs into more ambitious, trading-based “carbon club” arrangements. (“Climate clubs are a policy option that will put pressure on countries to participate in global agreements—or pay a price.”42) Such clubs could use the standardized accounting systems developed through the Paris Agreement institutions.
David Victor (professor and co-director of the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation at the School of Global Policy and Strategy, UC San Diego) has long argued for “carbon clubs.” He contends that clubs could provide a forum for enthusiastic countries to “do the deals” that would compel reluctant countries to make appreciable efforts. In other words, there are substantial benefits to working in small groups.
Victor notes, in fact, that
many countries, long before Paris, were already working on the climate problem in smaller groups outside the United Nations. There were small groups of countries focused on forests — the area where the most progress in cutting emissions has been made in recent years. Other groups worked on the Arctic. Still others, with overlapping membership, are making tangible progress in cutting short-lived climate pollutants.43
Yale economist William Nordhaus also argues for clubs. He maintains that clubs
undertake harmonized but costly emissions reductions. For example, they might agree that each country would implement policies that produce a minimum domestic carbon price … countries who are outside the club – and do not share in the burden of emissions reductions – are penalized … A country considering whether to undertake costly abatement would have to weigh those [penalties] costs against the potentially larger costs of reduced trade with countries in the club … With a Climate Club, countries acting in their self-interest will choose to enter the club and undertake high levels of emissions reductions because of the penalties for nonparticipation.44
It might be that the Paris Agreement encourages the formation of such “carbon clubs.”
The Paris Agreement: Legal Status and Entry into Force
The Paris Agreement is an international law treaty, and as such, will be binding on any state who becomes a signatory party. Article 21 of the agreement provides that it
shall enter into force on the thirtieth day after the date on which at least 55 Parties to the Convention accounting in total for at least an estimated 55 percent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.
Essentially, the Paris Agreement will not take effect without the relevant actions by the U.S., China, India, Russia and the EU.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon invited all world leaders to a signing ceremony on 22 April 2016 in New York
The signing ceremony at the UN Headquarters in New York is the first step in implementing the Paris Agreement. Afterwards, the Agreement will be open for signature until 17 April 2017. Additionally, countries will also need to adopt the agreement within their own legal systems, through ratification, acceptance, approval or accession. At least 55 countries, representing at least 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions, are needed to ratify the agreement before it can take legal effect.45
The ceremony is taking place on International Mother Earth Day.
Representatives of more than 170 countries gathered at the United Nations to sign the Paris Agreement, a record number for a one-day signing of an international agreement, according to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “This is a moment in history,” Ban said at the opening of the formal ceremony at the UN General Assembly.46
Earlier, this Newsletter noted Bill McKibben’s comment about limiting the global temperature increase to 2°C or even 1.5°C – the aim of the Paris Agreement – as “the most ambitious project the world has ever embarked on.” McKibben, however, goes on to say this:
Say you really are going to hold the temperature rise of the planet to 2°C. We know with some precision what you’d have to do. A study published in Nature about a year ago, led by Christophe McGlade of University College London, looked at all the world’s fossil-fuel reserves, and found that most of them would need to stay in the ground. You couldn’t, for instance, drill for any oil or gas in the Arctic – those reserves would have to stay untouched. Countries like Australia and the US would need to leave around 90% of their coal reserves underground.
Oh, and say you were going to try and meet a 1.5°C target. In that case you’d have to stop mining coal tomorrow.
This is not ideology. This is not propaganda. This is math, chemistry and physics.47
Part Two: Aviation and the Paris Agreement
Neither the Paris Agreement nor the Decision Text refers to aviation emissions. Why? This is because Article 2(2) of the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC states that
The Parties included in Annex I shall pursue limitation or reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol from aviation … working through the International Civil Aviation Organization [ICAO] …
Otherwise stated, aviation emissions are excluded from the world’s primary climate change instruments (including the Paris Agreement) and the aviation emissions problem is left up to ICAO, a UN agency.
At ICAO’s triennial assembly48 in 2013, an agreement49 was reached to proceed with a roadmap towards a decision to be taken in 2016 for implementation in 2020 of a global market-based mechanism (GMBM) to address emissions from aviation. At its 2016 Assembly, ICAO resolved50 to make a recommendation on a global scheme, including a means to take into account the “special circumstances and respective capabilities” of different nations, and the mechanisms for the implementation of such a scheme from 2020 as part of a basket of measures. These include operational improvements and development of sustainable alternative fuels.
ICAO has now produced a draft Assembly resolution text on GMBM. The analysis of this draft resolution will be the subject of the next Newsletter. See, Endnote 2 for the text of the draft resolution.
1 Nature: The International Weekly Journal of Science, “Talks in the city of light generate more heat,” 21 December 2015, available at http://www.nature.com/news/talks-in-the-city-of-light-generate-more-heat-1.19074.
2 ICAO, “Draft Assembly Resolution text on a Global Market-based Measure (GMBM) Scheme, available at http://www.icao.int/Meetings/GLADs-2016/Documents/Draft%20Assembly%20Resolution%20text%20on%20GMBM%20for%202016%20GLADs.pdf.
3 United Nations, Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP), available at http://unfccc.int/bodies/body/6645.php.
4 United Nations, “Paris Agreement,” Conference of the Parties Twenty-first session Paris, 30 November to 11 December 2015, available at https://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2015/cop21/eng/l09r01.pdf.
5 Ibid, “Decision Text.”
7 International District Energy Association, “Observations about the Paris Climate Agreement and its implications for U.S. businesses,” posted December 22, 2015, available at http://www.districtenergy.org/blog/2015/12/22/observations-about-the-paris-climate-agreement-and-its-implications-for-u-s-businesses/.
8 United Nations, “Paris Agreement,” Conference of the Parties Twenty-first session Paris, 30 November to 11 December 2015, available at https://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2015/cop21/eng/l09r01.pdf.
9 The Monthly, “This is not ideology – How can Australia keep its Paris climate promises?,” February 2016, available at https://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2016/february/1454245200/bill-mckibben/not-ideology.
10 Article 4(1): “In order to achieve the long-term temperature goal set out in Article 2, Parties aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, recognizing that peaking will take longer for developing country Parties, and to undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with best available science, so as to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century, on the basis of equity, and in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty.” United Nations, “Paris Agreement,” Conference of the Parties Twenty-first session Paris, 30 November to 11 December 2015, available at https://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2015/cop21/eng/l09r01.pdf.
11 Climate Action Tracker, “Paris Agreement: stage set to ramp up climate action,” 12 December 2015, available at http://climateactiontracker.org/news/257/Paris-Agreement-stage-set-to-ramp-up-climate-action.html.
12 World Resources Institute, “Why Are INDC Studies Reaching Different Temperature Estimates?,” 9 November 2015, available at http://www.wri.org/blog/2015/11/insider-why-are-indc-studies-reaching-different-temperature-estimates.
13 United Nations, “Paris Agreement,” Conference of the Parties Twenty-first session Paris, 30 November to 11 December 2015, available at https://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2015/cop21/eng/l09r01.pdf.
14 Ibid, Article 3.
15 Ibid, Article 4(2).
16 Ibid, Article 4(3).
17 Ibid, Article 4(4).
18 Ibid, Article 4(1).
20 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), available at https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/.
21 Independent, “COP21: Paris deal far too weak to prevent devastating climate change, academics warn,” The Independent, 8 January 2016, available at http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/cop21-paris-deal-far-too-weak-to-prevent-devastating-climate-change-academics-warn-a6803096.html.
24 United Nations, “Paris Agreement,” Article 4(1), Conference of the Parties Twenty-first session Paris, 30 November to 11 December 2015, available at https://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2015/cop21/eng/l09r01.pdf.
25 FERN, “What does the Paris climate agreement mean for forests and forest peoples’ rights?,” available at http://www.fern.org/node/6009.
26 IPCC, Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), taken by the members of the IPCC at its 28th Session (09-10 April 2008, Budapest, Hungary), available at https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/.
27 Independent Science News, “Climate Technofix: Weaving Carbon into Gold and Other Myths of “negative emissions,” 1 December 2015, available at https://www.independentsciencenews.org/environment/climate-technofix-weaving-carbon-into-gold-and-other-myths-of-negative-emissions/.
29 Biofuelwatch, “Last-ditch climate option, or wishful thinking? – Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage,” available at http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/BECCS-report-web.pdf.
30 Independent Science News, “Climate Technofix: Weaving Carbon into Gold and Other Myths of “negative emissions,” 1 December 2015, available at https://www.independentsciencenews.org/environment/climate-technofix-weaving-carbon-into-gold-and-other-myths-of-negative-emissions/.
31 The Conversation, “We’ve got a climate goal of 1.5 degrees – so how do we get there?,” available at http://theconversation.com/weve-got-a-climate-goal-of-1-5-degrees-so-how-do-we-get-there-52413.
33 Tyndall Centre, Kevin Anderson bio, available at http://www.tyndall.ac.uk/people/Kevin-Anderson.
34 Nature, “Talks in the city of light generate more heat,” 31 December 2015, available at http://www.nature.com/polopoly_fs/1.19074!/menu/main/topColumns/topLeftColumn/pdf/528437a.pdf.
36 Paragraph 54, Decision Text to the “Paris Agreement,” Conference of the Parties Twenty-first session Paris, 30 November to 11 December 2015, available at https://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2015/cop21/eng/l09r01.pdf.
37 Wikipedia, “Climate Justice” is a term used for framing global warming as an ethical and political issue, rather than one that is purely environmental or physical in nature. available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_justice.
38 Nature Climate Change, “‘Climate value at risk’ of global financial assets,” April 2016, available at http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate2972.html.
39 Eco-Business, “Climate change could cost global economy US$24 trillion,” 5 April 2016, available at http://www.eco-business.com/news/climate-change-could-cost-global-economy-us24-trillion/.
40 Oxfam International, “Game-Changers in the Paris Climate Deal,” 25 November 2015, available at https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/file_attachments/mb-game-changers-paris-climate-deal-251115-en.pdf.
41 Oxfam International, “Oxfam Paris climate talks report reveals massive costs of warming for the world’s poorest,” 25 November 2015, available at https://www.oxfam.org.au/media/2015/11/oxfam-paris-climate-talks-report-reveals-massive-costs-of-warming-for-the-worlds-poorest/.
42 Issues.org, “Climate Clubs to Overcome Free-Riding,” Volume XXXI Issue 4, Summer 2015, available at http://issues.org/31-4/climate-clubs-to-overcome-free-riding/.
43 Environment360, “Why Paris Worked: A Different Approach to Climate Diplomacy,” 12 December 2015, available at http://e360.yale.edu/feature/why_paris_worked_a_different_approach_to_climate_diplomacy/2940/.
44 The New York Review of Book, “A New Solution: The Climate Club,” 4 June 2015, available at http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2015/06/04/new-solution-climate-club/.
45 United Nations, “World leaders invited to Paris Agreement signing ceremony on April 22,” 22 January 2016, available at http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2016/01/world-leaders-invited-to-paris-agreement-signing-ceremony-on-april-22/.
46 ABC News, “Paris agreement: More than 170 world leaders gather to sign United Nations climate deal,” available at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-23/world-leaders-gather-at-un-to-sign-paris-agreement-climate-deal/7352328.
47 The Monthly, “This is not ideology – How can Australia keep its Paris climate promises?,” February 2016, available at https://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2016/february/1454245200/bill-mckibben/not-ideology.
48 ICAO, Assembly – 38th Session, 24 September to 4 October 2015, available at http://www.icao.int/Meetings/a38/Pages/default.aspx.
49 ICAO, “Report of the Executive Committee on Agenda Item 17 (Section on Climate Change,” Assembly – 38th Session, 24 September to 4 October 2015, available at http://www.icao.int/Meetings/a38/Documents/WP/wp430_en.pdf.