UNFCCC

Mon, 2011-05-30 10:12Emma Pullman
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Canada Hides 20 Percent Tar Sands Annual Pollution Increase from UN

The Canadian federal government deliberately excluded data documenting a 20 percent increase in annual pollution from Alberta's tar sands industry in 2009. That detail was missing from a recent 567-page report on climate change that Canada was required to submit to the United Nations.

According to Postmedia News, Canada left the most recent numbers out of the report, a national inventory on Canada’s greenhouse gas pollution. The numbers are used to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions and prevent catastropic climate change. It is certainly not the first time that Canada has dragged its feet on its international climate obligations, but omission of vital information is a new low, even for them.

Mon, 2011-02-28 11:47Joanna Zelman
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Why The U.S. Department of Defense Should Fight A War Against Global Warming Instead Of People

U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres warned militaries this month that they should be spending more money to reduce carbon emissions. According to her, one of the biggest threats to nations right now is global warming. 

President Obama recently asked Congress for $671 billion for the Department of Defense’s budget for fiscal 2012. The proposed budget (although currently facing cuts) allotted billions of dollars to fund wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and billions more were requested for procurement; research, development, test and evaluation; operations and maintenance; military construction; personnel; family housing; and revolving management funds. While the Department of Defense has recently focused some attention on global warming, it’s time they start focusing a lot more.

Christiana Figueres’s biggest concern is that a growing food crisis, water stress, and weather damage will result in an international migration, regional conflicts, and ultimately a “climate chaos that would demand a defense response that makes even today’s spending burden look light.” Instead of investing in more weaponry, Figueres urges generals to invest in reducing carbon emissions. 

Tue, 2010-11-30 14:40Emma Pullman
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Cancun Showdown: Results at the UN Climate Talks More Important Than Ever

The United Nations Climate Change talks kicked off yesterday in Cancun.  For many, the mood began much more sombrely than last year.  Copenhagen attracted celebrity clout, world leader buzz, and a sense of optimism for a binding agreement.  For all Copenhagen promised, however, those who hoped for a fair and binding global deal left empty handed.  

Along with analysts, pundits and the blogosphere, the U.S., UK and EU are already downplaying the chances of a deal being reached in the next fortnight.  And as Desmogblog reported today, those fears may not be in vain with threats that the U.S. may pull out of the talks early

The talks during the next two weeks are going to focus largely on forests and finance, but also on questions about the legal status of a future agreement and emissions targets, which are expected to be tackled beginning next week when ministers arrive.

The sense of general pessimism around the talks has led some to question the viability of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to deliver, and has led others to manufacture doubt over the scientific basis for action.  A new report released by Oxfam argues that despite the disconsolate atmosphere, a year of extreme weather conditions demonstrate more than ever that a binding climate agreement under the UN auspices is imperative.  The report, More than ever: climate talks that work for those that need them most, presents the weather events that have devastated much of the planet in the last year, and the even more harrowing costs of climate inaction.  

According to the report, at least 21,000 people died due to weather-related disasters in the first nine months of this year – more than twice the number for the whole of 2009.  “This year is on course to experience more extreme-weather events than the 10-year average of 770. It is one of the hottest years ever recorded,” wrote Tim Gore, Oxfam’s EU climate change policy adviser and report’s author.

Tue, 2010-05-25 17:56Brendan DeMelle
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UN Chief Urges Industrialized Nations to Release Promised Funds To Poor Nations For Climate Change Aid

Outgoing United Nations climate chief Yvo de Boer sent an urgent message to wealthy industrialized nations on Tuesday reminding them about previous promises to help the world’s poorer nations to adapt to a changing world due to global warming.  Without a firm show of funds, he said the pursuit of a global climate agreement would remain a question mark for many as the December COP-16 talks in Cancun grow closer.

de Boer urged the industrialized nations to quickly present the $30 billion in aid they have pledged to deliver over the 2010-2012 period to help poor nations fight climate change impacts such as increasingly severe droughts and floods.

“Times are harsh, especially in Europe, but $10 billion a year for three years from all industrialized countries is not an impossible call,” he said.

Sun, 2009-12-13 04:44Richard Littlemore
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Mother Jones CopenPrimer

Anyone looking to understand the intricacies and implications of the Copenhagen climate summit would be well advised to start with David Corn’s introduction on MotherJones.com.

These meetings are generally filled with two kinds of people:

1. professional bureaucrats and NGO hangers-on who are so steeped in the process that they seem to speak a foreign and completely unintelligible language; and

2. Climate dilettantes who drop in to these events infrequently and struggle to understand even the most elemental aspects of the complicated architecture of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Corn, the Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones, seems to have spent enough time paying attention that he understands many of the finer points, and yet he has not forgotten how to speak a version of English that the uninitiated can still understand.

Sat, 2009-12-12 11:20Richard Littlemore
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Everyone loves Canadians; it's Canada they hate

After 6-minute press conference: no wonder

Canada has, in certain circles, been getting a lot of respect hereabouts. UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer was quoted this week praising Canada for working “very constructively” during the talks and a Danish negotiator (to remain nameless) was positively fullsome on the level of ambition and quality of the contribution that individual Canadians have been making to the process.

Yet Canada is consistently derided by Environmental NGO’s monitoring the talks and it is a clear leader in the Fossil of the Day awards given to the country most guilty of obstructing the likelihood of a fair, ambitious and binding agreement.

A hint as to the reason for this apparent contradiction arrived today in the form of Canadian Environment Minister Jim Prentice. In a late-in-the-day press briefing COP 15 President Connie Hedegaard celebrated the early arrival of ministers from around the world, saying that, as the ministers arrive, so does the good will. Prentice may mark the exception.

Sat, 2008-12-13 14:20Richard Littlemore
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Poznan: "Such a catastrophe"

It’s not even a full sentence, but when Katherine Trajan uttered those three words - “Such a catastrophe” - it seemed to sum up perfectly the declining state of our natural world and the tragic inadequacy of our response.

Trajan is just 25 – too young to be jaded, too bright, too pretty and too generally promising to be giving over to despair. Yet, as the 14th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was drawing to a close in Poznan, Poland, there was surely a note of despair in her voice.

Originally from the Canadian town of Nanimo, B.C., she had come to Poland as one of 27 non-governmental observers in the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, and she had come with high hopes. “I came believing that these world leaders were going to come together, recognizing the seriousness of the (climate change) problem, make an agreement and then go home and do something about it.”

As it turns out: Not.

Fri, 2008-12-12 15:22Richard Littlemore
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Poznan: Canada replaces U.S. as "single worst" country

After eight years during which the United States was consistently derided as the most obstructive force in international climate negotiations, Canada moved into worst place today, receiving the “Colossal Fossil” award for having done more than any other country to drag down talks at the UN climate negotiations in Poznan.

Fri, 2008-12-12 04:17Richard Littlemore
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Poznan: Fiddling while Rome burns

As Canadian delegates to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change conference in Poznan, Poland struggle to prevent any progress toward a international agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol, Canadian scientist David Barber announces that climate change is coming faster and more furiously than even the most pessimistic modellers could have imagined.

Barber, speaking at the International Arctic Change 2008 conference this week in Quebec City, said sea ice in the Canadian Arctic, which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said could melt as early as 2100, is now in danger of melting in 2015, nearly a century ahead of schedule.

Thu, 2008-12-11 09:00Richard Littlemore
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Poznan: Green Leader Despairs at Conference Potential

“It’s like attending a family reunion on the Titanic.”

Canadian Green Party leader Elizabeth May is a difficult person to interview at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Poznan, Poland. She seems to know nearly everyone, and when she isn’t waving and smiling at passersby, she is fending off phone calls or emails buzzing on her blackberry.

But regardless of the old-home week atmosphere, she is bleakly disappointed about what’s going on in this sprawling conference centre. Having attended the organizational meeting for the UNFCCC in 1990 and the inaugural meeting in Rio in 1992, and being a veteran of many “COP” (Conference of the Parties) meetings for the inrternational biodiversity treaty, she has seen her share of such events.

“But this has a dreadful pall to it.”

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