Paris Climate Agreement
CLIMATE EMERGENCY INSTITUTE
The health and human rights approach to climate change
In retrospect the Dec 2015 Paris Climate Agreement was and remains (Update May 2016) after Paris a global death sentence, as was judged by grassroots climate justice groups in December 2015.
The UN Climate Secretariat Update of projected global emissions at
2030 under the agreement is a 44% (up to 53%) increase from 1990,
which is a 16% (up to 23%) increase from 2010. Moreover at 2030
global emissions will still be on an increasing trajectory.
It sends the world even further away from an emissions scenario that
could stabilize the global temperature
The Paris Agreement has nothing to drive global emissions down.
The national emissions targets (called INDCs) and only 'intended' at that.
They are not commitments nor even pledges or promises.
There is nothing on fossil fuel subsidies (US$ Trillions a year).
Neither shipping nor air transport are included.
There is no carbon or GHG pollution charge or tax.
It contravenes the clear specific commitments of the 1992 UN climate change convention.
"We have to act NOW to slash greenhouse gas emissions." WMO
UNFCCC: Emissions will be higher in 2030 than they are today
Emergency civil society advisory concerning the UNFCCC just published projected temperature increases from the UN proposals (INDCs) for the UN Paris Climate Conference.
The entire world is a dire state of committed climate and oceans change planetary emergency, but the UNFCCC report to policy makers for the UN Paris Climate Conference practically ignores the fact.
And the longstanding long term 2°C equilibrium temperature increase limit has been changed to an easier 2°C only by 2100 target
The long known facts of the climate science are that if we target and hit 2.0°C at 2100, at best we (humanity) will be hit by more surface heating above 2°C slowly increasing for hundreds of years after 2100 and lasting thousands of years. At some point that will trigger so called ‘runaway’ heating and eventually the end of almost all life. If we want to limit heating to 2°C (for all future generations and life) we have to be under 1.5°C by 2100. We can only do that by putting global emissions into decline NOW.
In the next couple of years we have a slim chance of salvaging a future for humanity, hopefully leading on to a golden clean energy age, but I am afraid this will not happen if the UNFCCC policy maker report is allowed to stand. It allows for long continued GHG emissions, by continued climate complacency and empty mitigation promises from obstructive fossil fuel promoting governments.
The UNFCCC has published Climate Action Now Summary for Policy Makers 2015 (18 November 2015). This was preceded by the 28 October 2015 UNFCCC Synthesis report on the aggregate effect of the intended nationally determined contributions and its Press release.
Civil society NGOs on the 30th October expressed grave concern about ‘the UN climate convention secretariat's unduly positive take on national climate pledges’. There is nothing positive about
emissions being higher than today in 2030 considering what they must be to avoid climate catastrophe.
The UNFCCC temperature increase targets and estimated INDC temperature increases are extremely large underestimates, deadly for policy making considerations and for the UN Paris Climate Conference.
The science is definite - it is all in the last two IPCC assessments. Atmospheric CO2 (in particular) is ‘forever’ in human terms. Global warming, climate change and ocean changes last thousands of years. Long-lived greenhouse emissions must be virtually zero for the global temperature and ocean acidification to ever stabilize. A lower carbon economy is not a virtual zero carbon economy. We have no time left for pledges of small incremental contributions to reductions in emissions. Action is not intentions, it is changing economic and energy policies NOW. It is obvious from disastrous effects today that 2.0C (forever) ) is certain planetary catastrophe. Atmospheric GHG pollution is just starting to impact on top off several ongoing global environmental degradations, socio-economic deprivations and conflict that will be multiplied. Whatever we do at this late stage, no one is going to escape some serious suffering from climate change. The only sane option is to aim for below 1.5°C. To avoid heating the planet above 2.0°C and for any hope of limiting to 1.5°C global GHG emissions must and could actually be made to start declining NOW (on immediate basis). The best well known mitigation tools are the termination of the enormous GHG polluting subsidies and charging all the well-known large central GHG polluters the full cost of pollution. The UNFCCC executive secretary has publically ruled out (to investors) global carbon pricing being an outcome for Paris, which is much more than odd because in May 2015 she received a formal letter from a several large fossil fuel industries asking for just that at Paris.
The UNFCCC policy maker report rules the above out, which practically rules out any kind of a decent future for humanity.
As an expert reviewer for the IPCC published on committed climate change I know the science in the UNFCCC reports are misleadingly fatally flawed for preventing an imminent commitment to global climate catastrophe, including so called climate change ‘runaway’ and ocean health collapse. As an expert in environmental health protection policy development I know that bright siding the terrible climate and oceans situation will not persuade governments to act by changing policies to protect the global environmental health, and particularly not for future generations. The consequences of not presenting policy makers the full terrible truth at this time I believe will leave humanity with no future worth living.
The UNFCCC policy maker report must be revised for the Paris conference to accurately provide the committed climate and oceans situation, follow the best long term UNFCCC policy limits, accurately provide the science based effects of the emissions being even higher in 2030 than today, and provide the best case mitigation scenario and emergency opportunities. It must be aimed on protecting the health and lives of the billions of most vulnerable, including all today’s children.
It is fundamental to recognize tghat continuing constant atmospheric greenhouse gas pollution is changing planet Earth for ever. Global warming, climate disruption, ocean warming, acidification and de-oxygenation will last many thousands of years. Ideas of future generations being able to successfully geoengineering the plant back to safety orof successfully adapting are criminally crazy.
The assessments (IPCC AR4, AR5) show that to avoid an equilibrium ‘for ever’ temperature increase of over 2.0°C, GHG emissions have to start declining on an immediate basis.
From IPCC AR5 data, anything higher than a sustained long term equklibrium 1.5°C increase could cause the collapse of world agriculture and trigger multiple amplifying feedback ‘runaway’ heating and climate chaos.
Based on standard risk assessment for the climate situation there is no more time to waste and to lose. It has all been run out by obstructive governments flouting the clear intention and terms of the 1992 UNFCCC and the basic human rights of billions of the most climate change vulnerable.
Risk must include and ocean acidification, warming and deoxygenation in projections, but the latter is not considered in the UNFCC reports.
The large underestimate of the catastrophically dangerous limits and the catastrophic climate change resulting from the grossly inadequate combined national proposals (INDCs) will no doubt be used by obstructive governments to continue ignoring the dire climate change planetary emergency and complacency regarding the drastic immediate emissions reductions required for our future survival.
This makes it even more vital for civil society to push aggressively for the under 1.5°C limit by 2100 (as the 2014 Climate Action Network Int. position) and after 2100. A temperature increase limit of 1.5°C (or 2.0°C) is only possible if GHG (CO2 equivalent) emissions actually start to decline now.
The Paris Climate Conference must not use these UNFCCC reports as the basis for mitigation. They are fundamentally fatally flawed, have no validity in science, in risk, or in human rights.
The 1992 UNFCCC metric for preventing dangerous climate interference is the atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, but these are not included.
The 2.0°C limit is now clearly an underestimate of the resulting catastrophic and disastrous climate change impacts. The limit must be under 1.5°C (equilibrium), which is mentioned but the report only addresses the 2.0°C (by 2100).
‘At the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, the world’s leaders pledged at the highest political level to limit the increase in global average temperatures to below 2 °C, or potentially 1.5 °C. That goal was reaffirmed in the following year’s Cancun Agreements,’
The most important target of all is zero long lived GHG emissions, but this I not included in the Policy makers report.
The emergency response at this late stage has to use a global R&D Manhattan type project
The IPCC best case scenario (RCP 2.6) is the only one not above 2.0°C by 2100 and that does not keep increasing higher after 2100. It starts to decline in 2015 (AR5 2014 WG3 presentation and the CAN Int. position).
If not both the 1.5°C and 2.0°C limits will be impossible for humanity to achieve, with the result that civilization and the human population will collapse.
The UNFCCC has published its first Summary for Policy Makers called Climate Action Now Summary for Policy Makers 2015 (18 November 2015). This was preceded by the 28 October 2015 UNFCCC Synthesis report on the aggregate effect of the intended nationally determined contributions and its Press release.
This response to the UNFCCC reports shows that for risk based long horizon policy making, the assumed UNFCCC temperature increase targets and projected temperature increases from the INDCs are way lower than risk based assessment (that is the only recognized policy making approach for extreme risks of fatal impacts to large regional populations or the global population). Indeed the UNFCCC reports provide an excuse for further delay by obstructive governments.
It is widely considered that the 2015 UN Paris Climate Conference (convened by the UNFCC Office) is our last chance to avoid committing humanity and life to a planet Earth in uncontrollable irreversible rapid decline. Even though it is acknowledged by the UNFCCC and the report calls for urgent action, it is shocking that this is not the context of the UNFCC reports, that overall do not give impression that global emissions have to be reduced on an immediate basis, and go as far as far as to say that global emissions decline delayed to 2030 could still allow climate safety- with no evidence and totally absurdly wrong.
‘…the IPCC report is only one of numerous warnings over recent decades from scientists regarding the effects of humankind’s increasing GHG emissions on communities, ecosystems and economies around the world. As GHG emissions have continued to rise, these warnings have become more urgent and dire’. (UNFCC Climate Action Now p. 6)
‘Compared with global emissions in 1990, 2000 and 2010,11 global aggregate emission levels resulting from the INDCs are expected to be higher by 34–46 per cent in 2025 and 37–52 per cent in 2030 in relation to the global emission level in 1990; 29–40 per cent in 2025 and 32–45 per cent in 2030 in relation to the global emission level in 2000; and 8–18 per cent in 2025 and 11–22 per cent in 2030 in relation to the global emission level in 2010’. (30 Oct 2015 UNFCCC INDC Synthesis Report Aggregate effect of the communicated intended nationally determined contributions. D. p. 9)
‘If Parties were to not enhance mitigation action until 2030 beyond the action envisaged in the INDCs, the possibility of keeping the temperature increase below 2 °C still remains.’
(30 Oct 2015 INDC Synthesis Report p. 11, 40)
Sources of very large underestimates
1. Only to 2100. In both UNFCCC reports, both the recent policy temperature limits and INDC projections are ONLY UP TO 2100 Amplifying feedback emissions by 2100 and after 2100. They do not account for the many very large planetary sources of CUMULATIVE AMPLIFYING FEEDBACK EMISSIONS causing a very large degree of extra warming over the long term.
2. INDC Policy relevance.
The INDCs are not relevant to policy making, so long as they are not legally binding policies or economic and energy policies have been changed (corrected) for climate change mitigation. Otherwise they are policy misleading being far lower than evidence indicates. Till then the historic trend is policy relevant that presently projects 4.5°C up to 5.9°C. (see figure below)
The emissions estimates quoted by the UNFCCC use the worst approach, which is to include conditional INDCs. Similarly the UNFCCC reports an INDCs surface temperature increase of 2.7°C (no upper range given). The 2.7°C figure is the worst choice as it includes conditional intentions. Climate Interactive using only unconditional INDCs estimates by 2100 3.5°C up to 4.6°C.
The upper ranges will be more like the real world projections due to amplifying climate change GHG feedbacks.
1. Only to 2100 The UNFCCC Summary for Policy makers is limited to 2100
This changes the longstanding long term equilibrium 2°C policy limit for policy making to a limit only by 2100
‘There is a significant gap between the expected collective GHG emission reduction effort by 2020 and beyond, and emission pathways consistent with a high probability of preventing warming above 2 °C later this century’. (UNFCCC Climate Action Now Summary for Policy Makers 2015 p. 7)
The just published UNEP 2015 Emissions Gap report also makes it clear the time horizon has been changed from the multiple century equilibrium temperature increase to only at 2100 for the UN Paris Climate Conference.
‘Countries will meet again at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) in Paris with the aim of establishing a new global agreement on climate change, hereafter the ‘Paris Agreement’, with the ambition of limiting changes in global temperatures to below 2 °C or 1.5 °C warming in 2100 compared to pre-industrial levels’. (UNEP 2015 Emissions Gap report Exec Summary p.1)
The climate change impacts AND RISKS shown with the highest IPCC AR5 scenario are greatly under-estimated ‘More than 4°C of temperature rise will likely bring decreased agricultural production, loss of critical ecosystem functions, and extinction of many animal and plant species’.
The best case scenario obviously should be shown but is not.
If this UNFCCC Summary for Policy makers is like the IPCC, presumably some governments have asked the UNFCCC to provide temperature increases only to 2100, but this is deplorable for policy making because it means certain global climate catastrophe for all future generations, and for almost all species.
Judging by the UNFCC report to policy makers and the UNFCCC Paris Climate Conference agenda it also means that will be no consideration of the only planetary emergency response, that being an immediate decline in global emissions, as in the best case IPCC AR5 scenario RCP 2.6 and called for by global civil society (Climate Action Network Int. June 2014 Position Paper).
It takes hundreds of thousands of years to completely stabilize global temperature to full equilibrium once the atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations stabilize (IPCC AR5 WG1 ch. 12 p. 1103)
These UNFCCC reports are an extremely large underestimate of the true long term danger thresholds, equilibrium policy limits and INDC temperature increases (long after 2100). There is a wide range of estimates just how much more temperature increase is committed to occur after 2100 due inertia, but there is no question it will be substantial.
Since the very first 1990 IPCC assessment (FAR) it has been known that the full committed equilibrium temperature increase is much higher than the 2100 increase, due to climate system inertia. The FAR estimated it at another 100%, which is the figure given by 2011 NRC Climate Stabilization Targets
The IPCC AR4 illustrations are used here because they are easier to understand.
The actual temperature increases due to climate system inertia vary widely, so the point made here is by the IPCC projections that there is a lot more extra committed (locked in) warming at 2100, that will happen over many centuries after 2100.
This committed increases to 3000 due to inertia in the real world will be greatly increased due to many large planetary sources of extra feedback emissions that will emit under sustained warming over another 1000 years.
This IPCC graph was used by the IPCC to demonstrate global climate change commitment at 2100 temperature increase projections. It shows the extra warming at 2100 up to 2300. It makes it clear that 2°C at 2100 Has the world locked in to much more than 2°C.
These committed increases due to climate inertia in the real world will be considerably higher, due to many large planetary sources of extra feedback emissions that will emit under sustained warming over 1000 years.
Extra temperature increase from amplifying feedback emissions
The IPCC AR5 says that combined feedbacks up to 2100 will be positive meaning they will add to the temperature increase. There are no IPCC estimates of the very largest sources of GHG feedbacks There is a wide range of estimates just how much more temperature increase is committed to occur after 2100 due inertia, but there is no question it will be substantial.
Whatever the added warming will be these IPCC projections show it will be substantial by 2100 and increase for may hundreds to thousands of years long after 2100.
The temperature projections, like the IPCC AR5, do not account for the many very large planetary sources of feedback emissions inevitably caused by global warming that will add to the temperature increase with higher temperatures and longer warming.
Terrestrial carbon feedbacks (that do not include the largest feedback sources, like peat lands and permafrost) are estimated by the 2007 AR4 to be more than 1.0°C by 2100 on a higher emissions scenario and by the IPCC AR5 up to 1.8°C by 2100 (for a medium emissions scenario). They will increase long after 2100. ‘Warming tends to reduce land and ocean uptake of atmospheric carbon dioxide, increasing the fraction of anthropogenic emissions that remains in the atmosphere. For the A2 scenario, for example, the climate-carbon cycle feedback increases the corresponding global average warming at 2100 by more than 1°C’ (IPCC AR4 WG1 SPM p. 13) . The A2 scenario reaches 3.9°C by 2100.
‘Based on current understanding of climate-carbon cycle feedback, model studies suggest that to stabilise at 450 ppm carbon dioxide could require that cumulative emissions over the 21st century be reduced from an average of approximately 670 GtC to approximately 490 ( IPCC AR4 WG1 SPM p. 16)
This is a difference of over 35%.
PERMAFROST The permafrost climate feedback will add to the temperature increase by 2100. It holds double atmospheric carbon.
At some degree of warming permafrost thaw becomes irreversible as it generates its own internal
warming (IPCC AR5). For long after 2100 the feedback extra warming will therefore accelerate.
Policy requires a zero tolerance of runaway permafrost feedback, which is the immediate basis most rapid reduction of emissions.
ARCTIC SUBSEA FLOOR METHANE HYDRATE is another enormous risk of carbon feedback which reinforces the immediate basis policy most rapid reduction of emissions.
• The situation for the Paris climate conference is continued policy paralysis and now downgrading danger limits and mitigation responses (new 2°C and 2030 delay).
• Paris must provide more than targets, which mean nothing until governments change economic and energy policies that drive more fossil fuel production.
• Fossil fuel subsidies worldwide are $5.3 trillion per year (IMF) - not on the Paris agenda.
• The Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC (climate convention) has most improperly stated that global carbon pricing will not be on the Paris agenda (even though it is in the draft agreement text).
• The danger limit is NOT 2°C by 2100 (as UNFCCC & UNEP say). It is, at the most, 1.5°C at equilibrium long after 2100. Only under 15C by 2100 could result in a 2.C equilibrium increase long after 2100.
• Global emissions must and can decline BEFORE 2020 - not after 2020, as in the UNFCCC Paris agenda.
• The 1992 climate convention requires atmospheric GHG limits, not just surface warming limits. Again, not on the agenda.
• Current extreme levels and increased rates of all atmospheric GHGs is a definite planetary emergency and global emissions must be put into decline NOW (WMO, November 2015).
I am writing to underscore both the civil society rebuke of the 30 October 2015 UN climate convention agency (UNFCCC) positive spin of national proposals on emissions for the UN Paris Climate Change Conference, and the Global Forest Coalition statement, "The coming tragedy of Paris: A disastrous climate deal that will see the planet burn."
This is also to support the Climate Action Network (CAN) International 2014 position, the only position that is right by the science and by human rights.
As an expert reviewer of the IPCC 2014 Fifth Assessment, I must say that the just published UNFCCC INDC analysis and UNFCCC Climate Action Now Summary for Policy Makers 2015 (18 November 2015), also the 5 November 2015 UNEP 2015 Emissions Gap report for the UN Paris climate conference are highly misleading on our situation and misrepresent the science. By not communicating the planetary emergency (rather, giving obstructive governments an excuse to continue ignoring it), they make the situation much worse.
We are far beyond targets. Until governments actually act to change their present economic and energy policies, nothing will happen, whatever their UN "intended" climate proposals are.
Minimum survival policies are:
• Limit global surface temperature below 1.5°C
• Ensure that global emissions decline from NOW (2015 as in CAN Int. 2014 position and IPCC AR5 RCP 2.6)
• Terminate fossil fuel subsidies
• Charge large corporate polluters the full cost of carbon
Governments must at least commit to these at Paris. They don't all have to agree in order for responsible governments to make these changes right away.
If humanity is to have a future, at least one worth living, emissions must decline between now (2015) and 2020. The Climate Action Network (CAN Int position) last year said 2015 for global emissions to decline. It is correct - the IPCC 2007 assessment said 2015 at the latest, which was presented by the IPCC in 2014. The IPCC 2014 Fifth Assessment says 2015 to 2020 (RCP2.6). Anything less at this stage of climate and ocean disruption is far from enough.
Civil society NGOs should write to the UNFCCC and UNEP as well as their governments. Emissions must actually decline starting now (immediate basis). For that, governments must stop subsidizing fossil fuels and must start to charge the full cost of carbon pollution - in short order.
The two UN reports suggest global emissions decline could be delayed to 2030,which is climate change crazy.
The UNFCCC and UNEP reports are extraordinary. They downplay the climate emergency and also downgrade the required response. They have let the high-emitting, low-responding governments off the hook of accountability and at the same time have lowered the mitigation response they must make. They have eased the longstanding long-term 2ºC equilibrium temperature limit to 2°C only by 2100 (thereby moving the goalposts). For policymaking, it must be assumed that a 2100 2°C limit will continue increasing long after 2100 to equilibrium. Making it easier for high carbon polluters is the last thing the UNFCCC and UNEP should be doing. Governments are being allowed to get away with irreversibly poisoning the planet forever. It takes 100,000 years for CO2 emissions to completely disappear from the atmosphere.
The 2015 UNEP Emissions Gap Report says that it "... compares the resulting emission levels in 2030 with what science tells us is required to be on track towards the agreed target of a global average temperature increase below 2°C by 2100."
But that is not true. It permits the temperature to increase higher than 2°C after 2100, which is not the agreed target. The target is 2°C stabilized equilibrium temperature - 2°C for hundreds of years and hopefully less.
The state of the global climate and the state of play for a new UN treaty to put emissions into decline are terrible. Both have never been worse. These reports give no indication that we are all in a dire state of emergency for our future survival and, as the WMO says, we have to act now to slash greenhouse gas emissions.
The claim in the UNFCCC and UNEP reports that the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (that is, governments' non-binding proposals on emission reductions) signify great momentum and climate prospects is the most dangerous nonsense. It is incredibly misleading to the public when the UNFCCC report predicts that at 2030, emissions will be even higher than today! That is the worst news ever.
2°C is not the only limit for the Paris conference. The other option is under 1.5°C. The UNEP report includes the 1.5°C limit alternative along with the 2°C but it makes both only to 2100 (instead of long term). The UNFCCC report is all 2°C. That is really bad because the 1.5°C UN limit is so that billions of the most vulnerable and Small Island States might survive. Now it is clear that under 1.5°C is the limit if we are all to have a future worth living.
Even so, the UNEP Emissions Gap report projections show emissions must decline on an immediate-term basis even for 2.0°C by 2100 ... but UNEP is not calling for this.
The UNFCCC report projections also show emissions must decline on a right-now basis even for a high chance of a 2°C limit by 2100, but the UNFCCC is not pointing that out.
The UNFCC report on emissions claims that global emissions can be delayed to 2030 and still lead to climate safety. This is absurdly wrong.
If 2°C only by 2100 is allowed to stand, Paris will be condemning us to a world of progressive decline in food production. At +1°C, all crops for the most vulnerable regions decline, and at +2°C, all crops in all regions decline.
It has always been recognized that above 2.0°C, all future generations face multiple inter-reinforcing feedback climate change runaway.
The UNFCC global emissions estimate, applying the most lenient standards on proposals (INDCs), estimates that emissions at 2030 will be even higher than todayand on an increasing trajectory. If that is allowed to stand, it leaves humanity with no future - or no future worth living.
*The only practical way round this is to push for the IPCC AR5 best-case scenario RCP2.6, which after all is the only scenario that does not go above 2°C by 2100 and the only one that does not keep increasing after 2100. It is the IPCC global survival scenario.
Click for PDF with even more information
With hope for our common future,
Peter D. Carter, MD
Climate Emergency Institute
Peter Carter MD | Climate Emergency Institute | +1-250-629-3811
firstname.lastname@example.org | ClimateEmergencyInstitute.com
Opposite is the May 2016 Update by the UN Climate Secretariat of the projected global emissions at 2030 based on the combined national emissions targets, which was calculated for the Paris UN Climate Conference October 2015. There is no significant difference.