Paris climate deal: What the experts say

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Energy experts, scientists, business people, investors and environmental advocates respond to the Paris climate agreement.

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Kellie Caught, Head of Delegation, WWF-Australia

By including a long-term temperature goal of well below 2C of warming with a reference to a 1.5C goal, the latest draft text sends a strong signal that governments are committed to being in line with science. What we need now is for their actions, including emission reductions and finance, to add up to delivering on that goal.

The agreement does contain elements that create the opportunity to make governments actions stronger and stronger over time, in terms of mitigation, adaptation and finance. This is critical.

Dermot O’Gorman, WWF-Australia, CEO

The agreement puts in place a global framework that sees countries continually strengthen the pollution reduction targets they set over time. Paris marks the end of the fossil fuel age, and the acceleration of the renewable energy era, sending a clear long-term signal to business and investors.

It’s time for the Australian government to step up and put in place a long-term plan to achieve its promised pollution reductions.

This plan should include policies to clean up and modernise our energy sector, and a ramp-up of funding to help vulnerable nations and communities adapt to climate change.

Kelly O’Shanassy, Australian Conservation Foundation, CEO

For the first time in history, humanity has agreed to limit pollution and create a pathway towards a safer climate.

Now the real work starts and Australia, as one of the world’s biggest polluters, must do its fair share to cut pollution.

As we head into the 2016 election year, ACF urges Prime Minister Turnbull to listen to the millions of Australians and people around the world calling for a better future by making genuine changes that will unshackle our country from dirty energy and pave the way for a truly innovative renewable future.

Ben Davison, Chief of Staff, ACTU

It is crucial as we make the transition towards a net zero emissions planet that it is a just transition.

While we would have preferred stronger language and more ambition, the Paris agreement does provide us with a baseline from which to build that just transition and we will be continuing to work with civil society, business and government towards a better outcome after COP21.

Josh Gilbert, Chair, NSW Young Farmers

It is widely recognised that farmers are on the front lines of climate change and that there is a great opportunity for farmers to not only feed and clothe the world, but also power and empower our communities through renewables.

In the next 35 years, farmers will need to double food production to feed an additional 2.3 billion people.

Jaden Harris, Climate Change Campaigner, Australian Youth Climate Coalition

This historic agreement gives young people hope that a safe climate future is still within reach.

We’re still on track for a 3-degree warmer world, which would devastate vulnerable communities worldwide, but now we have a structure to increase ambition and young people will lead the call to use it.

Australia is being left behind, Turnbull needs to match our rhetoric in Paris with real change back home. Young people are missing out on the opportunities of renewable energy and the fairer society it helps create

Nicholas Stern, Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

 

This is a historic moment, not just for us and our world today, but for our children, our grandchildren and future generations.

The commitment to limit the rise in global warming to well below 2 centigrade degrees, and to pursue a limit of 1.5 centigrade degrees, recognises the enormous risks we face from growing levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

And it acknowledges that the world will need to reach net zero annual emissions of greenhouse gases in the second half of the century.

Importantly, the Agreement takes into account that current pledges for emissions limits in 2030 fall short of the collective ambition required and so it includes a commitment by countries to review every five years their efforts to reduce annual emissions of greenhouse gases and to ramp up their emissions cuts.

Corinne Le Quéré, Professor of Climate Change Science and Policy, University of East Anglia, and Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research

The final draft text recognises the imperatives of the science community to tackle climate change. The three key elements to do it are there in some form: keep warming well below two degrees, practically move away from fossil fuels, and review each country’s contribution every five years so they scale up to the challenge.

The emissions cuts promised by countries now are still wholly insufficient, but the agreement as a whole sends a strong message to businesses, investors, and citizens that new energy is clean and fossil fuels belong to the past.

Diana Liverman, Director, Institute of the Environment, University of Arizona

The current national pledges (INDCs) for emission reductions take us above 2 deg C. The agreement suggests these pledges may not be revised until 2018 by which time we will have burned even more fossil fuels with yet more commitment to warming.

This makes funding for adaptation and loss and damage from climate change even more urgent.

Both are mentioned in the agreement but there is no indication of how much of the $100 billion a year in finance promised to developing countries in the agreement will be allocated to the vulnerable to cope with the impacts of climate change.

It also means that subnational, individual and private sector efforts to reduce emissions are important, especially if they contribute to emission reductions beyond national pledges.

Joeri Rogelj, IIASA, UNEP Emissions Gap Report Lead Author

 Limiting warming to 1.5°C is an aspiration we will not be able to deliver if we are unable to scale up action in the next decade.

Technologies that can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere will become indispensable for attaining this long-term goal. The negative emissions technologies required to limit warming to 1.5°C by the end of the century are uncertain. It therefore makes scientific sense to increase climate action.

Steffen Kallbekken, Research Director, CICERO

Estimates suggest that current pledges will result in a 2.7 and 3.7 degrees temperature increase. In order to limit climate change further, efforts must be ramped up.

The ambitious temperature goal [of 1.5 – 2 degrees] is, however, not matched by an equally ambitious mitigation goal.

This does not send a clear signal about the level and timing of emission cuts, and does not provide a useful yardstick against which to measure progress. While not inconsistent with science, this does not reflect the best available science.

The IPCC concluded that in order to have a likely chance of limiting warming to 2 degrees, emissions would have to be cut by 40 to 70 per cent by 2050 (as compared to 2010).

To reach the 1.5 degree target the emission cuts would have to be substantially larger, on the order of 70-95% by 2050.

Alden Meyer, Director of Policy and Strategy, Union of Concerned Scientists

“The agreement’s temperature goal, net zero emissions objective, and processes to steadily increase the ambition of national emissions reduction commitments combine to send a clear message to the fossil fuel industry: after decades of deception and denial, your efforts to block action on climate change are no longer working. Growing public concern about climate impacts, and the availability of cost-effective efficiency and renewable energy solutions are giving leaders the political will to stand up to fossil fuel polluters and put us on a path to create the global clean energy economy needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”

John SchellnhuberDirector of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

This means bringing down greenhouse-gas emissions to net zero within a few decades. It is in line with the scientific evidence we presented of what would have to be done to limit climate risks such as weather extremes and sea-level rise.

To stabilize our climate, CO2 emissions have to peak well before 2030 and should be eliminated as soon as possible after 2050.

Technologies such as bio-energy and carbon capture and storage as well as afforestation can play a role to compensate for residual emissions, but cutting CO2 is key.

Stuart Gulliver, Group Chief Executive of HSBC:

“We welcome the Paris outcome as an historic milestone on the road to a more sustainable global economy. The scale of the transformation demands the rapid mobilisation of private finance. As a leading international bank, HSBC has a crucial role to play in the transition to a low-carbon economy. We stand ready to support our clients – across countries and sectors – in tackling the threat of climate change.” 



Euan Munro CEO of Aviva Investors (Assets under Management £246bn)

“The outcome of COP 21 is a significant step forward. There is increasing recognition among policymakers of the huge financial losses that climate change will cause. We now need real action by each country to cut emissions domestically and establish a material price for carbon. The UK government, for example, must move quickly to provide a credible plan for meeting its carbon targets.

It should continue to encourage major companies to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions, and subsequently encourage investors to be transparent on the emissions of companies in their portfolios. Putting climate change at the heart of corporate valuations has a vital role to play in ensuring capital is allocated to the right areas and addressing the market failure.”

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3 Comments
  1. Ian 3 years ago

    Amazing that carbon capture and storage is still being touted. This idea is just an excuse to carry on burning fossil fuels as usual. Actually it should be made mandatory that CCS be installed for any fossil fuel powered generator to operate.

    • Calamity_Jean 3 years ago

      Even if CCS was 100% effective (which it isn’t), continuing to burn fossil fuels still gives the world the other disadvantages like coal ash and hydrocarbon pollution of groundwater.

  2. Ian 3 years ago

    Carbon capture and storage is not a thing. It’s a myth. It’s a promise of cleaner coal sometime in the future, it’s a technology that is always just around the corner or just beyond the next hill. It’s out of reach and fools people into letting coal plants continue operating. Well it’s time to call the coal lobby out . Burn your coal but only if you capture your carbon right now. Have you never read the fairy tale the millers daughter. “You say she can spin gold out of straw? Well here’s straw, let her spin gold, her life will depend on it” 12g (1 mole)of carbon burnt will produce 22.4l (1 molar volume) of carbon dioxide . 1 tonne of coal will produce 1.9 million litres of carbon dioxide. An Olympic swimming pool is 2.5 million litres. Consumption of coal is roughly 1 pound coal per 1KWH or 2200 KWH per tonne of coal. 6 GW of Queensland coal generation would then consume 65000 tonnes of coal a day that’s 50 000 Olympic swimming pools of carbon dioxide gas a day. Is sequestering that amount of gas every day feasible? Let’s call it. Myth busted.

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