Category: Climate negotiations

INDCs – how do the latest climate pledges stack up?

by Alyssa Gilbert, Head of Policy and Translation, Grantham Institute

It is just like some colossally awful house-bidding process. Only here it is not just an attractive three-bed semi-detached residence that is at stake. In the run up to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference in Paris in December, each country is submitting its bargaining chip, a so-called Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC).

The levels that countries put forward is part of the complex international climate negotiations – countries are keen to show genuine commitments to climate change action, but very few are willing to rush ahead of other nations.

China Energy Outlook 2015

The Climate and Environment at Imperial blog has moved. View this post on our new blog

by Neil Hirst, Senior Policy Fellow, Grantham Institute

China’s Energy Research Institute (ERI) releases an interesting analysis of the prospects for China’s energy production and consumption and CO2 emissions to 2050

Last November’s joint announcement of national climate targets by President Barack Obama and President of China Xi Jinping has framed the preparations for this December’s crucial Paris summit.  The US is aiming to reduce its emissions by 26-28% below the 2005 level in 2025. China intends that its CO2 emissions will peak around 2030 and will use best efforts to bring that date forward.

The Road to Paris 2015 – the UK’s postition

The Climate and Environment at Imperial blog has moved. View this post on our new blog

This blog post by Samantha Buzzard, a NERC student at the University of Reading, is part of a series on Responding to Environmental Change, an event organised by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded Doctoral Training Partnerships at Imperial (SSCP), and the University of Reading and the University of Surrey (SCENARIO).

See the full list of blogs in this series here.

To conclude the Responding to Environmental Change meeting Matthew Bell, Chief Executive of the Committee on Climate Change, outlined the position of the UK in relation to climate change and the issues that could be faced at the Paris Climate Conference (COP 21) at the end of this year.

The Post-2015 Goals: Environmental Sustainability, Science and Development

By Bora Ristic, Science and Solutions for a Changing Planet DTP student

This week, the next round of UN negotiations on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are under way in New York. The SDGs aim to coordinate and promote development across the world in critical areas, including health, education, governance, and environment amongst others. Imperial College PhDs (myself included) recently exchanged ideas with David Hallam from the Department for International Development about his current work on the SDGs to be agreed later this year. The talk centred on how this ambitious global development effort could be successful and, very broadly, what role science and the environmental research being conducted at Imperial can play.

Who’s responsible for tackling climate change? – COP 20 outcomes

By Dr Flora WhitmarshGrantham Institute

An agreement produced by the 20th Conference of the Parties in Lima, Peru, noted ‘with grave concern’ that countries’ current pledges on emissions reductions are insufficient to keep global temperature rise within either 2°C or 1.5°C of pre-industrial levels. This is indeed a serious concern because temperature changes of just a few degrees are enough to change the climate significantly. Rising sea levels, melting mountain glaciers and polar ice caps and increases in extreme precipitation have already been observed. These trends will continue with ongoing greenhouse gas emissions, and it is expected that we will continue to see an increase in extreme high sea levels, an increase in the intensity of the heaviest rain, and changes in the global distribution of rainfall.

Climate change: positive messages on the international scene

By Dr Flora WhitmarshGrantham Institute

This blog forms part of a series addressing some of the criticisms often levelled against efforts to mitigate climate change.

The Twentieth Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 20) – the latest in a series of meetings of the decision making body of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change –began in Lima this week. Many in the media are quick to point to the difficulty of obtaining international agreement on greenhouse gas emissions reductions, and to denounce COP 15, which took place in Copenhagen in 2009, as a failure.

Why subsidise renewable energy?

by Ajay Gambhir, Grantham Institute

This blog forms part of a series addressing some of the criticisms often levelled against efforts to mitigate climate change.

It is often claimed that intermittent renewable sources of electricity (mainly wind and solar photovoltaics), are too expensive, inefficient and unreliable and that we shouldn’t subsidise them.

What are the facts?

Last year, governments spent about $550 billion of public money on subsidies for fossil fuels, almost twice as much as in 2009 and about five times as much as they spent subsidising renewables (IEA, World Energy Outlook 2014). This despite a G20 pledge in 2009 to “phase out and rationalize over the medium term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies” that “encourage wasteful consumption, reduce our energy security, impede investment in clean energy sources and undermine efforts to deal with the threat of climate change”.

Paterson misses the point

By Dr Simon Buckle,  Grantham Institute

Owen Paterson’s remarks on the UK response to climate change miss the point.  I do not disagree with him that the UK decarbonisation strategy should be improved.  In particular, there is a need for a more effective strategy on energy demand.  However, my preferred policy and technology mix would be very different to his and include the acceleration and expansion of the CCS commercial demonstration programme in order to reduce the energy penalty and overall costs of CCS. And without CCS, there is no way responsibly to use the shale gas he wants the UK to produce in the coming decades for electricity generation or in industrial processes, or any other fossil fuels.

Reflections on the UN Climate Summit in New York

By Dr Simon Buckle,  Grantham Institute

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more”

Climate change was not, so far as I know, one of the issues that Shakespeare wrote about, despite plays like “The Tempest” or (for the sceptically minded) “Much Ado about Nothing”.  But King Henry V’s lines in Act III of the play of that name could have been written for the UN Secretary General to deliver at the Climate Summit in New York on 23 September where, with the help of a VIP cast, he in effect also urged us to “stiffen the sinews” to address one of the defining issues of our age.  

Merkel raises the level of ambition

By Dr Simon BuckleGrantham Institute

There was some good news last week from the annual Petersberg Climate Dialogues held on 14-15 July in Berlin.  The Petersberg meetings were instituted after the perceived failure of the Copenhagen summit in 2009 in order to support the UNFCCC talks. They are co-chaired by Germany and the country hosting the next Conference of the Parties meeting, in this case Peru.

Chancellor Merkel took the opportunity in her address to signal renewed ambition for climate action, perhaps disappointing some of those who had been hoping (or even working) for a reversal of Germany’s commitment to decarbonisation. 

UNFCCC climate negotiations: reflections from the Rhine

By Dr Simon Buckle, Grantham Institute

I spent a few days at the recent Bonn climate change conference (4-15 June) during the High Level Ministerial events on 5-6 June.  Not that these were the most interesting things happening there. Unsurprisingly, by and large, Ministers did not stray from well rehearsed positions, reflecting the continued skirmishing over the interpretation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) term “common but differentiated responsibilities” in a world that is radically different from the one in which the Convention was conceived.

More interesting were the briefing session on the UN Secretary General’s forthcoming climate summit in New York on 23 September and a series of special events where negotiators got the chance to hear from and question IPCC authors about the implications of the IPCC AR5 reports for the UN negotiations and the review underway of the long-term target (2°C or 1.5°C?), a key issue for vulnerable countries (e.g.

A slow start to a global climate treaty

By Gabriele Messori, Stockholm University (former Imperial PhD student)

The United Nations’ climate negotiations usually gain the press spotlight once a year, when the big Conference of the Parties (COP) meeting takes place. The most recent COP, which took place in Warsaw last November, was discussed on this blog here. However, the efforts to design a global climate treaty under the umbrella of the United Nations are ongoing, and additional negotiations take place throughout the year. These are particularly important in preparing the ground for the COPs, and provide the occasion to iron out the contrasts which might hamper later work.

Beyond adaptation: loss and damage negotiation at the United Nations

By Gabriele Messori, Research postgraduate in the Department of Physics

The 19th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) took place last month in Warsaw, Poland. These conferences are at the core of the international negotiations on climate change, and set the scene for future climate policies around the world. By most accounts, the Warsaw meeting had mixed results – it marked progress in some areas and stagnation in others. One of the most contentious negotiation streams, and one where some measure of progress was made, was loss and damage.

The current approach to climate change is based on two pillars: mitigation and adaptation.

The future of our planet is far too important to be left just to our politicians

By Dr Simon Buckle

Two years to go and counting down. That’s the real significance of COP19, the Warsaw Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which runs from 11-22 November. A new universal climate agreement effective from 2020 is what is at stake, and Warsaw is a step on the path.

The COP21 meeting in Paris at the end of 2015 will hopefully be the successful culmination of many years’ of hard work by the UNFCCC Secretariat, government climate negotiators and many, many others. It’s time for governments to act on the words they agreed in the IPCC Summary for Policy Makers launched on 27 September – namely that substantial and sustained reductions in emissions are required to limit climate risks.