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Lima COP20 failure demands Green Revolution

The Lima COP20 Climate Change Conference

The Lima COP20 Climate Change Conference has just concluded in failure to agree on tough climate change action involving serious reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution. The failure of the Lima COP20 Climate Change Conference resulted from the hard-line action of climate racist, climate criminal, high per capita GHG polluters like Australian, Canada and the US who, despite fine rhetoric on the need for action, have sabotaged a succession of Climate Change Conferences by insisting on their asserted “right” to disproportionately pollute the one common atmosphere and ocean of all nations.

The Lima COP20 failure sets up the likelihood of a Paris COP21 failure but paradoxically provides a powerful argument for an immediate, non-violent, Green Socialist Revolution involving zero tolerance and Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against all people, companies and countries involved in disproportionate GHG pollution and greed-driven climate change inaction that now acutely threatens Humanity and the Biosphere.

Article 2 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) states “The ultimate objective of this Convention and any related legal instruments that the Conference of the Parties may adopt is to achieve, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Convention, stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic [man-made] interference with the climate system. Such a level should be achieved within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner” [1]. A series of Conferences of Parties (COPs 1-20) have been held to try to determine how to achieve this Article 2 objective, of which the Lima 20th Conference of Parties (COP20) has been the latest.

Here is the core of the Lima CPOP20 Draft decision [2]: “The Conference of the Parties, Reiterating that the work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action shall be under the Convention and guided by its principles, Recalling the objective of the Convention as set out in its Article 2, Also recalling all the relevant decisions of the Conference of the Parties, particularly decisions 1/CP.17, 2/CP.18 and 1/CP.19, Affirming its determination to strengthen adaptation action through the protocol, another legal instrument or agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention to be adopted at the twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties (November-December 2015)…

Noting with grave concern the significant gap between the aggregate effect of Parties’ mitigation pledges in terms of global annual emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020 and aggregate emission pathways consistent with having a likely chance of holding the increase in global average temperature below 2 °C or 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels,

1. Confirms that the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action shall complete the work referred to in decision 1/CP.17, paragraph 2, as early as possible in order for the Conference of the Parties at its twenty-first session [COP21 in Paris in December 2015] to adopt a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties; 

2. Decides that the protocol, another legal instrument or agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties shall address in a balanced manner, inter alia, mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology development and transfer, and capacity-building, and transparency of action and support;

3. Underscores its commitment to reaching an ambitious agreement in 2015 that reflects the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances;

4. Urges developed country Parties to provide and mobilize enhanced financial support to developing country Parties for ambitious mitigation and adaptation actions, especially to Parties that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change; and recognizes complementary support by other Parties;… 

5. Reiterates its invitation to each Party to communicate to the secretariat its intended nationally determined contribution towards achieving the objective of the Convention as set out in its Article 2;

6. Agrees that each Party’s intended nationally determined contribution towards achieving the objective of the Convention as set out in its Article 2 will represent a progression beyond the current undertaking of that Party;

7. Also agrees that the least developed countries and small island developing States may communicate information on strategies, plans and actions for low greenhouse gas emission development reflecting their special circumstances in the context of intended nationally determined contributions;

8. Invites all Parties to consider communicating their undertakings in adaptation planning or consider including an adaptation component in their intended nationally determined contributions; 

9. Reiterates its invitation to all Parties to communicate their intended nationally determined contributions well in advance of the twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties (by the first quarter of 2015 by those Parties ready to do so) in a manner that facilitates the clarity, transparency and understanding of the intended nationally determined contributions;

10. Agrees that the information to be provided by Parties communicating their intended nationally determined contributions in order to facilitate clarity, transparency and understanding, may include, as appropriate, inter alia, quantifiable information on the reference point (including, as appropriate, a base year), time frames and/or periods for implementation, scope and coverage, planning processes, assumptions and methodological approaches including those for estimating and accounting for anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and, as appropriate, removals, and how the Party considers that its intended nationally determined contribution is fair and ambitious, in light of its national circumstances, and how it contributes towards achieving the objective of the Convention as set out in its Article 2;

11. Reiterates its call to developed country Parties, the operating entities of the Financial Mechanism and any other organizations in a position to do so to provide support for the preparation and communication of the intended nationally determined contributions of Parties that may need such support;

12. Requests the secretariat to :(a) Publish on the UNFCCC website the intended nationally determined contributions as communicated; (b) Prepare by 1 November 2015 a synthesis report on the aggregate effect of the intended nationally determined contributions communicated by Parties by 1 October 2015.”

In short, for all its fine words, the failed Lima COP20 concluded effectively that anything goes. Critically, before the crucial Paris COP21 in December 2015, Developing and Developed country Parties alike are able to offer a miniscule “progression beyond the current undertaking of that Party” (item #10) “by the first quarter of 2015 by those Parties ready to do so” (item #13). This disastrous failure of the Lima COP20 Climate Change Conference was the outcome sought by leading per capita GHG polluters such as climate criminal Australia, a major fossil fuel exploiter and exporter that insists on its asserted climate racist “right” to disproportionately pollute the one common atmosphere and ocean of all nations.

If one accepts that “all men are created equal” then one must consider the annual carbon pollution by all countries based on documented annual per capita GHG pollution (including land use) and population data , (b) the 2010-2050 “fair share” for each country of the world’s terminal Carbon Budget of 600 Gt CO2 (600 billion tonnes CO2) that must not be exceeded if we are to have a 75% chance of avoiding a catastrophic 2 degrees Centigrade (2C) temperature increase above the pre-Industrial Revolution level, and (c) how many years left at current rates of GHG pollution before each country exceeds its “fair share”. This has been calculated relative to 2010 for all countries [3] and is presented below relative to the key reporting year of 2015 by simply subtracting 5 years for each country (a negative value of, for example, -1 for the US, simply indicates that the US used up its “fair share” in 2014 and with other climate criminal countries is simply stealing the entitlement of other countries).

Countries that must cease GHG pollution immediately: Belize (-4.2 years), Qatar (-3.7), Guyana (-3.6 ), Malaysia (-3.1), United Arab Emirates (-3.0 ), Kuwait ( -2.6), Papua New Guinea ( -2.5), Brunei ( -2,2), Australia (-2.2 ; -3.9 if including its huge GHG Exports), Antigua & Barbuda ( -2.2), Zambia (-2.1), Canada ( -2.0), Bahrain ( -2.0), United States (-1.9), Trinidad & Tobago ( -1.7), Luxembourg (-1.6), Panama (–1.3), New Zealand (-1.3), Estonia (-1.0), Botswana ( -0.9), Ireland ( -0.7), Saudi Arabia (-0.6), Venezuela (-0.4), Indonesia ( -0.2), Equatorial Guinea (0.0), Belgium (0.0).

Countries that must cease GHG pollution within 0-5 years: Turkmenistan (0.1 years ), Singapore (0..1), Czech Republic (0..2), Liberia (0.2), Netherlands (0.3), Russia (0.3), Nicaragua (0.4), Finland (0.5), Oman (0.6), Palau (0.6), Brazil (0.6), Denmark (0.8). Germany (0.9), Mongolia (1.1), Israel (1.1), Nauru (1.2), Norway (1.3), South Korea (1.5), Kazakhstan (1.6), United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (1.6), Libya (1.7), Greece (1.7), Japan (1.7), Myanmar (1.7), Taiwan (1.8), Cyprus (2.0), Slovenia (2.1), Cambodia (2.1), Austria (2.2), Iceland (2.2), Peru (2.3), Paraguay (2.3), Ukraine (2.4), Poland (2.5), South Africa (2.6), Argentina (2.8), Slovakia (2.8), Spain (2.8), Italy (2.8), Central African Republic (3.0), France (3.3), Suriname (3.4), Belarus (3.4), Gabon (3.6), Ecuador (3.8), Bolivia (3.9), Uruguay (4.5), Cameroon (4.5), Iran (4.5), Côte d’Ivoire (4.6), Sweden (4.6), Seychelles (4.7), Guatemala (4.7), Bulgaria (4.7), Serbia & Montenegro (4.7), Hungary (4.7), Congo, Democratic Republic (formerly Zaire) (4.7), Uzbekistan (4.9), Portugal (5.0).

Countries that must cease GHG pollution within 5-10 years: Switzerland (5.2 years), Azerbaijan (5.6), Angola (5.8), Bahamas (5.9), Benin (6.1), Zimbabwe (6.1), Laos (6.3), Mexico (6.3), Nepal (6.4), Colombia (6.4), Namibia (6.4), Chile (6.4), Malta (6.8), Congo, Republic (6.0), Madagascar (6.0), Croatia (6.2), Jamaica (6.2), Macedonia (6.4), Barbados (6.4), Latvia (6.6), Mauritania (6.9), Turkey (6.9), Romania (7.1), Lithuania (8.4), Costa Rica (8.4), Lebanon (8.6), North Korea (8.9), Thailand (9.1), Jordan (9.7).

Countries that must cease GHG pollution within 10-25 years: Honduras (10.3), Sudan (10.7), Bosnia & Herzegovina (11.0), Algeria (12.2), Iraq (12.2), Sierra Leone (12.2), Syria (13.0), China (13.5), Tunisia (14.5), Dominican Republic (15.6 years), St Kitts & Nevis (16.8), Nigeria (16.8), Fiji (16.8), Guinea (17.5), Mauritius (17.5), Cuba (18.3), Togo (18.3), Vanuatu (19.0), Philippines (19.0), Malawi (19.0), Mali (19.9), Chad (19.9), Sri Lanka (20.8), Uganda (21.7), Dominica (21.7), St Lucia (21.7), Egypt (22.7), Niue (22.7), Ghana (22.7), Moldova (23.8), Grenada (23.8), El Salvador (25.0), Guinea-Bissau (25.0), Tanzania (25.0), Djibouti (25.0).

Countries that must cease GHG pollution within 25-115 years: Pakistan (26.3 years), Samoa (26.3), Tonga (26.3), Morocco (27.8), Senegal (27.8), Albania (27.8), Georgia (27.8), Armenia (29.3), St Vincent & Grenadines (31.1), Kenya (31.1), Maldives (32.9), Kyrgyzstan (32.9), Burkina Faso (32.9), India (35.1), Cook Islands (35.1), Bhutan (37.4), Yemen (40.1), Tajikistan (40.1), Mozambique (40.1), Rwanda (40.1), Burundi (40.1), Lesotho (43.1), Swaziland (43.1), Eritrea (46.5), Haiti (46.5), Solomon Islands (60.5), Vietnam (60.5), Cape Verde (60.5), Niger (60.5), Ethiopia (60.5), São Tomé and Príncipe (67.1), Afghanistan (75.1), The Gambia (75.1), Bangladesh (75.1), Comoros (98.0), Kiribati (115.2).

Now if these estimations seem severe, note that these international comparisons do not take into account the overwhelming responsibility by European countries for the huge historical carbon pollution before 2010. Further, the term CO2-equivalent (CO2-e) measures all GHGs in terms of their CO2 equivalent (CO2-e) but this depends upon the value of the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of each gas. Thus World Bank analysts have recently re-assessed annual man-made (anthropogenic) global GHG pollution as 64 Gt CO2-e (17.4 GtC), about 50% bigger than the 42 Gt CO2-e (11.4 GtC) hitherto thought and that the livestock contribution is over 51% of the bigger figure [4]. A major element in this re-assessment was that it considered a GWP for CH4 on 20 year time frame of 72 ( as compared to 21 on a 100 year time frame), noting that the CH4 GWP on a 20 year time frame with aerosol impacts considered is actually 105 times greater than that of CO2. Taking these latest revised estimates into account, the world as a whole has only 2 years left to act, relative to 2015, before it exceeds a world terminal Carbon Budget of 600 Gt CO2-e [5].

It gets worse. The international consensus-based latest IPCC Summary for Policymakers (2014)[9] argues for a limitation of temperature rise to 2 degrees C through limiting greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution of the atmosphere to 450 ppm (parts per million) CO2-equivalent but hard evidence says that we have already reached 478 ppm CO2-equivalent (CO2-e), and that the plus 2C target adopted by world governments is essentially inevitable and disastrous, leading to a Pliocene-like sea level rise of 25 meters at equilibrium [6].

Indeed it gets even worse. Thus Carbon Tracker reports: “Between 60-80% of coal, oil and gas reserves of publicly listed companies are ‘unburnable’ if the world is to have a chance of not exceeding global warming of 2C. The total coal, oil and gas reserves listed on the world’s stock exchanges equal 762 GtCO2 – approximately a quarter of the world’s total reserves [i.e. of 4 x 762 Gt CO2 =3,048 Gt CO2]” [7]. Furthermore, Professor Peter Wadhams of 90-Nobel-Laureate University Cambridge says that the Arctic Summer Sea Ice “is now on the point of collapse” and that 50 Gt C as methane (CH4) (i.e. 50 Gt C x 105 Gt CO2-e/ Gt C = 5,250 Gt CO2-e) will be released from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf in coming decades [8] . This means that the world’s terminal Carbon Budget of 600 Gt CO2 that must not be exceeded for a 75% chance of avoiding a catastrophic 2C temperature rise will be exceeded by (a) 762 Gt CO2 of stock exchange-listed fossil fuel reserves, (b) 3,048 Gt CO2 of total fossil fuel reserves, and (c) 5,250 Gt CO2-e from methane release in the Arctic in coming decades.

Optimistic conclusion: will impending disaster cause a sociological “tipping point” for climate change action?

One could become quite depressed and immobilized by the worsening climate crisis, and the international climate change inaction as most recently exhibited at the Lima COP20 climate conference. However a counter to this well-justified pessimism is the notion that if things get sufficiently bad Humanity may reach a sociological “tipping point” at which revolutionary action is taken.

Indeed in her important new book “This Changes Everything. Capitalism vs. the Climate”, anti-racist Jewish Canadian writer Naomi Klein notes times when “societies suddenly decide they have had enough, defying all experts and forecasters” (page 464) and concludes in relation to such a Climate Emergency sociological “tipping point”: “The real question is what progressive forces will make of that moment, the power and confidence with which it will be seized. Because these moments when the impossible seems suddenly possible are excruciatingly rare and precious. That means that more must be made of them. The next time one arises, it must be harnessed not only to denounce the world as it is, and build fleeting pockets of liberated space. It must be the catalyst to actually build the world that will keep us all safe. The stakes are simply too high, and the time too short, to settle for anything less” (page 466) [9, 10].

In the face of terracidal global government inaction ordinary people must seize the moment and make a non-violent but resolute Green Socialist Revolution happen now - Green in trying to save Humanity and the Biosphere, and Socialist because “all men are created equal” demands equal shares of diminishing resources and equal shares of permissible GHG pollution until zero GHG emissions are achieved. What must ordinary Humanity do immediately in such bottom-up, revolutionary, climate change action?

From a science-informed perspective, we must achieve (1) a change of societal philosophy to one of scientific risk management and biological sustainability with complete cessation of species extinctions and zero tolerance for lying; (2) an urgent reduction of atmospheric CO2 from the current dangerous 400 ppm (parts per million) CO2 to a safe level of about 300 ppm CO2, as recommended by leading climate and biological scientists; and (3) a rapid switch to the best non-carbon and renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal, wave, tide and hydro options that are currently roughly the same market price as coal burning-based power) and to energy efficiency, public transport, needs-based production, re-afforestation and return of carbon to soils as biochar (from anaerobic pyrolysis of the annual generation of 12 Gt C of forestry and agriculture cellulosic waste) and to the oceans as bicarbonate (from reaction of CO2 with carbonate from limestone through Accelerated Weathering of Limestone, AWL), with all of this coupled with correspondingly rapid cessation of fossil fuel burning, deforestation, methanogenic livestock production and population growth [11].

Cessation of species extinction, of unsustainable deforestation and of fossil fuel burning means climate activists should urge and apply zero tolerance against all people, politicians, parties, candidates, corporations and countries involved in destruction of the Biosphere – indeed, anything less, such as compromising consensuality, will make one complicit in ecocide and terracide. Successful –isms and –ists have an ABC strategy involving Accountability (negative feedback for non-adherence), a Badge (symbol) and a Credo (a brief statement of position). Environmental-ism requires (A) accountability (e.g. holding people, politicians, countries and corporations accountable by Boycotts, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS), exposure and scorn), (B) wearing a badge at all times (e.g., as I do, saying “300 ppm CO2”), and (C) a simple credo (e.g. “For a safe planet for all peoples and all species we must urgently return the atmospheric CO2 from the present 400 ppm CO2 to the safe and sustainable pre-industrial 300 ppm CO2”).

Decent Humanity must seize this moment of potentially catastrophic international climate change inaction and react with zero tolerance for the business-as-usual, effective climate change deniers and Big Polluters by (a) informing everyone they can, and (b) urging and applying comprehensive Boycotts Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against all people, politicians, parties, countries, companies and corporations complicit in the worsening, increasingly disastrous and potentially terminal climate crisis. It’s time to act and to act later may be too late.

References

  1. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) .
  2. Conference of the Parties, Twentieth session, Lima, 1-12 December 2014, Draft decision .
  3. "Years left to zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions relative to 2010", Carbon Debt Carbon Credit.
  4. Robert Goodland and Jeff Anfang. “Livestock and climate change. What if the key actors in climate change are … cows, pigs and chickens?”, World Watch, November/December 2009 .
  5. Gideon Polya, " Doha climate change inaction. Only 5 years left to act", MWC News, 9 December 2012.
  6. Gideon Polya, “International consensus-based IPCC Summary For Policymakers (2014) downplays acute seriousness of Climate Crisis”, Countercurrents, 12 November, 2014 .
  7. Carbon Tracker, “Unburnable carbon 2013: Wasted capital and stranded asserts”.
  8. “Are we doomed?” .
  9. Naomi Klein, “This Changes Everything. Capitalism vs. the Climate” , Allen Lane, London 2014.
  10. Gideon Polya, “This Changes Everything. Capitalism vs. the Climate” by Naomi Klein - Green Socialist Revolution ASAP”, Countercurrents, 11 December 2011.
  11. “2011 climate change course”: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/2011-climate-change-course .

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