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Daily Tck: Day two of the UN climate talks in Bonn

The Daily Tck: A daily dispatch from the GCCA team at the UN climate talks in Bonn. Sign up to have them delivered to your inbox during the climate talks.

UN climate talks

Creative Commons: UNFCCC, 2015

  • Increasingly felt climate impacts and extreme weather firsts add to urgency for action
  • Climate vulnerable countries and campaigners make procedural progress in Loss & Damage push
  • More clear picture of the co-benefits and dropping costs of climate action emerge with new reports

Tuesday’s climate negotiations started amidst pouring rain, reminding some perhaps, of the storm that ravaged Dominica over the weekend – and with it, another extreme weather tragedy marking the start of another round of negotiations. But even for those well-enough equipped not to be bothered by rain, the dangerous specter of climate impacts, in the present and future, seemed inescapable.

Seychelles Ambassador Ronny Jumeau drew our attention to the island nation of Cape Verde, off the coast of West Africa, whose residents braced for their first night ever spent under a hurricane warning. Until this week, no hurricane has ever been recorded further East in the tropical Atlantic. Meanwhile, the Pacific Ocean is playing host to three major hurricanes at the same time; another never-before-recorded meteorological event likely spurred by record-warm ocean temperatures. 2015 is literally uncharted territory, with climate scientists predictingthis year will be the hottest on record “by a mile.”  As if decades of research by the world’s leading climate scientists and an overwhelming dose of weird weather headlines weren’t enough, researchers warned that the Persian Gulf is now at risk of tropical cyclones. Dubai – which has never experienced such a storm, and certainly wasn’t built to withstand one – could be inundated by storm surges of up to 4 meters.

A number of climate vulnerable countries, joined by campaigners in solidarity, attempted to translate the onslaught of scary headlines into momentum – pressing for the Paris agreement to meaningfully progress work on ‘loss & damage’ from climate impacts. And it worked! Negotiations on the issue moved past process and into substance. The US and Australia, who had put up some of the biggest barriers in previous sessions, softened their rhetoric. And facilitators agreed to dig further into the topic Wednesday, in a dedicated session.

Bonn’s Tuesday morning rain also served as a catalyst for jabs …pointed at the ‘Umbrella Group.’ Some members of the the bloc – including Australia, Canada, Japan and New Zealand – have made themselves into pariahs on the road to Paris; extending their soiled reputations to the Group as a whole. Rumors that the bloc chose its name “because an umbrella is a good hiding place” were even aired on US national public radio. As the rain let up Tuesday afternoon,Australia and New Zealand pulled back their umbrellas to present their recently released, and ‘woefully inadequate,’ climate action plans. Some of the most ambitious national plans, recently put forward by the Marshall Islands and DRC, were also presented, shining in stark bright contrast.

News, links & useful grist that caught our eye

The Marshall Islands’ bold national climate plan demonstrates leadership, but it also capturesmyriad co-benefits of climate action. With bigger populations and a bigger economy, the potential for co-benefits increase dramatically. A new report, launched by the Chilean Citizens’ Committee on Climate Change Tuesday, shows that potential in Chile is staggering. Switching to 100% renewable energy by 2050, the country could avoid spending $5.3 billion a year on fossil fuels, create 11,000 green jobs and save 1,500 lives a year due to reduced air-pollution in Santiago alone. More on Chile in our Tree Alert.

As our understanding of co-benefits deepen, we’re also seeing evidence that barriers to implementing climate solutions are dropping. A new report from the IEA says renewable energy is no longer a cost-outlier. Drops in renewable prices over the last five years have narrowed the gap with power generated from fossil fuels. Along similar lines, a new report from Citibank shows that the potential investment required to set course toward a 1.5º world over the next quarter century is actually cheaper than a business as usual, high-carbon, scenario. At the same time, their estimates show that the 1.5º scenario could avoid up to $US50 Trillion in damage costs incurred by climate change impacts.

With most countries not yet realizing their full potential for climate action and the co-benefits it might bring, mechanisms to improve on their plans are essential. The We Mean Business coalition – which includes hundreds of major companies and investors – added their weight to a major push for an ‘ambition mechanism’ to be included in the Paris agreement. The mechanism should commit governments to strengthening their climate action plans every five years.

China approved amendments to the country’s 15-year-old air pollution law, granting new powers to punish offenders and create a legal framework to cap coal consumption. The government is also planning to invest more than $300 billion in a upgrading its power grid infrastructure so it can cut its coal consumption in the country’s air-polluted east.

Our Tree Alerts team pulled together a brief on the climate-focused GLACIER Summit (Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement and Resilience), which wrappedMonday. President Barack Obama called on attendees, which included Ministers from five of the seven nations bordering the Arctic, to ramp up their climate action commitments. Canada’s foreign minister was conspicuously absent, arguing that the current federal election campaign got in the way of his ability to participate.

Headlines about how climate change is already shaping our lives weren’t limited to tropical storms and heat waves. Reuters reported that an exceptionally poor growing season is fueling climate migrants in Zimbabwe and Somalia, with forecasted floods tied to El Nino likely to make things worse. And The Atlantic reports from a village in the US Arctic who voted to relocate to avoid being swept into the sea.

And Ban Ki Moon added to the busy calendar of high-level climate meetings scheduled for the coming weeks. Frustrated by slow progress in global climate talks, the UN Secretary-General will invite around 40 world leaders, including President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to a closed-door meeting on 27 September.

Resources

Our friends at the Climate Action Network International are publishing daily ECO newsletters laying out their case to negotiators.

IISD’s reporting service has high-resolution pictures from Day 2 inside the World Conference Center, and more to come throughout the next two weeks. They also have a detailed overview ofTuesday’s negotiations.

Climate-Justice.Info launched a Storify to track the negotiations as they happen. Check it outhere.

Our Climate Trackers hosted a webinar with members of the International Federation of Medical Student Associations, digging in to the state of health issues in the Paris agreement and beyond. A small team of Climate Trackers are in Bonn writing for a few newspapers around the world (ESDEPH).

Useful hashtags for tracking the negotiations in real-time are #ADP2, #UNFCCC and #COP21.  We’ll join the conversation on twitter via @tcktcktck.

We’ll also keep you abreast of developments in the wider world of climate activism and action attcktcktck.org and treealerts.org.

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