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Carbon Rangers/Ecozoic Times
Volume 11 No. 8

September, 2018

Florence, Mangkhut, Katowice
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Dear Reader,
 
Dear Reader,

What are the names in our Header all about? 
I write from New York, USA , while Hurricane Florence (seen above in NASA photo) has battered the eastern coast of North America and over one million people fled from the coastline in several southern states. Typhoon Mangkhut roared through parts of China after battering the Philippines with winds of 165mph.  Katowice is the city in Poland that will host the next UN climate talks in December.  These talks continue the efforts of the Paris Agreement in 2015 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are contributing to conditions that  continue to warm the planet and make our storms more violent.   

This September edition also takes a longer look at the negotiations behind the scenes at the United Nations and elsewhere as diplomats and scientists and civil society attempt to fashion agreements on how to make the global transition to clean energy.  The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, has made care of environment a priority.  The items  on these deliberations take a "deep dive" this time for regular readers so as to give you a chance to explore the complexity of  the challenges for negotiators. Often member states at the UN are  not in favor of outcomes that will impact negatively in the short term in their home countries.
 
Resolve Needed. Observing these discussions from my place at the UN headquarters in New York, I must admit my admiration for the faithfulness of the delegates to these seemingly endless exchanges. Civil society and UN agency specialists in particular demonstrate professional resolve and thoughtful insight with clarity and respectful attention.  All this discussion takes place out of range of the overheated media news cycle distractions we are usually suffering.   
 
Petroleum Interval. How to get from the petroleum interval to clean energy?  This transition is essential to reducing the greenhouse gases in our atmosphere contributing to climate change and exacerbating the intensity and duration of hurricanes like Florence.  Everything touches everything else.  
 
There are several bits of encouraging news you may not have seen yet.  There is an excerpt from a recent report on ecosystem degradation that contains a paradox – more ecosystems have been degraded thus increasing temperatures but this tells us that by restoring ecosystems we can reduce temperature increases.

Just last week we saw  encouraging outcomes in a large gathering in San Francisco, USA. The Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) concluded with a 'Call to Action,' urging national governments to join forces with states and regions, investors, businesses and civil society to step up climate action ahead of 2020 when global emissions must peak to avoid the worst climate change impacts.
 
I have included something at the conclusion as usual from Thomas Berry and also a piece from Pope Francis in Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home.

Let me hear from you if you have ideas for improving the Carbon Rangers.
Email: kcawley1@mac.com


Cordially,
Br. Kevin

Edmund Rice International  
http://edmundriceinternational.org/jpic/

Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue at Iona
http://www.iona.edu/About/Iona-in-Community/The-Thomas-Berry-Forum-for-Ecological-Dialogue.aspx

 As Climate Talks Stall, UN Chief Presses World Leaders to Take Action
UN Secretary General António Guterres urged world leaders to pick up the pace on fighting climate change in a speech at the UN headquarters in New York Monday, The New York Times reported.
 
"If we do not change course by 2020, we risk missing the point where we can avoid runaway climate change," Guterres said. Guterres' speech came a day after climate talks concluded in Bangkok without producing a draft of rules that could be presented at the next round of UN climate negotiations in Katowice, Poland in December, which will be dedicated to the implementation of the Paris agreementThe Associated Press reported.

"We cannot allow Katowice to remind us of Copenhagen," Guterres said, referring to climate talks there that fell apart in 2009, BBC News reported.  The major disagreements at the Bangkok talks revolved around how developing countries would finance and report their Paris commitments. Developed countries are supposed to provide funds to assist developing countries, but ActionAid International Climate Policy Manager Harjeet Singh told The Associated Press that countries like the U.S., Japan, Australia and the EU declined to say "how much money they are going to provide and how that is going to be counted."
Read More.


A Brief History of the UN Climate Change Process
The international political response to climate change began with the 1992 adoption of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which sets out the basic legal framework and principles for international climate change cooperation with the aim of stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The Convention, which entered into force on 21 March 1994, has 197 parties.

In order to boost the effectiveness of the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in December 1997. It commits industrialized countries, and countries in transition to a market economy, to achieve quantified emissions reduction targets for a basket of six GHGs. The Kyoto Protocol entered into force on 16 February 2005 and has 192 parties. Its first commitment period took place from 2008 to 2012. The 2012 Doha Amendment established the second commitment period from 2013 to 2020. It will enter into force after reaching 144 ratifications. As of August 2018, 114 parties had ratified the Doha Amendment.  

In December 2015, parties adopted the Paris Agreement. Under the terms of the Agreement, all countries will submit NDCs, and aggregate progress on mitigation, adaptation, and means of implementation will be reviewed every five years through a global stocktake. The Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016 and, as of 3 September 2018, 180 parties had ratified the Agreement. Read More.
 


Summary of the Bangkok Climate Change Conference
4-9 September 2018 | Bangkok, Thailand
Visit our IISD/ENB Meeting Coverage from Bangkok, Thailand at: http://enb.iisd.org/climate/sb48-2/
The Bangkok Climate Change Conference was convened under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to advance work on the Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP): the details required to operationalize the 2015 Paris Agreement. Over 1600 participants, including more than 1200 government officials, almost 400 representatives from UN bodies and agencies, intergovernmental organizations, civil society organizations, and the media attended the meeting.

At their May 2018 meeting, UNFCCC parties had agreed to an additional meeting in Bangkok to ensure the Work Programme’s “timely completion” by the Katowice Climate Change Conference (COP 24) in December 2018. To enable this work, parties in Bangkok met in resumed 48th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 48-2) and Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 48-2), as well as the sixth session of the first meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA 1-6).

With COP 24 drawing near, many viewed substantial progress in Bangkok as necessary for a successful outcome in Katowice. Negotiations on nearly 20 substantive agenda items took place throughout the week, including on issues related to:

  • mitigation;
  • adaptation;
  • finance;
  • transparency;
  • the global stocktake;
  • response measures;
  • market and non-market approaches;
  • compliance with, and implementation of, the Paris Agreement; and
  • possible additional PAWP items, including matters related to the Adaptation Fund and to loss and damage.

Florence and Mangkhut and Katowice
From Climate Home News

On the other side of the world from the USA, an even worse storm - Typhoon Mangkhut -  headed for the Philippines in this photo from NBC News.  These islands  know the dangers only too well.
For Yeb Saño, it brings back memories of 2013, when he was negotiating - and hunger striking - at climate talks in Warsaw while Typhoon Haiyan devastated his homeland. Now as director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, he is on a crusade for climate justice.

Poles Apart
This December's UN climate summit in Katowice in Poland is a key moment for taking stock of (in)action on climate change, but whose vision will prevail?  The EU wants to make sure ministers contemplate the findings of a major scientific report on the tougher 1.5C warming limit of the Paris Agreement, due in October. Reinforcing the bloc's commitment to raising ambition, European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker threw his weight behind calls for a stronger 2030 climate target. The Polish hosts have other priorities, planning political declarations on forests, electric vehicles and the "just transition" of workers to a green economy.  Read More.


Florence Update
September 17, By Eugene Robinson
Washington Post
Storms Wetter. Hurricane Florence has drenched eastern North Carolina with more than 30 inches of rain, an all-time record for the state. Last year, Hurricane Harvey stalled over Houston and dumped more than 60 inches of rain, an all-time record for the whole country. Also last year, Hurricane Maria ravaged the island of Puerto Rico and caused, according to an independent study, nearly 3,000 deaths. 

Storms More Intense. Tropical cyclones are nothing new, of course. But climate scientists say that global warming should make such storms wetter, slower and more intense — which is exactly what seems to be happening. And if we fail to act, these kinds of devastating weather events will likely become even more frequent and more severe. Climate change is a global phenomenon. Authorities in the Philippines are still trying to assess the damage and death toll from Typhoon Mangkhut, a rare Category 5-equivalent storm that struck the archipelago Saturday with sustained winds of 165 mph. Mangkhut went on to batter Hong Kong and now, as it weakens, is plowing across southern China.  Read more.


 

Global Climate Action Summit 
San Francisco, California


GCAS Inspires. 
September 2018: The Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) concluded with a 'Call to Action,' urging national governments to join forces with states and regions, investors, businesses and civil society to step up climate action ahead of 2020 when global emissions must peak to avoid the worst climate change impacts. The GCAS, which brought together over 4,000 participants, provided the opportunity for a range of stakeholders to showcase climate action they are already pursuing and announce new commitments going forward. Read More.
 

Here are some of the important new commitments that were made during the Global Climate Action Summit — it's a long list:

  • California Governor Jerry Brown grabbed the world's attention right out of the gate by signing into law a bill to move California to 100 percent zero-carbon electricity by 2045. He also signed bills to help decarbonize homes and offices, accelerate the phase out of super-polluting hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) used in air conditioners and refrigeration, and support electric vehicle deployment, along with an ambitious executive order to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045
  • New York, Maryland, and Connecticut announced plans to phase out super-polluting HFCs and replace them with climate-friendlier coolants in new refrigerators, air conditioners, and other products. And eight companies and the industry trade association joined NRDC in pushing for these requirements to be adopted across the nation
  • New Jersey announced plans to rev up offshore wind production
  • Six states in India are adopting extreme heat action plans to ensure residents are safe and better prepared for dangerous rising temperatures. The Indian State of Telangana, the city of Pune, and the city of Ahmedabad also plan to add significantly more electric buses to their fleets by 2020
  • New resources were dedicated to help marine environments cope with climate change — and NRDC premiered Our Ocean Planet, an important new film narrated by Sigourney Weaver that shows the vital link between a stable climate and healthy oceans
  • International states, regions, cities, and businesses — including California, Washington State, Tokyo, and Seoul — committed to 100 percent zero emission vehicle targets
  • A coalition of cities and states in the U.S. and Canada committed to cutting food waste and loss by 50 percent by 2030
  • Los Angeles, Tokyo, Mexico City, and 70 other big cities pledged to become carbon neutral by 2050, meaning they'll cut their carbon pollution and offset whatever remains by investing in carbon-reduction methods like reforestation
  • Some 400 investors, representing $32 trillion in assets, launched the Investor Agenda to accelerate the investment necessary to implement the Paris climate agreement
  • Virginia became the 12th state to join the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic Transportation & Climate Initiative that is working to cut carbon pollution from the transportation sector
  • The U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition of 17 governors, announced a slate of climate and clean energy commitments to phase out climate super pollutants, deploy $1.4 billion from the Volkswagen settlement to drive down transportation emissions, and strengthen appliance efficiency standards

Ecosystem Restoration Could Help Slow Temperature Rise

Destruction Larger…According to new estimates, the proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere that is generated by destruction and degradation of ecosystems turns out to be much larger than previously estimated. This gives us wonderful hope because that amount--now estimated to be between 450 and 500 Gigaton--is roughly equal to that remaining in extant ecosystems. What that means is that if we can restore 7.7 Gigaton of ecosystem services, then we can in turn reduce atmospheric loading by 1 ppm of CO2.

Degradation Greater Than Previously Known. In short, focused and purposeful ecosystem restoration could help us keep global temperature rises at 1.5*C. There are multiple reasons to engage in ecosystem restoration at scale beyond just the carbon/climate benefit. The amount of degraded lands in the world is vast,and restoring them to productivity as well as for biodiversity and ecosystem services is just plain common sense. Coastal wetlands provide protection from climate-enhanced storm surges. Agricultural systems that accumulate carbon gain in soil fertility. Forests not only protect watersheds but also represent great stocks of carbon and serve as safe havens for biodiversity. Restored grasslands store carbon underground even while being grazed by livestock or native herbivores. However, the potential of ecosystem restoration to get us to no more than 1.5*C warming does not lessen the imperative to hasten--indeed to accelerate--changing our sources and use of energy.

Better Understanding of Tradeoffs Needed. The potential power of ecosystem restoration means that we must take great care in how we balance ecosystem restoration and management with production of biofuels. We must better understand these tradeoffs and avoid clearing native ecosystems while remembering the imperatives of feeding a growing human population and conserving biodiversity. Are we at the failsafe point? No. We still have time to act upon the recognition that our planet is an intricately linked biological and physical system that holds yet-to-be-understood capacity to heal and clean itself.

We still have tools and opportunities to effectively manage the living planet and its biodiversity for the benefit of humanity and all life on Earth. --Thomas E. Lovejoy and Lee Hannah

Lovejoy and Hannah, Sci. Adv. 2018; 4 : eaau9981 22 August 2018


Transition to Clean Energy?
From Future Crunch
Newcomers Need Clean Energy Too. Not only do we need to start replacing all of the existing fossil fuel mix with clean energy, we have to give access to all the newcomers. The billion people who still rely on burning wood and charcoal? They're going to need their lights switched on. And then there's the billions of people who are going to be added to the global population this century. Global energy consumption is going to climb by 30% over the next few decades as developing countries get richer (according to the IEA, China alone needs to add the equivalent of the entire United States' power sector by 2040). 

Need to Accelerate Transition. Starting to get the picture? It's pretty sobering. The sheer enormity of the world's energy demand is hard to get your head around. To cut emissions fast enough and keep up with growth, we're going to need to accelerate the energy transition to a whole new level. We have to add billions to the grid and provide more energy for the new middle class in Asia and Africa and we have to do it while replacing all the old infrastructure that we've already got. And all of it needs to happen in the next 30 years. This is the largest technological challenge in our species' history.

Zero Emissions by 2050?  Developed nations are going to have to start racing toward net-zero emissions by mid-century and developing nations will need to find a very different path to prosperity than the one travelled by the countries before them. By 2020, global spending on zero emissions technologies needs to be doubled, and the cost of renewable energy must beat out coal in every single energy market. The majority of the world's countries must have fully committed to electrifying their transportation systems, and new transmission infrastructure needs to start being built on a mass scale. All of the Fortune 500 companies that represent heavy industries must have committed to the Paris targets, and their emissions-reduction plans must be in effect.

95% Clean Electricity. By 2050, emissions need to drop to 30% of what they're at today. That means that nearly 95% of electricity must be clean, and 7 out of every 10 new cars will need to be electric, compared with 1 in 100 today. We're going to have to build 40-50 terawatts of clean energy capacity during that time too, an almost unimaginably large amount of infrastructure. Yes, renewables are now a multi-billion dollar industry. Sure, we've seen an extraordinary increase in the amount of clean energy being installed around the world in the last few years. But it's still just a drop in the ocean.  Read More
 

UN Treaty Would Protect High Seas from Over Exploitation
Tuesday, September 4, 2018 - 08:46. Source: BBC
Author: Matt McGrath
Open Ocean? The first significant steps towards legally protecting the high seas are to take place at the UN in New York. These waters, defined as the open ocean far from coastlines, are threatened by deep-sea mining, over-fishing and the patenting of marine genetic resources. Over the next two years, government representatives aim to hammer out a binding agreement to protect them against over-exploitation. But several nations, including the US, are lukewarm towards the proposals.

Oceans Capture Excess CO2 . Experts believe that the oceans of the world are vital for a number of reasons. Scientists say they capture around 90% of the extra heat and about 26% of the excess carbon dioxide created by humans through the burning of fossil fuels and other activities.

Oceans Protecting Life on Land. "The half of our planet which is high seas is protecting terrestrial life from the worst impacts of climate change," said Prof Alex Rogers from Oxford University, UK, who has provided evidence to inform the UN treaty process under way in September in New York. "Yet we do too little to safeguard that or to protect the life within the ocean which is intrinsic to our collective survival. Protecting the biodiversity of the high seas by bringing good governance and law to the whole ocean is the single most important thing we can do to turn the tide for the blue heart of our planet."  Read more


 World’s Largest Sovereign Wealth Fund Raises Standards for Oceans, Sustainability
Links to 9,000 Corporations.Norway's $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund, the largest in the world, released two documents recently  stating it wants the companies it invests in to follow more rigorous rules on ocean plastic pollution and overall sustainabilityReuters reported.

9,000 Corporations. Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), which manages the fund that invests in more than 9,000 companies in 72 countries, said it expected companies to consider ocean sustainability when creating strategy, take ocean-related risks into account and be transparent and responsible in managing the oceans, CNBC reported.

Ocean is Vital. "The ocean is a vital part of the biosphere and an important part of the global economy," NBIM CEO Yngve Slyngstad said in a statement reported by CNBC. "We expect companies to manage the challenges and opportunities related to sustainable use of the ocean."  The fund's ocean "expectation document" is focused on companies that benefit from or impact the ocean in some way, from plastic producers to fisheries to shipping. These companies are worth $56.5 billion total and represent around 8 percent of the fund's global equities portfolio, Reuters reported.

Ocean Plastic Pervasive. Ocean plastic pollution has emerged as a major environmental problem in recent years, and plastic producers make up about half of the companies targeted by the new document.  Ocean sustainability is one of Norway's stated foreign policy goals, since its main industries of oil and gas, fishing, shipping and fish farming are all dependent on the ocean. The fund also issued a note Wednesday saying it wants companies to work towards meeting the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, CNBC reported. The goals include environmentally responsible ways to alleviate poverty, promoting social equality and growing the economy by 2030. The fund said there would be consequences for companies that didn't develop adequate strategies towards achieving these goals, according to Reuters. Read More.
 


Good News You May Have Missed
Brazil cut its carbon emissions from deforestation by 610 million tons last year, reaching its 2020 climate change targets three years ahead of schedule. VOA


New Caledonia has agreed to place 28,000 square kilometres of its ocean waters under protection, including some of the world's most pristine coral reefs. Forbes

Niger. In the past three decades, southern Niger has been transformed by 200m new trees, part of the largest positive transformation of the environment in African history. Guardian

 


Season of Creation - September 2018
The Season of Creation is an opportunity to worship the Creator and protect the good gift of creation. From mountain villages in Peru to bustling downtown streets in the Philippines, Christians of all denominations are uniting to pray and act for our common home.  
The Season of Creation begins on September 1, the Day of Prayer for Creation, and ends on October 4, the feast day of St. Francis, the patron saint of ecology in many traditions. There is an urgent need to find solutions to the crisis facing our common home. Together, we are fulfilling our role as stewards of God’s creation.


Laudato Si': On Care For Our Common Home   

Laudato Si
"The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all. At the global level, it is a
complex system linked to many of the essential conditions for human life. A very solid scientific
consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In. recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon. Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it." (23)
 
1914-2009
Message from Thomas Berry

"Perhaps the most valuable heritage we can provide for future generations is some sense of the Great Work that is before them of moving the human project from its devastating exploitation to a benign presence. We need to give them some indication of how the next generation can fulfill this work in an effective manner." (Thomas Berry, "The Great Work," in The Great Work, 7).
Copyright © 2018 Edmund Rice International, All rights reserved.


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