Climate Action Energy Sustainability and Heritage

Pathways to a low carbon future: Paris 2015

Vision from Paris. © J. Ashley Nixon

Paris Climate Summit (COP21)

On Monday, November 30, 2015, 196 countries will be represented at the Paris Climate Summit. In official-speak, this is the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Or put simply, COP21. Many of these dignitaries will be their country’s most senior politicians: Premiers, Prime Ministers and Presidents. Each will have the opportunity to speak to the world and show their global leadership.

Each will have three minutes to speak.

Some of these VIPs will draw heavily on their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions or INDCs, a rather awkward term that describes a nation’s pledge or planned actions on climate. Up to today, 170 INDCs had been submitted to the UNFCCC. Others, hopefully, will come forth on the day with their public announcements.

The world holds its CO2-laden breath on what will come of these leaders’ statements during the 12 days of negotiations in Paris. A positive sign of vigorous intent is that Global Emitters #1 and #2, China and the USA will kick off the conference with a bilateral session involving General Secretary & President Xi Jinping and President Obama Barack.

The negotiations that follow will work through,in gruelling fashion, the draft text that was prepared at the last climate conference, COP20, held in Peru in 2014. Some of the eventual outcomes that we need to follow from the rhetoric in Paris are:

  • Getting coal off electricity power generation (especially in India, China and the USA). The recent announcement from the Canadian province of Alberta is an example of a step in the right direction on this.
  • Getting more efficient (via public transportation investments) and eventually getting internal combustion engines out of the way we transport people and goods around cities and beyond.
  • Getting technology and innovation to work on removing CO2 from the atmosphere in a timely and economic fashion (carbon capture and storage (CCS) and maybe geoengineering)
  • Getting more out of every joule of energy we use (energy efficiency)
  • Getting more into renewables (business enterprise coupled with incentives to make renewables more cost-effective and, so, more appealing than fossil fuels.
  • Getting a carbon price on the table, be it a carbon tax or cap and trade. Just get it out there to drive ahead on all of the above.

Energy Shift

Put together, these actions are about a fundamental Energy Shift. Changes to the ways in which we exploit and use energy in an ever-growing (and wealthier, more consuming) world population, yet doing so in ways that reduce CO2 emissions.

There are many pathways to this low carbon future. Our choices will require innovation and stronger support for inventive research and development. Our choices will require collective courage and collaboration across all walks of civil society-governments, businesses, cities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the consuming public. But our choices, fundamentally, will be deeply influenced by how politicians shape this new agenda this week in Paris, and beyond, to enable a safe and prosperous low carbon future.

World leaders, on Monday you have three minutes to push this climate agenda forward. Show true leadership and a collaborative spirit.

Use your time wisely.

Sites to visit for news on the Paris Climate Summit COP 21

Here are some of my preferred places to visit and find out what is happening at the Paris Climate Summit (COP21) over the next 12 days.

UNFCCC Paris COP21 Information Hub
This hub will be providing a stream of updates from the Paris Climate Summit

International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
IISD is providing “official” reporting services at COP21

The Climate Group
Daily news and analysis from an international non-profit

BBC News
See news at the Paris Climate Summit page

The Guardian
Dedicated news coverage on climate change and the events as they unfurl in Paris


1 comment on “Pathways to a low carbon future: Paris 2015

  1. Pingback: A green gavel strikes out for climate action: the Paris Agreement is adopted #COP21 | NixonsCan

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