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The Consequence of Trapped The Paris Climate Agreement

A rescue operation for the trapped Paris Agreement would be near impossible.

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Paris Agreement
Can the trapped Paris Climate Agreement be rescued? Flickr
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Two months ago, all 12 boys and the coach of a Thai football team were rescued after being trapped in a cave in northern Thailand for 18 days. Many termed their rescue against heavy odds a miracle.

Sadly, the six-day United Nations Special Climate Conference that concluded on September 9 was not able to rescue the trapped Paris Climate Agreement in the well-lit conference centre in southern Thailand.Many of the delegates wondered if it was about pronouncing the promises only to dodge them.

The Paris Climate Agreement has been hanging from a cliff right from the day US President Donald Trump, a year back, announced his official plan to withdraw from it. Though hundreds of American mayors and thousands of businesses — and even its allies like France — have been seeking to defy the consequences of Trump’s withdrawal, the agreement is getting dangerously close to its fatal consequence.

Paris Agreement
The 2015 UN Climate Change Conference Paris brought together leaders with the goal of creating a universal climate agreement that would keep global warming down. Flickr

The good news is that the Paris Climate Agreement has entered into force on November 4, 2016, in less than a year from its consensus adoption on December 12, 2015, in Paris. However, it is yet to be operationalised because its modalities, procedures and guidelines are yet to be agreed upon by its 180 Parties (countries that ratified the Paris Climate Agreement). Indeed, the Paris Agreement in its present form is just an agreement of intent.

These “rules”, as per the time-table agreed in Paris, have to be ready no later than 2018. The Bangkok Climate Conference was a late addition to the schedule after dismal progress was made at the annual meeting of the subsidiary bodies of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ( UNFCCC) in Bonn in May 2018. The Bangkok Climate Conference was the last major negotiating meeting before the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP-24) in Poland in December, when finally the Paris Agreement will be in mission mode.

The exercise in Bangkok turned out to be progress in planning but a stalemate in its objective of operationalising. The Paris Climate Agreement remains trapped in a complex maze of the caves of finance for mitigation and adaptation for the developing countries, deployment of market mechanisms, periodicity of stocktaking and transparency, flexibility for developing countries in reporting.

Paris Climate Agreement
India Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivers a speech as he attends Heads of States’ Statements ceremony of the COP21 World Climate Change Conference 2015 in Le Bourget, north of Paris, France, 30 November 2015. The 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) is held in Paris from 30 November to 11 December aimed at reaching an international agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions and curtail climate change.

Formulating the rules on the cyclic and iterative nature by enhancing the nationally determined contributions (NDCs), earlier considered an innovation in international agreements, is now proving to be formidable.

It all boils down to the fact that world is now setting the new norms of not keeping the promises made on global cooperation. Not walking the talk and smartly gyrating the agreed goals is now the global attire of the diplomacy. And each of these new patterns are being justified, sometimes diplomatically and, many times with international arrogance.

Take, for example, financing for mitigation and adaptation for the developing countries. The “polluter to pay” norm has been the anchor in the multilateral environment agreements right from the 1992 Rio Agreement but is now being openly flouted. The promise of providing “additional” finance through the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which was first proposed by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then President Barack Obama in Copenhagen in 2009, is supposed to become fully operational in 2020, i.e. developed countries would provide — starting with $10 billion per year in 2012 to reach $100 billion per year from 2020 onwards — to help developing countries pay for climate adaptation and mitigation.

What has happened to that promise? As of today, GCF has pledges of $10.4 billion whereas the actually committed is only $3.5 billion. The GCF as institution itself is in chaotic state. The GCF head, an Australian, abruptly resigned in July 2018 after just two years in the job because of “personal reasons”. The deputy head from Nicaragua did not even attend the July meeting of GCF, where no projects were approved. “GCF is melting down faster than Antarctica,” one of the delegates in Bangkok said.

Paris Climate Agreement
The good news is that the Paris Agreement has entered into force on November 4, 2016, in less than a year from its consensus adoption on December 12, Flickr

In Bangkok, the developed countries smartly proposed to count all the finances provided by the private sector, philanthropy, FDI and regular international development aid of 0.7 per cent of the GDP as part of the promised $100 billion. They also proposed dilution of the financial reporting rules, thereby flouting the agreement on “additional climate financing”.

Not walking the full talk by the star performers on climate change has also resulted in the angry reaction from civil society, and supported by countries, on such climate-hypocrisy.

An example is the Global Climate Action Summit convened from September 12 to 14, 2018, in San Francisco, under the leadership of California Governor Jerry Brown. The summit’s theme is “Take Ambition to the Next Level”. It will be a star-studded international event to showcase climate action at all levels and to inspire enhanced commitments and god-speed action from countries to realise the goals of the Paris Agreement. Indeed, California, the richest US state, has done more in policy setting and its implementation in the field of renewable energy and energy efficiency than any other country in the world. Its firebrand governor can be termed as climate’s game-changer.

Paris Agreement
Developed countries urged to honour Paris Agreement. Flickr

In Bangkok, Brown was booed by civil society representatives for his soft approach towards oil producers in California by allowing them to drill for oil. “How can we expect a leader to take climate ambitions to the next level when he himself, from the back-door, takes it to a lower level,” queried one demonstrator in Bangkok.

Also Read: Climate Change Can Combat Unemployment By Creating 14 Mn Jobs

When state leaders arrive in Poland in December, they would have to muddle through the mess of the draft “rule book” mired in diminishing trust. By that time, the GHGs concentration, already higher by 42 percent as compared to 1992 levels, would have risen to the “next level”.

A rescue operation for the trapped Paris Climate Agreement would be near impossible. (IANS)

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A Weakened Hurricane Florence Is Still Dangerous

The weather forecasters are predicting an additional 10 to 15 centimeters of rain to fall in hardest hit area in southeastern North Carolina

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Hurricane Florence
A member of the North Carolina Task Force urban search and rescue team wades through a flooded neighborhood looking for residents who stayed behind as Florence continues to dump heavy rain in Fayetteville, N.C. VOA

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper says the risk to life is “rising with the angry waters” as what is left of Hurricane Florence dumps tons of rain across the state.

“Wherever you live in North Carolina, be alert for sudden flash floods. Pay attention to the weather warnings and be ready to head for safer ground if you’re asked to evacuate,” Cooper warned residents during Sunday news conference.

“Never drive through flooded roads. Just a few inches (centimeters) of water can wash your car away. And that is already happening out there.”

Florence is now a tropical depression, but continues to dump buckets of rain on parts of the southeastern United States as it slowly creeps toward the mid-Atlantic.

 

Hurricane Florence
Susan Hedgepeth is assisted along with her dog Cooper by members of the U.S. Coast Guard in Lumberton, N.C., Sept. 16, 2018, following flooding from Hurricane Florence. Hedgepeth was moved to higher ground. VOA

 

At least 16 people have been killed. Entire towns are completely cut off by floodwaters. Major highways are covered and more than 700,000 homes have no power. Many parts of North Carolina are under a tornado watch.

Top sustained winds are still a brisk 55 kilometers and one meteorologist says Florence is “still a catastrophic, life-threatening storm.”

 

Hurricane Florence
A pickup is submerged in floodwaters in Lumberton, N.C., Sept. 15, 2018, in the wake of Hurricane Florence. VOA

 

Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Brock Long told Fox News Sunday “This is going to be a long, frustrating event” for those who have lost their homes or face substantial damage when they eventually are able to return.

It said the storm will continue to “produce heavy and excessive rainfall,” endangering towns and cities in its path.

 

Hurricane Florence
Members of a combined New Bern/Greenville swift water rescue team Brad Johnson, left, and Steve Williams rest after searching for people stranded by floodwaters caused by the tropical storm Florence in New Bern, N.C. VOA

 

One of the hardest hit cities in North Carolina was New Bern, a riverfront city not far from the coastline. Mayor Dana Outlaw said the city, hit by a three-meter storm surge at the height of the storm on Friday, has 4,200 damaged homes.

Across North Carolina, 26,000 people were being housed in 157 shelters after escaping their homes in advance of the flood waters.

 

Hurricane Florence
Floodwaters were rising near businesses in LaGrange, N.C., as Tropical Storm Florence pounded the area. VOA

 

The White House said President Donald Trump would visit the storm-ravaged region in the coming days, but only after it is determined his arrival would not disrupt continuing rescue and recovery efforts.

The hurricane agency said it expects Florence will dump up to another 25 centimeters of rain on central and western North Carolina, on top of the 38 to 50 centimeters that has already fallen on the region. It said the additional rain will “produce catastrophic flash flooding, prolonged significant river flooding, and an elevated risk for landslides in western North Carolina and far southwest Virginia.”

Hurricane Florence
A work truck drives on Hwy 24 as the wind from Hurricane Florence blows palm trees in Swansboro N.C. VOA

Further to the south, the weather forecasters are predicting an additional 10 to 15 centimeters of rain to fall in hardest hit area in southeastern North Carolina, where the storm dumped 75 to 100 centimeters of rain after crashing into the state’s coastline on Friday as a Category 1 hurricane.

Also Read: The Wrath Of Seas And Climate Change

Because the storm virtually stalled after hitting the shoreline, it has dumped record amounts of rain on the mid-Atlantic region, pulling warm water from the ocean. Storm surges, flash flooding and wind have left a path of destruction, with hundreds of thousands of people unable to return to their homes until floodwaters recede, which is expected to take days in many instances. (VOA)