Timberland Creates More Green Spaces in Five European Cities

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Numerous studies indicate that a growing number of children in Europe are feeling disconnected to nature. A new study in The British Journal of Sports Medicine says that children are living a sedentary lifestyle and are not physically active enough from the time they start school.

Mars Urges The Business Community And Global Leaders To Take Bold Action To Tackle Climate Change

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – John Kerry, the US Secretary of State says the outgoing Obama administration wants to prevent the withdrawal of the US from the landmark Paris deal to prevent catastrophic climate change. “This is bigger than one person, one president,” Kerry said in Marrakech, before his last address to the UN climate summit being held here, the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP22).

COP21: Getting Down to Business

COP21 has been hailed as a historic event because of the way it facilitated 196 countries to come together in support of a shared ambition to head off accelerating climate change before it’s too late. It’s a tremendously important moment, or at least it will be if those words and promises lead to action. It raises the unprecedented possibility of all the peoples of the world working together towards a common goal. A newly released report by Businesses for Social Responsibility (BSR) along with the We Mean Business coalition, entitled “The Paris Agreement: What is Means for Business,” lays out a set of recommended actions for businesses and investors in response to and in support of COP21.

The report translates the multiple outcomes of the Paris Summit into a concise set of straightforward statements:

  • [What]: Climate ambition is universal (2°C with a stretch goal of 1.5)
  • [When]: The international community has committed to net zero emissions in the second half of this century.
  • [Where]: All countries are subject to the same reporting and verification framework
  • [How]: Financial flows are committed to shift towards low-carbon and high-resilience investments
  • [Who]: The private sector is recognized as an integral part of the solution

The days of businesses focusing exclusively on profits, while governments make sure that no one gets hurt, (minus exceptions made for special relationships)—are not yet over, but a new vision of a better way for the world, and for businesses in particular to work has been articulated and is gaining considerable traction.

An overarching outcome of the summit is the establishment of a level of policy certainty not seen before in this area. Certainty is as crucial for investment as sunlight is for the plants that feed us. For investment there is a goal of US $100 billion per year from the governments of developed countries by 2020. It is understood that substantial additional expenditure will be made. An estimated $90 trillion will be spent on infrastructure by 2030, most of it in developing countries. So, as long as the commitment is to spend that money on sustainable infrastructure, there should be no problem achieving achieving the required investment level. That, in turn, should provide ample incentive for both businesses and companies to invest further in sustainable technologies.

The main process is for each country to prepare national climate plans that will be updated every five years. We are in the preparatory phase for the first cycle which begins implementation in 2020. At that time the new or updated national plans are submitted, and the process repeats every five years afterwards until the goal is reached.

Another major elements coming out of the summit is Mandatory Reporting & Verification. This is a commitment on the part of participating countries to tell the truth when it comes to their emission levels, as least as well as they understand them. This effort will be greatly enhanced by the deployment of new technologies such as space-based verification systems. Not only will this allow countries to get a better handle, with considerable detail, on what their actual emissions are, it will also allow for independent, third-party verification.

Cross-border Carbon Pricing will provide a sizable market within which countries can match capabilities with needs, while at the same time providing continuous incentive for each country to follow a cleaner path to energy production and consumption.

McKibben, Klein, Greenpeace Call for Global Carbon Tax Now

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - While there can be no question that the agreement reached in Paris was historic, and by most measures successful, there were those that felt that without having implemented a global carbon tax, it fell short of the mark. These folks, whose numbers include Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein and Greenpeace’s Kumi Naidoo, did not waste any time to seize the moment to come out with a fresh call for a “carbon levy.”

The group, a loose,unnamed confederation of some 60 global climate action leaders, issued a statement that said, "The industry that is most responsible for climate change is the fossil fuel industry - responsible for roughly 70 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. The fossil fuel industry is responsible not only for the majority of carbon emissions but also for the delay in dealing with the problem. They have known about climate change for decades, yet have funded climate denialists and have subverted political processes aimed at fighting the problem. International law - and basic fairness - say that the fossil fuel industry should pay for the loss and damage that their product is causing."

The group has pledged to introduce a levy that would raise money from fossil fuel extraction and use those funds to compensate “the people facing the worst impacts of climate change.” The Paris agreement included language on loss and damage, but did not establish direct liability.

James Hansen, the former NASA scientist who was among the first to sound the alarm on climate change back in 1988, also had disparaging words about the agreement, calling it, “just worthless words. There is no action, just promises. As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest fuels out there, they will be continued to be burned.”

It’s true that the plummeting price of oil is not helping matters any, even as the cost of solar and other renewables continue to drop. Still, growth in renewables continues to be strong and with the extension of investment tax credits in the latest budget, that growth should continue.

While the UN process focused on distinctions between developed and developing countries, arguing that developed countries had benefited most from the fossil fuels, the result of which was now threatening the planet, this group is focused more on the industry, which they consider responsible.

While many including myself,  have argued for some form of carbon tax as the most effective way to expedite the transition away from fossil fuels; the language in this statement contains a more punitive tone, choosing the stick rather than the carrot.

Islamic Climate Declaration Asks Muslims to Take Action On Climate Change

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Islamic leaders have issued an Islamic Climate Declaration, calling 1.6 billion Muslims around the world to work towards phasing out greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and towards a 100 percent renewable energy strategy.

U.K. Government Urged to Tackle Climate Change for Economic Growth

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – A new U.K.

Business Leaders are Vanguard of Movement To Take Climate Action

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Two hundred days before the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, the Business & Climate Summit in May provided an opportunity for business and government leaders to demonstrate bold action, adopt forward-looking strategies and call for ambitious policies that will allow to scale up solutions.

Lima COP Concludes With Some Answers, Many Questions

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - The UN Climate Conference of Parties, which took place over the last two weeks in Lima, Peru turned out to be quite a roller coaster ride. It began with soaring optimism in the wake of the recent agreement between US and China to take serious action, followed by a US pledge to add $3 billion to the International Climate Fund. That was on the heels of an EU announcement to cut their emissions by 40% below 1990 levels. Awareness of the issue seemed to be steadily growing as the World Meteorological Association announced that 2014 was on track to become the warmest year on record. It was a bit like a fundraiser, where some generous donor steps up with a big contribution, hoping to inspire others to do the same. Or so it seemed.

The talks at Lima were designed to set the stage with the draft of an agreement that would be finalized next year in Paris. But the drive towards meaningful action met with stiff resistance as disagreements between rich and poor nations took center stage as to how the required contributions from each should be computed and what kind of aid should be directed from the former to the latter in helping them to deal with the impacts. The talks bogged down for days at a time over the question of "common but differentiated" responsibility for rich and poor countries. How each country would present and assess their contribution before the Paris meeting was a key issue for these talks. While it’s true that industrialized countries, and the US in particular, have contributed most of the cumulative emissions, developing countries including China, India, and Mexico contribute more than half of all emissions today.

Negotiators, determined to reach an agreement, canceled their flights home and stayed on past the scheduled end date. In the end, some thirty hours into overtime, they did reach an accord in which all nations present, over 100 in all, agreed to outline a pledge to set targets in time for next year’s meeting in Paris. Chief US negotiator Todd Stern said it was a "good outcome and one that will get us started on the way to Paris.”

Coming out with an agreement that all participants signed onto was a moral victory of sorts, though it fell short of expectations. Many observers despaired of the fact that the text grew weaker as the talks went on. What had been hoped for was a tops-down plan that would arrive at carbon reduction levels based on the need to stay within the two degree temperature rise that has been cited as a kind of point of no return for the climate. Instead, the cuts will be generated in a bottoms-up process in which each country will cut what they think they can with no mechanism to ensure that the overall level does not exceed the allocated carbon budget. According to Oxfam, "The outcome here does little to break the world from a path to three degrees warming or higher."

A Look at Climate Change and the Talks in Lima

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