Has the time come to do more about emissions from consumption?

The Paris Agreement, which came into force in early November 2016, requires the world to keep climate change below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, with an aim to stay below 1.5°C. The 1.5 target is particularly demanding and would require both major and rapid change in energy demand, as well as replacement of fossil fuels with low carbon alternatives.

Reducing energy demand will require changes in patterns of production and consumption. A number of policies addressing consumption – some voluntary and some regulatory – are already in place at European Union level, such as policies to phase out the most inefficient energy using appliances and improve the energy performance of buildings. However, there are broader issues at play that need to be addressed.

Read the rest of the article on the IISD Knowledge Hub.

Crunch time for the Green Climate Fund

Following the Paris Agreement on climate change, 2016 has become a pivotal year for a key climate finance institution: the Green Climate Fund 
(GCF). Having recently approved a range of new projects, the GCF is making progress. But there are still some fundamental things that need to happen 
for it to become more effective.

The GCF was created in 2010 to channel a portion of the billions of dollars that are needed to fight climate change and adapt to its impacts. Shifting public and private investment from ‘brown’ to ‘green’ is an essential part of fighting climate change. Rich countries have pledged to mobilise $100 billion a year by 2020 in funding for poor countries to adapt to climate change and reduce emissions.

Read the rest on the Climate 2020 report site of the United Nations Associations UK.

The Brexit threat to fighting climate change

In December 2015 in Paris, over 190 countries reached a historical agreement on fighting climate change. The European Union has had an important role in this agreement, and will be crucial to its success. But will the multiple political and economic woes on the continent undermine these efforts? And could the messy “Brexit” debate – and potential outcome – give it a further blow?

There has been major progress on renewable energy in the past few years with prices coming down, and rapid growth of clean technology in many countries. The EU – with its continent-wide renewable energy targets – has played a crucial role. But – if the Paris Agreement is to be honoured – efforts on these policies need to be stepped up, not disrupted.

As Lord Deben, a former UK Tory secretary of state, recently said: “The battle against climate change depends hugely on the ability of Britain to remain within, and be a leader in, the European Union. We’ve only got where we have got on climate change because of the European Union, there would have been no Kyoto Agreement without the European Union, and we do have to recognise that the idea that you can do anything environmentally on your own is just factually untrue.”

The UK will hold the presidency of the EU Council in 2017, which would be a great opportunity to lead on climate change in Europe, pushing for stronger policies to reflect the ambition of the Paris Agreement. But right now, how can Britain even think of doing that, while it has one foot out of the door?

Read the rest of the article on the Wake up Europe website.

Climate finance: Is Britain being taken for a ride?

In the last few days, the press has focused on the UK’s contribution to climate finance, particularly relative to other countries.

Some articles suggest that Britain is paying way beyond its dues: indeed for The Times, we ‘lavish’ money on the poor, and have ‘pledged far more than any other country to international climate funds’.

Under the UN climate convention, rich countries have committed to help poorer ones constrain their carbon emissions and prepare for climate impacts.

Read the rest on the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit blog.

The Paris climate summit: the waiting is nearly over

On Sunday 29 November, David Cameron will join other Heads of State and Government in Paris to kick off crucial 2-week talks on climate change, also known as COP21. This is the culmination of a year of dramatic developments – summarised here – with high hopes that that an agreement can be reached.

Arguably, the summit could already be viewed as as a success. For the first time ever, virtually all countries have – in the run up to the summit – made pledges for constraining emissions, known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). If implemented, these could have quite dramatic implications, such as a potential doubling of renewable energy supply in the eight major emitters by 2030 – 18% higher than previously projected growth rates.

Read the rest on the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit blog.