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.

8 things that could “shift the trillions” to a low carbon economy

With less than one week to go before the Paris climate negotiations, a big area to watch will be whether developed countries are meeting the requirement to provide $100 billion a year by 2020 in funding for poor countries to adapt to climate change and reduce emissions. This may seem like a lot of money, but it pales in comparison to what needs to happen after COP21 to “shift the trillions” towards a low carbon economy.

To put this figure in context, the International Energy Agency estimates that subsidies to fossil fuels amounted to around $544 billion in 2012. The World Resources Institute say that by 2020, about $5.7 trillion will need to be invested annually in green infrastructure, much of it in the developing world. Others quote much higher figures, but the bottom line is that the amount of funding required to shift the global economy towards low carbon investment is in the scale of trillions rather than billions.

The “climate finance” debate is ultimately a fight over who is responsible for climate change and who has to pay.

Read the rest of this article on the World Economic Forum blog.

Q&A with Mary Robinson: what is climate justice

I had the good fortune to interview recently a great leader, a woman that I greatly admire: Mary Robinson, the first female President of Ireland (1990-1997), and a former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002). We discussed the work she is doing on climate change justice through the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice. We touched upon the role of women in climate change, human rights, the role of business and the what to do about the refugee crisis (over a month before much of the English-speaking press finally started to cover it with the depth it deserves).

Read the interview on the Road to Paris and the World Economic Forum blogs.

SDGs marry energy and climate concerns

Those of us who spend most of our working lives sitting at a computer will perhaps find this hard to picture, but nearly one in five people on the planet has no access to electricity. Billions of people can’t take the things that we do for granted: kids doing their homework in the evening, a fridge to store food or medicine, giving birth in a safely and brightly lit room.

In addition, almost three billion people rely on wood, coal, charcoal or animal waste for cooking and heating. Women and young children are exposed daily to indoor air pollution that causes serious diseases – this is among the reasons why millions of children die every year before they get to the age of five.

Read the rest of the blog on the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit website

Nine things you need to know about the Scottish “Energiewende”

The German Energiewende has been covered ­widely in the international press, with its pros and cons hotly debated (particularly in the ­English-speaking press). Perhaps less known is that Scotland is also undergoing a remarkable energy transition of its own, with growth of renewable energy far in excess of overall UK targets.

Read the rest of the article, originally published in early May on Sun & Wind Energy. 

Is the business sector key to tackling climate change? Q&A with Mark Kenber

Just six months before the United Nations climate talks, business leaders and investors are gathering in Paris for “Climate Week” and a parallel “Business & Climate Summit”. I interviewed Mark Kenber, an economist with 20 years’ experience in climate policy, CEO since 2011 of The Climate Group, which organized Climate Week.

Read the rest on the Road to Paris website.

Can the Pope shift the climate change debate?

Pope Francis is due to issue an “Encyclical” on climate change in June or July this year, ahead of the UN climate talks in December. Will he make history? Some believe that it could influence other faiths, potentially shifting the central focus of the debate from science, technology and economics towards ethical and moral values.

Read the rest on the Road to Paris blog or the World Economic Forum website.