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Review of the Climate Conference Intersessional Meetings, May 2018

By Ayuska Motha

The intense 2-week intersessional meeting just ended a few hours ago and I am left with so many lingering impressions - the urgency of climate change, a better understanding of the complexities of reaching an agreement, and overwhelmingly, the warmth and support of the many inspiring women from the Women and Gender Constituency.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5C is due out in the fall. In order to limit global warming to 1.5C, drastic changes need to be made, and really soon. Here is a graph showing how drastically emissions need to be curbed in order to keep warming below 1.5C.

2016emissionsgapgraph

What was of particular concern was that many of the scenarios to limit warming to under 1.5C include the use of Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCs), a technique where biomass (such as wood or sugar cane) is burned, with the emissions being captured and stored underground. Although BECCs is included in many of the scenarios to limit global warming, they have not been tested on such a large-scale and many uncertainties remain such as rate of leakage, cost and efficacy. Scenarios that exclude BECCs will require curbing greenhouse gas emissions ASAP and reforestation of large areas of land.

The closing of the Talanoa dialogue also took place in the past week. Overall it looked like it had been a very useful exercise allowing participants to express openly answers to the the climate change related questions, 1) where are we now? 2) where do we want to go? and 3) how do we want to get there?. The Fijian approach provided a platform for a non-accusatory, open dialogue. Overall, it seemed to have been a useful exercise. A synthesis report is expected with more information.

Another interesting series of sessions that we followed were related to the presence of organizations with a potential conflict of interest, for example organizations with an interest in promoting increased fossil fuel exploration and use, rather than trying to search for ways to decrease demand and use. There were at least 4 sessions that I attended throughout the 2 week period. I was not able to follow the last session but by the second last session the term “conflict of interest” had been removed from all negotiating text and when it was mentioned once in an oral response, it was fiercely opposed and was not mentioned for the remainder of the sessions. The issue has been conveniently pushed off for another year. This was not the first year it was on the agenda.

So, what can we all do to limit global warming?

Changes in our lifestyle and daily consumption patterns

  • buy local
  • eat less red meat
  • avoid palm oil products
  • fly less
  • use reuseable bags
  • buy organic, if you can,
  • take the bus, tram, bike or walk when possible
  • combine errands to minimize driving
  • when buying new cars and appliances, select high fuel efficiency or low energy options
  • when changing lightbulbs, select LED bulbs

Any little changes help and will most likely be better for your health too! We all have the power to make a big difference with small changes.

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