Written by Nathaly Aya Pastrana
France will be chairing the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21/CMP11), from 30 November to 11 December 2015 in Paris. This Conference is a crucial event, because it needs to result in a new international climate agreement, applicable to all countries. The agreement will need to be universal and sustainable. It will need to send economic and political signals to make the economic development model shift to a new path, which needs to lead to carbon neutrality by the end of the century and compliance with the goal of keeping global warming below the 2°C ceiling.
The agreement will need to have four components: a legal agreement; national contributions with commitments for 2025 or 2030, for countries’ efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; a financial aspect; concrete commitments to action by non-governmental stakeholders (such as the “Lima-Paris Action Agenda” and the “Agenda of Solutions”).
A CHANGING WORLD
1. A meta-study published in 2013 in “Environmental Research Letters” compiled almost 12,000 research abstracts published by over 29,000 researchers between 1991 and 2011. Among them, 3,896 articles stated a position on the causes of global warming over the past 50 years: 97.1% of them endorsed the consensus that it is human-caused.
2. Experts from the IPCC have predicted that average sea and ocean levels could rise from 26cm to 82cm by 2100. This would pose a threat to all islands, deltas and coastal areas.
3. Destroying habitats and ecosystems leads to many species becoming extinct. Currently, 20-30% of animal and plant species are under threat of extinction.
4. Four centuries ago, 66% of the earth was covered in forests – today, this figure has been halved. And this deforestation is intensifying, with 23 million hectares of forest destroyed between 2000 and 2012. Find more data and pictures at http://www.cop21.gouv.fr/en/learn/10-photos-of-a-changing-world/
COP / CMP
The Conference of the Parties (COP) was created during the adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992 and is the supreme body of the Convention, bringing together all Parties: the 195 countries that have ratified the Convention as well as the European Union. It convenes every year to review the Convention’s application, adopt decisions which further formulate the rules set out, and negotiate new commitments.
Since 2005, when the Kyoto Protocol entered into force, it has been combined with the annual meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP).
The meetings underway and those to come are all the more justified since the 2009 Copenhagen Conference failed to adopt a new international climate agreement. Although agreements since then, adopted at Conferences of the Parties, have laid the necessary foundations for all Parties to agree in 2015 to reach a legally binding agreement as of 2020, many issues still remain incomplete or unresolved.
Human activities generate so-called “anthropogenic” greenhouse gases, distinct from the greenhouse gases naturally present in the atmosphere. Those greenhouse gas emissions alter the atmosphere’s composition, causing the increased greenhouse effect that is leading to global warming.
The greenhouse gas emissions covered by the Kyoto Protocol have increased by 80% since 1970 and 30% since 1990, totalling 49 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent (GtCO2eq) in 2010.
Under current global emissions trends [+2.2% per year between 2000 and 2010], the rise in average global temperatures should come to between 3.7°C and 4.8°C by 2100. To limit atmospheric concentrations to 450 ppm CO2eq by 2100 and achieve the goal of keeping global warming below 2°C, global greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced by 40-70% by 2050 compared to 2010 levels and drop to levels close to zero GtCO2eq by 2100.
Climate Change and Behavior Change
Andrea Liverani (2009) on a background paper to the 2010 World Development Report, stated:
“Climate change is anthropogenic – the product of billions of acts of daily consumption. That solutions need to be anthropogenic too is well accepted. Normally cast in the realms of finance and technology, suggested solutions often neglect the primal root of the problem: individual behavior”.
The author also mentions three main reasons why the drivers of human behavior are important for climate policy. “First, myriad private acts of consumption are at the root of the climate change challenge. As consumers, individuals hold a reservoir of mitigation capacity… Second, individuals are the drivers of larger processes of change involving organizations and political systems… Third, policy decisions are taken by individuals subject to standard mental processes.”
How could social marketers influence consumption behavior by individuals and groups to tackle climate change?.