Can the upcoming Paris Climate Summit be a Peace Summit?

photo_blog

The violence of the Paris attacks must unequivocally be condemned. Calls for war are heard from most governments and plans to destroy ISIS on the land they occupy in the Middle East are being drawn and implemented. But what is more than ever needed is global solidarity. As security becomes the main focus of French society and government, we must also keep our heads cool. We must not fall in the trap of the terrorists who would like us to meet violence with more violence. This would be a tragedy for the world.

We will have the opportunity, in less than two weeks now, to demonstrate that we can get together as a global movement that transcends borders and cultural differences and rise up to confront the major existential threats we are facing together. In Paris on November 13, we have experienced horrendous killings and for the first time faced “kamikazes” within our own community, yet we must endeavor to remember that people in other countries have been facing equally dreadful conditions on a daily basis. And often such conditions are related to climate change, droughts or floods, that fan conflicts in many parts of the world, displacing people and forcing them to migrate to countries that are neither prepared nor inclined to welcome them.

So this is an exceptional time, one during which we must rise up to our full potential for humanity and solidarity and show that we will not let fear and shortsightedness paralyze us. Clearly aware of the danger that exists and doing what is necessary to protect ourselves, we must also proactively look for solutions that are not just war-based and search deeply inside ourselves for those feelings of fraternity in order to extend it to all, including those beyond our borders.

In fact some Parisians are already looking for such connection and hold arms stretched out to others. In radio programs they discuss ways of nurturing that feeling that brings us together in these days of mourning. They present testimonies of people who acted individually at the peril of their own life to save that of others, of ordinary people who helped during the events. Many such testimonies urge to maintain and reinforce the opening that exists at this time as the only operative response to this collective drama. Let also extend our open hearts and souls to those suffering the hardship of climate-related dangers.

Personally, after feeling devastated by the attacks, I am apprehensive about the fate of civil society actions around the summit (planned climate marches in Paris have been cancelled). But I can only feel grateful for what we have instead of looking at what we don’t. I accept that this is a defining moment for us all. A moment that makes us mourn for those we have lost and for all those who feel unsettled by these events. But, as many witnesses who were there and survived unscathed have mentioned, it is also the opportunity to show that we won’t hate, we will rise from the ashes and build something new that empowers us all. This is a chance to look at the world with new eyes. And this new vision will allow us to invent innovative ways of being together in this world and working towards a life-sustaining world and not a death-producing one as claimed by the terrorists.

On the same theme, see also http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/why-a-climate-deal-is-the-best-hope-for-peace?mbid=social_facebook

 

 

Posted in General Info, Personnal experience | Comments Off on Can the upcoming Paris Climate Summit be a Peace Summit?

Les attentats de Paris et la COP21

Le dimanche 15 Novembre, trois jours après les attentats terroristes meurtrièrs et inimaginables à Paris le vendredi 13 Novembre, la ville lumière reste vide sauf pour ceux qui veulent démontrer qu’ils sont bien vivant et ont l’intention de continuer à vivre aussi normalement que possible.

A la radio on parle sans cesse des tueries, au début pour décrire le déroulement des évènements et ensuite pour essayer de comprendre l’incompréhensible et partager la profonde émotion que tous les auditeurs ressentent. Au début, le plus choquant etait cette impression d’un choix aléatoire pour les cibles visées. Mais impression seulement car en vérité tout le monde maintenant s’accorde pour dire que le choix était délibéré. Il ne s’agit pas uniquement d’une atteinte à la paix mais plutôt d’une attaque contre un certain style de vie bien français, bien parisien qui était visé : un diner au restaurant partagé avec des amis le vendredi soir après le travail, la musique écoutée dans une boite à la mode ou le match de foot au Stade de Paris. Le style de vie de ceux qui aiment la vie, la vie ensemble et le plaisir de la musique et du sport.

Ces évènements sont une tentative de séparer les français à travers leur réaction face à ces évènements. Créer une brèche entre ceux qui sont prêts à répondre avec forces en réponse aux commentaires du président qui décrit ces attaques comme des actes de guerre et qui prévoit de réagir avec fermeté et ceux, particulièrement les jeunes puisqu’ils étaient visés, qui veulent montrer qu’ils sont unis et n’ont pas peur.

Les intellectuels, les politiciens et la plupart les citoyens craignent que l’état d’urgence déclaré par le président François Hollande limite les droits fondamentaux du peuple français. Que les appels aux expulsions des imams intégristes et à la détention administrative des radicaux islamistes sur le sol français suggérés par le premier ministre amplifient la division sociale voulue par Daech. D’un autre coté, un sentiment de solidarité, une intention de se tenir debout devant ces attaques et un refus de la peur se ressentent dans beaucoup de témoignages radiophoniques auxquels sont invités les citoyens. Désir de maintenir à tout prix un esprit de solidarité construit sur les valeurs républicaines de liberté, égalité et fraternité. Fraternité qui était évidente vendredi soir alors que les habitants des 11eme et 12eme arrondissements où les attaques ont été commises ouvraient leur porte à ceux qui s’enfuyaient du carnage faute de transports en commun arrêtés ou bien lorsque les chauffeurs de taxi ont offert des courses gratuites pour aider les gens à rentrer chez eux.

C’est cette fraternité et cette unité dont nous allons avoir besoin de la part des pays participant à la COP21. Viendra-t-elle des délégués qui représentent et négocient pour leurs pays ? Rien n’est moins sur. Quelques jours avant ces évènements, par exemple, les États-Unis annonçaient qu’ils ne signeraient aucun accord qui les engagerait légalement. Les pays en voie de développement expriment déjà leur déception devant les offres plutôt navrantes d’approvisionnement du fond vert qui pour le moment totalisent environ $10 Millards, un tout petit pas, vraiment, vers les $100 Milliards espérés. L’unité mondiale viendra peut-être de la société civile, de ceux qui ont prévu de venir participer de l’extérieur à ces négociations. Viendra-t-elle de ceux qui veulent se réunir pour montrer leur engagement, leur désir de travailler ensemble de s’engager pour la planète ? Comment pourront s’exprimer ces manifestations d’unité prévues après ces évènements récents et en vue de la sécurité renforcée avec un état d’urgence maintenant pour 3 mois ?

Le président of France a rapidement annoncé que la COP21 sera maintenue sous plus haute protection de la police. La protection sécuritaire déjà prévue de remettre des contrôles aux frontières une quinzaine de jours avant la conférence va être renforcée. Comment vont faire les milliers de personnes qui convergent vers Paris pour exprimer leur mécontentement avec les négociations, si une telle insatisfaction émerge comme on s’y attend ? Est-ce que la possibilité de manifester en groupe un sentiment fort de mécontentement et de désaccord avec le contenu de l’accord à venir sera une autre victime de ces attaques ?

 

 

 

Posted in Versions francaises | Comments Off on Les attentats de Paris et la COP21

Paris attack and COP21

police-and-medics-gather-near-the-boulevard-des-fillesducalvaire-after-an-attack-november-13-2015-in-paris-france

Two days after the murderous and unfathomable terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday 13 Nov, the city of light remains empty, except for those who want to show that they are alive and intend to continue living their lives as normally as possible.

Radio stations ceaselessly discuss the killings, first to recount the chronology of the events and then to try to understand the incomprehensible and share intense feelings. What is shocking is the apparent randomness of the shootings within Paris although everyone now agrees that what appears random was not. It is not only a breach of the peace as such attacks are but, more importantly, a strike against a certain life style – dining and drinking on the terrace of a cafe on a Friday night with friends, attending a soccer game with thousands of supporters -, the lifestyle of young people of different social and ethnic origins, the lifestyle of anyone who enjoys living, socializing or being entertained through sport or music. It is an attempt to separate, to create a breach between French people through their reactions to the events. A breach between those who want to respond aggressively, following the president who labels those attacks as acts of war and will be exploring energetic means of reprisals, and those who want to show that they stand together, unafraid and will continue their lives. The fear among intellectuals, politicians and many citizens is that the limitation of citizen rights from the sate of emergency and the calls for expulsion of fundamentalist imams and administrative detention of radical Islamist on french soil, as the prime minister suggested on television, will further amplify the societal division wanted by ISIS. On the other hand, there is a strong sense of needing and wanting to stand up to the attacks and maintain a spirit of solidarity built on the republican values of liberty, equality and fraternity. And fraternity was demonstrated on Friday when inhabitants of the Paris neighborhoods under attack (10th and 11th districts) opened their doors to those fleeing the carnage and those unable to go home for lack of public transportation, and when taxi drivers decided to offer free rides.

It is this fraternity and unity that will be needed from all the nations attending COP21. Will it come from the delegates representing and negotiating for their countries? Nothing is more unsure. The positioning that existed a few days ago before the shootings will remain, with countries such as the US already warning that they will not sign any legally binding agreement and developing nations dissatisfied with the pathetic offers made for the green fund, totaling about $10B, a very small step toward the $100B needed. World unity will more likely come from all those of civil society that will be gathering around the meeting place and in Paris. How will these planned demonstrations of unity be affected by the recent events is unclear at this time?

First of all, the President of France, Francois Hollande announced that COP21 will be maintained under major police protection. Plans that were already in place to reinstate French border controls ahead of the conference will be beefed up. How will the thousands of people converging to Paris be able to express their dissatisfaction about the negotiations, if such dissatisfaction emerges?  Will the ability to demonstrate as a group and voice a strong feeling of dissatisfaction and disagreement with, in this case, the content of an agreement, be another casualty of these attacks?

Posted in General Info | Comments Off on Paris attack and COP21

Greenhouse Gases (GHGs)

Greenhouse Gases (GHGs)

The increase in greenhouse gases (GHGs) concentration is the main contributor to the changes that affect the atmosphere. The issue of the reduction of greenhouse gases is at the heart of the discussions at COP21 in Paris whose goal is to maintain the global warming underway below 2ºC. These gases tend to increase the absorption of infrared radiation emitted by the Earth surface instead of leaving the Earth and cooling it The corresponding heat is stored in the lower levels of the atmosphere and in the oceans (more than 90%). These GHGs concentration change induce what is called a “radiative forcing “ of the climate system.

A positive value of the radiative forcing contributes to the increase of the global mean surface temperature, whereas a negative one induces a decrease. It is possible to estimate the impact of a particular greenhouse gas to the radiative forcing over a given period of time based on: 1) the variation of its concentration in the atmosphere over this period of time and, 2) the efficiency of this gas in perturbing the radiative equilibrium. Such computation provides what is called the global warming potential. Several main greenhouse gases exist but only a few have a major impact on climate and a significant increase in their concentration is associated to human activities.

Many referenced GHGs

The IPCC has listed more than 40 GHGs, among which we find water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), ozone (O3), nitrous oxide (N2O) and halocarbons.

Water vapor is essentially of natural origin. It is a powerful GHG that contributes 60 – 90 % of the natural greenhouse effect. Without it our planet would have a temperature of the order of -18ºC and therefore would be frozen. Ozone is a major GHG, continually destroyed and formed by chemical mechanisms. In the lower part of the atmosphere human activity influences ozone concentration through, for instance, the emission of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons or nitrous oxide. On the contrary,  in the upper part of the atmosphere (stratosphere), ozone is destroyed by some gases of anthropogenic origin like CFCs (ozone hole).

What is particularly significant about GHGs is their long lifetime (of the order of 10s of years) compared to other form of pollution. Among the gases that remain several decades in the atmosphere we find the four most active ones:

Carbon dioxide (CO2) – It is found in the highest concentration (400 ppm) in the atmosphere and results from combustion of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas, and from biomass burning (soils and forests). In 2004 CO2 represented 77% of all the anthropogenic emissions.

Methane (CH4) – It is very efficient at absorbing infrared radiation (about 70 – 100 times the absorption of CO2) but has a smaller concentration. Like CO2 its concentration has increased dramatically over the last 100 years. Methane results from agricultural activity (rice patties, cattle…), production and distribution of gas and oil. However, a large part is of natural origin. Its concentration has more than doubled between 1990 and 2005.

Nitrous oxide (N2O) – The third most important GHGs has a warming potential 310 times that of CO2. Human activities such as agriculture, fossil fuel combustion, wastewater management, and industrial processes are increasing the amount of N2O in the atmosphere.

Halocarbons – These are the chemical components produced by man that contain carbon and elements from the halogen family (bromide, chlorine and fluorine). These gases have a very long lifetime but are now controlled as part of the Montreal Protocol.

The fifth IPCC report on the evolution of climate published in October 2014 concludes that despite an attempt to take into account climatic impacts and to enact some policies, worldwide GHGs emissions have increased to levels never reached before, so much so that the progression between 2000 and 2010 has been faster that in any decade before.

Proposed scenarios to maintain the increase in global mean temperature below 2ºC require a reduction of worldwide GHGs emissions from 40 to 70% compared to 2010 by the middle of the century and to be fully eliminated by 2100.

Reference article in french by Celine Toubin (theconversation.com)

Posted in Scientific Support | Comments Off on Greenhouse Gases (GHGs)

Image_Arc_de_triomphe

Catherine Gautier-Downes, Special Correspondent
Santa Barbara Independent

 

 

Soon on my way to Paris to report on COP21 (http://www.cop21.gouv.fr/en)…

COP21

The 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) will be held in Paris Nov 30 – Dec 11, 2015. Its goal is to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the goal of keeping global warming below 2°C. The conference is expected to attract close to 50,000 participants including 25,000 official delegates from government, intergovernmental organizations, UN agencies, NGOs and civil society.

A serious business for French people

The French government and the civil society are taking France’s role as host country very seriously and proudly (no surprise there), as if they were hosting the Olympic Games. With extensive pre-meeting media coverage and every science communicator on deck, France is helping her citizens better understand what is at stake with climate and how to act to face climate change. Climate scientists are intervening in schools (from primary grade to university level) and giving conferences in all corners of the country. Several of them will even embark on a specially chartered train as “Messengers of Climate” (www.messagersduclimat.com), going through the major cities of France from Oct 6-25 offering the public at large the opportunity to learn, ask questions and contribute to the general discussion.

 

Posted on by gautier93 | Comments Off on Climate Change News