Climate Negotiators Reach an Overtime Deal to Keep Paris Pact Alive

KATOWICE, Poland — Diplomats from nearly 200 countries reached a deal on Saturday to keep the Paris climate agreement alive by adopting a detailed set of rules to implement the pact.

The deal, struck after an all-night bargaining session, will ultimately require every country in the world to follow a uniform set of standards for measuring their planet-warming emissions and tracking their climate policies. And it calls on countries to step up their plans to cut emissions ahead of another round of talks in 2020.

It also calls on richer countries to be clearer about the aid they intend to offer to help poorer nations install more clean energy or build resilience against natural disasters. And it builds a process in which countries that are struggling to meet their emissions goals can get help in getting back on track.

The United States agreed to the deal despite President Trump’s vow to abandon the Paris Agreement. Diplomats and climate change activists said they hoped that fact would make it easier for the administration to change its mind and stay in the Paris Agreement, or for a future president to embrace the accord once again. The United States cannot formally withdraw from the agreement until late 2020.

“The U.S. got a clear methodology to make sure that China and India are meeting their targets,” said Jake Schmidt, international policy director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “That creates the level playing field they have been asking for.”

But supporters of the deal reached Saturday said they hoped the new rules would help build a virtuous cycle of trust and cooperation among countries, at a time when global politics seems increasingly fractured.

“Particularly given the broader geopolitical context, this is a pretty solid outcome,” said Elliot Diringer, executive vice president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. It delivers what we need to get the Paris Agreement off the ground.’’

“The fundamentals are in place,” Mr. Diringer added.

Not every country got what they wanted. Developing nations were hoping for more robust promises on climate aid, but that issue has been postponed for future talks.

The negotiations over the Paris rule book, often dense and technical, were frequently bogged down by sharp political disputes inside the saucer-shaped convention center here in Katowice, at the heart of Poland’s coal country.

Midway through the conference, a huge fight over climate science, with the Trump administration at the center, nearly threatened to derail the negotiations altogether.

But the United States and three other big oil producers — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Russia — tried to weaken the statement’s langauge, enraging delegates from some of the most at-risk nations. By Friday, negotiators had crafted compromise language that expressed “appreciation and gratitude” for the report.

When world leaders signed the Paris agreement in 2015, they said they would try to limit the rise in global temperatures to roughly 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, above preindustrial levels to avoid climate-related disasters like widespread food shortages and mass coral die-offs.

“The real test is what happens when countries go home,” said Alden Meyer, director of policy and strategy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “All the decision text in the world doesn’t cut a molecule of carbon. You need action on the ground.”

In some countries, political obstacles to climate action are mounting.

For instance, at the Poland talks, several European Union officials pledged that the bloc would pursue stronger measures to cut emissions before 2020. But inside the union, discussions over a more ambitious climate target have dragged on — in part because Britain is distracted by Brexit, France is struggling with “Yellow Vests” protests, and Germany is grappling with its own difficulties in phasing out coal.

“We can’t ignore that there are a lot of headwinds,” said Laurence Tubiana, France’s former climate change envoy and a key architect of the Paris agreement.

Some experts at the talks argued that the march of cheaper, cleaner energy technologies would do far more to break the deadlock around climate policy than any complicated treaties could do.

“Look at countries like China and India that are going ahead with renewables for their own reasons,” said Saleemul Huq, director of Bangladesh’s International Center for Climate Change and Development. “That’s what we need, for countries to move in that direction because it makes sense to them, not because they signed up for an agreement and they’re supposed to.”

Even some of the exhausted politicians in the thick of this week’s climate negotiations were ready to acknowledge the limits of diplomacy.

“Of course it’s important to have these rules, but a lot of the real action is happening by entrepreneurs, it’s happening by business people, it’s happening by the finance sector, by the money flowing, it’s happening at the city and state level,” said Catherine McKenna, Canada’s environment minister.

“Climate change is a complicated problem,” she said, “and it’s not going to be solved by national governments alone.”


December 15, 2018

Sources: New York Times

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  • The New Health Care: The Reasonable Way to View Marijuana’s Risks

    The New Health Care: The Reasonable Way to View Marijuana’s Risks

    e replaced with the best evidence available. </p><p>America is in the midst of a sea change in policies on pot, and we should all be a bit nervous about unintended consequences. </p><p>Vigilance is required. But it should be reasoned and thoughtful. To tackle recent claims, we should use the best methods and evidence as a starting point. </p><p>Crime has gone up in Colorado and Washington since those states legalized marijuana. It’s reasonable to wonder about the connection, but it’s also reasonable to be skeptical about causation.</p><p>“I picked those years because they were after the tremendous crime drop in the early ’90s and most predictive of crime today,” he said. “I ended in 2012 because that’s when Colorado and Washington voted to legalize marijuana.” </p><p>She says some have misinterpreted the report to state that the report’s committee concluded that cannabis causes schizophrenia. It did not.</p><p> “This was stated as an association, not causation,” she said. “We do not yet have the supporting evidence to state the direction of this association.”</p><p>Dr. Cooper, research director of the U.C.L.A. Cannabis Research Initiative, went further: “We as a committee also concluded that a history of cannabis use is associated with better cognitive outcomes in people diagnosed with psychotic disorders. The blatant omission of this conclusion exemplifies the one-sided nature of some articles. Nonetheless, the strong association between cannabis use and schizophrenia means that people with predisposing risk factors for schizophrenia should most certainly abstain from using cannabis.”</p><p>We should be honest about what we do and don’t know. We need more research. It’s true that much of the literature around marijuana focuses on the negative, but that’s “largely due to funding priorities over the last several decades,” Dr. Cooper said. </p><p>In the report she worked on, only 40 of the 450 pages were about the therapeutic effects of cannabis and cannabinoids, she said, while the other sections were related largely to the negative health outcomes.</p><p>She added, “With increased awareness of the clinical potential of cannabinoids, research priorities have shifted to include studying this area” in the last few years. </p><p>It’s perfectly natural to be concerned that as cannabis products become legal in more states, they will affect more people.</p><p>Many of the experts who have done the work highlighted here are still nervous about how we might proceed. No one thinks that children or adolescents should use marijuana. There’s little regulation right now, and there’s potential for the drug to be mixed with other substances to increase its addictive properties. Advertising will probably make claims that will be out of line with reality.</p><p>Anecdotes can make compelling cases, but they don’t necessarily lead to thoughtful outcomes.</p>

    1 January 14, 2019
  • Ancient, 50-foot-long whale crushed baby whale skulls for dinner

    Ancient, 50-foot-long whale crushed baby whale skulls for dinner

    ritten, or redistributed. ©2019 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>

    1 January 14, 2019