COP21 Tuesday review: Can Hollywood stardust smooth negotiations?

The world's most powerful politicians have all visited COP21 over the past week, paying lip service to the need for climate action, but this week the purveyors of soft power have joined the climate campaign.

The most famous climate change activist in the world is arguably Leonardo DiCaprio, who has been fulfilling his role as UN Messenger of Peace on Climate Change in Paris this week.

However, Leo is not the only celebrity using his influence to try and help the planet. Numerous actors, singers, and even the Gubernator, were in Paris today (8 December) spreading the green message on what was otherwise a relatively quiet ninth day of negotiations.


Everything else you need to know from Tuesday at COP21

Breaking the brackets

The French hosts have said they are moving “at breakneck speed” to reach a deal by the end of this week, with ministers from countries including the UK appointed to head special working groups. The aim is to produce a revised draft text of a possible agreement on Wednesday.

But with the most recent version of the text littered with brackets – indicating areas of disagreement – climate campaigners raised concerns that various ‘battle lines’ have been drawn.

The most significant of these divisions reportedly involves China and India, with a debate over the inclusion of a sentence in the text that calls on governments to reduce support for “high-emission investments”.

The two countries, which still rely heavily on coal power, reportedly fear that the clause could damage their economic growth.

On the other side of the table, the EU has teamed up with 79 poor and vulnerable nations in calling for a “very ambitious” deal which would include science-based long-term emissions goals, a review mechanism for countries to assess their efforts every five years and a transparency and accountability system to track progress.

LED-ing the way

Philips Lighting today released a paper highlighting the unprecedented energy savings potential of a global transition to light-emitting diode (LED) lighting. 

Entitled ‘LED Revolution Booklet’, the research reveals that a global transition to LED lamps could avoid 801 Mt of CO2 emissions, equivalent to displacing nearly 684 coal-fired power plants around the world.

Lighting is responsible for 19% of global electricity consumption and accounts for nearly 6% of global CO2 emissions.

The Philips report coincided with the launch of the Global Lighting Challenge, which aims to install 10 billion LEDs around the world. The Challenge has been endorsed by a growing coalition of governments including France, Australia, China, Germany, India, South Africa, Mexico, Russia, the UK, and the US.

London innovators get silver medal in global hackathon

Young entrepreneurs from London have claimed second place in a cleantech innovation competition in Paris that saw teams from 20 major cities around the world create solutions to local climate change problems.

The AirPublic team from London was pipped to first place by a river protection scheme in Ethiopia but scooped 2nd place for its plan to install air quality sensors on bicycle-sharing schemes in London.

Climate-KIC’s ‘Climathon’ was a global 24-hour hackathon, established back in June, to seek out some of the world’s best new cleantech ideas.

UK and US pledge to build up Africa’s clean energy supply

The two major economies will work with African governments, donors and private sector organisations to deliver the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal number seven in Africa: ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

The new partnership between the UK’s Energy Africa campaign and the US’s Power Africa initiative aims to boost investment in solar, wind and geothermal power while expanding grid networks to improve power sharing.

Norway ramps up climate finance

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced plans to scale up Norway’s commitments to the Green Climate Fund.

Norway already pledged $258m to the Fund last year as part of the initial resource mobilization and has now promised to double that figure by 2020, provided that GCF can finance verified emissions reductions in deforestation and forest degradation.

Various estimates suggest that rich countries are about two thirds of the way to providing $100bn climate finance a year from 2020.

Branson chimes in on the COP21 debate

Richard Branson, who has been lobbying in Paris this week, blogged on about what he wants to see from the Paris agreement.

He wrote: “At the very least the text must give support for a long-term goal, with climate neutrality by 2050 as the target that maximizes our chances for limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees.

“Secondly a robust five-year ratcheting process starting no later than 2020 and adequate financing for developing nations.

“Post Paris, we need to continue to work together to ensure we accelerate the transformation by putting a meaningful price on carbon, ending fossil fuel subsidies. And supporting the rapid growth of renewable energy.

“This is the greatest opportunity of our time. Our children and grandchildren will look back on Paris as one of those rare moments that the world stood in unity to shift the course of history.”

Stay tuned to edie tomorrow for news and views on that all-important final draft text…

Brad Allen

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