By: Clay Graham
When I return home tomorrow, my friends and family are going to ask me what is going on with COP 16? What was the outcome? To tell you the truth, I don’t know (also because the deliberation process is still going on through tonight). After attending the plenary session on Monday, and watching a few other plenaries and meetings from CCTV, I found them to be slow and rudimentary with different governments raising concerns that we all know: global warming is a huge threat to all of us. Trying a different path, I decided to attend the side events which ranged on topics from REDD to adaptation and mitigation.
Below are some notes at a couple of side events that I found interesting and insightful.
Adaptation Strategies to Meet Stakeholders Priorities:
•Organizations are looking at tree growth and species to determine climactic patterns.
• Quebec has been experiencing earlier flooding in the spring and lower water levels in summer and fall. The coast line of the St Lawrence River is being eroded due to less ice protection.
•More infiltration of water in cities, through pavement and the ground, reduces the heat island effect.
•Ouranas, a climate change research company in Quebec, did a literature review and broke the science down for policy makers to understand (rad idea!)
• Climate Change is the world’s biggest global health threat. Australia is already experiencing increases in mosquito related diseases such as Dengue Fever and the Ross River Virus. There has also been an increase in heat related deaths.
• Mental Health of farmers is decreasing, with a spike of suicides among farmers in Australia.
Climate Change and Migration
• 1.6 million people are affected by droughts every year. This is double the number of people that are affected by storms.
• Most migration will take place internally within countries. It is not known how many will be displaced but 6 million people will migrated from the Nile Delta, and 25 million people will have to move in Bangladesh by 2030.
• Currently, cities on the coast off the most employment and livelihoods, hence their high density. In the future cities will have to be thought of as dynamic and burdens will be placed on host communities that accept climate migrants.
• Women are affected 14 times more than men in natural disaster scenarios.
Reducing GHG emissions in the U.S.
• Oil consumption is now flat, and will be less in 2020 than it was in 2007.
• The EPA, FAA, DOE, NHTSA can all regulate emissions. A go getter perspective on emissions reduction by 2020 is 12%-14% of 2005 levels.
•1/3 power plants in the U.S. have uncontrolled emissions.
• The EPA is currently looking into water emissions and cooling water waste. 14 gigawatts of power have been shut down due to retrofitting expenses, which will be the prime factor in whether or not new plants are built.
• The U.S. hasn’t built a power plant in the last 18 months.
• The Clean Air Act has come under assault historically, but hasn’t weakened. The Rockefeller Bill, which weakens the Clean Air Act is thought of only to be a mechanisms to gain recruitment by West Virginians, but probably won’t get into the house or Senate. The bill could also be vetoed by the president if it is amended.
• The only thing the U.S. is pushing is MRV transparency in China, even though it won’t commit to an MRV status itself.
Knowing this, I come home tomorrow frightened and scared that the world is wasting time. If nothing happens in Durban, and the U.S. does not commit to strong emission reductions, prepare to take this to the streets. But for now, while I wait on the final outcome from the COP, I think I need a beer.