Lima climate summit postpones key decisions until 2015

Lima Climate summit a disappointment

logo_Lima_climate_action_H-624x229The vital Lima climate summit was a disappointment.  Governments have to put individual climate pledges on table in the first half of next year, forming the foundations of the global climate agreement due in Paris next December.  However, many of the big issues that have plagued the talks for years were shirked and left for later. (Daily tck). Overall, this COP shows governments are disconnected from their people who are worried about climate risks and want a just transition to boost our economies, deliver jobs and strengthen public health.

On a positive note, negotiators  were in sync with the emerging consensus around the world that we need to phase out fossil fuels, illustrated by this phaseout being listed as one of the options in the draft outline for the Paris agreement. Governments acknowledged that they have a May deadline for turning that current list of options for the Paris agreement into a legal negotiating text. This means real work on the Paris agreement must get underway at the next session in February in Geneva.

The final result of Lima is a 4 page document (almost incomprehensible) approved unanimously 30 hours behind schedule, where all the countries commit themselves to reduce greenhouse emissions but without a fixed goal. The document they agreed is still groundbreaking in its scope, but it left a lot of work to be done ahead of the conference in Paris.

Feelings were mixed after the summit . “We were pleased to see around 100 countries support the goal of phasing out carbon emissions by mid-century. The goal’s inclusion in the draft text is a win for the fossil fuel divestment movement and will add momentum to that growing campaign. But action must begin now, not after decades of delay”, 350.org communications director Jamie Hennsaid told to The Guardian. Even countries like China, which recently acheived a climate agreement with the US, said that “we’re not very satisfied with the outcome, but we think it’s a balanced and nice document”.

Other leaders, like the former Irish president Mary Robinson showed a bigger disappointment: “not enough was done by countries who can afford to wait.  The leaders of countries whose people are suffering now, who are most at risk and have least resources to mobilise for protection compromised the most. Because they can’t afford to wait – they are negotiating for lives,” she stated.

Ireland didn’t play a great role in Lima.

The first day, the country was awarded “Fossil of the Day” after beign one of the four developed countries along with Austria, Belgium and Australia that haven’t contributed to the Green Climate Fund, designed to help developing countries to mitigate the consequences of climate change. Just a few days after Australia and Belgium announced their contributions to the Fund, but not Ireland.

The Minister for Environment, Alex White TD, hardly referred to the Fund during his speech at the Lima summit, just saying that “we are actively exploring all options for scaling up our mobilisation of climate finance, including in relation to the Green Climate Fund”, despite his pledge of Irish action on climate change.  Obviously, he had not been given a mandate to pledge any money.

Now the road is open for the 2015 Paris summit, where a final agreement must be reach if the world want to stops climate change.

Shame on Ireland – “Fossil of the Day” in Lima

Ireland is one of only FOUR countries in the ‘developed’ world who have not contributed to the Green Climate Fund, designed to support developing countries to fight climate change while growing economically. At the UN Climate talks in Lima this week, Ireland, Australia, Belgium and Austria were given the first “Fossil of the Day” award, making them very conspicuous by their absence from the fund.

Only last September at the Climate Change conference in New York, Taoiseach Enda Kenny stated that Ireland had contributed generously to climate finance for developing countries “despite our very challenging economic and fiscal circumstances in recent years”. He went on to say that Ireland has a strong and proud track record. “We are working within the EU to ensure a fair and effective burden-sharing of the EU’s overall commitment and we are implementing legislation to underpin our climate change efforts.”

Good Energies Alliance Ireland (GEAI) Director, Dr Aedín McLoughlin, stated that “The absence of contribution to the global Green Climate Fund is a disgrace for Ireland. It is a well-documented fact that Climate Change affects developing countries much more that richer ones, who can afford to put adaptive measures in place. It is also true that “developed” countries are the source of over 80% of carbon emissions that are the cause of climate change. We therefore have an obligation to assist in tackling climate change throughout the developing world.

Are the Taoiseach’s words just script to make us look good, while the reality is that Ireland is not prepared to support climate action? Do we not care about the profound changes affecting the whole globe? Are the recent discussions on Energy Policy just empty words?

We have a proud history of supporting the human and economic development of poorer countries and we cannot separate aid for economic development from aid for climate change programmes. Our ex-President, Mary Robinson has recently been appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is the UN Special Envoy for Climate Change on the basis of her work on climate justice. “Building on her work on climate justice she will engage Heads of State and Government around the world in order to mobilize political will and action, and raise ambition.” said the announcement from Mr. Ban’s office. Surely the Irish Government should be the first to respond to her call?

GEAI calls on the Government to act as World Leaders in this vital area. “Ireland has a responsibility to be at the forefront of action on climate change – to show by example what can be done in our own country to reduce carbon emissions and to assist by every means the green development of poorer countries faced by extreme weather conditions, droughts, floods, changes in seasons and food shortages”.

Link to the original Press Release.

64% of EU citizens against development of Shale Gas

   Irish Voice heard in Brussels meeting
The results of an EU on-line questionnaire on fracking were presented at a meeting on 7th June in Brussels, attended by Irish representatives of the campaign against fracking.  Almost 23,000 people responded to the questionnaire, a large majority of which agree on the lack of adequate legislation, the need for public information and the lack of public acceptance of unconventional fossil fuels (e.g. shale gas).  When the responses were weighted to reflect EU Member States’ population, they indicated that 64% of EU citizens thought that shale gas should not be developed in Europe at all.
Following presentation of the results, a broadly-based discussion of the environmental impacts of fracking took place.  The health impacts of fracking and the importance of applying the precautionary principle to proposals to frack were emphasised by the Irish representatives which included Dr Geralyn McCarron (Fermanagh), Geraldine Ring (Cork) and Dr Aedin McLoughlin (Leitrim).
[Image: Geralyn and Aedín with FOE outside Commission building]
Geralyn + Aedin in BrusselsDr McCarron spoke about the impacts of contamination from fracking on a rural community she has studied in Australia.  “There was a range of symptoms related to neurotoxicity (damage to the nervous system), including severe fatigue, weakness, headaches, numbness and paraesthesia (pins and needles.  Almost all the children suffered from headaches and for over half of these the headaches were severe.   Other symptoms reported among the population included increases in cough, chest tightness, rashes, difficulty sleeping, joint pains, muscle pains and spasms, nausea and vomiting.”
Dr McCarron said that Health Impact Assessments, carried out with internationally recognised protocols, must be an integral part of every unconventional gas development proposal.
Aedín McLoughlin from GEAI  pointed out that throughout Europe, proposals for exploration included drilling and fracking in border areas (e.g. Leitrim/Fermanagh.   “Such exploration must not proceed without a common policy and regulatory framework between the two jurisdictions involved.  Water knows no borders and the areas targeted include the two major waterways of the  Shannon and Erne Rivers.”
She also stressed the importance of the precautionary principle and how it must be applied:  Proposals for on-shore unconventional gas exploration to be considered new plans or programmes by EU Member States and Strategic Environmental Assessments to be carried out on all such proposals as per  SEA Directive 2001; Health Impact Assessments to be carried out on all such proposals; and Environmental Impact Studies to be carried out on all stages of fracking, to include studies of the cumulative impacts of such developments.  “Finally, we consider that a Moratorium on unconventional gas exploration or extraction must be implemented in each Member State until such studies show that environmental degradation or adverse public health impacts will not result from such projects,” she concluded.
Geraldine Ring questioned the Commission’s proposal to develop a risk management framework. “Fracking carries with it risks, but also realities. One of these realities is the huge volume of flowback water and we know from the US, Canada and Australia that there is no best practice to treat it.” She asked how the Commission planned to deal with such realities.
She also referred to the gaps that have been already identified by the Commission in existing Directives.  “The current EU regulatory framework at both exploration and production phase has a number of gaps or potential gaps,” she said.  “A study published by the Commission in September of last year showed gaps in at least eight key environmental acquis, including the Water Framework Directive, the Air Quality Directive, the Mining Waste Directive and the Environmental Impact Assessment directive which is currently under review.”
Aedín also visited the EU Parliament and had a discussion about the meeting with MEP Marian Harkin’s staff. Marian Harkin kindly sponsored her travel costs.

The Australian gas fields; personal insights into the health impacts and limitations of regulation

From Dr Geralyn McCarron Batchelor of Medicine, Batchelor of Surgery, Batchelor of the Art of Obstetrics, Fellow of the Australian College of General Practitioners, Member of the National Toxics Networks, Member of Doctors for the Environment Australia
– January 26th 2013 –
“I am a GP who lives and works in suburban Brisbane. I come from Tempo in County Fermanagh. When, at the end of 2011, my family back in Ireland, drew my attention to the prospect of fracking in County Leitrim (Republic of Ireland) and County Fermanagh (Northern Ireland), I gleaned most of my information from the shale gas industry in the USA and Canada. What I learned from the North American experience really worried me. However, a few months later I realised there was just as big a problem in Australia. Through a community initiative called “Bridging the Divide”, I took a bus trip out to a rural residential community five hours drive from Brisbane. What I found shocked me and I have returned several times to try to help them. The place, the Wieambilla Estate, is usually referred to as “Tara” but it is in fact situated thirty five kilometres away from Tara, which is the nearest small town.
Wieambilla consists of blocks of land, between twenty to eighty acres in size, in the remote Australian bush. There are very few services and the roads are dirt roads. Many families moved there from the cities to find a safe and idyllic spot to raise their children and to them Wieambilla seemed like Utopia. These families, who built their homes in clearings, are now completely surrounded by gas fields. The children are sick. The parents are sick. There is a recurring narrative of constant headaches, nose bleeds, sore red eyes, nausea, fatigue, chest pains, cough, sinus problems, rashes, tingling and numbness of limbs, collapse, fits, twitchy babies, children becoming clumsy and unsteady on their feet …”
Full text, available to read and download:

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