UN climate change talks underway in Peru

Climate Change

UN climate change talks underway in Peru

Monday marks the start of week two of the United Nations International Climate Summit in Peru. Hopes were high that progress would be made towards a lasting global climate agreement to be signed in Paris next year. CCTV America’s Dan Collyns reported this story from Peru.

UN climate change talks underway in Peru

Monday marks the start of week two of the United Nations International Climate Summit in Peru. Hopes were high that progress would be made towards a lasting global climate agreement to be signed in Paris next year. CCTV America’s Dan Collyns reported this story from Peru.

After a week of nitty-gritty negotiations, texts have emerged from which negotiators hoped to form the basis of a draft agreement.

The talks were given impetus last month by a historic commitment made by China, the United States, and the European Union to cut greenhouse gases.

Observers hoped China would play a leading role.

“To be able to achieve that China will have to have very strong post-2020 climate target by March next year. I think China should give assurances to other parties that they will do that, and they will have an ambitious offer,” Li Shuo from Greenpeace said.

But splits between developed and developing nations persist. The idea that rich nations are historically responsible for climate change should oblige them to pay compensation to poorer ones did not go down well with some countries. The U.S. said it accepts differentiated responsibilities, but they shouldn’t be set in stone over time.

Negotiators hope the arrival of ministers and heads of state will push the talks forward.

“What we really need to see now is countries forging ahead with a compromise, and we urgently do need the ministers to inject some momentum into these talks. Otherwise, we’re actually not going to see any outcome in Lima, an outcome that can be built on in Paris in 2015 at the end of next year,” Kelly Dent of Oxfam Australia said.

Officials warned that time was running out. Streamlining the demands of every country in the world would be impossible, but creating binding commitments was crucial.


Fears of Brazil deforestation

In Brazil, the battle against deforestation produced large cuts in carbon emissions, but as CCTV America’s Lucrecia Franco reported, it slowly began to surge again.

Fears of Brazil deforestation

In Brazil, the battle against deforestation produced large cuts in carbon emissions, but as CCTV America's Lucrecia Franco reported, it slowly began to surge again.

Fires burning in the Amazon rain forest were back. Deforestation for cattle grazing could reverse all the progress that Brazil made in cutting carbon emissions.

Data published in the U.S. scientific journal “Science” showed Brazil slashed the amount of deforestation by 70 percent in the last decade and kept more than 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide out the atmosphere.

This year, the Brazilian government confirmed it’s happening again. Between July 2012 and 2013, loggers cleared 5,891 square kilometers (about 2,275 square miles) of Brazilians rain forest, an area roughly half the size of Puerto Rico.

Fabio Rubio Scarano, vice president of Conservation International‘s Americas division, warned Brazil needed to urgently halt deforestation.

“At least half of Brazil’s carbon emissions come from deforestation. So if we stop deforestation in Brazil, that would be a major contribution to reduce carbon emissions not only in the country, but also in the planet,” Scarano said.

The Amazon has been called the “lungs of the world,” producing a fifth of the world’s oxygen, but it continues to shrink each year. Non-profit groups warned rain forests could completely vanish in 100 years if current deforestation rates continue.

“The issue is that there is a number of scientific evidence and models that indicate that if the Amazonian deforestation goes beyond 20-30 percent of the total area. This might drive the Amazonian to a tipping point that would be a point of change were the whole biosphere could perhaps turn into savanna, which is drier. If that happens, this is going to have a mayor effect on global climate,” Scarano said.

Brazil has promised to reduce carbon emissions 39 percent by 2020. Brazil now faces pressure to protect the Amazon forest, while at the same time growing its economy. While one effort doesn’t exclude the other, environmentalists said Brazil would need international help to climb out of recession without slashing and burning its way to prosperity.


No current plans for India to cut emissions

As India’s industrial sector continues to grow, so does its carbon emissions. So far, the government has not committed to specific emissions cuts. Despite growing calls for action, that’s not expected to change soon. CCTV America’s Shweta Bajaj reported this story from New Delhi.

No current plans for India to cut emissions

As India's industrial sector continues to grow, so does its carbon emissions. So far, the government has not committed to specific emissions cuts. Despite growing calls for action, that's not expected to change soon. CCTV America's Shweta Bajaj reported this story from New Delhi.

The Indian capital New Delhi has a population of more than 25 million. Industrial smoke, car exhaust, and foul smells were already common, but in the last a few years, the city’s air had become dangerous to even breathe.

The pressure on India to commit to defined emission cutback targets mounted, but India has just started it’s journey towards industrialization. External pressures on climate change means it will have to create a new path keeping climate change in mind, making sure it doesn’t make the same mistakes as the developed world did.

In the past, India and China have clubbed together, advocating that fast developing economies need more room on climate change. With 600 million people below the poverty line in India, it is unlikely to back down from its growth-focused stance.

“India has always taken this position that there needs to be a concerted effort mostly by the developing nations who are branded as the culprits in this case, that they need to take a much more proactive step to redeem and to correct what were the past mistakes that were done. I think India will continue to take this position and will position itself as a champion of the least developed countries,” Krishnan Pallassana, the director of The Climate Group, said.

So far, most of India’s economic growth has been powered by the use of coal and other fossil fuels. It is the world’s third largest emitter, but it is still far behind the U.S. and China both in absolute and per capita terms. But experts said, it’s about time for India to start looking at options other than coal to generate electricity.

“India can do and should do better. That is step up their game and basically say we are not going to limit ourselves to legally binding emission cuts, but we are going to do more,” Chaitanya Kumar, the coordinator of 350.org, said.

In recent years, the country has been hit by an increasing number of climate-related natural disasters. Between 2005 and 2014, over 78 million people were affected by floods, causing economic losses of $15 billion. Experts said despite all the devastation, there remained a lack of political will and vision.

“The main obstacle according to me is the mindset. What makes us believe that development can happen only through investment in conventional manufacturing sector. In fact, investment in clean energy brings in much more investment potential, much more employment potential, much more social development and grassroots economic potential than the conventional industries can actually do,” Pallassana said.

While the new government has promised to boost renewable energy, India also has massive coal mining plans. Which means for now, there was still no change on climate change.


Power ambitions could derail India’s climate change goals

India has some energy ambitions of its own. The government wanted to make sure that all homes have access to power 24/7. However, critics said the country will first need to deal with the impact that coal is having on its citizens’ quality of life. CCTV America’s Ravinder Bawa reported this story.

Power ambitions could derail India\'s climate change goals

India has some energy ambitions of its own. The government wanted to make sure that all homes have access to power 24/7. However, critics said the country will first need to deal with the impact that coal is having on its citizens' quality of life. CCTV America's Ravinder Bawa reported this story.

Delhi is a city covered with smog at any time of the day.  Government figures showed that more than 40 people die of respiratory diseases every day there.

At the Supreme Court of India while listening to a public interest litigation on air pollution, the judge allowed that a monitoring machine be brought in to the court room to measure the pollution inside. The result was four times higher than normal. Measures were being taken to tackle air pollution, but the new government had new priorities.

“We will ensure quick action thereafter to get to get coal production significantly enhanced, and to meet our government’s target of 1 billion tonnes coal by 2019 to ensure that every power plant in this country gets adequate coal,” Piyush Goyal, the Minister of State for Power, Coal and New and Renewable Energy, said.

Experts feared that this coal rush would derail the climate change agenda. What India needs, they said, was a two-track strategy that would give both public health benefits and climate mitigation benefits.

 


Veerabhadran Ramanathan discusses India’s role in climate change

CCTV America’s Michelle Makori interviewed Veerabhadran Ramanathan for on how India could push the world past the brink of irreversible climate change. Ramanathan is a Distinguished Professor of Climate Sciences at the University of California San Diego.

Veerabhadran Ramanathan discusses India\'s role in climate change

CCTV America's Michelle Makori interviewed Veerabhadran Ramanathan for on how India could push the world past the brink of irreversible climate change. Ramanathan is a Distinguished Professor of Climate Sciences at the University of California San Diego.