First small sign of climate accord on five-year review of carbon cuts

Barbara Lewis and Alister Doyle PlanetArk 3 Dec 15;

Climate negotiators in Paris are drawing close to resolving one of the sticking points for a breakthrough emissions pact by favoring a five-year review period on promised greenhouse gas cuts, a top official said on Wednesday.

Regular reviews are seen as a crucial part of any agreement since countries' current pledges to cut emissions - submitted by 185 nations to the United Nations - will fail to prevent temperatures from rising 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, seen as a dangerous level.

Countries have disagreed as to how often audits of those plans should take place. While many major emitters including China, the United States and the European Union supported a five-year period, a term included in an outline U.N. text last month, others such as India have been reluctant to commit.

"It seems now there is a growing consensus that (reviews) will be every five years," U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres told a news conference on the third day of talks.There was still little progress on thornier issues, though, such as funding for developing nations and a long-term goal for phasing out fossil fuels.

That prompted French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius to urge delegates to quicken efforts to whittle down a lengthy draft.

On the reviews, there was still uncertainty about when they would start and any conditions to ensure they result in increased action. "These are issues for negotiations," said Ajay Mathur, director general of the bureau of energy efficiency and a leading member of the Indian delegation.

Two days after world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping gave speeches of encouragement, delegates are locked in debating a draft text of more than 50 pages shot through with points of disagreement that have held back a deal since negotiations began four years ago in South Africa.

(Editing by Tom Heneghan)

On climate frontlines, Pacific islanders consider moving
Alister Doyle PlanetArk 3 Dec 15;

On the frontline of climate change, many people in low-lying Pacific islands say they will consider migrating if droughts, floods or rises in sea level worsen, a study showed on Wednesday at United Nations talks.

Even so, very few of the islanders surveyed in Kiribati, Tuvalu and Nauru have the money needed to move, the report by the U.N. University and the European Union said.

"Pacific islanders are facing the brunt of climate change impacts and are increasingly finding themselves with few options," Tuvalu's Prime Minister Enele Sosene Sopoaga said, commenting on the report.

The first survey of its kind, it said more than 70 percent of households surveyed in Kiribati and Tuvalu and 35 percent of those in Nauru, said family members would be willing to move if the impact of climate change worsened.

It said that 1.3 percent of people in Kiribati, 10 percent of those in Nauru and 15 percent of those in Tuvalu had moved internationally in the period 2005-15. It did not give comparisons with previous decades.

The researchers projected that international migration would increase sharply by 2055 from all three island states. Storms and "king tides" are likely to worsen. Sea levels have risen about 20 centimetres (8 inches) in the past century.

It said only 26 percent of the 6,852 people surveyed in the three nations reckoned they had enough money to migrate - average monthly earnings are just $12 per capita.

Almost 200 nations are meeting in Paris until Dec. 11, trying to work out a deal to limit a rise in temperatures blamed on increasing emissions of greenhouse gases.

Courts in New Zealand and other countries have rejected applications for asylum from islanders who cite a rising sea level as a cause for moving.

They say it cannot qualify as fleeing "persecution" under the United Nations' 1951 refugee convention. The U.N. refugee agency also opposes adding a category of climate refugees.

Koko Warner of the U.N. University's Institute for Environment and Security said governments needed new ways to help. "Climate change is one of the really big stressors ... Our current institutions do not address that yet," she said.

Last year, Kiribati bought 6,000 acres of land in Fiji to help safeguard future food supplies and perhaps to become a future home if seas rise, as part of a policy of "migration with dignity".

(Editing by Gareth Jones)

Protecting forests must become the norm in supply chains: Prince Charles
Barbara Lewis and Megan Rowling PlanetArk 2 Dec 15;

Business leaders, environment ministers and even royalty urged companies to eschew raw materials that destroy forests, at the U.N. climate summit in Paris on Tuesday.

The CEO of Marks and Spencer, Britain's high-street retail giant, said $150 billion per year of value was at stake, in terms of the resources forests provide for business, including palm oil, soy and timber.

Marc Bolland took to the podium on the sidelines of the climate summit, alongside representatives of indigenous Amazon dwellers and Peru's environment minister, while on a separate stage Britain's Prince Charles and Brazilian officials also called for the protection of forests.

"We will reward countries that tackle deforestation," Bolland pledged, saying firms should source their raw materials from sustainable nations.

"Working alone is not enough. We need partnership. We need scale. It's about produce and protect," Bolland said.

Marks and Spencer is a member of a Consumer Goods Forum that includes Unilever and Nestle, which is working for sustainable business practices to minimize waste of resources such as water and energy, as well as trees.

Prince Charles singled out Unilever as a pioneer of sustainability, but said companies had to do more.

"It remains the case that many of the world's largest companies and their financial backers pay scant, by which I really mean no, attention to the deforestation footprint of their supply chains," the prince told delegates.

All commodities firms should commit to stopping deforestation, he added, so that not cutting down more trees than are replaced becomes "the norm, rather than the exception".

Companies are increasingly aware of the benefits of sustainable practices for their brands as environment campaigners name and shame bad practice on social media, and pressure on resources, such as water, agricultural crops and trees, drives up costs.

Representing the people of the Amazon, whose way of life depends on the forest, Brazil's Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said laws and incentives must persuade local authorities and business to protect the rainforest.

"We need to put together protection and production," she said.

Data issued last week showed the destruction of Brazil's Amazon forest, the world's largest intact rainforest, rose by 16 percent versus a year ago as the government struggled to enforce legislation and halt illegal clearings.

Globally, the loss of forest cover is stabilizing as replanting counters approximately 12 million hectares of forest clearance every year, according to U.N. figures.

When forests are degraded or destroyed, the carbon they store is released, with deforestation accounting for an estimated 10 to 15 percent of carbon emissions worldwide.

On Monday, Germany, Norway and Britain announced a collective aim to provide $5 billion from 2015 to 2020 for conservation efforts in forest countries if they demonstrate measured and verified emissions reductions.

(Editing by Laurie Goering. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit