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COP 20: The cost of climate change

As negotiators gather in Peru, we count the cost of carbon emissions and ask what can be done to combat climate change.

Global climate negotiators have gathered in Lima, Peru, for the annual United Nations climate change conference COP 20, to discuss how to combat climate change and who should pay for curbing the world’s fossil fuel emissions.

There is a prevailing theory it should be the rich industrialised nations as they have been responsible for the majority of greenhouse gases. And five years ago, they were pledging to increase funding by $100bn a year by the year 2020.

The UN estimates as much as $175bn has been transferred over the last two years to developing nations, although there is a dispute about whether it is on track to hit that 2020 target.

Developing nations are stepping up but not together. China has said emissions will peak by 2030, while India chose to put economic growth ahead of emissions caps.

Low-lying nations may never be saved as sea levels rise and it is in Asia where some of the poorest nations will be hardest hit by climate change.

The capital of Indonesia, Jakarta, is a city under threat as it is sinking at a rate of seven centimetres every year. By 2030, according to experts, half of the city will be below sea level. Step Vassen reports from the Indonesian capital.

So what can be done to combat climate change? Will world leaders ever manage to act together? And why is it so difficult to reach a consensus on climate change?

Griffin Carpenter from the New Economics Foundation joins Counting the Cost to talk about COP 20 and the climate challenge.

The danger of deforestation

The preservation of the Amazon rainforest is considered central in the battle against global warming. But in Peru, the venue for this year’s crucial climate change conference, illegal logging continues at unprecedented rates.

“Mostly everyone here makes their money from illegal logging. You pay off the police and the right people,” Romelo Sangan, an illegal logger from Peru told Al Jazeera.

Deforestation has many causes – from slashing and burning for agriculture, to harvesting precious hardwoods for the construction industry.

In South Sudan, many people are chopping down trees just to exist. The country’s oilfields generate billions of dollars a year, but all the oil is exported, leaving millions of people to rely on wood and charcoal for fuel. The current rate of deforestation will mean no forest will be left in South Sudan within three or four decades.

Al Jazeera’s environment editor Nick Clark reports more on illegal logging in Peru and deforestation in South Sudan.

Oil and ISIL: The business behind the violence

As the armed group ISIL pushes to dominate more territory in Iraq and Syria, many think that the fighters who have joined ISIL must be motivated by a fanatical commitment to ideology.

But in an extraordinary look inside ISIL with rare access to key figures in the organisation, Al Jazeera correspondent Nick Shifrin found that ISIL’s management, organisation, and wealth are all dependent on foot soldiers whose main motivation is income.

Source: Al Jazeera

Minister outlines SA plans, achievements at COP20

The Minister of Environmental Affairs Mrs Edna Molewa participated in the twentieth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 20), under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Lima, Peru. The UNFCCC COP 20 began in Lima on 1 December and will conclude on 12 December 2014. The high level-segment opened today, 9 December 2014.

Three years after the Durban United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP17), where negotiations were underway on the next steps to be taken to ensure an effective global response to the global challenge of climate change, COP20 is critical for setting the stage for achieving a global agreement in Paris at the end of 2015. Under South Africa’s COP Presidency, COP 17 achieved the historic agreement on the Durban Platform and the initiation of negotiations on a new global legal instrument, applicable to all countries, to be adopted by 2015 and to come into effect in 2020.

The Minister recently stated, “We are preparing ourselves to ensure that the UN climate change conference in Paris in 2015 delivers an outcome that lives up to the groundbreaking Durban Platform outcome of COP 17 / CMP7. And in doing so, we continue to engage with the science from the 5th Assessment Report of the IPCC… all the while deliberating, planning, strategising and taking practical action.”

As we near the deadline set in the Durban Platform, this meeting is critical as we work towards concluding the negotiation of a new multilateral legal agreement in Paris next year.

South Africa’s priorities for Lima COP 20 are as follows:

Firstly, to reach agreement on the elements of the new legal agreement, that is inclusive, fair, effective and adequate to keep temperature increase well below 2°C.

Secondly, there must be recognition that adaptation should be at the heart of the climate regime with multi-lateralism critical to offering protection of those that are most vulnerable;

Thirdly, it will be critical for Parties to reach agreement on the minimum information to be presented with Parties’ Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, covering all key pillars of the negotiation, namely adaptation, mitigation, technology, finance and capacity building.

Fourthly, the Lima political agreement needs to elaborate on the legal form that the post -2020 regime should take; and

Finally, the Lima political agreement must confirm how developing countries’ contributions to the global effort to combat climate change will be financed, and whether the obligation to provide this support will be legally binding on developed countries.

The Minister goes to COP20 guided by South Africa’s National Climate Change Response Policy, which sets out the nation’s vision and framework for an effective response, and the long-term, just transition to a climate-resilient economy and society. SA’s policy objectives are to effectively manage the inevitable climate change impacts through interventions that build and sustain South Africa’s social, economic and environmental resilience and emergency response capacity; as well as to make a fair contribution to the global effort to stabilise greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations within a timeframe that enables economic, social and environmental development to proceed in a sustainable manner.

South Africa’s approach is one of promoting sustainable development by prioritising climate change responses that have significant mitigation benefits, AND have significant economic growth, job creation and poverty alleviation benefits.

Some of our country’s achievements in the past few years since Durban include:

We have a National Climate Change Response Policy that charts the course for actions that are both developmental and transformational.

A set of Long Term Adaptation Scenarios (LTAS) are b eing developed, under plausible future climate conditions and development pathways.

We are also working hard on reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. Extensive work has been done, jointly with business and industry, to analyse the emission reduction potential in key economic sectors, and to understand the social and economic opportunities and impacts of reducing emissions. This work will lead to the establishment of desired emission reduction outcomes per sector, and carbon budgets for companies.

The National Green Economy Strategy provides the strategic directive to grow economic activity in the green industry sector, so as to attract investment, create jobs and improve competitiveness. It also provides the strategic direction for transitioning existing economic sectors towards cleaner, low-carbon industries with sustained socio-economic benefits and low environmental impact.

Source: African Environment