New UN climate deal text: what's in, what's out

  • 07 Oct 2015, 16:00
  • Sophie Yeo
UNFCCC meeting with Christiana Figueres

UNFCCC meeting | Flickr

The UN has released the latest draft of the text that will eventually be hammered into an international climate change agreement in Paris this December.

The text, written by co-chairs Dan Reifsnyder from the US and Ahmed Djoghlaf from Algeria, bears many of the hallmarks of its two previous incarnations. There is the same flurry of square brackets (231, to be precise, indicating that there at least 231 points still up for negotiation) and deluge of acronyms - and the same core issues running throughout the document.

But, in many ways, the text is a skeleton of previous versions. At 20 pages, it is about a quarter of the length of the 76-page document released in July, and the  86 pages from February.

In other words, it is the first time that the co-chairs have made substantive reductions to the Paris text.

At UN sessions taking place throughout this year, countries have  expressed concern at the slow pace of the negotiations. The text responds to a call for a "step change in the pace of negotiation", say the co-chairs in a note accompanying the text.

Behind the scenes, diplomats have been engaging in intense discussions to speed along the process. The hope is that countries will start to converge around what should go in - and stay out of - the final deal.

Nonetheless, slimming down the contents of the document remains a politically sensitive task, with nations often reluctant to say let go of their favoured positions.

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Paris 2015: Tracking country climate pledges

  • 30 Sep 2015, 13:45
  • Carbon Brief Staff

Updated 8 October.

Carbon Brief is maintaining a separate tracker of requests for   climate finance.

Countries around the world have been submitting their pledges to the UN, setting out how far they intend to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

These promises, known as "intended nationally determined contributions", or INDCs, will determine the success of the deal that the UN hopes to sign off in Paris in December this year.

Carbon Brief is summarising the pledges made by each country. We'll update this post as each INDC comes in.

We've also published separate, in-depth articles on the pledges made by  the EU the US Russia Canada China, Japan Brazil Indonesia and  India

To find out exactly what an INDC is and why it matters, read our   INDC explainer.

An informal deadline of 1 October marked the cut-off to be included in an INDC summary from the UN. Some 148 parties made the cut. Another 48 countries responsible for 10% of the world's emissions have yet to submit their INDC.

Click to enlarge:


Who has pledged an INDC so far, and what percentage of the world's emissions are covered. Credit: Rosamund Pearce, Carbon Brief, based on EU data

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UPDATED - Analysis: How much does the UK spend abroad on 'climate finance'?

  • 28 Sep 2015, 17:15
  • Sophie Yeo

Flickr | DFID

Update 28 September 2015 -  The UK has now extended the lifespan of the International Climate Fund. The government had previously budgeted to spend £3.87bn up to 2016. At the UN General Assembly in New York this weekend, the UK committed to spending a further £5.8bn between April 2016 and March 2021. At least £1.76bn of this will be spent in 2020. This sum is a significant increase on the UK's previous spending, though it will be drawn from the existing aid budget, which will continue to represent 0.7% of GDP. The government has yet to announce how the spending will be split between DECC, DEFRA and DFID.

In the world of climate finance, 2020 is an important year. By this point, as was agreed at the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009, developed countries are expected to "jointly mobilise" $100bn per annum for developing nations.

The agreement didn't identify exactly how this money should be raised. The final accord said: "This funding will come from a wide variety of sources, public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources of finance." As is the case with other developed countries, pressure is growing on the UK to play its part.

Between now and 2020, there are no formal requirements on the UK to donate. But without proof that rich countries will contribute and have a credible plan to scale up funds between now and the end of the decade, many commentators say it will be difficult to strike a meaningful deal at the UN's climate conference in Paris this December.

The UK, which contributes 0.7% of its gross national income to overseas aid, is one of the most generous donors.

But how much of this goes towards climate finance, and how is it distributed? Carbon Brief looks at the available data.

Climate -finance -tree

Source: Rosamund Pearce for Carbon Brief. This graphic does not represent the increase in UK spending announced 27 September 2015.

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Update: What do the Labour leadership candidates think on climate and energy?

  • 14 Sep 2015, 14:05
  • Sophie Yeo & Simon Evans
Labour party logo

Labour logo | Shutterstock

Update - 14 September 2015

On Saturday, Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour party, winning 59.5% of the vote.

Today, he appointed Lisa Nandy, MP for Wigan, as shadow secretary of state for energy and climate change.  She has previously served as shadow charities minister, and has been tipped to be a possible future leader of the Labour party. 

In the past, Nandy has campaigned against profiteering by the Big Six energy companies and said that shale gas is "not the magic bullet the Coalition claims".

Corbyn has also appointed Kerry McCarthy as shadow secretary of state for environment. McCarthy is MP for Bristol East.

She has written a Fabian essay on climate change campaigning, in which she says: "Securing a global climate deal in Paris in December 2015 will be one of the most pressing and immediate challenges facing the next government." She has also regularly brought up the subject of climate change in Parliament.

Carbon Brief's Labour leadership election grid summarises the views of Jeremy Corbyn, and the other candidates, on climate and energy issues.

Corbyn's views, taken mainly from his detailed "Protecting our Planet" election manifesto, are likely to inform opposition policies over the coming years.


The UK's Labour party will soon choose a new leader, following the resignation of Ed Miliband after May's election.

As former climate and energy secretary, Miliband had long been engaged on issues of emissions reductions, energy efficiency and the UN climate negotiations.

The leadership contest is between four candidates: Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Jeremy Corbyn and Liz Kendall - none of whom have held a climate-related position in government to date.

Carbon Brief has created a grid, distilling the candidates' thoughts on key climate policy issues.

Frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn has released a detailed  manifesto of his climate and energy policies. Andy Burnham has also released a formal  manifesto, which briefly touches on the environment.

We have also collected climate- and energy-related statements from the candidates' speeches, blogs, newspaper articles, interviews and essays.

Labour -leadership -grid

The Labour Leadership Grid. Visit our Google doc for the full, interactive version.

What do they think?

Each candidate has acknowledged that climate change is a key threat that must be tackled.

That is not to say they always agree on how the problem should be approached.

Perhaps the most widely reported climate angle of the leadership campaign has been left-winger Jeremy Corbyn's suggestion that he could reopen coal mines in South Wales. Both Liz Kendall and Yvette Cooper have explicitly rejected this, preferring instead to focus on creating jobs in the technology sector - in Cooper's case, this could include clean coal technology.

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Bonn climate talks ask for draft Paris text

  • 07 Sep 2015, 16:40
  • Simon Evans

A draft international climate agreement package will be published within weeks, setting the scene for crunch UN talks in Paris in December.

During negotiations in Bonn last week, countries made progress on some key sticking points and started to lay out the skeleton of the planned agreement. Yet with just five more days of formal negotiations before Paris, disagreement over many details remains profound.

The co-chairs of the process will now attempt to cement progress and bridge those divides. They have been given a  mandate to prepare a draft agreement by the first week of October. Parties will then start line-by-line negotiations on the draft text when they return to Bonn on 19 October.

Carbon Brief summarises events in Bonn last week and rounds up reactions to the latest talks.

Draft text

Negotiations are working towards a global climate agreement applicable to all countries. It is due to be wrapped up during a two-week summit in Paris in December, with a new legally-binding treaty entering force in 2020 and other decisions covering the period before then. The text of this package is coming together in a slow and often frustratingly convoluted process.

The  Geneva negotiating text, an 86-page compilation of proposals from all parties, was published in February as the starting point for the final agreement. After a week of  talks in June, a "streamlined and consolidated"  text of 85 pages emerged.

On the face of it, this achieved hardly any forward movement. However, there was important progress behind the scenes and a  build-up of trust between parties, according to Dan Reifsnyder from the US and Ahmed Djoghlaf from Algeria, the co-chairs who must steer this process to a successful conclusion.

Djoghlaf and Reifsnyder then published a text "tool" in July. This was not officially a draft text and did not remove any options put forward by parties. Instead, it attempted to better organise the mass of options and proposals into  three sections.

The first contained options for a legally-binding Paris agreement. The second included options for draft decisions, which will contain flexible provisions and instructions on implementation of the Paris package. The third section contained areas where parties disagreed over placement.

At the conclusion of last week's talks on Friday, the co-chairs were given a mandate to prepare an official draft text, due to be published during the first week of October, prior to talks resuming on the 19th. The draft will contain two sections: the draft legally-binding deal and draft decisions.

It will be based on discussions at last week's talks, as well as ongoing bilateral discussions between the co-chairs and parties. It will reflect areas of agreement and set out options where disagreement remains.

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Australia disappoints with weak UN climate pledge

  • 11 Aug 2015, 17:20
  • Sophie Yeo

Drop of Light | Shutterstock

Australia has pledged to reduce its emissions by 26-28% by 2030 based on 2005 levels - the latest in a line of countries to formally submit its contribution to a UN climate deal expected later this year.

The target has been criticised by analysts, politicians and campaigners as too low, putting Australia behind the other countries that have already outlined their future climate targets.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott disagreed. He  said:

"It's better than Japan. It's almost the same as New Zealand. It's a whisker below Canada. It's a little below Europe. It's about the same as the United States. It's vastly better than Korea. Of course, it is unimaginably better than China."

The pledge

Australia has made its pledge relative to a 2005 baseline, and covers all sectors of the economy, including land use emissions.

In its contribution, known in UN jargon as an  "intended nationally determined contribution", or INDC, Australia says that it will implement the upper range of its target (28%) "should circumstances allow".

It also stresses that it "reserves the right to adjust our target" ahead of its finalisation under the global agreement expected to be signed at the end of this year.

Assuming that Australia does meet the 28% end of the target, this is what Australia's emissions trajectory will look like up to 2030.

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 At 11.22.11

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Explainer: New negotiating text provides clarity on UN climate deal

  • 28 Jul 2015, 17:00
  • Sophie Yeo

UN Photo/Mark Garten

The United Nations has released a new document outlining what the Paris climate deal could look like, which countries hope to sign in December this year.

The two diplomats responsible for steering the challenging negotiations towards a successful outcome in December, Dan Reifsnyder from the US and Ahmed Djoghlaf from Algeria, released a new text - or a "tool", as they are calling it - last Friday.

It is the product of a six weeks of work, following  the latest round of talks in June. It attempts to summarise the latest positions and thinking from the 196 parties involved in crafting the new deal, which will guide international efforts to tackle climate change beyond 2020.


The new text is based on the  Geneva negotiating text - an 86-page document that countries constructed in February, following a major round of talks in December 2014 in Lima.

The new text has been reduced to 76 pages through a process of careful streamlining. This largely involved erasing duplication and redundancies from the Geneva text - a messy, if comprehensive, document, that had, as far as it was possible, attempted to accommodate all parties' views.

The co-chairs have not removed any substantive language or options from the text concerning the final content of the agreement. This sort of whittling down is the responsibility of the parties, and is likely to commence in earnest in Bonn in upcoming sessions, the first of which begins this August

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Japan's 2030 climate pledge leaves room for coal expansion

  • 21 Jul 2015, 11:15
  • Sophie Yeo
Mt. Fuji with fall colors in Japan.

Mt Fuji | Shutterstock

Japan has finalised its emissions reductions pledge to the UN, targeting a 26% reduction below 2013 levels by 2030.

This goal was widely expected. The Japanese government proposed an early, informal version of the pledge, known as an "intended nationally determined contribution" (  INDC), in June. Despite a month of deliberations, the goals contained in this draft have not changed.

Japan's INDC is closely tied to its long-term energy strategy out to 2030, written by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and  published in Japanese on Thursday.

The government says that its 2030 emissions reductions targets are a "bottom-up calculation...based on the amount of domestic emission reductions and removals assumed to be obtained" by this strategy.

Japan's energy history

Until recently, nuclear formed the bedrock of Japan's energy supply, meaning that around 30% of its power was generated without emitting carbon dioxide.

That changed with the Fukushima disaster in 2011. Three of the plant's six nuclear reactions went into meltdown after it was hit by a tsunami triggered by an earthquake. Following this, almost all of Japan's nuclear reactions were either shut down or suspended. By 2014, Japan had gone from generating 29% of its electricity from nuclear to none at all.

Japan turned to fossil fuels to fill the gap, causing its emissions to rise. In 2013, Japan registered its highest rate of emissions to date, at 10.8% higher than they were in 1990. For comparison, the  EU saw its emissions peak in 1979.

This caused Japan to backtrack on its 2020 pledge under the Copenhagen accord. Originally, Japan had said it would reduce its emissions by  25% on 1990 levels. In November 2013, the government announced it would instead target a reduction of 3.8% below 2005 levels - equivalent to an  increase of 5.2% on 1990 levels.

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UK academics call for strong action on climate change at Paris summit

  • 21 Jul 2015, 06:00
  • Roz Pidcock

Tom Morris

Academics today threw their weight behind calls for a strong climate deal in Paris later this year, urging governments to take immediate action to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Today's communiqué, a joint endeavor by learned societies across the sciences, social sciences, arts, humanities, engineering and medicine, calls on governments, including the UK, to "seize the opportunity" in Paris to strike an ambitious deal to curb climate change.

Staying pretty close to what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in its  latest report, the document doesn't cover new ground as such.

But it sends a signal to negotiators that the science community supports a global agreement in Paris, says  Prof Eric Wolff, professor of earth sciences at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of the Royal Society, one of the 24 institutions endorsing today's communiqué.

Other signatories include the British Ecological Society, the Institute of Physics, the Royal Astronomical Society, the Royal Meteorological Society and the Wellcome Trust.

Facing up to risk

In a few months' time, governments will meet in Paris to discuss how the world can limit global temperature to the  internationally-agreed 2C above pre-industrial levels.

Today's statement is an appeal to negotiators from the science community to base their discussions firmly in the latest science about the risks of exceeding 2C. It says:

"A rise of 2C above pre-industrial levels would lead to further increased risk from extreme weather and would place more ecosystems and cultures in significant danger. At or above 4C, the risks include substantial species extinction, global and regional food insecurity, and fundamental changes to human activities that today are taken for granted."

But climate change is not only a future problem. Prof Camille Parmesan, expert in the impacts of climate change on natural systems at the University of Plymouth, tells Carbon Brief that even with 0.8C of warming since pre-industrial times we are already starting to see a decline in biodiversity. She says:

"We're already seeing contraction of species in the most sensitive ecosystems, such as those dependent on sea ice or those living on mountain tops. We're also seeing declines in some tropical systems, such as coral reefs, and the valuable services they provide for fish nurseries, tourism and coastal protection."

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The Carbon Brief Interview: Syukuro Manabe

  • 07 Jul 2015, 11:45
  • Leo Hickman
Portrait fo Syukuro Manabe

Syukuro Manabe | InterAcademy Council

Syukuro Manabe is the senior meteorologist on the program in atmospheric and oceanic sciences at Princeton University. After completing his doctorate at the University of Tokyo in 1958, he began working as a research meteorologist at the US Weather Bureau. From 1963-1997, he was the senior research meteorologist at NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. From 1997-2002, he was the director of global warming research program at the Frontier Research Center for Global Change in Japan.

Yesterday, Carbon Brief published the results of its  survey of climate scientists asking them to name the most influential studies of all time. The clear winner was a paper published in 1967 written by Syukuro Manabe and Richard. T. Wetherald.

The interview began via email:

CB: Please can you compare, in lay terms, a climate model from that period [the late 1960s] to one today?

SM: Parameterisations of subgrid scale processes (eg, moist convection, cloud, land surface processes) were much simpler. The large-scale process (eg, the dynamics and thermodynamics of atmospheric circulation) is practically identical.  

CB: Did you realise at that stage the importance they would end up having - and how much they would be scrutinised and debated - decades later?

SM: No. As the first step towards developing 3D model of the atmosphere, I developed 1D radiative-convective model of the atmosphere. As a by-product, I investigated the role of greenhouse gases for maintaining the vertical profile of temperature in the atmosphere and for causing it to change.

CB: In the 1960s, you were using computers to better understand how our climate worked. Now computers are used to create projections for emissions scenarios and such like?

SM: From 1960s onward, we were interested in understanding as well as predicting climate change. Equal emphasis should be placed on both of these objectives.

CB: Are we too reliant on models in trying to form a policy response to climate change? Where should we be using models to our advantage? And where should we apply caution to their use?

SM: Models have been very effective in predicting climate change, but have not been as effective in predicting its impact on ecosystem and human society. The distinction between the two has not been stated clearly. For this reason, major effort should be made to monitor globally not only climate change, but also its impact on ecosystem through remote sensing from satellites as well as in-situ observation.

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