SUMMIT/In Paris, it is imperative that the Climate Change Conference (COP21) participant countries sign a binding agreement to put a stop to global warming. And to prevent this great climate gathering from fizzling out (again).
The house is on fire,” French president Chirac blurted out in Johannesburg in 2002. Thirteen years later, on the eve of the Climate Change Conference to be held from 30 November to 11 December 2015 in Paris (1), the scientists’diagnosis is still the same. The IPCC report is alarming – “The warming of the climate system is unequivocal and since the 1950s droves of observed changes are unprecedented for decades, even centuries or millennia,” scientists warn. The latter are blunt, “projections made on the basis of all the emission scenarios considered indicate an increase in surface temperature over the 21st century. It is very likely that the frequency and duration of heat waves will increase and that extreme precipitation will become more intense and more frequent in many regions. The oceans will continue to warm and acidify and the average sea level to rise.”
Mediterranean coasts in danger
The Mediterranean Sea has not been spared, obviously. Thus, according to researchers’forecasts, compared to its level measured between 1986 and 2005 it could gain at least 17-31 cm in fifty years (between 2046 and 2065) and 26-55 cm in one hundred years (between 2081 and 2100). With the imaginable impact on the coastal populations and infrastructure. Worse still, for the coming centuries the scenario is cataclysmic as seas could rise several metres, depending on the entity of the icecap melt. Unfortunately this scenario is far from unrealistic: complete melting of the ice in Greenland will very probably be triggered if global temperatures rise 4°C – not an impossible hypothesis. And it is no better on land – for the 2071-2100 horizon, experts predict for France “strengthening in the rates of extreme precipitation over a large part of the territory”.
Given this situation, policymakers can no longer procrastinate and must imperatively sign a binding agreement in Paris to reverse the process and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to curb global warming. The pressure is rising as the Copenhagen letdown is still in everyone’s minds. Everyone fears a ‘ditto’and for good reason. According to calculations by the Nicolas Hulot Foundation, which regularly measures countries’contributions to reducing CO2 emissions and slowing global warming, the diagnosis is pessimistic. “The contributions would lead to warming in excess of 3°C (or even 4°C), with emissions estimated at around an equivalent of 56 gigatonnes of CO2 in 2030, instead of the 46 required to achieve the 2°C,” it laments. Statements by François Hollande, the host of this great climate gathering, are no more optimistic. “There are good intentions […] but we are still far from a binding agreement and funding in line with what is at stake,” said the French head of state at his new-term conference on 7 September. “There are even risks of failure,” François Hollande admitted.
In Monaco, people want to remain optimistic. “The 2015 agreement will certainly be judged unsatisfactory but will trigger a process which must be accelerated, Bernard Fautrier believes. The vice-president of Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation (FPA2) hopes for a turn, with the recent or future change of leaders distant from climate issues in Australia or Canada. “Awareness exists including among policymakers, as do also the technological means to achieve alternative solutions. We need to find the financial resources and defeat the coal and oil producers’lobbies. I am increasingly convinced that the weight of public opinion will be crucial to push leaders to move in the right direction,” says the FPA2 vice-president. Moreover on the eve of COP21, Monaco will take part in the march for the climate. “We took part in the New York march with the Prince last year, astounded by the magnitude of the phenomenon. It was important for Monaco to take part,” Bernard Fautrier judges. This time, as the icing on the (media) cake, theoretically it will be with the athletics stars present for the FIA gala. So Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man, may march alongside Prince Albert against global warming on 29 November.
Awareness is indeed the watchword of the environmental organisations. COP 21 acts as a voice. Thus, the Oceans and Climate platform, of which the Oceanographic Institute of Monaco is a co-founder, has launched an appeal. “Oceans, which account for 71% of our planet’s surface, absorb 25% of the CO2 emitted by mankind. 93% of the excess heat produced by greenhouse gases accumulated in the past 50 years has therefore been absorbed by the ocean. This lung, which contributes to the world’s breathing, suffers because of the increase in temperature,” warns Robert Calcagno, the Institute’s director, referring to ocean acidification. For the platform it is imperative that the ocean be explicitly integrated into the future climate regime which will result from COP21. If this climate event is successful, of course.
(1) The Paris Conference on climate change is a conference to be held from 30 November to 11 December 2015, in Paris, France. It is both the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP-21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 11th Conference of the Parties in session as Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CRP-11).