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News Article | September 1, 2016
Site: www.theenergycollective.com

Some of the largest, most profitable companies in Canada are collectively receiving an estimated $3.3 billion in subsidies every year from Canadian taxpayers, according to a new analysis. The report, released today by the International Institute for Sustainable Development, a Canadian-based think tank, outlines how billions in federal and provincial tax breaks and corporate incentives benefit companies in the oil and gas sector like Imperial Oil, whose earnings in 2015 were CDN$1.1 billion. The new analysis comes as Trudeau is in China for the G20 Summit. In 2009 G20 leaders committed to a complete phase out of all fossil fuel subsidies over the medium term and Justin Trudeau, while on the campaign trail, made an election promise to fulfill that commitment. “Fossil fuel subsidies work against Canada’s commendable progress in putting a price on carbon — they give money and tax breaks to the sources of carbon pollution that we’re trying to scale back,” Amin Asadollahi, North American Lead on Climate Change Mitigation at the International Institute for Sustainable Development, said. Between 2013 and 2015 the federal government handed out an average of CAD $1 billion every year through the Canadian Development Expense program. During that same period an average of CAD $148 million was provided to oil and gas companies through the Canadian Exploration Expense program. B.C. and Alberta also provide the lion’s share of oil and gas subsidies through royalty reductions and drilling credits. Some of the largest oil and gas subsidies in Canada. Image: IISD The new analysis details how those taxpayer funds could be better spent in Canada. For instance, the institute calculates that $3.3 billion could pay for the education of 260,000 students, or job training for 330,000 Canadians, each year. Or each Canadian could just pay $94 less per year in taxes. Despite the global downturn in oil prices, some of the largest oil and gas companies in Canada have turned an impressive profit. In 2014 oilsands giant Suncor Energy posted a record profit, with operating earnings of CDN$1.37 billion. Last year Suncor Energy and Imperial Oil ranked 11th and 12th respectively for most profitable companies in Canada. While oil and gas companies are getting windfall tax breaks, the Canadian government is proposing to put a tax on the greenhouse gas emissions that result from the production of oil and gas. As IISD analyst Amin Asadollahi describes it, “[i]magine the Canadian government taxed cigarettes with one hand, while handing out tax breaks to tobacco companies with the other.” Fossil fuel subsidies also undercut taxs breaks and financial incentives for renewable energies like wind, solar and geothermal. In a 2015 report the International Institute for Sustainable Development along with Oil Change International found global subsidies for the fossil fuel industry are four times greater than subsidies for clean energy alternatives. Clean energy analysts say the overwhelming emphasis on support for fossil fuel development has prevented the renewable energy industry from reaching its full potential. The renewable energy industry, despite the lack of help, is still booming and outpacing even the most optimistic predictions for its growth. In its election platform the Liberal party promised to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies in order to support the growth of alternatives. “The saving will be redirected to investments in new and clean technologies,” the party platform says.

News Article | November 16, 2015
Site: cleantechnica.com

Financial as well as non-financial institutions and agencies continue to partner with the Climate Bonds Initiative to increase their presence in the global green bonds market. The Climate Bonds Initiative recently announced that EY (formerly Ernst & Young), one of the world’s leading auditing firms, and Thompson Reuters, a leading news and media enterprise, have joined it as partners. EY is expected to contribute with regards to development of transparent and verifiable mechanisms linked to green bonds, having joined the Climate Bonds Initiative as an approved verifier for the Climate Bonds Standard in January this year. Thompson Reuters, which provides intelligence information to businesses and professionals, has also joined in as a partner, and is expected to work with the Climate Bonds Initiative in offering stakeholders information solutions related to the global green bonds market. This year has seen significant interest from several financial sector institutions in the green bonds market. Some of the leading banks, government agencies, and non-government organisations have partnered with the Climate Bonds Initiative. The long list of entities that become partners with the Climate Bonds Initiative this year include Citi, BlackRock, Allianz Group, International Institute for Sustainable Development, National Australia Bank, UNEP FI’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance, the Swiss Government’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, Green Building Council of Australia, German bank Münchener Hypothekenbank eG, and Dutch pension fund ACTIAM. According to the Climate Bonds Initiative, October has already seen issuance worth over $5 billion, topping the highest monthly total of $4.48 billion in August, putting the cumulative issuance so far this year at just over $31 billion, which is well in-line with the expected final year total of $40 billion. In a recent report on private sector participation in climate finance, the Climate Change Support Team has described green bonds as very attractive to institutional investors, as the risk and returns are determined by the financial health of the issuer and not just its clean energy assets.   Get CleanTechnica’s 1st (completely free) electric car report → “Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want.”   Come attend CleanTechnica’s 1st “Cleantech Revolution Tour” event → in Berlin, Germany, April 9–10.   Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.  

News Article | April 27, 2016
Site: www.theenergycollective.com

After the signing of the Paris Agreement, governments of both developed and developing countries must design and implement policy instruments to drastically scale up the use of renewables in the energy sector, write Jan Frederik Braun and Nicole de Paula. The authors provide a quick guide to effective policymaking for renewable energy and explain why they are optimistic about the future. The signing of the Paris Agreement on 22 April 2016 in New York by more than 160 countries marks the start of an era in which countries need to begin turning aspiration into implementation. Because of the fact that the renewables market is to a large extent a policy-driven market, the design and implementation of policy instruments is crucial to the success of the renewable energy revolution. Based on the work of Elizondo and Barroso (2011), who reviewed renewable energy policy instruments used around the world, we have drawn up 10 lessons for policymakers when designing policies to promote renewable energy. Here’s our Quick Policymakers’ Guide on How to Scale Up Renewables: Although post-Paris most countries now appear to be focused on climate change and reducing emissions, policy support for renewables remains fickle and hurdles in one or more of the areas mentioned above remain. Incentive schemes are frequently changed or cancelled at short notice. This happened for example recently in the UK. The possibility of a Republican President after 8 November 2016 as well as a Republican majority in the US Senate and Congress could impact the US renewable energy market severely. Rather than abruptly changing incentive schemes, policymakers should make them adaptable to changing circumstances and requirements. A good example is North-Rhine Westfalia’s Climate Protection Plan (CPP), the largest grassroots, participatory, multi-stakeholder process ever conducted in Germany, which provides a clear mandate for the state government to expand renewable energy. The CPP is designed as a ‘roadmap’ or ‘learning system’, which the state government updates every five years. The participation of grid companies remains a concern. Many national electricity companies in developing countries, but also e.g. the transmission system operators in Germany, have failed to expand their grids to keep up with the expansion of solar and wind power. In addition, national electricity monopolies in developing countries are often not familiar with or resistant to variable wind and solar generation. The EU provides a good example of how policy instruments on different levels can be incompatible with one another; here national subsidies and other forms of support for renewable energy and energy efficiency work against the functioning of the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme. As to the financial sustainability of the system, there are grave concerns at the moment about how variable generation is depressing wholesale electricity prices and making it difficult to make a return on investing in any new generating plant, renewable or otherwise. Much work also remains to be done in involving citizens in decision-making processes. Despite these hurdles, there are reasons to be optimistic about the future of renewable energies. The falling costs of renewable energy technologies, notably solar and wind power, makes them more competitive compared to conventional fuels. According to a study by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE), commissioned by Agora Energiewende, solar energy will become the cheapest power source in many parts of the world. By 2025, solar power in sunny regions will be cheaper than power from coal or gas. A report from IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency), “Renewable Energy Benefits“,  shows the overall positive impact renewable deployment has on macroeconomic variables such as GDP, employment, welfare and trade. Also, efforts in deploying renewables at sectoral and national/regional level are viewed as predominantly positive in terms of driving economic growth while creating new employment opportunities. The most recent statistics confirm this upbeat perspective. The IEA (International Energy Agency) earlier this year reported that renewables accounted for around 90% of new electricity generation in 2015. The UNEP report “Global Trends in Renewable Energy” reported a new record for overall global investment in renewable power capacity last year of $285.9 billion. In contrast, coal and gas-fired electricity generation drew less than half this amount. One reason surely is that in the post-Paris investment climate, new coal-fired plants are more difficult to finance than those of cleaner technologies given rising investor concern about exposure to stranded assets and the climate priorities of development banks. 2015 also marked the year in which investment in renewables (excluding large hydro) in the developing world, including Brazil, China and India, outpaced that in the developed economies of Europe, Japan and the United States. According to IRENA’s 2015 “Rethinking Energy” report, many of these markets are experiencing a rapid growth in energy demand, and renewable energy is seen as an increasingly important part of the future energy mix. This is in part due to the fact that solar parks and wind farms can be built in a matter of months, whereas coal and gas plants take several years and nuclear even decades. The prospects for a successful energy transition are further boosted by a wide range of bottom-up, participatory initiatives that are being undertaken by countries, regions, cities, investors and companies across the world to further scale up the use of renewables in the post-Paris world. We highlight 10 significant initiatives that come on top of the formal agreements at COP21 in Paris: To realise the aspirations of the Paris Agreement, much will depend on whether governments of both developed and developing countries will put their money where their mouth is in the coming five years. The ‘ratchet mechanism’ in the Paris Agreement, sometimes referred to as the ‘ambition mechanism’, commits each country to submitting targets on a five-year cyclical basis, each of which must be progressively more ambitious than the last. This increase of ambition is set to begin in 2018, when countries will take stock of their collective efforts in relation to the long-term goals of the agreement and to inform the next round of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The Paris Agreement is just a start. Jan Frederik Braun holds a PhD in Economics and Political Science from Osnabrück University and conducts both policy-oriented and business research in EU climate and energy policies as well as in the German energy transition (Energiewende). His previous positions include Project Manager in the Energy Competence Centre Energy at Informa Germany and Research Fellow in the EU People Programme Network INCOOP (Dynamics of Institutional Cooperation in the European Union). Nicole de Paula Domingos holds a PhD in Political Science/International Relations from Sciences Po Paris and is a non-resident fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations (CTR) at the Johns Hopkins University (SAIS), Washington D.C. She currently works as a Post-doc fellow and project officer for the RAMSES project Reconciling Adaptation, Mitigation and Sustainable Development for Cities) funded by the European Commission, and is also a consultant for the  International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), where she writes for the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB).

News Article | November 18, 2016
Site: www.theguardian.com

Ahead of the autumn statement next week (Report, 18 November), we urge the chancellor not to answer calls from oil producers in the North Sea for another round of government subsidies. Instead, Philip Hammond should put an end to the taxpayer-funded bonus for oil and gas companies and set the UK on a pathway to a more prosperous, clean energy future. If the world is to deliver on the Paris agreement on climate change, most of the known oil, gas and coal reserves must remain untapped. Yet in spite of warnings about risks of stranded assets from the governor of the Bank of England, the UK continues to promote the production of yet more oil and gas. The tax breaks introduced by former chancellor George Osborne in 2015 and 2016 have been costly. The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that the Treasury will hand oil and gas companies a net £4.8bn in rebates between 2015 and 2021. These tax breaks have also failed to protect jobs. Even with current subsidies, North Sea oil and gas operators expect to lay off one in six UK-based workers this year. By contrast, a recent UK Energy Research Centre study found that similarly sized renewable energy projects create 10 times more jobs than their fossil fuel counterparts. As the industry is now asking this government to shift wider production costs and even more of the £70bn in decommissioning costs to the taxpayer, the government must acknowledge that the transition to a low-carbon future offers a much larger benefit to the UK than continuing to chase uneconomic fossil fuel production. Removing existing tax breaks is critical for establishing a financial framework for a prosperous and clean energy future. In next week’s autumn statement, the chancellor should eliminate these perverse incentives which do not serve the UK’s economic and environmental interests. This would be an important first step for the UK in meeting a call by businesses and civil society to phase out all fossil fuel subsidies by 2020. Shelagh Whitley Head of climate and energy, Overseas Development Institute, Stephen Kretzmann Executive director, Oil Change International, Mika Minio-Paluello Programme coordinator, Platform UK, Marc Stears Chief executive, New Economics Foundation, Dylan Tanner Executive director, InfluenceMap, Peter Wooders Group director, energy, International Institute for Sustainable Development, Mike Barrett Acting executive director, global programmes, World Wildlife Fund UK, Simon Bullock Senior campaigner, climate change and energy, Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Richard Dixon Director, Friends of the Earth Scotland • Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(Marketwired - Nov. 2, 2016) - Earth Alive Clean Technologies Inc. (CSE:EAC)(CSE:EAC.CN) ("Earth Alive" or the "Company"), a leading Canadian Clean-Tech company, developer and manufacturer of state-of-the-art microbial technology-based products for sustainable agriculture and mining, is pleased to announce that it attended the 2016 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals, and Sustainable Development (IGF). The meeting was held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland from October 24th to 28th, 2016. The 2016 AGM marked the first opportunity for IGF Members to engage in a joint dialogue on the relevance of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to the mining sector. Other important organizations such as international financial institutions, multilateral organizations, non-governmental organizations, industry associations, donor governments and other actors were also increasingly well-represented at the IGF AGM, as they recognize the value of engagement with this important network. More than 80 organizations took part in 2016, which is a clear indication of the IGF's growing significance and relevance for sustainable development. For this year's AGM, the Secretariat developed an agenda focused on "The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Mining". The SDGs represent the post-2015 global development agenda and represent the international consensus on development priorities. Attention was also paid to the broader issue of sustainable development, the contribution the mining sector can make, and some of the challenges the sector itself faces with regards to its own sustainability. "It was an honour for Earth Alive to participate in this prestigious event, and to showcase our EA1 microbial dust control technology to industry stakeholders," stated Marcelo Soutullo, VP of the Dust Control Division of Earth Alive. "We are making a lot of headway into the Latin American mining dust suppression market, and this event has provided a premiere opportunity to show how Earth Alive's EA1 Dust Suppressant can help companies make real strides toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals". Mr. Frédéric Perron-Welch, Director of Sustainable Development for the Company, further added that, "As an economic activity that transforms natural resources into wealth and products required for development, the mining sector will remain important in the future, but it must work to mitigate environmental impacts and contribute to the achievement of the SDGs. Ultimately, the success of the SDGs will be based on how the mining sector moves into action on sustainable development." Mr. Perron-Welch explained, "Our microbial dust suppressant technology EA1 is certified organic and biodegradable, reduces over 90% of dust emissions from operating roads, and can reduce water use by over 80%. This leads to significantly reduced operational expenditures while sustainably reducing dust emissions. EA1 Dust Suppressant has been tried, tested, and proven effective in environmentally challenging conditions in North America, Latin America, and Africa. " The IGF is a growing and evolving platform for country governments to engage with industry and civil society experts, and with each other, on best practices for sustainable development in leveraging their natural resource wealth. It is a member-driven organization that provides 55 national governments the opportunity to work collectively to achieve their sustainable mining goals. In the past year, with the support of the Canadian Government, the IGF Secretariat is now hosted by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) in Ottawa, Canada. Earth Alive aims to be a key player in world markets of environmentally sustainable industrial solutions. The company works with the latest innovations in microbial technology to formulate and patent innovative products that can tackle the most difficult industrial challenges, once only reserved to environmentally harmful chemicals and additives. The company is focused on environmental sustainability in 1) dust control for the mining industry, and 2) the agriculture industry. The CSE has neither approved nor disapproved the contents of this press release. The CSE does not accept responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release. Except for statements of historical fact, this news release contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of applicable securities law. Forward-looking statements are frequently characterized by words such as "plan", "expect", "project", "intend", "believe", "anticipate", "estimate" and other similar words, or statements that certain events or conditions "may" occur. Although Earth Alive believes that the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements are reasonable, there can be no assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct. Such forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results, performance or developments to differ materially from those contained in the statements. Except as required under applicable securities legislation, the Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise forward-looking information, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

News Article | November 25, 2015
Site: cleantechnica.com

One of the world’s largest insurers, Allianz, has announced it will begin divesting from coal in favor of investing in renewable energy. Allianz is one of world’s largest financial asset managers, and the company announced on Tuesday, in concert with its Capital Markets Day, that it would begin phasing out coal. Specifically, Allianz stated that it would “stop financing coal-based business models,” such as companies that derive more than 30% of their revenue from coal mining, or generate over 30% of their energy from coal. The announcement was made by the company’s CEO, Oliver Bäte, and is based at least in part on the two degrees Celsius target of the upcoming Paris climate negotiations, as well as the economic risks involved in continuing investments in coal. The current details available are slim, and the company is intending to further expand on its decision later this week, but The Guardian quote “analysts” who are predicting the company’s decision could impact €4 billion worth of investments. The divestment campaign has long been ramping up, and as of writing this, campaign network Fossil Free’s database has 489 institutions divesting to the tune of $2.6 trillion. Concurrent to the divestment campaign has been the widespread attempt to convince governments to forego fossil fuel subsidies. The latest figures suggest that governments are spending more than ever on fossil fuel subsidies. Published earlier this month, a report by the Overseas Development Institute, with the Oil Change Institute, found that G20 nations were spending an average of $452 billion per year on fossil fuel subsidies. A report published late-October by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM) revealed that removing fossil fuel subsidies in the 20 countries studied would reduce national emissions by an average of 11% by 2020.    Get CleanTechnica’s 1st (completely free) electric car report → “Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want.”   Come attend CleanTechnica’s 1st “Cleantech Revolution Tour” event → in Berlin, Germany, April 9–10.   Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.  

Brooks D.B.,International Institute for Sustainable Development | Trottier J.,French National Center for Scientific Research
International Journal of Water Resources Development | Year: 2014

Many people think of transboundary water in terms of national security. However, water is not, nor is it likely to become, a cause of war. Rather, the need is for water security, which implies that water management must balance the goals of efficiency, equity, sustainability and implementability. This article suggests how a joint management structure for fresh water can be designed to promote ongoing resolution of issues, and do so in a way that de-nationalizes and de-securitizes transboundary water. Though designed with the Israeli-Palestinian case in mind, the approach is applicable wherever water divides rather than unites states or peoples. © 2014 Taylor & Francis.

Cosbey A.,International Institute for Sustainable Development | Mavroidis P.C.,University of Florence
Review of European, Comparative and International Environmental Law | Year: 2014

This article discusses the evolution of case law regarding the treatment of cases that the authors qualify as 'trade and environment' in the case law of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). The main argument is that, as in many domestic jurisdictions, GATT/WTO courts moved from an original 'hostile' position towards environmental protection that incidentally affected trade flows to a more nuanced, even friendly attitude towards those measures that were legitimately 'green'. WTO courts, like other courts before them, saw the signs of times. They did not have to 'make' law, though, in order to change their attitude towards environmental concerns. They only had to correct a clear mistake they committed in the late 1980s in the notorious tuna-dolphin dispute, and start interpreting the GATT/WTO as it was meant to be by its framers: societal preferences, to the extent they are non-discriminatory, trump obligations to liberalize trade. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

News Article | December 10, 2015
Site: cleantechnica.com

In the last meeting of Wednesday, December 9, the Comité de Paris (Paris Committee) of the COP21 climate conference reconvened to register the reactions of conference parties to the draft agreement Laurent Fabius presented at 9 am today. Fabius opened by proposing that after Comité de Paris session closes, parties reconvene in the indaba format on differentiation, finance, and ambition issues. (“Indaba” originated as an important conference held by the izinDuna [principal men] of the Zulu or Xhosa peoples of South Africa.) He indicated that other unresolved text could be addressed in parallel in an indaba facilitated by Manuel Pulgar-Vidal of Peru, President of last year’s COP20 in Lima. Malaysia got the best laugh (see below). The International Institute for Sustainable Development’s Earth Negotiations Bulletin team (IISDRS ‏@enbclimate) at the UNFCCC climate change negotiations captured the delegate group impressions below in tweet form. Following is a twitter transcription. South Africa, speaking for the G-77/China, the largest voting bloc: Concern about steady de-linking of the text from the Convention. No long-term vision on provision of support. Text is good basis for continuing our interactions. Switzerland, for the Environmental Integrity Group: Acceptable starting point for further work. Concern that text as whole is unbalanced, especially on financing. Range of options not balanced. Text as it stands reflects compromise proposal & the hard position of other parties. Maldives, for the Alliance of Small Island States: Prepared to move forward w/ text as basis. Must see below 1.5 degrees. Llnkage to adaptation & mitigation, & separate article on loss & damage should be maintained. Barbados, for the Caribbean Community: On long-term temp. goal, options on 2 degrees are not acceptable, willing to work on both on 1.5. Not willing to sign onto any agreement which is certain death for our people. Turkey: Prepared to work with all parties on common landing area. Australia, for the Umbrella Group: Serious concerns, cannot see balance in the text, and leaves critical issues unresolved. We have provided reassurances that developed countries will continue to lead. We want a genuine step-change in addressing global climate change. Ukraine: Satisfied w/ progress so far, looking forward to further cooperation. China, for BASIC (India, China, Brazil, and South Africa): Need to reach consensus. Current text is open & balanced text & basis to address further issues. Angola, for Least Developed Countries: Highlighted need to ensure access to finance & need further work on compliance to ensure implementation. Guatemala, for the Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean: Transparency system is very important & human rights should be included in agreement. European Union: Time has come to resolve the key political issues to reach ambitious outcome. some options cross our red-lines & we are concerned that language important to ambition is much weakened. Russian Federation: Is 48 hours enough? We must work concretely on text to find compromises. Saudi Arabia, for the Arab Group: Called for reinstatement of co-benefits of adaptation for mitigation. Options w/ specific numbers would possibly not make the agreement durable. who will judge “those in a position to do so,” this concept cannot be accepted. Malaysia, for the Like-Minded Developing Countries: Everyone seems unhappy so perhaps the text is balanced. Missing items, incl. absence of text on unilateral measures, & introduction of other items. Concerned by reference to NDMC, declaration that 2bis cannot be accepted & differentiation be eliminated from 3.3. COP21 President Fabius said that the revised text presented tomorrow should be the penultimate (second to last) text. He called for parties to avoid restating their positions, but rather move toward compromise. Fabius closed the meeting at 11:28 pm. Indabas commenced at midnight. These overnight consultations will cover treaty sections on loss and damage, mechanisms, forest, and preamble. Another Indaba will be held on differentiation, support, and ambition.    Get CleanTechnica’s 1st (completely free) electric car report → “Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want.”   Come attend CleanTechnica’s 1st “Cleantech Revolution Tour” event → in Berlin, Germany, April 9–10.   Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.  

News Article | December 4, 2015
Site: www.treehugger.com

The first week of negotiations working towards an international agreement to counter climate change is coming to a close. The event opened with many speeches from heads of state from around the world. The week has also brought a series of big announcements from side events, like the opening of Europe’s largest solar park and a multibillion dollar public-private incubator to develop new clean technologies. But the real work of the negotiations happens between delegations at Le Bourget, just outside of Paris, in airport that’s been converted for the conference. There, negotiators are tasked with finalizing the language and terms of the agreement. Here, we take a look at what’s been done so far, but it’s good to keep in mind that the text is still a working document, and the details will likely be debated until the very last moments. A draft text of the agreement was about 90 pages last month, but that was deemed too lengthy by top officials. This week, negotiators worked the text down to about 50 pages, which was released on Thursday, and may further shorten the document. Currently, the text is full of brackets, which indicate possible language choices that must been agreed upon. You can read the draft here. The Paris agreement technically wouldn’t begin until 2020, and whatever the parties agree to now needs to be reviewed and added to if we want to limit the average global temperature rise to 2 degrees C. A review and “ratcheting” mechanism would be a helpful way to follow up on the promises governments are making at the talks. The European Union, China and the U.S. supported a five-year review period. Some nations had concerns about that timeline, but on Wednesday UN climate chief Christiana Figueres said that “it seems now there is a growing consensus that (reviews) will be every five years.” According to conference organizers, negotiators are expected to submit a new draft text by Saturday afternoon, Paris time. Further negotiations formally continue Monday, but much work is also done during informal socializing and during meals. By the end of next week, all of the parties must reach a consensus in order for the agreement to be adopted by the UN. Financing climate adaptation and a transition to a lower-carbon economy appears to continue to be a major point of contention. Countries with developed economies, which historically benefitted from burning fossil fuels, are being asked to pay less developed countries to help deal with the effects of climate disasters as well as helping them to build green economies. According to the International Institute for Sustainable Development, which offers daily recaps of the negotiations (in highly technical terms), some members of the group negotiating the terms of climate finance expressed concerns about a lack of progress. Are the Paris talks going well? That depends a lot on who you talk to. Outside the talks, some indigenous leaders began calling the talks a failure before they even started, saying that the talks wouldn’t go far enough to stop the use and development of fossil fuels. Other observers seem cautiously optimistic. That has a lot to do with how much countries have already promised to do before going into negotiations. The engagement of some major sub-national governments, like city mayors, also seems promising.

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