Notes from Paris: COP21 initial impressions

Reporting from Paris on Day 2 of the U.N. climate summit, Cal alum Noah Deich, director of the Center for Carbon Removal at UC Berkeley’s Energy and Climate Institute, leads off with good news.

Great Green Wall display booth

The Great Green Wall project in Africa is one project with carbon-sequestration potential on display at the COP21, says Noah Deich.

“The show of support for climate action here in Paris is massive. Physically, the Le Bourget conference area where the COP meetings are taking place is enormous,” and the rhetoric of the assembled heads of state has been powerful. “Everyone assembled is united in the desire and urgency for a positive outcome for these talks.”

What “success” would look like, coming out of the summit, “is much harder for me to figure out,” Deich adds.

Many officials and NGO observers acknowledge that individual nations’ voluntary pledges fall short of the emissions reductions that scientists are calling for, says Deich. Yet people “seem satisfied with this gap so long as the negotiations produce a mechanism to ratchet up commitments over time.”

According to Deich, a “negative emissions” approach  — working to clean up dangerous carbon dioxide that has already accumulated in the atmosphere — is “in urgent demand” at COP21. “There is growing talk of action on negative emissions,” he writes, “though it is still very below-the-radar in the mainstream conversation.” So it’s “urgent that we get started on this topic now.”

Read Noah Deich’s Notes from Paris: COP21 initial impressions on the Center for Carbon Renewal website, and an earlier post on COP21 here.