The big issue … a fair COP21 in Paris

Tomorrow, ministers attending the COP21 UN climate talks in Paris will discuss a 48-page statement of purpose – which leaves much to be decided in subsequent talks.

There are some peculiarities about the nature of the discussion, argues Andrew Simms at PRIME economics. Emissions agreements based on temperature rises should be understood as agreements on the degree of acceptable risk nations can stomach from climate change. Communities around the world have different exposure to climate risk – and they may take more dramatic action into their own hands.

Have China and the US already stitched up the agreement, asks the European Council on Foreign Relations? China finally agreed to binding carbon targets earlier this this year, but in the interests of finding common strategic ground, the US let it off the hook by deciding against a binding treaty.

Over at IPPR, meanwhile, Joss Garman and Diana Fox Carney argue that there are climate-related risks to British prosperity whether or not the world manages to achieve a 2 degree limit to temperature rises. Between $28-100 trillion of investment in fossil fuel assets would be lost if we succeed. Extreme weather events are already impacting the bottom line – as when 2011 floods wiped out Honda factories in Thailand, causing $250 million in losses. The UK, however, also has the third largest insurance sector worldwide, and it is “focussed on insuring catastrophic risk.” As Mark Carney recently asked, what happens when those most impacted by climate change pursue insurance claims against those they believe to have caused it?