Climate news accelerates as Paris deal congeals

History may look back at this week as a pivotal turning point for the planet we call earth.

The world is at the dawn of an historic global event in Paris this week. The COP21 talks represent the most significant planetary goals of any international summit in world history.

The goal? A comprehensive plan for a clean energy transition for planet earth, away from carbon based fossil fuels and toward renewable energy. At stake? The long term livability, economic vitality, even survival for many on earth in the next century.

As COP21 deadline approaches, agreement on how to best ensure earth avoids the worst effects from climate change seems to be getting closer. The so called High Ambition Coalition is pushing for a more agressive target of 1.5C warming limit by the end of this century. It looks like the final draft may keep the +2.0C target, with the +1.5C limit dangled as a goal.

More as the deadlines nears from Chris Mooney at The Washington Post.

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LE BOURGET, France — A new draft agreement text emerged from the Paris climate meeting late Thursday that brought the process “extremely close to the finishing line,” said French foreign minister and meeting president Laurent Fabius. Extending the metaphor, he added that the proceedings were in their “final lap.”

While the text still featured some bracketed areas — denoting an ongoing dispute about language — and several sections noncommittally listed different options, considerable common ground also appeared to have been found, in comparison with a prior text released Wednesday.

Perhaps most notably, the draft agreement text set forward an undisputed temperature goal — vowing that countries will “hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C, recognizing that this would significantly reduce risks and impacts of climate change.”

The language represents a significant victory for small island nations and a growing coalition of developing and developed countries who had suggested that a 2 degree Celsius temperature target wasn’t strong enough, in light of the risks of sea level rise and other severe impacts.

Here's an analysis of where the latest version of the draft text stands by climatetracker.org.

Slate's Eric Holthaus and Mashable's Andrew Freedman have been good Paris twitter sources for updates as COP21 nears conclusion.

Twitter-verse exploding over COP21

Who to follow for breaking news at COP21? Here's a cool analysis from Onalytica on the top 100 influencers and brands from COP21.

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MAPPING THE CLIMATE CHANGE COMMUNITY

Cop21 and the subsequent climate change legislation will be of high importance to a large number of industries and organisations worldwide, so we were keen to analyse the climate change discussion to identify which influencers were driving the most engagement on social media. We analysed over 955K tweets around the following query “#climatechange OR #cop21 OR climateconference OR “climate conference” OR #GoCop21” and identified the top 100 most influential brands and individuals leading the discussion on Twitter. We discovered a very engaged community, with much discussion between individuals and brands, joining together in conversations around climate change. Below you can see a network map of the online conversation created with our Influencer Relationship Management software IRM. This map shows the number 2 influencer Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), at the centre and the conversations to and from all the influencers in her field.

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Climate Cast: The business of climate change

We had a lively and enlightening discussion today on MPR News Climate Cast as we dissected how U.S. companies are evolving on climate change strategy. Listen here.

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On this week's Climate Cast, we look at corporations and what role they play in the reduction of carbon emissions. Several companies attended the Paris Climate Talks, and we want to know which are leading the green economy and which might be lagging behind. Our guests on the program are Eric Roston, sustainability editor at Bloomberg.com and Richard Eidlin, the co-founder and vice president of Policy for American Sustainable Business Council.

Solar Boom: Follow the money

The transition to clean energy is happening much faster than many imagined it could. As the cost of solar plummets, investment is flowing in. Huge scale solar farms the size of 900 football fields are sprouting up in west Texas on top of...wait for it...oil fields?

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El Paso Electric

Details from the Wall Street Journal.

FORT STOCKTON, Texas—A new energy boom is taking shape in the oil fields of west Texas, but it’s not what you think. It’s solar.

Solar power has gotten so cheap to produce—and so competitively priced in the electricity market—that it is taking hold even in a state that, unlike California, doesn’t offer incentives to utilities to buy or build sun-powered generation.

Pecos County, about halfway between San Antonio and El Paso and on the southern edge of the prolific Permian Basin oil field, could soon play host to several large solar-energy farms responsible for about $1 billion in investments, according to state tax records.

On a recent day, contractors for OCI Solar Power LLC erected posts for a solar farm that will be the size of more than 900 football fields. First Solar Inc. was negotiating to lease an adjacent property, its second project in the county. Last year, the Arizona company began capturing sunlight on 400,000 black solar panels in a separate project, converting the abundant sunlight into about 30 megawatts of power.

SunEdison Inc. has presented plans for its own utility-scale solar farm to county commissioners, and Recurrent Energy, a subsidiary of Canadian Solar Inc., is readying another site nearby for construction.

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