Live Blog (Closed): Paris Climate Talks 2015

Historic Global Climate Treaty Text Draws Widespread Praise From Activists

Thousands of climate activists in in Paris used geo-location services on their cell phones to spell out this message to beam this message to the world on Saturday. Credit: Friends of the Earth via Mashable

Many environmental groups, climate justice activists, business leaders and faith-based organizations, among others, heaped praise on the global community after UN climate leaders released the long-awaited Paris treaty text at 2:30 p.m. local time, following two weeks of intense and exhaustive deliberations. The text still needs to be adopted by nearly 200 nations. Not every group was universally supportive. Here's a round-up of reactions to the text:

Mike Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club:

"The Paris agreement is a turning point for humanity. For the first time in history, the global community agreed to action that sets the foundation to help prevent the worst consequences of the climate crisis while embracing the opportunity to exponentially grow our clean energy economy."

"Anyone in Washington or in the board rooms of fossil fuel companies around the world who attempts to stand in the way will have the full weight of the international community, global markets, scientific consensus, the climate movement, and public opinion firmly pushing back against them. This historic international agreement is what the American people demanded, what future generations deserve, and what the world needs."

Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council:

"A great tide has turned. Finally the world stands united against the central environmental challenge of our time, committed to cutting the carbon pollution that's driving climate change."

Alden Meyer, strategy and policy manager at Union of Concerned Scientists:

"Today, countries must come together to respond to the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced. While there will be more work to do, if adopted, the Paris Agreement would give the world hope that we can come to grips with the mounting climate change crisis and leave our children and grandchildren with a habitable planet."

Jennifer Morgan, global director of the climate program at the World Resources Institute:

"This agreement would mark a true turning point in the global effort to address climate change. The text reflects both the push for high ambition and the voices of the most vulnerable. It accelerates the energy transformation that is well underway, pointing us to a safer and stronger future."

Mohamed Adow, Christian Aid's senior climate advisor:

"For the first time in history the whole world has made a public commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and deal with the impacts of climate change. Although different countries will move at different speeds, the transition to a low carbon world is now inevitable. Governments, investors and businesses must ride this wave or  be swept away by it."

Nicholas Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at the London School of Economics:

"This is a historic moment, not just for us and our world today, but for our children, our grandchildren and future generations. The Paris Agreement is a turning point in the world's fight against unmanaged climate change, which threatens prosperity and well-being among both rich and poor countries. The Agreement creates enormous opportunities as countries begin to accelerate along the path towards low-carbon economic development and growth."

Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres and director of the Investor Network on Climate Risk:

"Today Paris lived up to its name as the City of Lights. This historic agreement sends a spark, a signal, that the low-carbon global economy has officially arrived...The U.S. business community came to Paris looking for market signal that the world is ready for a low-carbon future, and today we got it."

Anthony Hobley, CEO of the Carbon Tracker Initiative:  "With this historic deal world leaders have unambiguously confirmed their commitment to limit dangerous warming and nearly every country has published its own plan to limit carbon emissions. This is a new kind of inclusive global agreement providing a framework for action. It sends a strong signal that will accelerate the low-carbon transition that is already underway."

Nigel Topping of We Mean Business:

"This is a remarkable diplomatic settlement and a historic economic catalyst. The world's governments have sent a decisive signal to businesses and investors that will accelerate the shift towards a thriving, clean global economy. The Paris Agreement for net zero emissions will turn the billions of investment we've seen so far into the trillions the world needs to bring clean energy and prosperity to all."

John Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research:

"If [the long-term temperature target is] agreed and implemented, this means bringing down greenhouse-gas emissions to net zero within a few decades. It is in line with the scientific evidence we presented of what would have to be done to limit climate risks such as weather extremes and sea-level rise. To stabilize our climate, CO2 emissions have to peak well before 2030 and should be eliminated as soon as possible after 2050."

The Rev. Fletcher Harper, executive director of GreenFaith:

"We are one earth and one human family, and this is a step forward in responding to the climate crisis. We must build on this foundation and be as ambitious as humanly possible to protect the vulnerable and our common home."

Gustavo Silva-Chávez, REDDX program manager:

"Today marks a historic moment for forests as they are now enshrined in the new global climate agreement. All countries have agreed on simple language that operationalizes forest protection and flips the 'on' switch for international finance to make it happen. Forests can now play a key part in our global response to climate change, helping to achieve both mitigation and adaptation goals."

Qualified praise and criticism came from:

Kumi Naido, Greenpeace executive director:

"The wheel of climate action turns slowly, but in Paris it has turned. This deal puts the fossil fuel industry on the wrong side of history. There's much in the text that has been diluted and polluted by the people who despoil our planet, but it contains a new imperative to limit temperature rises to 1.5 degrees. That single number, and the new goal of net zero emissions by the second half of this century, will cause consternation in the boardrooms of coal companies and the palaces of oil-exporting states."

Bill McKibben, co-founder of

"Every government seems now to recognize that the fossil fuel era must end and soon. But the power of the fossil fuel industry is reflected in the text, which drags out the transition so far that endless climate damage will be done. Since pace is the crucial question now, activists must redouble our efforts to weaken that industry. This didn't save the planet but it may have saved the chance of saving the planet."

Heather Coleman, climate change policy manager at Oxfam:

"Poor people suffering from the devastating impacts of climate change have no time left. This agreement represents an important step towards avoiding 3 degrees of temperature change or worse, but more ambition is clearly needed. The Paris agreement is a launching point for further actions that address the needs of those who have done the least to cause this crisis but who are suffering the most."

Tasneem Essop, head of delegation for World Wildlife Foundation:

"By including a long-term temperature goal of well below 2°C of warming with a reference to a 1.5°C goal, the latest draft text sends a strong signal that governments are committed to being in line with science...A big concern is that there's no guarantee of assistance for those who will suffer from immediate climate impacts, especially the poor and the vulnerable."

Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute:

"The plain truth is that Paris didn't produce the strong, just and binding treaty we need to protect the planet's most climate-vulnerable people and our very web of life from climate chaos. But the summit did highlight the growing power of a global movement for true climate justice."

Stephen Kretzmann, executive director of Oil Change International:

"The world's 'leaders' in Paris delivered exactly what was expected of them: not much. In Houston, the oil industry is surely more excited about potentially lifting the crude export ban in Washington than they are concerned by the text emerging from this year's climate talks."

Erich Pica, Friends of the Earth U.S. President:

"The Paris Climate Agreement is not a fair, just or science-based deal. President Obama challenged the international community to act aggressively to combat climate chaos. Instead of following his own words, the administration has systematically attempted to undermine some of the basic structures of the Framework Convention, abandoning the countries and communities most vulnerable to the effects of climate disruption."


Final Draft Text Is Made Public

The long-awaited final draft of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change deal, at 31 pages, has been posted online. "We are almost at the end of the path, and no doubt embarking on another," said France's foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, host of the climate-saving talks.

The text contains principle elements that were once believed to be impossible to agree on, Fabius said, including being universal and legally binding; having a temperature target "well below" 2 degrees Celsius with an ambition to achieve a 1.5 degree target; $100 billion in climate finance as a floor not a ceiling; and reviews and updates of climate pledges every five years. "If adopted this text will mark an historic turning point," said Fabius, who received a standing ovation from the international delegates attending the Paris talks. 

Read more here.

France's Leaders Urge Nations to Approve First Universal Climate Treaty: 'History Is Here'

French President Francois Hollande (L) takes his seat at a plenary session with Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius (C), President-designate of COP21, and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the Paris climate talks, December 12, 2015. Credit: REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

Leaders of France and of the community of nations urged delegates to the Paris climate negotiations in soaring words to seize this moment and approve a new, universal treaty to confront the world's climate crisis more forcefully than ever before.

The atmosphere in the plenary hall was at once somber and elated, as if the negotiators themselves could scarcely believe that they were about to commit the world, perhaps in just a few hours, to a pact meant to move the global energy economy as rapidly as possible away from fossil fuels.

In a bit of an anticlimax, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius of France then said offhandedly that the actual document was still in translation, but would be delivered before too long. "Let's go have lunch," he said.

There, perhaps, the delegates will feel inspired enough to toast a "historic" moment, as Fabius repeatedly called it, a word echoed by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Kimoon and French President Francois Hollande.

"History is coming; in fact history is here," Hollande declared. "There is no putting this off."

As the delegates stood to applaud, thousands of climate activists were swarming through the streets of Paris in a blaze of red, near the landmark Arc de Triomphe, in a "red line" demonstration.

The term referred ironically to some of the ostensibly non-negotiable demands that delegates, including the American delegation, had brought to the talks. The activists were declaring at once their own triumph, whether now or in the future, and their unshakable conviction that it is time to abandon fossil fuels as quickly as possible.

Even Fabius gave them a tip of the hat in his speech, which he ended by citing Nelson Mandela's faith in the power of people to change the world.

Aside from the direct impacts on the climate, he said, the achievement would help the world move forward in "food security and production, public health, combatting poverty, essential rights, and ultimately peace."

Without getting into the fine print of the Paris Agreement, Fabius promised that the final text, which he wants to gavel through by the end of the day, would be "differentiated, fair, dynamic, durable, balanced, and legally binding."

It would strengthen the long term goals of the 25-year-old campaign against climate change, recognize the different responsibilities of the rich and poor, ratchet up ambition every five years or so, set a floor under the financial contributions of the rich to the poor, recognize the need for money to offset the climate damages endured by the most vulnerable, and increase the transparency of how emissions are measured, reported, and reduced.

Hollande urged delegates to let go of obsessive reading of the arcane code words and to think of the big picture.

"We will not be judged on a clause in a sentence but the text as a whole," he said. "We will not be judged on a word, but on an act. Not on one day, but on a century."

"The time has come to acknowledge that national interests are best served by acting in the global interest," said Ban.

Not to approve the treaty was unthinkable, warned Fabius, reminding the delegates of the debacle at Copenhagen talks in 1999.

"Perhaps not all the planets were aligned" at Copenhagen, he said, "but today they are."

Final Climate Deal Is Expected to Satisfy World's Poorest Nations

Banners with messages calling for a just climate agreement are attached to an Eiffel Tower made of bistro chairs at the venue of the UN conference on climate change COP21 in Le Bourget, on the outskirts of Paris, on December 11, 2015. The final deal is expected to bridge deep divides among nations. Credit: MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images

It's hard to judge the mood of an exhausted conference before its coffee stands even open on a Saturday morning, but just hours before the presentation of what negotiators in Paris hope will be the final text of a climate treaty, there are not many dour faces to be seen.

In a sign of confidence, the host nation France announced that its president, Francois Hollande, would arrive on the scene for the final gathering later today. The Associated Press quoted several positive remarks by negotiators overnight.

Ministers are looking at the draft now, and delegates to the talks – along with the rest of the world – should get it well before noon.

A group of the 48 poorest nations, notably, issued a statement that they expect to be satisfied in every important regard.

The group, known as the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) said:

"As the countries least able to adapt to climate change, and those who have least contributed to the problem, the LDCs key issues, which they feel confident will be balanced in the new text, include:

  • Inclusion of the below 1.5 goal, relative to pre-industrial levels, alongside a clear pathway of how countries will deliver against it

  • Ambitious commitments for communicating, maintaining and implementing mitigation targets, in five year cycles

  • Separate, overlapping five year cycles for reviewing the implementation of mitigation and finance commitments

  • Clear reference to 'new and additional' climate finance flows for mitigation and adaptation

  • Recognition of the special needs and specific situations of the LDCs

  • Establishment of a mechanism to address questions of implementation and promotion of compliance within the provisions of the agreement

  • The anchoring of a mechanism to avert, minimise and address loss and damage."

Poor countries, small island states and other developing countries have played a bigger role than ever before in moving the talks toward greater ambition, although its overall form and key particulars were shaped largely by the world's economic powers, including the United States.

Organizers Announce Details of Ban-Defying Rally in Paris on Saturday

A rally featuring red lines will be staged in Paris on Saturday

A rally featuring red lines will be staged in Paris on Saturday, defying a local ban. Credit: Emma Cassidy/Survival Media Agency

Update on Dec. 12, 2015, at 4:25 AM ET: The French government has announced that it will permit the protest to go forward.

More than 10,000 people are expected to gather in Paris tomorrow—the same day the United Nations climate treaty is set to be finalized—in support of aggressive international action on global warming, organizers said Friday.

By gathering, activists will defy a ban by French authorities on any marches or rallies following the November terrorist attacks that killed 129 people. Until Friday, organizers had kept secret the details of the event—dubbed the "Red Lines" because protesters will unfurl more than 300 feet of red fabric down a major boulevard to represent the "red lines of climate safety that must not be crossed, and collectively pledge to act so that they are not," according to the event's website.

The event will kick off at noon local time at the Arc de Triomphe as "a reminder that there is no complete triumph in the battle against climate change—too much has already been lost—but that any progress will be led by the people, not our politicians."

At noon, 30 foghorns will blast mournfully and hundreds holding red umbrellas and flowers will step out into the Avenue de la Grande Armee near the Arc de Triomphe to make a red line with their bodies.

At 12:10, a samba and brass band will play as two long banners are unfolded, one that says "It's up to us to keep it in the ground" and the other "Crime Climatique – Stop!"

At 12:30, the bands will give way to the foghorns to start a two-minute silence for the victims of climate crimes. Attendees will raise red flowers and then lay their flowers along the red line.

Music will resume to mark defiance and resistance until the final foghorn blows at 1 p.m.


Treaty Must Emphasize Speed in Carbon Cuts, Scientists Urge

Protesters outside the Paris climate talks urge a strong deal

Protesters outside the Paris climate talks. Credit: Reuters

Several noted European climate scientists expressed dismay that the latest draft treaty text of the Paris Agreement had blurred the need for urgent action even as it raised the pact's long term ambitions.

One of the most striking results of the talks has been to lower the benchmark target for global warming at the end of the century from 2 degrees Celsius down toward 1.5 degrees above the pre-industrial level.

The scientists spoke on Friday morning at a forum after the all-night negotiations had ended in a mood of optimism mixed with uncertainty.

They said that the draft text being debated into the weekend should have made it more clear how rapid and deep emissions reductions would have to be to keep warming within a stricter range than previously envisioned.

Instead, they said, the draft produced late on Thursday night had become less specific in addressing the need to shift completely away from carbon fuels, a transformation which they repeatedly said would have to take place everywhere by 2050, and even earlier in wealthy countries.

They urged negotiators to square the new aspirations with the scientific evidence and to strengthen the next draft, which is still being revised. A new draft is to be published Saturday morning, in hopes of achieving a final deal this weekend.

"The formulation we have right now, limiting warming between 1.5°C and 2°C, is in line with the IPCC and the latest science," said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

"It means getting to zero emissions globally by 2050 to have a fair chance of achieving this goal," he said. "What we have now in the formulation, is greenhouse gas neutrality in the second half of this century which leaves the door open for 1.5 degrees, but does not ensure it."

Steffen Kallbekken, research director of the Centre for International Climate and Energy Policy, said that as negotiators cobbled together the latest draft they had rejected specific percentage cuts in emissions to meet ambitious limits on rising temperatures.

"The options consistent with science are replaced by vague formulations," he said.

Like his colleagues, he said the world needs to act very fast to shift to clean energy, even before the treaty comes into force in 2020.

It was a striking case of scientists telling policy makers what they should do without mincing words.

If the emissions are not slashed by 2020, "we will probably have used the entire carbon budget consistent with 1.5 degrees C warming," Kallbekken said.

"We still have the possibility of a transformational change here in Paris," said Johan Rockström, executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre.

But he said that the puzzling new term "greenhouse gas neutrality" crept into the latest draft, replacing a clear zero-carbon option and it opened the door for "a very risky future."

It suggested, he said, a temptation to rely on "massive sinks" of carbon into underground sequestration or forest reserves, while refusing to back away from the burning of fossil fuels.

Joeri Rogelj, Research Scholar at the Energy Program of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, one of a few scientists to have closely studied the 1.5 degree approach, said that "there is no scenario available that says that we can delay action to 2020 and beyond. We need a global peak of emissions by 2020."

While all nations needed to cut reliance on fossil fuels severely, the scientists said, the developed world should act most aggressively. Those countries are wealthier and more profligate in wasting energy.

"If we're serious about a 1.5. degree framing, we need to seriously think about reducing demand," said Kevin Anderson, deputy director of the Tyndall Centre for climate change research, who has been highly critical of the direction of the Paris talks. "Around 50 percent of global CO2 emissions come from 10 percent of the population. There are huge opportunities to reduce demand, but it needs to be reduced by people who are high emitters."

That, he said, included most of the people in the audience crowding the conference hall.

In India and China's Smog-Choked Cities, a Climate Deal Could Bring Relief

Smog has plagued Chinese cities like Shijizhuang

Surrounded by thick smog, a set of bikers wait at a traffic light in China's city of Shijizhuang. Credit: Reuters/Stringer

Two of the biggest players in the international climate negotiations taking place in Paris are currently dealing with severe environmental issues on a very personal level: dangerously high smog levels in recent weeks in India and China.

Staggering air pollutions levels in India's capital of New Delhi recently sparked city officials to require driving restrictions for the first time ever. Drivers are allowed to drive every other day based on their license plate number; the trial period for these emergency measures starts Jan. 1 and they have no set end date.

According to the World Health Organization, New Delhi has the world's worst air pollution levels. Also high on that list is Beijing, which issued a "red alert" on Monday because of the smog. The thick fog of pollution prompted the alert, which closed schools, required citizens to drive on alternate days depending on their license plate numbers, reduced the number of government cars on the road, and banned fireworks and barbeques. The alert was lifted on Thursday.

Responding to the air pollution concerns and lack of pollution data, the U.S. Embassies and Consulate set up air monitors in both countries in recent years. According to the U.S. embassy monitor in New Delhi, the air quality index measured 318 at 11 p.m. local time today. Any measurement above 300 is considered "hazardous," posing a respiratory risk to the general population. The current air quality index reading in Beijing, by contrast, is 175 and classifies as "unhealthy."

Both New Delhi and Beijing are huge metropolises, home to millions of people with millions of cars. Some of the solutions being proposed in the climate treaty—such as moving from petroleum and diesel cars to electric ones—will also help bring down smog levels.


Environmental Activists Set Sights on U.S. Elections, Fossil Fuel Projects in 2016

Youth climate activists stage a sit in at the Paris climate talks

Youth climate activists stage a sit in at the Paris climate talks. Credit: Emma Cassidy/Survival Media Agency via Flickr

Speaking from United Nations meetings in Paris Friday, four environmental leaders said the climate movement should concentrate its efforts over the next year on influencing U.S. politics, stopping fossil fuel projects and supporting state and local action, like renewable energy.

Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said that in order to follow through on its pledges in Paris, the U.S. needs a price on carbon, to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and to double its research and development budget—all of which requires getting Congress on board. This is no small feat while the GOP holds majorities in both houses.  Many Republican politicians deny the world is even warming, and very few support any climate action.

To that end, Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, said activists need to stay very much involved with the 2016 election, particularly the presidential race, if they hope to sway how Washington, D.C. deals with climate. "Embarrassingly on the Republican side [of the presidential election], though, all the major candidates are in some way, shape or form in the denier camp," he said. Supporting the Clean Power Plan, President Obama's strategy to cut carbon emissions from power plants, will also be a major priority in 2016, Karpinski said.

The youth climate movement is likely to focus on fighting fossil fuel projects, such as the Alberta Clipper pipeline expansion that would transport more tar sands oil from Canada into the U.S., said Maria Langholz, co-leader of SustainUS.

Rev. Canon Sally Bingham, the president & founder of the faith-based climate group Interfaith Power and Light, said clergy would continue pushing citizens and politicians to act on climate change for moral reasons. Thousands of churches and religious groups have also pledged to cut their emissions 50 percent by 2030, and be carbon neutral by 2050.

Activists' Yellow Paint Turns the Arc de Triomphe into a Symbol

Greenpeace activists painted the streets around the Arc de Triomphe to promote clean energy

Credit: Greenpeace

A group of Greenpeace campaigners used yellow eco-paint to turn the traffic circle and streets around the Arc de Triomphe into their call for the global transition to renewable energy. Greenpeace said it was the work of 30 people, and that the paint is non-toxic and water-based and it would last through the UN climate negotiations this weekend. It has its biggest impact from above. 

"Sometime this weekend, several thousand politicians and diplomats will fly out of Paris as the ink dries on a new climate deal. When they look down, they'll see a giant painted sun that represents the coming transition to clean energy," Greenpeace campaigner Frédéric Amiel said at a news conference. "Many of them are powerful people, and when they get home we think they should use that power to really get behind the remarkable rise of clean energy."

Going Green on the Cheap (for Now) With Carbon Offsets

Niclas Svenningsen of the United Nations Environmental Program. Credit: David Sassoon/InsideClimate News

For the past week or so, I have wandered around the Paris treaty negotiations wearing my credential on a white "carbon neutral" lanyard. It marks me as one of the crowd who chose to offset my carbon footprint from flying here by buying a single pollution credit from a far-off green energy project.

Salving my jet-set conscience this way was as simple as buying a baguette at the local boulangerie – and it cost about as much.

Not so easy, in the closing days and nights of negotiations here, will be strengthening the carbon-trading provisions in the Paris Agreement, one of many features of the pact that remain up in the air.

As the marketplace for carbon expands, trading advocates want the treaty to help make pollution credit schemes more efficient and credible.

Success would limber up the world's carbon-cutting muscles just when we can least afford wasted opportunities and bureaucratic delays. Failure would exacerbate carbon credits' reputation as a free pass for wealthy buyers or a con game for sellers.

On Friday morning, a rumor swirled through the pavilions of Paris that a few countries hostile to market-based mechanisms were trying to torpedo key paragraphs in the draft treaty on carbon trading.

The provisions are meant to increase confidence in carbon trading by preventing abuses such as double-counting of credits. Trading won't accomplish the goal if the same reductions are scored by both one country that cut its emissions and another country that bought the credit.

Niclas Svenningsen, a United Nations official involved involved in the carbon-neutrality program selling credits at the Paris conference, assured me that the credits I would buy had been subjected to "quadruple verification."

The carbon savings I had my eye on were created several years ago by the construction and operation of a 14 megawatt wind power project in Maharashtra, India.

Logging on to an e-commerce site sponsored by the United Nations, filling out a form, and using a credit card via Paypal, I paid $1.75 for one ton of emissions reduction claimed by a wind-power site in India. A back-of-the-envelope calculation by the UN's International Civil Aviation Organization had told me that this was the average emission for one passenger flying round-trip from New York to Paris.

Why were these credits so cheap? Basically, because supply exceeds demand, a result of inefficiencies in the trading markets and mistakes in the early days of allocating credits. Europe, in particular, is cutting back on purchases of credits like this sponsored by the UN. The Indian owner has tens of thousands of credits on its hands and is unloading them at bargain-basement prices.

Carbon trading has been maturing since the days of the Kyoto Protocol, the landmark climate treaty that the Paris Agreement is meant to replace. But it's hardly a perfect mechanism, and some consider cheap credits useless for driving the world's emissions sharply down, the goal of the new treaty that's emerging here.

After all, if I can write off my own annual carbon footprint for less than $50, why should I bother to screw in new light bulbs, ride my bike to work, sign up with Solar City, set the washing machine for cold water, plant a tree, upgrade my insulation, and go vegetarian?

That way of thinking, market advocates say, will wear off as the world shifts toward universally pricing carbon (either with cap-and-trade regimes or by imposing taxes on emissions of greenhouse gases).  As experience with these systems grow, carbon prices should go up. It's been happening, slowly, in the European Union, California and the northeastern United States. China's system will be the next big one to come on line.

Once the credits reflect more closely the cost of green power investments and the costs to society of carbon pollution, people ought to do whatever makes the most economic sense – cutting their own use of fossil fuels, or buying credits from others who can make cuts less expensively.

That's the theory. For me, the exercise was more a thought experiment than a real attempt to shrink my own carbon footprint. If I really want to make a difference, a better way might be to buy renewable energy credits from my local electric utility, the equivalent of running our meter on local wind power.

At the UN's low price, though, I can afford to give away Indian wind credits for now.

"Offset someone's carbon footprint for life – that's a great Christmas gift," said Svenningsen.

It beats a lump of coal in the stocking.

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