1.1. Pacific states seek urgent climate change action
6 August 2009, The Washington Post
CAIRNS, Australia — The Pacific Islands Forum called on all nations Thursday to pledge a 50 percent cut in their emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050 at U.N. climate change talks in December, bolstering appeals made a day earlier by seven of the region’s most threatened islands.
"We call upon world leaders to urgently increase their level of ambition and to give their negotiators fresh mandates to secure a truly effective global agreement," the South Pacific leaders said in a joint statement Thursday.
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd closed the three-day forum, warning that some tiny Pacific Island nations were in a race for national survival because of the threat posed by climate change, and sought urgent support from world leaders.
"This is not just a matter of importance, it is not just a matter of urgency, for many of them it is a matter of national survival," Rudd told reporters.
Seven countries in the 16-member forum had urged rich nations on Wednesday to make a minimum 45 percent cut in their polluting emissions by 2020.
Many scientists agree that carbon dioxide and other harmful gases are warming the planet and melting ice caps, gradually raising sea levels. Many Pacific countries have coral atolls no more than 10 feet (three meters) above sea level, and the rising oceans are already inundating some coastlines, polluting freshwater sources and killing off fruit-bearing trees and other crops.
Rudd, the new forum chairman, called the impact of this coastal devastation "sobering" because half the populations of the island countries live within less than a mile (1.5 kilometers) of their coastlines. He said the impact is "potentially huge if climate change is allowed to continue unabated."
The forum also called on states to cut global emissions to ensure they reach a peak no later than 2020, warning that "some habitats and island states face obliteration."
Rudd had set a target for Australia to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by up to 15 percent below 2000 levels by 2020, but says he might go deeper if a new pact is reached at the U.N. climate change talks in Copenhagen.
Pacific leaders also reaffirmed on Thursday Fiji’s suspension from the forum on May 1 after coup leader and self-appointed Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama rejected the forum’s repeated calls to return it to democracy.
The nations said in a statement that they "strongly condemned the actions of the Fiji military regime which have led to a severe deterioration in basic liberties and democratic institutions."
Fiji’s regime eroded "the traditional pillars of Fijian civil society, including the churches and chiefs," in its abrogation of the constitution, imposition of media censorship and restrictions on freedom of assembly, the statement said.
The leaders also agreed to open negotiations on a Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations, a free trade agreement covering the 16 states, by November. They decided Fiji would not participate in the talks but would be kept informed of their progress.
Newly appointed Fiji Foreign Minister Inoke Kubuabola, speaking in Suva, said Thursday that the forum’s selective invitations to Fiji "as and when it suited them" were a poor reflection on its leadership.
Meanwhile, New Zealand announced Thursday a package of economic and expert assistance for island countries to support their participation in the trade talks.
"Trade remains a key driver for economic development in the Pacific and we want to see the Pacific producing and trading more successfully with New Zealand, Australia and other trading partners," Prime Minister John Key said at the close of the summit.
The forum comprises Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
1.2. Global deal needs ‘strong’ 2020 targets: UN climate chief
7 August, AFP
PARIS — The global climate treaty slated for completion by year’s end will be crippled without "strong commitments" from rich nations on slashing CO2 emissions by 2020, the UN’s top climate official said Thursday.
The absence of such commitments "would defeat the whole purpose of the Copenhagen agreement," Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) told AFP in an phone interview.
Disagreement over how deep those cuts should be remain one of the most serious sticking points in the troubled talks, and has opened a deep rift between developed and developing nations.
Poor and emerging economies say highly industrialised countries — especially the United States, Japan and the European Union — are historically responsible for global warming and have a moral obligation to brake climate change.
Rich countries own up to that debt, but want emerging giants such as China, India and Brazil to take on firm, if lesser, commitments too.
So far, however, what some delegates call the "chicken-and-egg problem" has created only stalemate.
China’s top climate negotiator, Yu Qingtai, said Wednesday that Beijing would not budge on its demand that wealthy nations commit to 40 percent cuts by 2020.
De Boer’s comments came at the close of the Pacific Islands Forum in Australia, where a group of low-lying small island nations — literally threatened with extinction due to rising sea levels — set the bar even higher, at 45 percent.
That is a far cry from the offers of the table, even from the European Union which has taken the lead among developed economies.
The European Union has pledged to slash its emissions by 20 percent by the end of the next decade, and by 30 percent if other members of the club of rich nations follow suit.
The United States has done a climate policy about-face after eight years of foot-dragging by George W. Bush’s administration, but its 2020 targets remain modest by comparison.
US President Barack Obama proposed reducing greenhouse gas output by 14 percent compared to 2005 levels, roughly equivalent to a three percent trim off the 1990 benchmark.
Legislation wending its way through Congress is slightly more ambitious, but still falls way short of developing world demands.
But even if the calls by island states have little chance of being heeded, as most climate negotiators believe, "this is not the moment to let go of ambition," said de Boer, who sat in on the forum as an observer.
"We are not even at the stage yet where we have all the initial emissions reduction offers from all industrialised countries," he said, citing New Zealand.
Climate negotiators will knock heads in Bonn next week, and the 2020 numbers will be high on the agenda, he added.
De Boer, who main role is as a facilitator for the hugely complex climate talks, would not put a number on what he deemed a "strong commitment" for 2020 emissions reductions by rich nations.
But he has frequently invoked the 25-to-40 percent figure — cited in the UN Intergovernmetal Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that serves as a scientific benchmark for negotiators — as a "beacon" for the talks.
Without such cuts, scientists warned, it will be difficult to keep global temperatures from rising less the 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), a threshold G8 leaders agreed last month should not be crossed.
Mitigation targets are only one of several major road blocks on the way to Copenhagen, the host city for the do-or-die UN conference in mid-December.
"The thing that I find most worrying today is that there is little or no clarity on how financial resources are going to be mobilised to allow developing countries to engage," de Boer said.
"Financial support is an imperative."
The UNFCCC has calculated that, by 2020, the cost of mitigating and adapting to climate change will rise to 200 billion dollars and 100 billion dollars per year.
De Boer has called for an initial pledge in Copenhagen of 10 billion dollar to help poor nations map out "solid strategies to limit the growth of their emissions and move toward sustainable growth."
But even that figure has caused wealthy nations — coping with stalled economies and concerned about the money will be managed — to balk.
1.3. Sacrifice your luxuries, India tells West
7 August 2009, The Age
WESTERN countries are hypocritical and must sacrifice some luxuries before asking developing countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions, India’s climate change envoy has said.
The envoy received support from another key international player when China insisted that rich countries should commit to large cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases, but declined to put a ceiling on its own levels.
Four months before the Copenhagen conference, which aims to produce a successor to the Kyoto Treaty, China’s chief climate change negotiator confirmed that the world’s leading polluter was holding out for developed countries to reduce emissions by 40 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020.
"We have all along believed that due to the historical responsibility of the developed nations, they must continue to take the lead with large reductions beyond 2012," said Yu Qingtai. ž
India’s envoy, Shyam Saran, said his country would not take any measures that could restrict its growth. Instead, he said, it would fund developments to reduce carbon emissions, increase green power generation and improve energy efficiency.
Any further measures demanded by developed countries would be taken only if full funding and technological support were provided, he said.
Mr Saran said his Government planned to bring electricity to remote villages by transforming agricultural waste into power. The Government would not yield to pressure from the "hypocritical" West, he said.
"No one is prepared to touch their living standards," he said. "If you say, ‘You’re producing Tata Nanos [India’s new car], what will that do to the world?’, but not talk about your two or three cars per family, it’s hypocritical.
"We can’t be ambitious if we all protect our turf. We need a collaborative response."
Mr Saran said he was pessimistic about the prospects for a far-reaching agreement on climate change at December’s United Nations conference in Copenhagen because developed countries did not appear ready to make sacrifices or pay for the cuts in emissions they were demanding of developing nations.
Developed countries had accepted they must take responsibility for reducing carbon emissions at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, but most had forgotten their obligations because they were inconvenient.
He said developed countries were approaching the issue as a commercial opportunity for their companies rather than as an opportunity for scientific collaboration. Solar power held the key, he said, yet there had been no offers from developed countries to share technology.
While China has developed green energy industries, it has also resisted any regulations that would dampen growth. It is not required to set emissions targets because its per capita rate is still far lower than in Western countries.
China says the EU’s pledge of a 20 per cent cut on 1990 levels and US talk of a 17 per cent drop from 2005 levels are not sufficient.
But Mr Yu said China remained optimistic that a deal could be struck. "No one wants more than us to see the peak of China’s emissions," he said.
1.4. News analysis: U.S., China cooperation crucial to slowing climate change
6 August 2009, Chinaview
China and the United States must now cooperate like never before to slow the pace of climate change, experts say.
Indeed, China and the U.S. need to reach an agreement in December at the Copenhagen climate talks on how to slow greenhouse gas emissions and transition to low-carbon sources of energy, some experts said.
Given China’s basic conditions and the international norms, the Chinese government has always insisted on the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" established by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
"China and the United States are different in their stages of development, national conditions and historic footprints, so I think they should shoulder different responsibilities in tackling climate change," said Zhang Guobao, president of China’s National Energy Administration.
Despite those differences, the two nations signed an agreement at last week’s U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue calling for deeper ties on clean-energy technology.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the accord and said it would serve as the foundation for a new global treaty.
"We cannot ignore that the atmosphere was positive and there’s a willingness to take this discussion to the next level," said Julian L. Wong, senior policy analyst at the Center for American Progress, a Washington, D.C.think tank.
That means hammering out a decisive plan of action, Wong said.
"China and the U.S. need to come to an agreement on strategy," he said. "Hopefully they will come up with something before Copenhagen."
Rodger Baker, director of East Asia analysis at Stratfor, a global intelligence company, said the two sides will have to make some sort of compromise. That, he said, may include allocating funds and technology for carbon capture — an approach to reducing global warming by capturing carbon dioxide from large sources such as power plants.
U.S. Democratic Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, praised China’s investment in alternative energy, which is second only to green-minded Germany.
Kerry said last month that China "must not emulate our energy past" by overlooking the environment in favor of industrial development.
China has a right to develop its economy "but we ask that they do so in a way that does not represent the mistakes that the U.S. has made in the past," Kerry said.
Meanwhile, Kerry said, the United States must pass new climate legislation at home. It remains unknown whether Congress will pass a bill by December but Kerry said "we will keep working until we have the votes."
"I don’t think a global deal is impossible without (U.S. domestic) legislation," Wong said. "But if there is no vote (before December) it could send a negative message to the world."
Wong thought sharing technology is crucial to slowing climate change.
Indeed, China is calling for more technology transfers from the United States, something Kerry said Washington would work toward achieving.
"If the U.S. is willing to engage fully with China in bilateral cooperation or joint research and development, it will mean a transfer of technological assistance," he said.
Last month’s launch of a joint research project to produce more fuel-efficient vehicles and buildings may be a precursor for future efforts, he said.
In spite of a modest 15 million dollar budget, the effort is an important symbolic gesture, Wong said.
"It’s a first step, but a lot more needs to happen. Those ideas in joint research need to be fleshed out and they need to decide how they will develop jointly," he said. "The world will be looking for more announcements along these lines."
Baker agreed there is much room for cooperation in the private sector. "Lots of companies want to get the jump on green technology and products and whoever can do this can get a competitive advantage," he said.
Joint ventures could occur in areas such as batteries for electric vehicles, for example. Later the Chinese might sell products such as energy-efficient light bulbs on the international market. Foreign firms will also want to bring those types of products to the Chinese market, which could lead to joint ventures, he said.
Whatever happens, Kerry said, the two nations must act quickly.
"We don’t have much time," Kerry said while quoting Chairman Mao Zedong. The United States and China, he said, must "seize the day, seize the hour."
2.1. Panel gives mixed review to U.S. biofuel rules
7 August 2009, Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency did a reasonable job in estimating the U.S. biofuel industry’s role in causing greenhouse gas emissions overseas, but some of the work was problematic, a scientific review panel concluded on Friday.
EPA ordered the independent review in May, when it proposed regulations for expansion of U.S. biofuel output. They would require biofuels to show an overall reduction in greenhouse gases, including land that may be converted to crops overseas.
Growth Energy, an ethanol industry group, said the peer review showed EPA’s estimates were not reliable. It said Congress should eliminate indirect land use change from EPA regulations or order an Academy of Sciences study of the concept.
Rep. Collin Peterson, Democrat of Minnesota, said the peer review proved EPA used "incomplete and unreliable models" to link farming decisions overseas and U.S. biofuel output. Peterson, the House Agriculture Committee chairman, played a leading role in a House vote to require a five-year study of indirect land use change.
The four scientists who examined EPA’s models of U.S. and international land use agreed EPA’s use of elements of two land-use models was reasonable and preferable to using a single, global model, said EPA in a summary of the review.
The scientists said the global model did not produce data with sufficient detail. On the other hand, they suggested ways to improve the models that EPA used in part, such as more attention to U.S. forests as a source of new cropland.
One reviewer, Michael Wang of Argonne National Laboratory, "questioned whether the modeling capabilities currently available in the field are sufficient to generate results for use in development of regulation," said EPA, summarizing responses to the question of whether there were better ways to estimate agricultural impacts.
EPA wants to implement the new biofuel regulations this year.
3.1. Resumed ninth session of the AWG-KP and resumed seventh session of the AWG-LCA
2-6 November 2009, Barcelona Convention Centre
FIRA GRAN VIA, Carrer del Foc 47
08038 Barcelona, Spain
3.2. Sectoral Crediting Mechanisms Post-2012
Implications for the carbon markets
» Phasing Out of the CDM?
» Opportunities and Risks for CDM market participants
Amsterdam, Thursday 1 October, 2009
More at: http://www.pointcarbon.com/polopoly_fs/1.1167940!Sectoral%20Crediting%20Mechanisms%20workshop.pdf
3.3. August intersessional informal consultations Ž
10-14 August 2009
The Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) and the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA) will hold intersessional informal consultations from 10 to 14 August 2009. The meetings will take place at the Hotel Maritim in Bonn,Germany.
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