CLIMATE

1.1. Friends of the Earth joins Radiohead for EU leg of ‘green’ world tour
6 May 2008, FOEE
Friends of the Earth will be joining Radiohead on the European leg of their world tour which kicks off in Ireland this June. Radiohead invited the environmental organisation to join the tour as part of a programme of action aimed at tackling climate change.
Friends of the Earth groups in Ireland, France, Italy, England, Scotland, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Belgium and Demark will be asking concert goers to take action in support of The Big Ask. The Europe wide campaign calls on governments and the European Union to help tackle climate change by committing to legally binding annual cuts in climate change emissions [1]. People can find out more and take action at www.thebigask.eu.
Thom Yorke, the band’s front man, helped launch the European Big Ask at a packed press conference in Brussels on 27 February 2008. The launch was also marked with events in many of the 17 countries across Europe taking part in the campaign [2]. The musician has supported The Big Ask campaign in the UK where Friends of the Earth has successfully persuaded the government to introduce a ground-breaking climate change law [3]. Thom Yorke and Radiohead are now bringing the campaign to the rest of Europe.
Last year, Radiohead commissioned carbon footprint analysts Best Foot Forward to calculate the carbon impact of their tours. Since then Radiohead has made a huge effort to cut their tour emissions by using energy efficient lighting, transporting equipment by train or ship rather than plane, and using recycled materials in tour merchandise.
The band is also encouraging fans to car share or use public transport to get to gigs. They are mainly playing in city centre venues where transport links are better and are working with venues to offer incentives to fans who leave their cars at home. More information is available at www.radiohead.com
Thom Yorke said: "Everyone can do their bit to tackle climate change – we are doing what we can and encouraging our fans to do the same. Its time our politicians play their part as they are the only ones who can put the structures in place that will help us. That’s why I am supporting The Big Ask and asking anyone who cares about climate change to support them too – either by taking action at one of our concerts or online at www.thebigask.eu."
Sonja Meister, climate campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: "Radiohead have shown that we can all do our bit to fight climate change. Now it’s time for politicians – nationally and in the European Union – to act by committing to making annual cuts to our climate change emissions. Year on year targets that can be legally enforced are the only way to make sure we get the cuts in emissions we urgently need. Through our collaboration with Radiohead, Friends of the Earth is giving people across Europe the chance to pressure their politicians to act on climate change."
Link: http://www.foeeurope.org/press/2008/May06_FoEE_joins_Radiohead_on_green_world_tour.html

1.2. Broad climate fight best, not just gas cuts: study
8 May 2008, Reuters
OSLO (Reuters) – An assault on climate change on many fronts makes good economic sense but will be money badly spent if the world focuses exclusively on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, a study said on Thursday.
A 100-year package costing $800 billion to help people adapt to the impacts of warming — such as droughts or rising seas — while also funding research into new technology and curbing emissions could yield benefits of $2.1 trillion, it said.
"We’ve got something that makes sense as an investment of public money," said Gary Yohe, an environmental economist at Wesleyan University in Connecticut who was lead author of the 56-page study with colleagues in Ireland and the United States.
The same imaginary $800 billion invested solely in curbing or mitigating emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels, would lose money overall with returns of just $685 billion. Until now, emissions curbs have been the overriding focus.
"Mitigation is not enough," Yohe told Reuters of the study, prepared for a May 26-28 conference in Copenhagen run by Bjorn Lomborg, the Danish author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist."
The $800 billion total works out at roughly 0.05 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP) a year and adds to evidence from studies by the U.N. Climate Panel and British climate change expert Nicholas Stern in 2007 that costs are affordable.
The Copenhagen conference, including five Nobel Prize laureates, will seek to rank the costs and benefits of challenges such as fighting AIDS, malnutrition or terrorism, promoting free trade or slowing climate change.
"We have a conversation that’s not very nuanced when we talk about global warming," Lomborg said. "It mainly focuses on mitigation and that’s one of the least effective investments."
Lomborg told Reuters that returns from investing in slowing warming were less, for instance, than spending on health.
Yohe, however, said that fighting climate change would have wider spin-offs. "If you don’t attend to climate change you will be swimming upstream, climate change will be … making hunger and disease more prevalent," he said.
The U.N. Climate Panel, of which Yohe is a member, concluded last year that the most aggressive curbs on global warming would cost up to 0.1 percent of world GDP a year to 2030 but made no recommendations about how cash should be spent.
Yohe said Thursday’s study tries to fill that gap.
About 190 nations have agreed to negotiate by the end of 2009 a successor treaty to the U.N.’s Kyoto Protocol, which binds 37 industrialized nations to cut emissions by an average of 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12.
Most industrialized nations are considering deeper cuts while also seeking ways to help vulnerable nations adapt to problems such as floods, heat waves or rising seas that could wash away some low-lying Pacific islands.
Even Thursday’s plan would only cut projected temperature rises by 2100 to about 3.0 Celsius (5.4 Fahrenheit) from 3.5 Celsius — far above the 2.0 Celsius that the European Union and many environmentalists consider "dangerous" warming.
"One of the many inconvenient truths is that most of global warming is going to happen unless we dramatically change right now," said Lomborg, who argues that the world has to make tough choices about what is affordable.
Link: http://uk.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUKL0887477320080508

1.3. Migratory birds threatened by changing environment, UN warns
8 May 2008, UN News Centre
Numbers of migratory birds – considered to be some of the best gauges of the state of global biodiversity – are plunging in the face of a changing environment, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) warned today.
Marking World Migratory Bird Day, the agency said that the decline is being recorded for many species along all of the main migration corridors, which birds utilize on their journeys, spanning thousands of miles, between their breeding and wintering grounds.
“Migratory birds are some of the most extraordinary creatures on the planet and in many countries bird watching is an economically important leisure and tourism activity,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.
“But migratory birds are more than this. Their dependence on healthy habitats and ecosystems makes them among the key indicators as to whether the international community is truly addressing the decline and erosion of the planet’s nature-based assets.”
The Day – focusing on the theme “Migratory Birds – Ambassadors for Biodiversity” – will be marked on the weekend of 10-11 May with concerts, films and other public events to highlight the ever-increasing threat to migratory birds and to global biodiversity.
Although the reasons behind the drop in numbers of migratory birds are complex and are specific to certain species, the overall decline is a reflection of the larger environmental problem tied to the global loss of habitats and biodiversity.
UNEP noted that 41 per cent of the 522 migratory waterbird populations on the routes linking Africa and Eurasia are witnessing their populations drop, and it has been reported that numbers of migratory songbirds using the same corridors are also on the decline.
Meanwhile, numbers of Boreal birds in the Western Hemisphere, such as the Canadian Warbler, which migrate from northern Canada to South America, are plummeting because they are losing their forest breeding grounds.
Vulnerable to changes in the environment, migratory birds are dependent on stop-over sites to rest and refuel as they make their long voyages, but these locations are threatened or disappear as a result of agricultural, urban, infrastructural and industrial development.
Climate change also plays an important role, as climbing global temperatures result in larger deserts and more frequent storms, which could lead to rising sea levels and impede migration.
Link: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=26605&Cr=biodiversity&Cr1 =

EMISSIONS

2.1. World carbon trading value doubles
8 May 2008, FT.com
Carbon trading was worth about $64bn last year, after a sharp rise in numbers of transactions in the fledgling market for greenhouse gases, the World Bank reckons.
In its annual review of the emissions trading market, it said the value of trades more than doubled from 2006 to 2007. The European Union’s emissions trading scheme (EU ETS) made up the bulk of the market, as it has done since its inception in January 2005.
Transactions under the EU ETS nearly doubled, as did the value of carbon permits sold by the scheme.
Last year, 2.1bn EU permits changed hands, against 1.1bn in 2006. The total value of trades was $50bn, against $24bn the previous year.
Under the EU ETS, companies in energy-intensive industries are issued with permits to produce carbon dioxide: if they want to emit more than their quota, they must buy permits from companies with spare permits.
But there was a slowdown in the rate of growth of the rest of the emissions market, which is mainly made up of sales of carbon credits under the United Nation’s Kyoto protocol.
About 551m new carbon credits were sold last year, with a value of $7.4bn and 537m credits the previous year, valued at $5.8bn.
The secondary market for UN credits flourished, with 240m sold last year for $5.4bn, compared with 25m for $445m in 2006.
By the Kyoto treaty, rich countries must cut greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5 per cent, compared with 1990 levels, by 2012. They can make up part of their targets by funding greenhouse gas reduction schemes, such as wind turbines or solar power plants, in poor countries. These projects are awarded credits, each representing a tonne of carbon dioxide avoided, for governments or companies to buy.
There have been problems with this market. Companies dealing in the credits have complained of bureaucratic problems with the UN’s issuance processes, which have resulted in delays.
Karan Capoor, senior carbon markets expert at the World Bank and main author of Wednesday’s report, said: “The prospects for developing countries benefiting from the carbon market are in question. It would be a shame for the world to lose this momentum now.”
Another problem is that the EU is moving to limit the number of credits from developing countries that companies within the EU ETS can count towards their targets.
A further complication is that many investors in developing country projects are cautious about the prospects for the market to be able to continue after 2012. The current provisions of the Kyoto protocol expire in that year. Governments are engaged in talks scheduled to finish late next year. These are intended to forge a successor to the treaty.
“Lack of clarity [about the situation as from] post-2012 is countering growth of markets such as the EU ETS,” said Andrew Ertel, chief executive of Evolution Markets, which contributed to the report. “The market is truly at a crossroads as participants appreciate the complexity and risks of carbon trading.”
Link: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/94e2baa2-1c8f-11dd-8bfc-000077b07658.html?nclick_check=1

2.2. Problems plague Canada’s emissions trading plans
8 May 2008, Reuters
COLOGNE – Just as Canada is set to launch a domestic carbon emissions trading scheme in a bid to curb its rising greenhouse gas emissions, a number of issues have surfaced, casting doubt on the country’s plans.
Some Canadian provinces have introduced provincial carbon taxes or have opted to join a prospective U.S.-based trading scheme, and threaten to throw Canada’s federal emissions trading plans into disarray, Judith Hull, director of trading regimes for Environment Canada, told a carbon markets conference in Germany on Thursday.
"We’re going to have a real challenge meshing the federal system with provincial actions," Hull said.
The provinces of British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec join seven U.S. states in the Western Climate Initiative, a regional cap-and-trade scheme launched as a result of a lack of legislative progress made on fighting climate change by the respective federal governments.
Cap-and-trade involves setting a cap on industrial emissions, then distributing carbon credits to the participants. If they pollute above their carbon quota, participants must then determine whether it’s cheaper to buy credits in the open market or to invest in cutting their own emissions.
The Canadian government, echoing the European Union’s own $50 billion emissions trading scheme, wants to include all heavy industry in the program, which accounts for half of Canada’s total carbon emissions.
TURNING THE CORNER
Canada ratified the United Nations’ Kyoto Protocol under the Liberal government, which ruled from Canada from 1993 to 2006.
The Kyoto Protocol aims to cut 1990 greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5 percent between 2008 and 2012.
Last year, Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canada has no chance of meeting commitments under the Protocol, which called for the country to trim emissions by 6 percent.
One reason for this is the growing emissions coming from oil-rich Alberta’s energy sector.
"Right now, Canada is 25 percent above its target … and if we remain on a business-as-usual trajection, we’re going to be a further 24 percent above (by 2012)," Hull said.
‘Turning the Corner’, a plan released by the Canadian government in April 2007, set intensity-based targets of a 20 percent reduction on 2006 levels by 2020.
Intensity-based targets mean emissions cuts are measured against units of economic output rather than in absolute terms, so a rapid rise in economic activity could lead to an absolute increase in emissions.
"So we’re going to have a cap-and-trade system on a provincial level and an emissions-intensity system on a federal level … We’ve got to make these systems work together," Hull added.
CREDITS
The federal government is also setting up a technology fund, selling carbon credits to industry and investing the proceeds in clean energy research and development.
The fund will be priced at $15 per ton of CO2, essentially placing a price ceiling on credits. Prices will eventually rise to $20 a ton, and then will be indexed to economic output as well, Hull said.
Companies can access the fund for up to 70 percent of their initial credit requirements, though this number will decrease with time.
Canada’s trading scheme will include trade in four different types of carbon credits, Hull said.
Along with the normal surplus credits, some 15 million early-action credits will be awarded to companies that have cut emissions significantly before the start of the trading in 2010.
Voluntary offset credits certified by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) will also be traded, as well as U.N.-approved credits (CERs), which are issued under Kyoto’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).
Under the CDM, companies and governments from rich nations can invest in clean energy projects in developing countries, earning CERs in return. These credits can then be sold for profit or used to meet emissions goals under Kyoto.
Prime Minister Harper discounted the idea of using CERs to meet the country’s goal, effectively closing the country off to the $13 billion market.
Under the new proposal, Canadian companies can meet up to 10 percent of their compliance gap through imported CERs.
Traders welcomed the move, but noted the issues still plaguing the country’s proposed emissions trading framework.
"Canada’s plan is called Turning the Corner, but it seems to me there are a number of other corners following this one," one London-based emissions trader told Reuters at the conference.
Link: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080508/wl_canada_nm/canada_carbon_canada_col_4

CONFERENCES

3.1. Thirty-ninth Meeting of the Executive Board
Date: 14 – 16 May 2008
Venue: UN Campus, Langer Eugen, Hermann-Ehlers-Str. 10, 53113 Bonn, Germany
More info at: http://cdm.unfccc.int/EB/039/index.html

3.2. IPCC Expert Meeting on estimating emissions and removals from land-uses
13-15 May 2008, Helsinki, Finland
More at: http://www.ipcc.ch/

3.3. Bonn Climate Change Talks 2008
Sessions of the Subsidiary Bodies, 2-13 June 2008, Bonn, Germany
The twenty-eighth sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will be held from 4-13 June 2008.
The second session of the Ad hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA 2) and the second part of the fifth session of the Ad hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP 5 ) will be held from 2-12 June 2008.
More info at: http://unfccc.int/2860.php

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