E – news update 14 April 2008

CLIMATE

1.1. Financing crucial to next climate change pact: U.N.
12 April 2008, Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The global fight against climate change after the Kyoto pact expires will fail unless rich countries can come up with creative ways to finance clean development by poorer nations, a U.N. official said on Saturday.
"We are not going to see that major developing country engagement unless significant financial resources and technology flows begin to be mobilized," Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said in a media briefing.
De Boer and Katherine Sierra, World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development, said they were studying a long list of financing schemes and proposals and were hopeful of meeting an end-2009 deadline.
But they were acutely aware of critics who have expressed fears the World Bank will "hijack" billions of dollars of development aid to tackle climate change.
"The overriding concern of developing countries is economic growth and poverty eradication and you cannot expect developing countries to engage on the question of climate change and harm those overriding objectives," De Boer said.
"At the heart of this is intelligent financial engineering," he said.
World Bank President Robert Zoellick said in a speech on Thursday that "addressing climate change won’t work if it is simply seen as a rich man’s club."
The first formal talks to draw up a replacement to the Kyoto climate change pact, which ends in 2012, took place in Bangkok earlier this month with plans for another seven rounds of negotiations culminating in Copenhagen at the end of 2009.
U.N. climate experts want the new treaty to go beyond Kyoto by getting all countries to agree to curbs on emissions of the greenhouse gases that are fueling global warming.
Under Kyoto, only 37 rich nations are bound to cut emissions by an average of five percent from 1990 levels by 2012.
But developing countries want firm commitments of aid to meet the new targets that will eventually be set out.
The international carbon market is one source of funding but it is not enough, said De Boer who said he was very interested in a German proposal to auction emission rights and use the proceeds for international aid.
"That is a very interesting way of mobilizing new financial resources that are not related to official development assistance," he said.
The World Bank is developing a new strategy on climate change that includes embedding climate change into its existing programs to help countries boost their economies and combat poverty, said Sierra.
She said the bank would meet with donors over the next several days to discuss its proposals, including a $5-10 billion Clean Technology Fund, a $500 million "adaptation" fund and possibly a third fund dealing with forestry.
Zoellick said the needs of developing nations in climate change will be the subject of a Sunday meeting of World Bank officials and ministers from rich and poor countries.
Link: http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSN1228263320080412

1.2. UN Climate Chief: US Election May Help
11 April 2008, AP
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. climate chief said Thursday he is encouraged by the climate views of the three contenders in the U.S. presidential election.
Republican John McCain and Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton have all expressed support for some form of mandatory controls on carbon emissions, usually involving a "cap-and-trade" system that allows polluters to buy and sell allowances.
"I’m really encouraged to see that all three of the presidential front-runners have climate change high on their agenda," Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the U.N. climate treaty secretariat, told The Associated Press. "So whichever one of them wins, I think it will be good news for climate change policy."
That’s not to say de Boer would prefer the change that will come when President Bush leaves office next January and a new president occupies the White House.
"I see the current administration still engaging very constructively in the negotiations. There’s a stated concern from President Bush on climate change," he said.
De Boer also described efforts to reach a global warming pact that all nations will sign and ratify as a Herculean effort to balance the competing interests of rich and poorer nations.
"The challenge that lies ahead of us is huge," he told reporters at a news conference. "Rich country engagement hinges on developing country engagement. Developing country engagement hinges on rich country engagement. And the connection between the two is finance and technology. Those pieces really need to come together."
De Boer said last week’s first round of climate negotiations in Bangkok involving representatives from 163 countries was a good beginning.
The new global warming pact is being crafted to succeed the first phase of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. It requires 37 industrialized nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions an average of 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.
The United States is the only industrialized nation not to have ratified Kyoto, but it agreed with nearly 200 other nations at a conference in Bali in December to negotiate a new agreement by the end of 2009.
A series of three climate conferences is scheduled for this year, culminating in December in Poznan, Poland.
Delegates to the Bangkok meeting said significant differences remain over demands from the U.S. and Japan for developing countries to accept binding targets as part of a pact to stabilize greenhouse gases in the next 10 to 15 years and cut them in half by 2050.
Link: http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5iQmBUlYskvnKT0CLHBucXxY5_wKAD8VVGITO0

1.3. UN climate change panel to focus on regional solutions
11 April 2008, People’s Daily on line
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will focus its next report, due in 2014, on a search for regional rather than global scenarios and possible solutions, and highlight the economic and social aspects of climate change, IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri said Thursday.
Speaking at a press conference in Budapest, he added that the just-concluded IPCC session had adopted a special report on climate change and water management, pointing to the urgent need to adapt to floods and drought.
The IPCC’s main task is to evaluate the risk of climate change caused by human activity, and publish special reports on topics relevant to the implementation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
IPCC closed its four-day session in the Hungarian capital Budapest on Thursday. It was the panel’s first major meeting after it received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.
Link: http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90777/90856/6390772.html

1.4. West must lead climate change battle: Pachauri
13 April 2008, Thaindian News
Boao (China), Indian Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, who shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, Sunday urged developed countries to take the first step to tackle climate change. Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, chairman of the watchdog Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said the developed world should take the first step by making commitments to tackle climate change rather than leave the first initiatives to emerging economies like China and India.
Pachauri was addressing the plenary session of the Boao economic conference in the southern resort town of China. The theme of the meeting was “Climate change: change business, change us”.
The IPCC and the former vice president of the US Al Gore shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
Established in 2001, the Boao Forum has become an important platform for discussion and debate on economic development in Asia. The theme of this year’s annual conference of the Forum is “Green Asia: moving towards win-win through changes”.
Link: http://www.thaindian.com/newsportal/world-news/west-must-lead-climate-change-battle-pachauri_10037540.html

1.5. UN Climate Change Panel closes session in Budapest
11 April 2008, The Budapest Times
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will not stop preparing its regular global reports, the next one is due in 2014, chairman of IPCC Rajendra Pachauri said on Thursday, at the closing of a four-day session held in Budapest.
Diana Urge-Vorsatz, one of the over 2,000 scientists who authored the latest report in 2007, said there have been doubts about the future of the regular reports as scientists wondered where research on the subject was headed.
Pachauri said the next report will aim to look for regional rather than global scenarios and possible solutions, and highlight the economic and social aspects of climate change.
At its Budapest session, IPCC adopted a special report on climate change and water management, pointing to the urgent need to adapt to heavier rains, flooding and drought.
Attending a conference organised by the Budapest-based Central European University (CEU) to tie in with the IPCC session, scientist Istvan Lang called for the speedy implementation of Hungary’s National Climate Change Strategy, starting with the first two-year action plan which needs to focus on reducing greenhouse gases. The Hungarian Academy of Sciences has launched a new research project, entitled Climate Change and Safety, to deal with the social aspects and unforeseeable disasters inherent in global warming.
The IPCC is tasked to evaluate the risk of climate change caused by human activity and its main activity is publishing special reports on topics relevant to the implementation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Hungary’s Environment Ministry has launched an awareness-raising programme on climate change and invited 100 large companies to participate in designing an action plan, Environment Minister Gabor Fodor told MTI at a climate change event on Thursday.
Link: http://www.budapesttimes.hu/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6889&Itemid=27

1.6. UN chief warns of danger to human health caused by climate change
8 April 2008, China View
UNITED NATIONS, April 7 (Xinhua) — UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned on Monday that climate change may endanger human health, and thus called for urgent action.
In his message marking this year’s World Health Day, Ban noted that, in addition to causing more frequent and more severe storms, heat waves, droughts and floods, climate change jeopardizes the quality and availability of "water and food, our fundamental determinants of nutrition and health."
He stressed the need to "give voice to this often-overlooked reality, ensuring that protecting human health is anchored at the heart of the global climate change agenda."
Ban reiterated that the impact will be most severe in poor countries, which have contributed least to this global crisis.
"We must do more than decry these circumstances. We must act to ensure that the health of the vulnerable is protected during climate change," he said, observing that "this means stepping up efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals, from cutting childhood mortality to empowering women, as a central component of the international response to climate change."
"Climate change is real, it is accelerating and it threatens all of us," the UN chief concluded. "We must respond with urgent action to stabilize the climate, achieve the MDGs, and encourage individual action. Our collective efforts can foster social and economic development for the world’s poorest peoples, improving their health systems and their lives."
In 1948, the First World Health Assembly called for the creation of a "World Health Day" to mark the founding of the World Health Organization. Since 1950, World Health Day has been celebrated on the 7th of April annually. Each year a theme is selected for World Health Day that highlights a priority area of concern for WHO.
World Health Day is a worldwide opportunity to focus on key public health issues that affect the international community. World Health Day launches longer-term advocacy programs that continue well beyond 7 April.
In 2008, World Health Day focuses on the need to protect health from the adverse effects of climate change. WHO selected this theme in recognition that climate change is posing ever growing threats to global public health security.
Link: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-04/08/content_7936113.htm

ENERGY

2.1. Informal Meeting of Environment Ministers – Presidency conclusions
12 April 2008, EU2008.si
Forest biodiversity:
Challenges and opportunities for climate change adaptation and mitigation
1. Forest habitats and biodiversity are key to the functioning of the biosphere, and forests play a crucial role in stabilising the Earth’s climate as important carbon sinks, in mitigating desertification, and in providing essential services, such as preventing soil and water erosion and regulating local weather; forests are multifunctional.
2. Climate change impacts forests in many ways, such as through changes in productivity, increases in water or biodiversity stress, desertification processes, and storm and fire risks. Forest fires, floods, droughts and storms seriously affect Europe, causing loss of human life and property, as well as environmental damage; climate change therefore presents a major challenge to the long-term sustainability of forests.
3. This challenge calls inter alia for the development and implementation of projects concerning the adaptation of forests to climate change. In this respect the implementation of Natura 2000 is an important tool.
4. Healthy and sustainably managed forests can represent a valuable opportunity for mitigation in the fight against – and adaptation to – climate change, through the provision of vital environmental services; under certain conditions or criteria, they can also contribute to renewable energy and materials.
5. Deforestation is a major international issue, not least because of its importance for climate change, as recognised at Bali for the post-Kyoto period; the EU should be ready to contribute to finding an approach for its successful resolution.
6. In the EU’s efforts towards achieving ambitious targets for the share of renewable energies and in particular bio-energy, the rate of forest utilisation is likely to rise significantly.
7. There is, therefore, a significant challenge to ensure that forests are used wisely as a source of biomass, including (as appropriate) as a sustainable source of second-generation biofuels, without compromising their multifunctionality by sacrificing their long-term ecological and socio-economic stability and environmental objectives, including the protection and sustainable use of biodiversity, nor compromising the contribution of forests in the fight against climate change and desertification.
8. In order to ensure sustainable forest use in Europe and to retain the multifunctional role of forests, better information is required on additional production potential without compromising their key environmental role, taking into account the constraints that may result from the adaptation of forests to climate change.
9. When forest biomass is used as feedstock, the choice between different bio-energy applications should be based on efficiency in energy output and optimum greenhouse gas reduction potential.
Link: http://eu2008.si/en/News_and_Documents/Press_Releases/April/0412ENV.html?

2.2. Greenpeace attacks illegal nuclear subsidies
11 April 2008, Greenpeace
Brussels, Belgium — Greenpeace today filed an official complaint with the European Commission alleging illegal state aid and market distortion concerning the Mochovce nuclear power plant project in Slovakia.
The complaint claims that market-distorting measures were put into place by the Slovak authorities to convince the Slovak utility to participate in what would otherwise have been an unviable and unattractive project.(1)(2) Italian utility company ENEL owns 66% of Slovak utility Slovenské elektrárne (SE); the rest belongs to the Slovak state.
“What this case highlights is pretty simple: when you take dirty tricks out of the equation, nuclear power is expensive, unreliable and underperforming,” said Jan Haverkamp, Greenpeace EU dirty energy campaigner.
Greenpeace claims that the Slovak state has manipulated the figures by artificially lowering levies paid towards decommissioning and waste funds. The amount that has to be paid to the fund has also been capped. On top of this, the Slovak state plans to massively increase contributions by all electricity consumers towards the so-called ‘historic deficit’ for decommissioning and waste management, thereby lowering the part to be covered by SE/ENEL customers.(3)
As a result, ENEL will be able to operate Mochovce at artificially lowered costs and decommissioning funds in Slovakia will not be sufficient to fully cover the future decommissioning and waste disposal costs.
“Not only does the pre-Chernobyl 1970’s design of the new reactors raise serious security and environmental questions,(4) the evidence gathered by Greenpeace clearly points towards illegal competition practices. We call on the Commission to put an end to the nuclear protectionism of Slovakia,” said Haverkamp.
Notes to Editor
(1) The main Greenpeace complaint documents can be downloaded at: http://www.greenpeace.org/eu-unit/press-centre/policy-papers-briefings/mochovce-competition-complaint-letter-11-04-08 and
http://www.greenpeace.org/eu-unit/press-centre/policy-papers-briefings/mochovce-competition-complaint-briefing-11-04-08
(2) The European Commission is currently assessing several competition claims regarding the privatisation of Slovak utility company Slovenské elektrárne and the construction of the Mochovce power station.
(3) Slovakia ran up a ‘historic deficit’ after failing to build up reserves for decommissioning and waste during the Cold War and in the first years of its independence.
(4) Greenpeace has announced it will take the Slovak state to court for failing to carry out an environmental impact assessment in Mochovce and has repeatedly highlighted gaping design flaws which make the reactors highly vulnerable to terrorist attacks and nuclear accidents.
Link: http://www.greenpeace.org/eu-unit/press-centre/press-releases2/Mochovce-competition-complaint-11-04-08

EMISSIONS

3.1. Market alone can’t halt CO2 emissions: British climate official
12 April 2008, AFP
PARIS (AFP) — A top British climate change official backed an embattled European Union scheme Friday to tax industrial carbon emissions, but also allowed for exceptions in highly competitive sectors.
Adair Turner, the newly-appointed head of Britain’s Climate Change Committee, also expressed skepticism toward the reliance on industry-wide agreements and new technology favoured by the United States for reducing the greenhouse gases that drive global warning.
"My commission and the British government are in favour of moving quite fast in auctioning the permits [to emit CO2] rather than giving them away for free," as is currently done, he told business leaders and journalists in Paris.
Several major multinationals, including Shell France and cement giant Lafarge, threatened this week to stop investing within Europe or to move operations outside the EU unless the plan to sell emission permits was scrapped.
Some industries such as steel and aluminum, Turner acknowledged, face high energy costs and stiff competition from abroad, and should thus receive some form of relief.
"But it most industries the issue of international competitiveness does not arise," he said.
Lord Turner, a former vice-chairman of Merrill Lynch Europe, heads a committee that will advise the Britain on climate change policy and setting targets for slashing greenhouse gases.
It will also monitor the government’s progress in adhering to its own goals.
Britain has pledged to introduce the world’s first legally-binding targets to cut carbon output by at least 60 percent before 2050, using 1990 levels as a benchmark.
The Climate Change Committee may recommend, by year’s end, that reductions be as high as 80 percent, and that other greenhouse gases be included in the legislation, he said.
While underlining the urgency for an aggressive climate change policy, Turner said he was skeptical of two main axes in the US approach to slowing global CO2 emissions.
"I am very worried that the world is simply assuming that carbon capture and storage (CSS) is going to be available as a technology and at a reasonable cost by 2015," he said.
CSS is an as-yet unproven technique for diverting carbon emissions — from coal-fired energy plants, for example — and storing them deep underground so that they do not escape into the atmosphere.
"Almost every plan that I see has simply pencilled that in" as if it were a given, he said. "If we don’t have it, we will have a major problem."
The International Energy Agency has forecast a double of coal use over the next 20 years, especially to fuel new power stations in China and India.
The administration of George W. Bush has touted CSS as a key technology for reducing emissions.
Turner also expressed caution on the efficacy of industry-based agreements on curbing CO2 output.
Unless government steps in — at the national and international level — companies that invest in energy efficiency and carbon-reducing measures will be penalised by competitors who shun such measures, he said.
"At the end of the day, because this is a collective public problem it ultimately does require governments to require that all the players come in to a level playing field," Turner said.
While there is general agreement on the need to keep global temperatures from rising above two or three degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels to avoid catastrophic climate change, the world "has not quite woken up to the fact that it will require very, very radical action," he said.
But even if the needed measures cost one-to-two percent of world GDP over the next several decades, the cost is a relative small price to pay.
"The great wars of the 20th century cost 30 or 40 percent of GDP and millions of lives. Compared to the sacrifices previous generations made, this is trivial," he said.
Turner’s comments come ahead of a "Major Economies Meeting" in Paris next week, a US-led gathering — grouping G8 nations, the EU and major developing economies such as China and India — of the world’s major carbon-emitting nations.
Link: http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5gNqd2WPZht4rWnVHYFWsyc238mCg

3.2. Franco-German duo threaten dodgy deal on car emissions
10 April 2008, Greenpeace
Brussels, Belgium — The deceptive duo of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel could cut a climate-bashing backroom deal seriously undermining Europe’s attempts to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from cars, Greenpeace warned today. France and Germany are excluding the other 25 EU member states and the European Parliament from private negotiations designed to help their car companies escape climate commitments.
“European car manufacturers are fighting tooth and nail to weaken the first-ever law to reduce car emissions and the leaders of France and Germany are dancing to their tune,” said Franziska Achterberg, Greenpeace EU transport campaigner.
Greenpeace highlighted the danger of the Franco-German backroom deal resulting in seriously weakened EU legislation with a parody of a Sarkozy-Merkel wedding and a ‘bridal cortège’ of high polluting cars in Paris today.
The transport sector has increased its emissions by around 26% since 1990, with levels continuing to rise.(1) The EU is at present negotiating CO2 standards for cars with the aim of bringing them down to120g CO2/km in 2012, after the industry failed to deliver on a long-standing voluntary commitment.(2)
“This deal could allow carmakers to evade their climate responsibility until 2015 or later by allowing a phase-in of requirements and instituting ridiculously low fines. It must be stopped and any negotiation must involve all 27 EU member states,” said Achterberg.
Main Greenpeace demands:
– 120g CO2/km target in 2012 and 80g CO2/km target in 2020(3)
– company burden-sharing based on vehicle size and not weight
– strong penalties of EUR 150 for every gram above the limit for each vehicle sold to force manufacturers to respect the regulation(4)
Please sign the Greenpeace e-petition on: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/campaigns/climate-change/cars/dirty-deal
Link: http://www.greenpeace.org/eu-unit/press-centre/press-releases2/franco-german-dodgy-deal-car-emissions

CONFERENCES

4.1. Forum on Climate Change and Science & Technology Innovation
Beijing, China, 24-25 April 2008
The Forum on Climate Change and Science & Technology Innovation will be held on 24-25 April 2008 in Beijing, China. It is expected that more than 200 participants will be attending the Forum, including government officials, experts and scientists from developing and developed countries, and representatives from international organizations and multinational companies.
More at: http://www.acca21.org.cn/climatechange/index.html
4.2. European Patent Forum 2008, 6/7 May 2008, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Inventing a cleaner future: Climate change and the opportunties for IP
The drastic changes in world climate can no longer be ignored and the need to find intelligent solutions to mitigate the effects is obvious. That is why the European Patent Forum 2008 is dedicated to finding answers to the question:
How can the fields of patenting and intellectual property support innovations that benefit the environment and counteract climate change?
More info at: http://www.epo.org/about-us/events/epf2008.html

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