1.1. New round of climate talks open with big agenda, small hopes
1 June 2008, Herald Tribune
BONN, Germany: If the devil is in the details, climate change negotiators are about to enter purgatory.
On Monday, some 2,000 delegates from 162 countries and dozens of specialist agencies open a two-week conference, the first to get into the nuts and bolts of a new global warming agreement meant to take effect after 2012.
The meeting builds on a landmark accord reached last December on the Indonesian island of Bali which, for the first time, held out the promise that the United States, China and India will join a coordinated effort to control carbon emissions blamed for the unnatural heating of the Earth.
The Bali conference agreed to conclude a new climate change treaty by December 2009. Another conference four months later in Bangkok adopted a negotiating timetable.
In Bonn, "we have to roll our sleeves up and get down to work," the U.N.’s top climate change official, Yvo de Boer, said in an interview Sunday.
Scientists say the world’s carbon emissions must peak within the next 10 to 15 years and then fall by half by mid-century to avoid potentially catastrophic changes in weather patterns, a rise in sea levels that would threaten coastal cities and the mass extinction of plants and animals.
The new climate change pact will succeed the first phase of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which 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. Negotiators hope Washington’s consent to the Bali "action plan" marked the end of its hostility toward working with other countries to contain global warming.
"Their attitude, their activity, has changed very much in the recent year. It’s really a big change," said Andrej Kranjc of Slovenia, the head of the European Union delegation.
Still, the U.S. administration of George W. Bush rejects specific and mandatory targets to reduce emissions over the next dozen years. And countries like India and China question why they should accept limits on their development without commitments from the U.S. — the world’s largest per-capita polluter by far.
Delegates say such major decisions must wait for the new U.S. administration next January.
"It’s unlikely we are going to make lot of progress this year because we need strong signals from the U.S., and that’s not going happen until the election," said Ian Fry, the delegate from the tiny Pacific nation of Tuvalu.
But time is pressing.The basic outline of the post-Kyoto agreement should be ready by next summer to prepare for the critical December conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, where the new pact should be adopted, de Boer says.
That allows negotiators just six months after the next U.S. president takes office to negotiate a complex, multifaceted and hugely expensive treaty.
"Everyone refers to the U.S. as the elephant in the room," said Angela Anderson, the director of the Global Warming Campaign for the Pew Environment Group. She said the presidential candidates already should be formulating policies and making them part of their campaigns.
"The new administration will have a challenge, but perhaps a welcome challenge. They can mend the U.S. reputation abroad by engaging constructively in the climate talks," she said.
Delegates in Bonn will begin work on how to help developing countries adapt to anticipated changes in their climate, on transferring new technologies to help them avoid hefty carbon emissions as they expand their economies, and on how to raise the trillions of dollars required over the next decades to curb climate change.
Each objective faces a multitude of obstacles. Governments cannot commit to transferring technologies that belong to private companies, which are protected by intellectual property rights, for example. Small countries need satellite monitoring, especially of deforestation, which they cannot afford without help. The costs of installing carbon-storage facilities on power stations, once it becomes technically feasible, will be out of reach to all but the richest.
Proposed "adaptation funds" for developing countries are plagued by questions of how money will be generated, who will control it and how it will be allocated.
And the amounts needed are astronomical. Just to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels, the world will be spending by 2030 as much as US$300 billion per year, De Boer said.
"We are going to need every conceivable financial avenue that we have," he said.
Some countries favor a levy on airplane tickets and maritime transport, to be deposited in a special account earmarked for developing countries. Others suggest that all nations pay into a fund, depending on their wealth, that will generate enough interest to help developing countries adapt to their changing climates.
No one expects answers by the end of the Bonn conference. But de Boer said he hoped the meeting would "take things to the next level," with the discussions crystalizing ideas. Governments must then submit written proposals to be honed into a draft treaty in intensive negotiations over the next 18 months.
"We don’t expect a breakthrough (in Bonn), of course. We have a long road ahead of us," said Kranjc, the EU chief delegate. He cautions against trying to move too fast. "Things are not ripe."

1.2. Soaring living costs cloud U.N. climate talks
2 June 2008, Reuters UK
BONN (Reuters) – U.N.-led climate talks kick off on Monday in Germany with experts trying to forge a global warming pact facing a new challenge from critics who say climate change measures are partly to blame for higher food and energy prices.
The meeting is the second of eight which aim to secure a global climate deal by the end of next year, to come into force after the first round of the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.
The Bonn talks focus on the "toolkit" of steps which can curb rising emissions of greenhouse gas such as carbon dioxide, which scientists say risk catastrophic climate change.
Senior officials from more than 160 countries face the difficulty, however, that many such measures — including carbon taxes and emissions trading — deliberately raise energy costs by penalising carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels.
They are controversial options as record oil prices hit motorists and electricity consumers worldwide.
Meanwhile carbon-cutting biofuels have helped drive up food prices by using food crops to make an ethanol alternative to gasoline.
The United Nations’ climate change chief Yvo de Boer cautioned on Sunday against blaming biofuels too much.
"While growing crops for biofuels has some influence on food prices, clearly other factors like increasing wheat consumption and hoarding of rice also play a significant role," he told Reuters.
The Bonn meeting, which ends on June 13, follows one in Bangkok in March-April which produced little of substance to contribute to a new deal.
"The challenge is now to move ahead and start identifying what could be written into the 2009 agreement," added de Boer, who is head of the U.N. climate change body (UNFCCC).
Another U.N. agency, the Food and Agricultural Organisation, hosts a summit this week in Rome to discuss record food prices.
Kyoto caps the greenhouse gases of some 37 industrialised countries, but neither of the world’s top two emitters — the United States and China.

1.3. Videoconferencing against climate change
28 May 2008, WWF
Videoconferencing is set to make a significant contribution to the fight against climate change, by acting as an alternative to business flights and bringing into question the validity of airport expansion plans.
Travelling Light, a new report by WWF-UK has found that 89% of the FTSE 350 companies expect they will want to fly less over the next 10 years.
Air travel is the transport sector with the second highest impact on climate in Europe and is one of the fastest-growing sources of carbon emissions in the UK. International travel is a major driver of aviation growth, representing 22% of total passenger trips.
“Our report has revealed that there is a real appetite among many of the UK’s biggest businesses to reduce the number of flights they take,” says Peter Lockley, Head of Transport Policy at WWF-UK. “For many companies, travel is a major contributor to their carbon footprint – more than fifty per cent in some cases – and green alternatives such as videoconferencing not only provide a swift solution for cutting carbon, they can also save businesses time and money. In the current economic climate, and with increasing carbon accountability, videoconferencing is an easy win for businesses.”
If aviation continues to grow unchecked, independent analysis suggests it could consume the UK’s entire carbon allowance by 2050.
Greater carbon accountability is not the only reason why more companies are seeking to reduce their business travel, or switch to lower carbon alternatives. Higher oil prices have pushed up the cost of air travel, at a time when the economy is slowing down.
If all European companies were to cut their business travel by 20% and use video or audio conferencing instead, some 22 million tones of CO2 would be saved each year, the report said.
“Videoconferencing is a useful communication tool and we anticipate further growth in the use of our videoconferencing facilities as a result of our continued efforts to reduce staff travel”, said Andrew Cave, Head of Corporate Responsibility at RBS Group, one of the surveyed companies.
“Our use of videoconferencing also fits well with our continued efforts to reduce the environmental footprint of our business, particularly with regard to greenhouse gas emissions.”


2.1. Europe urged to scrap biofuel targets to ease food crisis
2 June 2008, FOEE
Brussels, 2 June 2008 – Using crops to make biofuels is contributing to the global food crisis and will lead to millions of people going hungry, warn international development and environment groups today. The statement is made in a letter to the European Commission and EU Heads of State urging them to abandon the proposed 10 per cent target for the use of biofuels in transport and to dismantle associated support measures. [1] The call comes a day before a major United Nations conference on food security in Rome.
The organisations are highly critical of the stance of the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, for denying that the EU’s continuing support for biofuels is contributing to food price rises and food shortages around the world. The groups note that:
* Current analysis estimates that biofuels – mainly being promoted by the EU and US – explain around 30 per cent of the increase in food prices. [2]
* The EU is the biggest user and producer of biodiesel in the world and the Commission’s own scientists state that implementing the new target will need nearly 20 per cent of the world’s vegetable oils.
* The much-flaunted ‘sustainability’ criteria being developed by the EU do not take into account knock-on effects such as rising food prices and increased hunger.
* The Commission’s conservative estimate that the EU 10 per cent target will lead to a 3-6 per cent price increase in cereals could result in up to 100 million extra people in hunger by 2020.
Rob Bailey, Policy Advisor of Oxfam International said: "To continue the pursuit of biofuels in the face of the credible, impartial and growing opinion that this is exacerbating the food crisis is morally outrageous and utterly indefensible."
Friends of the Earth Europe agrofuels campaigner Adrian Bebb said, "Biofuels are a false answer to our climate and energy problems. It is morally irresponsible to use crops to feed cars whilst people go hungry. The European Union must abandon it support for biofuels and invest in real solutions such as cleaner cars and an energy efficient Europe."

2.2. World Bank projects to boost Chinese energy efficiency
29 May 2008, Banking Times
On Tuesday a trio of projects aimed at bolstering China’s energy efficiency were approved by the World Bank.
The three projects will receive loans of $441m, approximately a third of the World Bank’s lending to China this year.
David Dollar, the organisation’s country director, explained that through greater efficiency and less pollution, not only would the Chinese environment be safeguarded, but the economy itself would be strengthened.
Dollar went on to say that the projects, (the Energy Efficiency Financing Project, the Shandong Flue Gas Desulfurisation Project, and the Liaoning Third Medium Cities Infrastructure Project) would also assist the worldwide effort to combat climate change.
A number of large energy efficiency loan programs will be delivered through the Energy Efficiency Financing Project, with participating banks including Export-Import Bank of China and Huaxia Bank.
The Shandong Flue Gas Desulfurization Project is aimed at Shandong Province, the second most polluting (in terms of sulphur dioxide) in China.
Gas desulphurisation and control units will be installed in Shandong power plants using the funding the World Bank provides.
The Liaoning Third Medium Cities Infrastructure Project will seek to tackle inefficient heating systems in Liaoning by enabling the construction of superior central heating systems and aiming to recover wasted heat from industrial activity.
In the long term, China has set itself the goal of increasing its current share of renewables from 7% to 10% in two years, and then 16% by 2020.

2.3. Italy’s Nuclear Job
The Italian government, whose public debt of €1.624 trillion is already the world’s third largest, seems eager to dig deeper. Last week, recently re-elected Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi made good on his campaign pledge to recommit Italy to nuclear power. This seemed just the thing to address the country’s rising oil and gas prices and growing French electricity imports — except for one thing: Mr. Berlusconi’s promised nuclear power plants are unlikely to ever be built.
Why? Three reasons: skyrocketing construction costs; projected build times of one to two decades; and no identifiable Italian community willing to see a nuclear reactor built in their neighborhood.
Are these dour antinuclear projections coming from the greens? No, just the opposite. The latest industry estimate from E.On, a German energy giant working on a large nuclear power plant in Finland, puts the construction cost at €6 billion per plant. Florida Power and Light, a major U.S. electrical utility, came up with a similar number. That’s easily 10 times the construction cost of a modern gas-fired plant yielding the same amount of energy. These numbers, it should be noted, only cover the plant’s construction, not nuclear waste management or plant operating expenses.
As Italy’s premier from 2001 to 2006, Mr. Berlusconi spent lavishly on public projects and repeatedly failed to meet European Union budget targets. He now claims he will show financial restraint.
Yet the managing director of Enel, the government-backed firm most likely to build and operate the proposed reactors, last week cryptically warned that in order to proceed, his firm would need "new regulation and strong agreement on the plan within the country" — i.e., government guarantees, credits and subsidies.
It might be argued that some deficit spending now will eventually pay off. In the case of nuclear power in Italy, though, the odds are low. Why? Because it will take decades to find out. Italy has not operated or built a nuclear power plant since it shut them all down after the Chernobyl accident of 1987. This hardly augers well for getting any nuclear program off the ground quickly or for operating them without incident.
Nuclear enthusiasts gloss over this. Just last week, Economic Development Minister Claudio Scajola told the Italian employers’ federation Confindustria that the Italian government would lay the first construction stone for a new generation reactor within five years. This sounds pretty good. Enel officials, though, were a bit more cautious. They noted that it would take "seven to 10 years" before they could actually bring a reactor on line. Their key Italian competitor, Edison SPA, was more cautious still. It warned that "the first station would have trouble becoming operational before 2020."
Finally, Italy’s nuclear critics were openly skeptical. The fourth-generation reactor that the Italian government has pledged to build has not yet even been fully designed and thus could take 20 to 25 years to bring on line. Bottom line: Italian nuclear reactors won’t be much of an answer to any energy problem Italy will be facing for at least a decade or more. What energy supplies and demand will be 10 to 20 years from now, as well as what energy will cost, is anybody’s guess. Certainly, Mr. Berlusconi and his government will be long gone by then. On the other hand, the high costs and political opposition to any specific nuclear construction site will be politically significant and immediate.
Why, then, did Mr. Berlusconi make the nuclear announcement now? Like the reduction of taxes on gasoline and diesel — which Rome also announced last week — it makes the government look like it is doing something about rising oil and gas prices.
Energy experts, though, suspect something a bit more sinister. The announcement could be part of a long-term effort by the largest European utilities to push out smaller competitors by arranging massive government support for large, expensive nuclear power programs. Italians and Europeans can only hope that this speculation is simply wrong.
The EU is supposed to encourage competition and the elimination of government subsidies in the energy sector. It’s never had an easy time promoting this. France indirectly subsidizes its nuclear program heavily. German supports for coal are just as well-known. Germany’s and France’s subsidies of the Finish reactor project that AREVA and Siemens are building, meanwhile, were recently upheld by the European Commission against several complaints.
The worry is that the EU may end up repressing market competition in the energy sector at the very time Europe will need it the most. The EU, after all, claims it is dedicated to reducing carbon emissions. The key to this is increasing efficiencies to reduce overall energy demand and bringing on the most cost-effective of energy technologies. No amount of planning can determine in advance how to do this while reducing carbon emissions in the cheapest and quickest fashion. Instead, the effective enforcement of market mechanisms is Europe’s best hope to guide it through the thicket of decisions — such as choosing between centralized and distributed electrical systems, new versus old technologies, different sources of natural gas, etc.
It’s conceivable that such a competition might favor nuclear power in the future. However, given the EU’s projected shutdown of 145 reactors in the next 17 years, the likelihood of any net growth in nuclear capacity in the EU will, at best, be many decades away. In the meantime, Italy and Europe would be wise to stay away from energy investments that no private bank would make without government support. For the moment, that would have to include nuclear.
Mr. Sokolski is the executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, a nonprofit research organization in Washington, D.C., and editor of "Falling Behind: International Scrutiny of the Peaceful Atom" (Strategic Studies Institute, 2008).


3.1. U.S. emissions bill a "first step": U.N. climate chief
30 May 2008, Reuters
OSLO (Reuters) – A bill going to the U.S. Senate next week seeking deep cuts in U.S. greenhouse gases by 2050 is a "first step" but not enough to avert damaging climate change, the head of the U.N. Climate Panel said on Friday.
Rajendra Pachauri also said that even tougher plans by some other developed nations to rein in emissions were insufficient to head off some projected impacts of global warming, ranging from more heatwaves and droughts to rising seas.
The U.S. bill, sponsored by Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent and Sen. John Warner, a Virginia Republican, seeks to cut U.S. emissions by up to 66 percent below current levels by 2050. It will be debated from June 2.
"I think it’s enough as a first step," Pachauri told reporters during a visit to Oslo. "I wouldn’t say it is the final solution one is looking for."
He welcomed the effort as far more stringent than a plan outlined last month by President George W. Bush that would let U.S. emissions rise to a 2025 ceiling. The United States and China are the top emitters of greenhouse gases.
Bush’s plan upset some of his industrial allies because it is far less tough than the U.N.’s Kyoto Protocol under which 37 developed nations have agreed to cut emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels, by 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12.
Several leading scientists in the U.N. panel, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice President and climate campaigner Al Gore, on Thursday urged far deeper cuts than those now under consideration by major nations.
The authors, including British scientist Martin Parry, wrote in the journal Nature that the world had to cut emissions by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 to limit temperature rises to 2 Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.
"I would agree with Martin Parry; current efforts are certainly not enough," Pachauri said. A 2.0 Celsius rise is viewed by the European Union and some other nations as a threshold for "dangerous" climate changes.
Pachauri said that estimates by the U.N. Climate Panel showed that "if you want to stabilize the increase in temperatures to between 2.0 to 2.4 Celsius we are talking about cuts of 25 to 40 percent by 2020" below 1990 levels.
"That is clearly far above what was considered at any stage in the discussions on the Kyoto Protocol," he said.
Almost 200 nations including the United States agreed in Bali, Indonesia, in December to work out a new U.N. treaty by the end of 2009 to curb global warming after a first period of the Kyoto Protocol runs out in 2012.
U.S. environmentalists are supportive of the Lieberman-Warner bill but want more in the legislation.
The business community questions the economic impact, and the politicians who have shepherded it seem gratified that it has managed to get this far — even though it is unlikely to become law this year.

3.2. CO2 car advert rules threaten press freedom, media giants say
28 May 2008,
Europe’s media giants have attacked proposals to slap environmental cigarette-packaging-style ‘health warnings’ on car advertising in newspapers and magazine.
The European Publishers’ Council, which represents major publishers and broadcasters across the continent, have warned that such advertising regulations, if adopted, threaten the freedom of the press.
"A state-imposed mandate on car advertising would pose a major threat to free competition and journalism," said EPC chairperson Francisco Pinto Balsemao in a statement.
"Advertising is vital to maintaining a vibrant, independent and diverse media landscape in Europe and car advertising accounts for up to 20 percent of advertising revenues," he added.
The media owners are worried that environment commissioner Stavros Dimas is set to announce proposals that would require all car adverts in newspapers and magazines, and possibly on TV and radio to include CO2 ‘health warnings’, so called due to the concept’s similarity to the health warnings on packages of cigarettes.
If adopted, says the EPC, the health warnings will lead to car companies taking their advertising elsewhere – to sporting events or concerts, as cigarette companies did when print advertising restrictions were imposed on the tobacco industry in the 1990s.
"An independent, free media cannot survive to inform and educate if it is not adequately funded."
Specifically, the EPC fears that in an expected revision of a 1999 directive requiring car adverts to contain information for consumers on fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions, the commission will adopt proposals in line with those suggested in a report from UK Liberal MEP Chris Davies published in December 2007.
These suggested car companies should devote a full 20 percent of any car advertisement to these environmental warnings.
Currently under discussion, the new rules are expected to be unveiled by the commission by the end of the month.
The commission has opted to move on car advertising following almost a decade in which manufacturers have widely flouted the 1999 directive, which required that adverts include information that is "easily legible and no less pronounced than the main part of the advertising message" and "easily understood, even when read briefly."
But in many cases the environmental information stretches only a few millimetres high and is barely legible.
The EPC says that because "more and more [low-emission, fuel-efficient] cars are produced and marketed, so there is no need for the regulators to step in."
"Commercial advertising should never be hi-jacked by regulators to impart specific technical information that they want to distribute in neat formulaic ways," added EPC executive director Angela Mills Wade.
"Quite simply it doesn’t work and do so is an abuse of freedom of commercial speech."
Jeroen Verhoeven, a car efficiency campaigner with Friends of the Earth Europe, rubbished the suggestion that the warnings would be an attack on freedom of the press or speech.
"Advertising is a very important tool for car manufacturers in convincing people to buy their products. And it is the case that the more fuel-consumptive cars are marketed more."
"If news articles about emissions were more important than adverts, why would these companies spend so much on advertising?"


4.1. Second meeting of the EGTT, Bonn, Germany, 29 – 30 May 2008
Provisional agenda:

4.2. United Nations Environment Programme – World Environment Day – 5 June 2008
About World Environment Day 2008: CO2 – Kick the habit!
World Environment Day, commemorated each year on 5 June, is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action.
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4.3. 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.
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12-13 June 2008, How can you become a participating organisation ?
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