1.1. 180 countries set for talks in Barcelona on climate change 2 – 6 November 2009
1 November 2009, Barcelonareporter.com
Hopes for a legally binding agreement by year’s end, once high, have faded to the vanishing point.
“It is physically impossible to finalise all the details of a treaty in Copenhagen,” UN climate chief Yvo de Boer said this week.
180 countries set for talks in Barcelona on climate change 2 – 6 November 2009
Some 180 countries kick off five days of climate talks in Barcelona on Monday, the last UN session before the December conference tasked with beating back the planetary threat of global warming.
But two years of negotiations set in motion by the so-called Bali Action Plan have fallen terribly short, failing to bridge a rift between rich and poor nations on how to share out the twin burdens of slashing carbon pollution and coping with its potentially devastating impacts.
Hopes for a legally binding agreement by year’s end, once high, have faded to the vanishing point.
“It is physically impossible to finalise all the details of a treaty in Copenhagen,” UN climate chief Yvo de Boer said this week.
Diplomats have instead set their sights on a political accord “that will probably come on the last night” of the December 7-18 conference, predicted a senior European negotiator who asked not to be named.
A substantive deal in Copenhagen must have four cornerstones, said de Boer, who is Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
To keep heat-trapping greenhouse gases at safe levels, developed countries must commit to deep cuts in CO2 output over the next 40 years, while major emerging economies — especially China and India — must agree to sharply curtail the carbon-intensity of their growth.
UN climate scientists have said global emissions should peak no later than 2015, and must be halved by 2050. But each side, waiting for the other to commit first, has been
reluctant to put numbers on the table that could achieve these goals.
The other cornerstones are financial: how much money rich nations historically to blame for warming will give poor ones to cut emissions and adapt to inevitable climate change, and how those dollars, euros and yen will be disbursed.
“Finance is the key to a deal in Copenhagen. Money is the oil that encourages commitment and drives action,” de Boer told journalists by phone. But what he described as one of two “major opportunities”
to make headway on finance before December was lost on Friday when divided European leaders failed — despite a pledge last year — to say at the close of a two-day summit how much the 27-nation bloc would cough up.
Central European countries led by Poland say their lagging economies should not be forced to shoulder the burden of developing countries elsewhere. The other opportunity is a meeting of G20 finance ministers in St. Andrews, Scotland on November 6 and 7.
The UNFCCC says climate change costs for poor and emerging nations could run into the hundreds of billions of dollars per annum within a decade, and has called for a “quick start” down payment of at least 10 billion in Copenhagen.
The European Commission estimates that developing nations will need 100 billion euros annually between 2013 and 2020, and five-to-seven billion per year before then.
1.2. UN climate chief downgrades hopes for post-Kyoto treaty
29 October 2009, EurActiv
It seems unlikely that a comprehensive climate treaty will be sealed at December’s UN conference in Copenhagen despite progress made, but a political agreement is still very much possible, Yvo de Boer, the UN’s top climate official, told journalists yesterday (28 October).
"It is absolutely clear that Copenhagen must deliver a strong political agreement and nail down the essentials" for a strong long-term response to global warming, said de Boer, head of the Bonn-based UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Ahead of Barcelona next week (2-6 November), the last negotiating round before the Copenhagen talks, de Boer pointed out that "time is running out".
With less than forty days to go until Copenhagen, de Boer spelled out four essentials which would form the "framework" for a deal. These include ambitious emission reductions targets for industrialised countries, appropriate mitigation actions by developing countries, significantly scaled-up financial and technological resources and an equitable governance structure to manage the funds.
"It is physically impossible, under any scenario, to complete every detail of a treaty in Copenhagen," de Boer added, noting a technical process will have to be put in place next year to work out all the details.
Using history as a supporting argument, de Boer noted that when the Kyoto Protocol was signed, "a number of key political questions that remained outstanding" were sorted out.
"It took five years, I believe, before the Kyoto Protocol was ultimately ratified by a sufficient number of countries and entered into force. So to get every last detail right, it takes time," he added, stressing that not one of the countries that ratified Kyoto had the domestic policy framework in place to implement the targets at the time.
‘Stable and predictable’ finance: All eyes on Brussels
Referring to European climate leadership, de Boer described the summit of EU leaders starting in Brussels today and the G20 finance ministers meeting in Scotland in mid-November as the two major opportunities to break the deadlock on three key issues, which include mid-term emissions reduction targets, action from developing countries to limit emissions and most importantly clarity over "stable and predictable" financing.
Recalling that the EU had postponed decisions on both short and long-term financing a number of times already, de Boer said he hoped a UK proposal for annual up-front financing of EUR 10bn would get a positive response from other member states. "All eyes are on the EU to provide clarity," he said.
Regarding long-term financing, the UN climate chief stressed the need to agree on a burden-sharing formula for how funds will be generated to help developing countries combat climate change.
De Boer sees the Montreal Protocol (on substances that deplete the ozone layer) as a basis for developing a viable burdensharing mechanism.
It is estimated that the total net incremental cost of mitigating the effects of climate change and limiting CO2 emissions in developing countries could amount to around EUR 100 billion annually by 2020, to be met through a combination of efforts, including the carbon market and public finance. The EU’s contribution should be in the range of EUR 2-15 bn.
The European Commission last month said the EU should provide €5bn-7bn of "fast track" funding between 2010 and 2013 to help developing countries "front-load" measures to tackle climate change (EurActiv 11/09/09).
Danish compromise in the making?
If no agreement is reached by the UN negotiating parties in Copenhagen, de Boer confirmed that it will be up to the Danes, ahead of the high-level segment at the end of the conference, to decide how to take the process forward.
Although no-one wants to talk about a ‘Plan B’, speculation is rife that the Danes are preparing a compromise text that would see the light should all other attempts to reach a deal fail.
"What has to be absolutely clear is that we do not have another year to sit on our hands until Mexico," where the next annual UN talks after Copenhagen are due to take place, de Boer said, stressing that this December presents a "unique window of opportunity".
China and US will not sign bilateral agreement on targets
Meanwhile, ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit to China next month, US climate envoy Todd Stern said the United States did not expect to sign a landmark agreement on carbon emissions targets with China.
"I don’t think we are getting any agreement per se," Stern said.
A deal between China and the United States – the biggest emitters in the world, together accounting for about 40% of greenhouse gases – could help unlock a Copenhagen accord.
The two countries are expected to agree to deepen cooperation on clean energy ahead of Copenhagen.
1.3. EU summit might fail on climate funding
27 October 2009, EurActiv
EU leaders are set for difficult talks as they meet this week (29-30 October) to reach an agreement on funding under a new climate treaty ahead of the UN-led Copenhagen conference in December.
As Copenhagen approaches, the pressure is on to find consensus at the highest political level on the exact figures that the EU is willing to put on the table to secure a new climate treaty. The bloc has been postponing the decision since last spring, and the June summit settled on hammering out all the details at the October European Council.
Nevertheless, it appears increasingly unlikely that EU heads of state and government will be able to present concrete sums to fund emissions reductions and climate adaptation measures in developing countries after finance ministers last week failed to find agreement. The talks stalled on objections from Eastern European member states, which want upfront funding before the climate treaty starts in 2013 to be voluntary.
EU diplomats told EurActiv that there is a "real chance" that no conclusions on funding will emerge from this week’s summit.
The EU is still looking for the best tactics to ensure that developing countries do not treat its proposal as an initial offer and start bargaining for a better deal, a senior official said. He noted that one of the large member states, France, is still spearheading a position that money should not be put on the table yet.
If no financing decision is made this time around, EU leaders will give it another shot at the European Council on 10-11 December. A deal then would be struck just in time to finalise a negotiating position for the UN climate conference, the final days of which EU leaders will attend before the conference ends on 17 December.
Surplus credits spell problems
Another outstanding point likely to feature on the leaders’ agenda is the treatment of unused pollution credits left over from the Kyoto Protocol (EurActiv 22/10/09). In the EU, many Eastern European countries are sitting on large amounts of credit, called Assigned Amount Units (AAUs), as their emissions have fallen since the fall of communism led to massive deindustrialisation.
Poland , for example, insists that it should be able to reap the benefits of its efforts to build new infrastructure by selling its surplus after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. Germany, on the other hand, has said that all unused credits should be cancelled.
Much will depend on whether Germany is willing to buy out Poland, both in terms of surplus permits and financing, a diplomat said.
EU environment ministers failed to reach an agreement last week, saying that they would return to the issue later on.
Meanwhile, Sweden’s Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren is keen to organise an extra Environment Council at the end of November to address such outstanding issues, EurActiv has learned. The Swedish Presidency is now waiting to see what comes out of the discussions at this week’s summit to assess the need for an additional meeting.
1.4. East-West divide stalls EU climate funding talks
30 October 2009, EurActiv
The first day of the European summit ended without an agreement on climate funding for developing countries, as Hungary and Poland led opposition to proposals that would share the burden among EU states by placing a significant emphasis on emission levels.
Nine Central and East European member states want any internal burden-sharing to be based mainly on wealth rather than on emissions, as this would significantly reduce their contributions. But the Swedish Presidency was looking for a deal on a distribution key that would have "a considerable weight on emission levels".
Hungarian Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai said that the proposal was "not acceptable" for the less prosperous Eastern member states.
The coalition, led by Poland, argues that emphasising emissions will give countries like Sweden a major advantage as it is already one of Europe’s most energy-efficient economies. According to the European Commission’s calculations, if the distribution key were based only on GDP, Sweden would pay almost the same sum as Poland, whereas a combination of 75% greenhouse gases and 25% GDP would bring down Sweden’s share to roughly a third of that of Poland.
"We will no accept a situation where Romania pay more than Denmark, and Poland pay more than the Nederlends," a Polish diplomat said. "It will be not fair."
"If we pay according to GNP, the country’s share will be five million euros a year, while if it is according to emissions, it would be 38 million," said a Bulgarian diplomat, quoted by the daily Trud.
The agreement is seen as crucial to unblocking stalled UN negotiations to agree on a new climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol in December in Copenhagen.
Moreover, negotiations on fast-track funding for the period leading up to the entry into force of the new treaty, expected between 2010 and 2012, stalled on the demands of the nine that contributions to these funds should be voluntary. The European Commission estimates the international financing required to be in the order of 5-7 billion euros per year, of which the EU could pay at least €500 million (EurActiv 11/09/09).
The Swedish Presidency was eyeing an agreement that would commit all EU member states to contributing a share of any upfront costs.
The heads of states and government will return to the negotiating table today to try to agree on a new proposal by the Swedish Presidency. This states that EU contributions to fast-track as well as long-term financing will take into account the financial constraints of poorer member states, according to reports.
"We hope to reach agreement on climate financing tomorrow," European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said after the talks yesterday.
1.5. Europe’s choice: fall behind or forge ahead on climate
28 October 2009, WWF
Brussels, Belgium – Europe can choose a path to prosperity on a new economic footing or continue to fumble along the dead end track of propping up fading industries, WWF said today in advance of tomorrow’s key European Council meeting which is expected to largely shape the EU position heading into the UN climate summit in Copenhagen in December.
“The choices on climate change in front of Europe’s leaders on Thursday and Friday are not complicated,” said Jason Anderson, Head of EU Climate and Energy Policy, WWF European Policy Office.
“In a world where other countries are counting the economic costs of climate catastrophe and assessing the economic benefits of new clean energy sources, Europe can either fall behind or forge ahead on the basis of this week’s decisions.
“Europe can support and play a fair role in financing a legally binding climate deal in Copenhagen or it can be a spectator to others taking the opportunities.”
It has been estimated that the global market for environmental goods and services will more than double to around EUR 1.4 trillion by 2020. In the EU, jobs in the environmental sector have already overtaken sectors such as car manufacturing, but this growth is influenced by regulatory certainty globally, regionally and nationally.
“Europe’s dilemma is clearly illustrated by the wildly differing outcomes of the ministerials running up to the Heads of State gathering,” Anderson said.
“Economics ministers couldn’t agree on the vital question of helping the developing world adapt to climate change and create its own low carbon economy.
“Environment ministers were the ones out laying the basis of a new economy and a future less fraught with costly climate chaos. It was the environment ministers who pointed out that the European way of handing out carbon pollution permits to big polluters is continuing to stifle the fledgling carbon markets. And it is the environment ministers who are starting to edge towards the binding emissions reductions targets that are going to be necessary.
“WWF – and the world – would prefer that Europe’s leaders go with the clarity of the environmental advice rather than the confusion of the economic advice,” Anderson said.
“Otherwise the bloc that once considered itself the leader on climate and the environment will just slip further and further behind. If they mirror their economics ministers in not being able to make a decision, Europe will end up not even following in any satisfactory way.”
1.6. Copenhagen ambition level only 1% stronger than Kyoto
28 October 2009, CAN Europe, Press release
Climate Action Network (CAN)-Europe, Europe’s leading
NGO coalition on climate and energy issues, today published a report  prepared by Point Carbon with a dire analysis of proposed greenhouse gas reductions. The report concludes that the emissions reduction targets currently on the table for Copenhagen, in combination with surplus emission rights left over from the Kyoto period, would result in only a 1% additional decrease in emissions over what was agreed in Kyoto 12 years ago.
The report points to the carry over of surplus emissions rights, or “hot-air”, which could threaten the environmental integrity of a new climate agreement. European leaders are meeting in Brussels this week and will decide on an EU negotiating mandate for the Copenhagen summit on this Kyoto surplus issue. “Because of all this “hot air,” combined with current weak reduction pledges by developed countries, we will only see a negligible decrease in emissions after 2012,” said Matthias Duwe, Director of Climate Action Network Europe.
Carrying over emissions rights through 2020 would result in an emissions decrease of only 6% total, in sharp contrast with the 25-40% reductions scientists say are required for this period in order to avoid dangerous climate change. “European leaders must now step up and close this dangerous loophole as part of their negotiating mandate for Copenhagen,” asserted Tomas Wyns, CAN-E Senior Policy Officer. “We also urge EU leaders to raise the ambition of their current weak 20% emissions reduction target to a level consistent with the latest climate science.”
The report presents a list of options to help European leaders to make an informed decision on how to deal with the “surplus” of Kyoto emission rights and safeguard environmental strength in Copenhagen.
2.1. EU summit to back 95% emissions reduction goal
29 October 2009, EurActiv
Europe will attempt to reassert its global leadership on climate change during a two-day summit kicking off today in Brussels (29-30 October), with EU leaders set to back emissions reductions "of at least 80-95%" for the developed world by 2050, according to a draft statement obtained by EurActiv.
The EU’s pledge comes as part of international negotiations on climate change to take place in Copenhagen next month but will only become effective if other developed nations follow suit.
"The European Union is at the forefront of efforts to fight climate change," the draft summit statement reads. "It supports an EU objective […] to reduce emissions by 80-95% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels."
Last year, the European Union committed to reducing its emissions by 20% unilaterally by 2020, regardless of what other countries do.
This week, EU leaders will reiterate their pledge to raise this target to 30% "provided that other developed countries commit themselves to comparable emissions reductions" and that emerging economies such as China and India "contribute adequately" according to their emissions levels and "capabilities".
"The EU’s commitment to step up to the 30% target hinges entirely on other countries making comparable commitments," an EU diplomat stressed before the summit meeting.
EU’s climate leadership a hoax?
However, the EU’s self-acclaimed leadership on climate change came under fire from Sandbag, a UK-based campaign group, which said the 2020 pledge was essentially a hoax. "Far from leading the world with ambitious reduction targets, the EU is hiding behind clever accounting and in fact pledging to do very little," the group said.
According to Sandbag, this is because emissions cuts in Europe to date have mainly come from unrelated macro-economic circumstances, including post-communist de-industrialisation in Eastern Europe in the early 1990s. "Using a 1990 baseline for cutting emissions makes Europe’s effort look unfairly good compared to other parts of the world," the group said.
"When considered in this context, the EU’s conditional offer of a 30% reduction by 2020 is in reality only a 10% reduction in domestic emissions from current levels. By 2010, we will have already achieved a 10% cut against 1990 and half of the remaining effort to meet the 20% target is likely to be met through purchasing permits from overseas, giving a domestic reduction of only 10% over a decade."
Climate aid deadlock
In addition, EU leaders are expected to fall short of an agreement on finances to help developing nations switch to clean energy (EurActiv 27/10/09).
"The primary political battleground is whether to release figures in advance of Copenhagen or not," an EU diplomat said.
The European Commission has suggested that developed nations could contribute between €20-50 billion per year by 2020. The figure corresponds to the overall level of international public support and should be "subject to a fair burden sharing at the global level," the EU summit conclusions read.
But some member states are calling for more specific commitments, with the UK saying the agreed range should be narrowed down to €30-40 bn, the EU diplomat said. Denmark and Netherlands also want clear concrete numbers.
At the other end of the scale, Germany is pushing strongly not to agree on specific numbers in advance of the Copenhagen meeting. Meanwhile, Poland and other Central and Eastern European countries are absolutely opposed to the EU putting a figure on the table without knowing first how the burden will be shared internally. Their concern is that they would end up paying more than they can afford (EurActiv 21/10/09).
Sarkozy to the rescue?
Diplomats say they are now watching closely what the French position will be and whether they will side with the UK or Germany. "Sarkozy is viewed as a key player but it is currently unclear as to which direction he will veer," the diplomat said.
2.2. Commission waters down CO2 proposal for vans
29 October 2009, EurActiv
The European Commission has caved in to industry and member-state pressure and significantly backtracked on earlier ambitions to introduce legally-binding CO2 cuts for new vans and minibuses.
The Commission presented a draft EU regulation to reduce average CO2 emissions from new vans yesterday (28 October).
According to the EU executive, vans account for around 12% of the market for light-duty vehicles and should therefore be covered by its strategy to reduce vehicle emissions.
Yesterday’s proposal follows similar legislation governing CO2 emissions from passenger cars, which was agreed last year and came into force in April 2009 (EurActiv 02/12/08).
The draft proposes a 175g CO2/km limit for new vans registered in the EU from 2016. While the proposed limit is the same as in earlier drafts, manufacturers have been given four more years to comply, with earlier proposals imposing the target from 2012. CO2 emissions from vans currently average 200g/km.
A further intermediate limit of 160g/km for 2016 was also dropped.
The 2020 target is set at 135g CO2/km, but may not be mandatory as suggested by previous drafts.
The Commission is proposing that the 175g CO2/km target be phased in from 2014 according to indicative emissions established for each van according to its weight, based on an emissions limit curve in the draft regulation. Each manufacturer’s target will be calculated "as the average of the indicative emissions of all the vans for which it is responsible in a given year," the proposal reads.
The draft proposes that from 2014, manufacturers must ensure that 75% of their vehicles have average emissions below their target of 80% as of 2015.
Only fleet average regulated
The draft regulation’s limit value curve is set in such a way that a fleet-wide average of 175g CO2/km is achieved for the EU as a whole.
This means that only the fleet average is regulated, allowing manufacturers to make vehicles with emissions above the limit value curve "provided these are balanced by other vehicles which are below the curve".
The proposal foresees penalties for auto makers that fail to comply with the regulation. But "most manufacturers are expected to meet the target set by the legislation, so significant penalties should be avoided," the Commission stated.
The fines will vary according to "the degree of exceedance" of a manufacturer’s average emission limit levels. Fines are proposed amounting to €5 for the first excess gramme, €15 for the second, €25 for the third and €120 for subsequent grammes.
An earlier draft had set the fine at €120 per excess gramme.
Industry lobbying pays off
Earlier this month, France, Germany and Italy called on the EU executive to weaken or delay the proposals, arguing that the time was not right to impose such measures (EurActiv 14/10/09). EU Industry Commissioner Günter Verheugen also backed powerful automakers’ calls to soften the proposal.
The industry had also hoped to see the dossier handed over to the next Commission, but environmental NGOs like Greenpeace and Transport & Environment (T&E) lobbied heavily for it to be published by the current one.
2.3. ‘Investment strategy’ needed to cut emissions
27 October 2009, EurActiv
The EU should look into pouring a high proportion of carbon revenues into energy efficiency, but not before an institutional framework to reallocate the money efficiently is in place, Richard Cowart, director of European programmes for the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP), told EurActiv in an interview.
"A successful cap-and-trade programme will be designed as a market-based overlay on an entire suit of clean energy policies," Cowart stressed, pointing out that as an advisor to cap-and-trade designers in the US, he learned from experience that three-quarters of targeted emission reductions would need to come from complementary policies.
The highest priority should be given to energy efficiency, where countries across the globe are underperforming, the energy advisor argued.
"Every time there is a research decision to be made, the first question should be, ‘can we [… ] meet this need through deeper investment in energy efficiency rather than adding additional supply?" he stressed.
While the US has been looking at the EU’s emissions trading scheme (EU ETS; see EurActiv LinksDossier) when working out the details of its proposed cap-and trade system, Europe could learn from the emphasis placed on energy efficiency in the draft American climate legislation, Cowart argued. He pointed out that the only similar provision in the reviewed ETS from 2013 is a mechanism to set aside credits for carbon capture and storage (CCS; see EurActiv LinksDossier) and innovative renewable energy projects.
"The Waxman-Markey bill that passed the House has provisions that would permit a significant fraction of carbon revenues to be dedicated to end-use energy efficiency and other clean energy technologies," the advisor said. This all stems from experiences in California and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in north-east USA, he pointed out.
"We discovered in doing the models for RGGI that a cap-and-trade programme would be much less costly to consumers if, number one, allowances were auctioned, and number two, those auction revenues were invested in clean energy programmes, especially energy efficiency. I call this the cap-and-invest strategy," he said.
As a result, the RGGI ended up allocating almost 80% of allowance value to clean energy, most of it to energy efficiency.
Nevertheless, Cowart cautioned, the propotion of revenues that should be allocated to the low-carbon transition is a matter of judgement, depending on factors like carbon prices. Moreover, countries will have to consider whether there is the capacity to "prudently invest the revenues in efficiency and low-carbon power in each programme year" or whether the amount should increase over time as the capacity of individual programmes ramps up, he emphasised.
A high share was appropriate for RGGI that generates relatively little revenue as a result of a fairly low carbon price, ranging between $2 and $3 per tonne, the advisor pointed out. But the EU would have a much larger amount of money to invest if it decided to earmark a similar share of ETS revenues to low-carbon measures, he said.
"Right now, if we tried to dump a huge amount of money in energy efficiency in many member states, we don’t have the institutional capacity to spend that money wisely and cost-effectively," Cowart said. "While I’d like to see a strong practice throughout the member states of recycling carbon revenue particularly for efficiency but possibly for other low-carbon policies, I would also of course want to work with any member-state government to figure out how to really cost-effectively and intelligently build programmes so that over time we get there.
As a result, Europe should over time get to the point where it spends half of its ETS revenues on the transition as recommended in the directive, the advisor said.
"The other half might be spent on alleviating fuel poverty, assisting industries that are impacted by the carbon policy, or perhaps investing in the assistance that is needed for less developed countries in order to support a global deal," Cowart added. He warned against treating carbon revenue simply as another source of government funding without targeting it at meeting climate objectives.
3.1. Barcelona hosts Climate Change talks next week
31 October 2009, China View
The Catalan city of Barcelona nextweek is the venue for the final round of talks on Climate Change before the Convention of Parties (COP15 meeting) to be held in Copenhagen in December.
The delegates in Barcelona will discuss the text of the texts of two previous working groups with the aim of drawing up a further text that will hopefully lead to a final agreement in Copenhagen.
The purpose is to try to work within the framework of the KyotoProtocol and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of the industrialized counties beyond 2012.
The talks will be divided into five blocks, each dealing with adifferent aspect of the problems to be faces. These areas are: Shared vision, adaptation, mitigation, financing and the transfer of technology.
Among the difficulties to be faces is that of to what levels greenhouse gases should be cut. Developing nations such as China and India have agreed to cut emissions by 40% of their 1990 levelsby 2020. EU nations meanwhile have promised to reduce their emissions by 20%.
However, that percentage could increase if the USA and possibly Japan are willing to make a commitment to even higher cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.
It is hoped the new US administration will be more willing thatthe Bush government and there are also hopes of a better understanding between the USA and China.
Over 4,000 delegates and observers will descend on Barcelona for the talks, which will be held between Nov. 2 and Nov. 6.
Disclaimer: We do not guarantee for the accuracy, reliability or content of information. For help or questions, contact: [email protected].