1.1. "Roadmap" to tackle climate change
23 August 2010, Xinhuanet
The United Nations has high hopes that the Shanghai Declaration will become a "useful roadmap" for tackling climate change and other environmental, urban and social issues, Awni Behnam, assistant secretary-general of the UN, said over the weekend.
The declaration, the key document of Expo 2010 Shanghai, aims to set a new milestone in the history of World Expos by issuing a set of proposals for using clean energy, an area in which China is emerging as a world leader, building greener communities and dealing with aging populations, among other issues.
"This has been a serious Expo, an Expo that has touched on this important theme," Behnam said.
"The declaration will give us a useful roadmap for dealing with climate change and many other pressing issues It has a moral value that depends on the political goodwill of its signatories to implement it."
The declaration, which is being closely supervised by the UN and the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination, aims to summarize six months of forums and discussions featuring input from the Expo’s 246 participating countries, regions and international organizations.
It will be released when the Expo ends on Oct 31, just weeks before the UN’s climate talks resume in Cancun in December after last year’s meeting in Copenhagen ended in a frustrating stalemate.
Organizers of the document hope it will serve as a stepping-stone toward constructive policy making forged in the spirit of goodwill and collaborative effort, which have become hallmarks of the World Expo.
"We have to get a hold of climate change, lower our carbon emissions, stop our destruction of the seas and learn to live in a sustainable fashion with and from the resources at our disposal," said Behnam.
Behnam, who as commissioner-general of the UN Pavilion placed a statue of a polar bear outside its gates to press home the importance of conserving the environment, said China was leading the charge to build a greener economy.
"I believe there’s a commitment from China (to new energy) that’s remarkable. It’s doing a lot more than other nations in this field," he said.
Last year China emerged as the world’s biggest spender on new energy, a trend that looks set to continue this year as policymakers map out electric bus networks in Shanghai, and use the Expo as a test ground for the commercialization of vehicles powered by fuel cell.
Such moves are welcomed by the 44 UN agencies operating for the first time under one roof at a World Expo in Shanghai. Some 35 percent of them address problems related to climate change.
The UN Pavilion welcomed its 1.5 millionth visitor last week.
1.2. Russian Heat Wave Dents Hopes of climate "winners"
23 August 2010, Planet Ark
Russia’s summer heat wave has dimmed prospects that northern countries will "win" from climate change thanks to factors such as longer crop-growing seasons or fewer deaths from winter cold, experts say.
Canada, Nordic countries and Russia have been portrayed as among a lucky few chilly nations where moderate climate change will mean net benefits such as lower winter heating bills, more forest and crop growth and perhaps more summer tourism.
Russia’s two-month heat wave — blamed on global warming by President Dmitry Medvedev even though many experts say it is impossible to link individual weather events to climate change — is likely to shift the perceptions of risks.
"There ought to be, coming out of this, a greater awareness that many hazards come with climate change," said Kevin Trenberth, head of climate analysis at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.
"It’s not a matter of a benign shift to a longer growing season" for northern nations, he said. Russia’s heat wave doubled death rates in Moscow, wrecked a quarter of Russia’s grain crop and may cut $14 billion from gross domestic product.
Many people in Nordic nations and Canada have grown aware of possible damaging side-effects of less chill weather, including the risk to forests and crops of insect pests normally kept in check by winter frosts.
But that belief is less widespread in Russia, where Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has in the past sometimes spoken about benefits of global warming. As president, in 2002 he joked that less icy weather would enable Russians to buy fewer fur coats.
"By and large, Canadians understand that there may be benefits but climate change is going to be bad," said Steven Guilbeault, of Canadian environmental group Equiterre. Extreme weather in 2010 "is going to help people understand the risks."
He said government policy did not match the urgency felt by the public. Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions were 24 percent above 1990 levels in 2008, despite a promise under the U.N.’s Kyoto Protocol to cut them to 6 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12.
Russia’s emissions were 33 percent below 1990 levels in 2008, partly due to the collapse of high-polluting Soviet industries, and well within its Kyoto goal of keeping emissions below 1990 levels by 2012.
Moscow plans to let emissions rise from current levels by 2020, despite pleas by many nations for a tougher goal.
A study in Norway in June showed farming and forestry could benefit from moderate global warming, blamed mainly on emissions of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels.
"The immediate effects are in general benefits" to economic growth, said Asbjoern Aaheim, lead author at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research, Oslo.
But there could be shocks, such as to fish stocks. And longer growing seasons were likely to have knock-on effects, such as more absence from work because of pollen-related illnesses.
Jay Gulledge, senior scientist at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, said predictions of climate "winners" and "losers" inevitably ignored many risks, for instance on Russia from Pakistan’s floods.
"Does Russia ‘win’ if the Taliban and other hardline extremists step in to fill the void left by an ineffectual government and international aid response to the floods in Pakistan?" he asked in a blog
2.1. China Renewables To Power Ahead Without CDM: Report
23 August 2010, Planet Ark
Green investment in China will forge ahead even without a United Nations carbon offset scheme, eventually shriveling the country’s dominant role in a program that has underpinned billions of dollars in investment.
Investors are sidestepping the Clean Development Mechanism in China because of uncertainties over its future, a Citibank carbon executive told Reuters in an interview in Singapore.
"CDM investment in China has pretty much dried up," said Nan Li, head of Asian environmental markets for Citi, who sources carbon offsets for trading products to manage price risk. "People are betting on the future of renewable energy without CDM."
China is the largest player in the $2.7 billion U.N. scheme, which rewards clean energy investors in developing nations with valuable carbon credits that make the projects viable.
The scheme is part of the Kyoto Protocol, whose first phase ends in 2012, leaving the CDM’s shape unclear after that in the absence of a broader climate pact. Long delays in project approvals have also deterred investors.
China took top spot in global clean energy finance and investments in 2009, with $34.6 billion, ahead of the United States at $18.6 billion, the Pew Charitable Trusts said.
Globally, clean energy investments are expected to grow 25 percent to $200 billion in 2010, the U.S.-based trust said.
China is also the top supplier of CDM offsets called certified emissions reductions, generating half the 428.6 million CERs issued to date.
CERs now trade on the European Climate Exchange at around 13.30 euros each and have surged this week on supply fears.
But new CDM investments in China were stalling because of policy uncertainties post-2012 and growing awareness of how tough it was to manage the risks associated with such investments, Li said.
Key issues include the current and future prices of CERs, the U.N. process and whether or not companies should adopt new transacting methods on carbon assets.
Asian firms needed to mirror European companies by wrapping carbon into their commodity risk management plans instead of treating it almost as an afterthought.
But many Asian companies were still trading the way they were a couple of years ago, Li said. This meant limited evolution for the market if it did not change.
China has 925 CDM projects registered of a global total of 2,326 with more than 1,000 awaiting approval, while no.2 ranked India has 520 registered projects and Brazil 175.
Li saw few opportunities in the Asia market now, but pointed to the probable development of bilateral offset projects between rich and developing nations, such as Japan is exploring.
He also said China might set up a domestic trading scheme in the medium term. "My guess is within the next 5 years, rather toward the end of 2015, the end of the 12th 5-year plan."
The CDM’s governing panel has been seen to be increasingly tough on Chinese projects, last month rejecting 19 wind and hydro projects for not meeting a key benchmark by showing they needed the additional CERs to be viable.
"I actually think the panel is quite keen to increase the total number of projects," Li said, although red tape and the board’s limited resources conspired to lengthen the queue of Chinese projects awaiting approval.
2.2. Areva nuclear component manufacturing facility delayed to 2013
20 August 2010, Platts
Areva will delay until 2013 the start of manufacturing nuclear power reactor components at a facility being built in Virginia, a company spokesman said Friday.
Areva Newport News, a joint venture of Areva NP and Northrop Grumman, is building the 330,000-square-foot facility at Northrop’s shipyard in Newport News, Virginia. When ground was broken July 2009 for the facility, the companies said manufacturing would begin in mid-2012. The plant represents a $360 million investment, Areva said at the time. Heavy components for Areva power reactors, such as reactor vessels and steam generators, will be manufactured at the facility, including components for its US-EPR design that utilities in Maryland, Missouri and Pennsylvania are considering for construction.
Areva spokesman Jarret Adams said Friday in an interview that the start-up date for the Newport News facility was postponed because of reduced economic growth and other factors that have "caused some of our customers to slow plans" to build new power reactors. Adams would not name those customers and declined to provide more specific expected dates for completion of construction or the start of manufacturing.
The companies said in July 2009 that the facility would employ more than 500 workers. Adams acknowledged Friday that "moving the operational date will probably have an impact on the number of people that will be working in the facility in 2012," but he said that is "one of the things we’re still looking at," but did not provide details.
Adams emphasized that the delay is because of "external factors" affecting their customers’ schedules and "the construction project is going very well." Areva and Northrop Grumman "remain fully committed to the project and its completion" and are "very positive on the market for nuclear components" in the US and abroad, he said.
UniStar Nuclear Energy, a joint venture of Constellation Energy and EDF Group, is seeking a license from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build and operate a US-EPR at the site. Constellation Chairman, President and CEO Mayo Shattuck said in a July 28 conference call with analysts on second-quarter earnings that Constellation will continue to fund preliminary work for Calvert Cliffs-3, but not beyond the end of the year. During the call, Constellation Energy officials expressed "frustration" at DOE’s pace in making a decision on whether to offer the company a loan guarantee for its nuclear project.
AmerenUE also selected the US-EPR design for a new reactor it was considering building at its Callaway plant in Missouri. That project was indefinitely suspended in April 2009 after the Missouri state legislature failed to approve legislation that would have allowed the utility to recover financing costs for the project from ratepayers during construction. PPL is considering building two US-EPRs at the Bell Bend plant at a greenfield site in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, near its two-unit Susquehanna plant.
3.1. U.N. Panel To Review CER Request From 5th HFC Plant
23 August 2010, Planet Ark
A United Nations panel will review a carbon offset request from a fifth greenhouse gas destroying plant, the UN said on Friday, a sign that all similar projects approved under a Kyoto Protocol carbon finance scheme will be scrutinized.
The UN’s climate arm said on its website it would review a request for offsets, called Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs), from the Zhejiang Juhua project in China, which makes money by destroying a potent greenhouse gas called HFC-23.
The project was approved under Kyoto’s $2.7 billion Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which helps fund cuts in carbon emissions in emerging economies.
It is the fifth HFC-23 project this week to have its CER issuance request face an additional review by the CDM’s executive board. It had requested 1.44 million CERs for abatement activities between September and November 2009.
The project’s investors include Japan’s Marubeni, JGC Corp. and Daioh Construction, according to data from a UN agency.
Four other Chinese HFC-23 projects are to have their requests reviewed after environmental groups earlier this year alleged that the projects were intentionally boosting their emissions in order to then destroy them and collect more CERs.
Issuance requests from the five projects total 9.2 million tonnes of CERs.
Benchmark CER futures prices were down two cents to 13.35 euros a tonne at 1046 GMT after hitting 13.60 euros earlier on Friday, the highest level since May 12.
3.2. China closes factories as green deadline looms
22 Auust 2010, AFP
China, facing the risk of embarrassment if it misses a looming environmental deadline, has ordered thousands of companies to close high-polluting plants as its leadership vies to retool economic growth.
Beijing has pledged to slash China’s energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product by 20 percent between 2006 and 2010, as the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter seeks to reduce pollution and clean up its environment.
Official data suggest China is likely to miss the year-end deadline — potentially causing red faces for top leaders who have trumpeted efforts to curb emissions growth and develop renewable energy.
"It is a gesture to show that the country is trying its best to achieve the target," Andy Xie, an independent economist based in Shanghai, told AFP.
"The leaders need to save face."
Beijing this month ordered 2,087 firms producing steel, coal, cement, aluminium, glass and other materials to close their old and obsolete plants by the end of September — or risk having bank loans frozen and power cut off.
Authorities in the eastern province of Anhui have reportedly already cut off electricity to more than 500 factories for a month after they failed to meet emission reduction targets.
But only about a dozen factories will be closed entirely, with the rest ordered to shut down specific production capacity, according to the government order.
Tianjin Tiangang Union Iron and Steel Co. in northern China, for example, has been told to close two furnaces while Chaofeng Construction Materials Co., also based in northern China, has been told to shutter two production lines.
The move comes after China in July scrapped preferential power rates for energy-intensive industries, which had reduced their electricity bills by an estimated 15 billion yuan (2.2 billion dollars), according to state media.
Leaders in Beijing have been keen to promote their green credentials.
Ahead of global climate talks in Copenhagen last year, they pledged to reduce China’s carbon intensity — the measure of greenhouse gas emitted per unit of economic activity — by 40-45 percent by 2020 based on 2005 levels.
China has earmarked 738 billion dollars to invest in developing clean energy over the next decade as it seeks to meet a target of generating 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources — mainly wind and water — by 2020.
It will host an extra round of climate talks in October before a UN summit in Mexico at the end of the year, as nations attempt to devise a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, whose binding targets expire in 2012.
"If Beijing fails to hit the 2010 target by a wide margin, its credibility on climate change commitments will be subject to a great deal of international scepticism," said Damien Ma, an analyst with the New York-based Eurasia Group, a political risk research and consulting firm.
At the end of 2009, China had reduced its energy consumption per unit of GDP by 14 percent, analysts said. But in the first six months of this year, it rose 0.09 percent — the first year-on-year increase since 2006.
Striking a balance between maintaining economic growth and reducing pollution is difficult, Australian academic Frank Jotzo told AFP.
"They have got a really big battle at hand with the very rapid expansion of the economy," said Jotzo, deputy director of the Climate Change Institute at Australian National University.
While previous attempts to close high-polluting factories have been less than successful — new plants often rise from the ashes of the old ones — the stakes are much higher this time, analysts say.
The central government has been "leaning hard" on local officials, threatening to rescind their promotions if they fail to meet energy reduction targets, said Ma.
"I think the government understands that if it misses the 20 percent target, it will reflect very badly on China’s reputation," said Yang Ailun, climate and energy campaign manager at Greenpeace China.
Yang likened the closure of factories to putting a band-aid over China’s pollution woes, which have been worsened by decades of rampant economic growth.
"These factories should be phased out but it would be much better for the government to send out a very clear and long-term (energy) pricing signal and then design effective policies in support of that," she said.
4.1. Seoul to bring G20 leaders’ attention to ‘green growth’
22 August 2010, The Korea Times
The global economic crisis triggered by the U.S. subprime mortgage meltdown has steered the global economy in a new direction, forcing many countries around the world to follow a new expansion paradigm, “green growth.”
For sustainable and balanced development, governments in major countries have come up with green initiatives to get the upper hand in the new area, which they believe will determine the future of their economies.
However, there has been slow progress in reaching a global consensus on the issue due to different perspectives between developed and emerging countries. Against this backdrop, Korea is seeking to take an initiative in coming up with workable solutions at the G20 Seoul Summit by tabling the agenda to the business summit table.
In an interview with The Korea Times, Young Soo-gil, chairman of the Presidential Committee on Green Growth, said, “The agenda for the summit will be crowded with other issues of pressing priorities to allow much discussion on green growth. The Korean G20 Summit Preparatory Committee is aiming for mainstream advancement on the agenda for the summit, and so ‘development’ will be a prominent theme.”
“This will hopefully allow President Lee Myung-bak to bring the attention of the G20 Leaders to the value of the theme of green growth as a catalyst for global cooperation in many development dimensions,” he added.
He pointed out that progress on global emissions reduction is being hampered by particular difficulties the developing countries face in trying to contain and cut down their own greenhouse gas emissions.
“These difficulties arise from their need to maintain high economic growth in order to fight poverty and improve their living standards. Difficulties also arise from their lack of appropriate capacities to implement projects for mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change,” he said.
Young said that Korea is seeking to take a lead in the global green growth drive by sharing its knowledge and experience.
“Korea would like to help those developing countries harmonize their growth aspirations with the environmental ones by sharing its green growth tool kits and experiences, as well as by working together to undertake specific mitigation and adaptation projects in cost-effective and growth-friendly ways in individual countries,” he said.
“Korea is also willing to take leadership in the international efforts to help build physical infrastructures in the developing countries in climate-change resilient ways. For these purposes, Korea is to make green growth partnership a leading component of its increased ODA (Official Development Assistance) commitment as a new member of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC),” he added.
As part of this effort, Korea has launched the East Asia Climate Partnership (EACP). Most significantly, on July 16 of this year, the Korean government launched a Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) based in Seoul.
“Korea hopes to develop GGGI into an international treaty-based institution by 2012 with support from other countries which share belief in the value of green growth as well as of sharing insights, know-how and experiences on it,” he said.
“The Green Growth Committee also hopes that Korea’s green growth inspirations will play a facilitating role in making a breakthrough over the issue of how to reconcile economic, social and environmental development objectives at the Rio plus 20 Conference on Sustainable Development to be held in 2012,” he added.
The following is the transcript of the interview.
Q: Could you tell us about Korea’s efforts on green growth over the past years?
A: For the last two years since President Lee proclaimed green growth as Korea’s vision in his commemorative speech on the 63rd anniversary of the nation’s liberation from the Japanese occupation in August 2008, the government has diligently undertaken a series of preparatory measures to create many important framework conditions necessary for pursuing green growth.
A number of major blueprints have been introduced including the National Strategy for Green Growth (for the next 60 years) and the Five-Year Plan for Green Growth. The Presidential Committee on Green Growth which consists of leading civilian experts and the relevant ministers was established.
In order to implement the five-year plan, the committee has introduced more than 20 major action plans which purport to reframe Korea’s industrial activities and people’s lives. Those include a declaration in November last year of the nation’s greenhouse emissions reduction target for the year 2020 of minus 30 percent relative to the business-as-usual (BAU) scenario.
All of these measures have helped to popularize the word “green.” Many civic groups and local forums have sprung up to advocate and study a green Korea and green towns. Korean households are now increasingly trying to make their life-styles green. Many businesses, and especially all big businesses, have declared “green management,” which is now a new and important component of their value propositions for the consumers and the society.
Many small and medium businesses, especially venture businesses, are seriously looking for opportunities in green innovation. All these green developments were unimaginable only two years ago. Inevitably, there could be some “green washing” here and there. But I think that even this is a welcome sign of Korea’s turning green.
I believe that Korea has entered into what the German environmentalists call “ecological modernization” ― the final phase of modernization that advanced countries should find themselves in. The last two years have thus been a preparatory period for pursuing Korea’s green growth. Much of the work done has served to create the framework conditions necessary for the launching of green growth in earnest.
Q: You are heading the 2nd-phase Presidential Committee for Green Growth. Could you tell us on which part the 2nd phase committee will focus to boost green growth?
The committee will focus on seven priority tasks for the next year or so for this purpose. To name just a few of them, one is to prepare to implement the nation’s greenhouse emissions reduction target by allocating it to individual sectors (like industry, transportation and construction) and specific entities while also devising the enforcement of their implementation.
This task includes work to prepare for the introduction of an emission rights trading system. Another task is to launch the work to facilitate the development and commercialization of 10 “core” green technologies in the near term.
Other tasks include work to facilitate the improvement of energy efficiency and deployment of new and renewable energies in Korea’s leading industries such as steel, shipbuilding, cement, automobiles and semi-conductors. Another priority task is to rationalize the energy pricing while introducing environment-friendly tax reform.
Q: Korea expects the Seoul Summit to help improve the undervalued image of Korea? Do you think that the so-called Korea discount will disappear after the international gathering? What kind of steps should Korea take to upgrade its global brand?
A: Korea’s hosting of the G20 Summit will certainly help improve Korea’s images and brands abroad by informing the world that Korea has joined a ‘steering group for global economic management’, especially if Korea as the chair country successfully secures a meaningful outcome at the Summit.
But let’s face it ― images and brands are not formed or reformed overnight, and certainly not by a single event, and Korea’s image and brand abroad shape up over time as the international community observes and witnesses how Koreans conduct their ordinary business life.
What is really important from this perspective is how much of an impact the summit will have on the people’s and the politicians’ international mindedness at home. Are Korea’s image and brand undervalued? I will agree that there is room for improving those images and brands but I also think that the key to this objective should be in “improving” the way we, Koreans, behave at home, rather than in international public-relations campaigns.
So, the challenges in nation branding are more fundamental than the political leaders seem to recognize. If we think that there is a Korea discount, we should identity what in our behavior and society contributes to it and try to rectify that.
This calls for participatory actions by all those Korean people and institutions who and which consider themselves “patriotic” to do this. Political leaders, religious leaders, and media leaders, in particular, would prove themselves to be true leaders if they take the lead in doing this.
The necessary changes include those to bring new, creative and constructive value to the world. I think that a green Korea and its new green growth strategy as a solution to climate change, need for economic expansion and social improvement will help enhance Korea’s brand greatly by bringing such value to the world.
Q: Following the global financial crisis, the gravity of economic and political power is slowly shifting from the West (the U.S.) to the East (China). How should Korea position itself to emerge as a winner in the post-crisis world?
A: Korea can emerge from the current global crisis as an economically and politically enhanced country by taking advantage of the crisis in order to rebalance and restructure its economy, including its new green growth strategy.
The county can also seize the new opportunities offered by the launching of the G20 summit process in order to help broker new international cooperation on global developmental problems between the West and the East as a bridge country.
In addition, in order to create a critical mass of game-changers, it can practice President Lee Myung-bak’s “Me First” approach to help solve global problems by proposing to take cooperative action voluntarily and unilaterally, encouraging other countries to do the same. President Lee’s announcement of Korea’s ambitious and unilateral emissions reduction target in Copenhagen in December last year signified this approach.
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