1.1. Post-Kyoto treaty ‘possible but difficult’
19 August 2009, EurActiv
The August round of climate talks in Bonn made little progress on the critical issues of financing and intermediate targets, but a deal on a new climate agreement by the year’s end is still on the cards, Sweden’s climate negotiator Anders Turesson told EurActiv as he shared his impressions on the state of the international climate negotiations in an interview.
Few substantive discussions took place on the most difficult issues, but a positive step was New Zealand’s announcement of its midterm target, Turesson summed up. "It was also important was that there was deliberation on how to translate targets into commitments," he added.
The negotiator still firmly believes that it is possible to deliver a new treaty in Copenhagen, but conceded that it will be difficult. A significant outstanding question that remains is the "fundamental issue of who should do what" and to what extent developing countries should engage, he said.
In particular, how the engagement of poor countries should be codified in an international agreement will have to be thought out, according to Turesson. On top of this come the issues of funding, technology transfer and adaptation, which he identified as areas where common ground would still have to be found between poor and rich countries.
Sweden plays a key part in the negotiations on the EU side, as it holds the bloc’s rotating 6-month presidency until the end of the year. Turesson stated that his country would use "all the means available" to reach out to other parties in the various international meetings during the autumn.
"We are going to try to use them as best as possible, basically to explain the EU’s ideas and visions and try to convince others," he said.
The number one priority for Sweden will be to prepare the EU’s position for the talks in Copenhagen, Turesson said. "It is of pivotal importance of course that the Union has got its act together, that we have our positions, that we are ready to enhance our own commitment to go from the unilateral pledge of 20% to 30% in case we have a good agreement," he argued.
In order to take the step to increase its 2020 emissions reduction target to 30% below 1990 levels, the EU expects comparable commitments from developed countries and adequate commitments from developing nations, Turesson reiterated.
"Then of course we need to define these concepts," he stated, adding that the EU needs to be able to assess what other countries will do "in order to judge whether their efforts are indeed comparable or adequate". At the end of the day, this will require a political decision, he said, anticipating a long process.
The Swedish Presidency has a busy agenda for October when it hopes that the meetings of finance and environment ministers as well as the European summit will shed light on the EU’s preparedness to contribute to funding climate mitigation and adaptation in developing countries.
"I don’t know to what extent the EU is going to put money on the table and when, to be frank," he said, adding that the process of preparing for the G20 meeting in September could also bring some results.
The EU’s internal climate strategy hinges crucially on a price for carbon emissions, which was created by the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), Turesson noted. He added that the EU believes an OECD-wide carbon market by 2015 is a realistic ambition as other countries are starting to develop their own cap-and-trade systems as part of the international process.
"The whole thing will depend on whether trading systems that are now developed are compatible with each other. That remains to be seen," he concluded.
1.2. Choosing a green car
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1.3. Agency warns current climate proposals won’t work
20 August 2009, AP
Reversing global warming will cost up to $185 billion (euro130 billion) a year before 2020 and require more action by world governments than currently pledged, an international environmental analysis group said Thursday.
ClimateWorks Foundation said U.N. climate change talks would fail to reach a meaningful agreement with the proposals made so far, and that a new approach was needed.
"Climate change is a solvable problem, and the solution presents a major opportunity in terms of both economic growth and global development," said a report by the foundation’s European branch. But it warned that "current commitments and actions are insufficient" to ensure deep cuts by 2050 in carbon dioxide emissions.
ClimateWorks provides economic and environmental analysis for the U.N. talks aimed at reaching a new accord to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on reducing greenhouse gases.
The United Nations is convening a climate change summit Sept. 22 in New York, and more talks will be held during the Sept. 24-25 summit of G-20 nations in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The goal is to reach a final agreement at a December meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, to limit the warming of the Earth’s temperature to 2 degrees Celsius from preindustrial levels.
The ClimateWorks report estimated governments would have to spend $135 billion to $185 billion (euro95 billion to euro130 billion) a year between 2010 and 2020 on measures to save energy and develop low-carbon technologies, particularly in transportation and construction.
This spending figure also includes up to $114 billion (euro80 billion) annually in the 2010-2020 period to help poor countries meet climate change commitments — one of many still unresolved issues in the U.N. talks.
The figure is near the cost estimate given by the World Wildlife Fund’s Global Climate Initiative of $160 billion (euro112 billion). Others, however, have estimated fighting climate change will cost 1 percent of global gross domestic product — the equivalent of $400 billion (euro281 billion) annually.
The European Climate Foundation said Thursday today’s technologies were enough to slash emissions of polluting particles to 35 gigatons a year by 2030 — half of what they would be projected to reach with no action taken. But it said urgent action was needed by both rich and developing nations.
"We do not have the luxury of time to enter into a global climate agreement where developed countries move first and developing countries follow," it said in a report.
If warned that emissions will still rise if current offers from Europe, the United States and Japan were adopted.
"The technologies required are largely available today, the policies needed are known, and the costs are manageable," the European Climate Foundation report said.
The U.N. talks leading up to the Dec. 7-18 Copenhagen summit have been hobbled, however, by disagreement over who should be required to take action.
Poor countries want industrial nations take the lead in reversing global warming, while rich nations want developing ones also to commit to cutting emissions right away.
Rich countries agree the rise in the earth’s temperature must be kept to 2 degrees — to prevent low-lying nations such as the Maldives from flooding — but they disagree among themselves on a time scale to reach that target.
1.4. Tony Blair: Copenhagen climate summit must not be about ‘percentages’
20 August 2009, Telegrapf.co.uk
World leaders must not get bogged down in ‘precise percentages’ when they negotiate a successor the Kyoto climate change treaty in Copenhagen, Tony Blair has said.
Speaking in Beijing on Thursday, Mr Blair said leaders should trust in new technologies to put the world on a path to a greener future.
The former British prime minister called for a "realistic and practical" deal to be struck at the UN Summit in Copenhagen this December that would unleash the potential of green technology to solve the problem of global warming.
"We need to get an agreement that sets the world on a new path of sustainable consumption without getting obsessed with precise percentages," he said.
Mr Blair, who is working with the non-profit Climate Group to push for an agreement in December, welcomed recent reports that China is considering setting targets that will see its carbon emissions peak in 2030.
However he predicted the key to success in keeping climate change below the UN’s benchmark 2C would come down to as yet unforeseen developments in greener cars, buildings and power-stations.
"It is impossible to predict now what might happen in 10 or 20 years time," he added, "the important thing is that we reach an agreement that allows China and India, the US and EU to come to a common position – though with varying obligations.
"If we reach an agreement that sets the world on this new sustainable path then I think that we can see emissions peak more quickly than many people think."
Mr Blair added that China was now leading the way in some areas of green technology and investment and urged leaders of the developed and developing worlds to get away from a "binary approach" to climate change.
"We must get away from seeing climate change as an East versus West issue. There are huge business opportunities in green technology whether you are in London or California, China or India." Preliminary rounds of negotiations have shown that developing and developed world nations are still a long way apart when it comes to the "precise percentages" on cutting emissions.
China and India continue to call for a 40pc reduction in greenhouse gasses below 1990 levels by 2020 from the developed world, while European and US negotiations say 13 to 17 per cent is the best they can offer.
Acknowledging that negotiations would be tough – and get tougher as the December deal for a deadline approached – Mr Blair said that there had nonetheless been a significant change in attitudes towards climate change since his term in office.
"I expect China will come out with its position, America will come out with its position and so on …[but] the agenda for [Copenhagen], I think, is on a completely different level of credibility than previous negotiations."
1.5. Climate-change chief turns away from Kyoto pact
21 August 2009, The Sydney Morning Herald
AUSTRALIA’S chief climate change negotiator says a dramatic shift from the design of the Kyoto Protocol could be the best way to reach an international climate change agreement.
Louise Hand told the Herald yesterday that the ”world is very different” from when the Kyoto Protocol was reached in 1997, allocating binding carbon emissions cuts to developed countries.
Australia is pushing what is known as a ”schedules approach” in which countries nominate their emissions targets and reduction policies such as emissions trading. Countries would then be expected to report on their progress towards those targets.
Ms Hand said the schedules approach could be the best way to entice developing countries to adopt carbon mitigation methods in an international agreement to be negotiated in climate change talks in Copenhagen in December.
Australia has made two official submissions to United Nations talks on the design of an international agreement backing the schedules model.
Australia went as far as to hold a summit before international climate talks in Germany last week to promote the scheme.
But the director of policy at the Climate Institute, Erwin Jackson, said yesterday the schedules approach, while having merit, had found few friends among big developing nations that wanted a Kyoto-style deal in which rich nations took on hard emissions reduction targets.
He said despite differences on the design of an agreement, the biggest obstacle in Copenhagen would be the developed world’s reluctance to embrace a range of international financing measures to help poorer nations reduce their emissions.
1.6. Big benefits seen in adapting to climate change
21 August 2009, Reuters
OSLO (Reuters) – Helping developing nations to adapt to climate change such as floods or heatwaves can give bigger economic benefits than a focus on deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, a study indicated on Friday.
A total of $10 trillion spent on adaptation, ranging from research into drought-resistant crops to measures to limit a spread of diseases such as malaria, would provide $16 trillion of economic benefits over the coming century, it said.
"We talk immensely about cutting carbon emissions, but there are many other ways to deal with climate change," said Bjorn Lomborg, Danish author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist" who commissioned the study by Italian researchers.
"Everyone pays lip service to adaptation but in reality we rarely talk as much about it as cutting carbon emissions," he told Reuters of the study, meant to provoke debate about a new U.N. climate treaty to be agreed in Copenhagen in December.
"The authors find that…adaptation achieves more than mitigation in terms of reducing the damage from climate change," he said. Mitigation means curbing emissions of greenhouse gases and often gets most attention at U.N. climate negotiations.
The study said that the highest economic benefits would come if adaptation went hand in hand with moderate curbs on emissions. In the best case, $9 trillion spent would give $19 trillion of benefits, it said.
"The optimal strategy to deal with climate change entails the adoption of both adaptation and mitigation measures," Carlo Carraro of the University of Venice and co-authors from the Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei in Italy wrote.
The study also said that the impacts of climate change could also be muted by adaptation, driven by market forces. In developed nations, for instance, farmers could turn to new crops to match water availability and temperatures.
"If it rains less you will adapt and you will use drip irrigation," said Lomborg, who is head of the Copenhagen Consensus Center. "If it rains more you will grow more crops and you will end up being more productive."
Other low-cost measures could include insulation of older buildings, building new homes with higher steps to avoid flooding or siting new infrastructure inland to avoid storm surges from a creeping rise in sea levels.
"The problem from global warming is not going to be in the developed world, it will be in the developing world," he said.
Taking account of the natural market-driven adaptation, climate change could have a fractional net positive impact in developed nations, totaling a 0.1 percent gain in gross domestic product by 2100, the study said.
And in poor nations, such adaptation could limit overall economic losses to 2.9 percent of GDP from 5.3 percent.
The authors say that their study does not include feared costs of catastrophic damages or "tipping points," irreversible shifts in the climate system that could, for instance, bring an irreversible melt of Greenland’s ice that drives up sea levels.
1.7. Climate change could push millions into poverty, claims study
20 August 2009, Click Green
by Stephen Hurrell. Published Thu 20 Aug 2009 09:56, Last updated: 20 Aug 2009
People living in urban areas in developing countries could be driven into poverty by climate change, a new study has shown.
Climate change can harm agricultural crops and drive up the price of food, according to researchers at Purdue University in India. People in urban areas in countries such as Mexico, Bangladesh and Zambia spend a high proportion of income on food and a rise in prices could push them into poverty.
The researchers examined 16 developing countries and the effects climate change would have on the populations. Data from the late 20th century and forecasts for the next 100 years were used to predict the severity of heat waves, drought and heavy rains attributed to climate change.
The forecasts, from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), showed drought in the Mediterranean will increase by 800 percent and extreme rainfall in Southeast Asia could increase by up to 900 percent.
Large reductions in grains productivity due to extreme climate events are supported by historical data. In 1991 grains productivity in Malawi and Zambia declined by about 50 percent when southern Africa experienced a severe drought.
Noah Diffenbaugh, the associate professor of earth and atmospheric sciences and interim director of Purdue’s Climate Change Research Center who co-led the study, said: “Studies have shown global warming will likely increase the frequency and intensity of heat waves, drought and floods in many areas.
“It is important to understand which socioeconomic groups and countries could see changes in poverty rates in order to make informed policy decisions.
"Extreme weather affects agricultural productivity and can raise the price of staple foods, such as grains, that are important to poor households in developing countries.”
The study found Bangladesh, Mexico and Zambia will suffer the most from an extreme drought, with up to 1.4 percent, 1.8 percent and 4.6 percent of the population being impoverished respectively. This would cause over 1.5 million people in Bangladesh and Mexico to drop below the poverty line.
Thomas Hertel, a distinguished professor of agricultural economics and co-leader of the study, said: "Food is a major expenditure for the poor and, while those who work in agriculture would have some benefit from higher grains prices, the urban poor would only get the negative effects.
"This is an important finding given that the United Nations projects a continuing shift in population concentrations from rural to urban areas in virtually all of these developing countries.
“With nearly one billion of the world’s poor living on less than $1 a day, extreme events can have a devastating impact.”
2.1. EU’s biggest polluter invests to cut emissions
21 August 2009, Reuters
BELCHATOW, Poland (Reuters) – The European Union’s biggest polluter, a lignite-fired power plant in Belchatow, will need to buy up to 20 million tonnes of CO2 emission permits by 2013, its chief Jacek Kaczorowski told Reuters on Friday.
Belchatow, located in central Poland, released the equivalent of nearly 31 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere last year, topping by 4 million tonnes its EU-set ceiling as part of the bloc’s attempts to curb global warming.
Despite the global economic crisis, which has significantly curbed demand for power and led to fewer polluting emissions, Belchatow will still see a big deficit in carbon permits it needs in the next few years.
"Our emissions in coming years of the 2008-2012 accounting period will stand at similar levels. So at the end of the whole period, we will be short some 14-20 million tonnes of CO2 permits," Belchatow’s recently-named head, Kaczorowski said.
"And this is what we are interested in buying."
The bloc’s CO2 permits trade at around 17 euros per metric ton and Kaczorowski said in 2009 the plant would lack only a handful fewer permits than a year ago.
"We have already bought 15,000 certificates for CO2 emissions last year. We have created a reserve for the deficit of 2008 permits (…) and there is no need to buy needed permits now as its all accounted in the five-year period," he said.
But the emissions of the EU’s biggest coal-fired plant — a 4,450 MW facility employing 10,280 people — will rise by 5-6 million tonnes annually in 2013 when a new, 858 megawatt block becomes fully operational.
By 2013 all installations under the EU’s emissions trading system will also have to buy all of its pollution permits on the free market and some analysts say their price will grow significantly. For now, some permits are granted for free.
Nowadays, Belchatow consumes some 32-35 million tonnes of highly polluting lignite brown coal every year and will be using an additional 5-6 million tonnes with the new block.
To avoid huge costs in the future, Belchatow is working on Poland’s first carbon capture and storage (CCS) installation and plans more investments to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
The installation which may get co-financing from Brussels as a pilot-project, would catch one-third of the emissions generated by the plant’s newest block.
The European Commission has earmarked 180 million euros for the CCS, but still has two months before a final decision.
"But even if we don’t get the EU money, we will have to go on with the project because of the need to cut emissions," Kaczorowski said. "We have to go on developing more CCS to remain competitive."
"Even with the today’s CO2 prices it’s beneficial. When the price grows, it becomes even more profitable."
Belchatow, owned by Poland’s leading utility PGE, is set to have an IPO later this year and has signed preliminary deals with France’s Alstom and Finland’s Fortum to cooperate on the CCS.
Belchatow, which is the pillar of PGE’s conventional energy division, is now responsible for restructuring its power-generation operations and is looking to nuclear energy.
It has to integrate PGE’s mines, power plants and heat and power plants to cut employment and streamline decision-making.
It also has to seek permission to extend its lignite deposits as it will be excavating around 1 billion tonnes of lignite left in a nearby mine until 2032-2040.
"We are also working intensively to get concession for a new excavation site in Zloczew, which has 450 million tonnes. (…) But the power plant was designed to reach its retirement age when there is no more coal available nearby," Kaczorowski said.
"It’s also possible to start developing nuclear units, while the conventional plant is still working."
3.1. Germans fail to see the light on bulbs
21 August 2009, FT
Germans, Austrians and Hungarians are hoarding energy-hungry light bulbs, which haven fallen out of favour in other European countries, ahead of a European Union ban that takes effect next month. The scramble for conventional bulbs illuminates the challenges of persuading consumers to embrace environmentally friendly shopping habits – particularly in the midst of an economic crisis. Sales of incandescent light bulbs have risen by 34 per cent year-on-year in Germany in the first six months of 2009, data from GfK, the German consumer research group, shows.
In most other European countries, sales of old-style light bulbs have fallen at double-digit rates this year. In the UK, sales dropped by 22 per cent, amid a voluntary agreement between retailers and energy companies to phase out light bulbs nine months ahead of the EU ban.
Last year, the UK experienced a similar tendency to stockpile light bulbs ahead of the voluntary ban that came into effect in January.
Christian Schraft, head of the consumer division at Osram, one of Europe’s largest lighting producers owned by engineering group Siemens, said he had been taken aback by Germany’s reluctance to accept energy-saving bulbs.
“Germans are often sceptical about innovations. And in difficult economic times in particular, they tend to stick to what is tried and tested,” Mr Schraft said.
The hoarding instincts have been heightened by an EU rule change that comes into effect in September, banning 100-watt bulbs and widely used pearl bulbs from store shelves. The move will be followed by further phase-out steps, until ultimately all conventional bulbs will be banned in four years’ time.
The shopping behaviour appears to contradict stereotypes of Germans and Austrians as environmentally aware. But Hans-Georg Häusel, a psychologist who uses brain science to explain consumer behaviour, said they were reluctant to change. “There is a fear that they could destroy the snug atmosphere of their homes,” he said.
3.2. EU wind power seen steady in 2009 despite crisis
21 August 2009, Reuters
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Europe looks set to build slightly more wind capacity this year than in 2008, despite weakening electricity demand due to the economic crisis, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) said on Friday.
About 8,600 megawatts of new wind energy capacity will be installed in the European Union’s 27 nations in 2009, 1 percent higher than the 8,484 megawatts installed last year, EWEA estimated.
"Although the outlook for 2009 is encouraging, the real test of the wind energy sector’s ability to withstand the financial crisis will be 2010," said Christian Kjaer, EWEA chief executive.
EWEA expects the financial crisis to have a deeper impact in 2010 due to poor liquidity in the loan markets.
New wind installations will take the EU’s cumulative capacity to 73,535 megawatts this year, up from 64,935 megawatts last year.
4.1. Ninth session of the AWG-KP and seventh session of the AWG-LCA
28 September – 9 October 2009
United Nations Conference Centre (UNCC) of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), Rajdamnern Nok Avenue, Bangkok, 10200 Thailand.
Parties, observer States and observer organizations will be notified in due course and provided with the provisional agendas and other details concerning these sessions.
More information: http://unfccc.int/meetings/intersessional/bangkok_09/items/4967.php
4.2. Resumed ninth session of the AWG-KP and resumed seventh session of the AWG-LCA
2-6 November 2009
Barcelona Convention Centre
More at: http://unfccc.int/meetings/items/2654.php#1
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