1.1. Copenhagen & beyond: Stage set for BASIC meet in Delhi
22 January 2010, The Economic Times
NEW DELHI : With an eye on the climate change conference in Mexico, the BASIC countries are considering ways to mend fences with the small island states and less developed countries. At the BASIC meeting to be held this week, India is likely to put forward a proposal for a fund to help vulnerable countries to deal with the effects of climate change.
The BASIC meeting in New Delhi will focus on post-Copenhagen scenario. With the group—Brazil, South Africa, India and China—now focusing on climate change negotiations leading to the conference at Mexico, it will need to work out ways in which it can make common cause with the rest of the developing bloc. There has been a sense that in Copenhagen, the emerging economies or the more advanced developing countries had broken ranks with the G-77. For the BASIC to retain its negotiating strength it will need to reach out to the vulnerable countries in the developing group.
The fund could serve this purpose. “The details of the fund are still being worked out,” a senior ministry official said. The proposed fund will be bilateral in nature and not under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change. The fund is unlikely to be a formal set up as that would require setting up of structures. Instead each of the four countries—Brazil, South Africa, India and China—will co-ordinate their climate related aid to vulnerable countries.
The idea of a fund is being proposed by India, and is likely to gain currency with both Brazil and South Africa. Both these countries have been re-evaluating the Copenhagen Agreement and its implications. South Africa has been having discussions with members of the African group. Brazil too has been making efforts to build bridges with other Latin American countries. A fund like the one being proposed by India will find acceptance of these two countries. Brazil is likely to agree to such a proposal especially as President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had at Copenhagen committed to contribute funds for less developed and vulnerable countries.
The underlying presumption during the eleventh-hour negotiations at Copenhagen was that the Accord would be followed by decisions by the Conference of Parties. The COP is the association of all countries and is the highest decision making body in the UNFCCC system.
An adoption by the COP would have make it possible to operationalise all aspects of the Accord, including finance, technology and REDD. These are critical pillars of the Bali Action Plan. However, the fact that the Accord was only “taken note of” by the assembly allows for a limited operationalisation, only the emission reduction commitments of the developed countries and actions of developing countries under the Copenhagen Accord will be operationalised.
However, for the small island states and the less developed countries that are looking to receive funds, the Accord will not have much meaning. This is likely to increase the sense among vulnerable countries that the BASIC had not kept their interest in mind while negotiating the Accord. The proposal of a fund could address this as well.
1.2. EU Environment Ministers agree to carry on doing nothing
18 January 2010, Sandbag
Disappointingly, in last week’s informal meeting to discuss the Copenhagen outcome, Environment Ministers in the EU failed to move any further forward and are still playing the same old record: “We may increase our climate targets but others have to do more first.”
This tired old tune has been doing the rounds since 2008 when the EU first hit on its cunning plan to set itself a target but then offer up a higher one if other countries were prepared to do the same. The problem is they are never very clear exactly what they want from other countries, how many countries they mean or precisely what numbers they want them to agree to. The lack of precision seems to imply that they themselves do not know what they want. It is very tempting to see this proposition as nothing more than a clever ruse to hide their lack of appetite for genuine leadership.
They should not be allowed to continue along this cowardly path a moment longer. A lot has happened since 2008. Countries have increased their targets, changes in government in Japan and Australia have led to more ambition, the arrival of the Democrats in the Whitehouse led to the US offering up a target, and, for the first time, developing countries, who are not expected to agree targets, are coming forward with their own too. Some like Brazil have already set them out in domestic legislation. If the EU sticks to its very weak 20% target then it is effectively ignoring all of these achievements in the run up to Copenhagen.
Emissions in the EU have also fallen dramatically. The effect of the recession saw emissions tumbling throughout 2008 and 2009. This has dramatically reduced the distance between current emissions levels and the future target, and also led to a large amount of hot air being created in the EU’s flagship emissions trading scheme, making hitting targets even easier for EU’s businesses.
The wait for possibly a decision to be made at future UN meetings in Bonn or Mexico is too long. The industries operating under the EU’s cap and trade policy, which provides the EU with the easiest way to meet their targets, need to be told what is expected of them. And given how close the EU is to hitting the 20% target already, the move to 30% is critical to supporting a healthy carbon price and maintaining investor confidence in emissions reduction projects.
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the EU’s position is the fact that they continue to put out statements about the importance of taking action to keep world temperatures from rising 2 degrees and complaining that targets are currently not in the range to meet that goal, but then still state that they are not prepared to move their own target. As the third most polluting block of countries in the world today and the biggest historic emitter over time, the EU’s is one of most important targets in this equation and absolutely critical to averting climate disaster.
The most likely explanation for all the dilly-dallying is that industry lobbying has taken its toll on our political leaders’ desire to do something real about climate change. Already last week a letter went in to Commissioner Barroso from the EU’s chemical industry lobby group CEFIC, stating that the targets should stay at 20%. This is typical of the kind of special interest lobbying which puts vested interests and protection of profits ahead of the bigger picture, which in this case is the future of society. In reality, the chemical companies of Europe are faring very well in the EU’s emissions trading scheme, many of them have very generous growth targets and they are further profiting by buying in cheap overseas credits and either banking or selling their EU permits.
Some countries have thankfully realised that leadership means standing up for what you believe in, in spite of this lobbying. It is very welcome to see the UK, France, Belgium and Holland doing what they can to move things forward at the EU level. The laggards appear to be Italy and Poland and it is not yet clear where Germany really sits on the question. Clearly more needs to be done in these countries to increase the political pressure on leaders to act. We will soon have our campaign action into German and hope to do the same soon for Italy and Poland.
The January 31st deadline set under the Copenhagen Accord still sets an important test for EU leadership, if they fail to show any movement at all, those countries who have moved their positions since 2008, and all the most vulnerable countries, must be strong and outspoken in their criticism of the EU’s continued prevarication. The hypocritical nature of their complaint that the 2 degrees target is at risk because people are not prepared to commit to action, while continuing not to commit to action, has to be exposed and action must be forthcoming. Not to act means 3 billion tonnes more emissions in the atmosphere and right now that’s the last thing the world needs, especially when it could be so easily prevented.
1.3. Coreper I Discussion on Climate Targets for Copenhagen Accord
20 January 2010, WWF
Today the Spanish Presidency is presenting a proposal to Coreper I that the European Union submit an emissions reduction target of 20% below 1990 levels by 2020 with a conditional increase to 30% – retaining the EU’s previous approach.
Statement on behalf of Jason Anderson, Head of EU Climate and Energy Policy, WWF European Policy Office:
‘Europe’s current 20% target is extremely weak – we would actually have to slow down the pace of reductions seen in the past three years if we want to limit ourselves to this level. Between the excellent efforts of the renewable energy industries, and more dubious import of offset credits from other countries, Europe will be able to meet its target without polluting facilities making any changes at all. And yet the EU still has a policy of up to 95% emissions reductions by 2050 – there is no way we will achieve this goal if we delay making needed improvements by ten more years.’
‘By failing to take on a target of 30% or more we are foregoing massive energy savings that will improve Europe’s economy and lead to the creation of new jobs in industries that have a long future.’
‘The EU has always made its mark on the world stage by leading from the front. Shifting expectations to what other countries need to do before the EU moves further is not only lacking in influence, it means foregoing real benefits at home. There is no reason to hold Europe’s economic future hostage to decisions made in Washington or Beijing.’
‘Europe should put a 30% target into the Copenhagen Accord by 31 January, and look for ways to increase that ambition to 40% or more, which is what is consistent with the science of staying below 2 degrees warming, a limit to which the EU is committed.’
1.4. Biodiversity loss to cost Europe €1.1 trillion per year in 2050 unless an ambitious EU target is adopted now
19 January 2010, WWF
Today the European Commission published a communication listing four different target options for biodiversity beyond 2010, differing mainly in ambition. In the International Year of Biodiversity, WWF urges the EU to lead with a strong target and clear, measurable objectives, in order to preserve biological diversity in Europe and on our planet earth.
Biodiversity is a global issue and like climate change it has no boundaries. The European Commission acknowledges that biodiversity, the “world’s natural capital”, “remains under severe threat” and that “together with climate change, loss of biodiversity is the most critical global environmental threat and gives rise to substantial economic and welfare losses”; and yet it still hesitates to take a strong stand.
Biodiversity loss and climate change are two sides of the same coin, solving one without solving the other makes no sense – they should be tackled together. Making space for nature by saving biodiversity should be as high up on the EU’s agenda as climate change. If it is not and the current trend of land-based nature destruction continues, in Europe this will cost us around €1.1 trillion per year in 2050, or nearly 4% of the EU’s GDP¹.
“The current trend of biodiversity loss is occurring at 100 to 1,000 times the normal rate2, leaving us no time or space for alternatives and ambiguous words: the European Union needs to show the highest level of ambition and accountability in order to guarantee that our priceless natural capital is preserved and continues to provide social and economic benefits for future generations. We need to aim at halting the loss of biodiversity and restoring ecosystem services in the EU not ‘insofar as possible’ but absolutely by 2020 ” says Andreas Baumüller, Biodiversity Policy Officer at WWF European Policy Office.
WWF strongly asks the Spanish Presidency to lead the European Union towards a progressive biodiversity policy that includes:
– an ambitious, measurable biodiversity target and sub-targets across different policy areas (i.e. fisheries, forests and freshwater), with clear indicators in order to monitor and ensure that the objectives are met;
– more direct funds for nature conservation in order to protect and manage Natura 2000 terrestrial and marine sites;
– appropriate integration of biodiversity across all relevant policies areas (i.e. energy and climate).
WWF asks the Commission to propose a clear set of indicators to Heads of State in March and urges that only the most ambitious ‘beyond 2010 biodiversity’ target, including indicators, is adopted. Link: http://www.panda.org/what_we_do/how_we_work/policy/wwf_europe_environment/?186461/Biodiversity-loss-to-cost-Europe-11-trillion-per-year-in-2050-unless-an-ambitious-EU-target-is-adopted-now
1.5. Greens embrace enzymes in climate change fight
20 January 2010, EurActiv
Industrial biotechnology is gaining supporters among environmentalists as a way to make significant cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions and eventually move to a society free from fossil fuels.
The lofty idea behind industrial, or white, biotechnology is to use nature’s own ingredients to solve industrial problems.
White biotech industries use enzymes – proteins that speed up chemical reactions – for various applications to increase efficiency of energy and raw-material use and eventually replace fossil fuels.
The WWF estimated last September that industrial biotechnology has the potential to prevent emissions of between 1 and 2.5 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year by 2030. The NGO sought to draw attention to such existing climate solutions that are easily overlooked by politicians and investors alike. Enzymes have been added to detergents for decades to dissolve stains at lower temperatures.
As a result, it is now possible to wash clothes at 30°C instead of 60°C with the same result, saving energy in the process.
Industries using agricultural products as input, such as food, paper and textiles, also currently use biotechnology to manufacture products using less energy and producing less waste, thus reducing pressure on land-use at the same time. Practical examples include adding enzymes to bread during baking to prolong its shelf-life, or using them in juice production to increase juice yield from the same quantity of fruit.
Towards advanced biofuels
But perhaps the most lucrative prospects for the industry lie in the field of biofuels, where investors expect markets to grow. The prospect of rising fossil fuel prices and new energy policies that favour renewable energy are guiding the quest for more profitable and environmentally-friendly biofuel production methods.
The business is booming in the US, where corn-based production of bioethanol uses enzymes to release sugars from the starch in the kernels. The US Renewable Fuel Standard, passed in 2007, requires annual production to rise to 36 billion gallons of biofuel by 2022.
European markets are also growing, after 2009’s Renewable Fuels Directive set the target of reaching a 10% share of ‘green fuel’ in transport by 2020, including biofuels in this definition (EurActiv 05/12/08).
Lars Hansen, president of Novozymes Europe, says that interest in biotechnology is growing as halting global warming has become a political priority. The Danish company, the world leader in enzyme technology, estimates that its products helped to prevent emissions of 28 million tonnes of CO2 in 2008, the equivalent of taking four million cars off the road.
Nevertheless, there has been much debate over the actual environmental benefits of first-generation biofuels from food crops, as converting forests or grassland for energy crop production can release significant amounts of carbon. Advanced biofuels that use non-food feedstocks are now regarded as more promising, and the enzymes industry believes it holds the key to commercial-scale production. "This has been the holy grail of biofuels: how can you move from using sugar and corn to using the straw, stalks and other agricultural waste?" said Novozymes executive Hansen.
"We have directed 10% of our R&D resources into trying to convert not only starch but also agricultural leftovers into sugar," Hansen said. "You get a much higher yield from the same acre of land by using what is currently perceived as waste, all the stuff left in the fields from agricultural production."
Hansen said Novozymes is on track to delive the required technology this year. "We have the enabling technology ready, now someone has to build a factory using it."
Corn ethanol is currently estimated to produce only a 12-18% net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to gasoline, while cellulosic ethnanol could cut carbon emissions by 86-94%. If land-use changes are included in calculations, corn ethanol could actually double emissions, according to some estimates.
Impact of land-use change still unclear
In the EU, the European Commission is due to present its report on the impact of indirect land-use change on greenhouse gas emissions this year. One of the potential outcomes could be the inclusion of indirect land-use change as a factor in greenhouse gas calculations for biofuels, so that some fuels would no longer have enough carbon reduction potential to count towards member states’ obligations on green fuels (EurActiv 30/07/09).
However, the jury is still out on whether it is currently possible to accurately measure land-use change, which varies massively according to the crop and zone of production (EurActiv 11/12/09).
"The science in itself is not mature in our view," Hansen stated. "Our worry is that you put in place legislation that will stop the future by being overly conservative. If we are too careful, there is a risk that we won’t do anything."
Meanwhile, the WWF also noted in its report that using biotechnology applications to produce biofuel for vehicles can also have a detrimental long-term impact on the environment by supporting a carbon-intensive transport infrastructure.
But over time, the conservation group said the same technologies could bring about further carbon reductions as biorefineries replace a wide range of currently oil-based products with biological materials.
Towards a bio-based economy?
The ultimate goal of biotech supporters is to use enzyme technology to move to a "circular economy". Here, waste is used to produce biogas while the remaining natural carbon could be reused as natural feedstock.
The WWF estimated that such "closed loop systems," which create new products from waste materials, could help trap up to three billion extra tonnes of carbon by 2040.
Moreover, technological development would eventually lead to the replacement of oil-based products with natural materials in "biorefineries".
"Biofuels are just a first step to what we call a ‘bio-based future’ where you replace traditional oil refineries with biorefineries," Hansen said. "The vision is to have the same kind of refinery but based on biological production so that agricultural products go into producing not only fuels but plastics, feeds, fibres and chemicals."
1.6. Copenhagen : EU Not Done Yet!
The Copenhagen climate talks were a disappointment but it is not over yet. The most pressing question the EU now has to answer is what emissions reduction target will it enter into the Copenhagen Accord? The UN deadline agreed for this decision was January 31st 2010.
Europe has the opportunity to inject new enthusiasm and hope into the deflated international climate talks by entering an ambitious target into the Copenhagen Accord.
Now is not the time to sit back and wait, Europe must lead by example. A 30% cut by 2020 is easier to achieve than ever and this must be the absolute minimum number sent to the UN before January 31st.
Please add your name below calling for leadership in Europe. We have to show that Copenhagen is not done yet.
Sign this action at: http://www.sandbag.org.uk/notdoneyet
2.1. Energy Summit balances Copenhagen setbacks
22 January 2010, Khaleej Times
The four-day World Future Energy Summit, or WFES, concluded on Thursday on a high spirit of consensus among the world leaders, brightening up the hopes of a better outcome at the ensuing global climate change talks in Mexico, in contrast with disappointing results of the Copenhagen Summit.
The WFES which was an extraordinary assembly of large number policy makers, entrepreneurs, experts and activists from more than 130 countries across the globe ended with a categorical assertion that renewable energy is no longer the energy of the future ‘but it has already arrived ’, and that it can make a significant contribution in mitigating the grave threats of climate change.
“A monumental shift is taking place in the debates over energy and climate change. Nowadays nobody is asking whether clean energy should be adopted or whether climate change is really happening. Every country in every region is enthusiastically searching and adopting renewable energy as they are convinced of the impact of indiscriminate fossil fuel burning on the environment and climate,’’ Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, President of Iceland said in his keynote address at the concluding session of the Summit. “The humanity is facing a financial crisis, a humanitarian crisis emerging out of the lack of means for subsistence for vast sections of people and an ecological crisis. Renewables have an important contribution to make in addressing all these forms of crises,’’ Prince Albert Alexander, Louis Pierre of Monaco, Marquis of Baux said in his keynote address.”
Expressing happiness over the amazing success of the Summit, Helene Pelosse the Interim Director General of the International Renewable Energy Agency or IRENA told Khaleej Times “I’m glad that the WFES has become platform for focusing on the renewable energy as an important component in mitigating the effects of climate change.’’
Unlike the Copenhagen Summit, the WFES could walk that extra mile in reviving the hopes on mitigating climate change threats because of its positive focus on the alternative solutions offered by the renewable energy, rather than getting bogged down by the disputes of reduction targets.
“It may be difficult to make all countries accept a specific amount cut in carbon emission levels, and it is complex monitor the implementation of such norms and ensure compliance. But it could be easier to make all the countries accept that they must include a particular percentage of renewables in their energy mix, an expert attending the Summit said.
The Summit emphasised the need for cooperation among all the stakeholders, the policy makers, industry, experts and activists for developing renewable energy. Global and regional level cooperation must be strengthened in this area. Diversity of energy mix and policy frameworks for different countries was another issue that was emphasised at the discussions. The participants also spoke on the need for making renewables cheaper than present, and the governmental policies have an important contribution to achieve this, apart from mobilising adequate resources for research and development from private and public entities.
More than 23,000 people have attended the event, representing a 25 per cent increase over 2009, the organisers claimed in a statement here. The event, hosted by Masdar, the clean energy initiative of Abu Dhabi has welcomed representatives from across Asia, Europe, The Americas, Africa and the Middle East.
The event has been hailed as a success by many, and is a further boost to Abu Dhabi’s position as a renewable energy hub. Ed Milliband, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change for the United Kingdom said, “I think this is the centre of the clean energy revolution that is going on around the world.”
The World Future Energy Summit has, this year, attracted more political engagement than ever before with more than 100 government delegations attending. The strong numbers are clear testament to the continued momentum that is building around renewable energy.
Attendance has exceeded expectations with figures reaching more than 23,000 attendees said Ara Fernezian, Group Exhibition Director at Reed, the show organisers. He went on to say, “The event has exceeded our original expectations by more than 15 per cent. Such record numbers of people involved is testament to Abu Dhabi’s growing status as a hub for renewable energy.”
3.1. Govt preparing decree to cut gas emissions
22 January 2010, The Antara News
The Indonesian government is currently preparing a legal umbrella in the form of a presidential decree to achieve the target of greenhouse gas reduction by 26 percent nationwide by 2020.
"The legal umbrella in the form of a presidential decree is still being prepared," the environment minister`s deputy for improvement of natural resource conservation and control of environment destruction, Masnellyarti Hilman, said accompanying environment minister Gusti Muhammad Hatta in a press conference here on Thursday.
Masnellyarti said the legal umbrella was needed as the basis for implementing the program to be carried out by various government institutions led by the environment ministry.
"The environment ministry conducts cooperation in various sectors coordinated by the coordinating minister for economic affairs to determine sectors that have to cut emissions," she said.
She said the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) followed up the results of the coordination program in reducing gas emissions by implementing them into the National Action Plan for Dealing with Climate Change (RAN MAPI).
Based on the RAN MAPI six sectors targeted for emission reduction are energy, transportation, processing industry, agriculture, forestry, waste processing and emissions in peat lands.
Masnellyarti said based on the RAN MAPI the forestry sector would become the main target for emissions reduction by an equivalent 392 mega tons per year, followed by emissions reduction from peat lands by an equivalent of 48 mega tons a year and emissions reduction from waste processing by an equivalent of 48 mega tons a year.
The next sectors are energy by an equivalent fo 30 mega tons a year, transportation by an equivalent of eight mega tons a year, agriculture by an equivalent of eight megatons a year and processing industry by an equivalent of one megaton a year.
Masnellyarti said the six sectors had been elaborated in the National Communications II Indonesia report to the UNFCCC.
According to Law Number 32 of 2009 on environment protection and processing, the environment ministry is obliged to make an inventory of national greenhouse gas emissions.
"This will be used as the basis for monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of the implementation of the efforts to achieve the target," she said.
As funding for the 26 percent emissions reduction program comes from home the MRV is carried out domestically based on methods and procedures set by the environment ministry.
"The environment ministry has prepared the system and procedures for MRV based on the IPCCC (inter-government panel on climate change)," she said.
On a separate occasion, Oxfam International East Asia Climate campaigner Rully Prayoga said it is more important for Indonesia to preparre adaptations and mitigation on the impact of climate change for the poor than targeting emissions reduction.
"As Indonesia is not a country obliged to reduce carbon emissions in line with the Kyoto Protocol Indonesia could create a pilot project or strategy for adapting to climate change," she said.
In view of that the most important thing is preparing legal means to deal with climate change problems such as laws or regulations so that implementation by ministries will not overlap, she said. Link: http://www.antara.co.id/en/news/1264104679/govt-preparing-decree-to-cut-gas-emissions
3.2. Carbon market exec still hopes for climate bill
21 January 2010, Reuters
U.S. federal climate legislation may still pass this year even though a Republican who opposes the bill won a seat in the Senate this week, a carbon markets executive said on Thursday.
"Our view is that it’s not dead," Abyd Karmali, managing director and global head of carbon emissions at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, told Reuters in an interview.
A climate bill passed the House last year, but the legislation has been bogged down in the Senate and its future is uncertain after Republican Scott Brown, who has opposed capping emissions, won the seat held by Ted Kennedy.
The prospect of Environmental Protection Agency regulation as well as a growing threat of nuisance torts may be enough to garner support for the bill among emitters, Karmali said.
The cap-and-trade bill, expected to create a trillion-dollar carbon trading market, would cap carbon emissions and allow pollution permits to be traded.
If the bill does not pass, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may begin regulating carbon emissions for the first time.
"Right now, companies have a stark choice in front of them. One path is a market-based approach through cap and trade, another is EPA regulation… In terms of trying to steer things toward a positive outcome, clearly, the Senate would be a more manageable forum," Karmali said.
In addition, a recent raft of climate-related tort suits which cite greenhouse gas emissions as a public nuisance may give some emitters additional incentive to support carbon control.
"Without any action taking place to reduce emissions, large emitters are more likely to face tort suits from environmental and civil groups and we’ve seen that already," Karmali said.
In September, for instance, a U.S. Appeals Court reinstated a lawsuit by eight states and the city of New York against five of the largest U.S. utilities over their carbon dioxide emissions.
Some emitting companies, including some major U.S. power companies, are already in favor of cap and trade legislation in the interest of having a more definite regulatory outlook.
"Companies are trying to make long-term investment decisions with assets that have 20-30 year time frames and the uncertainty can act as an impediment to investing or lending," according to Karmali.
However, the window for passing the bill this year may be limited.
"If it doesn’t happen by May, it’s not going to happen this year," Karmali said.
Delay in the world’s top industrial emitter to regulate has could further delay a global warming agreement.
But if federal climate control legislation does not pass, individual states may continue to develop their own carbon trading frameworks.
Already, 10 states in the eastern United States regulate carbon dioxide in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and a western U.S. and Canadian initiative led by California.
Although a state-by-state approach to carbon legislation is less desirable for development of a carbon-trading market than a federal one, states may eventually form networks of carbon markets.
"It’s easy to envision a scenario where to try to make the patchwork quilt as manageable as possible, those efforts begin to link up so there would be a coordinating mechanism that’s almost acting like a federal coordinating mechanism," Karmali said.
4.1. Monitoring the CO2 emissions from new passenger cars in the EU: data for the year 2008
More at: http://register.consilium.europa.eu/pdf/en/10/st05/st05515.en10.pdf
5.1. UNFCCC events in 2010
See more at: http://unfccc.int/meetings/unfccc_calendar/items/2655.php
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