1.1. Draft UN text foresees limited CDM expansion
16 December 2009, Ends Europe
Climate change negotiators are planning only a limited expansion of the Kyoto protocol’s project-based clean development mechanism (CDM) after 2012, according to the latest draft text discussed under Copenhagen’s Kyoto track.
Only two of seven options for reforming the CDM are about extending the mechanism beyond its current scope: crediting national mitigation actions by developing countries (NAMAs) and carbon credits for small and large projects below sectoral emission benchmarks.
All other options are intended to improve the CDM’s regional distribution and easing access to it. Proposals include simplifying additionality requirements for small projects and exemptions and postponements of registration fees for the poorest countries.
The issue of whether to allow carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects into the CDM is still open, while nuclear power will probably be kept out. There are unlikely to be new co-benefits requirements on carbon reduction projects.
Contrary to an earlier version of the text, there is no proposal to include forestry credits nor recommendations to improve the CDM executive board’s governance. Agreement on the latter is highly political and will probably be left to a later stage.
The two proposals for extending the CDM are all that is left of sectoral approaches, according to Rémi Gruet, climate advisor to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). The term itself has been dropped because of continued strong opposition to it from developing countries.
It is because of this opposition that negotiators are focusing on near-term improvements. Sectoral approach advocates such as the EU also realise now it would take years to get them off the ground because of the need to define sectors, start monitoring, verification and reporting (MRV), and define crediting baselines.
NAMAs are the actions developing countries would take to reduce their emissions under a new global climate treaty. There would be three types: those financed by developing countries themselves, those financed at least in part by them, and those financed by the carbon market.
1.2. Secretary-General confers with world leaders on climate change
30 December 2009, UN News centre
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been speaking to numerous world leaders on the heels of the historic United Nations conference in Copenhagen which recently wrapped up with nations reaching a political agreement on climate change.
Following the summit’s end less than two weeks ago, Mr. Ban has made calls to leaders from countries such as China, the United States, Ethiopia, the Maldives, Grenada, France, Brazil and Australia.
The Copenhagen Accord was struck in the Danish capital on 19 December after the Secretary-General intervened at the last minute to assuage nations that felt they had been excluded from parts of the negotiations.
It aims to jump-start immediate action on climate change and guide negotiations on long-term action. It also includes an agreement to working towards curbing global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius, efforts to reduce or limit emissions, and pledges to mobilize $100 billion a year for developing countries to combat climate change.
“While I am satisfied that we sealed a deal, I am aware that the outcome of the Copenhagen conference, including the Copenhagen Accord, did not go as far as many have hoped,” Mr. Ban told reporters after returning to New York from Denmark.
The two-week-long UN conference in Copenhagen, attended by more than 100 heads of State and government, was marked by interruptions in negotiations due to divisions between States over transparency and other issues.
“The leaders were united in purpose, but they were not united in action,” Mr. Ban pointed out, exhorting world leaders to act in concert to ensure that a legally binding treaty is reached next year. Nonetheless, he said that the talks “represent a beginning – an essential beginning,” because without nations hammering out a deal in Copenhagen, the financial and technical support for poorer nations agreed upon would not take immediate effect.
1.3. UK’s Brown says climate change agreement possible
3 January 2010, Reuters
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Sunday he believed a global agreement to combat climate change might still be possible despite the limited results of last month’s Copenhagen meeting. "I’ve got an idea about how we can actually move this forward over the next few months and I’ll be working on this," Brown told the BBC, when asked what came next after the U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen.
"I think it’s not impossible that the groundwork that was done at Copenhagen could lead to what you might call a global agreement that everybody is happy to stand by," Brown said.
"I’ll be working on that in the next few months and I can see a way forward because what prevented an agreement was suspicion and fear and forms of protectionism that I think we’ve got to get over," he said, without giving details of his plan.
The Copenhagen talks ended with a bare-minimum agreement when delegates "noted" an accord struck by the United States, China and other emerging powers that fell far short of the conference’s original goals.
Environmentalists and many policymakers voiced disappointment at the outcome.
The accord set a target of limiting global warming to a maximum 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial times, seen as a threshold for dangerous changes such as more floods, droughts and rising seas, but failed to say how this would be achieved.
Another round of climate talks is scheduled for November 2010 in Mexico. Negotiators are hoping to nail down then what they failed to achieve in Copenhagen — a new treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol.
1.4. Climate change raises malaria risk
1 January 2010, The Press Association
Rising temperatures on the slopes of Mount Kenya have put an extra four million people at risk of malaria, research funded by the UK Government has warned.
Climate change has raised average temperatures in the Central Highlands district of Kenya, allowing the disease to creep into higher altitude areas where the population has little or no immunity.
The findings by a research team funded by the UK Department for International Development (DfID), showed seven times more people are contracting the disease in outbreaks in the region than 10 years ago.
The team from the Kenyan Medical Research Institute (Kemri) said that while similar outbreaks elsewhere have been attributed to multiple factors including drug resistance and changes in land use, the only change on Mount Kenya is a rise in temperature.
The average temperature in the Central Highlands was 17C in 1989, with malaria completely absent from the region as the parasite which causes it can only mature above 18C.
But with temperatures today averaging 19C, mosquitos are carrying the disease into high altitude areas and epidemics have begun to break out in humans.
Kemri is using climate models to predict when epidemics might occur up to three months in advance, giving authorities time to stock up on medicine and warn the public of the dangers.
The institute is also using church meetings and local health clinics to educate people in high-altitude areas on how climate change could be leading to the spread of malaria into their area.
International Development secretary Douglas Alexander said: "The spread of malaria in the Mount Kenya region is a worrying sign of things to come.
"Without strong and urgent action to tackle climate change, malaria could infect areas without any experience of the disease," he said. "That’s why we need to make sure vulnerable, developing nations such as Kenya have the support they need to tackle the potentially devastating impacts of climate change."
1.5. EPA explores land protection, climate change overlap
30 December 2009, The Hill
EPA is weighing how land protection initiatives should be modified to account for climate change.
In a notice slated for publication in Thursday’s Federal Register, the agency will seek input on a draft assessment of the matter.
“Because land protection decisions are long-term, hard to reverse, and resource intensive, these decisions are important to consider in the context of climate change. Climate change may directly affect the services intended for protection and parcel selection can exacerbate or ameliorate certain impacts,” EPA’s notice states.
“Therefore, when considering long-term acquisition strategies, land protection programs should be considering both the mitigation potential of land through carbon sequestration and the adaptation potential of the land for preserving wildlife migration routes, protecting water resources, and buffering infrastructure and development from storm events,” it adds.
2.1. Decision delayed on carbon capture
15 December 2009, UN
As some countries have reservations on carbon capture and storage (CCS) the emerging technology is not likely to be added to the UN-backed carbon reducing mechanisms here in Copenhagen.
Capturing carbon dioxide at coal-fired power plants in order to store in it the ground is not likely to become a measure supported by the UN-backed Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) this year. A committee under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has discussed the issue, but delayed any decisions for summits to come, according to Bloomberg.
A draft text by the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice “recognizes that carbon dioxide capture and storage in geological formations has been proposed by some Parties for inclusion under the CDM”, but also “recognizes that other Parties have registered concern regarding the implications of this possible inclusion.”
Some countries advocate of the emerging technology. However, other countries have concerns over “the long-term liability for the storage site, including liability for any seepage”, the draft text displays.
The draft text specifies that the Subsidiary Body will continue to work on the issue in order to produce a more detailed suggestion for summits to come.
2.2. Analysis: Aviation and Shipping Emissions after Copenhagen
22 December 2009, T&E
None of the big issues surrounding aviation and shipping (bunker) emissions were resolved at Copenhagen despite the fact that the issue itself received more attention at the UNFCCC in the past three months than in the last ten years.
There was no consensus on the EU proposal for setting -10% and -20% emission reduction targets at Copenhagen.
It is highly unlikely that any such consensus will emerge at the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) either.
In fact both ICAO and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) claimed at Copenhagen that their work on targets is pretty well done. It isn’t.
Leading players in ICAO and IATA read prepared statements to a Copenhagen side event that attempted, but failed, to convince delegates that the question of reducing aviation emissions was under control. There was no debate or time allowed for questions.
This was in stark contrast to the earlier session by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) which included an open exchange of views. The events reflect the growing differences in approach of these two organisations.
For two years, the IMO has been considering two proposals for global emissions trading or a levy and is set to adopt a fuel efficiency standard for new ships next March/April and an operational index for existing ships.
ICAO’s Group on International Aviation and Climate Change (GIACC) can’t even agree on the need for global measures and, after nearly two years of sitting on the issue, sent it back to the ICAO Council. The Council’s High Level Group then sent it back to another working group. It’s ICAO’s version of a filibuster. Talk long enough, and hope the issue goes away.
ICAO’s position that an annual 2% fleet fuel efficiency metric amounts to an emissions reduction target is a sham. It is a measure of business-as-usual fleet renewal. It cannot be enforced and provides no economic incentive for emissions reductions.
IATA claims that it is leading industry by promising 50% emission cuts in 2050 and carbon neutral growth by 2020. But why should one industry be permitted to grow emissions unhindered for another decade when others are cutting back?
The 2050 emissions cut is merely an intention to offset emissions in other sectors. A proper sectoral target needs to ensure global warming remains below 2 degress (Copenhagen Agreement) and to constitute a binding commitment which ICAO (or UNFCCC) Parties would need to adopt.
During Copenhagen, IATA made much of the idea in public that it supported global measures and wanted progress on implementing any deal to be reported to COP 16 in Mexico in 2010.
It even claimed NGO support for this position in a flyer distributed to negotiators.
Behind the scenes the aviation industry was up to its old tricks, orchestrating a flurry of press reports in the last week, led by comments from Sir Richard Branson, that any aviation environmental tax agreed at Copenhagen would destroy the industry. ICAO has a long and tortuous history of drawing fine distinctions between fuel taxes which it claims contravene the Chicago Convention, levies or charges which it at first recommended over taxes (ICAO 33rd Assembly 2001) – so long as the revenues were recycled to industry – but later discouraged member states from pursuing, (35th Assembly 2004) and emissions trading which it only approves of on a global basis and by mutual consent.
On the eve of the High Level phase of the Copenhagen negotiations, the US Air Transport Association (ATA) announced that it had lodged a legal challenge to the EU’s decision to include aviation in its ETS in 2012. ATA also denied at a Copenhagen side event that it was spending millions to have aviation fuel removed from the provisions of the draft Boxer/Kerry Bill – but did not deny the allegation itself.
So, after 12 years of inaction since Kyoto, we are left with another year of tortuous proceedings on the environment in ICAO. NGOs remain hopeful that ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) will approve work to begin on developing a fuel efficiency standard for new aircraft.
But without any call from Copenhagen for ICAO to accelerate its work, there is a danger that ICAO’s business-as- usual approach to environmental issues will mean several years at least to complete the work and then more to have it sent to Council for approval. And despite all the hype at Copenhagen surrounding the decisions at the ICAO High Level meeting last September, ICAO members there were completely divided on the question of global measures and their non-discriminatory application.
The Copenhagen outcome indicates that this situation has not changed. ICAO (and UNFCCC) Member States remain as divided as ever on the question of real emission reduction targets for aviation and a global measure to implement them involving all operators. ICAO and the aviation industry’s environmental reputation stands to decline even further.
Copenhagen was a lost opportunity to resolve the big issues preventing progress.
2.3. Doors Opening for Carbon Tax
30 December 2009, IPS
With the chance for a global climate change treaty on hold, a tax on greenhouse gases could be an effective alternative for discouraging the activities that create emissions, say economists and environmentalists.
Revenues generated by the tax could then be made available to developing countries to finance the technological leap necessary to modernise their economies while also reducing emissions of greenhouse-effect gases.
Economists, environmentalists, international organisations and even some European government are in favour of the idea.
One such enthusiast is economist Dennis Snower, president of the Institute for the World Economy, of Germany’s Kiel University, located some 300 kilometres west of Berlin.
"The climate consequences of carbon dioxide emissions are equal around the world, independent of where the gas was emitted," Snower told Tierramérica.
"As such, each emitter should pay the same rate per tonne of carbon, regardless of whether it is from an industrialised or developing country, or the quantity of CO2 emitted in the past," he said.
According to Snower, the CO2 tax should replace the system of transferable emissions permits, which, he says, suffer two weaknesses: the permits are granted free of cost and in huge quantities by governments in the rich world to domestic industries. In general, economists consider taxes a tool that governments can use to influence the behaviour of their citizens and to guide consumption patterns, discouraging products considered harmful to the individual or the community, or encouraging healthy alternatives.
Richard Tol, an environmental economist who teaches at several European universities, also supports a tax on carbon emissions, saying it should be a global measure against climate change, starting at a low initial rate, and gradually increasing over time.
Like Snower, Tol criticises the system of transferable emissions permits. He believes the system could work if the rights were auctioned off instead of distributed free of cost, as is the case currently in Europe.
The carbon tax is already becoming a reality in some parts of Europe. On Dec. 10, the Irish government introduced a tax on the consumption of, initially, petroleum and diesel. Beginning May 1, 2010, the tax of 15 euros (22.5 dollars) per tonne of CO2 emitted will be applied also to heating fuel and gas.
Brian Lenihan, Ireland’s finance minister, said the tax is a demonstration of Ireland’s real interest in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
France will enact a similar tax on Jan. 1, 2010, as President Nicolas Sarkozy announced in September. "The tax, at a rate of 17 euros (24.35 dollars) per tonne of emissions, will be applied to industries as well as households," the president said in a speech at the time.
Sarkozy explained that the value of the tax is equal to the average price per tonne of CO2 on the European carbon market, in operation since 2008.
Former French prime minister Michel Rocard (1988-1991), who in early 2009 headed the commission that proposed the introduction of the carbon tax, told Tierramérica that the "purpose is to penalise some polluting behaviours that fuel global warming, like the consumption of fossil fuels."
Multilateral institutions, like the International Labour Organisation, support a global tax on CO2. In a report published Dec. 11, the ILO estimated that the tax would lead to the creation of some 14 million jobs by 2014.
The ILO suggests a tax similar to those of France and Ireland. The report "Green Policies and Jobs: A Double Dividend?" also calculates that some 600 million workers around the world, representing about 40 percent of all jobs, currently work in sectors with high CO2 emissions.
However, some economists and the governments of emerging nations like China see the tax as counterproductive. Beijing believes it ignores the different responsibilities of industrialised countries and developing countries in terms of how much they have contributed to global warming.
Ottmar Edenhofer, a professor at the Technical University of Berlin, says the CO2 tax would "motivate the petroleum or carbon producing countries to accelerate extraction of those fuels and would increase emissions. The system of transferable emissions permits is preferable because it allows immediate control of national emissions budgets," he told Tierramérica.
But the emissions rights – in practice, permits to pollute – need to overcome two obstacles: first, the international community should adopt a binding system of allocation, whether based on the size of the population, which would favour developing countries, or according to economic yields, which would benefit industrialised nations. The second is that the market itself should be global.
In any case, said Edenhofer, the urgency of climate change demands an immediate solution.
"The global budget of greenhouse-effect emissions in the current century must not surpass 830 gigatonnes of CO2 if we are not to go beyond the maximum temperature rise of two degrees C," he said.
"In the last decade, humanity produced 270 gigatonnes. At that pace, the world will have exhausted its budget in less than 30 years," warned the expert.
2.4. Jan 31st 2010: the new deadline for saving billions of tonnes of emissions
21 December 2009, Sandbag
The Copenhagen talks have ended in chaos and confusion with the multilateral process stretched to the point of collapse. It seems distrust and narrow self-interest have won the day.
So what now?
The Copenhagen Accord exists and has been heralded by some as a new beginning, involving a wider number of countries in a common effort to avert catastrophe. Despite its unclear legal status, countries who support it should now record nationally derived targets in an annex before the end of January 2010. This raises the question of what targets will countries enter and can they be increased?
Europe was the first to invent the conditional target offering a 20% reduction by 2020 but a higher 30% cut in the event of an international deal. Australia and New Zealand quickly followed suit. The difference between the lower and upper end of the range of targets in Europe represents some 3 billion tonnes of emissions between 2013 and 2020. This is a significant sum. As leaked UN documents showed the gap between what countries are pledging to do over the next decade and what science demands is already worryingly large. If Europe decides to allow 3 billion tonnes more emissions to occur it will knowingly increase the global risk we face, locking in high emission technologies and making the task of catching up more difficult in the following decade.
For the EU, which has long proclaimed its leadership in committing to action on climate change, the move to the higher target should be a no-brainer. The 20% target is now so weak as to be equivalent to business as usual. Compared to a 2005 baseline it will deliver less investment in solutions in the near term than the paltry US target, despite the fact that we have a head start, with the policies in place already to deliver the reductions. Recent studies have shown that hitting the 30% target will cost over €100 bn less than the 20% target would have cost pre the recession partly because of the huge volume of ‘hot air’ that has been generated under the weak caps set under the much vaunted ‘EU Emissions Trading System’. Tightening caps provides a highly cost effective way of meeting the higher target.
For all these reasons Europe has to move to a higher ambition target and enter it into the accord – to do anything less would be an insult to all those vulnerable countries relying on leadership from developed countries and put us well behind in the race to develop a low carbon economy.
But despite these compelling reasons the EU is prevaricating. The stated reason is that they want to wrest greater commitments from other countries before agreeing to move. But that strategy has clearly failed. Europe cannot now stay at its lower number when it knows that doing so will take us ever further from the goal of 2 degrees they claim they so vehemently support. They would do well to listen to other countries who were unequivocal about their intention to press ahead unilaterally. President Lula demonstrated real leadership when he passionately explained why Brazil would be taking on an ambitious target despite having no obligation to do so, Premier Wen Jiabao used his speech to list off China’s unconditional unilateral climate policies and Obama firmly stated the actions the US was preparing to take to protect their own self interest irrespective of what the rest of the world did. Only Europe persisted in its ineffective ‘I will if you will’ schoolyard strategy.
Obviously the real reason for the EU temerity is the fact that countries such as Germany and Italy are under considerable pressure from industrial lobby groups who know well that a move to a higher target will result in tighter caps on their emissions. But we must persuade Europe’s leaders to move. These are the voices of old industry – the voices of the bright green companies that are emerging to challenge the old order are less clear but they must become more vocal join with NGOs and counter the negative lobbying.
We have a month to turn the EU’s position around. All European NGOs interested in salvaging something positive from the flames of Copenhagen must address their efforts at securing this policy change. Three billions tonnes is worth fighting for – we cannot allow our leaders to knowingly allow this level of pollution. Its time Europe started acting like it truly meant what it said.
2.5. Sarkozy scrambles to salvage carbon tax
31 December 2009, AFP
French President Nicolas Sarkozy faced an embarrassing setback Wednesday after the high court struck down a planned carbon tax to fight global warming, just days before it was to kick in.
The constitutional court ruled that too many exemptions to the tax on carbon dioxide emissions created inequalities and unfairly placed the burden of cutting down wasteful energy use on a minority of consumers.
Sarkozy had fiercely defended the measure in the face of strong public opposition, calling it a "revolutionary" approach in the fight against climate change and making it a pillar of his 2010 budget.
The court ruling was seen as a severe blow for the French president, coming less than two weeks after world leaders failed to reach a binding deal on climate change at the Copenhagen summit.
The right-wing government was forced to quickly go back to the drawing board and Prime Minister Francois Fillon announced that a new bill on the carbon tax would be submitted to cabinet next month.
"France has shown that it is a leader in the fight against climate change and it will remain at the forefront by presenting new legislation on January 20," said government spokesman Luc Chatel.
In its ruling Tuesday, the Constitutional Council said the "large number of exemptions from the carbon tax runs counter to the goal of fighting climate change and violates the equality enjoyed by all in terms of public charges."
The Council said more than 1,000 of France’s top polluters would have been able to dodge the tax and that the legislation did not apply to 93 percent of emissions from industrial sources.
The new levy on oil, gas and coal consumption set at 17 euros (25 dollars) per tonne of carbon dioxide emissions was aimed at encouraging French consumers to adopt good green behaviour and stop wasting energy.
The legislation did not apply to electricity, which in France is produced mostly from nuclear reactors that are not a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.
France would have been the biggest economy to have applied a direct carbon tax when it was to come into effect on January 1, mirroring measures that exist in Sweden, Denmark and Finland.
Socialist opposition leader Martine Aubry called the court decision a "major setback" for Sarkozy and said the government must now "draw the necessary consequences from this fiasco" before presenting a new bill.
The Socialists, who had asked the court to rule on the legality of the carbon tax, had argued that the flat levy on fuel unjustly penalised low-income families, especially those in rural areas who have no choice but to use cars.
The Greens, who had argued from the outset that the measure did not go far enough, applauded the court decision, saying it had confirmed that the entire scheme was a "fraud".
Consumer groups had complained that the new tax would have hit rural households harder along with cash-strapped families who are unable to afford the energy-saving home renovations that could make a difference.
In practice, the tax would have raised household heating bills by up to 174 euros a year and pushed up the cost of petrol at the pump by about four euro cents per litre.
Polls showed two-thirds of French citizens opposed the carbon tax.
The government had anticipated revenues of 4.1 billion euros from the tax next year, but the funds were earmarked for redistribution in the form of tax breaks and "green cheques" to families that cut down consumption.
"France poorly prepared the carbon tax," acknowledged Jean Arthius, a centrist lawmaker and president of the Senate finance committee.
"Before the Copenhagen summit, we tried to be pioneers … but this is an issue that must be dealt on a supra-national level. We should have held talks with neighbouring countries," he said.
3.1. CLIMATE JUSTICE TIMES
Read more at: http://www.foeeurope.org/publications/2009/climate_justice_times_FOEI_web_FINAL.pdf
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