1.1. Money Key To Tackling Climate Change
2 September 2010, Voive of America
Ministers from 45 countries are meeting to discuss the long-term financing of mitigation and adaptation measures needed to tackle climate change. The two-day meeting, which is jointly hosted by the governments of Switzerland and Mexico, hopes to come up with a plan to advance climate negotiations at the forthcoming talks in Cancun, Mexico, in December.
The new executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change has been on the job for only two months. But, in that short period of time, Christiana Figueres says events making the news have provided a vision of a future of intense global climate disasters no one wants.
"Floods in Pakistan and fires in Russia, so dramatic that many other major weather disasters in the Americas, Asia and Africa, which would normally have made front-page news, were relegated as secondary events," said Figueres. "Science will show whether and how those events are related to the climate change that is caused by humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions. But, the point is clear, we cannot afford to face escalating disasters of that kind."
And, the bill for taming these catastrophic climate events is huge. Slowing global warming will take billions of dollars. During the two-day meeting, environmental ministers and experts will try to reach a long-term financing agreement for climate action.
Issues under discussion include a new fund for the environment, ways to bring the private sector into financing and finding new sources of finance.
Figueres says funding for developing countries holds the key to action.
"Industrialized nations pledged $30 billion in fast-track finance from the year 2010 to the year 2012. And, developing countries see the provision of this fast-track financing as a key sign of industrialized countries commitment to the negotiations. Industrialized countries also pledged to find ways and means to raise $100 billion a year by 2020 and concrete proposals on how to do this are now required," she said.
Critics say some of the $30 billion pledged last December at the Climate Conference in Copenhagen was old funding dressed up as new. Figueres says developing countries expect the funding to be completely new and additional.
She says developing countries do not want industrialized countries to divert money allocated to other poverty issues to climate change because this will take money away from other critical programs.
The Kyoto Protocol, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, runs out at the end of 2010. The Copenhagen Conference failed to reach a global agreement to follow or extend Kyoto.
The United Nations will try again to achieve a Convention during the next Climate Change summit in Cancun, Mexico in December.
1.2. Nations meet on climate cash, U.N. sees long haul
2 September 2010, Reuters
About 45 nations met on Thursday to seek ways to raise billions of dollars in aid to help the poor combat climate change as the United Nations warned them of a long haul to slow global warming.
Environment ministers and senior officials in Geneva were reviewing whether rich nations, hit by austerity cuts, are keeping a promise of $30 billion (£19.5 billion) in "new and additional" climate aid for 2010-12 made at the U.N.’s Copenhagen summit.
"The funds are critical" to build trust between rich and poor damaged in Copenhagen, Christiana Figueres, the U.N.’s climate chief, told Reuters in an interview.
About 120 countries in Copenhagen also pledged to increase aid for developing nations to $100 billion aid a year from 2020, tapping sources such as carbon taxes or more costly plane tickets.
Figueres said cash could be a key to unlock progress on other climate problems, such as sharing clean technologies or protecting carbon-storing forests at the next meeting of environment ministers in Cancun, Mexico, from November 29-December 10.
Swiss Environment Minister Moritz Leuenberger told the start of the two-day talks that "the regulation of the financial issues is a key precondition for the successful conclusion of the climate negotiations in Cancun."
But Figueres predicted there would be no new global treaty to combat climate change in Cancun, even though she said that extreme weather such as floods in Pakistan or Russia’s heat wave were "warning bells" about the risks of inaction.
"I don’t think that governments are considering (a treaty) for Cancun," she said. A year ago, many nations were hoping that the Copenhagen summit in December would be a "big bang" deal to help solve climate change.
But that didn’t happen and Figueres, head of the Bonn-based U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, said it was more realistic to look for gradual progress in solving climate change, adding that there was no "magic bullet."
Cancun could end up setting a new deadline for working out a more binding deal, perhaps by the end of 2012.
Figueres said it was vital that developed nations be able to point to $10 billion allocated to climate aid for 2010 by the time they meet in Cancun. But she urged developing nations to give leeway in judging if it was truly "new and additional" as agreed in Copenhagen.
She said that all nations’ 2010 budgets were agreed by national parliaments by the time of the December summit. "There are justifiable reasons to see why 100 percent of this allocation (in 2010) will not be additional," she said.
The Netherlands plans to launch a new website on Friday to track climate promises.
An overview by Reuters shows that aid promises total $29.8 billion for 2010-12, but it is unclear how much is new. Japan, for instance, has pledged the most aid, at $15 billion, but much of that was decided several years ago.
Janos Pasztor, director of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s climate change support team, said experts were trying to balance competing interests to come up with ways of raising $100 billion a year from 2020.
"There are different combinations of these sources that can give you $100 billion or more," he said, referring to ideas such as levies on carbon trading or plane fares. "But none of the sources on its own will be enough."’
1.3. Hope of deal in Cancun fades as rich break vow
6 September 2010, Economic Times
Hope of progress on a global climate deal at the year-end Cancun summit is rapidly dimming with rich countries backtracking on their commitment to provide climate funds. Finance is a key issue for rebuilding trust among developing and developed countries.
The two-day informal Geneva Dialogue on Climate Finance held late last week focused on sources of long-term climate finance, particularly the role of public and private funds. The developing world is concerned about the increased emphasis by industrialised countries on private sources and markets for climate funds.
There is hesitation on the part of the rich countries to commit public funds on account of global financial crisis and the ensuing austerity cuts.
Environment minister Jairam Ramesh, who attended the meeting, cautioned industrialised countries not to walk away from their commitment because of the current financial crisis. According to Mr Ramesh, the Geneva meeting was “not a productive event” as there was “a conscious effort by developed countries to underplay finance and overplay the role of markets in climate finance.”
Industrialised countries are going back on their funding commitments made in Copenhagen. The developed countries had pledged to provide $30 billion as fast-track finance between 2010 and 2012 for poor developing countries. This was supposed to be new and additional funds.
In the Copenhagen Accord, the industrialised countries had pledged to mobilise $100 billion every year by 2020 to help fund climate change action in developing countries. This money was to be raised from a “wide variety of sources, public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources of funding.”
Since the December 2009 climate summit there has been a concerted push to look to markets to raise climate funds. The industrialised countries have consistently pushed for a greater role of markets in climate finance. The European Union has been a prime mover for increased role of markets.
The pitch has become louder in view of the global crisis. This is not a viable option for the developing world, particularly the most vulnerable and the least developed.
“The whole financing game, with the financial squeeze in the developed countries, there is an attempt to redefine their obligations as part of paragraph 5 in the Copenhagen Accord,” Mr Ramesh stressed.
This attempt to redefine obligations is bound to have repercussions on the global climate talks, which has been dogged by an absence of trust between the developed and developing world. UNFCCC executive secretary Christiana Figueres acknowledges that finance is of critical importance for rebuilding trust between the rich developed and poor developing countries.
“If there is anybody who is backtracking on the Copenhagen agreement it is the Americans and the Europeans because they are reinterpreting the $100 billion by 2020.
By and large financing for adaptation has necessarily to be public financing, while mitigation will involve a mix of public and private funds.
Now they are trying to redefine the $100 billion by saying that if we come with ten billion and leverage the remaining $90 billion, we have met our target of $100 billion,” Mr Ramesh said.
Industrialised countries have argued that new "innovative" sources were always part of the long-term financing promise. The rich industrialised countries have suggested that “emerging” countries contribute to providing resources for climate financing. This is not acceptable to India and China, two key advanced developing countries.
The financial crisis has also cast doubt on how much of the $30 billion fast track finance is actually new and additional. "With the growing financial crisis in the developed countries, there is a visible backtracking on the public component of $ 100 billion and they are also redefining ‘new and additional funds,” Mr Ramesh said.
There is growing apprehension that developed countries are re-routing existing developmental aid as climate fund. Ms Figueres, who also attended the Geneva meet said that the developing countries expectation that the fast track finance would “completely new and additional” was “very justifiable”.
Global climate talks have been hamstrung due to the slow progress and lack of clarity on funding for developing countries. Finance is one of the building blocks of the Bali Action Plan. Headway on funding of climate action is crucial for a global deal.
The Geneva dialogue was one of the informal ministerial being organised by Mexico, which holds the presidency of the 16th Conference of parties under the UNFCCC. These meetings are not part of the UNFCCC negotiations process but efforts to provide a constructive atmosphere for discussions and regaining trust in order to breathe life into the stalled process.
1.4. EPA to issue more rules in climate fight
2 September 2010, Reuters
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will roll out more regulations on greenhouse gases and other pollution to help fight climate change, but they will not be as strong as action by Congress, a senior administration official said.
The agency "has a huge role to play in continuing the work to move from where we are now to lower carbon emissions", said the official, who did not want to be identified as the EPA policies are still being formed.
President Barack Obama, looking to take the lead in global talks on greenhouse gas emissions, has long warned that the EPA would take steps to regulate emissions if Congress failed to pass a climate bill.
The Senate has all but ruled out moving on greenhouse gases this year, even though the House of Representatives passed a bill last year. In late July, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stripped climate provisions out of an energy bill, saying he could not get one Republican vote for them.
The senior official stopped short of saying the EPA alone would achieve Obama’s goal of about 17 percent reductions in greenhouse gases by 2020 from 2005 levels.
"With legislation you almost certainly get more emissions reductions than you get with existing authorities" that the EPA can use under the Clean Air Act, the official said.
And analysts say the EPA will not be able to achieve the far deeper cuts needed to help prevent the worst effects of climate change such as floods, droughts and heatwaves.
Though Congress will not likely move in 2010, the EPA expects it will do so in coming years, the official said.
EPA plans on smokestack emissions face obstacles in Congress and in the courts. Senator Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, and other lawmakers hope to stop the EPA from regulating the emissions for two years.
Energy companies — from wind and solar power makers to utilities — are concerned about the regulatory uncertainties, with some analysts saying billions of dollars of investments are stymied by the lack of direction in Washington.
The official said the EPA rules would provide regulatory certainty that could help businesses get loans to build new plants. A two-year delay would only prolong the uncertainty, and hurt the chances of getting financing, the official said.
The EPA has worked with the Department of Transportation to set new fuel-efficiency standards, as well as the first greenhouse gas emissions rules, on cars and light trucks. More standards for vehicles sold after 2017 are expected to be released later this month.
The EPA also has moved to regulate greenhouse gases from stationary sources such as power plants and factories.
Starting next year the EPA will require large power plants, manufacturers and oil refiners to get permits for releasing greenhouse gas emissions, though details are unclear.
The EPA will also require industrial sources to submit analyses on the so-called "best available technology" they could add to their plants to cut emissions under the existing Clean Air Act.
The official said the EPA will put out guidance this month that would help companies determine which technologies — perhaps moving to cleaner-burning natural gas and away from coal — would make the most sense.
In addition, the EPA is working on rules to cut emissions of mercury from coal-burning power plants and cement plants and on toughening rules on coal ash. In combination, the rules could help force inefficient coal plants into early retirement.
That could hit shares in big coal burners such as American Electric Power and Southern Co..
A recent Bernstein Research report said upcoming EPA rules could push 15 percent of current coal-fired power plant capacity into early retirement by 2015.
The EPA will soon roll out more regulations on greenhouse gases and traditional pollutants like mercury emissions that will help cut planet-warming pollution and emissions that more directly hurt human health, the official said.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson plans to attend a meeting in Mexico in October aimed at reducing emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas about 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, the official said.
The meeting will come a month before representatives from rich and developing countries convene for annual U.N. climate talks in Cancun, Mexico.
2.1. MEPs re-allocate crisis funds to energy efficiency
6 September 2010, EurActiv
MEPs voted last week (2 September) to use €115 million of unspent recovery plan money from the EU’s recovery plan on projects to improve energy efficiency in the regions.
The European Parliament’s industry, research and energy committee gave its unanimous blessing to European Commission proposals to use unspent money from the European Energy Recovery Programme (EERP). The initiative will create a dedicated financial instrument to support regional and local projects in energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Since the programme started in 2009 with a budget of €3.98 billion, money has been allocated to energy interconnections, offshore wind and carbon capture and storage (CCS; see EurActiv LinksDossier) demonstration plants as a priority.
But the Commission now estimates that €115 million will go unspent until the end-of-year deadline, which can be freed for energy efficiency and renewables projects.
MEPs argued that the instrument will create new jobs in regions, which will make them more attractive places to live and aid social integration.
Under the plan, eligible projects will need to have a rapid and significant impact on economic recovery, boost energy security and cut greenhouse gas emissions. Such projects could involve combined heat and power (CHP; see EurActiv LinksDossier) and district heating networks, grid-connected decentralised renewable production amd clean public transport and electric vehicles, as well as electricity storage solutions, smart metering and smart grids, MEPs said.
The new rules will go some way towards correcting the bias towards fossil-fuels that MEPs had detected in the programme. Along with CCS, they had insisted on including energy efficiency and smart cities.
The fund will be managed by public financial intermediaries in order to maximise short-term impact. MEP Antonio Cancian (European People’s Party; Italy), shadow rapporteur on the Parliament’s opinion, argued that the EU funds could later be enhanced with other budgetary resources and leveraged by the European Investment Bank and the private sector by up to €4-5 billion.
"Currently, this type of innovative fund is limited to the energy sector […], but I hope that in the future it could represent the start of a new principle which can be replicated in other sectors such as transport, with much greater budgets and public-private partnerships," he said.
The Parliament as a whole will vote on the rule changes in October.
2.2. Offset quality needs to take into account more than just HFCs
3 Septemeber 2010, Sandbag
As the storm surrounding HFC credits rumbles on questions are starting to be asked about other offset credit types. In a short report entitled ‘Hydro CERs and the EU ETS 2009’ Sandbag takes a brief look at another credit type and one which is already subject to additional quality criteria, Hydro CERs.
Article 11b paragraph 6 of the EU ETS directive sets out that Member States shall ensure hydroelectric power production exceeding 20MW adhere to relevant international criteria and guidelines approved, including those contained in the November 2000 World Commission on Dams report.
Based on this additional requirement Sandbag has made the distinction between credits from ‘large’ and ‘small’ hydroelectric power projects. In 2009 a total of 78.3 million CERs were surrendered for compliance in the EU ETS, 3% of that total came from hydroelectric projects (2% large and 1% small). This equates to 2.3 million (1.6m large and 0.8m small) hydro CERs being used for compliance in the EU ETS. This report pinpoints which EU Member States are surrendering the most, from which host countries they originate from and a more detailed look at the CERs from the lone Gold Standard project present.
The debate about the quality of offset credits that can be used in the ETS is already underway with the European Commission expected to publish recommendations for introducing more stringent quality criteria well before the start of the next trading period in 2013. These will apply to offset usage in the ETS only. Separate policy decisions would need to be reached to limit credits used by EU countries for their Kyoto compliance.
Two issues are central to this debate – whether the credits represent good value for money for the EU and whether the emissions reductions credited are genuine, additional and contributing to meaningful sustainable development in the host country. Some hydro projects can prove problematic in that in many countries they represent Business As Usual development patterns. In some cases they can also lead to very negative social and environmental impacts. Once built, however, they can also provide countries with a long lasting renewable source of reliable and low cost energy, with many advantages over alternative, fossil based development options.
It seems likely that in the future criteria based on size alone will not prove effective at distinguishing between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ hydro projects and the EU will need to develop its own comprehensive assessment criteria.
2.3. Ministers to hold first talks on new energy savings plan
3 September 2010, EurActiv
EU energy ministers will meet at the beginning of next week for informal discussions which are expected to shed light on their positions related to the EU’s upcoming new energy efficiency action plan.
The two-day meeting, which starts on Monday (6 September), will first concentrate on protecting energy consumers, while Tuesday is dedicated to energy infrastructure. On that second day, ministers will also discuss energy efficiency at a behind-closed-doors lunch.
The discussion will relate to the revision of the EU’s energy efficiency action plan, confirmed a spokesperson for Paul Magnette, the Belgian climate and energy minister, who is leading the talks on behalf of the Belgian EU Presidency. The European Commission is aiming to present the revised text early next year.
A mid-term revision of the 2006 action plan was scheduled for 2009, but at the time the outgoing Commission decided to leave the task to the new EU executive. One of the more controversial issues has been whether to make the EU’s energy efficiency goal (20% by 2020) legally binding.
Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger said he would like the ministers to come up with a "clear, precise definition of what 20% higher efficiency means" during this meeting (EurActiv 12/07/10).
The action plan aims to meet this goal, but it is not clear how it could be measured. For instance, energy savings could be measured by reductions from a certain base-year or in relation to projected energy consumption in 2020.
At the moment, however, a binding target appears unlikely despite calls from MEPs. The European Parliament’s environment committee is also scheduled to debate the revision on Monday.
Commissioner Oettinger has said he would prefer to wait until 2012 to assess whether the voluntary target is producing results before considering binding goals. Currently, the Commission concedes that the EU is only heading towards 11% energy savings at best.
The energy commissioner is also scheduled to brief the ministers on a blueprint for a European Infrastructure Plan. They will also hold a debate on financing energy infrastructure.
The Commission is currently preparing a new energy infrastructure package, due for release later this year. The package will address energy infrastructure development in the next decade, preparations for a blueprint for an offshore grid in the North Sea and smart grids.
It will also review the guidelines for trans-European networks in energy (TEN-E) in favour of a more effective financing instrument.
2.4. Analysis: German coal imports to rise despite green lobbying
2 September 2010, Reuters
Germany ‘s coal imports look set to increase until at least the middle of the decade, despite carbon pollution concerns and anti-coal lobbying that has succeeded in stopping many new coal-fired projects.
Coal supplies 42 percent of German power, and as the economy accelerates, steelmakers and utilities are stepping up their use of imported coal.
Some new coal-fired power capacity is still starting up and needs firing over its long lifetime.
"Germany can only maintain its industrial activity in the recovery with competitively priced power," and coal imports are easily available and do not involve taxpayer subsidies, said Wolfgang Ritschelm the managing director of hard coal importers lobby VdKI.
"For a number of years it looked as if there were no new coal-to-power plants possible, but the fact is that some 8,300 MW are under construction to replace old units," he added.
The increase in imports to fuel this capacity will come in the form of hard coal, which is already mainly imported.
European Union law demands that subsidized German hard coal mines close by 2018 at the latest.
Meanwhile, the contribution from indigenous brown coal, which accounts for 24 percent of power generation, is fixed and not negotiable, because it is cheap and the local mines create jobs.
One of the big four utility companies shared its internal projections with Reuters. It estimated German hard coal imports for power generation would go up to 33 million tonnes this year from 31 million in 2009, which was a post-war low as the global financial crisis cut imports by 4 million tonnes from 2008.
The company, which did not wish to be identified, expected imports to rise to 50 million tonnes by 2013 as domestic mine production, which was 13.8 million tonnes in 2009, drops to just 5 million.
French bank Societe Generale supplied to Reuters forecasts from its research team, which showed a similar trend.
It forecast that German thermal coal consumption, which counts both coal types and coal usage in and outside of power generation, would increase to 138 million tonnes by 2015 from 129 million in 2009.
Manufacturers are likely to rev up their power usage in coming years, and power consumption should rise due to expanding requirements for information technology and to big plans for electric cars.
Over the medium term, all these factors outweigh headline-grabbing opposition to coal, which has killed seven projects over the past 18 months.
"Stop new coal projects," says the Klima-Allianz of Berlin, a caucus tying together 100 anti-coal groups, which argue that coal projects are backwards-looking and climate-harming.
2.5. German ministers clash on nuclear report
30 August 2010,Reuters
Two key German ministers took different positions on Monday on the length of time that nuclear power plants should be extended after Chancellor Angela Merkel reduced expectations for a long extension.
Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle and Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen drew differing conclusions from an expert report — a study of four different scenarios — aimed at helping the government form its energy policy in late September.
Bruederle, who strongly favors extending the lives of Germany’s 17 nuclear plants beyond their current 2021 shutdown date, said 12 to 20 more years beyond 2021 would bring the greatest advantages.
"All in all, the greatest economic advantage would be realized if the nuclear power is extended between 12 and 20 years," Bruederle said. He said the report showed that would guarantee lower power prices and cut CO2 emissions.
But Roettgen, who has said he wants to limit their extension to eight years, said the report did not take any position on a cost-benefit analysis for the economy.
He said the report showed that there would be very little difference in electricity prices in the future regardless of whether nuclear power is extended by four, 12, 20 or 28 years.
Roettgen said the price difference would be a maximum of 1.8 cents per kilowatt hour long-term and that there was no significant relevance in the amount of additional CO2 reduced with longer nuclear use.
"All our relevant goals are achievable," no matter how long nuclear power is extended, Roettgen said. He also warned indirectly that extending nuclear power would reduce pressure to expand renewable energy.
On Sunday Merkel spoke out in favor of extending the use of nuclear power plants in Germany, saying an expert report to the government found it would be reasonable if the reactors could run another 10 to 15 years.
But she also warned against high expectations and hinted that it would be difficult to reach even 10 to 15 years. Opinion polls show a majority of Germans opposed to extending the use of nuclear power.
Under a nuclear phase-out law passed by the former center-left Social Democrat-Greens government of Gerhard Schroeder, all German nuclear plants are due to shut in about by 2021.
Merkel wants to extend their lifespans while forcing utilities to hand over a least half of their profits resulting from the extension.
The biggest utilities, E.ON, RWE, Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg and Vattenfall have campaigned strongly against the nuclear fuel tax and pushed for a tax-deductible fixed charge instead.
3.1. United Nations Climate Change Conference
4 to 9 October 2010 in Tianjin, China
The fourteenth session of the AWG-KP and the twelfth session of the AWG-LCA will take place from Monday, 4 to Saturday, 9 October 2010 at the Tianjin Meijiang Convention and Exhibition Center (MJCEC), Tianjin, China.
The above-mentioned sessions will be preceded by preparatory meetings of the Group of 77 and China, the African Group, the small islands developing States and the least developed countries from Tuesday, 28 September to Sunday, 3 October 2010.
More at: http://unfccc.int/2860.php
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