1.1. US vote shadows world climate talks: green groups
6 April 2008, AFP
BANGKOK (AFP) — For all the talk of urgency in fighting climate change, negotiators are putting off the hard part in drafting the next global treaty until the US election, diplomats and environmentalists say.
All three major candidates seeking the keys to the White House in January support tougher action on climate change than President George W. Bush, who rejected the Kyoto Protocol as one of his first acts in office.
Five days of marathon negotiations in Bangkok ended late Friday with a work plan to draft a treaty, by the end of next year, on how to fight climate change once Kyoto’s commitments to curb harmful gas emissions run out in 2012.
"We’re all looking forward to moving ahead more swiftly in 2009 when finally there is a US administration that recognises the urgency of climate change," said David Mittler, a climate adviser at environmental group Greenpeace.
"The world community has to make it clear that they expect the US to join in a real, climate-saving agenda… to ensure a world that still has things like coral reefs and farmers in Africa who are not made refugees," he said.
Bush argues that Kyoto is unfair to the world’s largest economy by making no demands of fast-growing polluters such as China and India.
The US delegation in Bangkok was led by Harlan Watson, who urged the developing world to "get real" about their demands for major cash handouts and to consider the faltering state of the global economy.
But quietly, staff members from the US Senate, controlled by the rival Democratic Party, were also in Bangkok — meeting in the corridors to lay the groundwork for a future deal on climate change.
Yvo de Boer, head of the UN climate body that led the formal talks, said the question of how much rich nations should slash emissions in the next decade "is something which is perhaps more sensibly discussed with a new administration."
ŽRepublican presidential candidate John McCain was an early supporter in his party of fighting climate change, butting heads with Bush.
Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the two Democrats vying to be president, have both supported emissions cuts of 80 percent by 2050 from 1990 levels, far steeper than the global average of five percent by 2012 under Kyoto.
Obama has also said he would put former US vice president Al Gore in charge of climate policy.
Gore shared the Nobel peace prize last year for his campaigning on the environment. He has recently called for a "global Marshall plan" to combat climate change, which he blamed for poverty, disease, drought and other ills.
"I think people are feeling optimistic that the next administration is going to engage in a different way than Bush has," said Alden Meyer, strategy director for the Union of Concerned Scientists, a US activist group.
But he added: "The question is how aggressive they’re going to be."
The next president is likely to face pressure from industry groups, particularly as the US economy appears headed into recession.
He or she will have a long list of appointments to make and send to Congress for approval as the new president stamps his or her authority on the White House.
"The rest of the world shouldn’t have to be kept waiting because of the US election cycle," said Angela Anderson of the Washington-based Pew Environment Group.
1.2. Tough road lies ahead for global climate deal
4 April 2008, AFP
BANGKOK (AFP) — There have been numerous disagreements during a week of intense climate change talks in Bangkok but there is one point all sides agree on — a long, tough road lies ahead. The five-day negotiations stretched past midnight on Friday before reaching a deal aimed solely at setting up more talks, the eventual goal to draft by the end of next year the most far-reaching treaty yet to battle global warming.
Rich and poor nations were at loggerheads, with developing countries especially suspicious of a Japanese-led proposal on industry standards and demanding greater aid to help them cope with the ravages of climate change.
The talks set up seven more sessions — three this year and four next — amid growing global concern that rising temperatures could put millions of people at risk by century’s end through drought, floods and other extreme weather.
The next session meets in June in Bonn, Germany.
"We have 18 months to agree on a deal and it is probably one of the most important deals that mankind has negotiated," said Marcelo Furtado of Greenpeace Brazil.
"This is showing that we still lack political will and that is something we’re very concerned about," he said.
The treaty due next year is meant to decide on an action plan after the Kyoto Protocol’s obligations to slash greenhouse gas emissions expire at the end of 2012.
The United States, which snubbed Kyoto, and developing nations, which have no obligations under it, agreed at a conference in December in Bali, Indonesia, to negotiate to craft the next treaty.
Yvo de Boer, head of the UN body on climate change, acknowledged there were issues that each side was "very attached to" and said the Bangkok agreement created "bite-sized chunks" to allow smoother negotiations.
"It takes time to find a way out and they did," he said of the Bangkok negotiations.
De Boer said the Bangkok talks made genuine headway by approving a statement that lauds the burgeoning market in carbon emissions trading.
Under Kyoto, countries and companies can buy and sell credits to emit greenhouse gases so as to meet their own requirements.
De Boer said the statement sent a strong signal that the market would continue even after Kyoto’s obligations run out.
"Businesses have been asking for clarity on this issue and now they have it, making it possible for them to plan their investments accordingly," de Boer told an early morning press conference.
The Bangkok talks, attended by more than 160 countries, also called for studies into how to slash emissions by airplanes and ships.
International transport accounts for a growing amount of emissions but was exempted under Kyoto obligations, in part because the sector is inherently difficult to classify under individual countries.
Talks stalled late in the conference as Japan pushed for an early discussion of a "sectoral" approach, in which each industry is given standards for energy-efficiency.
Japan’s chief delegate, Kyoji Komachi, said he believed more countries came to understand Tokyo’s position but that more work was needed.
Developing countries and environmentalists charged that Japan, whose emissions are rising amid an economic recovery, was trying to pass on the burden of emissions cuts to nations with less energy-efficient infrastructure.
"They didn’t get the respect for their proposal that they wanted and instead half the rest of the world is now very suspicious as to what Japan’s real agenda is," said Daniel Mittler, a climate expert at Greenpeace International.
Byron Blake, an envoy from Antigua and Barbuda which leads the bloc of developing nations, said the Japanese sectoral approach "would move away from the spirit of the convention and the protocol."
"The real negotiations are going to take place over the next two years," Blake said.
Greenpeace Brazil’s Furtado said the at-times painstakingly slow negotiations in Bangkok to agree future meetings, or a ‘workplan,’ did not bode well for the future.
"If we took all these hours to agree on a workplan, one can only imagine what will happen when the real negotiations take place," he said.
"It is a worrisome indication of how these negotiations will develop."
1.3. Good policies can contain climate change costs: IMF
4 April 2008, Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Economic costs of damages caused by climate change can be contained by implementing well designed policies that are adopted by a large group of countries, the International Monetary Fund said on Thursday.
In new analysis, the IMF said those costs can be reduced through long-term, flexible policies that can avert further climate changes, including a carbon pricing system that is credible to both people and businesses.
For example, higher carbon prices would spur shifts in investments and consumption away from products and technologies that increase greenhouse gases that cause global warming.
The IMF’s research, the first ever that looks at the effects of climate change on economies, cautioned that climate policies could also have wide-ranging economic consequences.
It pointed to the increase in global food prices and inflation caused by biofuels production, which is draining maize stocks and pushing up prices of staples.
The IMF’s research comes as countries begin to flesh out a global agreement on addressing climate change to extend or replace the existing Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
U.N. climate experts want the new pact to cut greenhouse gases in all countries, although there is wide disagreement about how to share the burden between rich nations led by the United States and emerging countries such as China and India.
Nearly 200 countries agreed in talks in Bali, Indonesia, in December to try and clinch a new climate deal by the end of 2009.
The IMF said the risk from potential damages caused by climate change could be large and even catastrophic if global warming was left not properly addressed.
The IMF said mitigation policies should encourage all countries, from rich to poor, to start pricing their emissions. Any framework that does not include large and fast-growing economies would be costly and politically difficult, the IMF said.
That is because during the next 50 years, 70 percent of emissions are projected to come from emerging and developing economies, the fund added.
IMF researcher Natalia Tamirisa said incentives to cut emissions would depend on the design of policies to cut emissions.
"For example, on the cap and trade policies or hybrid policies, it is possible to design them in a way that would generate some financial transfers towards emerging and developing countries," she told reporters.
The IMF said carbon pricing policies should aim for a common world price for emissions that targets the cheapest emissions cuts, thereby reducing the cost of fighting climate change.
The IMF also said that carbon pricing should have enough flexibility to accommodate the ups and downs of the business cycle. In periods of high demand, it would be more costly for firms to reduce emissions, for example, it said.
It recommended a gradual increase in carbon prices, starting early and from a low level, which would minimize adjustment costs by spreading them over a longer period.
The IMF said it had not produced any regional estimates of damages from climate change, but added that generally the costs would likely burden future generations.
1.4. European Climate Foundation
European Climate Foundation aims to promote climate and energy policies that greatly reduce Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions and help Europe play an even stronger international leadership role in mitigating climate change.
More info about the new fundation: http://www.europeanclimate.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=14&Itemid=28
1.5. WHO faces up to climate change in sixtieth anniversary year
7 April 2008, AFP
GENEVA (AFP) — Turning sixty is usually a time to start winding down and think of retirement, but the World Health Organisation is using this milestone as a spur to its greatest challenge yet — climate change.
The WHO was born in the shadow of the Second World War on April 7, 1948 at a time when infectious diseases such as cholera threatened a world weakened by six bloody years of conflict.
Sixty years later and numbering 193 member states, the Geneva-based WHO is concerned with a whole host of health issues, from smoking to road safety, as well as the threats of AIDS, SARS and bird flu.
This would appear more than enough for any organisation but WHO Director General Margaret Chan has chosen this anniversary year to address the issue of climate change and its implications for public health the world over.
Sixty years ago, when WHO was founded, public health faced the daunting task of restoring basic health services in a world badly damaged by war," she said in a statement.
Since then, "the challenges confronting public health have changed in profound ways. In today’s closely interdependent and interconnected world, health problems are increasingly shaped by the same powerful forces, creating universal threats," Chan said.
The WHO already warned three years ago that global warming was a key cause of up to 150,000 deaths and 5 million illnesses each year, be it from heat waves or the higher risk of natural disasters such as floods, droughts and typhoons.
Similarly, the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned last year that malaria, cholera, malnutrition, heatstroke and pollen allergies are all set to worsen as the world’s temperatures rise.
Climate change has already extended the range of mosquitoes and ticks, helped spread diarrhoeal disease, boosted the length and location of pollen seasons and pumped up the intensity of dangerous heat waves, the IPCC said in a report.
”Adverse health impacts will be greatest in low-income countries," the report said.
"Those at greater risk include, in all countries, the urban poor, the elderly and children, traditional societies, subsistence farmers and coastal populations."
Chan, a former director of public health in Hong Kong and the first Chinese national to head a UN institution, said the organisation was well placed to meet its future challenges.
"As a mature institution, WHO enters its seventh decade fully aware of the challenges, yet bolstered by the optimism that has characterised this Organisation since its inception," she said.
2.1. Cars should plug-in to a new future
2 April 2008, WWF
Gland, Switzerland / Brussels, Belgium – Plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles offer a promising pathway to a sustainable transport future that reduces risks of climate catastrophe and possible conflict over dwindling oil resources, a new WWF analysis has found.
Plugged in: the End of the Oil Age considers the future of a transport sector now 95 per cent dependent on liquid hydrocarbon fuels and examines the potential impacts and practicalities of electricity versus other oil substitutes that could fuel the future transport system.
It finds that vehicles running solely or partly on electricity supplied from the grid are significantly more efficient and may emit fewer greenhouse gases than many so-called “alternative fuels”, even when that electricity is mostly produced using fossil fuels. Less polluting power generation and more use of renewable energies make it certain that the comparative efficiency and pollution advantages of plug-in transport solutions will improve into the future.
“We should all be relying more on walking and biking, on buses and trains, to get to where we need to go. But cars will inevitably remain a major part of the transport equation. The cars of the future must be much more efficient — smaller, lighter, more aerodynamic — and they should, increasingly, be powered by electricity,” says James Leape, Director General of WWF International.
As oil becomes more difficult to access, techniques to create liquid fuels from coal are now being vigorously pursued in the US, China, India, Australia and South Africa.
“Coal-to-liquid fuels are costly, energy intensive and extremely polluting, and have previously only been used on any significant scale in countries facing a state of emergency,” said report author Dr Gary Kendall.
Other alternatives to traditional oil extraction include exploitation of oil sands, which generates three times the emissions of petroleum processing and causes devastation to the local environment. The report also finds that the electric vehicles can be three times more efficient than hydrogen-fuelled vehicles, and more importantly can already be achieved using existing technology and distribution infrastructure.
“Automotive transport is ripe for transformation,” said Dr Kendall.
“We need to accelerate the commercialisation of vehicles with diversified primary energy sources, high efficiency and compatibility with a sustainable, renewable energy future. The electrification of automotive transport offers a promising way to achieve this objective.”
To do so, the report recommends dismantling market barriers to superior technologies and removing a host of hidden and overt subsidies to liquid fuel use. Vehicles should be subject to similar energy labelling and efficiency improvement requirements as other energy-consuming appliances. Liquid-based measures of fuel economy (e.g. litres per 100km or miles per gallon) and CO2 emissions targets should be replaced with technology-neutral indicators of energy consumed per kilometre.
2.2. World fights with aviation’s climate change footprint
3 April 2008, The Economic Times
BANGKOK: Air travel is booming as the world’s population grows and fares fall, but its impact on Earth’s sensitive climate must be taken into account in any new global warming pact, green groups say.
More than 900 delegates flew into Bangkok this week for an UN-led meeting on global warming, spewing about 4,181 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, an official from the United Nations climate body estimated.
Few would argue against holding such talks, which are vital to crafting a new pact on battling climate change, but activists are urging the world to include air and sea travel in any new accord.
"Aviation and maritime shipping are very big sources of emissions and they’re growing fast," said David Doniger, climate policy chief at the New York-based Natural Resources Defense Council.
"I think that one thing that’s not acceptable is to leave those sectors uncontrolled on the theory that they don’t belong to anybody," he added.
Industry and green groups estimate that air travel accounts for between two and four per cent of the world’s emissions of greenhouses gases such as carbon dioxide, which trap the sun’s heat and cause temperatures to rise.
Emissions from the sector look set to rise, however, with the number of global travellers predicted to double by 2020.
International aviation and shipping were excluded from greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets laid out in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the current global treaty addressing climate change.
Delegates from more than 160 countries are now in Bangkok trying to thrash out a work plan for a new agreement on how to curb emissions when the Kyoto Protocol’s deadlines run out in 2012.
I think everybody agrees that we have to find some way of addressing emissions resulting from aviation and shipping," said Yvo de Boer, the UN’s climate chief.
"The big question is how. Is that inside the convention process or is it outside the convention process?" Bill Hare, climate policy director with Greenpeace, said that airline emissions were tricky given that many countries are involved in one flight — the departure point, arrival point and the nationality of the operator.
He argues that aviation emissions should be included in binding greenhouse-gas cuts for rich nations expected to be laid out in the new pact, with the country selling the fuel taking responsibility for the emissions. "If you want to be an aviation hub, then there is a carbon cost to it," he said.
This would then spur industry into developing more energy-efficient engines and air craft, he said. Under the Kyoto agreement, UN organisations the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) were tasked with coming up with a solution to the industry’s climate footprint.
"The bottom line is they haven’t done anything," Hare said. Some nations are pushing to leave the issue with the UN bodies, while the European Union has talked about a sector-based approach where airlines must cap their emissions, or buy "carbon credits" from other industries.
The industry was overwhelmingly against the EU idea, said Tom Ballantyne, an analyst with Orient Aviation magazine, but was not necessarily opposed to being included in any post-Kyoto agreement.
"They realise that they are going to have to confront this," he said, adding the aviation industry had yet to decide on a united stance on climate change.
British tycoon Richard Branson, president of the Virgin Atlantic airline, recently flew from London to Amsterdam on a Boeing 747 partially fueled by coconut and a variety of palm oil. He later extolled the energy potential of algae, press reports said, and has pledged millions of dollars in research into new technologies.
Many green activists are, however, lukewarm on the idea of expanded use of biofuels to curb transport emissions, saying that it could also cause new problems including pressure on food prices.
"There is no golden solution to the replacement of fossil fuels. It’s impossible to replace one thing by a single other source," said Marcelo Furtado of Greenpeace Brazil.
3.1. China’s New Energy Overseers
3 April 2008, Energy Tribune
The Chinese government has reorganized the management of the energy industry by creating two dedicated agencies, but has stopped short of establishing an energy ministry. The reforms announced last month will create a new energy bureau and a new energy commission that will report to the National Development and Reform Commission, the top economic planning agency.
Alas, the State Energy Bureau will not be a full-fledged ministry incorporating electricity, oil, and gas, due to opposition from different energy sectors keen to hold on to their vested interests. Instead, it will integrate energy management supervision and policies, responsibility for which is currently dispersed among numerous government agencies. Meanwhile, the new National Energy Commission will study and draft energy development strategy and consider energy security and development issues.
Since the energy ministry’s dissolution in 1993, China has lacked an authoritative department responsible for enacting uniform energy policies and programs. Matters of energy policy are not consolidated, and efforts to combine the various groups into a single agency have been resisted by state-owned energy companies, which perform some government functions. But in light of recent energy shortages, and problems sparked by the heavy winter snowfall, the government is now committed to consolidating most energy-related oversight. With the State Energy Bureau, the government will likely step up management of the energy sector and focus more on managing the impact of soaring energy demand.
However there is no guarantee that China will be able to handle complex energy issues any better. This latest reform’s effectiveness depends on detailed regulations, which will be introduced later. And there is no indication that the new Environment Ministry will be given more powers, such as assuming direct control of local environmental authorities, to enforce the anti-pollution regulations. At present, these lower-level agencies report to local governments instead of Beijing, resulting in widespread cover-ups and the underreporting of environmental problems.
4.1. BioPower Generation Forum 2008
9-10 April 2008, Brussels
Delivering efficient, cost effective power generation from biomass
Leading utilities, policy makers, financiers and solution providers are set to meet in Brussels next week at the inaugural BioPower Generation Forum, where they will discuss the business opportunities in large scale biomass production.
Amongst them are representatives from: the European Commission, the German Federal Ministry of the Environment, Vattenfall, Enel, RWE nPower, E.On, CEZ, Göteborg Energi, Essent Energy Trading, Electrabel, NIBC Bank, Ernst & Young, UK Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory
Reform, Alstom Power, Babcock & Brown, BP, Chevron, De Smet Engineers, Solvay, KfW Bankengruppe, Nord LB, Bioverda, Poyry.
Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to network with the front runners of the biopower generation industry and leave with actionable solutions to develop a large scale biomass for power generation strategy.
» Register Now at: http://greenpower.msgfocus.com/c/1BNs3qzKDmOB1y
4.2. Forum on Climate Change and Science & Technology Innovation
Beijing, China, 24-25 April 2008
The Forum on Climate Change and Science & Technology Innovation will be held on 24-25 April 2008 in Beijing, China. It is expected that more than 200 participants will be attending the Forum, including government officials, experts and scientists from developing and developed countries, and representatives from international organizations and multinational companies.
More at: http://www.acca21.org.cn/climatechange/index.html
4.3. European Patent Forum 2008, 6/7 May 2008, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Inventing a cleaner future: Climate change and the opportunties for IP
The drastic changes in world climate can no longer be ignored and the need to find intelligent solutions to mitigate the effects is obvious. That is why the European Patent Forum 2008 is dedicated to finding answers to the question:
How can the fields of patenting and intellectual property support innovations that benefit the environment and counteract climate change?
More info at: http://www.epo.org/about-us/events/epf2008.html
4.4. BioPower Generation Forum 2008
9-10 April 2008, Brussels
Delivering efficient, cost effective power generation from biomass Interest is growing in the upcoming BioPower Generation Summit, taking place in Brussels from 9-10 April. v This exciting event provides a forum for leading utilities, policy makers, financiers and solution providers and be fully updated on the business opportunities in large scale biomass production.
4.5. Regional workshops in February to June 2008
–– Ljubljana, Slovenia on 11 April for Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Slovenia
More at: http://www.futures-e.org/futures-e_regional%20workshop_agenda_Ljubljana
— London, UK on 25 April for Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and the UK
— Rome, Italy in May for Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain
— Berlin, Germany in June for Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands
Disclaimer: We do not guarantee for the accuracy, reliability or content of information. For help or questions, contact: [email protected].