1.1. UN upbeat on Copenhagen global climate deal
6 December 2009, BBC News
The UN’s top climate official has given an upbeat assessment on the prospects of a global deal at a climate summit which opens in Copenhagen on Monday.
Yvo de Boer told the BBC things were in "excellent shape" as officials from 192 nations began gathering in Denmark.
Any agreement is intended to supplant the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
The UN official panel on climate change says emissions must be limited to avoid dangerous global temperature rises.
"Never in 17 years of climate negotiations have so many different countries made so many pledges. Almost every day now governments are announcing pledges – it’s unprecedented," Mr de Boer, executive secretary of the UN climate convention, told the BBC.
"We’ve got 100 heads of state and government coming to Copenhagen. And, in general, heads of government come to celebrate success, not failure," he said.
Ahead of Monday’s talks, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) hit back at claims that human influence on global warming has been exaggerated.
It said it was standing by its findings in response to a row over the reliability of data from a UK university.
Hacked e-mail exchanges from East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit have prompted climate change sceptics to claim that data has been manipulated.
Top Swedish climate official Anders Turesson told the BBC that he hoped the issue "will be investigated".
However, Mr Turesson, who will also be leading EU negotiations as Sweden currently holds the rotating EU presidency, added: "But I cannot see it will in any way affect the negotiations here."
The Copenhagen talks are being held in recognition of the fact that the Kyoto Protocol’s targets are not sufficient to avoid impacts projected by the IPCC, and run out in 2012.
They are set to go on for nearly two weeks, with dozens of world leaders set to attend the later stages.
These include US President Barack Obama, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Almost all countries attending the meeting agree a deal must be reached.
The main areas for discussion include:
Targets to curb greenhouse gas emissions, in particular by developed countries
Financial support for mitigation of and adaptation to climate change by developing countries
A carbon trading scheme aimed at ending the destruction of the world’s forests by 2030
Environmental activists are planning demonstrations in Copenhagen and around the world on 12 December, in an attempt to encourage delegates to reach the strongest possible deal.
Tens of thousands marched in London and other UK and European cities on Saturday to urge action.
But expectations for the meeting have fallen, correspondents say.
Whatever is agreed will no longer have a legally binding basis. Instead, experts hope to produce a framework which could lead to the signing of binding final agreements by next year.
The EU, which had sought a legally-binding agreement, has offered a 20% cut in its emissions from 1990 levels by 2020, rising to 30% in the event of a global agreement.
The US is pledging to cut its emissions in several stages, beginning with a 17% cut from 2005 levels by 2020.
India and China have both agreed to reduce their "carbon intensity", a measure of the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per unit of GDP.
Washington is currently unable to commit to its pledges for the talks, as a bill to cap its emissions is currently stuck in the Senate and will not be passed before the new year.
Australia is in a similar position, after its opposition-controlled Senate rejected a bill to curb emissions.
Mr Turesson said pledges on cutting emissions put forward so far were not enough.
"We have a problem here. First of all it is very welcome that we now indeed have figures from all major players in the climate change negotiations – and that is indeed positive because then we have a basis for discussions.
"But when we sum up here, they do not suffice, so something must be done here in Copenhagen to enhance the pledges."
Sudan ‘s Lumumba Di-Aping, a lead negotiator for the G77/China bloc at the talks, said: "A deal can be done; the science is clear, the economics are clear, the legal issues are clear.
"The question is that some leaders believe their narrow national economic interests take primacy over the existence and well-being of the entire world."
1.2. Obama Must Make Ambitious Climate Goals, De Boer Says
6 December 2009, Bloomberg
U.S. President Barack Obama should come to the climate-change talks this month in Denmark with strong goals for cutting greenhouse gases in the biggest economy, United Nations climate chief Yvo de Boer said.
“I hope that as part of the negotiating process he comes with an ambitious American target” to cut heat-trapping emissions and “strong financial support to reach out to developing countries,” de Boer told reporters in Copenhagen today on the eve of the two-week negotiations.
Obama, facing pressure from countries to prove the U.S. is moving toward a low-emissions economy, said on Dec. 4 that he would push forward his scheduled visit to the final day of the climate talks. That coincides with when most world leaders will attend. De Boer welcomed the change in schedule.
“I’m happy that he’s coming toward the end of the conference together with other heads of state and government,” the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change executive secretary said.
Obama expects a “meaningful” agreement in Copenhagen, where almost 200 countries are gathering in an attempt to hammer out terms for a new.
international treaty to control climate change, the U.S. administration said in a statement last week. The U.S. is in the spotlight at the Copenhagen talks in part because lawmakers in the world’s second-biggest greenhouse- gas polluter haven’t approved legislation to set a mandatory limit on carbon-dioxide gas that many scientists say could lead to dangerous climate shifts if left unchecked.
“President Obama has said right from the beginning that if he has the conviction that people are here to negotiate in good faith then he wants to be part of that process and to ensure an ambitious outcome of Copenhagen, and that is exactly the discussion that heads of state and government need to have when they arrive,” de Boer said.
Lack of guidance from the Senate, the only U.S. body authorized to ratify treaties, means Obama’s negotiators in Denmark lack firm guidelines on how to proceed.
Nations set the Copenhagen talks as a deadline for trying to replace or extend emissions limits in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol treaty that expire in 2012. Now, the UN, Obama and other leaders are calling for countries to agree on a framework to serve as a foundation for further negotiations next year.
“Time is up,” de Boer said today. “Over the next two weeks governments have to deliver a strong and long-term response to the challenge of climate change.”
The UN climate chief said nations must reach agreement on three key points: The first is “fast” action on measures such as the transfer of clean-energy technology to help developing countries grapple with climate change. Secondly he called for “ambitious” goals from industrialized countries to cut emissions and provide short-term climate financing for developing countries and a “long-term funding commitment.” Finally he asked for countries to reach a long-term “shared vision on a low-emissions future.”
De Boer said he’s optimistic.
“Never in 17 years of climate negotiations have so many different nations made so many firm pledges together,” he said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Kim Chipman in Copenhagen at [email protected]
1.3. U.N. says biggest climate talks in history must deliver
6 December 2009, Reuters
The biggest climate talks in history must deliver an ambitious, sweeping agreement to capitalize on pledges by countries to fight global warming, the United Nations said on Sunday.
A day before the two-week talks in the Danish capital formally begin, the U.N. climate chief said time was up to agree on the outlines of a tougher climate deal after troubled negotiations have deepened splits between rich and poor nations.
"I believe that negotiators now have the clearest signal ever from world leaders to draft a solid set of proposals to implement rapid action," Yvo de Boer told reporters.
"Never in the 17 years of climate change negotiations have so many different nations made so many firm pledges together. Almost every day countries announce new targets or plans of action to cut emissions," he said.
Much is at stake at Copenhagen.
Scientists say the world is heating up because of greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels and massive deforestation.
The United Nations says the world needs a tougher climate pact to brake rapidly rising carbon pollution.
Failure to do so would mean triggering dangerous climate change such as rising seas, melting ice caps and greater weather extremes that could disrupt economies and force millions to become climate refugees.
In a show of support, 105 world leaders have said they will attend the talks’ closing stages to try to seal a deal after years of bitter debates over how to divide up the burden of emissions curbs and who should pay.
Poor countries say developed nations have grown rich by fuelling their economies with coal, oil and gas and that they are most responsible for the bulk of the greenhouse gas pollution in the atmosphere.
Yet developing countries now emit more than half of mankind’s greenhouse gas emissions. The United Nations says all countries must play their part in braking the rise of pollution.
Japan said on Sunday it would stick with its target to cut emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 during the talks, although the target is contingent on all major emitters, such as China and the United States, being ambitious.
In recent weeks, China, India, Indonesia and other countries have announced emissions reduction pledges, boosting hopes of success in Copenhagen.
WITHIN STRIKING DISTANCE
Curbs on emissions pledged to date meant the world was within striking distance of a deal to cut greenhouse gases to a level that would avoid the worst effects of global warming, a report said on Sunday.
"With everybody doing a little more we could close that gap," Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP), said in Copenhagen.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was optimistic the conference would produce an agreement.
"We will get an agreement — and, I believe, that the agreement will be signed by all U.N. member states which is historic," Ban said in an interview in the Danish daily newspaper Berlingske Tidende.
The United Nations set a deadline for the Copenhagen talks to yield a legally binding, and tougher, agreement to expand or replace the Kyoto Protocol from 2013.
But negotiations, launched in 2007, became bogged down and the talks are likely to end with a weaker political declaration. A legally binding treaty text might agreed next year.
De Boer said he was pleased U.S. President Barack Obama would join other leaders at the final stages to hear concerns of countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
"I hope that as part of the negotiation process he comes with an ambitious American target and strong financial support to reach out to developing countries as well."
Obama has said his government would offer a provisional 17 percent emissions cut from 2005 levels by 2020, but developing nations and greens say this is not tough enough.
De Boer said Copenhagen had to deliver three things.
He said it must result in a list of rich country targets that were ambitious, clarity on what major developing countries would do to limit the growth of their emissions, and a list of financial pledges to help poorer nations green their economies and adapt to climate change impacts.
Greenpeace said the talks needed stronger political will.
"The climate change negotiations have never seen such a momentum, and it must not be wasted," said Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International.
A strong agreement in Copenhagen would give investors a clearer idea of future government policies on putting a price on carbon pollution and additional incentives for clean energy, such as wind and solar as well as green transport.
1.4. EU, US citizens split over climate change
3 December 2009, EurActiv
The overwhelming majority of EU citizens consider climate change as a serious problem and call for more action against global warming. More than one third of Americans say instead that climate change is not an issue, and only a minor percentage think that it is the consequence of human activity, international polls reveal.
Almost nine out 10 EU citizens believe climate change is a serious problem, with 63% convinced that it is a "very serious" issue and 24% deeming it a "fairly serious" matter.
Only 10% of the sample interviewed say that climate change is not a serious problem, according to the results of a dedicated EU survey (Special Eurobarometer) published yesterday (2 December) ahead of the climate change international conference to be held in Copenhagen from next week.
The Eurobarometer poll also reveals that almost two thirds of EU citizens reject the idea that the seriousness of the problem has been exaggerated, and instead put it at the top of the priorities which the world should face today. Only poverty scores higher as global issue.
Positions change on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. In fact, US citizens tend to have a less drastic view on climate change: 65% still consider it a problem, but a growing number disagree with this idea, according to a survey carried out last October by the Pew Research Center.
Among those considering climate change a problem, only 35% think that is a "very serious" issue, down from 44% saying so last April. 32% of the interviewees do not see global warming as a serious problem, up from 24% recorded in April. 17% do not consider the matter a problem at all.
Moreover, most US citizens do not believe that global warming is a result of human activity. This assumption is at the core of current efforts to reduce CO2 emissions.
33% reject the idea that global temperatures are actually rising. Another 16%, albeit acknowledging the existence of the phenomenon, do not attribute it to human actions. They think it is the consequence of natural patterns.
Those convinced that global warming is indeed a result of human activity dropped from 47% to 36% in just a few months, according to the Pew research.
Joint call for more action against emissions
EU and US citizens put aside their different views when it comes to limiting emissions. Both believe more action is required. 56% of Americans think the United States should join other countries in setting standards to address global climate change, and the majority of the EU interviewees believe that more should be done to fight global warming.
Both EU and US citizens are ready to take personal measures, including accepting higher energy prices, to limit carbon emissions. A relative majority of the EU sample (49%) say they are ready to pay more for greener energy.
The relative majority of the US public (50%) also favours setting limits on CO2 emissions even if doing so would mean higher energy prices.
1.5. Hedegaard: ‘Time is up’ for climate choices
2 December 2009, EurActiv
"We have no alternative. We must handle climate change and we must do it right now. Copenhagen is the deadline. Time is up," writes former Danish Climate and Energy Minister Connie Hedegaard, the EU’s commissioner-designate for climate action, in an exclusive op-ed for EurActiv.
Hedegaard is the host of a UN-led climate conference which kicks off in Copenhagen next week (7-18 December). Officials from 192 countries which signed up to the Bali Action plan in 2007 are expected to make legally-binding commitments to ink a new post-Kyoto climate treaty.
"There are moments in history where the world can choose to go down different paths," the Dane writes, describing the COP-15 climate conference in Copenhagen as one of those defining moments.
"We can choose to go down the road towards green prosperity and a more sustainable future. Or we can choose a pathway to stalemate and do nothing about climate change, leaving an enormous bill for our kids and grandkids to pay. It really isn’t that hard a choice," she argues.
The Danish government’s goal is to work towards an ambitious, global agreement that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and delivers on adaptation, technology and finance, Hedegaard stresses, adding that a deadline on when to close a legally-binding agreement must be set in Copenhagen.
Hedegaard welcomes the concrete targets committed to by developed and developing countries alike ahead of the conference, namely Brazil, South Korea and Russia.
The United States’ announced targets of cutting emissions by 4% below 1990 levels might not be what the world expects, underlines the EU Commissioner-designate, but it is in line with the US decision to embark on the extra steep pathway for reductions in later years, of 18% by 2025 and 32% by 2030.
"For each day we wait, the price increases and the potentially catastrophic consequences of climate change increase," she writes, quoting International Energy Agency figures which show that every year lost to inaction will cost 500 billion dollars.
"We must make the pressure pay and use the political momentum to make the leaders of the world live up to their responsibility and act swiftly on climate change," writes Hedegaard, stressing delivery is needed on four cornerstones: binding medium and long-term emission targets for developed countries, a green action plan for developing countries, finance and technology transfer. Link: http://www.euractiv.com/en/climate-change/hedegaard-time-climate-choices/article-187885
2.1. Renewables to supply one-third of China’s energy by 2050
5 December 2009, Reuters
China ‘s renewable energy strategy through 2050 envisions renewable energy making up one-third of its energy consumption by then, the China Daily said, as the upcoming Copenhagen conference on climate change highlights the world’s dependence on fossil fuels.
Coal-dependent China, the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, last month said it would cut the amount of carbon dioxide produced for each yuan of national income by 40-45 percent by 2020, compared to 2005 levels.
Depending on economic growth projections, total emissions will still rise.
By 2020, renewable energy should account for 15 percent of national primary energy consumption, supplying the equivalent of 600 million metric tons of coal, the China Daily said this weekend.
It cited a renewable energy blueprint laid out by Han Wenke, director-general of the Energy Research Institute under top planning body, the National Development and Reform Commission.
By 2030, renewable energy’s share should rise to 20 percent of the national energy mix, displacing 1 billion metric tons of coal, Han said, and by 2050, it would supply one-third of China’s energy, displacing two billion metric tons of coal, the paper said.
China ‘s drive for renewable energy to mitigate the health and environmental costs of coal has brought its own challenges.
Wind power generating capacity has surged so fast that policy planners now warn of severe overcapacity in the sector, and dam after dam piled on Chinese rivers distorts water flow, endangers fish and poses a potential earthquake hazard.
China ‘s installed wind power capacity is now 12.17 million kilowatts, up from 350,000 kw in 2000, and large-scale solar energy facilities are planned, the paper said.
China is focusing on non-grain bioethanol and biodiesel, to avoid diverting grains from food and feed supply.
3.1. Europe ‘could cut emissions by 40%’
2 December 2009, EurActiv
The EU could double its 2020 target for cutting greenhouse gases at a daily cost of €2 per person, the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), a research group, said yesterday (1 December).
Slashing emissions 40% below 1990 levels in 2020 and 90% by 2050 would be possible with radical changes to how Europeans use energy, a new study showed. This would be technically feasible without international offsetting schemes or resorting to carbon capture and storage (CCS), it said.
The researchers mapped out a pathway that foresees a quick phase-out of fossil fuels, combined with a major shift to renewable energy. It would make up 22% of the energy mix in 2020 and 71% in 2050.
Energy efficiency would improve massively, according to the study’s outline: in 2020, Europe would use around 22% less energy than in 2010, and 70% less in 2050.
The study was released ahead of the start of the Copenhagen climate negotiations, with the EU having said it will raise its 20% carbon reduction target to 30% if other developed countries make comparable pledges. Whether the EU is ready to take such a step will now depend on the US and China (EurActiv 24/11/09).
The changes must be accompanied by a less materialistic society, where major lifestyle changes would lead Europeans to embrace public transport and eat less meat, the authors argue.
They paint a picture whereby journeys made by car would be reduced from 75% in 2005 to 69% in 2020. High-speed rail would replace intra-European flights. Moreover, big developments in the transport sector would include an increased share of electrified cars from 2020 onwards, with virtually all vehicles running on electricity in 2050.
The study estimates that Europe would have to pay around €2 trillion over the next decade to realise this scenario, equivalent to about 2% of Europe’s GDP over the same period. But the authors say this is a small price to pay for equitable growth in the future, because it would only require temporarily holding back any GDP growth for one year.
But in order to meet the EU’s total mitigation obligations, aggressive domestic action needs to be accompanied with a substantial commitment to international financing. The study suggests that the EU must spend between €150 and €450 billion annually by 2020 to finance efforts in the developing world.
The EU has said that around €100 billion would be needed for developing countries by 2020, but is awaiting proposals from other countries before specifying its own contribution (EurActiv 30/10/09).
The study is based on the principle of equality, so that richer member states would bear most of the burden while poorer countries would be given room to grow, said Esther Bollendorff of Friends of the Earth, who partnered with SEI for the study.
Most of the payments would come from EU-15 countries, Bollendorff said. She added that additional instruments like carbon taxes and redirecting subsidies from fossil fuels to renewables would be necessary.
"First of all, we will have a balancing out of GDP throughout Europe," she said. "So we assume that we come to a more equal Europe."
3.2. CO2 auctioning creates EU stir
1 December 2009, EurActiv
The European Commission is leaning towards spot auctioning for emission allowances for the next trading period due to start in 2013, prompting the electricity industry to warn that prices will go up if allowances are not made available early enough.
The EU executive has indicated in consultations on the forthcoming regulation on allowance auctioning for the 2013-2020 period that the start of auctions will be postponed, sources told EurActiv.
The revised directive on the EU’s emissions trading scheme (EU ETS; see EurActiv LinksDossier) foresees that auctioning of allowances for the period 2013 onwards will start by 2011 in order to ensure that carbon and electricity markets function properly.
But the Commission now appears to be sceptical about starting futures auctioning, preferring to wait until 2013 for spot trading.
The news alarmed the European electricity industry, which is responsible for 60% of the emissions covered by the EU ETS and the only sector to face full auctioning from 2013.
As a result, power industry association Eurelectric sent a letter to national experts meeting today to discuss the forthcoming regulation, warning that European electricity customers might face additional costs of up to €50 billion by 2012.
The Commission’s proposals would "significantly increase the risk of serious disruption of the EU carbon market and also of the electricity market in the lead-in to ETS Phase III," the letter said. It pointed out that electricity companies contract around 80% of their power generation in advance.
Postponing auctioning until the beginning of 2013 would deny electricity companies the opportunity to cover CO2 exposure on their forward electricity contracts, Nicola Rega, environment and sustainable development advisor at Eurelectric, told EurActiv.
"This would create scarcity in the market in terms of liquidity. As a side effect, we might end up having prices of allowances that would be peaking towards 2012, beginning of 2013," he said.
Eurelectric said that even by the most optimistic estimates, demand for EUAs will exceed supply by around 450-650 million by the end of 2012. By then, carbon prices could increase by as much as €46-€65 per EUA without an early supply of allowances for the third trading period, Eurelectric warned.
The imbalances will start to emerge as soon as mid-2011, making it "absolutely crucial" that electricity companies obtain access to Phase III allowances from then on, the letter stressed.
Member states disagree about level of harmonisation
The Commission is set to propose the draft regulation by mid-2010, but as yet it is far from clear whether the system for auctioning will be harmonised at EU level.
While the Commission is talking about harmonised EU auctioning, a position shared by France, member states like Germany and the UK are in favour of strictly national systems, according to French Senator Fabienne Keller.
3.3. Green NGOs launch clean car leasing scheme
3 December 2009, T&E
With the Copenhagen climate summit rapidly approaching, practical solutions to reduce carbon emissions are crucial. Today, European environmental NGOs present Cleaner Car Contracts, an initiative to mobilise Europe’s largest lease companies and fleet owners to accelerate the introduction of fuel-efficient cars.
The aim of Cleaner Car Contracts is simple: to mobilize Europe’s lease companies and fleet owners –the most significant force within the market for new cars- to advocate European demand for far more fuel-efficient card, thus challenging the supply side of the market to accelerate the introduction of fuel-efficient car model.
30% of Europe’s demand for new cars is controlled by the lease sector. This kind of buying power, if applied to more ambitious goals what is legally required by EU law, can greatly speed up the much needed fuel-efficiency improvement of car fleets.
Leaseurope, the Brussels-based organization representing the European interests of the leasing sector, actively supports environmentally friendly fleet management initiatives. Vincent Rupied, chairman of Leaseurope’s Automotive Steering Group: “The fleet leasing industry is well positioned to develop a business model that reconciles economic and environmental concerns. Initiatives like Cleaner Car Contracts provide us with potential partners to structure this approach.”
The Dutch representative of the lease sector, VNA, appreciates the positive and constructive approach of Cleaner Car Contracts. “The lease-sector is in an excellent position to offer sustainable transport, which benefits both economy and environment. We therefore support the request for faster introduction of fuel-efficient cars to car producers and EU policy makers,” says Renate Hemerik, director of VNA.
Mirjam de Rijk, director of Stichting Natuur en Milieu: “Together we are creating a significant impulse for fuel-efficient cars in Europe. With Cleaner Car Contracts, the European environmental movement and the European lease-sector recognise that they share a common interest. This is innovation at its best.”
The first signing company is, fittingly, Copenhagen Car Sharing from Denmark. Other companies are lining up to sign in the coming weeks: Sixt leasing and rental, also from Denmark, and Athlon Car Lease International, operating 220.000 cars in 9 European countries. “Cleaner Car Contracts’ focus is on practical climate solutions, and Athlon Car Lease shares that vision by enthusiastically endorsing the project," says Hans Blink, President of Athlon Car Lease International.
Leasecompanies and other fleet-owning companies are cordially invited to sign up. By joining the project, you subscribe to an ambitious CO2-target for your fleets. Moreover, you will show just how green and sustainable a frontrunner you are within the automotive sector, which will be awarded with bronze, silver and golden fleet awards, depending on the ambition of the target you subscribe to.
More information as well as contact details can be found on http://www.cleanercarcontracts.eu.
4.1. The 40 % study
This document is a short guide to a larger piece of work – Stockholm Environment Institute’s study ‘Europe’s Share of the climate challenge: Domestic actions and international obligations to protect the planet’ – which was prepared in partnership with Friends of the Earth Europe. This document aims to summarise the main outcomes of the research. It also presents Friends of the Earth Europe’s interpretation of the implications of the study for EU policy-making and European society.
5.1. Copenhagen Climate Summit
Live and on demand 7-19 December 2009
Inside COP15 will deliver live and on-demand video news coverage throughout the two week UN summit and will report the highs, lows and everything in between in the negotiations for a global climate deal.
From December 7th to 19th, up to 10 videos a day will be posted, plus a live show every evening covering the essential topics and developments of the day. By checking this site regularly, you’ll be able to experience the atmosphere and the inside stories as well as getting breaking news, expert analysis and commentary.
WWF aim to bring the global climate deal to life for you, even if you can’t actually be in Copenhagen.
Act now to save the climate – go to panda.org/climate to see what a successful global deal will look like and how you can help bring it about.
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