1.1. Vienna Climate Change Talks to set stage for UN Climate Change Conference in Bali
13 August 2007 , UNFCCC
Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol are preparing to meet from 27 to 31 August 2007 in Vienna, Austria for a round of climate change talks designed to set the stage for a United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali (3 to 14 December). The Bali meeting will in turn be a decisive step in determining the future of global action on mitigation, adaptation, the global carbon market and financing responses to climate change.
"The discussions in Vienna on possible future emission reduction commitments for industrialized countries, and on strengthened implementation of the UNFCCC, can form the main building blocks of a new climate change regime. What I then hope Bali will agree on is a negotiating agenda over the next two years that will craft an effective, long-term post-2012 regime," said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer.
At the "Vienna Climate Change Talks 2007" around 1,000 participants, including government representatives, participants from business and industry, environmental organizations and research institutions will be attending the fourth "Workshop under the Dialogue on long-term cooperative action to address climate change by enhancing implementation of the Convention" and the fourth "Session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG 4)."
The Dialogue forum involves all 191 Parties to the UNFCCC and is the last in a four-part exchange of views, information and ideas on strategic approaches to climate change and development before it reports back to the UN Climate Change Conference. This workshop will focus on cross-cutting issues, including financing. During the Dialogue, the UNFCCC secretariat will present results from the analysis of existing and planned investment flows and finance schemes relevant to the development of effective and appropriate international response to climate change.
"This analysis is significant because traditional investment needs to be redirected to more climate-friendly and climate-proof alternatives. Failure to achieve changes in investment and financial flows for mitigation will lead to higher emissions, more climate change impacts and larger financial needs for adaptation in the future," said Yvo de Boer.
The AWG, which comprises all 175 Parties to the Kyoto Protocol is the body responsible for negotiating industrialized country emission reduction targets for the next commitment period of the UN treaty. On the AWG agenda, the analysis of climate change mitigation potentials is a first step of a work programme leading to agreement on new quantified emission limitation and reduction commitments for Kyoto ’s developed country Parties.
The UNFCCC secretariat will give press briefings on the issues covered during the week on 27 (opening press conference at 13:15 ) and 31 August (closing press conference at 13:15 ). The Investment and Financial Flows document will be presented at a press conference on Tuesday, 28 August, also at 13:15 . The majority of the meetings and side events at the Vienna Austria Centre will be open to the media and will be webcast.
A full listing of side events is available at: http://regserver.unfccc.int/seors/reports/events_list.html.
Further information can be found on the UNFCCC website: http://unfccc.int/meetings/intersessional/awg_4_and_dialogue_4/items/3999.php.
1.2. APEC to Back "Aspirational" Climate Targets
20 August 2007 , Planet Earth Reuters
Asia-Pacific leaders meeting in Sydney in September will be asked to support long-term "aspirational" goals to cut greenhouse gases, rather than firm targets, the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported.
The paper published on its Web site what it said was the draft outline of a declaration due to be announced by the 21 leaders at the close of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) forum, where climate change and energy efficiency will be key areas of discussion. The draft declaration includes agreement that "a long-term aspirational global emissions reduction goal will be a key component of the post-2012 framework" for climate negotiations.
It also welcomes an initiative by the United States to convene a dialogue among major economies as an important contribution to the post-Kyoto era.
Climate campaigners believe binding targets must be at the heart of the next round of United Nations climate negotiations, due to take place in December in Bali .
The draft declaration also includes an agreement for APEC nations to work towards a target of reducing greenhouse gas intensity across the APEC region by at least 25 percent by 2030.
A background briefing included in the documents made clear the 25 percent target would apply to the region as a whole and would not translate into targets for individual countries or be legally binding or enforceable, the report said.
Other measures in the document included setting up a Network for Energy Technology to promote collaboration on research on areas such as clean coal and renewable energy, agreeing on the preservation of forests as "carbon sinks", and agreement to encourage investment in renewable energy.
A government spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
Prime Minister John Howard is fighting accusations he has been slow to respond on climate change, which is shaping up as a key issue in a national election expected later this year.
Australia ‘s Greens leader Bob Brown said on Saturday it would be hypocritical of Australia to call on other countries to avoid deforestation while allowing further logging of its own forests.
"Logging and burning Tasmanian and Victorian native forests is up there amongst the world’s worst examples of deliberate deforestation and greenhouse gas pollution of the Earth’s atmosphere," Brown told reporters.
Leaders from the APEC nations, which include the United States , Japan , China and Russia , will meet in Sydney from Sept. 7-9.
1.3. British climate bill nearing completion
15 August 2007 , Reuters
Britain is likely to put forward legislation within three months to cut carbon emissions by at least 60 percent in the fight against global warming, environmentalists said on Wednesday.
The Climate Change Bill is expected to go to parliament in November and could become law by May after parliamentary scrutiny and public consultations on the preliminary draft of the legislation ended this month.
"We expect it after the Queen’s Speech in November and to go into committee in December," said Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Mike Childs.
"Because it has already been through pre-legislative scrutiny it could go quite quickly through the parliamentary process and even become law in the spring," he told Reuters.
A spokeswoman for the Department of the Environment would only say the bill was scheduled for the autumn and, depending on the parliamentary timetable, could be law by mid-2008.
The draft bill says carbon dioxide emissions must be cut by at least 60 percent from 1990 levels by 2050 — and half that by 2020 — with five-year rolling carbon budgets on the way there and an independent committee to monitor progress.
Environmentalists want annual cut targets — a goal the government says is impractical — the inclusion of emissions from maritime transport and aviation, and the final ceiling to be raised to 80 percent from 60.
Three parliamentary committee reports have largely echoed the environmentalists’ criticisms, and the government is now considering the reports and public responses to the draft before coming out with the final bill.
"The government’s policy towards the 2050 target is clearly incoherent," said the report from the joint committee of both houses of parliament earlier this month.
"The government remains committed to limiting global warming to a rise of two degrees Celsius; but it also acknowledges that, according to recent scientific research, a cut in UK emissions of 60 percent by 2050 is now very unlikely to be consistent with delivering this goal," it added.
Scientists say average global temperatures will rise by between 1.8 and 4.0 degrees Celsius this century due to carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels for power and transport, causing floods, droughts and famines worldwide.
The Climate Change Act will make Britain the first major country to set binding legal limits on its greenhouse gas output.
But environmentalists note that carbon emissions have actually risen since the Labour government came to power in 1997.
1.4. Wolfowitz ‘tried to censor World Bank on climate change’
14 August 2007 , The Independent
The Bush administration has consistently thwarted efforts by the World Bank to include global warming in its calculations when considering whether to approve major investments in industry and infrastructure, according to documents made public through a watchdog yesterday.
On one occasion, the White House’s pointman at the bank, the now disgraced Paul Wolfowitz, personally intervened to remove the words "climate change" from the title of a bank progress report and ordered changes to the text of the report to shift the focus away from global warming.
But the issue predates Mr Wolfowitz’s appointment as president of the bank in June 2005. According to the Government Accountability Project (GAP), which has tracked efforts to censor debate on global warming, environmental specialists at the World Bank tried unsuccessfully to press for consideration of greenhouse- gas emissions in a paper written – but never published – in 2002.
It was politics that prevented the publication of that paper, according to one senior bank insider who spoke to the Los Angeles Times, and politics that has been the principal obstacle to progress since. Only now, with the Bush administration on the ropes politically and the scientific evidence for global warming reaching such critical mass that even President George Bush has been forced to acknowledge its reality, are those same bank officials trying again to put the issue on the agenda. "Our biggest obstacle has been that politically, [climate change] is very controversial," Kristalina Georgieva, the bank’s strategy and operations director for sustainable development, told the LA Times.
She said that, even under the best of circumstances, it will be at least two years before the bank starts measuring the impact of fossil fuel-related projects on the planet’s health. "We are not moving fast enough," she added. "It’s not possible to be moving fast enough."
The GAP has uncovered evidence of one striking instance of Bush administration censorship. In 2006, the bank’s vice presidents responded to a request from the Group of Eight industrialised countries and commissioned a draft report entitled Climate Change, Energy and Sustainable Development: Towards an Investment Framework. They endorsed the report, according to the minutes of a meeting obtained by the GAP.
Subsequently, however, Mr Wolfowitz’s office put out a memo asking the team to rework the paper, "shifting from a climate lens mainly to a clean-energy lens". The edited paper issued a few months later was eventually called Clean Energy and Development: Towards an Investment Framework.
The World Bank has come under fire from environmental groups for a number of decisions, including a recent grant to develop lignite mining and power plants in Kosovo. Lignite – or brown coal – pollutes the air heavily when burnt and is generally regarded as one of the dirtiest fuel sources on the planet.
The investment appears to go against the bank’s own policy, from 2001, whereby it decided to try to phase out oil and gas investments by 2008 and to extend an existing moratorium on investments in coal mining.
The GAP put out a report in March detailing similar problems at other agencies, most notably the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration which, among other duties, tracks hurricanes and other extreme weather phenomena. The report cited "objectionable and possibly illegal restrictions on the communication of scientific information to the media" – including censorship of interviews and press releases.
More recently, the GAP has reported the Bush administration’s refusal to consider climate change as it prepares to expand the national air transport system threefold over the next 20 years. A multi-agency group called the Next Generation Air Transportation System has simply ignored global warming in its past two annual reports.
Mr Wolfowitz was forced to step down in June after it emerged that he had given a lucrative sinecure to his girlfriend and offered her excessive pay rises.
1.5. U.S. calls for co-op with China on climate change
14 August 2007 , Xinhua
A visiting U.S. senior environment official on Tuesday said the United States was hoping for wide cooperation with China on combating climate change and on environmental protection.
"The Chinese government is taking a series of very aggressive measures in recognition of challenges of reducing air pollution," said James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
"We look forward over the course of working cooperatively with the Chinese government as they implement the new strategy to improve air quality in Beijing and also improve the health of citizens," Connaughton said.
Connaughton is touring Asia to promote cooperation on environmental protection and climate change. During his week-long visit to China , Connaughton has met with senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Science and Technology and the National Development and Reform Commission.
Describing the meetings as "very constructive, detailed and practical", Connaughton said they shared with China a number of U.S. President George W. Bush’s new proposals to deal with climate changes after 2012, which provided the foundation for future discussions.
The United States, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has refused to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which mandates cuts in the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. The Protocol expires in 2012.
President Bush has initiated conference on Sept. 27 and 28 to set long-term goals on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, inviting the United Nations, European Union member countries, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and Republic of Korea to send representatives to Washington for the meeting.
Connaughton will lead the U.S. delegation, which will also include economic, energy, and environmental officials, according to a U.S. statement.
"It is exciting time in the relations between China and the United States in the areas of environmental quality and economic prosperity," Connaughton said.
"We hope China would send strong team for the meeting," Connaughton said.
"The Chinese government has slowly and effectively worked the philosophy of a ‘harmonious society’ into their policy making," Connaughton said, adding they also shared "similarity of purpose" with China .
China had "translated philosophy into policy and now is translating policy into implementation".
In China ‘s 11th Five-Year Program for Economic and Social Development (2006-2010), the government has set targets to reduce energy intensity by 20 percent from 2005 levels by 2010 and increase forest coverage rate from 18.2 percent to 20 percent.
"Chinese President Hu Jintao in recent five-year plan strongly emphasized essential areas of environmental protection and naturalresources conservation that is just what happened in developed economies," Connaughton said.
The United States had spent 35 years addressing air and water pollution.
"We believe that China can do that in less than 30 years," said Connaughton.
2.1. Britain ‘s EU climate change goals a ‘challenge’
14 August 2007 , EUobserver
The UK has admitted it will be a "challenge" to meet ambitious EU renewable energy goals following revelations of an internal report suggesting there was little chance of them being reached.
"It is no secret that these are ambitious targets and it will be a major challenge to meet them, not just for the UK but for all EU states," a government spokeswoman was quoted as saying on Monday (13 August).
But the spokesman said the country remained "fully committed" to renewable energy.
In March, Britain – along with the 26 other member states – signed up to an overall EU goal to have renewable energy account for 20 percent of energy by the end of the next decade.
But yesterday the Guardian newspaper published details of a leaked report from the former Department of Trade and Industry in which it was admitted that Britain would miss the renewables target by a wide margin under current policies.
The document notes that on current trends, without a policy change, Britain can hope to reach a five percent target by 2020.
At best it could hope to reach a nine percent target by this date using solar, wind and hydro energy.
Officials in the department, recently renamed as the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, fear that Britain may be asked to reach a 16 percent target, according to the report.
The report also suggests that UK ministers lobby some EU commissioners or other countries such as France and Germany to get a more flexible interpretation of the target.
The European Commission is currently working out how the 20 percent target should be divided among member states.
More advanced member states – 13 percent of Germany ‘s energy already comes from renewables – will have to reach a target higher than the 20 percent.
Less advanced states will have lower targets – with the aim of bringing the average to 20 percent.
Commenting on the news article, the European Commission said it was confident the UK would meet the targets.
"The UK government has never expressed doubts on the need of or the feasibility of these targets so at this stage we remain confident they will deliver on the commitments they have made, and that they will make when the targets are broken down nationally".
The British revelations, roundly condemned by green groups, are likely to get repeated elsewhere in Europe as member states wait for Brussels to come with the small print of how to reach the ambitious goals.
A similar battle is already being played out in the car industry with the commission currently examining how to divide the burden between manufacturers of large and small car on meeting a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new cars from 2012.
3.1. Scientific framework of environmental and forest governance — The role of discourses and expertise
27 and 28 August 2007 in Goettingen , Germany
Further information at: http://www.iufro.org/science/divisions/division-6/60000/61200/61202/activities/ or http://www.iufro.org/download/file/1648/3058/goettingen07-call-for-paper.doc.
3.2. Intersessional: AWG 4 and the Dialogue 4
27 – 31 August 2007 , Vienna , Austria .
More info: http://unfccc.int/meetings/intersessional/awg_4_and_dialogue_4/items/3999.php.
3.3. European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition
3 – 7 September 2007 in Milan , Italy
More info: http://www.photovoltaic-conference.com.
3.4. International Congress on Plant Oil Fuels
6 – 7 September 2007 in Erfurt , Germany
More info: http://www.pflanzenoel-kongress.de/index.php?lng=en.
3.5. General Conference of the Union of the Baltic Cities
27 – 28 September 2007 in Pärnu , Estonia
More info: http://www.reiser.ee/conference/ubc.htm.
3.6. RENEXPO 2007 – International Trade Fair and Conference for Renewable Energies
27 – 30 September 2007 in Augsburg , Germany
More info: http://www.renexpo.de/?lang=en.
3.7. European Sustainable Energy Seminar and Tour
1 – 5 October 2007 in Samsø , Denmark
More info: http://www.inforse.org/europe/seminar07_samso.htm.
3.8. European Meeting Point: Energy for Development 2007
10 – 12 October 2007 in Beja/Alentejo, Portugal
More info: http://www.energyanddevelopment-2007.net.
3.9. Climate Change at the EU REGIONS Open Days
8 – 11 October 2007 , Brusels
Registration for the event is possible through: http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/conferences/od2007/index.cfm.
3.10. CDM 2.0 conference: what post-2012 mechanisms do we need?
15 October 2007 in Brussels , Belgium .
A more detailed announcement will be issued in early September. Those of you wishing to register their interest in participation already should email their contact details to [email protected].
3.11. UN Millennium Development Goals – discussing practical examples on a local level
18 – 20 October 2007 in Bonn , Germany
More at: http://www.service-eine-welt.de/en.
3.12. 3rd Annual European Energy Policy Conference 2007
21 – 22 November 2007 in Brussels .
More info: www.euenergypolicy.com.
3.13. United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 13 and CMP 3)
3-14 December 2007, Nusa Dua, Bali , Indonesia .
More info: http://unfccc.int/meetings/cop_13/items/4049.php.
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