1.1. “Spirit of Nairobi” prevails as United Nations Climate Change Conference successfully concludes with decisions to support developing countries
17 November 2006 , UNFCCC information services
The United Nations Climate Change Conference concluded this evening with the adoption of a wide range of decisions designed to mitigate climate change and help countries adapt to the effects of global warming.
The conference was attended by around six thousand participants, among them more than 100 ministers, the Secretary-General of the United Nations and two heads of state.
“The conference has delivered on its promise to support the needs of developing countries,” said Conference President, Kenyan Minister for Natural Resources and the Environment Kivutha Kibwana. “The positive spirit of the conference has prevailed.”
At the meeting, activities for the next few years under the “Nairobi Work programme on Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation” were agreed. These activities will help enhance decision-making on adaptation action and improved assessment of vulnerability and adaptation to climate change.
Another important outcome is the agreement on the management of the Adaptation Fund under the Kyoto Protocol. The Adaptation Fund draws on proceeds generated by the clean development mechanism (CDM) and is designed to support concrete adaptation activities in developing countries.
The CDM permits industrialized countries, which have emission targets under the Kyoto Protocol, to invest in sustainable development projects in developing countries that reduce greenhouse gas emission, and thereby generate tradable emission credits.
The Conference recognized the barriers that stand in the way of increased penetration of CDM projects in many countries, in particular in Africa .
Parties welcomed the “Nairobi Framework” announced by the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, which will provide additional support to developing countries to successfully develop projects for the CDM.
Rules were finalized for the Special Climate Change Fund. The fund is designed to finance projects in developing countries relating to adaptation, technology transfer, climate change mitigation and economic diversification for countries highly dependent on income from fossil fuels.
At Nairobi , Parties also adopted rules of procedure for the Kyoto Protocol’s Compliance Committee, making it fully operational.
The Compliance Committee, with its enforcement and facilitative branches, ensures that the Parties to the Protocol have a clear accountability regime in meeting their emission reductions targets.
Talks on commitments of industrialized countries for post-2012 under the Kyoto Protocol advanced well, with Parties reaching agreement on a detailed work plan spelling out the steps needed to reach agreement on a set of new commitments.
“The 166 Parties to the Kyoto Protocol heard in Nairobi that global emissions of greenhouse gases have to be reduced to very low levels, well below half of levels in 2000, in order to avoid dangerous climate change,” said Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
“The fact that Parties now have a concrete workplan means that they can move ahead with addressing issues fundamental for agreement on future commitments, such as the level of emission reductions that is required and the ways in which they can be achieved,” he added.
Parties also held a second round of the Dialogue on long-term cooperative action to enhance implementation of the Convention, open to all 189 Parties to the UNFCCC. Landmark presentations on the latest findings on economic challenges posed by global warming were made, along with economic solutions.
“We are seeing a revolutionary shift in the debate on climate change, from looking at climate change policies as a cost factor for development, countries are starting to see them as opportunities to enhance economic growth in a sustainable way,” said Yvo de Boer.
“The further development of carbon markets can help mobilize the necessary financial resources needed for a global response to climate change and give us a future agreement that is focused on incentives to act,” he added.
Brazil put forward a concrete proposal for an arrangement to provide positive incentives to reduce deforestation emissions in developing countries. This proposal will be discussed at a meeting in March next year.
“The spirit of Nairobi has been truly remarkable,” Conference President Kibwana said. “Let us now use the momentum of this conference to carry this spirit forward and jointly undertake the kind of concerted action we need for humankind to have a future on this planet.”
The next round of negotiations under the Kyoto Protocol and talks under the United Nations Climate Change Convention will be held in Bonn , Germany in May 2007.
1.2. EU hails ‘solid progress’ at climate conference
19 November 2006
The European Union on Saturday hailed progress made at a worldwide conference on climate change in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi .
"The EU welcomes the solid progress made at the United Nations climate change conference which ended [Friday] in Nairobi ," the bloc’s current Finnish Presidency said in a statement.
"The Nairobi climate change conference has been a success and I congratulate Kenya on this achievement," Finnish Environment Minister Jan-Erik Enestam, who led the EU at the conference, said.
At their meeting the 168 members of the United Nations pact for cutting greenhouse gases agreed to launch negotiations in 2008 over the next round of pledges for tackling global warming.
The negotiations will determine action for curbing carbon pollution from 2013 to 2017, after Kyoto ‘s present commitment period expires in 2012.
The 2008 negotiations are officially a "review" of the Kyoto Protocol — a broad assessment of what changes should be made for the treaty’s next commitment period.
Environment ministers from industrialised countries also agreed that global emissions of greenhouse gases had to be halved, although they did not set a date.
"The European Union has achieved all its main priorities and continues to lead the battle against climate change," Enestam said.
"We came here above all to drive progress on adaptation issues and pave the way for strong further action to cut emissions, and that is what we have done. Now we need to ensure that action follows urgently."
EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas commented: "I am pleased that the Nairobi conference has achieved so much to help developing countries cope with the huge challenge of climate change.
"It is increasingly clear that global emissions need to be halved by mid-century if we are to have a chance of keeping climate change within tolerable limits.
"The work plan agreed here is an important step towards defining the shape of future global action, but the international community needs to step up efforts to complete the process as soon as possible."
1.3. Mixed opinions on climate conference outcome
20 November 2006 , IRIN
Delegates to a United Nations conference on climate change concluded their 12-day meeting in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi , by agreeing to a review of the protocol on the reduction of greenhouse gases in 2008.
The Kyoto protocol’s current commitment runs out in 2012. It obligates parties to the treaty to reduce the emission of harmful gases – mainly carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels – blamed for a rise in global warming of about five percent above the 1990 emission levels.
The conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change also adopted a range of decisions intended to mitigate against climate change and help developing countries adapt to the effects of global warming.
"The conference has delivered on its promise to support the needs of developing countries," said Kivutha Kibwana , Kenya ‘s Minister for Natural Resources and the Environment and President of the conference.
Delegates reached agreement on the management of the Adaptation Fund of the Kyoto protocol. Developing countries, particularly in Africa , had a special interest in the fund, which draws on proceeds generated by the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The mechanism is designed to support concrete climate-change adaptation activities in poorer countries.
The CDM permits industrialised countries, which have emission targets under Kyoto , to invest in sustainable development projects in developing countries that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, thus generating tradable emission credits.
However, the British charity, Oxfam, said the conference had yielded little for Africa , the world’s poorest continent, but the region most affected by the effects of climate change, including frequent droughts and floods.
"An overwhelming lack of political ambition turned the UN conference on climate change into a disappointment, with poor countries coming away with little more than vague promises to help their efforts to avoid the worst effects of climate change," Oxfam said in a statement.
"The conference has let Africa and the rest of the developing world down. It has put forward only vague promises to help the world’s poorest countries adapt to climate change, beyond the pledge to set up a fund that has to date only [US] $3 million in its coffers. This urgently needs to be turned into a multi-billion dollar fund if poor countries are to be helped in adapting to climate change," said Antonio Hill, Oxfam’s senior policy adviser.
The World Bank estimates that it would cost between $10 and $30 billion a year to protect development activities from the effects of climate change.
The CDM is considered an innovative way to both help rich countries reduce global emissions at low cost and sustain low carbon development initiatives in developing countries. Of the 400 projects running so far only five are in sub-Saharan Africa .
At the Nairobi conference, parties to Kyoto also adopted rules of procedure for the treaty’s compliance committee, making it fully operational.
The committee, with its enforcement and facilitative branches, ensures that the parties to the protocol have a clear accountability regime in meeting their emission reduction targets.
"The 166 parties to the Kyoto protocol heard in Nairobi that global emissions of greenhouse gases have to be reduced to very low levels, well below half of levels in 2000, in order to avoid dangerous climate change," said Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC.
"The fact that parties now have a concrete work plan means that they can move ahead with addressing issues fundamental for agreement on future commitments, such as the level of emission reductions that is required and the ways in which they can be achieved," he added.
The next round of negotiations under the Kyoto protocol and talks under the United Nations Climate Change Convention will be held in Bonn , Germany , in May 2007.
1.4. Kyoto moves forward despite slow pace
17 November 2006 , Friends of the Earth International
Modest agreements were reached at the United Nations climate change talks that ended here today. 165 countries discussed ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions beyond 2012 under the existing Kyoto Protocol, which is the only international legally binding treaty to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases.
"Whilst we welcome the work that has been made here, we have not seen these talks respond to the reality of the urgency in the real world. The impacts of climate change are becoming more severe. The warnings from the scientific community are becoming increasingly alarming. The public at large are taking to the streets calling for action. Ministers must step up their efforts to move this Kyoto process forward," said Friends of the Earth International climate change campaigner Catherine Pearce.
Friends of the Earth International notes with concern that the postponement of many of the Nairobi decisions ultimately means that strong leadership will be required at the next climate talks in 2007 in order to launch actual negotiations for the post 2012 commitments. In addition, International efforts on how to achieve the 50% greenhouse gas emission cuts needed by 2050 are still to be determined.
"We call upon world leaders to demonstrate the urgently required leadership to build a stronger, improved and expanded Kyoto, with more stringent emission cuts for the industrialised countries and flexibility to allow contributions from some of the developing countries," added Catherine Pearce.
In Nairobi a work programme has been set out and prepares the ground for action after 2012, when the first phase of Kyoto ends. In order to ensure no interruption between the first and second commitment phases, these negotiations must be completed by the end of 2008. The Kyoto Protocol sets caps on emissions of greenhouse gases by 39 industrial nations, but further Kyoto action is urgently needed to avoid a gap between current and future commitment periods after 2012, when current targets are due to end.
The Kyoto process is moving forward despite the obstruction of a few countries. Major polluter Australia -which has failed to ratify Kyoto-shockingly tried to mislead the public with claims that Kyoto is a failure and will not deliver results for the environment or the economy. Following a change of Government, Canada is also trying to walk away from their existing Kyoto commitments.
As the first climate talks in Sub Saharan Africa, this conference has been especially helpful in raising awareness of climate change in this continent, which is already suffering climatic extremes.
Parts of Kenya , for instance, are suffering a drought that started in 2003. In Northern Kenya , pastoralists have lost 10 million livestock. Two thirds of the population in Turkana region have lost their livelihoods.
In Nairobi , the richest countries failed to address the most urgent needs of the poorest countries.
"We need to see far quicker and more drastic actions to meet the needs of the most vulnerable people, including those living in Africa . The least developed countries and in particular small island developing states – the nations most at risk from climate change – did not get from the conference strong commitments to help them confront climate change. The highest level of political commitments from world leaders is necessary to meet the scale of the challenge to solve this global crisis," said Friends of the Earth International climate change campaigner Catherine Pearce.
Most of the heat-trapping gases are released by the richest nations of the planet, and cause rising temperatures and more extreme weather events such as droughts and floods.
Background information about the climate talks
Good progress was made on the Adaptation Fund, the only financial mechanism that will provide steady funds for poor countries suffering from climate change impacts. The allocations of this fund will be largely determined by developing countries.
The talks addressed the ‘Clean Development Mechanism’ (a system designed to make it easier and cheaper for industrialised countries to meet their greenhouse gas emission reduction targets by investing in reductions in developing countries), but strong concerns remain about what the mechanism will include and what it can deliver.
Ways to reduce greenhouse gas-causing deforestation in developing countries (which accounts for approximately 20% of global emissions) were also discussed, but progress was very slow, despite the fact that urgent action is needed to reduce deforestation. During the 11 days of the conference an estimated 330,000 ha of forest have been lost.
1.5. 2007 crucial in global warming battle
20 November 2006 , Reuters
Next year will be crucial if political inertia is not to have a potentially catastrophic effect on efforts to battle global warming, British Environment Minister David Miliband said on Monday.
Fresh from inconclusive talks in Nairobi on how to take forward the Kyoto Protocol on cutting emissions of greenhouse gases, which expires in 2012, Miliband said political will was seriously lagging scientific knowledge.
"The politics is moving more slowly than the science or the economics globally. We have got to inject new momentum into the politics," he told the Environment Agency’s annual conference.
"The next year is absolutely key."
He highlighted the German presidency of the European Union and the Group of Eight (G8) rich nations, a new Congress in the United States and a new U.N. secretary-general as important for how 2007 would turn out environmentally.
"If there is a gap after 2012 … the carbon market … will collapse. To avoid that you basically have to start negotiations in a year’s time," he said.
The Nairobi meeting agreed that talks on taking forward and expanding Kyoto should get underway in 2008 but some delegates criticized a lack of firm action on global warming.
Scientists predict that unless firm action is taken to curtail emission of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels, global temperatures will rise by between two and six degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
The United States , which pulled out of Kyoto in 2001, argues that such action could cripple its economy.
A report last month by former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern said that while action now to curb carbon emissions would cost some one percent of world economic output, delay could push the price up to 20 percent.
Alex Bowen, the Stern group’s senior economic advisor, told the meeting that business as usual would ensure that world temperatures rose by at least five degrees by 2100, bringing climatic, economic and social catastrophe to the world with floods, famines and wholesale species’ wipeout.
"International collective action is necessary. We need an agreed sense of where the world is heading," he said.
Oxford University academic Dieter Helm, head of an academic panel advising Miliband’s ministry on policy, said he believed the Stern report had underestimated the scale of the problem.
"This is an enormous challenge. The chances of sustaining the world economy based upon the current levels of consumption-led growth and the population growth that we are looking at … are quite shallow," he said.
1.6. Barroso a born-again climate warrior
19 November 2006 , The Financial Times
When José Manuel Barroso became president of the European Commission in 2004, environmental groups feared the worst.
When he named Stavros Dimas, a former Wall St lawyer, as the EU’s environment commissioner, they shuddered: the Greek, who has since won over many of his early critics, came from the only country in Europe without an environment minister.
Yet in the last few weeks, Mr Barroso has undergone a remarkable conversion and emerged as a champion of the environmental cause.
His aides deny he has suddenly “gone green”, but as recently as May 2006 climate change was barely mentioned by the former Portuguese prime minister as he set out his vision for the “future of Europe ”.
But last week he put climate change at the top of his list of priorities: a “serious and urgent issue” requiring tough action. Colleagues say the new approach is already being felt in policy areas.
His position matters because Mr Barroso exerts a tight grip on an organisation with the power to set environmental standards and targets. What is decided in Brussels often has a direct impact on companies far beyond Europe .
At the United Nations meeting in Nairobi last week to discuss the Kyoto protocol, the EU’s central role in international climate change debate was obvious. Only the EU, Japan and Canada among the world’s big developed economies are having to shoulder emission cuts under the treaty, and Europe is fighting to keep the last two countries on board.
Mr Barroso’s colleagues admit he was suspicious of the environmental lobby when he arrived in Brussels and feared green issues could frustrate his main goal of boosting Europe ’s jobs and growth. His decision to choose a petrol-slurping German SUV for his official car raised hackles further.
So why the sudden enthusiasm for tackling climate change? Mr Barroso’s allies say a defining influence was Sir Nicholas Stern, the former World Bank economist, who made a compelling economic case for doing something about it.
Al Gore’s film on climate change, An Inconvenient Truth, also changed attitudes. When the former US vice-president came to an adoring Brussels last month, Mr Dimas bemoaned the fact that Europeans “cannot vote in US elections”.
But for Mr Barroso, the environment is also a rare political issue on which Europeans feel very strongly and where the European Commission has the ability to act.
It polices the EU’s emissions trading scheme, which aims to limit carbon pollution, and Mr Barroso’s team must soon decide whether to challenge member states to come up with more demanding targets.
The Commission also proposes standards in areas such as car emissions and recently proposed new energy efficiency laws for electrical equipment such as television standby buttons. Any exporter to the EU will have to comply.
In January Mr Barroso will set out a new EU energy policy, addressing efficiency issues, measures to boost green technology and plans to cut Europe ’s energy dependency.
There is also powerful backing for tackling climate change in the member states.
Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, will prioritise the issue during her G8 and EU presidencies next year. Meanwhile Tony Blair, British prime minister, and Jacques Chirac, French president, are sympathetic and looking for political “monuments”.
David Miliband, Britain ’s environment minister, argues that climate change is an issue that can help to rebuild European unity.
“The environment is the big issue on which the EU can connect with its citizens,” he told the Financial Times.
If Mr Barroso, like other European leaders, has been relatively slow on the issue of climate change, his aides point out that the European Commission has always been a world leader on environmental issues.
“This is not some sort of marketing exercise,” says his spokesman Johannes Laitenberger. “It is natural for the Commission to take a lead on this issue and the president has said that is what we will do.”
1.7. Still no post-Kyoto plan as climate talks end
21 November 2006 , Edie.net
The Nairobi climate talks closed with an agreement that greenhouse emissions had to be halved in the coming years, but no concrete timetable for action.
Ministers and negotiators from 92 countries failed to decide what will happen when the Kyoto protocol runs out in 2012, or to set a timetable for negotiating target cuts for that period.
Arriving back at Heathrow after two weeks of negotiations, UK environment minister David Miliband said that "the political institutions at a global level are not yet able on their own to generate the sort of momentum that’s going to be necessary for a global deal” on curbing carbon emissions.
"For that you need leadership from finance ministers and foreign secretaries," he said.
Negotiators did agree to work on technology transfer to developing countries and to help economic diversification in highly fossil fuel-dependent states.
They also decided that developing countries should take the lead in managing the Adaptation Fund, funded with the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). They also agreed to help African countries benefit from the fund, as most money from the fund has so far gone to Asia .
One controversial move was the inclusion of Belarus in Kyoto emission trading mechanisms, in a way that lets it earn carbon credits without actually reducing emissions by cashing in on the fall in emissions during the post-soviet economic decline.
The conference decided to keep the doors of the CDM closed to carbon storage and storage, judging the technologies insufficiently developed to be included as yet.
Environmental groups condemned the slow pace of negotiations: "Whilst we welcome the work that has been made here, we have not seen these talks respond to the reality of the urgency in the real world. The impacts of climate change are becoming more severe," said Friends of the Earth’s Catherine Pearce.
"The public at large are taking to the streets calling for action. Ministers must step up their efforts to move this Kyoto process forward," she said.
Parties to Kyoto will conduct a full review of the protocol in two years’ time, the conference decided.
Goska Romanowicz, http://www.edie.net/news/news_story.asp?id=12286&channel=0 .
ENERGY AND EMISSIONS
2.1. Wind turbine supply contract for first African IPP wind farm signed
20 November 2006