Copenhagen Conference: Day 4

Copenhagen Climate Change ConferenceA war on drafts has broken out at the UN Climate Change conference, ona day which also say the European Union (EU) commit $3 billion US toclimate fund, the G-77 chief negotiator of walk out of talks in angerand a divisive split over a proposed the two degree target.

As the Danish draft continues to make it round, another draft hassurfaced firmly putting demands on rich countries. In November, duringa closed door meeting in Beijing, India, China, South Africa andBrazil, the four major emerging economies finalised an 11-page draft-the “Copenhagen Accord”. It proposes a “binding” amendment to the KyotoProtocol calling for rich countries to reduce their carbon emissions bymore than 40 percent compared to 1990 levels.

Led by Beijing, the initiative was conceived as a rebuttal bydeveloping countries to the “Copenhagen Agreement” allegedly written bythe conference’s host country.

According to AFP, the “Copenhagen Accord”, posted on the website ofFrench daily newspaper Le Monde, embraces the objective of limitingglobal warming to two degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industriallevels. It calls on rich countries, committed to CO2 reductions of atleast five percent by 2012, to “multiply by eight” and points out thatreductions should be made “mainly through domestic measures” and notthrough the purchase of so-called “offsets” outside their borders.

G-77 chief negotiator walks out of talks

Lumumba Stanislaus Di-Aiping, chief negotiator for 130 developingcountries walked out of a consultation meeting with UN representativesin anger, claiming the climate change conference will probably bewrecked by the “bad intentions of some people”.

“Things are not going well” a normally tight lipped Di-Aiping said to Danish TV.

In another development Di-Aiping called on US President Barack Obamastating it would be “embarrassing for the US not to be part of asolution to save humanity”. The “USA is the worlds largest emitterhistorically and per capita. A reduction of four percent compared to1990 levels will not help save the world. We ask the USA to join theKyoto Protocol and take on commitments comparable to Annex 1 countries(industrialized countries)” said Di-Aiping.

“This is a challenge that President Barack Obama needs to rise as aNobel Prize winner and as an advocate of a multilateral global society.We know he is proud to be a part of that community through his familyrelations in Africa” he added.

The Two Degree Split

Analysis from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)shows that a temperature increase of two degrees Celsius can be said tobe a threshold value. Above this value the effects of climate changewould probably be more difficult to manage and would compound at aquicker pace. Now, more than 100 nations back even tougher climategoals.

The 1.5 Celsius goal would require cuts in greenhouse gas emissions byrich nations of at least 45 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.

More popular than Tiger Woods

“Copenhagen” is now the number one search query on the world’s leadinginternet search engine, thwarting US golfer Tiger Woods from the topspot.

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Copenhagen Day 2 – Climate Change Conference in Denmark

Delegates at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, had quite a day.

The week leading up to the conference, a report was circulating thatDenmark, host of the conference, had a drawn up a text that was sure tocome under fire. Yesterday afternoon Britains’ The Guardian Newspaperpublished what they claimed to be this text. Further the paper alsoclaims to have read “a confidential analysis by developing countries”which “shows deep unease”.

The draft acknowledges that 2020 as the year which global emissionshould peak, while also acknowledging that developed countries havecollectively peaked and that the timeframe will be longer fordeveloping countries. The text goes on to specify emission reductiontargets for both developed and developing countries.

What as the latter up in arms is possible shift of control of enforcement of any agreement to developed countries.

Confused yet?

Under the present agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, developing countriesare exempt from obligations, but industrialized countries have stressedthat this will not be feasible in the future. The Danish text says that“developing countries, except the least developed which may contributeat their own discretion, commit to nationally appropriate mitigationactions”. According to The Guardian’s sources, “developing countriesare infelicitous about the new proposed division between the ‘leastdeveloped’ and other developing nations.

Another sticky point is the suggestion to transfer more control overthe enforcement of the Copenhagen agreement from the UN administration,to the World Bank. Such a move would indirectly shift more control over to the industrialized world.

In other news, UPI is reporting the period from 2000 -2009 will beconsidered to be one of the warmest on record. Additionally the WorldMeteorological Organization said 2009 will rank among the 10 warmestyears since 1850. The WMO said temperatures for the current year standbetween 0.6 degrees and 1 degree Fahrenheit higher than the averagefrom 1961-1990.

The WMO said the period from 2000-2009 was warmer than the 1990-99 decade, which was warmer than the 1980-1989 time span.
Forecasters cited El Nino conditions and human-caused global climatechange for the increases. Only in North America were lower averagetemperatures recorded.

“We are in a warming trend – we have no doubt about it” said WMO Secretary General, Michel Jarraud.

And from the “Did they really do that file”, you may remember whenCEO’s of the former Big Three Automakers arrived in Washington, handsheld out, looking for a big influx of cash, but they all arrived viaprivate jet. Only to be scolded by the commission and ordered todispose of the luxury items. Fox news is reportingthat delegates haven’t been arriving in fleet of Smart cars, but ratherthe city airport has been swarmed with 140 private jets, and over 1200hired limousines and “a carbon footprint the size of a small country”.

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Day 1 in Copenhagen

An admission, a challenge, and an unnamed diplomatic source, sounds like the beginning of good mystery novel.

The UN Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen wrapped up its first day of talks with a some interesting developments.

The Admission

The Environmental Protection Agency, of the United States, came out ofthe closet and finally admitted carbon dioxide as a threat to humanhealth. And while most of us know that breathing from an exhaust pipeis probably not good for you, this admission does have some strengthbehind it. With this admission, should the U.S. Senate fail to adoptlegislation (on emissions) the E.P.A. now has the authority to regulate.

The Challenge

The European Union was beating its chest yesterday, suggesting theywill raise their emission reductions from the 20% they have alreadyadopted to 30% if “other major players (read United States and China)undertake ‘comparable commitments’”, however, the statement does notspecify what would qualify as being “comparable”. Most agree this moveis only meant to keep pressure on the United States and China. Wouldn’tit be great if we didn’t have to bully our political leaders?

Unnamed Diplomatic Source

Financial Times Deutschland is reporting the European Union is ready toput money on the table as a sign of good faith. The money will beearmarked for climate change mitigation and adaption in vulnerablethird world countries over the next three years. In a draft obtained bynews agency AFP, the amount is just noted as “X billion euros for theyears 2010 to 2012”, however according to the unnamed source the X willbe replaced by a figure in the range of one to three.

Time Magazine has a great read on the “Five Things to Watch for at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference.

1. “Will the U.S. lead?” The second Bushadministration seemed to enjoy playing the spoiler, often “gumming” upthe works on carbon emissions. And we all remember when they walked outduring the middle of negotiations at the Montreal summit in 2005.

2. “Will China and India Follow?” While the U.S. isthe globe’s largest carbon emitter, China and India are not too farbehind. And while they have a lower per capita emissions ratio, underthe Kyoto Protocol, they haven’t been required to take any verifiableactions to control emissions.

3. “The Two Step Tango” In 2007 leaders laid out the“Bali road map” a series of steps towards replacing the Kyoto Protocol.Well, the international community got a bit delayed in implementingthose measures.

4. “Seeing REDDon deforestation” The loss of tropical forests plays a major role inclimate change, contributing to 15% of global greenhouse gases. Slowingthe rate of deforestation has a double benefit, but presently there’sno mechanism for developing countries to earn carbon funding by keepingtheir trees.

5. “Financial Adaption” It’s not all about the smoke,Global warming is coming even if we do act fast. For a long time no onecould agree on how much money would need to spent, the numbers rangefrom $10 to $100 billion, its time to nail that number down.

Read the entire article at Time.com

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Copenhagen Climate Conference Opens

After two years of often contentious negotiations, the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen opened today.

And while no one is doubting the importance of this particularconference, the hype leading up to today has had the fever of a circusside show.

The normally staid science community are billing the next 11 days as“The largest and most important climate change conference in history.”“Hopenhagen” has been quickly adopted as a nickname, still otherscientists have stated this conference is “the most important the world has ever seen”.

Ok! Hang on. We may be at a point, and only history will tell us, wherethe line in the sand has been drawn. And we need to start to seriouslylook at ways to bring the reins in as it were.

But is now the time for all the hype? In the last couple of weeks wehave had “climategate”, why must everything be a “gate”? But that isfor another column. On November 17th 2009 the webmail sever at theUniversity of East Anglia, was hacked and over 1000 emails, containinglanguage, which could be interpreted to indicate scientists were tryingto hide a decrease in global warming, were posted all over the web forthe rest of the world to see. Presently Police in that country areconducting an investigation into the breach.

When the general public is faced with an overload of information fromtwo opposing and equally passionate arguments, complete with apparentfacts and data to support their respective positions, they will oftenturn to the people they trust for guidance. So who are they?Politicians? Journalists? Scientists? It is anyone’s guess.

So as we sit glued to our tv and computer screens watching every bit ofnews that emerges from these talks, I have one question – What do wewant to come out of this conference?

It was just over a year ago we watched the “Yes we can” train rollacross the United States as President Barack Obama made history. Hisspeeches and promises where truly an inspiring sight to behold, but canhe deliver?

It is great to have a vision, but if it isn’t attainable, is it only a dream?

Do we want dreams? I don’t. The time for dreams is over. Now is thetime that countries must pull out a pen, a blank piece of paper, and acommitment to write the most aggressive, obtainable resolution thateach country can implement.

Drafting a resolution that is not attainable is a waste of time, effort and energy, and quite frankly insulting.

To see a country one week sign on the dotted line, then subsequentlyspin a reason why they cannot honour said commitment is getting alittle old.

Sure, we all have our wish lists, I for one have a list that Santawould have a hard time filling, but I do have one request, only one.

Whatever is contained in that final resolution, it must be politicallyneutral. While we certainly need buy in from the 192 ruling parties inattendance, we need an equal commitment from the opposition parties ofthose countries that they too will honour all agreements that come outof the conference, should they ever come into power.

Time for political games is over. It is time for everyone to takeresponsibility for themselves and to continue to pressure thegovernment of the day to honour their commitments.

During the Conference:

Over the next 11 days we at Greener Ideal will look at the daily newsand provide an overview of event, talks, and agreements coming out ofCopenhagen.

We hope you will find them interesting and informative. As always welove to hear from our readers, drop us a line and tell us what youwould like to see come out of this conference.

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Rooftop Solar Panels in New South Wales

New South Wales SolarThegovernment of New South Wales has approved a gross feed–in tariff forrooftop solar systems, thus allowing households and small business whoinvest capital to build and maintain these systems to sell energy backto the electricity grid – at a premium.

Endorsed by the Australian Conservation Foundation,the ACF says “this is a key step in tackling climate change and is amodel that should be replicated nationally”. “The NSW Government’sdecision to introduce a gross feed-in tariff for rooftop solar systemsis a step forward on tackling climate change and making our homes moreenergy efficient” the ACF said in a recent interview.

A gross feed–in tariff means that households and small businesses can take advantage of the sunshine that falls in that region.
“If we are to secure a clean, safe energy future for our kids, it isvital we have a strong commitment to renewable energies like solar”said Monica Richter, Manager for ACF’s Sustainable Australia Program.“Solar produces clean reliable energy at times of peak demand, so itmakes perfect sense that it (energy from panels) should be priced at apremium rate” she added.

The premium price offered reflects the value of the electricityproduced at the time of peak demand and corrects the market failure ofpaying today’s photovoltaic (PV) owners on a fraction of the peak price.

Internationally, grid connected solar PV is the fastest growing powergeneration sector. Germany, Japan, Spain and France are big consumersof solar PV. All these countries have feed-in tariffs to support theirsolar industries.

Recent research by Access Economics for the Electrical Trade Unionfound a strong national program could generate up to 22,000 additionalclean energy jobs over the next 10 years in Australia.

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House of Representatives Pass Obama’s Historic Climate Change Bill

Obama CLimate Change

As a follow up to yesterday’s post on the historic climate change billproposed by President Obama and many other notable US Democrats, theHouse of Representatives voted in favour of adopting the new standardswhich would limit the amount of greenhouse gas emissions to 17% belowwhat they were in 2005 by 2020. Although there is a lot of supportbehind this cause, it still has to make its way through the Senate, andmany Republicans are still pushing back against it for fear of itseffects on job creation. Here’s what Al Gore had to say on the subject:

The American Clean Energy Security (ACES) Act is one of the mostimportant pieces of legislation Congress will ever pass. Thiscomprehensive legislation will make meaningful reductions in globalwarming pollution, spur investment in clean energy technology, createjobs and reduce our reliance on foreign oil.

The next step is passage of this legislation by the Senate to helprestore America’s leadership in the world and begin, at long last, toput in place a truly global solution to the climate crisis.

We are at an extraordinary moment, with an historic opportunity toconfront one of the world’s most serious challenges. Our actions nowwill be remembered by this generation and all those to follow – in ourown nation and others around the world.”

Be sure to do your part and join RePower America, and be sure to show the Senate that you care about the passage of this bill.

 

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US Secretary of Energy Wants White Roofs and Roads

White Roofs

It’s become pretty common knowledge that white roofs provide a greatenvironmental benefit in areas that receive a lot of sun, and the ideajust gained a great supporter in Steven Chu,the US Secretary of Energy. If homes in hot countries switched to whiteroofs, not only would more light be reflected out of the atmosphere,but a lot of homes would cut down on their air conditioning costs aswell. Professor Chu also supported lightening the colour of roads aswell as roofs, believing it could neutralize the equivalent of 11 years’ worth of cars.Although he said the US isn’t planning any large scale geo-engineeringprojects, switching to white roofs and roads would set a good exampleand lead the way in the world. Look forward to seeing some of theseprojects come to light under Obama’s term.

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