On Tuesday, as the access to the Bella Center was severely restricted, I chose to spend some time at Klimaforum in the DGI Byen center in Copenhagen. After attending an event on deforestation in Brazil, I walked around and stumbled into an event on “False Solutions.”
The event had two keynote speakers, a woman from Brazil who had a very interesting outlook on REDD and the negative impacts it would have on her country and Nnimmo Bassey the Chair of Friends of the Earth International.
Nnimmo spoke of a great abuse of the “CDM (Clean Development Mechanism)” projects in his home country of Nigeria, and how CDM’s can provide a false solution to climate change if abused.
The abuse he spoke of was about “gas flaring” a process by which oil company’s burn the natural gas byproduct which is released when they pump oil out of the earth.
He explained that there are three potential ways to deal with the natural gas. Oil company’s can either pump the gas back down and keep only the oil, they can also capture the natural gas and sell it, or they can simply light it on fire. The latter of which is the cheapest.
Gas flaring is terrible for the environment and it’s a process which goes on 24-7-365. Nnimmo also said it’s a process that has been illegal since the 1980’s in Nigeria, however the gas company’s continue to do it in 2009.
This bring’s us to the CDM. Oil company’s in Nigeria have begun to take gas flares and use them to give power to villages. A process which the UN rewards by giving the corporations that do this carbon offsets they can sell as CDM’s. The UN overlooks the fact that the gas flares are still burning and also that gas flaring is a process which has been illegal for over 20 years in Nigeria.
Nnimmo gave an example of how he perceived this practice by saying, “if I am a bank robber and I rob 10 banks a week, if I call the UN and promise to only rob 5 a week from now on… can I have carbon credits?”
This discussion was a real eye opener because it showed the great abuses that can happen and how “solutions” to climate change can be manipulated to where they actually do no good at all.
In an event that may prove to be extremely important to the end result of the 15th COP in Copenhagen, developing nations walked out of negotiations this morning.
According to an article on Sky News African nations led a walkout this morning in protest of the way the Climate talks were heading. Their main reason was that they feel as though the developed nations were trying to back out of the Kyoto Protocol. They (developing nations) felt as though the Developed nations were trying to avoid having to curb their emissions as mandated by the Kyoto Protocol and that developed nations are attempting to “back out” of the only mechanism currently available to require an emissions reduction on the part of the developed nations.
Another article on news.com.au pointed out that many of the developed nations wish for an entirely new treaty, however the developing nations wish for the Kyoto Protocol to continue with or without a new treaty. The article outlines Australia’s stance on the issue, and says that Australia doesn’t want the Kyoto Protocol to be the only treaty to fight climate change as under the current structure, the US China and India are not obligated to reduce anything.
In a negotiating session I attended on Saturday the negotatior from Kuwait stressed his value on the Kyoto Protocol by saying “I don’t know why we would kill the mother before the child is born,” which effectively conveys why the developing world sees the need for some overlap when it comes to the Kyoto Protocol and a newer “Global Deal.”
It is certainly going to be an interesting development and unfortunately shows the only way that developing nations are able to ensure that their voice is heard in these negotiations.
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This is a video I took on our groups tour of a “green village” in Malmo Sweden. The village was called Augustenborg and has been a decade long restoration project of a slum. A cool feature of the project is that the city enforces a rent control on the area so that former resident’s would continue to have affordable rent, rather than displacing them in favor of new residents who may have been able to afford higher rents. This is a system that the world has much to learn from and should serve as a model for redevelopment in urban area’s. For more see earlier posts on this blog concerning the tour and enjoy this video I took on the green roof technology they employ in Augestenborg.
In a negotiating session I attended this morning the Island nation of (and former member of AOSIS) Malta requested an amendment that would give them Annex 1 status under the UNFCCC’s convention. The main motivation behind the request, which was submitted in April of 2009, was Malta’s new status as a member of the European Union.
Malta’s representative stated that as a result of his country’s EU membership they were bound by the EU’s environmental rules and regulations. This makes all of Malta’s emission reduction requirements equivalent to, or even greater than most annex 1 nations. As a result of their increased participation in reducing their emissions on the same level as other EU nations they wish to have the same legal footing in the UNFCCC meetings as an annex 1 nation, as they will be bound by any decision made within the annex 1 nations anyways.
After the delegate from Malta had finished his statement the delegate from Grenada made a statement wishing the former AOSIS member luck and commented on how they were proud that a former member was going to be a member of the annex 1 and that she was glad that a small island nation would finally have a voice within annex 1 negotiations. It was humbling to hear her (the delegate from Grenada) speak as it was apparent that the ability to have a small island state as a member of the annex 1 seemed to inspire hope.
The decision was deferred to a committee which is to be chaired by the delegate from Canada and they will then report back to the general assembly next week, however one would hope that as Malta has the backing of the EU, that this decision will allow them to join the annex 1 and give small island nations a voice they have long desired and needed.
Google officially released a version of their “Google Earth” application which predicts sea level changes due to global warming. The app was released in order to lead up to the climate talks in Copenhagen. The cause is near and dear to Googles heart as predictions show that if the water levels continue to rise, Google’s headquarters could be underwater by the year 2100. The application is focused on California but is effective in making a point and will hopefully be expanded to include the entire world, giving people an accurate visual of what damage rising carbon levels can cause without them having to rely on romanticized Hollywood versions. According to this article on sFist, the projections by Google show that rising sea levels can cause up to 2.5 trillion dollars in damage to California alone. If and when google expands the program to include the entire world it will give people an excellent tool by which they can see the damage they and their country will sustain, as well as give American’s a clear picture of how our actions are changing the way the world looks.
The outlook for Copenhagen has become even more grim this week as two key “walkouts” occur on opposite sides of the world.
The first case occurred today as the climate talks commenced in Barcelona. The African delegation consisting of 50 countries walked out of meetings in protest of the extraordinarily half-hearted efforts put forth by richer nations. The African delegation was upset because they are unhappy with what they believe to be “low” carbon-cutting goals on the part of developed nations. The science has suggested that developed countries should reduce their emissions by at least 25-40% of their 1990 levels by 2020, and the African delegation felt that the goal should be 40% minimum. The walkout was supported by many other delegations including the G77 plus China. The American delegation refused to give any numbers until congress approves it.
In another crucial roadblock to any progress on the issue of climate change, Republicans decided to boycott a senate Enviroment and Public works and Committee. The committee was to start a debate on a bill that would attempt to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The Republicans said that the reason they choose to boycott because they fear the bills potential impact on the US economy, a tactic that is clearly more constructive than actually debating that issue…
According to Reuters, the African delegation ended the boycott today. A move that both allows for actual progress to be made in the final meeting before and shifts the focus of the meetings towards the needs of poorer countries and their desire to see greater emission cuts on the part of more developed countries.
Hopefully discussions not walk-outs will shape the direction of the Climate Change debate as we move forward.