When an individual thinks about emissions from transportation, the first three options that might come to mind are cars, trains and airplanes. One transportation method that is left out of sight would be the ships. One would assume that ships are heavy polluters and that is true but there are companies who’s business is to maximize the efficiency of ship and intern that means less emissions. This will be a discussion on the international shipping industry and what they are doing to lower their emissions but at the same time remaining competitive in the global markets. Some facts should be shared before going into detail on the subject of emission within global trade. First of all, as the presenters said within the event, that the international shipping industry handles 90% of global trade. Second, a ship has a life span of 20-30 years depending on the type of ship and this means they are a large investment infrastructure. Finally, the last important fact to introduce this topic is that on average a ship will emit CO2 three times the amount of fuel that it burns. The question is how will a new treaty affect the shipping industry and what are their options for reducing emissions.
To begin this discussion with a quote from Robert Lorenz-Meyer, “It is very important that any regulations that does not distort global trade.” This request is rather logical because if new restrictions have a overwhelming affect on the industry, by the means of penalties for emitting over a baseline, these affects will slow down the market, or the costs will be pushed off on the consumers. “Since 60% of the 60,000 ship fleet is not in annex 1 countries,” stated Peter Hinchliffe from ICS one could possibly assume that if a the UNFCCC places heavy restrictions then they would be slowing down the economies of the countries that are supposed to be getting funding, technology and other materials from annex 1 countries. Although, it still seems like the emissions from transport ships would amount to a large figure, but when compared to all the other types of transportation the shipping industry only makes up, “2.7% of the global emission inventory,” as stated by Mr, Hinchliffe. Well, that percentage might seem small in comparison but it nevertheless needs to be reduced from the current amount.
Creating penalties for emissions is difficult within the shipping industry and is not as easy as reducing them in aviation or automobiles. The main reason behind this is that the structure of the stakeholders is different for shipping. Peter Swift was the presenter that discussed this topic in detail and the first item to understand is that in most transportation methods the individual is forced to take the responsibility for the emissions. Well, the shipping industry has three stakeholders which makes the question of who should pay very difficult. There is the ship owner, the operators, and then the shipping companies. For example, ships have port delays just like planes have their delays, but the question is who should pay for the port delays? These delays are considerably longer then any plane delay, and the longer they are in open waters the more fuel they burn and more CO2 they emit. Another example, there has been a trend that once a ship leaves it’s departing destination it would travel at full speed, intern burning lots of fuel, and then arrive early and just waste time waiting to port. These are problems that when not considered carefully the wrong person could be charged a penalty. There are simple actions that the shipping industry can take to be more efficient, like traveling at slower speeds. Hopefully, any regulation coming from the COP-15 will promote efficiency within the shipping industry and that should reduce emissions as a byproduct.
The shipping industry is currently looking at measures to become more efficient and to reduce their emissions, because the less fuel they burn the more money they make. The organization GreenShip.org is already looking into technology for reducing their gas consumption and emissions. Christian Schack was at this presentation to inform the public what the latest technology can do for reducing emissions. There are two main categories that can really have affects in reducing a ships emissions. There is operational measures that they can change, for example not traveling at full speed and then waiting to enter the ports, or there could be a program to reduce port delays. Then the other category is actual technical improvements done to the ship, for example different rudders, propeller or the production of a hull that has less drag. In a study that was done by the GreenShip organization they found out that with the implementation of these greener technologies they did reduce the NOx and SOx to almost the level of there goal, either way there was a substantial decrease in these emissions. The problem was that the amount of CO2 was not reduced much at all, actually it was only reduced by 7.2%. Christian Schack informed the audience that, “when the pollutants of NOx and SOx are reduced there is a trend that CO2 output will increase.” This needs to be taken into consideration during the progress of making legislation or an agreement that will affect the shipping industry. The last point that needs to be taken into consideration on this topic is that since these ships have such a long life span, that ships that were ordered to be produced during the economic boom a couple years back will be done by 2014, and then they will be sea worthy until about 2040. Of course these ships can be updated with new technology as it comes along but will have its own problems do to the cost.
It is interesting how the media does not cover the shipping industry and the progress they are making by themselves to reduce there emissions. The International Marine Organization (IMO), and along with the UNFCCC has done a good job regulating the industry up to this time, and I hope that this trend will continue into the future. As long as any agreement coming out of Copenhagen does not severally limit the abilities of the IMO, and allows the market to resolve this issue here. That is only possible because the shipping industries profit is directly related to fuel consumption, because they rather not raise cost of shipping. So as the industry continues to look for profits they will continue to reduce emissions, the only question is will that reduction meet the standards that possibly might come out of this conference?
There was a side-event this evening which its topic was about the Indigenous and Community engagement in REDD, and Jane Goodall was one of the Panelists. She put the deforestation issue in a new light. Her message was clear and short, we have to get people aware of nature, we have to teach the people to understand the values of the forests, if we cannot do this then there is no point because then eventually all the forest will be gone. She also highlighted that the public has to experience the spirituality of the forests, to enjoy the calming aspects, the biodiversity, and the history that comes along with age of the forests. We have to save the forests not just because we are suppose to, it has to be because we really want too. Lastly, in her travels she is pleased to see how many people care about the issue of deforestation and that with the proper market mechanisms and community involvement the task can be accomplished.
I sat in during one of a few indigenous side events that were held here at the conference on 12/08/09. The title of the event is, “Indigenous-Sensitive Climate Change Solutions and Implication of the Present State of Negotiations.” The first speaker, Joseph Ole Simel who represented Africa, talked about how the countries boarders put a strain on the indigenous peoples when resources are limited. With the climate changing there are more droughts which harm their food supplies and their way of living. This strain would be lessened if the countries would allow for these people to travel easily around the continent and to go to the areas that have the supplies they need. This really should not be a problem, because they do not inhabit the same areas as most people do. For example there are tribes that live in arid locations, where the general population do not inhabit. While, these environments span borders all of that land goes mostly unused. It would be very beneficial if the natives could use all that land with out the restrictions that are placed on them currently from the goverments. Africa is experiencing more droughts or nontraditional weather patterns and some times this lack of resources creates violence, and opinions that negativity affect the native population. To conclude Mr. Simel’s presentation I shall quote him, “Mobility is key.” If the indigenous can use the land more freely then they will have a better chance of surviving the climate changes.
The following speaker was Ms, Patricia Cochran. She was talking about the pressures that are felt by the Indigenous peoples of the Arctic. Just to touch upon the key points of her presentation, first is that funding is very important in preparing the natives for the climate changes ahead. The 10 billion dollars per year for the least developing countries was a good idea in her view because that money will be very helpful for adaption. The Indigenous people need to see some sort of funding like in the above example. This group of people are very vulnerable to climate change, but also to abuse which is allowed by governments. Lastly, a piece of good news from a legislation stand point is that Obama has called for a discussion with the tribal leaders, and that the Waxman-Markey bill has a good change to include funding to the indigenous peoples. Although, the Waxman-Markey bill is not the ideal legislation to promote reducing emissions and supporting climate change in general.
The third speaker told the audience about how climate change is affecting Alaska. This really proves the point that the indigenous people are heavily affected and that they need to support from the developed world just like developing countries do. In Alaska communities are washing away because of the new erosion problems. The ice that use to protect the land from increases in temperatures and certain wind patterns is no longer there. This leads aid in the problem of the permafrost melting and this creates even more problems. Currently communities are in the process of relocating, but with that their culture weakens. They need to preserve the knowledge that they have, but the globalizing world and climate changes make that more difficult everyday. These people are in between a rock and a hard place because they cannot allow offshore wind mills to combat raising emissions because that negatively affects whaling. The indigenous also are looking away from geo-thermal energy because those areas are their holy grounds. In conclusion, they are resorting to there old ways to reduce their emissions, they are going back to dogs sleds and building subterranean homes to reduce heating costs.
These indigenous people need the mobility to move freely to help with their adaption to the climate changes that are happening. They need the funding just like other developing countries, and they even have technology that could be applied else where to reduce emissions. So just like the speakers from that side event talked about, and the other indigenous people that have had their say on this road to Copenhagen; why are the indigenous peoples being excluded from the talks; why are their causes not good enough? This group of people have their rights too and that is why the Indigenous cause is so important.
After the, “Clean Energy Jobs in Global Marketplace” event given by the Department of Commerce secretary Gary Locke I felt like that were was no new information presented, and that his speech resembled the press release that was give on Thursday 10, 2009 by the Department of Commerce. Yes, America is on board with clean energy and that there are ways to reduce emissions with out lowering energy output. Although, it is important for the future to focus on efficiency with energy production and consumption and in general to maximize the energy sources of today. He also addressed the myth that ‘Green Jobs’ harm the economy or lower GDP, but that is not true because any job can create economic growth as long as there is a market for it. Furthermore, he promotes a “SmartGrid” to increase efficiency and also to for easier inclusion of green technologies. During the question portion I was under the impression that he did not really have any answers and that he just kept rewording what he said earlier. The last question that was asked was about how will America deal with the oil they purchase from the Tar Sands in Canada. An interesting observation that was made is when the question was initially asked Secretary Locke did not understand or know the term Tar Sands, so the questioner had to refer it to as the oil from Alberta, Canada. His answer was that the administration position is not to support, or be involved in markets that subsidize fossil fuels. Well, I wonder if that position would include foreign oil or if it is just for domestic fuel sources?
Also, there was a question posed on coal fired power plants and the secretary’s reply, in my own words, was that we cannot completely stop the usage of this plants because America needs this energy. This is interesting because in a side-event that I attended the presenter stated that if Denmark used all the square footage of the roofs in their country for the installation of solar panels they could generate enough energy to power a third of Europe. Looking at the size difference between America and Denmark is there any real reason why we would still need coal plants in the future? Gary Locke said, “that the technology exists now, we just need political movement and the support of the people.” It is great news that America is looking to reduce their emission through many different possibilities, but at the same time the leaders need to keep an open mind, because nothing is impossible and America should stop using coal plants as soon as possible.
In a side event last night the organization Greenpeace talked about the pressing issues that the USA has to deal with during these negotiations and in the future. The first presentation by Kyle Ash talked about how America is taking steps forward but also they are regressing in other ways. First, they are progressing with the support of groups like REDD. The steps back are seen when looking at the amount that the USA wants to reduce their emissions. Hopefully, it is already well known that America is aiming for a 4% reduction in emissions. Although, the long term emission goals do appear to comply with what the world is calling for. He also talked about the Waxman-Markey bill, which would drastically reduce the power that the EPA currently has to control emissions. This bill wants to promote “offset credits” within the Cap and Trade system for the carbon market. In theory this means that companies could acquire a loan for an offset which would expire after a 5 year term. As Kyle Ash said, this undermines the permanence of climate change policies. If this legislation passes then by 2020, over half of the American energy consumption would still be based on fossil fuels, with only six percent coming from renewable energy.
The second speaker talked about how the Americans do have a political process that can help with the climate change policies, considering that Congress tends to be a block to the process. Her focus was that Obama has to, “act out of political moral and courage.” This was the platform on which she presented about the Sole Executive Agreement, possibly more commonly known as an executive order. She believes with this executive power that America will be able to meet the standards in which the world is calling for. One factor that she did not talk about is that the funding for the Executive Orders comes from congress, and if a program does not have the right funding then how would that program successfully operate to the standards in which it was expected too.
The third presenter was from Brazil. He opened with an integrating story of how Brazil has changed over from their old slavery process to their current one. The key points that he wanted to highlight was that it is not the government or the market that started the change, it was actually the people that allowed the transition to happen. This switch in their economic markets did not come with several unintended outcomes, but it did get the ball moving and allowed for change to happen. The moral of this story is that, “if the people really want a change then it will happen. Although, it is important to note that the changes should not be done cheaply, because that will just create more problems in the future. Finally, just like the second presenter he also called for President Obama to step up and take the chances, even though this path would be currently unpopular to certain groups, and take country in the right way for reducing emissions.
Finally, I would like to discuss a question that was asked during this event. The question was confronted the topic how Canada does not want reduce their emissions to a lower amount because of their heavy investment of their Tar Sands. This directly relates with the American emissions goals, because Canada does not want to make a move because if they do the country would be losing the economic potential of the Tar-Sands. Also, she mentioned that other countries are using America to block the spot light from hitting them. It has become a dialog of, “… but America is doing X, Y, and Z so why should our country reduce emission” which stops progress of creating a treaty. So, if America steps up and Obama become the leader that the world wants the other countries will stop having these excuses. These excuses are not valid in the first place as the presenter from Brazil reinforced. It is not what the government wants to do, but it is what the people want, because the people in a collective group can create progress.
During the Climate Change Talks at Barcelona, the Environmental Investigation Agency, discussed how a UN program called REDD, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, is at risk for having it’s goals undermined by market drivers. Andrea Johnson, from the Environmental Investigation Agency, explains how the markets of “food, fuel, and fiber” are trillion dollar markets, and that they have the power to undermine the effectiveness of policy. She also explains how there is policy incoherence between countries, which allows the market drivers to continue to have a negative impact on environmental protection.
One example of a market driver is Bio-Fuels. As the demand for these fuels grows in industrialized countries, the countries in the global south try to fill the supply gap, because there is an economic incentive. The problem with this as Andrea Johnson explains, countries like Indonesia are resorting to deforestation to make room for palm oil. The most recent figure is that, “since 2007 there has been 5 million hectors put aside for the production of palm oil,” and some of this land is taken questionably, “with kids of the age of four signing agreements.” This is aided by the companies never questioning the sources and the environmental impact of the products they purchase. As one might expect, this powerful trillion dollar industry can avoid certain governmental penalties for taking part it illegal activities. This is clear from several examples of when the governments have in the past helped companies get land in questionable ways.
Companies are not all evil-doers. Some companies like Home Depot, Citigroup, and Chase have been helping in protecting forests. Jennifer Krill, from the Rainforest Action Network discusses how companies are tied to their product image, and this connection is the necessary driver to keep companies honest and environmental. Krill goes on to explain how the company Gucci, buys it’s paper products from the Asia Pulp and Paper industry which is, “responsible for clearing more forests in Sumatra than any other company.” When the public found out about this, there was a big enough uproar that forced Gucci to reduce the amount of paper it buys.
One last item that should be mentioned which Andrea Johnson brought up was that, “over 50% of illegal logging is in rainforest nations.” This data is from the past ten years and there has been significant reduction of illegal logging in some countries. In this area the markets also are found to undermine the forest management. Furthermore the the meaning of what is illegal, “is defined by the individual countries,” and this makes policy implementation difficult because with no universal definition market forces have an easier time bending the rules.
The press briefing on September 29th, at 14:30 was presented by World Growth which is an non-governmental organization. Allen Oxley, the chairman of World Growth, discusses the industry of palm oil, which can be used as a bio-fuel. Currently, the palm oil industry has been frowned upon, because of allegations that farming palms leads to deforestation. The leading cause of deforestation is actually poverty, and the palm oil industry would be a good way of reducing poverty. One hector of palm oil is worth 3,340 dollars and it produces more energy from less land, then other bio fuel crops. Reducing poverty is important, because if people do not have to rely on subsistence farming on land that was cleared, the forest can remain and the people are happy. The important connection that needs to be made is that by focusing on production green technologies is a good way to help the poor find new revenues, which stops the deforestation that is adding more carbon into the atmosphere. The truth is, that the farming of palm oil can actually help with reducing global warming and carbon emissions.
On October 7th at 13:00, the Climate Action Network held a press briefing which highlighted the important role of indigenous people in these climate change issues, and they also discuss how the rich countries are stalling the process of creating a new treaty. The first speaker, Tom Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environment Network, talks about how natives are left out of the discussion, and it is important for them to be included, because they have the right to the land, territory, and resources. Natives live off the land, and because of their locations they will be heavily affected by climate change. Lastly, as Tom Goldtooth discusses, is that the natives have a good understanding of nature, but yet they are not being included in these talks enough. It seems ironical that the leaders of countries do not want to take advise from people that know the land the best. The other two speakers, Kaisen Kosonen and Kim Carstensen, simply inform the public that the countries are moving slowly in coming to agreements, and how the negotiators are not performing to expected levels. One issue that stood out is that the industrial countries want to move the base year from 1990 to 2005, which would ease restriction in reduction of green house gases. Also, the European Union is falling behind on producing their financial reports, which are crucial to coming to an agreement. From watching this press briefing it gives the feeling that countries are still testing the waters to see what they can get away with. Hopefully, everyone will be able to come to a meaningful comprise soon, so that it will be possible to achieve a reduction in greenhouse gases.