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May 102010

Photo of Jairam Ramesh by Matthew McDermott

The Chinese government hosted the “International Cooperative Conference on Green Economy and Climate Change” this weekend in Beijing. It brought together environment ministers and climate negotiators to discuss the way forward in global climate policy.

The press accounts suggest very little movement towards a comprehensive climate agreement. The lead Chinese negotiator, Xie Zhenhua, reiterated the concept of “common but differentiated responsibilities.” This, of course, is the idea that the developed countries which benefited from decades of carbon-intensive growth should take the lead in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.

Much of the press from the conference centers around comments made by the Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh who admitted that discussions have essentially reached a “dead end” since the US and China won’t agree to binding emissions cuts. He was joined in his skepticism by Danish environment minister Connie Hedegaard who said an agreement at COP16 in Mexico was not probable.

Most interesting to those following the climate negotiations were descriptions of back-door negotiations at least year’s Copenhagen conference provided by Ramesh. Last week, Der Spiegel released a leaked audio recording of a meeting on 18 December involving Barack Obama, Angela Merkel, Nicholas Sarkozy, Manmohan Singh, Gordon Brown, and the Chinese deputy foreign minister, He Yafei. The audio depicts frustration from the European leaders about the lack of progress in the negotiations and culminated in Obama indicating that talks outside the UN process could be more fruitful.

The Spiegel audio ends with the Chinese asking for the meeting to be suspended. At that point the leaders of China, India, South Africa, and Brzail convened in a different room to strategize. Although not invited, Obama crashed the meeting to demand a deal get hashed out. The resultant document was the Copenhagen Accord.

Ramesh recounts that Xie Zhenhua was banging his hand on the table and talking angrily in Chinese. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton apparently asked what he was saying and Obama deadpanned: “he’s congratulating us.”

If Ramesh’s account is correct, it shows that there is a great deal of distance between the US and China and there is little to suggest that the fundamental disagreements have been dealt with in five months since Copenhagen.

Official negotiations start up again in June. It is likely that we will see a continued stalemate.

Jan 282010

After I wrote my earlier post on countries that submitted their emissions targets under the Copenhagen Accord, I visited the tally sheet maintained by the US Climate Action Network and noticed that they had a copy of the official US letter.

Dated today, the letter commits the US to a 17% reduction in greenhouse gases from 2005 levels by 2020 “in conformity with anticipated US energy and climate legislation, recognizing that the final target will be reported to the Secretariat in light of enacted legislation.”

There was also no mention of the Copenhagen Accord fitting into a legal process or treaty-building exercise.

The letter does say that the US expects other countries to meet the 31 January deadline for reporting their emissions under the Accord, contradicting Yvo de Boer’s description of Sunday as a “soft ” deadline.

The US response is not a surprise.  The Obama Administration gives itself an “out” if Congress fails to pass legislation or passes a climate bill with a weaker target.

Failure to mention steps beyond the Accord suggests to me that the US is not enthusiastic about the viability of the UN process.  But the reiteration of the 31 January deadline means that the US doesn’t want other countries to delay and that they want to be able to point to positive steps towards addressing global climate change.

Like I said, none of this is surprising; but it shows us how the battle lines are beginning to solidify and what to expect in the way of points of contention as international negotiations continue over the next few months.

On the domestic front, assuming that major emitters (especially India and China) meet the deadline for reporting their targets under the Accord, the Obama Administration will surely use this progress to pressure the Senate into passing an energy bill.

Although Obama didn’t utter the words “cap and trade” during his state of the union speech last night, he did hit the “clean energy/jobs” angle pretty heavy.  Large emitter endorsement of the Accord will likely help the Administration in moving climate and energy legislation.

Jan 282010

With Sunday’s deadline fast approaching for countries to officially offer their emissions reductions targets under the Copenhagen Accord, we are starting to get a glimpse into how the parties to the UN climate convention are interpreting the rather vague document.

The Accord was a deal brokered in the final minutes of last month’s Copenhagen conference by the leaders of the major emitters.  It was nearly derailed in the formal session at Copenhagen.  The compromise which was hashed out at that session was not a full-fledged endorsement, but merely a reflection that the Copenhagen Accord was “noted” by signatories to the UN climate treaty.

I won’t get into the arcana of UN climate decision-making, but the significance of “noting” the decision has been unclear.  Is it a “legal” document?  Are countries under some obligation to meet its dictates?

Underscoring the uncertainty of the document, the head of the UN climate secretariat, Yvo de Boer, had to send out a letter to parties stressing that the Copenhagen Accord does “not have any legal standing in the UNFCCC process.”

Therefore, it will be interesting to see how countries themselves interpret the Accord in order to get a sense for its significance.

Meeting the Sunday deadline for submitting emissions reductions targets to the UN is one way to gauge the seriousness of countries.  Last week, de Boer called the 31 Jan. deadline “soft,” raising concern that it will be ignored.

As far as I can tell, the major emitters (aside from South Korea) have not yet presented their commitments to the UN.

What is interesting though, is that some of the smaller countries–e.g. Marshall Islands, Singapore, Samoa, Bangladesh –are insisting that the Copenhagen Accord be a step on the path towards a legally binding treaty.  We are seeing this in their pre-Jaunuary 31 communications.

Even a major emitter like the United States ostensibly wants a legally binding treaty.  But how this plays out within the context of the existing UN framework is extremely uncertain.

One thing that has never been resolved–although it was supposed to have been dealt with in Copenhagen–is the future of the Kyoto Protocol.  Fast-growing developing countries like  China and India have been reluctant to give up on Kyoto since its architecture does not obligate them to reduce emissions.

The key advantage of the Copenhagen Accord is that it does ask these emergent economies to plan for some commitment to reductions from business-as-usual levels.   Earlier this week the BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, India & China) released a statement indicating that they want the Kyoto discussions to continue, while simultaneously expressing their interest in signing on to the Copenhagen Accord.

At some point a different architecture is going to have to be developed.  Kyoto is binding (for those who have ratified it) but ineffective.  Copenhagen is voluntary, but it is still too early to judge its effectiveness.  Thus, these early communications from countries could be key in determining the ultimate efficacy of the Copenhagen Accord.

If we see a large number of smaller, developing countries highlighting in their communications that the Copenhagen Accord is part of a process leading to a legally-binding treaty, one way of interpreting it would be that these countries are seeking to maintain the Kyoto architecture since Kyoto is the main legal expression currently in force.

It will be interesting to see how some of the larger emitters respond.  For instance, it is not clear whether South Korea mentioned anything about their commitments being part of the effort to forge a treaty.

If you get key countries like the US, Mexico, Indonesia, the EU, Japan, excluding mention of a treaty in their communications, it may not bode well for the UN negotiations later this year in Mexico.

Jan 262010

Environment ministers from the BASIC countries–Brazil, South Africa, India, China–met in New Delhi over the weekend to coordinate their responses to international climate change negotiations in advance of the 31 January deadline for parties to communicate their emissions reductions strategies to the UNFCCC.

The meeting ended with a joint statement that reasserts their support for both the UN process and the Copenhagen Accord which has a tenuous and uncertain relationship to the global climate regime.  The countries call on the Prime Minister of Denmark to convene five meetings leading up to the big, COP 16, meeting in Mexico.   But they also indicated their intentions to submit emissions reductions targets by Sunday’s deadline.

Perhaps more significantly was their emphasis on the Accord’s immediate $10bn annual pledge for adaptation in developing countries.  In news reports several of the environment ministers pointed to that pledge as a test of developed countries’ seriousness.

On related note, the Guardian reports today that the United Kingdom is contemplating reallocating money from existing overseas aid budgets to finance climate change adaptation.  This, of course, is objectionable to developing countries who insist that climate assistance should be above and beyond existing aid.

Things aren’t much better in the United States where the climate envoy Jonathan Pershing said yesterday that the government is “currently looking at the financing in the budget” suggesting that the “fast track” funding is far from immanent.

Jan 222010

It has been a month since the UN summit in Copenhagen ended amidst discord and uncertainty about the state of global climate policy. The dust has settled somewhat and we’ve had some time to reflect. So where do we stand at the beginning of 2010?

For the two years leading up to Copenhagen, the expectation was that the meeting would culminate with a solid framework for a new climate treaty based on the latest scientific evidence and poised to reform the shortcomings of the Kyoto Protocol.

Instead, the meeting ended with little substantive progress and a vague, last-minute, face-saving political document (the “Copenhagen Accord“) on which key countries appear to be relying for action in the coming year.

The Accord asks countries to submit their voluntary emissions reduction targets for the year 2020 by 31 January. Unlike the Kyoto Protocol which only called on developed countries to reduce their emissions, the Copenhagen commitment will include reductions from “business as usual” by key developing countries.

On the issue of insuring that countries stick to their commitments and engage in measurable and verifiable reductions, the accord asks countries to develop domestic procedures, eschewing an international standard.

The accord also discusses a financial mechanism by which the rich countries responsible for atmospheric greenhouse gas buildup can help poorer countries meet the immediate challenges they face in adapting to a changing planet.

While the accord is commendable to the extent that it gets countries–including the emerging economies of India, China, and Brazil–to offer mid-term emissions reduction targets, its voluntary, non-binding nature makes the entire enterprise quite precarious.

Thus, as we move forward in 2010, there will be some key things on which to focus to see if adequate global solutions to the climate problem can be developed.

First, it will be key to see which countries formally sign on to the Copenhagen Accord, if they sign on by the 31 January deadline, and the nature of their commitments. On Wednesday, UN climate chief, Yvo De Boer called the 31st a “soft deadline,” suggesting that some of the countries which pushed for the accord may not even be willing to meet this modest provision. Last week in a speech in Washington, US negotiator Jonathan Pershing said countries were working on their commitments, including the US; but he gave no indication as to whether the US will meet the deadline.

Much of the holdup in the US brings us to the second key process to watch out for in 2010: the climate bill in Congress. The Obama Administration has used the need to get a comprehensive climate bill through Congress as an excuse for its coyness in its failure to agree to bold emissions reductions targets. The logic on the surface made sense: Kyoto has been ineffective because of US lack of participation and the lack of participation was due to Congressional rejection of the Clinton Administration’s targets which were presented to the international community without Congressional approval.

Obama’s representatives have said that they want to be able to stand by any numbers they put on the negotiating table. However, at this point, passing ANY significant legislation through the US Senate is looking to be difficult. Although Obama’s Democratic party has majorities in both houses of Congress, they don’t appear willing to exert any political muscle on potentially controversial legislation. As I write this, the future of the year-long effort at health care reform appears in doubt solely because the Democrats lost one seat from their Senate majority.

If the Democrats aren’t willing to push through their health care bill, there is even less hope for climate legislation given the fact that there are key Democrats who are not excited about reducing emissions. I’m not sure where this leaves us on the international side of the negotiations; but where ever it is, it is not a good place.

Thirdly, over the next few months we will begin to see where the UNFCCC fits into this uncertain environment. In last week’s speech, Pershing was quite dismissive of the UN process. He seemed to push the idea that the “major economies forum” might be where the action is in getting things done. On the one hand this makes sense, given that we need key developing countries to make reductions from business-as-usual to stay within the global warming limits that the science demands. However, the major economies forum leaves many important constituencies out of the process. Small island nations, poor African nations, indigenous peoples, NGOs, and global civil society have no seat at this exclusive table–while the UNFCCC, with all its flaws, does offer a modicum of accessibility.

In his news conference yesterday, UN climate chief Yvo de Boer looked positively exhausted. While he did his best to put a positive spin on the Copenhagen Accord, it was not convincing. In the immediate weeks prior to Copenhagen, people were hoping at the very least that a specific timetable for a binding agreement would come out of the talks. What actually emerged was a political agreement with a loose time line and voluntary targets.

Many of the key players behind the Copenhagen Accord–including President Obama–have said they view the accord as a step towards an agreement. But the question that needs to be answered is what kind and size of step?

There are many other loose ends stemming from Copenhagen that need to be scrutinized–the whole financing scheme, for example. But for now, these are just a few things we’ll be keeping our eye on over the next few months.

Dec 222009

These past two weeks I have been able to observe the COP-15 conference. The first week was very hopeful and organized through out Copenhagen and the Bella Center where the UN negotiations were taking place. The negotiation room was slow and many countries would speak past their allotted time and stand still on issues such as Carbon Capture Schemes. The small countries such as Tuvalu wanted to get rid of the Kyoto Protocol, while other countries wanted to stay with what was already existing and move from there. The Bella Center also had side events that allowed NGOs and other participants at COP-15 to learn about what is going on around the world due to Climate Change. Side events offered adaptation and mitigation ideas and discussions. The lost puzzle piece in the negotiations was urgency and action towards seeing environmental justice as a moral issue. The world can’t wait any longer and developing nations are suffering the worst. The agreement of 350 ppm of CO2 emissions would help stop the downward slope of climate change. Additionally, funds should be given to developing countries that had little role in industrialization and have to endure the effects of droughts and flooding.

Side Event room at COP-15

Side Event room at COP-15

12 December 2009 was the date of action and representation. The NGOs and activists, young and old, privileged and oppressed, came together to march for Climate Justice and a fair deal at COP-15. The solidarity of people from all over filled the streets of Copenhagen with hope for change. People chanted, “System change, not climate change,” and “There is no Planet B.” The march ended at the Bella Center to meet the delegates and make them hear the people’s request. Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, spoke at the rally and led the people in a chant for, “Climate Justice and a Fair Deal Now!” Mary Robinson had a young environmental activist join her on stage and share her stories and experiences with the fight and struggle for climate justice. She shared that there were hunger strikers on each continent on day 32 demonstrating for environmental justice and that she was joining them in their fast. The two women invited a man representing the voice of the indigenous people. He was from North America and had first hand seen the injustices against the Native American people. The three groups of people offering different points of view came together to raise a united message of solidarity and Environmental Justice Now.

Saturday COP-15 March for Environmental Justice and Fair Global Binding Deal

Saturday COP-15 March for Environmental Justice and Fair Global Binding Deal

The exciting and moving moments at the march continued on Monday at the side event Women for Climate Justice and the side event on the melting ice sheet commented on by Al Gore. However, the next day a reality check came in place for all the NGOs. Friends of the Earth were denied access to the Bella Center and many other delegations were forced to ration out delegation passes, approximately 1/3 of delegation. The long lines and added security made the people grow frustrated and belittled. Many people came from all around the world and paid a lot of money to witness the negotiations and participate in the side events at the Bella Center and it was very unexpected to be shut out of the Bella Center by Wednesday. Thursday and Friday all NGOs were not allowed in the Bella Center and the choice of G77 to leave the negotiations left little hope for a legally binding and fair deal.

Police at Actions and Protests During NGO Shut Out at COP-15

Police at Actions and Protests During NGO Shut Out at COP-15

With the arrival of US President Barack Obama and US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton at COP-15 filled the Bella Center with anticipation and last gleam of leadership. However, the end result of COP-15 was nothing more than a weak political agreement. The highs and lows of COP-15 taught my fellow students delegates and myself a first hand experience of an intergovernmental organization’s pitfalls and prospects. The UN is able to bring countries together and make room for intergovernmental agreements, however, the system makes it hard for any binding agreements to be reached since consensus is hard to meet if people leave negotiations or choose to not compromise or listen to the issues. Nations must look past only their immediate needs and look towards accountability and justice. Environmental justice must be worked towards and UN leaders must work together to move this issue forward. The US needs to pass a binding Environmental Clean Energy bill and move America towards understanding that Climate Change is real and that profit can be made in sustainable development and practices. Once the US steps up the rest of the world can truly understand where the future of American industry and Fortune 500 companies are going, which will allow them to see how they too can profit from Clean Energy. Clean Energy will lead to Environmental Justice and control of Climate Change, but it is important for World leaders to step up to the plate and move discussions and agreements forward.

Dec 202009

The UN climate change talks in Copenhagen ended in a dramatic flurry of activity, diplomacy, and negotiation early Saturday.  The activity, however, did not translate into any significant momentum towards resolving the major impediments to a truly global response to the climate crisis.

The main takeaway from the talks was the “Copenhagen Accord,” [.pdf] a document largely negotiated by the large emitters, including the United States, China, India and Brazil.  The details of how the accord was negotiated are still sketchy, although some the initial reporting suggests that world leaders were actually going line-by-line through the text–an activity normally reserved for lower level diplomats.  Interestingly, it seemed as if China & India were savvy in keeping the EU and the US at bay.  Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao sent his underlings into meetings with Western leaders and apparently rejected both the EU offer of reducing its emissions by 30% by 2020 from 1990 levels and the general developed country commitment of an 80% reduction by 2050 under the questionable guise that by 2050 they will be considered “developed” and subject to reductions.

After the accord was endorsed late Friday night by the few countries engaged in its drafting, it needed to be presented to the larger “conference of the parties” to the UN climate treaty.  The floor debate began around 3:00am and was quite rancorous.  There was significant opposition from Latin American countries and small island nations who were cut out of the accord’s drafting.

Decisions under the climate treaty generally require consensus from all participating countries and at one point it seemed as if the conference would break up without considering the accord.  Apparently the head UK climate negotiator, Ed Miliband stepped in to defend the accord and the conference wound up “noting” the accord as opposed to “supporting” or “endorsing” it.

Such a tepid response sullies the accord’s significance within the context of the UN decision making framework.

So, what does the Copenhagen Accord say?

First, it is a political agreement, so there are no legal obligations on the part of signatories to follow its directives.

Second, the accord does say that “the increase in global temperature should be below 2 degrees Celsius.”  This is in keeping with other political proclamations over the past year by developed countries–in particular the G8.  However the use of the word “should”–rather than “shall”–doesn’t imply a significant level of commitment.

Third, instead of a timetable for a globally-binding treaty, the accord simply says that “we should cooperate in achieving the peaking of global and national emissions as soon as possible.”  Again, no “shall,” and more significantly, no mention in the accord of translating its framework into a legally-binding treaty–an outcome of Copenhagen that was hoped for by many before the talks began.

Fourthly, the accord asks both developed and developing countries to submit their own national emissions targets by 31 January 2010 to include in the accord.  Significantly, developing countries’ mitigation targets “will be subject to their domestic measurement, reporting, and verification” procedures.  This represents a strike against the US position, which had insisted throughout the talks that China and India–in particular–needed to be subject to international “MRV” procedures.  The accord does say, however, that if a developing country is receiving international financing for a specific mitigation action then that particular action needs to be subject to international monitoring.

Fifth, the accord does recognize the importance of forest conservation and endorses an “immediate establishment of a mechanism” to provide financing for stopping deforestation.

Sixth, the accord provides specific numbers for financing from developed countries to developing countries to deal with adaptation and mitigation.  The commitment is collective–meaning the specific breakdown of each country’s share has not been established–and will be $30 billion for three years.  By 2020, the number should rise to $100 billion per year.  These aggregate numbers are lower than amounts discussed before the conference and the specific mechanisms on how money will be allocated are unresolved.

The accord discusses setting up a “Copenhagen Green Climate Fund” that will monitor climate aid and should be accountable to the parties to the UN convention.  Although I’m not a lawyer, it is not clear to me what the significance of the parties’ lack of clear endorsement of the Copenhagen Accord might have on the governance of this fund.

Finally, the accord calls for its implementation to be completed by 2015 and a future “consideration of strengthening of the long-term goal referencing various matters presented by the science, including in relation to temperature rises of 1.5 degrees Celsius.”  This, obviously, was a rather torpid attempt to placate small island states and the growing body of scientists and activists who argue that the risks of accepting a 2 degree rise in global temperature are too great.

The summation of the Copenhagen Accord has been best expressed by Kim Carstensen of the World Wildlife Fund, who calls it “half-baked and unclear.”

It doesn’t really resolve anything, but brings up even more questions about how the problem of global climate change can be addressed.

Some of these questions include:  If the signatories to the declaration really want to keep the planet from warming 2 degrees, what are they going to do to see that goal realized? What will happen if/when, at the end of January after countries present their mitigation goals, it becomes apparent that the voluntary commitments will be insufficient to stave off harmful global warming?

The accord says that it should be fully implemented by 2015.  This is also the year that IPCC head Rajendra Pachauri said that global emissions need to peak in order to stay within the 2 degree warming threshold.  How can can emissions peak by 2015 given the leisurely timeline for implementation?

What is the future of the UN climate change convention?  If the Copenhagen Accord is the product of a backroom deal that fundamentally eclipses the Kyoto Protocol and the larger UNFCCC process, does this mean that the effort for a legally binding treaty is effectively over?  Regardless of what happens to the UNFCCC, how can differences in the US, EU, China and Indian positions be resolved if we are to live on a planet safe from the risks associated with escalated global temperatures?

Is the financing adequate to help the most distressed peoples of the world avoid catastrophe?  The numbers in the accord don’t seem to add up and are not nearly ambitious enough to deal with the crises many less developed countries are experiencing right now in their struggles to adapt to changing climatic conditions.

These questions were the ones that were supposed to have been resolved at Copenhagen.  The fact that nothing has been resolved is testament to a failure in leadership of many countries involved and especially those who pushed through the accord, namely the US, China, and India.

The next few weeks will be crucial.  Pressure from civil society on national leaders will be essential if actual progress can be made on mitigation.  If the numbers presented on 1 February don’t hold up to scrutiny, each of the signatories needs to be quite explicit on how the international community will actually address the reality of the science.

That leaves the last unresolved question which comes out Copenhagen, namely the future of civil society in pushing for a fair, binding, and ambitious deal.  The UNFCCC and Danish government’s failure to adequately accommodate civil society in Copenhagen leaves a bitter taste for many who had hopes for the talks.  Expelling civil society observers from the Bella Center for the last days of the conference undoubtedly made it easier for the major emitters to push through a “half-baked” accord.  It will be difficult, but the many civil society groups involved in climate policy will have to regroup and redouble their efforts to pressure national leaders to develop an actual deal.

Dec 182009

–Reactions to the US, China, India, South Africa and Brazil all having reached an agreement tonight Friday (December 18) to cut greenhouse gas emissions–

YVO DE BOER, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change “The mountain goes on and on, it seems. I do think we need to see how this text is received by the broader group of countries. It’s great that [a] small group of leaders gets together and tries to advance the process but ultimately, the way things work here, it has to be acceptable to every country.”

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, US President “We’re going to have to build on the momentum that we’ve established here in Copenhagen to ensure that international action to significantly reduce emissions is sustained and sufficient over time. We’ve come a long way but we have much further to go.”

XIE ZHENHUA, Head of Chinese Delegation “The meeting has had a positive result, everyone should be happy. After negotiations both sides have managed to preserve their bottom line. For the Chinese this was our sovereignty and our national interest.”

GORDON BROWN, British Prime Minister “We have made a start. I believe that what we need to follow up on quickly is ensuring a legally binding outcome.”

NNIMMO BASSEY, Chair of Friends of the Earth International “Copenhagen has been an abject failure. Justice has not been done. By delaying action, rich countries have condemned millions of the world’s poorest people to hunger, suffering and loss of life as climate change accelerates. The blame for this disastrous outcome is squarely on the developed nations.”

JOHN SAUVEN, Executive Director, Green Peace UK “The city of Copenhagen is a crime scene tonight, with the guilty men and women fleeing to the airport. There are no targets for carbon cuts and no agreement on a legally binding treaty. It seems there are too few politicians in this world capable of looking beyond the horizon of their own narrow self-interest, let alone caring much for the millions of people who are facing down the threat of climate change.”

Dec 182009

It is 1 AM and reports are still coming out of the Bella center and around Copenhagen on the finalization of COP15. I am up because I want to sleep on the flight home tomorrow, so why not let the blog about what is happening.

What the news agencies are reporting is that 5 countries, the US, Bolivia, India, China, and South Africa have come to a “meaningful agreement,” as Obama put it.

As an environmentalist, I am disappointed that the negotiations did not come to a more fair and promising outcome, but what we have realized at this conference is that UN proceedings lack the transparency and fairness that one might expect.

What it seems like to me is that this ending was planned by the countries that have the money, power, and wealth without properly consulting the other parties involved. There were around 119 heads of state at this conference yet this new deal was brokered by just 5. How is that equitable when those who were not consulted are going to be the countries that are entirely destroyed from the impacts of climate change in less than 100 years?

Adding to my frustration is that on the final day of the talks there were several draft texts floating around between the parties, and I don’t feel as though the small island, African, and other less prominent countries around the world have the man power or resources to keep up with all the changes. Reading and understanding those texts fully (I heard they can be around 40 pages long) is key in policy, because every way a word is used, or a sentence is phrased, is crucial in the meaning of the statement.

It doesn’t help my frustration that all the non-government organizations were restricted access (basically kicked out) when all this is going down. The activists and youth would have been there if they could have been. These delegates were crucial in assisting and supporting the marginalized parties, yet UN proceedings prevented that.

While the conference has not completely ended, it is clear that the text that the US has agreed upon will not curb the devastating effects of climate change. The AP is reporting that an Obama administrator said that the agreement requires each country to list the actions they will take to cut global pollution by specific amounts. It also includes a mechanism to help poor countries prepare for climate change by giving them billions of dollars. (which will probably end up going through the World Bank anyways, which presents a whole new level of problems)

The developing world needs more money to combat what the developed world has done to them, and this agreement simply won’t go far in remedying the problem, but at least it is a start and Obama being here did bring US news agencies attention to climate change, which educates the public, and makes polices to curb US energy use politically feasible in the US. Once this happens, we can help, along with the rest of the global community provide more money, technology, and sustainable growth to the people who need it most.

Most of our class has expressed interest in traveling to COP16, next year in Mexico City, which will be cheaper, warmer, and closer than Copenhagen and we will keep on trying to get climate change on the political agenda back home.

Dec 182009

On December 14, 2009, a side event organized by the ICC (International Chamber of Commerce) focused on the role of businesses in the development, deployment and transfer of low carbon technologies.  The ICC “is the voice of world business championing the global economy as a force for economic growth, job creation and prosperity.”  It is a broad constituency that represents 7500 + member companies in 130+ countries.

Twin international energy challenges are (1) meeting significant increase to energy demand and (2) improving access to energy seeking to respond to GHG risks.  As of right now, $22 trillion investment (through 2030) is needed for energy supply and distribution and a $45 trillion investment (through 2050) is needed to manage climate risks.

Dr. Brian Flannery, Vice-Chair of the PanelICC’s Commission on Environment and Energy discussed how managing climate risks from a business perspective requires stable regulatory frameworks, cost effective approaches, approaches that minimize trade barriers, clarity on the regulatory process and the opportunity to contribute by providing information and views.

Future criteria for technology evaluation will depend on performance, consumer acceptance, safety, regulatory compliance, and environmental impacts.  In terms of developing countries, a lot will depend on cost and enabling infrastructure and capacity.

Business will require a proper enabling framework that includes- rule of law and good governance, transparent, enforced regulations, free, open markets, partnerships in multilateral cooperation, safe, stable communities and protection of intellectual property.

Dr. Peter Taylor, Head of the energy technology policy division at the IEA (International Energy Agency) which represents 28 member governments, discussed how if we are to be successful with technology development and deployment its crucial to develop not just one but a whole wide range of technologies.

The best approach for success would be to hold a meeting at expert level Q2 2010 (aware that others have the same ideas, so don’t want to duplicate) followed by a senior officials meeting Q3 2010 (regional workshops- companies, businesses, etc.) to get interests closer together.

Possible outcomes expected from such meetings would include (but is not limited to) country-level analysis of technology, national roadmaps and technology strategies, capacity building in developing countries, and addressing barriers to technology development, transfer and deployment.

The only way to make to ensure that existing and future technologies come on board will be to create successful deployment conditions of already existing technology, address barriers to invest in mature but emerging technology, address particular policies oriented to appliances, address the time frames appropriately and finally, build the right international framework that takes into account the success and/or failure of what has already emerged.