Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cancun +/- Copenhagen?

Monday marks the start of the most important carbon and climate change conference in 2010. Here's what is in store over the next 10 days:

  1. Climate Financial Aid; Status - a $30B quick start fund over 3 years has been widely discussed and contributed to, but the mechanics, “newness” of funds and the path to ~$100B a year by 2020 is still up for debate.
  2. Curbing deforestation by developing countries; Status – the UN REDD program has created a framework to incentivize preservation, which needs to be endorsed and scaled by nations.
  3. Technology transfer; Status – progress has been made conceptually in recent meetings, but IP issues remain outstanding, and India has submitted a policy proposal.
  4. Emissions governance oversight; Status – measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) framework has been proposed by India.
  5. Emission reduction commitments; Status – minimal momentum for increased commitments from key nations, especially US or China.
  6. Emissions trading systems and governance; Status – minimal discussion at this point, but learnings exist from Kyoto.
  7. Status of Copenhagen accord; Status – uncertain whether this agreement lacking international consensus can be incorporated into global accord.
  8. Kyoto expiration; Status – likely to sunset without extension, despite China suggesting such, as developed countries demand inclusive emissions constraints.

Follow the latest news from Cancun from these sites:

Monday, November 22, 2010

7 Days Until COP@Cancun

The mood leading up to the annual climate summit in Cancun feels markedly different than that of Copenhagen last year. There is either due to little hope of any productive agreements or a conscious strategy by international representatives to significantly dampening expectations. Unfortunately, the reality is likely a combination of both.

Negotiators in Cancun plan to focus on the relatively “simpler” issues to confront:

  1. finalizing the “fast track” $30B of climate aid for poor nations to adapt to climate change,
  2. progressing the discussion of technology sharing for adaptation and emission reductions, and
  3. establishing a broad forest preservation regime.

More ambitious topics for debate include substantial, formal emission reduction commitments from the world’s two largest emitters (China and the U.S.) as well as agreement on an emissions measurement, reporting and verification scheme.

Nevertheless, some interesting trends could positively impact international negotiations.

· Sub-global accords and proposals for carbon initiatives by cities (World Mayors Pact), states (Subnational Summit), investors and businesses.

· Recent domestic proposals for carbon limiting and trading schemes out of China and Australia.

· Concerns over the ability to obtain future concessions and agreement from the U.S. if the political shift to the right continues in 2012, which coincides with the expiration of the Kyoto Protocol.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

15 Days Until the Climate Party in Cancun

In these last weeks leading up to the crucial climate & carbon meeting in Cancun, Mexico, there has been a flurry of activity and rhetoric. Unfortunately, it would be very premature to count on a semi-comprehensive agreement out of the conference, COP17, which may be the last chance to a) reach an agreement and b) limit the warming of our planet.

On the small island of Kirbati, comprised of low lying atolls and islands, international delegates convened and agreed to the “Ambo Declaration.” The agreement calls for funding for small island nations combating rising sea levels. Australia, Japan, China, India, Brazil and others are prepared to sign the accord; however, the US and EU member states claimed they were unable to sign onto anything.

Elsewhere in New Delhi, strides were made on one of the four major outstanding issues leading into Cancun, technology sharing. Poor, developing nations need both technologies for adapting to the deleterious effects of global warming as well as for reducing domestic carbon emissions. It’s unclear what the specifics of this “advance” were, but a technology deal has three pillars – sharing, finance and intellectual property. The last two are still tenuous as key environmental ministers have urged the deferral of the intellectual property debate until after Cancun and a technology sharing agreement has been outlined.

In the US, the shifting political winds have already retrenched the carbon hawks in DC. First, President Obama has publicly declared dead the plan to limit carbon emissions through a cap & trade program, as it has become a political impossibility. Similarly, in possible anticipation of legislative challenge to the EPA’s judicial mandate to regulate carbon emissions, the EPA is proposing now to require large emitters (power plants, refineries, large factories) to embark on efficiency measures.

Other Carbon Articles of Interest:

· India proposes palatable common ground on international oversight for emissions Measurement, Reporting and Verification (MRV).

· Mikhail Gorbachev’s NY Times op-ed on climate talks

· Nations may seek to use hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) reducing mechanism, which helped save the ozone layer, to address hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) a class of very powerful greenhouse gases.

· The International Energy Association (IEA) calls for nations to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

UN Accord, ex USA, Reached on Biodiversity Protections

After a week of hopes and tensions, international delegates to the UN agreed to a landmark treaty to protect global biodiversity. Key aspects of the agreement include:
  • Protection of 17% of land & inland waters globally, up from 13% currently
  • Protection of 10% of coastal & marine waters globally, up from 1% currently
  • Rules governing how countries share in benefits derived in forests & sea, e.g., drugs developed from genetic material found in Amazon rain forest.
  • The US declined to join the biodiversity convention and thus are not a party to this agreement.
  • Japan is contributing $2B over the next 3 years to developing countries to help them preserve ecosystems.
Despite those naysayers who argue this agreement falls short of necessary protection levels, the fact that 193 nations were able to agree on such important environmental issues provides a glimmer of hope on the carbon front. Although not obvious from press reports, it's possible that the biodiversity accord may have created common ground and frameworks to tackle the challenge of carbon interdependency. Nevertheless, the absence of the US, in Kyoto like fashion, may only further alienate the US from the international community.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Biodiversity, not Emissions, the Focus in Japan

International delegates gathered this week in Nagoya, Japan, to continue the dialog on global climate issues. The specific focus of this convention was not to debate emissions reductions, but rather to promote the urgency of biodiversity conservation. Because a significant percentage of GDP in poor nations is reliant upon fragile ecosystems such as fresh water, corral and forests, the UN group is discussing potential conservation targets.

In Japan, conservation groups also pleaded with UN representatives to cease geo-engineering projects as they are risky and counterproductive to the focus on emissions reductions and the spirit of conservation. Geo-engineering project proposals have included fertilizing the ocean to create CO2 consuming phytoplankton, injecting seawater into the atmosphere, placing solar reflectors in space, spurring artificial volcanoes and storing carbon dioxide underground (CCS).

This week as well in Japan, Prime Minister Kan restated his country’s opposition to extending the terms of the Kyoto Protocol in lieu of a global climate agreement, as China and allies support such an action.

Other carbon articles of note:

· Mexico’s Foreign Minister says conditions not met for a climate deal in Cancun later this year.

· Achieving carbon emission targets is stretching Mexico financial resources without the specter of international aid.

· Europe on track to meet Kyoto emissions targets, but emissions from imported goods up 40%. Highlights the environmental and moral hazard of regional carbon regimes.

· Czech president claims climate change is not a threat or result of man.

· Canadian provinces seriously concerned about outcome of California’s Prop 23 vote.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Memoirs from Tianjin - Are We Moving Backwards?

Climate negotiators reconvened in Tianjin, China this past week in the hopes of healing the growing divide between industrialized and developing nations leading up to Cancun in December. Secretary Figueres pleaded with nations to find common ground even for a non-exhaustive agreement, and the UNFCC claimed that progress was made by week’s end. However, this rosy view is mostly spin and hopeful language from the UN as 3 major challenges lurk as large as ever – Kyoto expiration, BASIC emissions trajectory and technology transfer.

Finger pointing in the aftermath seems to be reaching new heights. US Envoy Todd Stern directed harsh words toward China suggesting that the world’s largest emitter is treating the Copenhagen as purely informational and merely exemplary actions to take place. Contrarily, China is blaming the richest countries for not committing to drastic enough cuts and for attempting to renegotiate the terms of Kyoto. China does not plan to set an emissions peak any time soon, but it is claiming near victory on its 5-year goal to reduce energy consumption per unit of GDP by 20%.

Other carbon articles of interest:

· The US vocalizes ambitions for “logical” US-India climate & technology coalition as Chinese relations flounder.

· Obama suggests passage of energy reform may come in form of multiple pieces of legislation. A patchwork solution to patchwork regulation ...

· New deforestation framework may be one of few agreements to result from Cancun.

· UN’s Figueres calls for grassroots movement to force global treaty. (Recall 2 weeks ago she was asking business to sway their governments too.)

· Political wavering on Australia’s carbon tax plan.

· Island nations drowning from international gridlock on climate change.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Lowering Expectations for Cancun - Why Am I Not Surprised

Large developed and developing companies met this past week in New York City at the Major Economies Forum to discuss the components and prospects of a successful climate deal. Some are blaming the US’s inability to pass domestic climate legislation, but few are hopeful, including US climate envoy Todd Stern, that “in any way [there will be] a legal treaty to be done in Cancun this year” at the December meetings. However, Stern is standing by the US’s pledge to cut GHG emissions by 17% by 2020 compared to 2005 levels.

In the most recent attempt to yield US legislative progress, Senators Bingaman (D-NM) and Brownback (R-KS) have proposed the Renewable Energy Promotion Act, which includes a 15% renewable generation standard (including efficiency), in the hopes of passing such during the lame duck session post the November elections.

Elsewhere in NYC at the launch of the Carbon Disclosure Project’s Global 500 and S&P 500 report results, UN climate chief, Christiana Figueres, suggested that strong support for a climate treaty from businesses lobbying their governments is essential to progress. She cited the huge appeal of certainty and business opportunities for corporations the world over. An article from the Huffington Post warns about allowing business to lead on climate change regulation.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Slow Plod to Cancun - Will Business Lead Government?

Here are the latest carbon soundbytes of the last few weeks:

· Leaders of global energy companies convened at a conference in Montreal to discuss the state of current carbon / climate negotiations. Former chief UN climate negotiator, Yvo de Boer, was a keynote for the event. He encouraged the industry to support a binding global treaty, including market-based mechanisms. Of no surprise, energy companies desire an environment with certainty in order to make long term investment decisions.

· Leaders from 17 major economies will meet this Monday & Tuesday in New York City to discuss climate change and clean energy. The meeting is part of Obama’s The Major Economies Forum, which facilitates dialogue between the most influential developed and developing economies.

· The UN climate negotiator, Christiana Figueres, supports a shift in emphasis to CDM projects promoting renewable energy, energy efficiency and transportation, rather than industrial projects cutting hydrofluorocarbons, which have accounted for half of CDM emission reductions to date.

· Australia’s prime minister, Julia Gillard, was pleased by BHP Biliton’s proposal of a domestic carbon tax. This renewed interest in carbon legislation comes after the former PM fell out of favor as he attempted to pass a cap-and-trade scheme.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Most Agree on Need for Climate Finance, But from Where?

Since Copenhagen, there has been little constructive movement in negotiations regarding emission reductions by developed and developing nations. If anything, some developing economies are “backtracking” by demanding more “new” money while others are suggesting carbon reduction requirements only apply to developed nations, says US lead climate negotiator, John Pershing.

The tone of meetings in Geneva, Switzerland, this week has been of productivity on the climate finance front. To refresh, wealthy nations agreed in Copenhagen to fast-track $10B a year between 2010 and 2012. This appears to be “found” money already, but potentially not “new” since Japan had already committed $15B to the cause prior to Copenhagen. The bigger challenge and focus is on achieving $100B of climate aid annually by 2020. While a mix of private and public funding sources is expected, the method of accumulated such substantial amounts is very much in debate as is the identity of the administering body for the funds. Developing countries are adamantly opposed to the World Bank allocating the monies; rather, they support an entity such as the UNFCC.

Negotiators and pundits have suggested potential funding source such as a carbon tax, airplane fare levies and fees on carbon credit trading. Unfortunately, private investment in carbon reduction projects producing carbon credits declined 54% in 2009 because of uncertainty about the existence and value of carbon reductions post-Kyoto. Therefore, it will be difficult to agree on and identity financing sources, if carbon credit fees are utilized, without the specter of a ratifiable global carbon accord.

Other Carbon News:

· Infamous "skeptical environmentalist” Bjorn Lomborg alters his stance on climate change in a new book, suggesting climate change is “undoubtedly one of the chief concerns facing the world today" and a "challenge humanity must confront." Lomborg also supports substantial funds to secure climate solutions, including geo-engineering, as long as these funds are spent wisely.

· Senator Harry Reid (D) hopes to find some Republican votes for an energy bill after the November elections.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sell [Carbon Agreements] in May and Go Away

Since our last column, the future for global carbon unfortunately has not turned a corner. Negotiations on the international level are slow leading up to the year-end Copenhagen repeat in Cancun. A recent session in Bonn proposed optimism for country specific commitments on financing, technology transfer and capacity building and adaptation plans for the poorest countries.

In the US, any hope for federal legislation involving cap-and-trade have all but vanished as Obama’s and sympathetic democrats’ political capital seems to have been fully utilized on issues of health care, financial reform and even immigration. Chances of legislation passing with any carbon cutting teeth before, or even after, the November elections appear unlikely, due to or despite of Sen. Kerry’s beltway compromises.

Meanwhile, several European governments are reducing renewable energy investment incentives in the coming year. These subsidies have successfully impacted the carbon content of the generation mix in the already lower-carbon intensity region, as well as aiding the growth and maturation of the renewable energy industry.

In our country, state-enacted renewable portfolio standards may prospectively contribute to a lower carbon future (see largest utility generator of renewable energy, NextEra Energy) in lieu of federal mandates.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Wheels Fall Off US Climate & Energy Bill

The long awaited Senate proposal on US climate change legislation was derailed this week by partisan posturing. Sen. Kerry announced he is placing the bill on hold until the Senate can address immigration reform, and Republican Sen. Graham says he is withdrawing his support and involvement in the bill. Republicans view the hasty prioritization of immigration as a ploy to secure Hispanic votes leading into the midterm elections. There has been little bipartisan groundwork or compromises reached on immigration. Lobbying groups are pushing to save and maintain the urgency of climate legislation. Elsewhere in congress, proposals for financial reform of derivatives calls for a study of carbon markets "to ensure an efficient, secure, and transparent carbon market, including oversight of spot markets and derivative markets." In Australia, the once promising carbon regime legislation is likely to be delayed several years.

The UN’s Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change (AGECC) put forth suggested proposals for climate finance, suggesting that $35-$45 billion of annual investment will be needed to both bring electrification to all and reduce CO2 emissions. Funding sources would include grants from developed nations, multi-national development banks, carbon credit proceeds from charcoal substitution programs and other sources. On a related note, Spain became the first country to contribute ($45m Euros) to the UN’s Adaption Fund, which was established under the Kyoto Protocol and is funded in part by proceeds from fees on Certified Emissions Reductions.

Relevant Articles

Saturday, April 24, 2010

US State Dept. - Climate Change is Real; US Congress, Not Sure What To Do About It

Ministers from large western economies were supposed to meet in DC this past week. Many participated by video conference because of European flight cancellations. Inside the meetings, parties discussed preparations for the December meetings in Cancun and short-term financing options for climate aid to developing nations. To the media, representatives praised the progress made in the Copenhagen Accord and attempted to manage expectations for Cancun outcomes.

The US State Department released its 5th US Climate Action Report, which is intended for submission to the United Nations. The report says, "Global warming is unequivocal and primarily human-induced” and “the effects of climate change are already evident.” The report was released just days before the Senate-led climate bill is set to be formally proposed on Monday April 26th. Authors of the bill were backing away from suggestions that the legislation would include any sort of vehicle fuel tax, oil sector “fee” or transportation “linked-fee.” The Obama administration has prioritized the energy and climate bill to follow the passage of financial regulatory reform. Neither of which are “quick hits.”

Other Relevant Articles:

· The rogue People’s Climate Summit in Bolivia attracted 142 nations and called for halving carbon emissions by 2020 (more aggressive than anything proposed by signatories to Copenhagen Accord), limiting earth’s warming to 1.5 degrees (compared to 2 degrees per Copenhagen Accord) and creating of an international climate tribunal to judge countries on global warming.

· BASIC nations to debate Kyoto Protocol extension alternatives. South Africa proposes solutions as basis for talks.

· Potential discord looming over state autonomy within federal climate bill.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tensions Quelled at Bonn; Senate Bill Seemingly Always Around the Corner

After a tumultuous start to the climate meetings in Bonn, the negotiations process leading up to Cancun in December 2010 is back on track. The Bonn meetings were considered a “healing process” where participants regained comfort that the UNFCC is the central venue for global climate talks and negotiations will occur in a transparent and democratic manner. Three more meetings have been planned leading up to Cancun, pressed by developing nations ironically, who were the less motivated contingent last year. Developed countries are feeling paralyzed by the gridlock in the US congress over a climate bill.

Senators Kerry, Lindsey and Lieberman intend to unveil climate legislation on April 26th. The bill is rumored to include the Obama and House endorsed 17% emission reduction targets (from 2005), support for nuclear power and offshore drilling, a motor fuel tax, the shutting of regional cap-and-trade regimes in favor of a “national carbon reduction policy” and a blockade to carbon regulation by the EPA.

Other Relevant Climate Articles:

· The supposed U.S.’s media and PR strategy leading up to Cancun meetings leaked.

· U.S. to host clean energy summit for the Americas this week in D.C.

· Bolivia claims 7,500 to attend its splinter climate conference this week.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

All Is Not Good in Bonn as Climate Talks Restart

The first official UN climate meeting since Copenhagen opened in Bonn, Germany, this week with tension. The US and other nations in the “select few” who crafted the Copenhagen Accord defended the agreement as a “significant milestone in [the] collective effort” to curb global warming. Critics called for a complete resetting of the negotiations process, repeatedly citing the need for “inclusiveness, transparency and legitimacy” if any trust is to be rebuilt across all participating nations. Venezuela and Bolivia have been very vocal in calling for the Copenhagen Accord to be set aside altogether.

Leaders in the debate are still focused on reaching a global treaty; however, some observers are suggesting alternative approaches to getting cooperation in solving climate change. These might include targeted actions to preserve rainforests or tying volunteer emissions reducing to access to climate funds.

The US and other western allies are attempting to punish those (Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, etc) who refused to endorse the Copenhagen Accord by suspending climate aid. This is more symbolic than punitive since the level of aid at risk is rather insignificant at present.

Other Articles of Interest:

· Washington DC to host the 17 major economic powers on April 18th & 19th in hopes of pushing forward slow-moving climate talks, which is sure to draw criticism from those Copenhagen Accord detractors.

· US climate legislation rumored to include transport tax on refined oil for purposes of infrastructure repair and green infrastructure projects.

· Nepal looks to lead formation of Mountain Alliance Initiative for Climate Change (MAICC) for lobbying agenda in Mexico.

· Group of Muslim countries consider aggressive action on climate change, or a “green haj.”

· If emissions reductions fail or prove too expensive, should we consider geo-engineering … again?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Climate Talks to Rewind, Restart, Jumpstart; UK Has Plans.

Outgoing UN Climate Chief de Boer suggests that this November’s climate talks in Cancun, Mexico, will in effect be a second attempt at laying the groundwork that was hoped for in Copenhagen. De Boer’s envisioned timetable is for talks to restart next week in Bonn, for the first time since December, building up to a solid framework agreement in Mexico and follow through with a binding accord in 2011 in South Africa. The United Kingdom is taking the leader and proposing potential options for climate fund frameworks and a two treaty solution. Unpopular with the US, the two treaty solution involves an extension of the Kyoto Protocol, governing the previously bound countries, and a separate treaty, governing the US and most developing nations, such as China and India. Elsewhere in Europe, French UMP party’s bid to implement a carbon tax was overruled by the country’s high court, which saw too many inequalities and unfair burden on certain consumers.

Recent Carbon Articles of Interest:

· BP CEO’s says job preservation is not a good reason to support coal in US.

· Indonesia considers joining BASIC coalition.

· China and South Africa boost ties on climate front; specifics unclear besides aligned policy advocacy.

· UN suspends two carbon credit verification entities, including second largest verifier, TUEV SUED.

· Support for US Cap-and-Trade continues to wane and the EPA delays GHG permitting for power companies and industrial facilities until January 2011.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

BASIC Countries Nominate for UN Climate Chief Position; China & India Coordinate Actions

Nominees for the UN climate chief post are surfacing from the BASIC countries. An emerging climate negotiations leader, South Africa, is proposing Marthinus van Schalkwyk, its minister of environmental affairs & tourism, while India is supporting its environment secretary, Vijay Sharma. Indonesia may also nominate an individual. Regardless of the outcome, the tone of negotiations will be changing with a representative of a developing nation heading the UN process.

China and India finally agreed to be listed in the Copenhagen Accord “chapeau,” or introduction, as participants in the key negotiations that produced the agreement. The countries were hesitant to sign because the agreement was not adopted by the entirety COP15 participating nations. Meanwhile, the two countries are coordinating with respect to their mutual opposition for international scrutiny of voluntary reduction actions as well as plans to cooperate on forestry, energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives. Separately, China’s lead climate negotiator admonished the U.S. for not taking greater action to stem emissions domestically.

Relevant Global Carbon Articles

· Obama’s global trade aspirations at odds with climate plan.

· The IMF is proposing a $100B per year climate fund raising plan.

· EU finance ministers call for climate aid plan; to be discussed in Brussels meeting this week.

· EU considers upping reduction commitments to take climate leadership position; debates Kyoto expiration plan.

· U.S. and Brazil sign de-forestation agreement.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Cap-and-Trade Tapping Out? EPA Moving In; Not if Congress Can Help It.

U.S. climate legislation moved to the middle burner this week with discussions of cap-and-trade alternatives and EPA regulation. Advocates of cap-and-trade, such as Senators Graham and Lieberman, acknowledge that cap-and-trade may be “dead.” The latest alternative is targeted industry-specific emissions control measures on power companies, the transportation sector and heavy manufacturing. Meanwhile, the EPA attempted to raise the specter and likelihood of un-legislated carbon regulation by finalizing its endangerment finding, granting California’s waiver for stricter automobile emissions standards, issuing final GHG reporting requirements and proposing the mechanism by which it will impose permitting requirements on stationary sources releasing CO2. Not to be superseded by the EPA, a group of Senators, spanning party lines and with carbon-reliant constituencies, introduced a bill to freeze the EPA’s ability to regulate GHG emissions for 2 years. Ironically, corporate America is still imploring and pleading for policy clarity and certainty.

Interesting Article(s):

· Environmental group and regulators look to strong-arm insurance industry for climate action. This is a topic I worked on at my former employer. To learn whether this article is 100% on-track, you’ll have to email or ask me.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Bali UNEP Conference Hopes to Restart Climate Talks; De Boer Resigns

Over one hundred countries were represented at this past week’s UN Environmental Protective event in Bali with the hope of rebuilding confidence in global climate negotiations. Even though many nations submitted emissions reduction pledges under the Copenhagen Accord, most observers consider the pledges insufficient to stem warming to the extent necessary and many countries are aggrieved because the UN framework for inclusive negotiations was undermined by the US and the BASIC nations. The usually pragmatic optimist, Yvo de Boer, the UN Climate Chief, warned that a climate deal was now unlikely this year at the Mexico meetings, rather an agreement in South Africa in 2011 was more likely. De Boer delivered this prediction in the same week he announced his intended resignation from the UN post; the retiring chief suggested his replacement come from a developing nation.

· UN targets Rio in 2012 for Summit on Sustainable Development for completion of “political document”, which will finalize economic and technical transfer agreements to ignite global green economy.

· Countries discuss creation of WTO-like World Environmental Organization (WEO).

· Emissions by heavy industry in the EU dropped by an estimated 11% in 2009.

· Kerry and Senators moving rapidly to present revised US climate bill in 2010.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Look at Climate Activity in Europe - EU, UK and Germany

Shifting the climate focus across the Atlantic, Members of European Parliament (MEPs) passed a resolution calling on major countries, especially the US, China and EU members, to resume discussions to achieve the intentions of Copenhagen accord. This seems to be an instance of minimal influence without authority. Meanwhile, the UK is debating several energy policy options, including the centralization of energy planning, a radical change of direction from the country’s history of privatization. While a “market-light” strategy is unlikely to prevail, the US could take lesson from a debate of multiple alternatives as US lawmakers are mired in energy policy gridlock. On the continent, Germany is moving toward a delay in cuts to its solar incentives regime. While continued solar support in Germany seems unwarranted, solar job levels will be buffeted by the delay and Germany’s centrality to the solar PV industry could be prolonged.

Articles of Note

· US, India and China at stand-off regarding “association” designation within Copenhagen Accord.

· Southern Company to break ground on first US nuclear power plant in 30 years with backing of DOE loan guarantee.

· US government to create “Climate Service” organization under Commerce Department and through reorganization of NOAA.

· Opponents of California Climate Law AB 32 struggle to gather signatures required for appearing as ballot proposition to delay aggressive climate targets and actions.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Jan 31 Come and Gone ... With a Whimper

As the emissions reduction pledges under the Copenhagen Accord have trickled in prior to and since January 31st, the tally stands at 92 countries accounting for 83% of global emissions. The general malaise regarding the progress made in and since Copenhagen has continued. UN Climate Chief de Boer is trying to emphasize that the Accord was just a launching pad for for formal consensus-building negotiations incorporating the entirety of the UN community. Any accord-related news was overshadowed by the credibility crisis in the IPCC, the UN sponsored scientific research body on climate change, and its chief, Indian's R K Pachauri. Calls for Pachauri's resignation have come from several groups, including Greenpeace, after a controversy over reports regarding the rate of decay of Himalayan glaciers. Despite vocal support from de Boer and India's PM, India announced it will convene its own scientific body to analyze the risks of climate change.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Major Emitters Submit Pledges Prior to Jan 31 Deadline

It was an interesting week on the carbon front. Earlier in the week, unsubstantiated rumors on the web emerged that India and China had reconsidered their positions and would not submit their official emission reduction pledges under the Copenhagen Accord. Both countries (China and India) met the Jan 31th deadline as did the USA, which reiterated its modest 17 percent cut from 2005 by 2020. The BASIC countries this week emphasized that these pledges were non-binding and a small part of the "two-track negotiation process," from which industrialized nations will fulfill their "differentiated" responsibility of leading the absolute reduction in global carbon emissions. Meanwhile, President Obama attempted to further his clean-energy, climate legislation agenda during his State of the Union, but did not utter the words "cap-and-trade." The senators leading the climate legislation have been quick to impress that negotiations are not dead and new/different carbon reduction and pricing structures are welcome in the discussion.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

BASICs Won't Leave Their Climate Destiny in the Hands of US Senate

This week's Massachusetts midterm election was called by many as a referendum on the Obama administration's key legislative objectives, especially healthcare reform. Energy policy and carbon mitigation, including cap-and-trade or alternative mechanisms, may have also been dealt a crushing blow by Scott Brown's win in MA. One emerging potential risk is that the BASIC countries (Brazil, South Africa, India, China) will be disgruntled by the USA's lack of leadership and scale back their emissions pledges. On the contrary, the BASICs seem inclined to form a stronger climate coalition to address uniform emission reductions metrics and adaptation funding. The BASICs are more and more becoming the masters of their own climate destiny as the USA retreats to infighting.

Relevant News Articles: