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.