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.