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.