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.