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.

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