The Dernogalizer

December 15, 2010

350.org: “We got in it to win”

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 12:36 am
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I think 350.org’s recent e-mail reflecting on the closure of the Cancun climate talks is spot on.  It’s reposted below

Dear friends,

It’s not something you hear often when it comes to climate negotiations: “progress has been made.”

At 4AM on Saturday morning in Cancun, delegates emerged from the UN negotiations, all of them sleep-deprived and most of them smiling. They had managed to agree on a foundation for future talks. The agreements that came out of Cancun won’t be enough to get the world back to 350–but they offer a glimpse at a path forward that just might.

The feeling of momentum emerging from Cancun was refreshing: countries rebuilt trust, and wrestled with difficult issues like deforestation and transparency. This trust was in serious doubt after last year’s failed negations in Copenhagen–and even in the final hours of negotiations in Cancun.

These countries will now have to negotiate with the world’s climate–and the physics and chemistry that govern the climate won’t negotiate. In the wake of the modest progress achieved in Cancun, it’s tempting to overlook the fact that delegates mostly avoided the real crux of the negotiations: exactly how much will countries reduce their planet-heating emissions?

In fact, the current pledges contained in the negotiating text are still grossly inadequate, leaving the planet on a crash course with at least 4 degrees Celcius of temperature rise–a terrifying prospect that would put us closer to 750ppm than 350ppm. That’s very far from where we must be, and that gap won’t be fixed by simply waiting until next year’s convention in Durban, South Africa.

To close the gap between scientific necessity and political possibility, we must fight the influence of big polluters on the political process.
At the end of last week, thousands of you spoke up in support of the most vulnerable countries, sending your messages of solidarity from all corners of the planet. Our team in Cancun delivered your messages directly to the delegates, and reminded them just how much the world is counting on them to stand up to big polluters.

By building a public movement around the climate solutions that science and justice demand, we’ve helped keep this process alive when major polluters tried to destroy it. We’ve made the science clear. And thanks to your messages of solidarity, we’ve strengthened the voices of vulnerable nations, who have pledged to keep the fight for bold climate action alive.

In the months and years to come, that will continue to be our fight as well. In the final hours of the talks in Cancun, members of the 350.org team were among a group of young people who stood peacefully at the entrance to the negotiating halls and slowly counted upwards towards 21,000, the number of deaths attributed to climate-related disasters in the first 9 months of this year.  After two weeks of abstract negotiations, this event was a poignant reminder of the stakes in this struggle–and of the strength of the bonds of this global network.

There will be those receiving this email who would wish us to condemn the agreements that came out of Cancun — as well as those who might like us to call it a hope-filled victory.

But we didn’t get involved in this movement to condemn or cheer: we got in it to win.

To do that, we’ll have to win our country’s capitols first, and to do that, we’ll have to organize in all the communities where we live. We’ve begun that work, but we still have much more work to do.

We will do it with hope, with passion, and with unwavering determination.  And above all, we will do it together.

Onwards,

May Boeve for the 350.org Team

P.S. To get real action from the UN process, its crucial to keep spreading what happens in these conferences out into the world. If this email resonates, please pass along this link to a photo-tour of our experience in Cancun via Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

 

December 11, 2010

A Hopeful Atmosphere from Cancun

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 2:28 pm
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Perhaps because expectations were so low, or because of the realization that cooperation between nations needed to occur for the UN climate negotiations to continue to exist, or because NASA announced the hottest November and likely 2010 on record, the media reports and commentary from nations and activists coming out of Cancun is much better than it was last year in Copenhagen.  Here is the text adopted by the UNFCCC.  My take upon reading the news reports and looking at the text is that the language purposefully leaves a lot of the details and specifics to be worked out in future summits, while using broad language to satisfy developed and developing countries to keep the process moving forward.  There is greater agreement than last year about what needs to be done, such as the establishment of a $100 billion Green Climate Fund by 2020, and the allocation of $30 billion between 2010-2012 for developing nations to use for mitigation and adaption.  Below is the closing COP 16 press release, along with some reactions from other countries, bloggers, and media outlets…

UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun delivers balanced package of
decisions, restores faith in multilateral process

(Cancun, 11 December 2010) The UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico, ended on Saturday with the adoption of a balanced package of decisions that set all governments more firmly on the path towards a ow-emissions future and support enhanced action on climate change in the developing world.

The package, dubbed the ‘Cancun Agreements’ was welcomed to repeated loud and prolonged applause and acclaim by Parties in the final plenary.

“Cancun has done its job. The beacon of hope has been reignited and faith in the multilateral climate change process to deliver results has been restored,” said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres. “Nations have shown they can work together under a common roof, to reach consensus on a common cause. They have shown that consensus in a transparent and inclusive process can create opportunity for all,” she said.

“Governments have given a clear signal that they are headed towards a low-emissions future together, they have agreed to be accountable to each other for the actions they take to get there, and they have set it out in a way which encourages countries to be more ambitious over time,” she said.

Nations launched a set of initiatives and institutions to protect the poor and the vulnerable from climate change and to deploy the money and technology that developing countries need to plan and build their own sustainable futures. And they agreed to launch concrete action to preserve forests in developing nations, which will increase going forward.

They also agreed that countries need to work to stay below a two degree temperature rise and they set a clear timetable for review, to ensure that global action is adequate to meet the emerging reality of climate change.

“This is not the end, but it is a new beginning. It is not what is ultimately required but it is the essential foundation on which to build greater, collective ambition,” said Ms Figueres.

Elements of the Cancun Agreements include:

  • Industrialised country targets are officially recognised under the multilateral process and these countries are to develop low-carbon development plans and strategies and assess how best to meet them, including through market mechanisms, and to report their inventories annually.
  • Developing country actions to reduce emissions are officially recognised under the multilateral process. A registry is to be set up to record and match developing country mitigation actions to finance and technology support from by industrialised countries. Developing countries are to publish progress reports every two years.
  • Parties meeting under the the Kyoto Protocol agree to continue negotiations with the aim of completing their work and ensuring there is no gap between the first and second commitment periods of the treaty.
  • The Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanisms has been strengthened to drive more major investments and technology into environmentally sound and sustainable emission reduction projects in the developing world.
  • Parties launched a set of initiatives and institutions to protect the vulnerable from climate change and to deploy the money and technology that developing countries need to plan and build their own sustainable futures.
  • A total of US$30 billion in fast start finance from industrialised countries to support climate action in the developing world up to 2012 and the intention to raise US$100 billion in long-term funds by 2020 is included in the decisions.
  • In the field of climate finance, a process to design a Green Climate Fund under the Conference of the Parties, with a board with equal representation from developed and developing countries, is established.
  • A new “Cancun Adaptation Framework” is established to allow better planning and implementation of adaptation projects in developing countries through increased financial and technical support, including a clear process for continuing work on loss and damage.
  • Governments agree to boost action to curb emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries with technological and financial support.
  • Parties have established a technology mechanism with a Technology Executive Committee and Climate Technology Centre and Network to increase technology cooperation to support action on adaptation and mitigation.
  • The next Conference of the Parties is scheduled to take place in South Africa, from 28 November to 9 December 2011.

    US climate envoy Todd Stern’s reaction in the Washington Post: “U.S. special climate envoy Todd Stern, who had pushed hard for adoption of language outlining how China, India and other major emerging economies will subject their carbon cuts to international view, described the recent negotiations as “a challenging, tiring and intensive week.”

    In an early-morning press conference Saturday, Stern told reporters he thought the core achievement of this year’s talks was the fact that “ideas that were first of all, skeletal last year, and not approved, are now approved and elaborated.”

    And while he noted the current measure would not ensure the global temperature rise remains within 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit of pre-industrial levels, “You just need to keep making good steady progress…We’re not there yet with respect to all the committed reductions it would take to get the world to the two-degree target people talk about. But we’re a lot closer than we were before.”

    “What we have now is a text that, while not perfect, is certainly a good basis for moving forward,” Stern said.”

    From Brad Johnson’s Wonk Room: “The first lesson of the Cancun talks is that the governments of the world can in fact work together on global warming, even though decoupling civilization from greenhouse pollution is a herculean task. However, the second lesson is that their leadership only gets humanity so far. Only the full mobilization of the present generation can overcome the institutional barriers to change and protect our fragile civilization from the raging climate system our pollution has created. The Cancun compact has restored hope around the world, but now the actual work has to begin.”

    And according to Brad’s Twitterfeed, some good reactions from nations as the talks closed…

    Mexican President Felipe Calderon: “We must ensure our fragile planet, Mother Earth, lasts forever. Cancun has brought us closer to that goal.”

    Brazil: We will go away from Cancun with a firm commitment. Considerable progress has been made.

    Zambia: Thank you for lifting our spirits from the depression of Copenhagen. You have restored our hopes in multilateralism

    India: I believe we are launched on a process in which the trust deficit has been significantly bridged

    Japan: We wholeheartedly support the efforts being made by the presidency. We’d like to express our deep support to draft text.

    China: Though there are shortcomings, we are basically satisfied.  The government of China will act in a fully responsible manner to the people of China and the people of the world.

    South Korea: We were warned, if we cannot achieve a balanced outcome, we’d be blamed by our children. I believe we have risen to the challenge.

    So all in all, it’s good to see this positive will between counties that lacked last year in Copenhagen.  The agreement on the table needs a lot of work, it isn’t strong or forceful enough to achieve what needs to be done, but it avoids a collapse of the UN climate talks, and keeps the negotiating process moving forward to what will hopefully be concrete action.

    December 8, 2010

    Bangladesh Minister: ‘We Are Struggling With The Impacts Of Climate Change’

    Filed under: Climate Change — Matt Dernoga @ 11:20 am
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    After US Senator and climate denier James Inhofe criticized the Obama administration for appropriating $1.3 billion dollars into a climate fund for developing countries struggling to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate, climate scientists struck back.  Now the Bangladesh Environmental Minister of one of the most vulnerable countries to sea level rise in the world has this to say in Cancun in response to Inhofe

    December 6, 2010

    The Emerging Role of Mexico in Climate Policy

    Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 3:06 am
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    International climate negotiations are taking place in Cancun at the moment, and although there are low expectations for progress, the host county Mexico stands out as a bright spot.  Mexico is one of the few developing nations that’s taking significant action, and according to this recent Washington Post article much of the credit goes to their President Felipe Calderon who is apparently “obsessed by climate change”.  Some of Mexico’s successes on reducing greenhouse gas emissions show the value of having a strong leader on climate issues, especially considering all of the other challenges Mexico is facing.  Excerpts are posted below.

    “Mexico is battling billionaire drug mafias armed with bazookas, but when President Felipe Calderon ranks the threats his country faces, he worries more about methane gas, dwindling forests and dirty refineries.”

    “The president is extremely engaged and very committed. He has instructed us to move, and move now, and not wait for anybody else,” said Fernando Tudela, the deputy secretary of planning and environmental policy.”

    Mexico is raising efficiency standards and helping citizens replace old refrigerators and air conditioners that don’t meet them. It is ratcheting up mandatory emissions controls for vehicles and struggling to reduce the number of aging, heavily polluting buses on its roads. Government lenders are offering “green mortgages” with lower interest rates to home buyers who insulate windows or install solar panels.

    Officials are having landfills covered to trap methane gas and planning power plants fueled by garbage; the first such plant will be built in Monterrey. The state oil company,Pemex, has promised to slash the amount of methane it wastes at its refineries by creating cogeneration energy plants.

    By 2012, if it stays on track, Mexico will have reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by 50 million tons, equal to the carbon produced by 45 days of domestic oil production.”

    “This is not easy. For the locals, there is short-term gain in clearing forest land to grow corn or raise cattle, and there is a huge gap between Mexico’s richest citizens and the 50 percent who live in poverty. Massive government reforestation campaigns, such as ProArbol, have mostly withered, derailed by corruption, incompetence and the planting of saplings that were not suited to the environment and quickly died.

    Like others, the government of Mexico has a long tradition of announcing lofty ambitions – for education, against poverty – only to see the goals quietly forgotten over the long haul. And fighting climate change is a marathon, according to everyone.

    “There is a huge potential for green growth in Mexico,” said Tudela. “We would like to prove that a developing country can mitigate and adapt to climate change without hurting the economy. We want to prove that in Mexico.”

     

     

     

    December 1, 2010

    Secretary Chu – Is the Energy Race our New “Sputnik” Moment?

    Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 3:30 pm
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    A must see video by Secretary of Energy Steven Chu about the crucial need for the United States to invest in the energy technologies of the future.

    Oil drilling ban to be maintained in key areas

    Filed under: environment,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 12:18 pm
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    According to the Washington Post, the offshore drilling ban will be maintained in “key areas”

    “Obama administration officials will announce Wednesday afternoon they will not allow offshore oil drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico or off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts as part of the next five-year drilling plan, according to sources briefed on the plan, reversing two key policy changes President Obama announced in late March.”

    This would be a significant departure from the announcements in March in a very good way.

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