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.

    November 27, 2010

    Looking for Climate Solutions in Cancun

    Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 10:45 pm
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    The next round of international climate negotiations through the UN are going to begin soon in Cancun, Mexico.  It’s no secret last year’s summit in Copenhagen was a major disappointment to environmental groups and climate activists, and there aren’t very high expectations for Cancun to correct course.  However, we should obviously be looking to move forward wherever we can in the short-term while continuing to press for a long-term framework.  The NY Times has published an editorial with a couple of suggests for how this progress can take place.  I’m republishing parts below…

    “But carbon dioxide is not the only kind of pollution that contributes to global warming. Other potent warming agents include three short-lived gases — methane, some hydrofluorocarbons and lower atmospheric ozone — and dark soot particles. The warming effect of these pollutants, which stay in the atmosphere for several days to about a decade, is already about 80 percent of the amount that carbon dioxide causes. The world could easily and quickly reduce these pollutants; the technology and regulatory systems needed to do so are already in place.

    Take methane, for example, which is 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in causing warming. It is emitted by coal mines, landfills, rice paddies and livestock. And because it is the main ingredient in natural gas, it leaks from many older natural-gas pipelines. With relatively minor changes — for example, replacing old gas pipelines, better managing the water used in rice cultivation (so that less of the rice rots) and collecting the methane emitted by landfills — it would be possible to lower methane emissions by 40 percent. Since saved methane is a valuable fuel, some of this effort could pay for itself.”

    “Ozone, which is formed in the lower atmosphere from carbon monoxide, methane and other gases emitted by human activity, is a particularly hazardous component of urban smog. And every year it causes tens of billions of dollars in damage to crops worldwide. So pollution restrictions that reduce ozone levels, especially in the rapidly growing polluted cities of Asia, could both clear the air and slow warming.”

    “Soot likewise offers an opportunity to marry local interests with the global good. A leading cause of respiratory diseases, soot is responsible for some 1.9 million deaths a year. It also melts ice and snow packs. Thus, sooty emissions from Asia, Europe and North America are helping to thin the Arctic ice. And soot from India, China and a few other countries threatens water supplies fed by the Himalayan-Tibetan glaciers.”

    “Credibility is especially important for the United States. It can already offer the world much of the technology and regulatory expertise that will be needed to reduce short-lived pollutants, particularly ozone and soot. Some American efforts are under way to share these technologies, including a program to help provide better cookstoves for people in developing countries. By making such programs more visible and demonstrating that they deliver tangible results, and by establishing a realistic plan for cutting its own emissions at home, the United States could show that it is serious about addressing climate change.”

    June 24, 2010

    Will the G20 Water Down Fossil Fuel Subsidies?

    A recent leaked document that has been obtained by ClimateWire indicates that the G20 will water down its previous committment last year to phase out fossil fuel subsidies by making them “voluntary” and “member specific”.

    Check out this preamble to the G20 in Toronto and look for the highlighed portions.

    Below is Greenpeace’s press release about this document.

    International/Toronto-23 June 2010–As BP’s oil continues to gush into the Gulf of Mexico, G20 heads of state, due to meet in Toronto this weekend, are planning to dilute last year’s commitment to phase out subsidies to Big Oil and Big Coal, according a copy of the draft statement seen by the environmental groups, Greenpeace and Oil Change International.

    Last year in Pittsburgh, G20 leaders agreed, “To phase out and rationalize over the medium term inefficient fossil fuel subsidies while providing targeted support for the poorest” (1).

    However, this year’s draft statement (2) sees the commitment watered down with the inclusion of “voluntary, member-specific approaches,” to ending fossil fuel subsidies.

     “Subsidising the likes of BP, oil disasters and climate change is nothing short of insanity. The Gulf oil disaster has focused minds world wide on the need to end our oil addiction and begin an energy revolution. The urgent need to shift massive resources into energy efficiency and renewable energy sources. G20 leaders need to put their money where their mouths are and keep their promise to cut fossil fuel subsidies,” said Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace International Executive Director, who will be an observer at both the G8 and G20 Summits.

    “Governments passing one hundred billion dollars a year of taxpayers’ money to big oil and coal is immoral when compared to their refusal to provide the same amount of money for the poorest countries for climate change adaptation and mitigation.”

    The developed world currently gives around $100bn a year to the fossil fuel industry in subsidies – one of the reasons ExxonMobil didn’t have to pay any US tax last year (1).  

    Meanwhile Governments are baulking at coming up with the  $140 billion a year in finance needed by the world’s poorest countries adapt to climate change and move to a clean energy economy.

    “We welcomed President Obama’s appearance of leadership and the G20 commitment to end fossil fuel subsidies last year,” said Steve Kretzmann, Director of Oil Change International.  “Now it seems that their promise to end fossil fuel subsidies was as well thought out as a deepwater drilling plan. The G20 needs to stop the gusher of public money that is spewing into the coffers of Big Oil and coal.”

    “We don’t need any more excuses about why it’s so hard – plug the leak, stop giving away our money to polluters, and start funding clean energy now.”

    Both groups called for the G20 Leaders to redouble their commitment to end fossil fuel subsidies. Rather than dilute their promise from last year the G20 must take heed of the BP Deepwater oil disaster and move the world rapidly away from its addiction to fossil fuels.

    Ends

     (1)  Available here: http://www.pittsburghsummit.gov/mediacenter/129639.htm

    (2)  A copy of the leaked document can be found here: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/publications/reports/G8G20-documents/

    (3)  Climate Progress blog has a full breakdown of the story of ExxonMobil’s tax evasion here http://climateprogress.org/2010/04/06/exxon-mobil-paid-no-federal-income-tax-in-2009/

    Greenpeace and Oil Change International will both be observers at the G8 and G20 Summits this weekend.   For advance briefings and information, and for interviews on the leaked document, please contact:

    Alex Paterson Greenpeace Canada (Toronto) + 1 416 524-8496

    Steve Herz, Greenpeace International  (San Francisco) +1-510-282-4792

    Steve Kretzmann, Oil Change International  (London) +1-202-497-1033

    June 9, 2010

    More from Bonn: Week 1 Update, and What to Expect

    Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 11:38 pm
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    I have three more videos from the US Climate Action Network(US-CAN), and CAN international, and the Global Campaign for Climate Action on what has happened in the first week of climate negotiations in Bonn, what happened today, and what to expect in the second week.

    June 2, 2010

    Update from Bonn, Day 3

    Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 10:44 pm
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    Climate finance is a big issue in Bonn, as its important for developed countries under the Copenhagen Accord to provide assistance to developing countries to adapt from climate change and mitigate their own emissions.  Finance is a key cornerstone to a global deal, but as Steven Guilbeault of Equiterre explains in this video, its becoming a sticking point in Bonn.  Here is a good report that talks about how to ensure climate finance is new and additional.

    Video Update of Bonn Negotiations

    Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 1:39 am
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    This one is by the Union of Concerned Scientists Alden Meyer on today’s negotiations, the reality gap between emissions reduction promises made at COP-15 & the science needed to get us back on track in Bonn, what you can do to help shape the conversations & what to expect tomorrow.

    UN Climate Chief’s Opening Statement at Bonn

    Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 1:36 am
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    June 1, 2010

    Start of the Bonn Climate Talks

    Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 5:50 pm
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    The most recent round of climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany began yesterday.  Here is a statement by the World Wildlife Fund which explains the importance of these talks, and what they mean for addressing climate change.  It’s also posted below the video by Greenpeace International laying out the top three most important topics to address at Bonn

    June vital month for

    progress to low-carbon

    future – WWF

    Bonn, GermanyJune will be a watershed month for global efforts towards a low-carbon and climate resilient future, says WWF.

    UN climate talks in Bonn starting today and the G8 and G20 summits later this month can create huge momentum towards a number of breakthroughs needed for a global climate agreement that would speed up the race to the low-carbon future.

    “June is a turning point for climate politics after a period of confusion and soul-searching since Copenhagen, said Kathrin Gutmann, Head of Climate Policy, WWF Global Climate Initiative.

    Copenhagen didn’t deliver the full treaty the world needs, but it brought us very close to agreement on a few crucial elements of the package, so Bonn is about picking things up where Copenhagen left them, for breakthroughs on these elements in Mexico later this year.”

    In WWF’s view, negotiators in Bonn can push some important debates close to conclusion, e.g. on forest protection driven by carbon finance – the so called REDD+ agenda – and on creative financing for low-carbon action and climate resilience in developing countries.

    We are at the verge of agreeing to stop deforestation and to gear up for dealing with a changing climate through adaptation”, says Gutmann.

    Securing breakthroughs in these areas at the talks in Mexico this December would put the world in a good position to wrap such key elements into a global agreement at the next summit in South Africa in 2011, marking an important deadline as the Kyoto Protocol needs a new lease on life by 2012.”

    WWF advocates a similar step by step approach to closing the gigatonne gap, a massive mismatch of emission reduction levels pledged by countries in the Copenhagen Accord and the levels that are actually needed to secure a climate resilient future.

    Countries will win the gigatonne challenge if they speed up the low-carbon transformation of their economies, close the loopholes that undermine their national action plans, and work together to extend their transformative efforts to new sources of pollution that haven’t been regulated so far”, says Gutmann.

    A fiesta in Mexico to blow away the post-Copenhagen blues will also depend on climate finance, putting the upcoming G8 and G20 summits in Canada into the spotlight.

    Heads of States there are scheduled to identify new sources of finance like taxes on financial transactions or levies on emissions from unregulated sectors like shipping and aviation, and to discuss the switching of subsidies from polluting fossil fuels to innovative energy technologies – in order to marry their economic and environmental agendas and add momentum to the race towards the low-carbon future.

    Using G8 and G20 to mobilize funds for clean development and the Bonn talks to sort out building blocks for a climate agreement will give the international community the important atmosphere of trust that got lost during the Danish disaster last December”, says Gutmann.

    For further questions:

    Christian Teriete, E: MACROBUTTON HtmlResAnchor cteriete@wwf.org.hk, M: +852-93106805

    Ashwini Prabha, E: MACROBUTTON HtmlResAnchor aprabha@wwfint.org, M: +41-79-8741682

    WWF experts available for interviews:

    Kathrin Gutmann, Head of Policy, WWF Global Climate Initiative, E: kathrin.gutmann@wwf.de, M: +49-151-18854928

    Tasneem Essop, International Climate Policy Advocate, WWF South Africa, E: tessop@wwf.org.za, M: +27-83-9986290

    WWF media materials:

    For more information on WWF’s climate policy visit: http://www.panda-org/climate

    Follow our climate blog on: http://www.panda-org/climateblog

    WWF’s analysis of the Copenhagen Accord: http://www.panda.org/climate/steppingstone

    WWF is a member of the Climate Action Network (CAN). CAN will run regular press conferences throughout Bonn that can be viewed at: http://unfccc.int/press

    WWF activities in Bonn:

    WWF will run the Climate Deal Oracle throughout the Bonn conference, a poll asking negotiators and observers when we should get and when we will get a global climate agreement. WWF will unveil the poll and an installation during a photo opportunity for press on Monday 31 May at 09.00 AM outside the Maritim Hotel (UNFCCC meeting venue), Bonn.

    Together with partner NGOs, WWF will close the Bonn climate talks with a visual action on 11 June outside the Maritim Hotel, involving a giant dice and world leaders gambling with the climate. Exact time to be announced closer to the event.

    WWF hosts an official side-event to promote the concept of Zero Carbon Action Plans (ZCAPs), on the basis of a master-plan for decarbonizing the German economy, called Blueprint Germany. The event takes place at Room Rail, Ministry of Transport, 1 June, 13:00-14:30. WWF invites press to attend briefings on this topic from 11:00 to 12:00 and 15:00 to 16:00 the same day. Exact venue to be announced.

    WWF will launch various papers throughout the Bonn conference, e.g. on adaptation (2 June) and on measuring and verifying climate action (7 June). Details to follow.

    April 10, 2010

    Follow “Adopt a Negotiator”

    Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 7:35 pm
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    With climate talks restarting in Bonn, Germany after the contentious finish in Copenhagen last winter, I want to plug the “Adopt a Negotiator” blog where young people follow climate negotiators from their country to these talks, and blog about what they see and see.  It’s real helpful for the rest of us.  Joshua Wise is the American blogger for this, and you can follow him here.  His latest post looks at the Major Economies Forum on climate the US will be hosting, and the finance issues that countries face moving forward, based on what came out of the Copenhagen Accord.

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