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Copenhagen COP15:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Euro-Mediterranean Centre on Climate Change is glad to inform you on updates of news and stories around Climate Science&Policy.

What really happened in Lima? Climate Science & Policy: news, stories and updates.

[CENTRO EURO-MEDITERRANEO PER I CAMBIAMENTI CLIMATICI - CMCC -
un Consorzio di istituti di ricerca e università italiane che punta
ad approfondire le conoscenze scientifiche nel campo della variabilità climatica.]

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A different view on COP 20
Carlo Carraro comments the outcomes of the COP20 in this post taken from his blog: “The emphasis on emission reductions somehow obscures the real issue at the core of the COP 20 negotiations (that will be at the core of COP 21 as well)”.
 www.cmcc.it/article/a-different-v…

Climate talks: what was agreed in Lima
As expected, the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties in Lima wrapped up with a compromise text, a road map pushing for 2015 deal in Paris
 www.cmcc.it/article/lima-climate-…

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Many comments on the outcome of the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP 20) recently held in Lima have already been circulated. Most commentators focus on the broad consensus to adopt national commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). Some of them highlights the important benefits of reaching such broad consensus, even though not yet on ambitious mitigation targets. Others complain about the distance between existing commitments and the mitigation effort needed to maintain future temperature increase below the 2°C degree target. All of them agree on the crucial role of COP 21 in Paris to reach a final agreement on both ambitious Individually Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) and on an effective verification system to compare these mitigation efforts.

This emphasis on emission reductions somehow obscures the real issue at the core of the COP 20 negotiations (that will be at the core of COP 21 as well), namely the difficulty of agreeing on the resources that must be devoted to achieve mitigation targets, on their distribution across different world regions, on the mechanisms to fund the huge investments that will be necessary for both mitigation and adaptation.

The discussion in Lima was centered on the Green Climate Fund, established in Copenhagen in 2009, but the debate was more on distributional issues (how much will developing countries receive and how much will they contribute) rather than on efficiency issues (how best can the fund be used).

The Green Climate Fund
While there have been some murmurings of the need to focus on technology development, technology transfer and capacity building, the climate finance debate has been overtaken by the Green Climate Fund. How much should be given? Should quantitative limits be set? Should there be a legally binding system? Since there was so much focus on the Fund, it is encouraging to see that the first real milestone in this process – USD 10.2 billion pledged by the end of 2014 – has been achieved. Further, since 50% of the Green Climate Fund is to be allocated to adaptation measures, the prominence of adaptation in the COP 20 agenda should be welcomed. Specifically, the promise that a “loss and damage” scheme would be introduced to help poorer countries cope with the financial implications of a warming planet. Despite these steps forward, the funding required to decarbonize the global economy by 2050, address adaptation and meet the rising cost of loss and damage caused by extreme weather events, will be in the region of trillions of dollars over the upcoming decades. As such, the Green Climate Fund, even when it will hopefully reach the USD 100 billions in 2020, will be far from covering both the required investments in adaptation to deal with the impacts of ongoing climate change, particularly in developing countries, and the costs to support the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Policy signals:

One of government’s main roles in enabling climate finance is to send a clear, consistent, long-term signal to investors that there is a safe market for low-carbon technologies. There is a great deal of aversion to be overcome in this respect. Currently, low-carbon technologies are perceived to come only at a short to medium term trade off with economic growth.

This misconception (built into many model assessments) is based on the assumption that economies are perfectly efficient. As a result, any climate change policy is expected to lead to short and medium term costs. However, in reality, many such policies, particularly technology policies, in fact reduce market failures and the rigidities that lead to inefficient allocation of resources.

This understanding was woefully overlooked at COP20. Indeed, the very fact that governments spent so much time publicly quibbling over what to implement is signal enough to the private sector that investments in low-carbon technologies may not be supported by a sound policy environment (e.g. by a tax internalizing carbon externalities).

Some nations even went to say that private sector needs to be the driving force behind the transition. While developments in private sector do anticipate policy, their success is often dependent on a fertile policy environment.

As such, Brazil strongly cautioned against too strong a reliance on the private sector.

Even Australia was able to recognize the need to motivate businesses.

Kick-starting innovation:

There are two channels that governments can exploit to provide these policy signals.

First, government needs to stimulate innovation. Innovation is key to a low-carbon future. OECD projections of population growth indicate that population will increase from 7 billion people (2010) to more than 9 billion people (2050). With this, global GDP will nearly quadruple, requiring 80% more energy. To sustain this growth, energy must be mostly generated in a carbon neutral or low carbon manner.

At COP20, countries were asked to support all low-carbon technologies and not pick winners. Even so, each country demonstrated its aversions to specific technologies, notably nuclear and carbon capture and storage (CCS).The main way to incentivize innovation in low-carbon technologies is to put a price on carbon.

Carbon pricing is one of the strongest signals that governments can send to say they are serious about low-carbon. Not only does this provide a way – if effectively implemented – of progressively moving away from fossil fuel energy, it also provides financial benefits. Lobbying and sideline action abounded with pressure to develop carbon pricing mechanisms. Like the drop of water on stone, this is making an impact nation by nation. However, no concrete progress came forth from COP20 on this, even though important signals came from the UN Summit in New York last September and much more will emerge in 2015 in preparation to COP 21.

Investing:

Second, governments need to look to how and when they invest in low-carbon solutions. No public sector actors are yet fully successful in setting regulation, incentives, co-investment, risk-sharing instruments or other policy measures. Most developed countries firmly opposed internationally accountable commitments to climate finance.

Switzerland notably refused legally binding aims. Part of the unanimous aversion to strong investment is the fear that policies would require prolonged public sector support for low-carbon technologies. This assumption ignores the fact that government only needs to promote low-carbon innovation for a limited time. Just long enough to kick-start the low-carbon pathway. Once the technology is rolling along this path, the economy will be locked-in to low-carbon and there is no need for further regulatory intervention.

Another investment deterrent is the presumed high-cost, low-return nature of low-carbon energy. However, the higher upfront costs in low-carbon technologies are offset by avoiding the operating and financing costs that characterize fossil fuel energy. And by the increasing benefits of reducing GHG emissions and therefore the concrete, very costly, negative impacts of climate change on our economies.

The Lima Legacy:

COP20 concluded with a document that called for an “ambitious agreement” in 2015 that considers the “differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” of each nation. This common-but-differentiated-responsibilities approach has characterized climate change talks since 1992. It reflects the strong divide and attribution of responsibility that still exists between poor and rich nations. Meek language asking countries merely to go beyond their “current undertaking” on climate action does not instill you with confidence that any of the INDCs that will be announced over the first quarter of 2015 will be sufficient to keep the globe within the 2°C limit.

Perhaps, there is hope in the fact that some of the desired measures indicated above can be developed without the need for international agreements.

Even so, at the moment, none of these issues that will really make a difference in the effective deployment and use of climate finance have been seriously addressed by COP 20.

Much of this is unsurprising. Asking 194 countries to find consensus on the many issues implicated in climate change – not only climate finance – is, as UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres puts it, “very, very challenging”. Therefore, the resulting “range of key decisions agreed and action-agendas launched, including how to better scale up and finance adaptation” should be welcomed. However, as ever, we cannot let complacency take root and must maximize the pressure for the forthcoming INDCs to be meaningful and verifiable commitments.

Overall COP 20 in Lima was consistent with expectations. Together with other important events (the UN Climate Summit in New York, the EU Policy Framework on Energy and Climate, the US-China deal, etc.) it contributed to pave the way for an important agreement in Paris. The idea of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions was already circulated and debated months ago. It became concrete in Lima and this is a very positive change, crucial to achieve a large participation to the Paris agreement. Now it’s time to go back to climate finance and to agree not only on the size of additional resources to be devoted to climate mitigation and adaptation, but rather on the policy signals to redirect the huge amount of resources devoted every year to energy infrastructures, buildings, city development and transports towards a low carbon transition path.

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Almost two days later than scheduled, the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP20) in Lima, Peru, closed on Sunday, December 14th adopting a set of 32 documents aimed at progressing towards the definition of the new deal to be agreed at the COP21 in Paris next year.

Central element of the Lima deal are the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) which include in one term both developed and developing countries’ plans to fight climate change from 2020 on. All Parties are, indeed, invited to communicate them to the UNFCCC well in advance of the COP21 (the not mandatory deadline remains March 31, 2015). In addition, Lima made progress in elaborating the elements for a draft negotiating text that has been included as an Annex to the document and that would be the base for the future negotiating draft text to be released by May 2015.

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Major outcomes of the deal can be summarized as follows:

– common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances: developed and developing countries have both to act to cut their carbon emissions but considering their different financial and infrastructural capacities;

– Greenhouses gas plans: the document reiterates its invitation to all Parties to communicate their intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) by the end of March 2015 in order to facilitate clarity, transparency and understanding. The information provided may include quantifiable information such as time frames and / or periods for implementation, scope and coverage, planning processes, assumptions and methodological approaches including those for estimating and accounting for anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.?INDCs will be published on the UNFCCC website by the UN climate change secretariat which will prepare by 1 November 2015 a synthesis report on the overall climate effect of the INDCs communicated by Parties;

– Loss and Damage: a “loss and damage” mechanism was established to protect developing countries particularly vulnerable to the adverse effect of climate change in order to receive economic compensations;

– Climate finance: the document urges developed countries to provide and mobilize enhanced financial support to developing countries for ambitious mitigation and adaptation actions. Donations to a Green Climate Fund, launched to help poor countries cut their GHG emissions and adapt to climate change, have already surpassed the $10bn.

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For more information:

The full text of the deal

The summary of key outcomes provided by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
Overview of decisions adopted at COP20 and CMP10

The infographics realized by the Italian Climate Network, a synthesis of the Parties’ different positions

Events
IAERE Third Annual Conference

Adaptation Climate Change Impacts Climate Change Risks Climate Projections Energy Efficiency ETS – Emission trading scheme Extreme events Forestry management GHG – Greenhouse gases Hydrogeological Risk International negotiations IPCC Land use Mediterranean Area

Mitigation National policies Public opinion Rio+20 Sustainable development UN Climate Change Conference – COP

Related content:

COP20, a positive step forward or a skirmish before the real battle?

A different view on Lima COP 20

From Lima to Paris 2015: challenges on the road to 2°C

Climate talks: what was agreed in Lima

Safe navigation in the Mediterranean sea

Research papers:
RP0233 – High resolution climate scenarios on Mediterranean test case areas for the hydro-climate integrated system
RP0232 – The Passive Use Value of the Mediterranean Forest
RP0231 – Loss & Damage: a Critical Discourse Analysis
RP0230 – Performance evaluation of integrated system to model the climate change impacts on hydro-geological hazard
RP0229 – The stability and effectiveness of climate coalitions:
A comparative analysis of multiple integrated assessment models


Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici
Via Augusto Imperatore 16, 73100 Lecce, Italy
Tel. +39 0832 288650 Fax +39 0832 277603 Email:  info at cmcc.it

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From the IISD Reporting Services that help the UN manage its information flow to Conference participants.

Lima Climate Change Conference – December 2014
1-12 December 2014 | Lima, Peru

 www.iisd.ca/climate/cop20/

The Lima Climate Change Conference convened from 1-14 December 2014, in Lima, Peru. It included the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 20) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 10th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 10). Three subsidiary bodies (SBs) also met: the 41st sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 41) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 41), and the seventh part of the second session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP 2-7).

The Lima Climate Change Conference brought together over 11,000 participants, including approximately 6,300 government officials, 4,000 representatives from UN bodies and agencies, intergovernmental organizations and civil society organizations, and 900 members of the media.

Negotiations in Lima focused on outcomes under the ADP necessary to advance towards an agreement in Paris at COP 21 in 2015, including elaboration of the information, and process, required for submission of intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) as early as possible in 2015 and progress on elements of a draft negotiating text. Following lengthy negotiations on a draft decision for advancing the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, COP 20 adopted the ‘Lima Call for Climate Action,’ which sets in motion the negotiations in the coming year towards a 2015 agreement, the process for submitting and reviewing INDCs, and enhancing pre-2020 ambition.

Parties also adopted 19 decisions, 17 under the COP and two under the CMP that, inter alia: help operationalize the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage; establish the Lima work programme on gender; and adopt the Lima Declaration on Education and Awareness Raising. The Lima Climate Change Conference was able to lay the groundwork for Paris next year, by capturing progress made in elaborating the elements of a draft negotiating text for the 2015 agreement and adopting a decision on INDCs, including their scope, upfront information, and steps to be taken by the Secretariat after their submission.

The Summary and Analysis of this meeting is now available in PDF format

at  www.iisd.ca/download/pdf/enb12619… and in HTML format at
 www.iisd.ca/vol12/enb12619e.html

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A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF THE LIMA CLIMATE CONFERENCE

“Brick by brick my citizens, brick by brick.”
– Attributed to Roman Emperor Hadrian

Arriving in Peru, delegates were welcomed by a decidedly positive spirit. As COP 20/CMP 10 President Manuel Pulgar-Vidal observed in his opening speech, prior to the Lima Conference, the world had received a number of “good signals” from the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit, the initial resource mobilization of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), “historic” announcements by several major greenhouse gas emitting countries, including the EU, the US and China, as well as momentum generated from the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report. This spirit of “unprecedented optimism and achievement,” as described by UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, was expected to help advance work on a number of key deliverables intended to provide what ADP Co-Chair Kishan Kumarsingh referred to as a “solid foundation” upon which to build a new agreement to be adopted in Paris.

In October, in an address to the ADP, Pulgar-Vidal indicated the outcomes he expected in Lima, including: a clear, structured and substantive text on the elements of the new agreement; defining the information to be submitted in 2015 as part of parties’ intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs); and a concrete plan for the pre-2020 period, including actions to ensure compliance with existing obligations, and the implementation of policy options with the greatest mitigation potential. He also emphasized the importance of confidence and trust in the process, as well as among parties. As many have learned from previous climate change meetings, no foundation for the future can be built without confidence and trust.

This brief analysis will assess to what extent these outcomes expected from Lima have been delivered, the implications of the ‘Lima Call for Climate Action’ for the negotiations towards the new climate agreement, and whether the Lima Conference succeeded in laying a solid foundation for constructing an ambitious global climate agreement in Paris, under which each country is able to find a “room.”

LAYING BRICKS

A fervent facilitator and an invisible enabler, the Peruvian Presidency spared no effort in ensuring that time during the Lima Conference was managed effectively. With most formal negotiating sessions scarcely going over the 6:00 pm mark and the Subsidiary Bodies concluding their work unprecedentedly early, delegates were able to roll up their sleeves and get down to work on the building blocks for the new agreement, the draft decision text on INDCs, and enhanced pre-2020 climate action.

Over six days, parties exchanged views on the Co-Chairs’ non-paper containing the elements for a draft negotiating text and made various proposals, which were all reflected in a revised document published on the UNFCCC website early in the morning on Monday, 8 December, by which time the text had swollen from 23 to 33 pages. Some worried that a proliferation of options, while indicating that the negotiating process is clearly party-driven, did not add to the draft negotiating text’s clarity and structure, and could complicate future work.

In the end, delegates agreed to annex this text to the COP decision on further advancing the Durban Platform with a disclaimer contained in a footnote stating that the elements for a draft negotiating text reflect “work in progress” and “neither indicate convergence on the proposals presented, nor do they preclude new proposals from emerging in the course of negotiations in 2015.” This disclaimer addressed concerns raised by many developing countries that annexing the elements text to the COP decision might preempt the legal form, structure or content of the Paris agreement and were therefore against “formalizing” any language that could potentially exclude some options from consideration in 2015, while locking in others. Limited substantive progress on the elements will no doubt put pressure on ADP negotiators meeting in Geneva in February 2015, which is expected to deliver a draft negotiating text for parties’ consideration later in the year.

MOVING WALLS IN A “DIVIDED” HOUSE

Discussions on elements for a draft negotiating text and on the draft decision advancing the Durban Platform were both underpinned by a number of broad political issues. These included differentiation, the role of the Convention and its principles and provisions in the future agreement, and the issue of legal parity between mitigation and adaptation, on the one hand, and mitigation and financial and other means of support, on the other. Many delegates pointed out that on those issues the ADP had a distinctly “divided house”?to the point that some felt trust among parties dissipating.

The question of how differentiation will be reflected in the Paris agreement permeated the ADP negotiations. For example, most developing countries, in particular the LMDCs, maintained that there should be differentiation, both in the 2015 agreement and the INDCs, in accordance with parties’ obligations under the Convention, and reflecting the principles of CBDR and equity. On the other side, the US advocated differentiation in accordance with CBDR and respective capabilities in line with varying national circumstances. The LMDCs also strongly opposed the formulation “parties in a position to do so” in relation to providing support to developing countries for the preparation and implementation of their INDCs, and to providing additional resources to the GCF, the GEF, the Technology Mechanism and the Adaptation Fund, arguing that such language disrupted Convention-based bifurcation, effectively dismantling the wall between Annex I and non-Annex I parties.

A related issue, namely that of legal parity between different components of the 2015 agreement, was also the subject of heated debate. Developing countries repeatedly cautioned against a “mitigation-centric” approach to INDCs, and urged for a balanced reflection of adaptation and means of implementation, with provision of finance taking the center stage. Of particular importance to AOSIS and the LDCs was that loss and damage be reflected as a separate element of the future agreement not only in the elements text, but also in the decision on the ADP.

Parties’ inability to reach consensus led to the adoption of a three-pronged approach, including continued negotiations under the ADP, ministerial consultations, and consultations by the COP President. After the Presidency’s consultations with negotiating groups that continued late into Saturday night?many hours after the Conference was supposed to conclude at 6:00 pm on Friday, the ‘Lima Call for Climate Action’ was concluded. This outcome document, arguably, shifts the wall of differentiation. Although the work of the ADP “shall be under the Convention and guided by its principles” and the new agreement “shall address in a balanced manner” not only mitigation, but also adaptation, finance, technology development and transfer, capacity building, and transparency of action and support, the ADP’s commitment to reaching an ambitious agreement in 2015 is nevertheless described as reflecting CBDR and respective capabilities “in light of different national circumstances.” This formulation appears to open the door to a subjective interpretation of differentiation. Some also wondered if it modifies the interpretation of CBDR as reflecting historical responsibility, even if it avoids using the controversial terms “dynamic” or “evolving.” On the issue of parity, however, the final text provides some assurances to developing countries by giving adaptation a more prominent role in the future agreement and parties’ INDCs, as well as, and in relation to, provision of support.

The Lima Call for Climate Action also refers to the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage in the preamble. Following the adoption of the decision by the COP, Tuvalu, for the LDCs, made a statement requesting that it be recorded in the report of the meeting. He stressed that the preambular text on the Warsaw International Mechanism, in conjunction with “inter alia” in the operative paragraph listing INDCs components, is, in the LDCs’ understanding, a “clear intention” that the new agreement will “properly, effectively and progressively” address loss and damage. While legally redundant, such declarations reaffirm parties’ positions and interpretations of agreed text, maintaining their relevance and visibility.

During the negotiations, an additional concern expressed by developing countries, similar to the one raised in relation to the elements text, was that a COP 20 decision on advancing the Durban Platform could be prejudicial to the outcome in Paris. In this regard, the Lima Call for Climate Action explicitly states that the INDCs-related arrangements specified in it “are without prejudice to the legal nature and content” of parties’ INDCs, or to the content of the future agreement.

TEARING DOWN THE WALL?

COP 20 was generally expected to help strengthen INDCs as a core component of the new agreement by clarifying their scope and specifying information required to facilitate their clarity, transparency and understanding. However, parties were also divided on their expectations for the text on INDCs, relating to information-related requirements, scope and communication. While the Lima Conference fulfilled these expectations to some extent, many parties and observers felt the decision has important shortcomings.

The Lima Call for Climate Action succeeds in delivering on a mandate from Warsaw to identify the “information that parties will provide when putting forward their contributions,” by referring to quantifiable information, time frames, coverage, methodological assumptions, and a subjective evaluation of fairness and ambitiousness. However, by stating that INDCs “may include, as appropriate, inter alia,” these various aspects, the text fails to set a minimum level of common types of information to be communicated by all parties, thus significantly weakening the prospects of comparability across, and a meaningful aggregation of, contributions.

A major area of divergence of views related to the scope of INDCs. This debate centered on the interpretation of the Warsaw decision, which states that INDCs should be aimed “at achieving the objective of the Convention as set out in its Article 2.” Developed countries interpreted this as referring to mitigation being the only component of INDCs, while developing countries insisted on the need to include adaptation and means of implementation as well, with developing countries providing information on their means of implementation needs and developed countries providing information on their financial contributions, as a precondition of enhanced action by developing countries. As a compromise between these two views, the Lima Call for Climate Action invites parties to “consider including” an adaptation component in their INDCs, which reflects broad agreement that adaptation action requires strengthening alongside mitigation. Parties were also able to agree on recognizing the special circumstances of LDCs and SIDS by allowing them to present “strategies, plans and actions” for low-emission development. Meanwhile, all other countries are implicitly expected to do something more. This latter aspect is yet another example of built-in flexibility, which translates into a lack of a clear requirement for parties to prepare a strong, quantitative mitigation component in their INDCs. Furthermore, in relation to the scope of INDCs, parties were unable to agree on any language on finance or other means of implementation, which left developing countries disappointed. Issues related to finance, therefore, remain a fundamental area for further trust building in 2015.

Another issue on which parties disagreed was how INDCs would be communicated and what their possible ex ante consideration or review might look like. Many developing countries insisted that Lima should only focus on the process of communication. Some delegations, including the US, preferred a “consultative” process or period. Others, such as the EU and AOSIS, demanded a strong review that would assess the aggregate effect of INDCs against the latest climate science and what is deemed necessary to avoid dangerous climate change. Considered by some the weakest link of the Lima outcome, the decision text simply requests that the Secretariat publish the communicated INDCs on the UNFCCC website and prepare, by 1 November 2015, a synthesis report on their aggregate effect. This translates into an absence of any kind of ex ante review of individual contributions in 2015. Further, it also leaves parties with less than a month for possible upward adjustment prior to COP 21 in Paris in December 2015. Resulting from strong opposition by some, such as the LMDCs, to a review of their INDCs, this outcome left many disappointed. Some disenchanted observers, however, felt that, irrespective of its content, the decision would not have strong implications for global climate action, suggesting that the major factors driving the level of ambition of national contributions are in any event external to the UNFCCC process.

RAISING THE CEILING

With regard to enhancing pre-2020 ambition (ADP workstream 2), the technical expert meetings (TEMs) emerged as an area where countries could find a common cause. Relating to the key question of how to carry work forward under workstream 2 beyond Paris, there was broad agreement that the TEMs, which have created a technical and less political space for discussions around scaling up implementation and which allow for “bringing down the brick wall of the UNFCCC” by engaging non-state actors, would be the proper vehicle. The Lima outcome sets out a clear process for building on the TEMs’ experience by providing guidance on their purpose, organization and follow-up, and seeking to further engage key institutions and mechanisms under the Convention. Views still diverged, however, on how to ensure the implementation of the Bali Action Plan, in particular with regard to the provision of means of implementation to developing countries, and enhancing mitigation efforts by all parties under the Convention. As a result, the final text does not include a proposed ‘Accelerated Implementation Mechanism’ to assess progress made in these areas?an idea originating in the conviction of developing countries that developed countries’ leadership pre-2020, which currently remains insufficient, will be essential for both addressing climate change and ensuring a successful 2015 agreement.

Discussions under the COP on long-term finance, which developing countries wanted to result in further assurances?such as quantitative milestones?on scaling up of climate finance by developed countries to US$100 billion annually by 2020, and beyond, were also disappointing to developing countries. Yet, an undeniable success was the initial resource mobilization of the GCF, which reached its target of US$10 billion, collecting a total of US$10.2 billion in pledges by the end of the Lima Conference from both Annex I and non-Annex I countries. While developed countries considered it a show of commitment and something they should be recognized for, developing countries felt GCF capitalization, together with the first biennial ministerial dialogue on climate finance organized during the second week as well as biennial submissions by developed countries on scaling up climate finance, were still insufficient. Some suggested that before celebrating the GCF pledges, they would first need to see how and whether they would translate into resources for the Fund.

The first session of the multilateral assessment of developed countries’ mitigation targets, organized as part of SBI 41, reflected a similar divergence in views. Annex I countries celebrated the event for “going beyond simple reporting,” and increasing transparency and building trust, while some developing countries felt the process required further strengthening in the form of a clear “follow-up,” such as substantive conclusions for the SBI’s consideration. Notwithstanding these differences and given the positive “Lima Spirit” characterized by an open exchange of views and transparency that persisted throughout the conference, these developments may have succeeded in “raising the ceiling” of pre-2020 ambition, and thus rebuilding some of the confidence and trust for the tough year ahead.

ENABLING CONSTRUCTION

Many expected that momentum created by the political events of the previous months would contribute to an atmosphere of trust in Lima. These events included the GCF initial capitalization, the EU’s announcement of its 2030 mitigation target and, in particular, the bilateral announcements by the US and China, on their respective mitigation targets for 2025 and 2030, as well as by the US and India, on expanded cooperation on climate change, including on phasing down HFCs. However, it soon became evident that too little time had passed for these external political events and high-level signals of change to translate into cardinal shifts in negotiating positions. Yet, some found discernible indications of a more immediate impact. For example, how CBDR and respective capabilities are defined in the Lima Call for Climate Action decision “in light of different national circumstances,” is a near-verbatim citation from the November joint announcement by the US and China. It remains to be seen if the ADP session in February will see further shifts in negotiating positions when parties have had the time to reflect on these events.

In spite of parties arriving in Peru with different expectations and widely diverging views, at the end most felt that, in the words of the South African Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa, the Lima Conference managed to strike a “delicate balance between very difficult issues” and laid “a solid foundation” for work towards Paris.

But did it really? The two key outcomes from Lima, the decision on Advancing the Durban Platform and its annex containing elements for a draft negotiating text, may have served to move the process forward and create a shared feeling of achievement and confidence in the process. However, given that key political issues, including differentiation and finance, remain unresolved, many parties are unwilling to declare the Lima outcome an absolute success.

The year of 2015 will be one that defines the true significance of the Lima Climate Conference. Many wonder if the positive “Lima Spirit” can continue in the run-up to Paris. But perhaps more importantly, the question may be if the Lima outcome can enable the construction in Paris of a “house” where all parties can coexist, while keeping in mind that in this process there is one party that does not negotiate?nature.

This analysis, taken from the summary issue of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin ©  enb at iisd.org, is written and edited by Beate Antonich, Rishikesh Bhandry, Elena Kosolapova, Ph.D., Mari Luomi, Ph.D., Anna Schulz, and Mihaela Secrieru. The Digital Editor is Kiara Worth. The Editor is Pamela Chasek, Ph.D. <pam@iisd.org>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <kimo@iisd.org>. The Sustaining Donors of the Bulletin are the European Commission (DG-ENV and DG-CLIMATE), the Government of Switzerland (the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) and the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC)), and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. General Support for the Bulletin during 2014 is provided by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, SWAN International, the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Japanese Ministry of Environment (through the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies – IGES), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Specific funding for coverage of this session has been provided by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the EC (DG-CLIMA). Funding for translation of the Bulletin into French has been provided by the Government of France, the Wallonia, Québec, and the International Organization of La Francophonie/Institute for Sustainable Development of La Francophonie (IOF/IFDD). The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD or other donors. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in non-commercial publications with appropriate academic citation. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <kimo@iisd.org>, +1-646-536-7556 or 300 East 56th St., 11D, New York, NY 10022 USA

———————————————————————
Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI
Vice President, Reporting Services and United Nations Liaison
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) — United Nations Office
300 E 56th St. Apt. 11D – New York, NY 10022 USA

Direct Line: +1 973 273 5860 – Plaxo public business card: kimogoree.myplaxo.com

Email:  kimo at iisd.org

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 15th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

For the link to the BBC reporting from Lima – including all the added material – please see – “Deal reached at UN climate talks.” www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-enviro…

Peru’s environment minister, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, who chaired the summit, told reporters: “As a text it’s not perfect, but it includes the positions of the parties.”

Miguel Arias Canete, EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, said the EU had wanted a more ambitious outcome but he still believed that “we are on track to agree a global deal” at a summit in Paris, France, next year.

“We’ve got what we wanted,” Indian environment minister Prakash Javedekar told reporters, saying the document preserved the notion that richer nations had to lead the way in making cuts in emissions.

It also restored a promise to poorer countries that a “loss and damage” scheme would be established to help them cope with the financial implications of rising temperatures.

However, it weakened language on national pledges, saying countries “may” instead of “shall” include quantifiable information showing how they intend to meet their emissions targets.

The agreed document calls for:

– An “ambitious agreement” in 2015 that reflects “differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” of each nation

– Developed countries to provide financial support to “vulnerable” developing nations

– National pledges to be submitted by the first quarter of 2015 by those states “ready to do so”

– Countries to set targets that go beyond their “current undertaking”

– The UN climate change body to report back on the national pledges in November 2015

None of the 194 countries attending the talks walked away with everything they wanted, but everybody got something.

As well as pledges and finance, the agreement points towards a new classification of nations. Rather than just being divided into rich and poor, the text attempts to reflects the more complex world of today, where the bulk of emissions originate in developing countries.

While progress in Lima was limited, and many decisions were simply postponed, the fact that 194 nations assented to this document means there is still momentum for a deal in Paris.

And yes – we at SustainabiliTank add – not being an agreed treaty it does not require ratification – and so it is not exposed to a recalcitrant US Senate that would have blocked anything that comes its way. That was the Obama genius and Al Gore failure.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 9th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The IASS Event at the Lima, Peru, COP of the UNFCCC on “Renewable Resources in an era of climate change”.

A discussion on the opportunities and challenges of renewable resources for energy and industrial purposes for climate change mitigation.

Suzana Kahn Ribeiro (Secretary of State for Climate Change Secretariat of Brazil), Amit Kumar (Director, Energy, Environment Technology Development Division, The Energy and Resources Institute), Youba Sokona (Special Advisor on Sustainable Development, The South Centre) and Lili Fuhr (Heinrich Böll Foundation) will kick off the debate.

With the participation of Valerie Kapos (Head of Programme, Climate Change & Biodiversity, UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre) and Elizabeth Press (Deputy Director, Innovation and Technology Centre, International Renewable Energy Agency) who will provide further insights into the debate.

The event will take place on Tuesday, 9 December 2014 from 2 to 5:30 pm at the Hotel Casa Andina Private Collection Miraflores, Av. La Paz 463, Miraflores, Lima. The programme will be followed by a reception.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 5th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Columbia University, Center for Climate Change Law
Lima Report: Thursday, December 4, 2014 & Friday, December 5, 2014

Posted on December 5th, 2014 by Jennifer Klein
 blogs.law.columbia.edu/climatecha…

Jennifer M. Klein, Esq., Associate Director & Fellow
Meredith Wilensky, Esq., 2013-2014 Associate Director & Fellow

During the past two days, negotiators have continued to work their way through draft text. When observing negotiations, it quickly becomes clear that the COP has its own distinct vernacular, with commonplace terms taking on new meaning. Here, we define a few of the most prevalent terms demonstrating key issues underlying the negotiations.

Adequacy – This term refers to the ability of any agreement to achieve the COP’s ultimate objective to stabilize atmospheric GHG levels so as to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Parties have repeatedly noted that for the 2015 agreement to be “adequate,” countries’ Intended Nationally Determined Contributions must reduce GHG emissions enough to stay within the global carbon budget. Dr. Pachauri emphasized during the opening session on Monday that, according to the IPCCC’s Fifth Assessment Report, we have already used 65% of this budget.

Ambition – This term refers to the collective will of the Parties to cut global GHG emissions enough to achieve adequacy. Throughout the Lima negotiations and side events, parties have worked to raise ambition for the 2015 agreement by highlighting the need to commit to deeper emissions cuts.

Carbon Neutral
– The goal of reaching net zero GHG emissions is referred to as “carbon neutrality.” Even though the term only refers to carbon, the concept applies to all GHGs. Most people following the climate change negotiations are familiar with the concept (the phrase was the New Oxford American Dictionary’s Word Of The Year for 2006). However, climate neutrality has become a virtual mantra at the Lima talks following the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report’s finding that we must lower emissions to near-zero by the end of this century to have a good chance of meeting the 2°C goal.

Differentiation
– In the UNFCCC, the Parties commit to the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities.” This equity-based principle acknowledges that countries’ responsibility to combat climate change differs both by their historical GHG contributions and by their current capacity to tackle climate change. In negotiations, a number of developing countries challenged the lack of differentiation in proposed texts, raising concerns that treating all Parties similarly would place undue burden on developing nations.

Political Parity
– The ADP draft decision includes this term in an attempt to express the need to balance mitigation and adaptation efforts. However, this term has not been used in any previous UNFCCC texts, and in the afternoon session yesterday, delegates repeatedly expressed confusion about its meaning. In short, a clear definition of this term is yet to be determined.

We find this specially interesting because we believe that in order to come up with a product that will be approved at the Paris Summit in 2015, the whole concept of a Diplomatic Agreement will eventually turn to be in effect an UMBRELLA agreement that incorporates unilateral and bi-lateral declarations of the UN Member States, rather then a Consensus Declaration that was unattainable during these wasted decades of conference hoping.
- See more at: blogs.law.columbia.edu/climatecha…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 5th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Fletcher School of International Affairs, Tufts University

2014 Fletcher D-Prize Winners Develop Innovative Distribution Models to Help Light the Night in Rural African Villages -
Tommy Galloway, F’14 and Andrew Lala, F’14.

Date: September 12, 2014

“Buses are the West African version of FedEx and Paypal mixed together” says Andrew Lala, Clair de Lune co-founder.

In remote regions of Sub-Saharan African, where local bus routes provide one of the few regular connections between businesses and families, two Fletcher graduates are finding a way to bring people light from a natural source: the bus driver.

Pioneered by Tommy Galloway (F14) and Andrew Lala (F14) and funded in part by $15,000 from The Fletcher D-Prize Poverty Solutions Venture Competition, Clair de Lune – French for “moonlight” – aims to bring solar lights to villages in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Many families – upwards of 600 million people throughout the region – rely on kerosene lanterns to light their homes. Yet, solar lanterns provide a cheaper, safer and cleaner alternative. Families that buy solar lamps save money on energy expenses and are more productive outside of daylight hours. Household incomes often increase 15-30 percent. Children study for an additional two hours a day.

The solar lighting solution existed, but without traditional delivery networks found in other parts of the world, Clair de Lune’s creators hoped to find a way to bring the lights to those who could benefit most from them. They drew inspiration from their prior experiences in the region – Andrew in Burkina Faso and Tommy in Myanmar – where they saw firsthand the powerful conduit buses serve as for transport of all kinds, from people to goods to information.

“I saw my Burkinabé counterparts frequently going to bus stations to send cash and goods that you couldn’t find in villages – such as flashlights and cell phones – to rural family members,” Andrew said. “Buses are the West African version of FedEx and Paypal mixed together.”

Based on this model, the Fletcher alumni duo implemented a distribution platform that leverages existing bus infrastructure and cultural remittance practices to bring solar lights to these hard to reach region. Starting in the summer of 2014 with 400 off-the-grid families in Burkina Faso, they aim to scale to 30,000 customers within two years.

Tommy and Andrew have faced some challenges, from lack of infrastructure to difficult trade policies, yet the pilot program continues onward with new opportunities as Clair de Lune looks for second round investment. What was once a simple business plan hatched on the seventh floor of the Cabot building at Fletcher has evolved into a tangible and promising network of clients and partners on a real path to helping fight poverty.

“Every day you can engage in creating something new that you fundamentally believe in,” Tommy said, “and that is affirmed with every step forward we make.”

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Fletcher’s Editors Note: If you had $20,000, how would you fight poverty? Help kick off this year’s D-Prize competition on Tuesday, September 16, 2014, with presentations from D-Prize President Paul Youn and Clair de Lune co-founders Andrew and Tommy. The Fletcher D-Prize is open to all Fletcher students and their Tufts teammates, and – new this year – all Fletcher alumni as well! Read more

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 3rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Brazil gives go-ahead to 31 solar parks in push for new energy

Date: 03-Nov-14
Country: Brazil
Author: Marcelo Teixeira of Reuters

Brazil finally entered the solar power sector on Friday, granting contracts for the construction of 31 solar parks as it tries to diversify its sources of generation amid an energy crisis caused by the worst drought in eight decades.
Brazil’s energy regulator, Aneel, concluded its first exclusive solar power auction on Friday, clinching 20-year energy supply contracts with companies that will invest 4.14 billion reais ($1.67 billion) and start to feed the national grid in 2017.

The 31 solar parks, the first large-scale solar projects to be constructed in Brazil, will have a combined installed capacity of 1,048 megawatts (MW). Market expectations were for projected total awards of 500 MW.

“This auction is a mark, not only because it signals the entrance of solar power in the Brazilian energy mix, but because it was one of the most competitive to date,” said Mauricio Tolmasquim, head of the government’s energy research company, EPE.

The auction lasted more than eight hours. The final price for solar power came at around 220 reais ($89) per megawatt-hour, against an initial price of 262 reais ($106), an 18 percent discount.

“This is one of the lowest prices for solar energy in the world,” Tolmasquim said.

According to Tolmasquim, costs were reduced because of the strong solar radiation factor in Brazil and because many solar parks would be installed in areas that already have wind farms, reducing the amount developers would spend on land and transmission lines.

In Brazil’s power auctions, the government sets a maximum price for the megawatt-hour and companies bid down the price at which they are willing to sell energy. Companies that offer the lowest prices win the contracts.

Solar power developers have participated in previous auctions, but because they were competing against cheaper sources, such as wind and hydroelectric plants, they never succeeded in winning contracts.

This time, the government allocated a specific amount of energy to be produced by solar parks, trying to spur development of a local industry and in the long term reduce costs for projects, as it did with wind power some years ago.

Currently, wind power companies win most of the contracts in the regular auctions, with prices per megawatt-hour that are lower than thermal projects fueled by coal or natural gas.

Brazil’s power system has traditionally been composed by a network of large hydro power plants, but almost three years of well below-average rains have depleted reservoirs and sent the country scrambling to diversify its energy matrix.

An expensive, fossil-fueled emergency network of thermal power plants has shored up supply, but at the cost of tarnishing the country’s reputation as a renewable energy producer and consumer.

The government has been criticized by environmental groups for taking so long to enlist solar power in its energy matrix, because of Brazil’s excellent potential for solar.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 3rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Denmark considers phasing out coal by 2025 in big green shift.

Date: 03-Nov-14
Country: Denmark
From Alister Doyle of Reuters – November 3, 2014

Denmark should ban coal use by 2025 to make the Nordic nation a leader in fighting global warming, adding to green measures ranging from wind energy to bicycle power, Denmark’s climate minister said on Saturday.

Denmark has already taken big steps to break reliance on high-polluting coal – wind turbines are set to generate more than half of all electricity by 2020 and 41 percent of people in Copenhagen cycle to work or school, higher than in Amsterdam.

“The cost (of phasing out coal) would not be significant,” Climate, Energy and Building Minister Helveg Petersen told Reuters of a proposal he made this week to bring forward a planned phase-out of all coal use to 2025 from 2030.

His ministry is studying details of how it would work before unveiling a formal plan. Denmark imports about 6 million tonnes a year of coal on world markets, currently from Russia, so a ban would coincidentally cut dependence on Moscow for energy.

The Danish Energy Association, representing energy firms, said a faster phase-out of coal would bring risks that wind turbines could not meet demand on calm days. Coal now generates about a third of Danish electricity.

“There will be a bill to pay,” said Anders Stouge, deputy head of the association. Petersen said that some coal-fired plants could shift to burning wood as a backup.

Denmark often gets high marks for its work to cut greenhouse gas emissions, which fell 25 percent from 1990 to 2012, among the steepest falls of any EU nation. It is aiming for a 40 percent cut from 1990 by 2020, matching the EU’s goal for 2030.


A report by the WWF conservation group said Denmark was a global leader on climate and energy. Kaisa Kosonen of Greenpeace said Denmark’s plans ultimately to phase out use of fossil fuels by 2050 “is the direction for all countries”.


Even though Denmark’s greenhouse gas emissions are falling sharply, however, the heavy dependence on coal means per capita emissions of 9.25 tonnes in 2012 were still above the European Union average of 8.98.

Copenhagen has won awards as the world’s greenest capital -glass trophies are on show in the mayor’s office in ornate City Hall to reward a cleanup that means, for instance, that people can swim in the formerly polluted harbor in summertime.

Mayor Frank Jensen said a shift from burning coal in homes and buildings was originally to encourage workers to live in the city, rather than commute and pay local taxes elsewhere.

Mayors had to create livable cities, he told Reuters. “You soon come to the green agenda because families want to have a green city,” he said. Copenhagen’s cycle lanes, for instance, have expanded to 350 kms (220 miles).

Other mayors often say they cannot match Copenhagen’s biking success because their cities are hillier than the flat Danish capital, he said. But they forget that it rains and snows a lot in Denmark. “My wife cycles every day,” he said.

——————————-

The more general news from Copenhagen said:

Climate change fight affordable, cut emissions to zero by 2100: U.N.

Governments can keep climate change in check at manageable costs but will have to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2100 to limit risks of irreversible damage, a U.N. report said on Sunday.

The 40-page synthesis, summing up 5,000 pages of work by 800 scientists already published since September 2013, said global warming was now causing more heat extremes, downpours, acidifying the oceans and pushing up sea levels.

“Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in the message. Leaders must act, time is not on our side,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in presenting the report in Copenhagen that is meant to guide global climate policy-making.

With fast action, climate change could be kept in check at manageable costs, he said, referring to a U.N. goal of limiting average temperature rises to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times. Temperatures are already up 0.85 C (1.4F).

The study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), approved by more than 120 governments, will be the main handbook for negotiators of a U.N. deal to combat global warming due at a summit in Paris in December 2015.

To get a good chance of staying below 2C, the report’s scenarios show that world emissions would have to fall by between 40 and 70 percent by 2050 from current levels and to “near zero or below in 2100″.

Below zero would require extracting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere – for instance by planting forests that soak up carbon as they grow or by burying emissions from power plants that burn wood or other biomass.

RENEWABLES, NUCLEAR

To cut emissions, the report points to options including energy efficiency, renewable energies from wind to solar power, nuclear energy or coal-fired power plants where carbon dioxide is stripped from the exhaust fumes and buried underground.

But carbon capture and storage (CCS) is expensive and little tested. Last month, Canada’s Saskatchewan Power opened the world’s first big CCS unit at a coal-fired power plant after a C$1.35 billion ($1.21 billion) retrofit.

“With CCS it’s entirely possible that fossil fuels can be used on a large scale,” IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri said. In most scenarios, the report says “fossil fuel power generation without CCS is phased out almost entirely by 2100″.

Without extra efforts to cut emissions, “warming by the end of the 21st century will bring high risks of severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts globally,” the IPCC said.

“Irreversible” could mean, for instance, a runaway melt of Greenland’s vast ice sheets that could swamp coastal regions and cities or disruptions to monsoons vital for growing food.

“The cost of inaction will be horrendously higher than the cost of action,” Pachauri said.

Deep cuts in emissions would reduce global growth in consumption of goods and services, the economic yardstick used by the IPCC, by just 0.06 percentage point a year below annual projected growth of 1.6 to 3.0 percent, it said.

So far, major emitters are far from curbs on emissions on a scale outlined by the IPCC. China, the United States and the European Union are top emitters.

John P. Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, said the report was “yet another wake-up call to the global community that we must act together swiftly and aggressively in order to stem climate change.”

“We must safeguard the world for future generations by striking a new climate deal in Paris next year,” British Secretary of State for Climate and Energy Ed Davey said.

Environmental groups welcomed the report, including its focus on zero emissions. “This is no longer about dividing up the pie. You need to get to zero. At some stage there is no pie left for anyone,” said Kaisa Kosonen of Greenpeace.

The report also says that it is at least 95 percent sure that manmade emissions of greenhouse gases, rather than natural variations in the climate, are the main cause of warming since 1950, up from 90 percent in a previous assessment in 2007.

————————————

Power to Denmark – they do not talk Clean Coal But No Coal. Please note this higher note then the one proposed by Engineer Pachauri of the IPCC

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 2nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

U.N. Panel Warns of Dire Effects From Lack of Action Over Global Warming

By JUSTIN GILLIS, for the New York Times – November 2, 2014.

COPENHAGEN — The gathering risks of climate change are so profound they could stall or even reverse generations of progress against poverty and hunger if greenhouse gas emissions continue at a runaway pace, according to a major new United Nations report.

Despite rising efforts in many countries to tackle the problem, the overall global situation is growing more acute as developing countries join the West in burning huge amounts of fossil fuels, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said here on Sunday.

Failure to reduce emissions, the group of scientists and other experts found, could threaten society with food shortages, refugee crises, the flooding of major cities and entire island nations, the mass extinction of plants and animals, and a climate so drastically altered it might become dangerous for people to work or play outside during the hottest times of the year.
Continue reading the main story


“Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems,” the report declared.

In the starkest language it has ever used, the expert panel made clear how far society remains from having any serious policy to limit global warming.

Doing so would require finding a way to leave the vast majority of the world’s reserves of fossil fuels in the ground, or, alternatively, developing methods to capture and bury the emissions resulting from their use, the group said.

If governments are to meet their own stated goal of limiting the warming of the planet to no more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, or 2 degrees Celsius, above the pre-industrial level, they must restrict emissions from additional fossil-fuel burning to about 1 trillion tons of carbon dioxide, the panel said.

At current growth rates, that budget is likely to be exhausted in something like 30 years. Yet energy companies have already booked coal and petroleum reserves equal to several times that amount, and they are spending some $600 billion a year to find more. Utilities and oil companies are still building coal-fired power plants and refineries, and governments are spending another $600 billion directly subsidizing the consumption of fossil fuels. Also, there has been no sign that national leaders are willing to discuss allocating the trillion-ton emissions budget among countries, an approach that would raise political and moral questions of fairness. On the contrary: They are moving toward a relatively weak agreement that would essentially let each country decide for itself how much effort to put into limiting global warming, and even that document would not take effect until 2020. {That is how the NYT evaluates the IPCC V Report.}

“If they choose not to talk about the carbon budget, they’re choosing not to address the problem of climate change,” said Myles R. Allen, a scientist at Oxford University in Britain who helped write the new report. “They might as well not bother to turn up for these meetings.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a scientific body appointed by the world’s governments to advise them on the causes and effects of global warming, and potential solutions. The group was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, along with Al Gore, for its efforts to call attention to the climate crisis.

The new report is a 175-page policy synopsis of a much longer series of reports that the panel has issued over the past year, culminating a five-year effort by the body to summarize a vast archive of published climate research.

It is the fifth such report from the group since 1990, each finding greater certainty that the climate is warming and that human activities are the primary cause.

“Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, and in global mean sea-level rise; and it is extremely likely to have been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century,” the report said.

A core finding of the new report is that climate change is no longer a distant, future threat, but is being felt all over the world already.

“It’s here and now,” said Rajendra K. Pachauri, the chairman of the panel, in an interview. “It’s not something in the future.”

The group cited mass die-offs of forests, including those in the American West; the melting of land ice virtually everywhere in the world; an accelerating rise of the seas that is leading to increased coastal flooding; and heat waves that have devastated crops and killed tens of thousands of people.


The report contained the group’s most explicit warning yet about the food supply, saying that climate change had already become a small drag on overall global production, and could become a far larger one if emissions continued unchecked. The reported noted that in recent years the world’s food system had shown signs of instability, with sudden price increases leading to riots and, in a few cases, the collapse of governments.

A related finding is that climate change poses serious risks to basic human progress in areas such as alleviating poverty. Under the worst-case scenarios, factors like high food prices and intensified weather disasters would most likely leave poor people worse off. In fact, the report said, that has already happened to a degree.

In Washington, the Obama administration welcomed the new report, with the president’s science adviser, John P. Holdren, calling it “yet another wake-up call to the global community that we must act together swiftly and aggressively in order to stem climate change and avoid its worst impacts.”

The administration is pushing for new limits on emissions from American power plants, but faces stiff resistance in Congress and some states.

Michael Oppenheimer, a climate scientist at Princeton University and a principal author of the new report, said that a continuation of the political paralysis on emissions would leave society depending largely on luck.

If the level of greenhouse gases were to continue rising at a rapid pace over coming decades, severe effects could be headed off only if the climate turned out to be much less sensitive to those gases than most scientists think is likely, he said.

“We’ve seen many governments delay and delay and delay on implementing comprehensive emissions cuts,” Dr. Oppenheimer said. “So the need for a lot of luck looms larger and larger. Personally, I think it’s a slim reed to lean on for the fate of the planet.”

——-

Related in Opinion: Panel’s Latest Warming Warning Misses Global Slumber Party on Energy Research November 2, 2014.

By contrast, the report found, less than $400 billion a year is being spent around the world to reduce emissions or otherwise cope with climate change. That sum is smaller than the revenue of a single American oil company, ExxonMobil.

The new report comes just a month before international delegates convene in Lima, Peru, in an effort to devise a new global treaty or other agreement to limit emissions, and it makes clear the urgency of their task.

Appearing at a news conference in Copenhagen Sunday morning to unveil the report, the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, issued an urgent appeal for strong action in Lima: “Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in their message,” Mr. Ban declared. “Leaders must act. Time is not on our side.”

——-

Further Related Coverage:
Times Topic: Global Warming & Climate Change
Greenland’­s immense ice sheet is melting as a result of climate change.
Panel’s Warning on Climate Risk: Worst Is Yet to Come – MARCH 31, 2014
Gov. Rick Scott, like many in his party, sidesteps climate change by saying he is not a scientist.
Political Memo: Why Republicans Keep Telling Everyone They’re Not Scientists – October 30, 2014
Where in the United States might you find the most protection from future climate change?
Detroit, Miami, Norfolk and Seattle may weather global warming very differently.
Nature in the Balance: On a Warmer Planet, Which Cities Will Be Safest? September 22, 2014

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 24th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

A while ago I received the following e-mail:

New World Disorder
with Kofi Annan

Please join the Foreign Policy Association for an evening with H.E. Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations and Founder and Chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation, who will discuss “New World Disorder: Challenges for the UN in the 21st Century.”

Mr. Annan will be speaking as part of the Andrew Carnegie Distinguished Lecture on Conflict Prevention in Honor of David Hamburg.

When
Thursday
October 23, 2014
From 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Where
PwC
300 Madison Avenue
New York City

I answered with an e-mail to the FPA addressed to Mr. McDara King, but as the place seems to be run by inexperienced interns that do not acknowledge mail and as it turned out did not list me either I got no notice about what turned out to have been a need to change the venue because so many people showed interest in the event. The event was moved to the old building of the Bernard Baruch College and nobody bothered telling this to the 6 guards at PwC.

I report this in order to say that I missed half of UNSG Kofi Annan’s presentation – but do not want to waste time in my posting about the event because I picked up there his very recently released volume:

“WE THE PEOPLES: A UN for the 21st Century.” by KOFI ANNAN

which is a collection of material including some of his original speeches or articles and some of others he obviously considers very pertinent.

I post this as I highly recommend this volume to anyone interested in how the UN works – or does not.

I am sure I will peruse the book going to original articles that point at things happening these days that were predicted and were avoidable – but this organization of Governments, not being turned in time to be an organization of Peoples as the Charter suggested, is like a huge ship running into icebergs and hard to steer.

Kofi Annan was the seventh Secretary-General of the UN and served two terms – January 1, 1997 – December 31, 2006.

In 2001 Kofi Annan and the United Nations under his leadership were awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace with the citation praising Annan’s leadership for “bringing new life to the organization.” Yes, looking at his record and his assembled material in the book it becomes obvious that even if much of what he tried he could not achieve, nevertheless, it is clear that it was not all a waste, and indeed he started to enlarge the scope of the UN by opening the door to Civil Society and by creating the Global Compact.

In the second half of his presentation above that I did hear – two innovation he promoted became clear points he prides himself with – but as he said – it is actually the R2P – THE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT – that he was able to introduce to the UN – that becomes his personal achievement pride most important life achievement – that was tested in Kenya in 2008.

We believe that since the acceptance of the UN Charter in 1945, it was only the Addition of the Declaration of Human Rights, and Kofi Annan’s R2P that add up to the UN reality.

Looking at my notes from last night – I quote him “When the whole World has Changed You Can Not Have Static Institutions.”
This in regard to the need to give recognition to the importance of Latin America (Brazil), India, Africa (South Africa or Nigeria – and if they cannot agree – the unpretentious Gambia). They ought to get seats at the Security Council, The World Bank and The IMF.

He said that Iraq and Afghanistan have shown that you cannot have military solutions anymore.

President Eisenhower already told us not to lose sight of the UN as a means to achieve peace.

Dealing with Climate Change is absolutely essential for the future of mankind. Who could have predicted this i San Francisco in 1995, he said? No society can survive either without Sustainable Development and Human Rights. On the economy he said this is a story of subsidies – like in the case of gas (he meant gasoline and I assume diesel just the same) – these are subsidies for the middle class and the rich. This is not good for the environment, he said.

To a question about borders he answered by mentioning Syria and Somalia.

In the book, under the title NOT JUST A REGIONAL CONFLICT, I discovered that Kofi Annan’s last Address to the Security Council was about the Middle East and the Arab World and it looks like it was then a prediction of things to come.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 24th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The info in our title, as based on reporting of the NYT on line, is tempered by our info as provided by the Austrian OERF:
orf.at/stories/2250813/2250848/ that informs us that there was no general enthusiasm with this compromise agreement that called for bringing down energy savings only by 27% – as compared to 1990 – from the anticipated 30%. Those that are in the 60% range as compared to the 50% average in the emitters’ list – will be helped free from a stash of 400,000 of certificates that result from an emissions trading system. The Austrians remark that this will help Poland that might continue to pollute..

Also before the Copenhagen COP 15 the EU had prepared a program of its membership but then found out that they were not able to get an agreement of the other major emitters. Thus the renewed effort must now watch how China, the US, India, Brazil, Japan, Australia will react.

———————————————————–

European Leaders Agree on Targets to Fight Climate Change.

By JAMES KANTEROCT. 23, 2014

BRUSSELS — The 28 leaders of the European Union agreed early on Friday on targets for protecting the climate and generating greener power despite deep divisions among their nations over how to produce energy.

The main target that won approval was a pledge to slash emissions by at least 40 percent, compared with 1990 levels, by 2030.

The new target “will ensure that Europe will be an important player, will be an important party, in future binding commitments of an international climate agreement,” Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said at an early-morning news conference.

The accord makes the European Union the first major global emitter to put its position on the table ahead of an important United Nations climate meeting in Paris at the end of 2015.

“Deal!” Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, the body that represents European Union leaders, wrote on his Twitter account. “World’s most ambitious, cost-effective” climate policy agreed on, he wrote.

Related Coverage

For E.U. Climate Meeting, Deep Divisions and High Stakes OCT. 21, 2014
Goats grazing near wind turbines in Fantanele and Cogealac villages, Romania.
Europe, Facing Economic Pain, May Ease Climate Rules JAN. 22, 2014

Hopes are rising in Europe — as they were five years ago ahead of a failed United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen — for a global agreement next year in Paris that would oblige other parts of the world, like China and the United States, to do more to share the burden limiting the warming of the planet to under two degrees Celsius.


While most European Union states agree on lessening their energy dependence on countries outside the bloc, like Russia, cooperation is extremely hard because of sharply conflicting energy choices in Europe.

The pledge to cut emissions by 40 percent would eventually come with legally binding targets for each of the bloc’s member countries to share the burden equitably.

The bloc also agreed on a target of generating at least 27 percent of its energy from renewable sources, a goal that will be binding at the European Union level but not the national level. A separate target for improving energy efficiency by at least 27 percent was “indicative” only, meaning it would not be binding even at the bloc level. Both of those targets raised questions about their enforceability.

Curbing the emissions that contribute to a changing climate has long been a popular cause in Europe. Policy makers here frequently highlight how their industries and citizens emit lower levels of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide than those of the United States and other industrialized countries. But there is not the same enthusiasm in Europe to embrace the green agenda as there was five years ago, before the climate conference in Copenhagen that ended in failure.

The protracted downturn in Europe set off by the sovereign debt crisis has crimped funding for green projects. Also, the takeoff of technologies to tap cheap shale gas — despite the highly uncertain future of that industry in Europe, where the technology is unpopular — has dented prospects for some renewable alternatives. { THIS LINE IS NOT CLEAR – THE WRITER OUGHT TO KNOW THAT FOSSIL GAS AND OIL RESULTING FROM FRAKING ARE NOT RENEWABLES – THOUGH THEY ARE AN ALTERNATIVE TO IMPORTED OIL AND GAS }

Another factor adding to the complexity of developing strategies to cut emissions in Europe is the disaster at Fukushima, Japan, where an earthquake and a tsunami in 2011 led to meltdowns at a nuclear plant. Germany has since stepped up its phaseout of nuclear technology even though it emits almost zero planet-warming gases.

Also hanging over the summit meeting was the standoff between the Europeans and Russia over its annexation of Crimea and destabilization of Ukraine.

For Poland, reliance on highly polluting coal is seen as a defense against the need to switch to natural gas, a resource that the government in Moscow has already used as a political weapon by cutting supplies, and a source of employment for the mining industry. But Poland’s stance put it at odds with countries like Sweden and Germany that were seeking far-reaching targets on energy efficiency and renewable sources.

“We could have envisaged getting more, but we, in the spirit of compromise, decided to agree on a 27 percent target,” Ms. Merkel told the news conference, referring to the target for renewable sources.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 23rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Mobilization and the March #IMarch10D

This December 10th, International Human Rights Day, the city of Lima will see a huge Global People’s March in defense of Mother Earth “Let’s change the system, not the climate”.
Do not hesitate in joining the preparatory action of November 10th and the big event on December 10th from your own community and follow the mobilizations on our live social hub

Seven Central Themes of The People’s Summit in Lima, Peru – the real COP20 of the UNFCCC:

A seventh theme “Women and the Sustainability of Life” has been incorporated into the Summit.

The official e-mail is  cumbredelospuebloscop20 at gmail.com.
Depending on the specific communication or requirement of information, you can send an email to:
General information, Logistics, Communications, International topics.

¡Cambiemos el sistema,
No el clima!

To remind you of all of the themes are:

1. Civilization Change and Development Models;
2. Global Warming and Climate Change;
3. Energy;
4. Food Sovereignty and Security;
5. Sustainable Land Management;
6. Finance, Technology Transfer, and Knowledge Exchange;
7. Women and the Sustainability of Life.

10th of November: preparing a preliminary day of global action – Let’s change the System, not the Climate!

This November 10th, with only 30 days until the “Global People’s March in defense of Mother Earth”, we are using the hashtag #YoMarcho10D #IMarch10D as a call to action on the road to the People’s Summit. We invite everyone who wants to take action to take a photo with phrases like “#YoMarcho10D #IMarch10D to change the system not the climate,” or otherwise allude to the process of struggle that is coming.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Will Israel build two new ports in order to answer the needs of an evolving Fly-to-Buy trend?

Everything shown in articlewww.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2014/…was bought in China, including the lights and flooring of the entryway, had to be partially paid for upfront. There are no refunds and no returns in this niche fly-to-buy industry. Everything for the bathrooms was bought on the 10-day shopping trip to China except for the tile, which came from a Palestinian factory. Adi Asulin, the woman in the story, is shown in the kitchen of her family’s remodeled apartment, in Raanana, north of Tel Aviv. She saved thousands of dollars by flying to China to buy furnishings and flooring directly from manufacturers.

Adi Asulin lives in a fabulous apartment on the top floor of a seven-story building in the Israeli town of Ra’anana, north of Tel Aviv. The entry hall is long and light. Windows open onto an enormous balcony, which wraps around three sides of her home. The decor is fresh and white.

“It’s all made in China,” Asulin says.

Not just made in China. Nearly everything — the floors, the lighting, the furniture — she bought in China on a 10-day shopping spree.

The day after Asulin and her husband got keys to the place, she got on a plane to Guangzhou, in southern China.

“An adventure!” she says.

The big appeal was the price.

“Forty, sometimes 50 percent off the prices in Israel,” Asulin says.

The savings add up the bigger the job. Her new apartment had been a rental and needed a lot of fixing. But buying plus remodeling seemed beyond the family budget.

From a friend, Asulin heard about Israeli companies that arrange trips for individuals to buy directly from Chinese factories. She signed up, getting tickets and booking hotel rooms for herself, an architect and her dad for advice.

Once on the ground in Guangzhou, the trio was guided by the owner of the Israeli company and local staff. Their first stop was a flooring factory bigger than Asulin had ever seen — half the size of her city, she says.

“And I can choose whatever I want,” she says. “Different colors, different materials, different prices.”

The factory was organized by style: marble in one area, dark wood in another, colored linoleum somewhere else. For Asulin, it helped to have done a lot of planning and measuring before she arrived.

She loved having the time to focus exclusively on shopping — and finish most of it in a short time. She says this made the remodel much easier for her, a 37-year-old working mother of three.

“If I was buying everything in Israel, it was after work, with kids, afternoons and every weekend,” she says.

Flying to China instead of letting Chinese products come to you is not the approach for everyone. Nurit Gefen, an Israeli interior designer, went on one China shopping trip with a client. She will not go again.

Gefen says it is the entirely wrong way to create a home.

“When you build a house, it’s like pregnancy. You have to think about it, you have to dream about it,” she says.

Plus, there are significant financial risks, she says.

“When you go to China, you have to buy everything in advance. Before you know the colors, before you know exactly what you want,” Gefen says. “And you can make mistakes when you buy things in advance. And you can’t exchange it afterwards.”

Partial payment in cash is often required upfront. Israeli newspapers have run horror stories of people who were ripped off on China shopping trips.

Still, they go. And Israelis are not the only ones doing their shopping directly in China. Israelis in the business say it’s popular among people from a number of places, including Russia, India and the Gulf states.

Economics professor Daniel Levy of Israel’s Bar-Ilan University says this service began because of structural problems in the Israeli economy. Israel started out socialist, and he says many practices of centralized control still affect the economy today.

“We don’t have what you are used to in the U.S.,” he says, “everybody trying to offer the best deal, which brings about greater efficiency and lower prices and happy customers. That’s not what we have here at all.”

This shows up most dramatically in grocery bills in Israel. Protests over the cost of food shook up Israel’s elections last year. A 2011 parliamentary report showed that just two companies controlled more than 80 percent of the domestic cheese and yogurt production.

But weak competition also affects imports, including nonfood items like flooring and furniture.

Shai Safran heads Basini, an Israeli company that takes about 10 customers a month to China to buy everything they need for home remodels or building. He doesn’t have a big showroom in Israel. He just treats factories in China as his own.

“Like my stores are the factories in China,” Safran says. “I don’t need 50 workers; I don’t need inventory. I can save the cost of the business in Israel.”

Even with his fee — for his contacts, logistics and know-how — Safran says he still beats the prices offered in Israel.

But that could change over time. Israel is building two new private ports and is hoping to reduce import costs in part by banning labor unions. A contract for the first port was signed last month — with a construction firm based in Beijing.

Emily Harris is NPR’s Jerusalem correspondent. Follow her @emilygharris.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


U.S. Arctic envoy looks to 1970s New York for inspiration

Date: 22-Oct-14

Reuters Author: Timothy Gardner

As he contemplates dealing with crumbling shores, melting ice and other changes in the rapidly changing Arctic, Admiral Robert Papp looks back at the rough and tumble New York City of the 1970s for inspiration.

Papp, who became the first ever U.S. special representative for the Arctic in July, said he only needs to remember the first time he visited New York Harbor in 1970 for encouragement on tackling complicated issues. “It was disgusting,” he said about the industrial and other waste that wrecked the city’s shores.

Then the 1972 federal Clean Water Act began to turn things around and today the waterfront is an attraction to both locals and tourists. “We used to dump raw sewage into harbors, there’s no way we’d consider doing that now,” Papp said.

The Obama administration is about to take on a wider set of problems in the Arctic than city pollution. In May, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will kick off two years at the helm of the Arctic Council, which since 1996 has linked the United States, Russia, Canada and the Nordic countries, to coordinate policy in the world’s air conditioner.

Papp said the United States will focus on three issues during its tenure as chair: Arctic ocean safety, mitigating and adapting to climate change, and exploring economic options for the people that live in the planet’s North.

“We are going to have the microphone for two years,” Papp told Reuters in an interview. “We are going to start a public relations campaign … to articulate the reasons why people should be concerned about the Arctic.”

Climate change is revising the way the world views the Arctic, creating new and far shorter sea lanes, and sparking interest in new oil drilling despite the region’s rough conditions.

Kerry who is very focused on climate change, will take the reigns from his Canadian counterpart, who focused heavily on energy and commercial development.

Believing that slowing climate change in the Arctic can reduce global warming in the rest of the planet, Papp wants to slash Arctic emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and black carbon, or soot, emitted by heavy fuels used by ships and machinery, that scientists blame for absorbing solar rays and melting ice.

Making development safer and cleaner for energy and other companies eager to uncover the region’s plentiful resources is also part of Papp’s job.

Not everyone thinks the Arctic Council is the best forum to take on difficult issues like climate change. Analysts have already said the group has yet to complete two other initiatives on search and rescue and oil spills.

But Papp said it is important to set the bar high to bring solutions to difficult problems. “If we set the bar low … you end up with a very mediocre product,” he said. “I’m willing to address anything we can.”

Among other issues, Papp said the forum should help mitigate the effects of climate change on residents of the Alaskan Arctic, including crumbling shores, melting permafrost and the flooding of traditional below-ground ice cellars where indigenous people store whale meat.

Papp acknowledged there are limits to how much Washington can hope to accomplish in the Arctic, however, saying the country will have to think hard about taking care of the basics in marine transport. The United States has not built a heavy icebreaker since the 1970s and only has one operational while Russia has up to 40. The ships can cost $1 billion each.

Still, any success in dealing with Arctic issues could lead to wider gains as the United States tries to secure a United Nations climate deal in Paris in 2015, a legacy-setting goal for Kerry and President Barack Obama.

Emerging powers India and China, two leading sources of global greenhouse gas emissions, earned places on the Arctic Council as observers last year. Papp said they could be encouraged to provide resources to help people adjust to the changing Arctic.


“If you want a seat at the table, perhaps you could provide resourcing as well as address some of the issues,” he said. The Arctic is a region “that advertises for the rest of the world” how things can begin to change, Papp said.

(Additional reporting by Valerie Volcovici, Andrea Shalal and Ayesha Rascoe

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Above article predicts enhanced US involvement with the Arctic region, but makes no mention of the Second Arctic Council Assembly meeting that will be held October 31 – November 2, 2014 in Reykjavik, Iceland, under the leadership of Iceland President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, whose leadership brought the Arctic to the world attention – he, not just Canada as mentioned in the article.

The Arctic will become focal point for those interested in stopping global warming and the Arctic Circle cannot be allowed to become just a supervisor of cleaner petroleum production. The issues are many and very complicated – rather well beyond natural freezers for storing whale meat. The US has to play catch-up to Russia in all Arctic and the US arrives now when China, Japan, Korea, Brazil, India are among claimants to participate in what they consider a region that is outside existing National Sovereignty rule – a truly global area of interest.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Biofuel Companies Look Beyond the Gas Tank

By DIANE CARDWELL, for The New York Times, October 17, 2014

When it comes to the future of advanced biofuel production, Abengoa Bioenergy, the Spanish company whose $500 million plant in Hugoton, Kan., is opening on Friday, has just one word: plastics.

For many of the companies opening big new biofuel plants in the Midwest, executives are already shifting their focus to replacing petroleum not only in the gas tank but elsewhere as well. In Abengoa’s case, a big target is plastic bottles.

“There really is a huge upside potential in the nonfuel side of the business,” said Chris Standlee, executive vice president of global affairs at the company. “Hugoton is the step that allows us to move on to some of these other things.”

Other companies are joining in. DuPont, which is developing a plant in Nevada, Iowa, recently announced that it had reached an agreement with Procter & Gamble to funnel some of its ethanol into Tide Cold Water laundry detergent.

And companies using other technologies are pursuing similar paths. Under an agreement with Unilever, for instance, Solazyme, which uses microalgae to produce oils, is making ingredients for Lux soaps.

The ethanol companies are still relying on the fuels business for much of their sales. Of the roughly 25 million gallons of ethanol Abengoa plans to produce from agricultural waste — mainly the nonedible parts of corn plants — it will most likely sell the bulk to California, where a low-carbon fuel mandate is creating a stronger market for clean fuels. Since its technology can also transform municipal solid waste to fuel, Mr. Standlee said, the company could also open plants outside of the heartland.

But ethanol demand is limited, and it has turned out to be much more complicated and expensive to develop biofuel from cellulosic biomass like plant residue, wood chips and municipal solid waste. So despite millions in government grants and tax subsidies, many companies that originally aimed to make renewable fuel are also looking to make products and chemicals for which they can reap a higher price.

Abengoa plans to pursue supplying plastic for bottles, something beverage companies have been seeking to help bolster their green credentials, Mr. Standlee said.

This direction poses a problem for the Department of Energy, whose aim was to ignite the development of clean fuels, said Wallace E. Tyner, a professor of agricultural economics at Purdue. But the energy market may not be ready.

“Today, if you want to build a plant economically, it doesn’t work unless you can get a decent amount of higher value product in the product stream,” he said. “You would hope that the companies who are investing in these plants are learning a lot. Some of them — many of them, maybe — are going to fail. But maybe some of them who are making higher value products will learn enough that they can more efficiently get some fuels out of it too.”

Ethanol operators have faced a shifting landscape in recent years. The market for ethanol to be used in vehicle fuels is already saturated, analysts say, and the industry is waiting on a long-delayed decision by the Environmental Protection Agency on whether to cut the amount required to be blended into the fuels by more than 40 percent. On top of this, technical challenges remain.

Still, major plants, representing hundreds of millions in investment, continue to come online. In addition to Abengoa’s opening, a joint venture between Poet, an ethanol producer, and Royal DSM, the Dutch life and materials sciences company, held its grand opening in Emmetsburg, Iowa, in September. Together, they are expected to produce about 50 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol a year — all generated from agricultural waste like corn cobs, husks and leaves, known as stover.

The uncertainty has forced ethanol producers like Abengoa to broaden their horizons.

DuPont is even looking overseas. On Thursday, it announced an agreement with Macedonia to develop a commercial-scale plant in partnership with Ethanol Europe, to produce about 25 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol a year.

“This is yet another example of the market’s readiness for cellulosic ethanol and the global interest,” the company said in a statement.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

[COP20-Lima] Por un Mundo habitable con justicia climática |
For Climate Justice and a World Fit to Be Lived |
Pour un Monde habitable et une justice climatique

Castellano | English | Français | Português

For Climate Justice and a World Fit to Be Lived
in Lima, December 8 to 11, 2014

In a spirit of solidarity, we call on all civil-society organizations, networks, social movements, research centers, and citizens in general to join in the Peoples’ Summit on Climate Change to be held from December 8 to 11, 2014. The Peoples’ Summit will be a major alternative event during the 20th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 20) scheduled for the first half of December in Lima, Peru.
Read more

Welcome!
Welcome everyone to the official mailing list of the Peoples’ Summit on Climate Change – Peru 2014. This list is unidirectional and you will only receive summary information of the Communication Commission of the People’s Summit. With this message we want to bring information related to People’s Summit.
Six Major Themes
Debates and events will be organized under six major themes:
1. Civilizatory change and Development model.
2. Global Warming and Climate Change.
3. Energy
4. Food Security and Sovereignty
5. Sustainable Land Management
6. Financing, technology transfer and inter-learning.
Read more

Participation and self organized activities
The Summit is the independent space for civil society, an alternative space to the Twentieth Conference of the Parties (COP20) from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The People’s Summit will be held from December 8 to 11th in downtown Lima. The Central Mobilization will happen December 10th, Global Day of Human Rights. Participation at the people’s summit is completely free and open. You can register your event here. We recommend you review our list of FAQ.
Contact Us
contactoThe official e-mail is  cumbredelospuebloscop20 at gmail.com.
Depending on the specific communication or requirement of information, you can send an email to:
General information, Logistics, Communications, International topics.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 14th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Humanity at Crossroad : How to Shape a New Sustainable Development Trajectory.

On US Columbus Day, The Women’s International Forum at the United Nations in New York – WIF – took advantage of the slower ongoings at the UN and convened a meeting with the two Co-Chairs of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (OWG SDG) who toiled for a full year to produce an aspirational text that eventually was accepted by all UN Member States, and which now has to be fleshed out so there is also a financing agreement by the end of this General Assembly year – ready to go to the Paris Summit of November 30 to December 11, 2015.

The wife of the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Ms. Ban Soon-taek is the Patron of WIF and the wife of the Ambassador from Thailand, Ms. Nareumon Sinhaseni is the current President of the Executive Board of WIF.

Today’s presentations by the two co-chairs was the best lay-out of the issues which encompass no less then the future of Humankind on earth. The presenters were:

H.E. Csaba Korosi – Ambassador of Hungary and H.E. Macharia Kamau – Ambassador of Kenya

The two Co-chairs of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (OWG SDG).

Ambassador Korosi spoke first and with the help of power-points provided an in-depth analysis of how the Working Group spent their time. Then Ambassador Kamau boiled the future we aspire to down to Three Words – AMBITIOUS, TRANSFORMATIVE and UNIVERSAL.
I will proceed by reporting this vision first, and pick up the mechanics later.

The targets and goals boil down to us an image of a world without poverty, without hunger everywhere, where diseases are under control, a truly inclusive society, equality for genders, businesses are responsible in their production methods and where animals are not seen as means for us but part of the ecosystem – and countries are equal as well.

Then he said he wants to imagine the standard in Manhattan as the norm for the SDGs. He challenged us to think of the conditions in the year 1960 and contemplate on how the world changed since then in travel, phones, medicines, how we moved away from the danger of a nuclear war. Then he suggested to flip this and ask why not continue this progress for the next 40 years as well, and spread the gains worldwide. That was the AMBITION part.

Now to TRANSFORMATIVE – this when we realize that after 3,000 years of civilization we still talk of gender equality. We need
a major change in the economic, social, and political structure of our lives.

It must be UNIVERSAL because those that progress was denied to them will come to claim their part. We do not talk anymore of charity towards the poor – that got us nowhere.

We must be held with our feet to the fire of accountability. This is not just about money. It is rather about holding ourselves accountable – he said. After what we achieved in preparing goals and targets we now have the span of time – January – September 2015, to come up with an AGENDA THAT IS ACCOUNTABLE. We have to overcome the people that do not see this – and bring them on board. He knows for a fact that we will succeed, and that collective effort will lead us to the future we all want.

Ambassador Korosi opened by telling us that we have now 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 Targets – all accepted by all of the UN body after a year of hard work that spread over 13 sessions. All this is ACTION ORIENTED AND ASPIRATIONAL IN NATURE. Let us round this up to 170 TARGETS.

Now we use the resources of 1.5 Earths – but we have only one. This year the Earth Overshoot Day was August 19. That was the day we started to borrow this year resources from the future generations. This date of the “Overshoot” moves back year-by-year so it shows our consumption of resources accelerates us with increasing speed towards the climate disaster. If we do not change our ways by 2030 we need then 50% more food and 35% more freshwater while nnually we loose agricultural land equal to half a Hungary or the size of a Belgium.

Since 1900 the world population tripled and available water per capita decreased from 12.000 m3 to 5.000. Urbanization that is now at 52% of the 7.5 Bn people today will reach 75% of the 8.5-9 Bn by 2050. Looking at the MDGs that were not achieved yet we find that 2.5 Bn people today still need electricity.

SD was defined in 1987 as Development to meet the present needs but that does not compromise the future. Now SD is seen as a bridge between the past, present, and future – all right – but it is between humans and nature, between politics and economics, between governments, civil society, and business, between the rich and poor, and between the North and South, and South and South. Sustainability is thus a hub of bridges and the SDGs are there to motivate the construction of these bridges.

We were presented the 17 SDGs and told that the 169 targets, global in nature as well, result from looking at local, national, regional needed actions. We attach the list of the 17 SDGs further down.

The concept is to turn the global aspirations into opportunities. We will need methods for data collection in order to build a supporting system for achieving the SDGs. We tried working on single goals and developed indicators for that purpose – but it did not work because all goals are interconnected. To support this, Amb. Korosi showed us a slide how the three Dimension of SD in the SDGs – the environmental, social, and economic, cut across all 17 SDGs and from goal to goal.

Among the lessons we learned from the work with MDGs is the need for a global Paradigm Change. The SD is a joint commitment to change in global trends – not limited to assistance to address some challenges in a group of countries – we are really all in the muck – together.

Implementation will be on national / regional / local levels with political commitment, national responsibility, supporting international cooperation – resulting in 193 different ways of implementation that result from the fact that there are now 193 Member States at the UN – but also involving the cooperation of stake-holders – a term that allows windows for Civil Society, business, and we assume also factors that have only outside relationship to the UN like the indigenous peoples’ Nations, or countries that are not Members of the UN. Cities and urbanization, as well as communities and sub-national States, come under the Local level while regional includes neighboring Nations.

Here we get to the issue of money and the speaker said that the global savings stand at 22 trillion with the value of assets reaching 230 trillion – so – in honesty – the 2-5 trillion needed as investment in the SDGs ought not to be a problem considering the vast amount of good these investments will provide. The problem is thus not money but accountability.


The home stretch of the follow up to the agreed-upon text, what the speaker called THE WAY AHEAD, includes the following steps:

- A Synthesis Report by the Secretary-General to be ready December 2014 followed by Intergovernmental negotiations – January to September 2015.

- The all important Summit on Financing SD to be held in Addis Abeba, July 2015

- The Summit on post-2015 agenda that is timed with the General Assembly 2015 meeting in September 2015 at UN New York Hqtrs.

- The target meeting in Paris, December 2015 of the make or brake Climate Summit 2015.

The speaker pointed out that a failure in any one of these steps is simply unaffordable.

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The presenters were introduced to the members of WIF:

“Elected by acclamation by members of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goal (OWG SDG) as Co-Chairs of the OWG on SDGs on the first day of the first session of the OWG on SDGs on 14 March 2013, Ambassador Csaba Korosi, PR of Hungary, and Ambassador Macharia Kamau, PR of Kenya, had, in fact, been highly involved in the issue of Sustainable Development since they were the co facilitators for the preparations of the first session of the OWG.

Upon their election, PGA Vuk Jeremic remarked that “process of formulating the SDGs will undoubtedly be a complicated one, requiring great diplomatic skills”.

Thirteen sessions of OWG from March 2013 to July 2014, 17 goals and 169 targets adopted by the OWG by acclamation, as well as the adoption of the Report of the OWG by UNGA 68, are clear evidence of the diplomatic skills of the Co-chairs. Proposing SDGs that are action oriented, concise and easy to communicate, limited in number, aspirational, global in nature and applicable to all countries. All the while ensuring that the intergovernmental process is transparent and inclusive to all stakeholders.

The two Co-chairs presented to WIF the process and results of their more than a year of hard work.
WIF members heard that of the 17 goals agreed upon, goal Five is devoted to “Achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls” If this particular goal and its targets are faithfully integrated into the Post 2015 Development Agenda, it will be a real “game changer” towards the effective protection of women’s rights throughout the world.”

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THE SDGs:

1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere

2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.

3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages

4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all

5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all

8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

10. Reduce inequality within and among countries

11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable

12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat
desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and biodiversity loss

16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build
effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

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Much further information was provided in the lively follow up discussion with the WIF ladies.

We know about the relationship between Global Warming and the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere already since 1896 from the studies by Svante Arrhenius of Sweden who also thought of human induced increase of the gas concentration in air. It took 60 years to think of the need of an international agreement, and now 120 years since Arhenius we are still on the wrong trajectory.

So knowledge is not enough. Governments did not act because their interest is in the yearly budget, or the time period of their rule – so long term projects that we must be facing now had no chance until the problem became larger.

On a question from Peru if the number of SDGs was not too large – after all – “END POVERTY” would have been enough – the answer came that 250 SDGs were proposed and it was a long discussion that brought them down to 17.

The question of youth came up and the Ambassador from Kenya answered that actually we have only one SDG and that is for a Sustainable World that we can hand down to our children – so it is really not necessary to mention the youth because it is about ONE WORLD.

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Please Note:

While the 2014 COP20 (2014) conference of the UNFCCC at Lima, Peru, is the next in the annual series, Ban Ki-moon has directed more attention toward the COP21, 2015 conference in Paris. A statement made by Ban Ki-moon called for the climate change summit he held on September 22, 2014 in New York, to lead to the Paris conference, but made no reference to the 2014 conference in Lima.

According to the organizing committee, the objective of the 2015 conference is to achieve, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, a binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world. This is part of the
package that includes the fulfillment of the MDGs and the establishing of the new SDGs

I found interesting that Ms. Ban was taking notes at the meeting of the WIF – I wonder if this was followed up by a direct report at the dinner table?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 12th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Reducing Carbon Emissions Would Fuel Global Economy.

By Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch

11 October 14

Evidence is amassing to discredit those middle-ground politicians who say they think climate change is real but don’t think we should address it because of the steep economic costs.

Two reports issued today by the Climate Policy Institute add to the growing pile of studies showing that moving to clean-energy, low-carbon policies that help mitigate the effects of climate change could actually provide fuel for the economy.

They found that moving to such policies could save the global economy trillions of dollars in the next two decades to invest in economic growth. The reports were commissioned by the New Climate Economy project as part of the research conducted for the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.

“For policymakers around the world wondering whether the transition to a low-carbon economy will help or hurt their countries’ ability to invest for growth, our analysis clearly demonstrates that, for many, the low-carbon transition is a no-brainer,” said Climate Policy Initiative’s executive director Tom Heller. “It not only reduces climate risks, its benefits are clear and significant.”

“Moving to a Low Carbon Economy: The Financial Impact of the Low-Carbon Transition” juxtaposes the costs of low-carbon electricity and low-carbon transportation system with the costs of the current system. “Moving to a Low Carbon Economy: The Impact of Different Policy Pathways on Fossil Fuel Asset Values” looks at the risk and extent of existing fossil fuel assets’ loss of value (aka asset-stranding), which would limit governments and businesses’ ability to borrow against them to finance growth and investment, including investment in a clean energy technologies.

The reports came to a number of conclusions about the positive economic impacts of shifting to policies that favor clean, renewable energy. They found that since governments worldwide and not private companies control 50-70 percent of oil, gas and coal resources, they also have the power to shape policies that can lead to savings or to asset-stranding. They also concluded that the savings in operational costs from renewable energy as opposed to fossil-fuel energy far outweighs the value of the stranded assets. And they assert that transitioning away from coal would provide the greatest benefits in emissions reductions with the least loss in value.

They also urge reducing the cost of financing renewable energy plants to lower the cost of transition worldwide, implementing a planning approach that includes taxes and innovation, and using gas as a bridge fuel in some regions—particularly China and India—until 2030 but saying gas use would have to decrease after that.

“Our analysis reveals that with the right policy choices, over the next twenty years governments can achieve the emissions reductions necessary for a safer, more stable climate and free up trillions for investment in other parts of the economy,” said Climate Policy Initiative’s senior director David Nelson. “This is even before taking into account the environmental and health benefits of reducing emissions.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 3rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Eastern countries (of the EU) oppose EU climate goals.

The EUObserver, By Peter Teffer, .October 2, 2014

Brussels – With only three weeks to go before the European Council is to make a final decision on new climate goals for 2030, six Central and Eastern European countries have declared their opposition to the proposed targets.

In an effort to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius, the European Commission proposed in January 2014 several targets for 2030.

Greenhouse gas emissions should be 40 percent lower; the market share of renewable energy should be 27 percent and energy efficiency should be improved by 30 percent.

In March and June, the European Council failed to agree on the commission’s proposal. When the EU government leaders meet again on 23 and 24 October in Brussels, they hope to reach a “final decision on the new climate and energy policy framework”.

However, the ministers and deputy ministers for environment of six Central and Eastern European countries, declared on Tuesday (September 30) their opposition to binding targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The six countries are the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria and Romania.

The six ask for a framework that “reflects different regional needs and circumstances”. The energy mix differs greatly among member states and reaching the targets will be easier for some than others.

The EU share of renewable energy consumption was 14.1 percent in 2012, according to Eurostat, but that average conceals regional differences.

Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and Czech Republic are below that average, with shares between 9.6 and 11.2 percent. Most of the six rely heavily on coal, which is one of the energy sources that emits the most carbon dioxide.

The question then is, which targets will be binding for the whole of EU, and which for each individual member state.

A group of 13 mostly western and northern European states, called the Green Growth Group, is in favour of a binding greenhouse gas target of 40 percent for member states.

But in March it said the “Council should agree on a binding EU renewables energy target which should not be translated into binding national targets by the EU, leaving greater flexibility for Member States to develop their own renewable energy strategies.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 2nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Wednesday October 1, 2014, after all those UN Member States’ Heads have left New York, the UN was still closed to the NGOs – supposedly for security reasons – the guards say this will hold on until next week – so it will be three weeks without “Civil Society” at the UN except for the handful handpicked by the UN itself. So much if you had any illusion that the UNSG hullabaloo about the enlargement of his entourage to include Civil Society in his deliberations was intended to lead to the new post-2015 world. Oh yes – we posted the harmless poem that was touted as the Civil Society contribution to the deliberations by that handful of participants.

Now we find that Grist publishes the analyses of the pure fact that the UN can in effect not aim at true results, and that it can only at best paint fake blue onto a heavy clouded sky – so please just know that you are being had and understand the reasons why. But also do not give up to despair – this because you are right in what you are fighting for and can rxpect that the truth will break through because it does make even economic sense. If allowed in some countries it will lead to alliances of States so it spreads eventually outside the UN that at best could then be used to bless the results.

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Grist Daily posed 2014,today, October 14 2014, the question – “Is there any hope for international climate talks?”

A binding international treaty with firm emission limits just isn’t happening. Now attention is turning to a bottom-up, “pledge and review” strategy. Can it work?

By David Roberts

I don’t write very often about international climate talks because it’s super-depressing and nothing ever changes. Which I guess characterizes most things I write about, but something about climate talks in particular really drains the spirit. Nonetheless! Let’s take a fresh look at the landscape.

The original idea behind the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) talks was simple. Climate change is a classic tragedy of the commons. When emitting greenhouse gases, a country gets all the economic benefit but only a tiny fraction of the harm; conversely, when mitigating emissions, a country pays all the cost but receives only a tiny fraction of the benefit. I wrote about this in a recent post and Harvard’s Robert Stavins sums it up nicely in a recent op-ed:

“Greenhouse gases mix globally in the atmosphere, and so damages are spread around the world, regardless of where the gases were emitted. Thus, any country taking action incurs the costs, but the benefits are distributed globally. This presents a classic free-rider problem: It is in the economic self-interest of virtually no country to take unilateral action, and each can reap the benefits of any countries that do act. This is why international cooperation is essential.”

This has always been the logic of UNFCCC talks: burden sharing. Determine the proper way to distribute the load, and then sign a binding treaty to insure that all countries do their appointed part.

The same logic that yields the need for international cooperation, however, has made it virtually impossible to achieve in practice. Turns out national governments don’t like burdens! So the dispute over how to properly divide the burden between developed and developing countries has been as endless as it has been intractable. Early on in the UNFCCC process, developing countries like China and India were effectively exempted from the obligation to reduce emissions. What the U.S. and Europe have wanted ever since is to ditch the (arguably outmoded) developed vs. developing dichotomy, acknowledge that China et al. are going to be major sources of emissions growth this century, and sign a treaty in which all countries, including China, commit to binding targets. China disagrees, as do India and all the other countries that have so far escaped targets.

The result has been stalemate. And despite feverish hopes in the run-up to each new meeting (“last chance!”), nothing has happened to dislodge that dynamic. Yet the 2015 climate negotiations in Paris are supposed to be all about a “binding treaty.” What to do?

In many quarters, a comprehensive, binding treaty with national and global carbon targets is the holy grail. But its pursuit has led to nothing but a cycle of high hopes and crushing disappointment. There is very little hope of such a treaty in Paris, or maybe ever. What’s more, the focus on burden sharing has made the meetings a defensive, angst-ridden affair, everyone blaming everyone else while trying to minimize their own responsibility.

Most of the world’s major emitters agree that collective action on climate change is badly needed. Yet the meetings meant to facilitate such action produced little of it.
Something had to change.

The idea that’s gained traction since the 2009 talks in Copenhagen is that it’s time to abandon the “burden sharing” frame altogether, give up on a binding treaty, and shift to a regime known as “pledge and review,” in which countries pledge specific policies and reductions and agree to have those policies and reductions internationally verified. Rather than being forced to accept a target, every country is simply asked to put on record what it is willing to contribute. Peer pressure and economic competition are supposed to do the rest. This is more or less what came out of Copenhagen, and Durban in 2011, and what will likely come out of Paris in 2015.

Those pledges are unlikely to add up to what’s needed to avoid 2 degrees C of warming, the stated international goal, any time soon. An outfit called Climate Interactive is tracking the pledges and adding them up; so far, they leave us on a path to exceed 4 degrees, which would be a disaster. But as John Podesta told Jeff Goodell (in the latter’s must-read story on China and climate), “If we wait until we have a binding international agreement that actually puts us on track for 2 C, we’ll hit 2 C before we get an agreement. But we have to get started if we hope to get to the destination.” Fred Pearce has a nice rundown of this general line of thinking here. It also finds clear expression in a recent op-ed from retired senators Tim Wirth and Tom Daschle.

Wirth has been working in and around international climate talks for as long as they’ve been going on. When I talked to him about pledge-and-review, he grew most animated when discussing the sheer torpor of the UNFCCC talks. “Everybody’s so depressed by the whole thing,” he said. “It’s a problem, it really is. They need a shot of energy! They need some enthusiasm! They need a new framework! Any time you run into a political dead end, you gotta change the rules. This is a way of changing the rules.”

Wirth says pledge-and-review has a chance of working because the economics have shifted and clean energy investment is increasingly in countries’ self-interest. He cites the recent New Climate Economy research project led by Nicholas Stern. Nations competing to outdo each other in these vast new markets could spark a “race to the top,” a sense of energy and progress that has been sorely missing. “We’re not saying we’re in the best of all possible worlds, by any means,” Wirth said, “but if we do it relatively soon, it’s going to end up being in everyone’s best interests.”

Wirth has a close eye on this November’s APEC meetings, where Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping are likely to discuss climate change (among other things). A substantial bilateral agreement on climate would bring momentum into Paris, giving, Wirth laughed, “the U.S. a chance to hide behind China’s skirts and China a chance to hide behind the U.S.’s skirts. That’s important politically.” The U.S. and China being the world’s two largest markets, other countries would be pulled along. “The U.S./China relationship is so much more important than anything else in the world,” Wirth said.

Whatever the prospects of a race to the top, there remains the question of climate justice — what to do about those most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, who did little to cause the problem. Wirth points to the Green Climate Fund, which is supposed to transfer money from the developed to the developing world. But the nature of those funds is in hot dispute. In their piece, Wirth and Daschle write:

Finance is the final key to a global deal. At Copenhagen in 2009, the United States memorably pledged that developed countries would mobilize $100 billion a year in climate change assistance for the rest of the world by 2020. At a time of fiscal retrenchment in the West, the chance of that pledge being met in the form of additional development assistance is approximately zero. The pledge is eminently achievable, however, in the context of global energy investment, which has an annual flow a dozen times as large as the amount pledged in Copenhagen.

And when I talked to Wirth, that’s what he emphasized: opportunities to channel private investment money to developing countries. It appears that the climate fund is primarily going to consist in such investments.

But where does this leave the world’s poorest countries and low-lying islands? There’s a lot of adaptation to be done in those areas and not all of it is going to be a profit opportunity. Will the fund end up being just another instance of what Naomi Klein calls “disaster capitalism,” wherein wealthy westerners descend on countries reeling from misfortune and treat them as business opportunities to exploit?

The reason climate-justice advocates have always relied on the UNFCCC framework is that it’s the only venue in which the claims of vulnerable nations are guaranteed a hearing. If the meetings become nothing more than a forum for mutually advantageous bilateral and multilateral dealmaking, where is the pressure to do right by the vulnerable, much less any kind of guarantee?

I’ve never heard a good answer to that question. I sure don’t have one. But we return again to an ineluctable fact: The chances of the U.S. Senate ratifying a binding climate treaty are nil. The chances of it ratifying one that is also supported unanimously by all 195 or so countries of the UNFCCC are even niller. So what else is there to do?

“The building blocks approach, bottom up, is the only way to go,” says Wirth. “We’re not going to get a top-down agreement. So you gotta go the other direction.”

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