Saturday, July 25, 2009

UN chief praises China's climate change efforts! Chinese President wants international cooperation!

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday (24/07/2009) in Beijing said he was impressed with China's efforts but urged the world's third-largest economy to continue to promote alternative energy, including wind and solar power, and reduce its reliance on coal. "Today, China is a global power and with global power comes global responsibilities," Ban said. "Without China, there can be no success this year on a new global climate framework. But with China, there is enormous potential for the world to seal a deal in Copenhagen." The Chinese government supports the UN to play a leading role in promoting international cooperation on climate change, said Premier Wen Jiabao in a meeting with Ban on Friday. "Climate change is about environment as well as development," Wen said. "Developed countries should help developing nations in areas such as funds and technology. This is conducive to the sustainable development of the world." President Hu Jintao said in his meeting with Ban that international cooperation is required in handling global challenges and regional issues. China will continue to participate in UN initiatives in a responsible and constructive manner, he said.
(Adopted from the China Daily report by Si Tingting, Wang Linyan and Wang Zhuoqiong on 2009-07-25 08:45. Details @

Friday, July 24, 2009

"US should do better on climate change"- Swedish Environment Minister

"We are really urging our American friends to raise their bids and make sure that they can commit to more," says Sweden's Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren

"We welcome that the ambitions have changed dramatically compared to the previous administration, but still we expect more and we need more," Andreas Carlgren, Sweden's Environment Minister, told journalists at a meeting of EU Energy and Environment ministers in Åre, Sweden, who recently took over the revolving presidency of the European Union. Carlgren is encouraged that a US bill which seeks to reduce US emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and by 83 percent by mid-century has already been approved by the House of Representatives and is on its way to the Senate.

"We see within that bill the possibilities of raising the ambitions, and we are really urging our American friends to raise their bids and make sure that they can commit to more," he said according to Reuters, adding that ”negotiations ahead of Copenhagen are still moving too slow. The EU has so far put 20 percent on the table but we want that to go higher and we want to bring others with us".

Carlgren said global negotiations ahead of Copenhagen were still moving too slow. "We want to speed up and the EU is now urgently calling on other parties to join us and to make sure that we can speed up and negotiations," he said.

(Adopted from a report by Matthew Goldstein from ARE, Sweden to Reuters Jul 23, 2009,


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pachauri says G8 failed to take concrete action!

IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri criticizes rich countries for "ignoring" the findings and recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that the Group of Eight nations had "clearly ignored" taking any concrete action to accomplish its new goal of limiting climate change.

Rajendra Pachauri, whose scientific panel shared the Nobel Peace Prize with former vice president Al Gore in 2007, praised the G8 summit in Italy this month for taking "a big step forward" by agreeing to limit the planet's average temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above levels recorded 150 years ago.

He faulted the world's wealthiest countries, however, because he said they "clearly ignored what the IPCC came up with" to reach that goal. "It's interesting that the G8 leaders agreed on this aspirational goal of (limiting) a temperature increase of (no more than) 2 degrees Celsius, which certainly is a big step forward in my view," he told reporters at UN headquarters. "But what I find as a dichotomy in this position is the fact that they clearly ignored what the IPCC came up with."

The question of which nations will agree to limit their heat-trapping gases mainly from fossil fuels is taking on increasing urgency at the United Nations, which is sponsoring the key round of talks in December to achieve a climate deal in Copenhagen, Denmark. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has made it his No. 1 priority to persuade nations to agree to a successor treaty to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol for reducing greenhouse gases, which expires at the end of 2012.

Pachauri said the G8 leaders also should have accepted the panel's conclusion that greenhouse gas emissions must peak no later than 2015 and then rich countries must reduce emissions from 2005 levels by between 25 percent and 40 percent by 2020. Doing that, climate scientists say, may help the world avoid the worst effects of warming, which they say will lead to widespread drought, floods, higher sea levels and worsening storms.

(Report from by AP/Michael von Bülow 21/07/2009)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

"Africa must not remain silent in the face of the realities of climate change and its causes" says Wangari Maathai

2004 Nobel prize winner, Prof. Wangari Maathai says: “Africa is the continent that will be hit hardest by climate change. Unpredictable rains and floods, prolonged droughts, subsequent crop failures and rapid desertification, among other signs of global warming, have in fact already begun to change the face of Africa. The continent’s poor and vulnerable will be particularly hit by the effects of rising temperatures and, in some parts of the continent, temperatures have been rising twice as fast as in the rest of the world. In wealthy countries, the looming climate crisis is a matter of concern, as it will affect both the wellbeing of economies and people’s lives. In Africa, however, a region that has hardly contributed to climate change, its greenhouse gas emissions are negligible when compared with the industrialized worlds; it will be a matter of life and death. Therefore, Africa must not remain silent in the face of the realities of climate change and its causes. African leaders and civil society must be involved in global decision-making about how to address the climate crisis in ways that are both effective and equitable. We have a responsibility to protect the rights of generations, of all species, that cannot speak for themselves today. The global challenge of climate change requires that we ask no less of our leaders, or ourselves.”

(Following is a report by Wangari Maathai to Capital News, June 22, 2009)
Various reports indicate that Africa will be disproportionately affected, with predictions of crisis like sea rise, desertification, floods, droughts and crop failure. One adaptation option for Africa is to keep her forests standing so that they provide essential environmental services such as carbon sinks, reservoirs of biodiversity, water catchments and regulation of climate and rainfall patterns. Africa should also halt unsustainable agricultural practices like-slush-and-burn, shamba system, removal of vegetation from wilderness areas. She should Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD). This is because greenhouse gasses emitted from deforestation and forest degradation are about 20 percent more than what is contributed by the world transport sector put together! REDD not only reduces emissions but also fixes atmospheric carbon and addresses other drivers of deforestation and poverty. Many Africans, especially the poor rural and urban populations will be impacted very negatively by climate change. As they feel the negative impact, they will compete for political power to control the diminishing resources, especially agricultural and grazing land, water and food. This will lead to conflicts, violence, displacements, migrations and even death. Therefore, African countries should seriously focus on climate change and embrace mitigation strategies like protecting indigenous forests, halting the shamba system, charcoal burning, grazing and human settlements in forests. While there are no quick fixes, governments must shield citizens from the unavoidable negative impacts. One of the strategies is to protect, conserve and restore forests. Should forests be accepted as part of the solution, there are opportunities for countries that will keep their forests standing because in return for environmental services provided by forests, they will receive financial compensations from the developed countries eager to reduce their emissions. Several financial mechanisms will be developed to create carbon markets that are already being tried. For example, the Green Belt Movement and the Kenya Forestry Service have a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) pilot in partnership with the World Bank and a voluntary pilot with the local government of Basque in Spain. These carbon markets will expand and Governments which benefit from these opportunities, will raise financial resources, support their development agenda and also conserve their valuable forests. The Copenhagen partnership should also negotiate for mechanisms that allow Africans to access and afford low-carbon energy sources such as solar, wind, bio-fuels, biomass, hydro and geothermal. There must also be a carbon justice issue in the debate because Africa accounts for a mere 2.3 percent of fossil fuel consumption, though it has 13.8 percent of the world's population. By contrast, the industrialised countries contribute the largest share of greenhouse gasses per capita. Industrialised countries do recognise their responsibility and will embrace reduced emissions and share a proportional responsibility in the cost of strategies for mitigation and adaptation. While the international community may hopefully cooperate and agree on a fair and just protocol and financing mechanism, it is the individual nations who have the ultimate responsibility to shield their citizens from the negative impact of climate change. The agreements and the financial mechanisms will bear no fruits if not translated into workable projects that deliver results especially for the poor. Copenhagen will be a commitment and a partnership like no other because with respect to forests it is over national resources that are mobilised to provide global environmental services in exchange for financial compensation to nations that own the forests. The local people should be beneficiaries, not just the ruling elite and logging companies. The African Union should ensure that governments work together despite the fact that some, like those in the Central African region have huge forests, others, like Kenya have few while others have virtually no forests. Climate change knows no borders and those without forests will be even greater victims and will find it difficult to adapt or adopt. A poor Africa without the Congo forest will be a continent whose common destiny is in peril. Therefore, African governments should have a common voice and a common stand on the road to Copenhagen. Temptations to have bilateral negotiations should be resisted because that could lead to exploitation of individual states. Financial resources and organisations to manage them will be many in Copenhagen. Much more challenging will be how to control greed, selfishness, mistrust and exploitative tendencies. There will also be great need to build trust, confidence and honour, where promises are kept. This will take time and patience. That is partly why the St James Palace Memorandum calls for an immediate emergency package to provide funding to tropical forest nations to help them urgently halt deforestation and embark on alternative economic development paths. Africa will have friends such as Britain, Norway, France, Germany and others who are in the Congo Basin Forest Fund and those in the Congo Basin Forest Partnership, not to mention bilateral and multilateral partners. There will also be friends like the Prince of Wales who is particularly concerned through his own Rainforest Project. Therefore, failure to negotiate a reasonable package for Africa in Copenhagen will not be due to a global desire to damp Africa, but more likely a willingness to take advantage of Africa’s weaknesses. If Africa presents a strong, common position and negotiate as Africa, rather than 53 different weak states, she will avoid the pitfall of being taken advantage of and used. Well managed, Copenhagen could present a great opportunity for Africa.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sending Money Managers with Laptops to Copenhagen

(This is an article by Graham Sinclair posted on on 14th July 2009)

The UN meeting in Copenhagen in December to try and set new rules of the game on emitting green house gases, namely carbon dioxide, was in or around most conversations in Europe when I was there a few weeks back. Officially it is called the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and now in its 15th iteration. In simple terms, money managers are interested to know how the Kyoto Protocol gets updated, and impacts the price for pollution per country and sector based on government reactions. That is a lot of paper, bums on seats, and carbon-intensive travel, yes? Investors care because any change in regulation, anything that changes the costs structure of valuing a business, will impact the valuation of a firm, and so the investment in that firm. Leading ESG thinkers continue to try and improve the metrics, and why FTfm covers stories most Mondays. Money managers have been pushing companies to understand climate change impacts for years, through initiatives like CERES in the US and IIGCC in Oceana and Europe.

Pretty much any NGO or international organization (IO) in the sustainable finance or green investment space is putting out a position paper or shaping to be near the action, for example WWF Copenhagen Expectations. The UN is giving it a full-court press, see UN Climate Change, and Denmark is using it like China used the Beijing Olympics as a window on their world. Perhaps Greenpeace will find some more coal ships to clamber up and use as billboards - did you see the photos | video from the Italian G8 summit. Pretty good approach to non-violent protest (do you also wonder how the crew did not slip loose the abseiling rope above the dude hanging above the water?). The Greenpeace focus on G8 was pretty punchy. It made news in Africa on account of it being South African coal loaded at Richards Bay Coal Terminal on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast not far from Mozambique, nor the pristine iSimangaliso World Heritage Site of the St Lucia Estuary and Sodwana with its whale sharks.

The mechanics of negotiating new climate change rules was rudely made apparent in a simulation exercise we did at the Tallberg Forum, hosted by Drew Jones, Sustainability Institute, USA for a consortium of NGOs, universities and think tanks like MIT, foundations and companies like Nike, Fidelity Investments, Schlumberger and Citi. Check The C-ROADS simulation aims to do what the Prius dashboard or prepaid cellphones do: kep score. Keeping score by illustrating where the negotiations get us. Actually, maybe not that different from Greenpeace, just a lot more acceptable to the suits. An XLS-based algorithm drives graphs of the numbers describing the net effect ot the planet of all the positions and commitments. The graph captures the respective negotiating positions of parties to an agreement and in coloured lines describes how those commitments to investment capital in mitigating or adapting to climate change will affect the "score", illustrated by the parts per million (PPM) and average expected temperature. Scientists have us pointed toward 350-450ppm and not more than +2C if we aim to keep enjoying the planet as we have. The designers of the simple software want negotiating parties to use it live in Copenhagen, as a kind of reality check, past the plain communiqués and statements (vague ones such as those that came from the G8 meeting in Italy). I recommend getting some mates to play out the scenarios, check Climate Change Exercise here, and watch how badly some people handle the pressure of negotiating!

The simulated negotiation exercise was powerful too for putting the group into three groupings (developed countries, developing countries, and small countries and island states) with the way we played it out with subtle details like having the islands grouping I was in have no chairs, and sitting on the floor [see similar photo, above], while the developed countries had chair, flowers and fruit in their corner. Excellent role-play. Having been the undercover activist from time-to-time, my first offer to our group - basically nations like Maldives and Micronesia that will sink beneath rising oceans - to exit the chamber, or rather to barricade the doors until the other nations reached agreement. The simulated negotiation played out, and we laughed as our Tanzanian colleague pretend to be the US, and a Zimbabwean colleague spoke for China and Brazil. We, the threatened tiny nations, promised to send climate change refugees, one million men, women and children per annum, to join our favourite developed country and lean on their social security net: that got a reaction! The knotted stomach though came as we realized this was how it may play out for real in December. For keeps.

One of the leading pension fund and money manager groupings active against climate change since 2003 has been the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, IIGCC. The IIGCC published its second annual report yesterday, Second Annual Report - Investor Statment on Climate Change [see publications dating back to 2003] and represents assets of USD 5,575 bn [EU 4,000bn; GBP 3,440]. The report reflects the work by money managers in asking questions covering climate change from their underlying company investments, and fully 90% are engaging the companies to do more. But most interesting finding for me, was that the push to engage, a notoriously vague term with mixed or unmeasurable results, has played out. One of the leading ESG thinkers and head of responsible investment at Insight Investment, Rory Sullivan, was reported in FTfm as saying "We've got to the limit of engagement without stronger incentives". Check II's responsible investment page. Now money managers are feeling that the push to companies on business case or ethical case bases has reached its maximum, this is where regulation will make the next big breakthrough. FTfm's Sophia Grene reported [Call for Government Action on Climate, 13 July 2009] Stephanie Pfeiffer, programme director at IIGCC for the four workstreams as saying "We're going to be trying to influence the policy-making in the run up to Copenhagen". Knowing how adept money managers are with their spreadsheets, and the fountainhead of information that crosses their terminals and screens daily, I think a few money managers and analysts should accompany negotiators to Copenhagen, armed with XLS to immediately [it is 2009, after all] demonstrate what the numbers will mean. The money managers may even improve the simulation graphics. I wonder if they could get the Climate Change Exercise software to simulate a boatload of one million poor climate change refugees floating across the floor halfway through some waffling negotiation impasse…

(find Graham Sinclair @

The USCAP says "We Know Enough to Act on Climate Change!"

A Business and NGO Partnership called USCAP (U.S. Climate Action Partnership) has published a report called 'A Call for Action: Consensus Principles and Recommendations'. The partnership constitutes of Alcan Inc., Alcoa, American International, Group, Inc. (AIG), Boston Scientific Corporation, BP America Inc., Caterpillar Inc., ConocoPhillips, The Chrysler Group, Deere & Company, The Dow Chemical Company, Duke Energy, DuPont, Environmental Defense, Exelon Corporation, Ford Motor Company, FPL Group, Inc., General Electric, General Motors Corp., Johnson & Johnson, Marsh, Inc., National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources, Defense Council, NRG Energy, Inc., The Nature Conservancy, PepsiCo, Pew Center on Global, Climate Change, PG&E Corporation, PNM Resources, Rio Tinto, Shell, Siemens Corporation, World Resources Institute, Xerox Corporation.

USCAP says; "In June 2005, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences joined with the scientific academies of ten other countries in stating that “the scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt actions.” Each year we delay action to control emissions increases the risk of unavoidable consequences that could necessitate even steeper reductions in the future, at potentially greater economic cost and social disruption. Action sooner rather than later preserves valuable response options, narrows the uncertainties associated with changes to the climate, and should lower the costs of mitigation and adaptation. The scale of the undertaking to address climate change is enormous, and should not be underestimated. For this issue to be successfully addressed—and failure is not an option—the way we produce and use energy must fundamentally change, both nationally and globally. In our view, the climate change challenge, like other challenges our country has confronted in the past, will create more economic opportunities than risks for the U.S. economy. Indeed, addressing climate change will require innovation and products that drive increased energy efficiency, creating new markets. This innovation will lead directly to increased U.S. competitiveness, as well as reduced reliance on energy from foreign sources. Our country will thus benefit through increased energy security and an improved balance of trade. We believe that a national mandatory policy on climate change will provide the basis for the United States to assert world leadership in environmental and energy technology innovation, a national characteristic for which the United States has no rival. Such leadership will assure U.S. competitiveness in this century and beyond. USCAP commits as; "We, the members of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, pledge to work with the President, the Congress, and all other stakeholders to enact an environmentally effective, economically sustainable, and fair climate change program consistent with our principles at the earliest practicable date."

USCAP believes a U.S. policy framework must include the following; • Mandatory approaches to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the major emitting sectors including emissions from large stationary sources, transportation, and energyuse in commercial and residential buildings that could be phased in over time, with attention to near-, mid-and long-term time horizons; • Flexible approaches to establish a price signal for carbon that may vary by economic sector and could include, depending on the sector: market-based incentives; performance standards; cap-and-trade; tax reform; incentives for technology research, development, and deployment; or other appropriate policy tools; and • Approaches that create incentives and encourage actions by other countries, including large emitting economies in the developing world, to implement GHG emission reduction strategies.


The rich can relax. We just need the poor world to cut emissions by 125%

(This is an article by George Monbiot to the The Guardian, UK on 13 July 2009)

British and G8 climate strategy just doesn't add up. As soon as serious curbs are needed it turns into impossible nonsense.

Well, at least that clears up the mystery. Over the past year I've been fretting over an intractable contradiction. The government has promised spectacular cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. It is also pushing through new roads and runways, approving coal-burning power stations, bailing out car manufacturers and ditching regulations for low-carbon homes. How can these policies be reconciled?

We will find out tomorrow, when it publishes a series of papers on carbon reduction. According to one person who has read the drafts, the new policies will include buying up to 50% of the reduction from abroad. If this is true, it means that the UK will not cut its greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050, as the government promised. It means it will cut them by 40%. Offsetting half our emissions (which means paying other countries to cut them on our behalf) makes a mockery of the government's climate change programme.

The figure might have changed between the draft and final documents, but let's take it at face value for the moment, to see what happens when rich nations offload their obligations. What I am about to explain is the simple mathematical reason why any large-scale programme of offsets is unjust, contradictory and ultimately impossible.

Last week the G8 summit adopted the UK's two key targets : it proposed that developed countries should reduce their greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050 to prevent more than two degrees of global warming. This meant that it also adopted the UK's key contradiction, as there is no connection between these two aims. An 80% cut is very unlikely to prevent two degrees of warming; in fact it's not even the right measure, as I'll explain later on. But let's work out what happens if the other rich nations adopt both the UK's targets and its draft approach to carbon offsets.

Please bear with me on this: the point is an important one. There are some figures involved, but I'll use only the most basic arithmetic, which anyone with a calculator can reproduce.

The G8 didn't explain what it meant by "developed countries", but I'll assume it was referring to the nations listed in Annex 1 of the Kyoto protocol: those that have promised to limit their greenhouse gases by 2012. (If it meant the OECD nations, the results are very similar.) To keep this simple and consistent, I'll consider just the carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels, as listed by US Energy Information Administration. It doesn't publish figures for Monaco and Lichtenstein, but we can forgive that. The 38 remaining Annex 1 countries produce 15bn tonnes of CO2, or 51% of global emissions. Were they to do as the UK proposes, cutting this total by 80% and offsetting half of it, they would have to buy reductions equal to 20% of the world's total carbon production. This means that other countries would need to cut 42% of their emissions just to absorb our carbon offsets.

But the G8 has also adopted another of the UK's targets: a global cut of 50% by 2050. Fifty per cent of world production is 14.6bn tonnes. If the Annex 1 countries reduce their emissions by 80% (including offsets), they will trim global output by 12bn tonnes. The other countries must therefore find further cuts of 2.6bn tonnes. Added to the offsets they've sold, this means that their total obligation is 8.6bn tonnes, or 60% of their current emissions.

So here's the outcome. The rich nations, if they follow the UK's presumed lead, will cut their carbon pollution by 40%. The poorer nations will cut their carbon pollution by 60%.

If global justice means anything, the rich countries must make deeper cuts than the poor. We have the most to cut and can best afford to forgo opportunities for development. If nations like the UK cannot make deep reductions, no one can. We could, as I showed in my book Heat, reduce emissions by 90% without seriously damaging our quality of life. But this carries a political price. Business must be asked to write off sunk costs, people must be asked to make minor changes in the way they live. This country appears to be doing what it has done throughout colonial and postcolonial history: dumping its political problems overseas, rather than confronting them at home.

Befuddled yet? I haven't explained the half of it. As the G8 leaders know, a global cut of 50% offers only a faint to nonexistent chance of meeting their ultimate objective: preventing more than two degrees of warming. In its latest summary of climate science, published in 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggested that a high chance of preventing more than two degrees of warming requires a global cut of 85% by 2050. In drafting the climate change act, the UK government promised to keep matching the target to the science. It has already raised its cut from 60% to 80% by 2050. If it sticks to its promise it will have to raise it again.

Global average CO2 emissions are 4.48 tonnes per person per year. Cutting the world total by 85% means reducing this to 0.67 tonnes. Average per capita output in the 38 Annex 1 countries is 10 tonnes; to hit this target they must cut their emissions by 93.3% by 2050. If the rich persist in offsetting 50% of this cut, the poorer countries would have to reduce their emissions by 7bn tonnes to absorb our offsets. To meet a global average of 0.67 tonnes, they would also need to chop their own output by a further 10.8bn tonnes. This means a total cut of 17.8bn tonnes, or 125% of their current emissions. I hope you have spotted the flaw.

In fact, even the IPCC's proposal has been superseded. Two recent papers in Nature show that the measure that counts is not the proportion of current emissions produced on a certain date, but the total amount of greenhouse gases we release. An 85% cut by 2050 could produce completely different outcomes. If most of the cut took place at the beginning of the period, our cumulative emissions would be quite low. If, as the US Waxman- Markey bill proposes, it takes place towards the end, they would be much higher. To deliver a high chance of preventing two degrees of warming, we would need to cut global emissions by something like 10% by the end of next year and 25% by 2012. This is a challenge no government is yet prepared to accept.

Carbon offsetting makes sense if you are seeking a global cut of 5% between now and for ever. It is the cheapest and quickest way of achieving an insignificant reduction. But as soon as you seek substantial cuts, it becomes an unfair, impossible nonsense, the equivalent of pulling yourself off the ground by your whiskers. Yes, let us help poorer nations to reduce deforestation and clean up pollution. But let us not pretend that it lets us off the hook.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

An alternative conference for the people during COP15!

The venue "DGI-byen" has now been booked by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to secure locations for the civil society's activities during COP15 from December 7-18. The People's Climate Action secretariat will, together with the organisation Civilsamfundets Klimaforum, ensure a programme for the venue and alle the actitivities there. The venue is called "Klimaforum09" where many Danish NGOs will present debates, exhibitions and cultural activities regarding the climate threats to the public. COP15 is to be held in Copenhagen in December 2009 and the Foreign Ministry expects around 10,000-20,000 people from a multitude of nations to visit Denmark during the two weeks of the conference. Some of them will participate in the official political negotiations which are to take place at the Bella Center in Copenhagen while others will come to Copenhagen to participate in activities related to the summit. A wide variety of organisations, large and small, are currently planning projects aimed at raising the general public's environmental awareness and understanding of climate change. Such a diversity of projects needs coordination and this is why - and how - the People's Climate Action came to be. The People's Climate Action is an umbrella organisation of more than 40 large and small Non Governmental Organisations and individual projects related to the COP15. The secretariat of the People's Climate Action was established in the spring of 2009 and serves as a strategic and practical platform, providing a solid framework for all NGO activities before and during the official summit.

For further information pl contact:
Berit Asmussen (Chairman of the Board of People's Climate Action) - Mail: Office Phone: +45 33 36 40 35 Mobile: +45 28 34 62 99
Lene Vennits, Head of Secretariat of People's Climate Action - Mail: Mobile: +45 20 57 89 32
Gitte Werner Nielsen, Secretariat Coordinator of People's Climate Action - Mail: Mobile: +45 21 24 42 57
Visit the website of the of People's Climate Action @

Saturday, July 11, 2009

NEWS FLASH: G-8 Climate-Change Agreement Falls Short

The G8 set itself the goal of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent by 2050 and declared developed countries would shoulder most of the burden.They also enshrined a goal of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in a joint statement with emerging powers such as China and India.But they failed to spell out how they would achieve this vision, nor did they break a deadlock on how to help poor countries meet the climate challenge. Despite a claim by US President Barack Obama that the summit had reached a historic consensus, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said the G8 had missed a "unique opportunity" for progress ahead of December's climate conference in Copenhagen.

(The following article is reproduced from the a report Jonathan Weisman to the Wall Street Journal on 8th July 2009)

L'AQUILA, Italy -- The Group of Eight leading nations agreed Wednesday to cut their emissions of heat-trapping gases 80% by 2050, but failed to reach an accord on shorter-term targets -- a setback that could have repercussions for a major meeting on climate change in Copenhagen later this year. Their failure prompted a larger group of nations -- including China, India, and other developing-country polluters -- to backtrack from their own commitment to numerical targets they had planned to announce Thursday.

Chinese President Hu Jintao's sudden departure from the meeting early Wednesday further complicates negotiations, dealing a potentially significant blow to the summit's ability to produce concrete results on issues from climate change to economic recovery.China has been a driving force in international discussions about currency, debt and concerns over soaring budget deficits as nations struggle to pull themselves out of the global financial crisis. Mr. Hu departed to deal with rioting in China's western Xinjiang territory before he could meet privately with U.S. President Barack Obama or attend critical meetings of the G-8 plus 5, which includes China and four other developing economies. Mr. Hu also was scheduled to attend the larger 17-nation Major Economies Forum on Thursday, chaired by Mr. Obama, and charged with reaching an accord on climate-change issues. Mr. Obama had hoped for a breakthrough in his debut on the stage of the international climate debate, but Mr. Hu's absence makes a last-minute push by Mr. Obama for a broad accord on emissions reductions impossible, U.S. officials here say.

The G-8 nations -- the U.S., Japan, Germany, France, the U.K., Italy, Canada and Russia -- did unite in issuing a declaration Wednesday night expressing "serious concern" about postelection violence in Iran and setting a March 2010 date for a nuclear-security summit in Washington. They also condemned Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his statements denying the Holocaust. The group stopped short of setting deadlines for a halt to Iran's nuclear program, saying the United Nations General Assembly meeting in September would provide an opportunity to take stock of options. French President Nicolas Sarkozy tried tougher language late Wednesday for reporters, however, saying that if there wasn't progress by September, "We will have to take decisions," Reuters reported.

On Tuesday night, China's Mr. Hu was dining with local officials and business leaders in a frescoed palazzo in Florence when the meal was cut short by a flurry of phone calls. "In a matter of minutes everything froze, and then they left," said Matteo Renzi, the mayor of Florence.The Chinese president left behind Chinese state councilor Dai Bingguo, whom U.S. Deputy White House National Security Adviser Denis McDonough describes as a powerful figure. Still, Mr. McDonough said, "It's a fair question" to ask whether Mr. Hu's departure will have an impact. White House officials expressed disappointment at Mr. Hu's departure, but said the summit here can produce results. They said they didn't expect currency issues to come up, and that the biggest fights over fiscal imbalances and "exit strategies" for economic stimulus programs are with European nations such as Germany, not with China. "Without China, the wind comes out of the sails," said Steven Schrage, Scholl chair of international business at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a G-8 negotiator in the Bush administration.

Since the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, reluctant Western nations have painted the unwillingness of developing economies such as China to sign on to efforts to curb global warming as the largest political and technical impediment to progress. The U.S. Congress and the Bush administration cited the omission of China from Kyoto's mandates as the biggest reason the U.S. wouldn't participate in the treaty.

Developing countries have responded that they shouldn't have to slow or sacrifice their fossil-fuel-based economic growth to help the West atone for its historical consumption patterns.Wednesday's breakdown here underscored how difficult a breakthrough will be when the world gathers in Copenhagen in December to try to complete a binding treaty to replace Kyoto.

"We still have time before Copenhagen," said Michael Froman, deputy White House national security adviser for international economics. U.S. officials framed the L'Aquila climate-change declarations as progress. Numerical targets for emissions reductions by 2050 are largely meaningless anyway, as the target is so far in the future, they said. "It would be a big mistake to look only at 2050," said Todd Stern, the chief U.S. climate-change negotiator.

But it was the failure of the developed nations to set short-term goals that gave the developing countries their reason for torpedoing a broader deal that seemed within reach just a week ago. The G-8 nations also couldn't agree on a pledge to help fund poorer countries' moves toward cleaner energy sources and mitigate the effects of climate change they are already feeling.

A draft declaration had provisionally called for $400 million in this aid -- a figure many nations called too small and others called too large. In the end, they got only theoretical commitments to help with finances and technology.

Still, the G-8 declaration did move the developed world toward stricter regulations on the emissions of climate-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. The developed nations agreed a year ago to a 50% reduction by 2050, but European negotiators argued a more aggressive target was needed ultimately to convince the developing nations. This year, they got 80%. But that may be less significant than it seems because the G-8 declaration leaves it to individual nations to decide their emissions baselines. Germany and other European countries wanted emissions cut 80% from 1990 levels. The U.S. wanted the cuts to be counted against current levels. The declaration states the reductions will be counted against 1990 levels "or later years." "It recognizes multiple baselines," Mr. Froman said.

In another breakthrough, the G-8 agreed on Wednesday that global temperatures shouldn't rise more than two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels. The U.S. has long resisted setting a temperature ceiling. Translating that ceiling into action will entail dramatic changes that will affect every corner of the global economy, especially as temperatures already have risen nearly one degree. But some were less than impressed. "The G-8 might have agreed to avoid cooking the planet by more than two degrees, but they made no attempt to turn down the heat anytime soon," said Antonio Hill, spokesman for Oxfam International, summing up the view of several liberal environmental groups here.