Category: Cope Summit

U.S. goes to Basics over Copenhagen accord tactics

Guardian.co.uk | 03/2/2010

Close reading of the cables released by WikiLeaks reveals in excruciating detail the US tactics deployed to achieve its aim of overwhelming the opposition to the Copenhagen accord.

In the cable requesting intelligence from UN diplomats, it names specificBasic conference countries of interest, including China, France, Japan, Mexico, Russia and the European Union, and seeks biographical details of individuals such as credit card and frequent-flyer numbers. It also seeks compromising intelligence on the officials running the climate negotiations, such as "efforts by treaty secretariats to influence treaty negotiations or compliance".

Despite pushing the accord hard, America’s deputy climate-change envoy, Jonathan Pershing, revealed some concerns about it in the meeting with the EU climate action commissioner, Connie Hedegaard. The cable notes Pershing saying the national action plans to cut emissions submitted, "by some major economies were ‘opaque’". Hedegaard agrees – "China’s submission was open to interpretation" and Pershing says, "Brazil’s and India’s submissions were as well".

In the other key cable from Brussels, the US deputy national security adviser, Michael Froman, gives an admiring assessment of the Basic countries’ tactics of opposition: "It is remarkable how closely co-ordinated the Basic group has become in international fora, taking turns to impede US/EU initiatives and playing the US and EU off against each other. Basic countries have widely differing interests, but have subordinated these to their common short-term goals. The US and EU need to learn from this co-ordination and work much more closely and effectively together ourselves, to better handle third country obstructionism and avoid future train wrecks on climate, Doha or financial regulatory reform."

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ANALYSIS – Action on global climate may drift for years

Reuters | Thu Jul 29, 2010 | 2:48pm IST

International action on climate change looks likely to drift over the next two years as politicians waver on tougher carbon caps in the wake of the financial crisis. Recession in industrialised countries has focused attention on the cost of cutting emissions. And green motivations suffered a huge blow with the failure of U.N. negotiations to deliver a deal in Copenhagen in December. Talks resume next week in Bonn, Germany, but a new draft text is as vague as ever on targets and a timetable to cut carbon emissions. "I suspect that we’re in for a fairly long period of slowdown, you’re talking about a two to three years’ timeframe before you restore the political momentum," said Tom Burke of Imperial College London. The global renewable energy market is tipped to have a record year in 2010, thanks to existing support and subsidies, but a climate deal would boost investment above the current level of about $200 billion annually.

Global consensus would add pressure to introduce national carbon caps. The United States and Australia each confirmed last week legislative delays on industry carbon emissions caps. "Domestically, there is going to be (U.S.) climate policy, in terms of congressional action it’s less likely," said Harvard University’s Robert Stavins, referring to state regulations which will likely apply in lieu of a stalled climate bill. The most likely scenario for approval of a bill could be if U.S. President Barack Obama won a second term, from 2013, when recession was well over, Stavins added. The U.S. delay would come as a "major disappointment" to governments and environmental groups, said Robert Watson, chief scientist at Britain’s environment ministry. "What signal does that send to other governments as they go into negotiations leading up to Cancun and beyond?" he said, referring to the next major U.N. climate meeting in Mexico at the end of the year. The U.N. negotiations are meant to deliver a new deal to succeed the Kyoto Protocol whose present round expires in 2012.

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US Senate will not pass a full climate bill

BBC News | 23 July 2010 | 12:15 GMT

The US Senate will not pass a full climate bill in its current session, majority leader Harry Reid has said. Mr Reid acknowledged on Thursday that Democrats pushing for a bill could not muster the required number of votes. Instead, he plans to introduce more limited legislation that would boost energy efficiency in vehicles and crack down on offshore oil exploration. The news is a major blow to prospects of achieving a new global deal on climate change through the UN talks. Some advocates of climate legislation in the US have criticised President Barack Obama for failing to take a strong lead on the issue, despite campaign promises.

In June 2009, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would cap emissions from most sectors of the economy and establish a nationwide carbon market. A similar bill was introduced into the Senate last September, but did not receive enough backing; and weaker versions have suffered a similar fate. On Thursday, Mr Reid acknowledged legislation was not going anywhere. "We know where we are – we know that we don’t have the votes," he said. The Democrats hold 59 of the 100 Senate seats. But some Democrats fearful of the economic impacts of cap-and-trade legislation have joined the minority Republicans in opposition to the bill.

Key cuts

US legislation is key to tying up a new global agreement on climate change – the agreement that governments promised in 2007 they would deliver at last year’s Copenhagen summit, but did not. "It is very important to have the US in any agreement, as it constitutes 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions," said John Lanchbery, principal climate change adviser at the UK’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and a seasoned observer of UN negotiations. "And it’s in the position where it has to have some domestic legislation before it will put anything 

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CRU climate scientists ‘did not withhold data’

BBC News | Wednesday, 7 July 2010 | 17:18 GMT

Global warming Climate scientists at a top UK research unit have emerged from an inquiry with their reputations for honesty intact but with a lack of openness criticised. The Independent Climate Change Email Review was set up by the University of East Anglia (UEA) after more than 1,000 e-mails were hacked from its servers. Climate "sceptics" claimed the e-mails showed that UEA scientists manipulated and suppressed key climate data. But these accusations are largely dismissed by the report. The review found nothing in the e-mails to undermine Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports. The review, chaired by former civil servant Sir Muir Russell, has spent months reading submissions sent in by climate scientists and their critics and interviewing key players, notably scientists within the university’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU). It concludes that "their rigour and honesty as scientists are not in doubt".

However, it says "there has been a consistent pattern of failing to display the proper degree of openness", notable over complying with Freedom of Information (FoI) requests. CRU scientists were too quick to dismiss critics from outside their own circles, it says. Sir Muir said the methods the inquiry team used ought to allay fears that this was a whitewash. "It’s inevitable that people who’ve made up their minds (beforehand) have made up their minds," he said. "But we haven’t ducked the issues… we’ve gone to the heart of the issues to resolve them as best we can." Edward Acton, UEA vice-chancellor, said the review should "finally lay to rest the conspiracy theories, untruths and misunderstandings that have circulated. We hope this exoneration of UEA climate scientists and their research collabroators around the world, some of whom have suffered considerably during this experience, will be widely reported." He said the university accepted the inquiry’s criticisms on lack of openness and compliance with FoI legislation, and that he had written to all staff at the university reminding them of their responsibilities.

Meanwhile Professor Phil Jones, the former CRU director at the centre of many of the allegations, has taken up the new post of director of research within the unit. Professor Acton said this would allow him to continue his research while others shouldered more of the administrative burden, including taking primary responsibility for FoI requests. 

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China-led bloc to consider Kyoto climate pact future

Reuters | Wed Apr 21, 2010 | 12:19pm IST

A bloc of the world’s fastest growing carbon emitters, seen as key to a global deal on climate change, appears for the first time willing to discuss the future of the Kyoto Protocol to get the United States on board. Kyoto binds about 40 rich nations to cut emissions by 2008-12 and developing countries want a tougher second commitment period. That demand is opposed by many developed nations that want to jettison Kyoto to include emerging markets like India and China. Next week’s meeting of the environment ministers of Brazil, South Africa, India and China – the so-called BASIC nations – will look at ways to bridge a trust deficit with rich nations, according to its agenda, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.

"How long will the Kyoto Protocol survive? Could we envisage a shorter second commitment period designed solely to secure carbon markets?" said the agenda of the meeting to be held in South Africa on April 25-26. "If no second commitment period, what would replace Kyoto?" was another question listed on the agenda. Unmitigated distrust between rich and poorer nations about who should do how much has stalled negotiations for a global deal to fight climate change. Officials say they are less hopeful of a broader deal in Mexico in November. So a willingness on the part of the BASIC nations to soften their stand on the Kyoto Protocol could help break the negotiations logjam and bring on board the United States which never ratified the protocol.   

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‘No malpractice’ by climate unit

BBC NEWS 2010/04/14 10:28:05 GMT

Climategate There was no scientific malpractice at the research unit at the centre of the "Climategate" affair, an independent panel has concluded. The panel, chaired by Lord Oxburgh, was convened to examine the conclusions of research published by the unit. It began its review after hacked e-mails from CRU scientists were published on the web. The panel said it might be helpful if researchers worked more closely with professional statisticians. This would ensure the best methods were used, the report said.

The panel found that the work carried out by the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) in Norwich relied heavily on statistical methods. "We cannot help remarking that it is very surprising that research in an area that depends so heavily on statistical methods has not been carried out in close collaboration with professional statisticians," the panel remarked in its conclusions. The e-mails issue came to light in November last year, when hundreds of messages between scientists at the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) Climate Research Unit (CRU) and their peers around the world were posted on the world wide web, along with other documents. Critics said that the e-mail exchanges reveal an attempt by the researchers involved to manipulate data.   

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Climate change treaty ‘more urgent than ever’

BBC News | 2010/04/09 | 14:01:39 GMT

The need for a new global climate deal is "greater than ever", according to developing country delegates speaking at the opening of UN climate talks. Blocs representing the poorest nations called for intensive talks during the year, leading to agreement on a legally binding treaty in December. The EU backed the call, re-stating that the conclusion of December’s Copenhagen summit had not met its ambitions. But other industrialised countries do not appear so keen for a new treaty. The three-day meeting here in Bonn is the first since the Copenhagen summit concluded without the global treaty that many countries had aimed for, instead producing a political declaration known as the Copenhagen Accord.

The US and other rich countries see it as a positive development, but others decry it as a figleaf that detracts attention from the real issues. Describing Copenhagen as "a total failure", Venezuela’s delegation chief Claudia Salerno said the accord would not reduce emissions enough to prevent significant climate impacts on poorer countries. "My country raised its voice against the misnomer ‘Copenhagen Accord’ because… it contains proposals for voluntary reductions in carbon emissions that according to scientists would lead to increases in temperature of about 5C (9F)," she said. "So nobody should be congratulating themselves on that. The urgency we face now is even greater than 2009." Not all analyses of the Copenhagen Accord’s pledges on curbing carbon emissions produce such high estimates for temperature rise, but many of those pledges are far from precise.    

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