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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Climate science must be more open, say MPs

BBC News | Wednesday, 31 March 2010 | 07:27 GMT

MPs investigating the climate change row at the UK’s University of East Anglia (UEA) have demanded greater transparency from climate scientists. The Commons Science and Technology Committee criticised UEA authorities for failing to respond to requests for data from climate change sceptics. But it found no evidence Professor Phil Jones, whose e-mails were hacked and published online, had manipulated data. It said his reputation, and that of his climate research unit, remained intact. The e-mails were hacked from the university’s computer network and were published on the internet just before the Copenhagen climate conference in December 2009. Climate sceptics claimed that the e-mails provided evidence that scientists at the university’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) were hiding data and falsifying scientific evidence on global warming. The committee said much of the data that critics claimed Prof Jones had hidden, was in fact already publicly available. But they said Prof Jones had aroused understandable suspicion by blocking requests for data.

The MPs’ report acknowledged that Prof Jones "must have found it frustrating to handle requests for data that he knew – or perceived – were motivated by a desire to seek to undermine his work". The committee also said that the responsibility for data requests made under the Freedom of Information Act lay with UEA authorities, rather than with Prof Jones or the CRU. It said that university authorities should have supplied the data to those who requested it, referred them to where it could be found, or where appropriate, argued that the multiple requests were deliberately vexatious. Instead, the MPs concluded, the UEA appeared to support a culture of "resisting disclosure of information to climate change sceptics". The committee chairman, Phil Willis, described this as "reprehensible". Climate science must be transparent and irreproachable, the committee said.    

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China steams ahead on clean energy

BBC News | Friday, 26 March 2010 | 07:49 GMT

China overtook the US during 2009 to become the leading investor in renewable energy technologies, according to a new analysis. Researchers with the Pew Charitable Trusts calculate that China invested $34.6bn (£23.2bn) in clean energy over the year, almost double the US figure. The UK emerges in third place among G20 nations, followed by Spain and Brazil. The most spectacular growth has come in South Korea, which saw installed capacity rise by 250% in five years.

Globally, investment has more than doubled in the last five years, Pew finds, with the recent economic turmoil generating only a slight dip. "Even in the midst of a global recession, the clean energy market has experienced impressive growth," said Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew’s campaign on climate change. "Countries are jockeying for leadership. "They know that investing in clean energy can renew manufacturing bases, and create export opportunities, jobs and businesses." The US still holds a marginal lead in the total amount of installed capacity, but will be overtaken by China during the course of this year if existing trends continue.   

Diversification nation

China’s target of having 30GW of installed renewable capacity in place by 2020 will soon be exceeded through wind alone, and new targets are in the process of being set. "The government has taken a   

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Now, Pachauri under international scanner

TIMES NOW | 11 Mar 2010 | 0832 hrs IST

The United Nations on Wednesday (March 10) launched an independent review of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which has come under much criticism in the recent months. The decision was announced by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and IPCC chair Rajendra Pachauri in the wake of a report by the body which erroneously claimed that Himalayan glaciers would melt away by 2035. “… We need to ensure full transparency, accuracy and objectivity and minimise the potential of any error going forward. I have initiated in tandem with the head of the IPCC a comprehensive independent review of the IPCC’s procedures and processes,” Mr. Ban told reporters here. “This review will be conducted by the Inter Academy Council… it will be done completely independent of the United Nations,” he said.

The Inter Academy Council (IAC) is a multinational organisation of science academies created to produce reports on scientific, technological and health issues. “The IAC is ready to take on the challenge of the review of the IPCC. Our goal will be to ensure nations around the world that they will receive sound scientific advice on climate science with which governments and citizens alike can make informed decisions,” IAC co-chair Robbert Dijkgraaf said. The 2007 report of the IPCC erroneously claimed that the Himalayan glaciers would melt away by 2035. The error has also been    

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India ‘associates’ with Copenhagen Accord – Jairam Ramesh

Reuters | New Delhi | Tue Mar 9, 2010 | 4:05pm IST

A flower grows near thermal power plant in Nagpur India has agreed to formally associate itself with the climate accord struck in Copenhagen last year, one of the last major emitters to do so, the environment minister said in a statement on Tuesday. "After careful consideration, India has agreed to such a listing," Jairam Ramesh told parliament, referring to India’s decision to formally join the more than 100 countries that have choosen to associate themselves with the non-binding Accord. "We believe that our decision to be listed reflects the role India played in giving shape to the Copenhagen Accord. This will strengthen our negotiating position on climate change." India’s decision leaves China, the world’s top greenhouse gas emitter, as the only nation among the "BASIC" group of big developing countries to hold off from associating with the political agreement.

The step is likely to be a small boost for the troubled Accord, which many greens say was a bare-minimum outcome from a summit originally intended to agree on the shape of a broader, tougher legally binding pact to fight climate change. The BASIC group of nations — China, India, South Africa and Brazil — joined the United States, EU and a small number of other countries at the end of the Copenhagen summit to agree on the Accord. It was meant to be formally adopted by all nations at the conference but last-minute objections by a small number of countries meant the agreement was merely noted. In a compromise, it was decided   

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U.N. says will create science panel to review IPCC

Reuters | NUSA DUA, Indonesia | Fri Feb 26, 2010 | 1:08pm IST

An independent board of scientists will be appointed to review the world’s top climate science panel, which has been accused of sloppy work, a U.N. climate spokesman said on Friday. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been under fire after it was revealed one of its 2007 reports wrongly included a prediction that Himalayan glaciers could vanish by 2035. The figure should have been 2350. That mistake and others have fuelled a resurgence of climate scepticism in some quarters but the U.N. says the fundamental claims of the IPCC — that dangerous climate change is caused by mankind — remains unshaken. The panel will be part of a broader review of the IPCC to be announced next week, said Nick Nuttall, spokesman for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

“It will be made up of senior scientific figures. I can’t name who they are right now. It should do a review of the IPCC, produce a report by, say, August and there is a plenary of the IPCC in South Korea in October. “The report will go there for adoption,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a UNEP conference in Nusa Dua, on the Indonesian island of Bali, where environment ministers have been meeting this week. “There’s no     Continue reading

Climate fight heats up in deep freeze

NYT | Washington | 5:08 am ET | Feb. 11, 2010

As millions of people along the East Coast hole up in their snowbound homes, the two sides in the climate-change debate are seizing on the mounting drifts to bolster their arguments. Skeptics of global warming are using the record-setting snows to mock those who warn of dangerous human-driven climate change — this looks more like global cooling, they taunt. Most climate scientists respond that the ferocious storms are consistent with forecasts that a heating planet will produce more frequent and more intense weather events. But some independent climate experts say the blizzards in the Northeast no more prove that the planet is cooling than the lack of snow in Vancouver or the downpours in Southern California prove that it is warming. As an illustration of their point of view, the family of Senator James M. Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma, a leading climate skeptic in Congress, built a six-foot-tall igloo on Capitol Hill and put a cardboard sign on top that read “Al Gore’s New Home.”

The extreme weather, Mr. Inhofe said by e-mail, reinforced doubts about scientists’ conclusion that global warming was “unequivocal” and most likely caused by human activity. Nonsense, responded Joseph Romm, a climate-change expert and former Energy Department official who writes about climate issues at the liberal Center for American Progress. “Ideologues in the Senate keep pushing the anti-scientific disinformation that big snowstorms are evidence against human-caused global warming,” Mr. Romm wrote on Wednesday.     Continue reading

Climate deal unlikely unless economy lifts – India

Davos | Reuters | Fri Jan 29, 2010 | 2:26am IST

U.N. climate talks will “probably not” agree an ambitious deal this year unless the economy improves and voters press for action, said India’s top climate official Shyam Saran. “If the economic and financial crisis continues or even worsens during the coming year then the kind of ambitious response that the world expects is probably not going to happen,” said India’s special envoy on climate change, on the fringes of a business and policy summit in Davos. “But if the situation improves … if there is much more public opinion pressure on governments domestically … that remains to be seen.”

The financial crisis had contributed to deadlock at last month’s climate talks, by heightening concerns that climate laws would drive jobs overseas, for example to the developing world, if they faced less onerous targets, said Saran. Saran hinted at compromise, however, on a major stumbling block in Copenhagen last month — but the United States first must agree to make its proposed targets to curb carbon emissions enforceable under international law. The United States never ratified the existing Kyoto Protocol, whose present commitments expire in 2012, and time is running out for the world to agree and then ratify a successor pact. The United States has said it will not sign up to an extended Kyoto Protocol, preferring a new agreement.     Continue reading

Is clean tech China’s moon shot?

Reuters | Davos | January 28th, 2010 | 06:32am

The global race to develop clean technology is not just about who can build the best solar parks or wind farms. It is also shaping up as a contest between Chinese-style capitalism and the more market-oriented approach fancied by the United States and Europe. The question comes down to this: will China’s highly capitalized command-and-control economy trump laissez-faire in a low-carbon shift that is widely portrayed as the next industrial revolution? The failure in Copenhagen to agree to replace the Kyoto Protocol with a new global climate treaty when it expires in 2012 has thrown the focus on national measures. And by almost all accounts, the Chinese are coming on strong.

Beijing’s top leaders have made clear their intention to have their nation dominate this new industry, up and down the value ladder. And in their quest for the prize, they are not burdened by concerns facing their Western counterparts — such as the impact of wind turbines on landscapes, higher energy prices for consumers, or investor returns. “Developed markets need to be aware that China is gaining in this space,” said David Russell, co-head of responsible investment at the 28 billion pound ($45 billion) British universities pension fund, the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).    Continue reading