Sustainablog

This blog will cover some news items related to Sustainability: Corporate Social Responsibility, Stewardship, Environmental management, etc.

23.4.10

Carbon Newsclips - Eath Day After 2010 Edition: Rises in carbon prices; 3C rise in temps by 2100; will there be cap-and-trade in the US?

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Climate change: The runes of Copenhagen are hard for industry to read

Financial Times, 29 March 2010 - The Copenhagen summit on climate change last December was the biggest meeting of world leaders ever to discuss issues such as global warming. Its effects on the energy sector will be far-reaching – but what those effects will be is unclear.

Derided by environmentalists for producing an agreement worth "less than a bus ticket", in the words of Greenpeace, the environmental group, the summit nevertheless produced an accord that requires the world's biggest economies to limit their greenhouse gas emissions.

Those limits vary widely. The European Union has pledged cuts of 20 per cent in carbon dioxide emissions by 2020, compared with 1990 levels.

The US has pledged 17 per cent compared with 2005 levels, though this will depend on the passage of domestic legislation which is now looking more difficult.

China has agreed only to cut its "carbon intensity" – that is, emissions per unit of economic output – by 40 to 45 per cent by 2020, a target that means its emissions will continue to grow. The country strongly resisted pressure from developed economies to set a year when its emissions would peak.

Although the targets were lower than environmental groups would have liked, meeting them – and the tougher 2050 targets set by developed countries – will still require require a rapid restructuring of the global energy industry, with efficiency, renewables and nuclear power all playing big roles.

But although the Copenhagen accord marks the first time that developed and developing countries have jointly agreed to limit emissions, the summit failed to answer important questions.

The accord is not a legally binding treaty, and so could be hard to enforce if countries decide to renege on their promises. The document itself contains little detail on how emissions cuts are to be achieved.

It promises financial flows of $100bn a year from the developed to the developing world by 2020, to help poorer countries cut emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change, but there is no detail on how these sums are to be provided, and how much will come from the private or the public sector.

Other questions left hanging include whether the Kyoto protocol would be continued beyond 2012, and how international carbon markets would work.

The nations that have ratified the Kyoto treaty – almost every country except the US – met to discuss whether there should be another "commitment period" beyond 2012, when the current one ends. That would entail developed countries signing up to more explicit emissions targets between now and 2020.

If there is no agreement on this, it is difficult to see what will happen to the carbon markets set up under the protocol. These allow developed countries to meet their emissions reduction targets more cheaply by funding emissions-cutting projects in developing countries.

The market in carbon credits, awarded to such projects, was worth €17.5bn ($23.3bn) last year, according to Point Carbon, a consultancy.

For the energy sector, reading the runes of the Copenhagen summit is difficult. There may not be a new fully fledged global treaty on climate change for years, even though such a treaty would provide more of the kind of certainty that markets would like to see.

But Yvo de Boer, the UN's top official on climate change, who announced his resignation in February, says that companies should be guided by the clear direction of policy that the summit signalled. "Copenhagen did not provide us with a clear agreement in legal terms, but the political commitment and sense of direction toward a low-emissions world are overwhelming," he says.

That should provide enough of a message for energy companies to see they must invest in improving efficiency, renewable energy sources and other low-carbon forms of energy, and in technologies such as carbon capture and storage, he says.

Others disagree. Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency, said this year: "There still is no clear signal for the energy sector after Copenhagen, and that means that the uncertainty in energy sector investments continues, particularly in the developing world."

That lack of a clear investment signal was dangerous for the climate, he said. "Investors still have the incentives to build the kind of conventional coal-fired plants that lock in significant amounts of carbon emissions for many years to come."

One indicator that disappointed clean energy companies was the sudden drop in carbon prices under the EU emissions trading scheme, immediately after the summit ended. Carbon prices fell 8 per cent to about €12.40 on the first day of trading after the summit.

That was a bearish indication that companies would not be persuaded to invest in clean energy, according to Trevor Sikorski, director at Barclays Capital. "I see nothing [in the accord] that should drive investment in low-carbon technology."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8635765.stm

'Paltry' carbon curbs point to 3C
By Richard Black 
Environment correspondent, BBC News 

Pledges made at December's UN summit in Copenhagen are unlikely to keep global warming below 2C, a study concludes.

Writing in the journal Nature, analysts at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts Research in Germany say a rise of at least 3C by 2100 is likely.

The team also says many countries, including EU members and China, have pledged slower carbon curbs than they have been achieving anyway.

They say a new global deal is needed if deeper cuts are to materialise.

"There's a big mismatch between the ambitious goal, which is 2C... and the emissions reductions," said Potsdam's Malte Meinshausen.
It is like racing towards the cliff and hoping you stop just before it 
Dr Malte Meinshausen

"The pledged emissions reductions are in most cases very unambitious," he told BBC News.

In their Nature article, the team uses stronger language, describing the pledges as "paltry".

"The prospects for limiting global warming to 2C - or even to 1.5C, as more than 100 nations demand - are in dire peril," they conclude.

Between now and 2020, global emissions are likely to rise by 10-20%, they calculate, and the chances of passing 3C by 2100 are greater than 50%.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), this implies a range of serious impacts for the world, including

  • significant falls in crop yields across most of the world
  • damage to most coral reefs
  • likely disruption to water supplies for hundreds of millions of people.
More than 120 countries have now associated themselves with the Copenhagen Accord, the political document stitched together on the summit's final day by a small group of countries led by the US and the BASIC bloc of Brazil, China, India and South Africa.

The accord "recognises" the 2C target as indicated by science. It was also backed at last year's G8 summit.

Many of those 120-odd have said what they are prepared to do to constrain their greenhouse gas emissions - either pledging cuts by 2020, in the case of industrialised countries, or promising to improve their "carbon intensity" in the case of developing nations.

Some of the pledges are little more than vague statements of intent. But all developed countries, and the developing world's major emitters, have all given firm figures or ranges of figures.

The EU, for example, pledges to cut emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2020; China promises to improve carbon intensity by 40-45% by 2020 compared against 2005; and Australia vows an emission cut of 5-25% on 2000 levels by 2020.

The Potsdam team concludes that many of the detailed pledges are nowhere near as ambitious as their proponents would claim.

They calculate that the EU's 20% pledge implies an annual cut of 0.45% between 2010 and 2020, whereas it is already achieving annual reductions larger than that.
EUROPE'S 'AMBITIOUS' CARBON CUTS 

  • The Potsdam team calculates that the EU's emissions have fallen on average by 0.6% per year since 1980
  • During 2009, emissions from the bloc's power sector alone fell by 11% owing to the recession
  • Consequently, the current 20% by 2020 pledge equates to 0.45% per year - less than the historical average 
China's 40% minimum pledge also amounts to nothing more than business as usual, they relate; and among developed countries, only pledges by Norway and Japan fall into the 25-40% by 2020 range that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommends as necessary to give a good chance of meeting the 2C target.

Hot air

Whereas many countries, rich and poor, have indicated they are willing to be more ambitious if there is a binding global deal, the Potsdam team notes that in the absence of a global deal, only the least ambitious end of their range can be counted upon.

Writing in the BBC's Green Room this week, Bryony Worthington from the campaign group Sandbag argues that the EU can easily move to its alternative higher figure of 30% - and that it must, if it wants to stimulate others to cut deeper.

"Many countries are looking to Europe to show how it is possible to achieve growth without increasing emissions," she said.

"Only when they see that this is possible will they be inclined to adopt absolute reduction targets of their own."

An additional factor flagged up in the analysis is that many countries have accrued surplus emissions credits under the Kyoto Protocol.

Countries such as Russia and other former Eastern bloc nations comfortably exceeded their Kyoto targets owing to the collapse of Communist economies in the early 1990s.

Without a binding global agreement preventing the practice, these nations would be allowed to put these "banked" credits towards meeting any future targets - meaning they would have to reduce actual emissions less than they promised.

These "hot air" credits could also be traded between nations.

Stern words

This is not the first analysis of the Copenhagen Accord pledges, but it is one of the starkest.

Lord Stern's team at the Grantham Research Institute for Climate Change and the Environment in London has also run the figures; and although their conclusions on the numbers are similar, they do not see things in quite such a pessimistic light.

"You cannot characterise an emissions path for a country or the world by focusing solely on the level in 2020 or any other particular date," said the institute's principal research fellow Alex Bowen.

"It is the whole path that matters, and if more action is taken now to reduce emissions, less action will be required later, and vice versa."

The Potsdam team acknowledges that if emissions do rise as they project, it would still be possible to have a reasonable chance of meeting 2C if very strict carbon curbs were applied thereafter, bringing emissions down by 5% per year or so.

"In an ideal world, if you pull off every possible emission reduction from the year 2021 onwards, you can still get to get to 2C if you're lucky," said Dr Meinshausen.

"But it is like racing towards the cliff and hoping you stop just before it."

They argue that positive analyses may "lull decision-makers into a false sense of security".

The UN climate process continues through this year, with many countries saying they still want to reach a binding global agreement by December.

But stark divisions remain between various blocs over emission cuts, finance, technology transfer and other issues; and it is far from certain that all important countries want anything more binding than the current set of voluntary national commitments.

Richard.Black-INTERNET@bbc.co.uk

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European carbon trading survives key tests

Financial Times, 8 April 2010 - A funny thing has happened to carbon dioxide prices in the past few days: they have failed to collapse.

Hours before most traders departed for their Easter break last week, the European Commission issued data showing the carbon market, under the European Union's emissions trading scheme (EUETS) was oversupplied.

Owing to the recession, Europe's heavy industries used far less energy than expected in 2009, and so had a surplus of the carbon dioxide permits they need to comply with the EU's environmental rules.

Preliminary data showed industry emissions at 1.882bn tonnes of carbon in 2009, down just over 11 per cent from 2.120bn tonnes a year earlier, according to the Commission. However, permits covering 2.037bn tonnes were issued for 2009. Not all of those will have been traded in the market, but there is still estimated to have been a surplus of more than 80m tonnes. Final data will be released next month.

Environmental campaigners reacted angrily, arguing a lower ceiling on emissions was needed to encourage investment in low-carbon technology. Joss Garman, of Greenpeace, says: "The new data confirms that we strongly need to tighten the cap."

But rather than dropping sharply - as they have done in similar circumstances in the past - prices for carbon permits rose slightly to about €13.50.

One reason prices held steady is that the bad news was already priced in. Another was that companies can hold on to the permits they received for this year, and use them as the economy picks up over the next few years.

Kjersti Ulset, manager at Point Carbon, says: "Market participants had feared even lower emissions in 2009 and confidence improved once the data was released."

The unexpected uptick in prices came as a small fillip to the carbon markets, which have been battered in recent months by a series of blows. Revelations of hacking and fraud, the effects of the recession and political setbacks have all taken their toll on a market that is particularly vulnerable to shocks, as it is still in its infancy, and exists only as the result of regulatory fiat.

For example, in 2006, a year after the scheme began to operate, when emissions from the industries covered were verified for the first time, traders discovered member states had been far too generous in allocating free permits. There was a large surplus in permits - a disaster, for a market that depends on scarcity for its existence. Prices dropped almost to zero amid international ridicule.

The Commission ensured fewer permits were issued in the second phase, from 2008 to 2012, but the financial crisis and recession destroyed its calculations.

Henry Derwent, president of the International Emissions Trading Association, says the problem of bureaucrats trying to second-guess the economic cycle to set the level of permits should abate in the third phase of the scheme, which runs from 2013 to 2020. "Looking out to 2020 is a long time away, even in terms of economic cycles," he says. Officials will be able to base their permit issuance instead on a calculation of how far the EU needs to cut its emissions to meet its target of a 20 per cent reduction from 1990 levels by 2020.

Even more damaging, in the past few months there have been a series of technical problems over the way trading is conducted. In January, hackers on a "phishing" expedition managed to break into some of the registries where permits are stored. Although the problem was swiftly contained, it drew attention to the security standards across member states.

Worse followed last month when it emerged the Hungarian government had "recycled" carbon credits that had already been used to fulfil companies' emissions obligations.

Under the EUETS, companies can increase their emissions quota by buying cheap carbon credits from overseas, issued by the United Nations under the Kyoto protocol. The Hungarian government accepted about 1.7m such credits - worth nearly €20m - and then resold them into the market, taking advantage of a legal loophole.

The move caused turmoil in the markets, and two exchanges - Bluenext and Nordpool - temporarily suspended trading.

Although the EU moved to close the loophole, Mr Derwent says the scandal was damaging as it made the EUETS look unstable to overseas observers.

That is now the crucial battleground. If the carbon markets are to fulfil their potential, other countries will have to develop their own trading systems to link to the EUETS, creating a global market and a level playing field that should encourage business to invest in low-carbon technology.

Hopes that such a global market could be forged in the short term were dashed at last year's Copenhagen climate summit, when governments could agree only a limited accord, committing to emissions cuts without providing any detail on mechanisms to achieve them. But the EU is spearheading efforts to put carbon trading - or "market-based mechanisms", in the UN jargon - at the heart of a new global climate treaty.

That will be hard. The prospects for carbon trading in the US nearly disappeared under the weight of strong opposition from Republicans and some Democrats, though President Obama's administration is attempting to resurrect the idea in a modified form. In Japan, Canada and Australia, moves towards carbon trading have also hit problems.

It is up to the EU to persuade other countries that carbon trading can be steady and reliable, giving businesses the long-term certainty needed for large infrastructure investments. Fortunately for the EU, trader reaction to last week's news has shown a much-needed degree of stability and maturity.

How the EU system operates

The European Union's emissions trading scheme (EUETS) is the world's biggest carbon trading system, worth about €70bn ($93bn) last year, according to analysts at Point Carbon.

Companies covered by the scheme - including electricity generators, oil and gas companies, cement-makers, paper and pulp companies and glassmakers - are issued with a quota of permits to produce carbon dioxide.

This quota is ratcheted downwards in successive phases of the scheme, which has been running since 2005. Companies that need to produce more than their allocation must buy spare permits from cleaner businesses.

They may also buy a small number of "carbon credits" from abroad. These are certificates issued to emission-reducing projects in the developing world, such as wind farms or solar power units, by the United Nations.

Thus, EUETS is designed to reduce CO 2 emissions from European industry at the lowest possible cost.

In the first phase of the scheme, from 2005-2007, EU member states handed out all the permits that companies needed for free. Too many were issued, causing a collapse in prices.

In the second phase, from 2008-2012, companies have had to buy a proportion of their permits at auction. They will have to buy even more at auction in the third phase from 2013-2020.

The initial surplus of permits has now been mostly eliminated, but prices have been depressed by the recession.

http://planetark.org/wen/57503

New Climate Talks Set For 2010; Gloom For Treaty
Date: 12-Apr-10
Country:
 GERMANY
Author:
 Alister Doyle and Gerard Wynn


New Climate Talks Set For 2010; Gloom For Treaty Photo: Morteza Nikoubazl
A United Nations flag is raised at the United Nations multi-agency compound near Herat, November 5, 2009.
Photo: Morteza Nikoubazl

About 175 nations agreed a plan on Sunday to revive climate talks after the fractious Copenhagen summit but the U.N.'s top climate official predicted a full new treaty was out of reach for 2010.
Delegates at the April 9-11 talks, which reopened splits between rich and poor nations from Copenhagen, agreed to hold two extra meetings each at least a week long in the second half of 2010 after the December summit fell short of a binding deal.
The extra sessions, and a linked agreement to prepare new texts about fighting climate change, are meant to help pave the way to the next annual meeting of environment ministers in Cancun, Mexico, November 29-December 10.
And the U.N.'s top climate official, Yvo de Boer, said governments should focus on practical steps in 2010, such as aid to help poor nations cope with the impact of climate change or to promote clean technologies.
"I don't think Cancun will provide the final outcome," de Boer told Reuters on the sidelines of April 9-11 talks, the first since Copenhagen and intended to build trust.
"I think that Cancun can agree an operational architecture but turning that into a treaty, if that is the decision, will take more time beyond Mexico," he said, predicting "many more rounds" of talks to reach an ultimate solution.
Delegates asked the chair of the talks, Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe of Zimbabwe, to come up with a new draft text by May 17 about ways to combat global warming to help negotiations on a new treaty in 2010.
It was not decided where and when the extra meetings would be held. The meetings will be in addition to a session in Bonn from May 31-June 11.
"We have made substantial progress in the resuscitation of a positive spirit," said Dessima Williams, who chairs the Alliance of Small Island States, despite wrangling between rich and poor. "Multilateralism is very slow and complicated."
"It has been a difficult process," said Wendel Trio of Greenpeace. "We have agreement on a minimum programme. It's a start but not an extremely good start."
The U.N. talks among senior officials were meant to build trust after the December summit merely agreed the non-binding Copenhagen Accord, which has backing from about 120 of 194 U.N. member nations, including all top greenhouse gas emitters.
TWO DEGREES
The Accord aims to limit a rise in average world temperatures to below two degrees Celsius (3.6 F) from pre-industrial times. But it does not spell out how and some poor nations say it is too weak to avert dangerous impacts.
The Accord also pledges $30 billion from 2010-2012 to help developing nations cope with climate change, such as floods, droughts, mudslides and rising seas. Aid is meant to rise to $100 billion a year from 2020.
The United States praised the Accord as a basis for guiding talks in 2010. But many developing nations say that rich nations should do far more to cut their own greenhouse gas emissions.
The head of the European Commission delegation said a cause of gridlock was that neither China nor the United States, the top emitters of greenhouse gases, were willing to take on legal commitments to curb emissions unless the other did.
"That's where the problem lies in the end," Artur Runge-Metzger said.
(Editing by Michael Roddy)


http://planetark.org/wen/57508

Eco-Centre Sets Sights On Carbon-Free Britain
Date: 12-Apr-10
Country:
 WALES
Author:
 Peter Griffiths

In a remote, rain-soaked former quarry in Wales, environmentalists are putting the finishing touches to a plan to tackle climate change by weaning Britain off fossil fuels within 20 years.
The Center for Alternative Technology (CAT), a sprawling eco-complex set up during the 1974 oil crisis, will publish proposals in June to eliminate emissions from oil, gas and coal.
While Britain was the first country to set legally-binding targets to cut emissions, by 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, CAT's strategy goes further.
"We are saying 100 percent by 2030," CAT researcher Alex Randall told Reuters at the tourist attraction and research center on the southern tip of Snowdonia National Park.
"We can't keep burning fossil fuels."
The authors of CAT's report, Zero Carbon Britain, hope to influence policy-makers and spark a wider public debate.
Under their plans, energy demand would be halved and renewable energy expanded. It generates only six percent of Britain's electricity today.
Wind, wave, solar and other renewable sources would replace coal, gas and nuclear power, while electric cars and more energy-efficient homes would help to cut emissions.
The Labour government and the opposition Conservative Party, ahead in opinion polls before a May 6 election, both support a move to a low carbon economy, but they want to keep nuclear power.
Critics say renewables are too costly, unreliable and unlikely to produce sufficient power.
World leaders are arguing about how deep the emissions cuts will be and who will pay for them. Hopes of a deal were low as U.N. climate talks resumed in Bonn on Friday.
RED KITES
The late ecologist Gerard Morgan-Grenville founded CAT in an old slate quarry near the town of Machynlleth, west Wales, after spending a year studying American hippies.
The center aims to show people how to protect the planet by using less power, cutting pollution and living sustainably.
The once bare quarry is now rich in wildlife. Polecats and dormice live in the woods, while red kites circle overhead. Only the roar of fighter jets on training runs disturbs the calm.
Two water-powered funicular railway carriages take visitors up the hillside from the car park to the center, where displays give tips on everything from composting to green toilets.
CAT, which attracts around 65,000 people a year, is about to open a new education center, with earth walls in the lecture theater, that will offer training and post-graduate courses.
The area's member of parliament Lembit Opik, a Liberal Democrat who rides a Segway electric scooter to meet voters, supports the zero carbon report and says bold action is needed.
"It's doable, it's only a question of political will," he told Reuters. "How brave are we? How much are we as politicians willing to lead opinion rather than follow it?"

http://planetark.org/wen/57510

Giving Up Climate Treaty May Unblock U.N. Deal
Date: 12-Apr-10
Country:
 GERMANY
Author:
 Gerard Wynn and Alister Doyle

The prospect of a global climate treaty is fading as the world's top two carbon emitters, China and the United States, avoid legally binding action. Experts say a shift to a less ambitious goal might help.
Less focus on a new treaty might resolve a tangle of disputes over the legal framework and drive concrete action, for example to preserve rainforests or to help developing nations cope with droughts, heatwaves, floods or rising seas.
U.N. climate talks to try to agree a tougher, wider successor to the present Kyoto Protocol entered their third year at an April 9-11 meeting in Bonn, Germany, the first since a fractious summit in Copenhagen in December.
Copenhagen was billed as the world's best chance to agree a new treaty. Failure to achieve a treaty or the smaller goal of binding carbon cuts for rich nations has sapped momentum and is forcing a search for less ambitious solutions.
"We can't afford only to keep coming back year after year, we have to explore other options," said Annie Petsonk, international counsel at the U.S.-based Environmental Defense Fund, adding that a treaty was still possible.
Annual U.N. climate meetings have failed to achieve any major breakthrough since signing the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. The present round of that pact expires in 2012.
Experts note a less formal deal, outside a legal framework, may now emerge, building on the actions of individual nations.
More than 100 countries have backed a non-binding Copenhagen Accord to mobilize $30 billion in climate aid from 2010-2012 to help poor nations face the impacts of climate change, underscoring what could be agreed outside a legal framework.
"It used to be said that countries would only act if there was a treaty, but that's not the case," said Jake Schmidt, international climate policy director at Natural Resources Defense Council.
"A lot is happening even though we don't have an international agreement," he said, referring to the accord.
MEXICO
Mexico, which will host the next annual talks after Copenhagen in Cancun in late 2010, said that demands for a legally binding treaty should not get in the way of progress at that meeting.
"We do not want to get ensnared in the legal stuff so that we will be prevented from moving. What we want is to achieve a sensible global mobilization," Mexico's chief delegate Fernando Tudela said.
"If a legally binding treaty is possible and helps, we are all for it. But it's not a pre-condition for moving in the right direction." One senior developing country delegate accepted privately that the U.N. process may never agree a legal pact.
The difficulty of agreeing a binding treaty centers on the United States and China, who "remain in a dance about this issue," said Jennifer Morgan, from the World Resources Institute.
"There's not a legal treaty until you break this Gordian knot of the U.S. and China in particular having very different views of what it means to be legally binding," said Alden Meyer, of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
U.S. legislation to cut emissions is stalled in the U.S. Senate. And the United States will balk at binding targets unless China makes its own actions accountable in some international way.
Another roadblock to any treaty is a requirement for unanimity in U.N. talks -- absent in Copenhagen and which remained elusive in Bonn, as developing nations notably Cuba, Bolivia and Venezuela rejected any attempt to build agreement in smaller groups.
One of the reasons why a treaty has been the goal, especially of developing countries, was because it allows for sanctions on rich countries which miss their targets. Enforcing a non-binding deal is far more difficult.
Petsonk advocated an approach where rich nations tied developing countries and each other to certain minimum action before benefiting from a $125 billion carbon market.
That would draw upon a voluntary World Trade Organization model which has widened free trade by offering the benefits of WTO membership.
The biggest buyer of carbon offsets, the European Union, has already laid plans to limit its financing of carbon-cutting projects in emerging economies which do not bolster climate action. The United States, Japan and Australia plan cap and trade schemes which would scale up that carbon finance carrot.
Without such an approach the only crutch to a non-binding deal may be international criticism. "Naming and shaming may be what we end up with," Meyer said.
(Editing by Alison Williams)

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Measure, Manage, Report: How Companies Can Prepare for a Low-Carbon Economy

SocialFunds.com, 7 April 2010 - The Environmental Defense Fund publishes a roadmap to help companies navigate the transition to greenhouse gas reductions and meaningful sustainability reporting.

In January, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued guidance on disclosure of climate change risks and opportunities at publicly traded companies. Stating that "certain existing disclosure rules…may require a company to disclose the impact that business or legal developments related to climate change may have on its business," the guidance directs companies to evaluate and disclose the physical impacts of climate change on their operations. 

The guidance issued by the Commission did not provide a framework for such evaluation and disclosure, and in the absence of one, companies may be tempted to "skip straight to flashy green solutions with a feel-good story," according to the
Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) . In order to help companies develop meaningful initiatives, the EDF has published A Roadmap to Corporate GHG Programs.

Observing that "Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can be one of the most important, and most effective, steps that a company can take to reduce its environmental impact and save money," the five-page roadmap describes four steps for companies to take in order to gain "credible and lasting GHG reductions." An especially helpful feature of the roadmap is its inclusion of organizations with considerable experience in guiding companies on a path toward GHG reductions and reporting. 

Without effective measurement, meaningful management of GHG emissions cannot be accomplished, and as a first step the EDF recommends that companies conduct a "comprehensive evaluation of emission sources" in the form of a carbon audit. According to the roadmap, it is important that an audit adhere to recognized accounting standards such as the 
Greenhouse Gas Protocol

When companies complete their measurement of emission sources, they should then proceed to the establishment of "aggressive, yet achievable goals for reducing emissions." The setting of emissions reduction goals will help engage such key stakeholder groups as employees in the effort, and signal to investors that a long-term plan addresses the risks and opportunities presented by the transition to a low-carbon economy. 

In order to meet aggressive reduction targets, the roadmap recommends a combination of energy efficiency measures, the use of renewable energy sources, and carbon offsets. Offsets involve investment by companies in emissions reduction projects to balance out emissions they cannot reduce in their own operations. 

Finally, companies should issue sustainability reports that support their commitment to transparency. Noting that the SEC already "requires companies to disclose potential climate risks to investors," the roadmap recommends that such reports adhere to guidelines provided by the 
Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). The GRI's sustainability reporting framework was used by more than 1,000 companies in 2008.

The roadmap concludes with the recommendation that companies publicly support robust energy and climate policies. One way to accomplish this is through membership in the 
US Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) or Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP), described by the roadmap as "the two most prominent business coalitions that call for national action on climate change."

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Bonn climate talks agree more sessions

Point Carbon, 11 April 2010 - Climate change negotiators on Sunday agreed additional meetings are needed this year.

Following three days of negotiations, representatives from more than 170 nations meeting in Bonn were finally able to push through a draft text on a work schedule that culminates at this year's annual meeting in Cancun late in November. 

They agreed, among other things, to hold two meetings to be held between the May-June session in Bonn and the one in Mexico, although the locations and dates have yet to be specified. 

But much of the 9-11 April conference was clouded by talks about whether the non-binding Copenhagen accord reached in December should or could fit into existing UN texts in progress since 2007. 

"In terms of the Copenhagen accord that seems to be in everyone's mind, but difficult to take to your lips given how it came about in Copenhagen," Yvo de Boer, the UN climate change chief told reporters earlier today. 

Observers said negotiators spent much of this weekend raising old arguments and venting their frustration at the disappointing outcome in Copenhagen, where the leaders of the US and several developing nations had stitched together the accord that was only 'noted' by the 194 parties on the UN climate convention. 

"Instead of focusing on making progress on how to promote climate solutions too many of the negotiators present chose to focus on divergence and problems," Greenpeace said in a statement.  

"Now is the time to focus on concrete actions on forest protection, clean energy, adaptation and their financing," said Wendel Trio, Greenpeace International Climate Policy Coordinator.   

Since December, some 120 nations have expressed their support for the accord, leaving some observers to question the future role of the UN process. 

"Crucial test" 


"The UN climate negotiations are facing a crucial test over whether this process can serve as the global guidance system for tackling climate change," said Annie Petsonk, international counsel at US-based Environment Defense Fund said. 

"There is still momentum in the UN process, but it is fragmenting," Petsonk said in a statement. 

The accord aims to limit global warming temperatures to below 2C compared to pre-industrial levels and calls for fast-track financing of $30 billion from 2010 through 2012, scaling up to $100 billion annually by 2020. 

Yet political declaration is vague on many points, such as the role of market-based mechanisms. 

And the current pledges not only fall short of the 2C goal but also well short of the 1.5C goal pushed by small island nations. 

Meanwhile, US-based World Resources Institute estimates developed countries' pledges – based on public statements rather than official commitments to the accord – amount to only $23.5 billion. 

Treaty in question  


The main headache for UN negotiators going forward is to find a way to include big emitters US and China into a legally-binding pact, while at the same time seeing the continuation of the Kyoto protocol, which the US has not ratified, after 2012.  

Jos Cozijnsen, a consulting attorney focusing on emissions trading, agrees that the accord gives negotiations a perspective for how things could fit together. 

"But how to turn it into a legal text, is difficult," he said, adding that a legal text could be in the form of either an international treaty or bound by comparable rules between different countries. 

"Do you need a treaty or comparable rules? It's more important that countries are treated the same way," he said. 

"I wouldn't rule out having two treaties and cross reference those treaties by having an overarching framework agreement that all parties can sign up to," said Alexander Sarac, general counsel for carbon transactions at Ecosecurities, a developer of emission-reduction projects. 

"For a lawyer that's a technical solution. It doesn't look pretty, but it's possible. What's important is that one or multiple treaties have binding commitments and enforcement mechanisms built in; the stronger the better."


http://www.wbcsd.org/plugins/DocSearch/details.asp?type=DocDet&ObjectId=MzgxODM

Don't think that cap and trade is over

The International Herald Tribune, April 12, 2010 Monday - Predictions that carbon trading is headed for the scrap heap of history are almost certainly wrong, because it is on the cusp of generating mammorth amounts of money for governments.

Profiteering, tax fraud, theft and dubious claims of emissions reductions are just some of the problems plaguing carbon trading.

That litany of woes has helped prompt many commentators to proclaim that carbon trading is imminently headed for the scrap heap of history.

Such predictions are almost certainly wrong. Carbon trading, also known as cap and trade, is on the cusp of generating mammoth amounts of money for governments - money that could start flowing just in time to help nations emerge from the worst financial crisis in a generation.

The prospect of those earnings is one of the key reasons that nations are determined to stick by carbon trading, despite the setbacks and scandals.

Such revenues also help to explain why Australia, Japan and the United States are still exploring how soon they can set up such a system.

Under carbon trading, companies exceeding a ''cap'' on their emissions must purchase additional permits to pollute more. Companies that pollute less can ''trade'' or sell their surplus permits.

So far, governments in the European Union, which has operated the world's largest mandatory system since 2005, have repeatedly overestimated the amount of gases that companies emit. That has undermined the creation of an effective cap on pollution.

E.U. governments have also given away most permits, rather than making companies buy them. That has allowed some of the bloc's dirtiest industries, like coal-fired power utilities and cement manufacturers, to rake in billions of euros in windfall profits from a system that was originally meant to penalize them.

There have been other hiccups. Last year, swindlers took advantage of the system by stealing money that they should have paid in value-added tax to governments on transactions in carbon markets. Lost revenues amounted to about (EURO)5 billion, or $6.7 billion, according to Europol.

In other cases, rogue traders have resold expired permits while lax regulators have approved bogus carbon-reduction projects and cyberthieves have used fake e-mail messages to steal permits and sell them on electronic trading markets.

Defenders of carbon trading say that the European Union had to give away excessive numbers of permits at the start of the system, and keep it loosely regulated, in order to make it acceptable to powerful industry lobbies, which would have otherwise resisted any form of climate control.

Defenders of the system also acknowledge that, like the leaders of the European Union, President Barack Obama would probably have to agree to give away the majority of permits during the first few years of any U.S. carbon trading system because of similar pressure from industrial lobbies in Washington.

Now the European Union is tightening the cap and is obliging governments to start selling far larger numbers of permits.

According to an internal working paper released with little fanfare last week by the European Commission, E.U. member states stand to make (EURO)26 billion annually by 2020 through regular sales, or ''auctions,'' of emissions permits.

The paper said E.U. governments could begin earning as much as (EURO)928 million a year starting in 2012 by auctioning permits to airlines, which will become the next companies to join the system.

The paper noted that Germany had already auctioned some permits, in 2009, earning about (EURO)230 million that it allocated to development programs.

The potential sums are so substantial that sales of emissions permits could be one of the ways governments balance their books in the aftermath of the largest budgetary deterioration the Union has experienced. Such revenues could play a similar role in the United States, the paper said.

Under legislation before Congress that would create a U.S. version of cap and trade - although is highly unlikely to be passed into law in its current form - the U.S. government would earn a minimum of about $8 billion each year through 2020, the paper said.

In Europe, the first major auctions will probably be held in 2011.

Electric utilities in Western Europe are expected to have to buy a majority of the permits they need, and those sales could generate as much as (EURO)13 billion a year for governments, said Abyd Karmali, the global head of carbon markets for Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

But companies that manufacture steel, cement and glass can still argue that they need all their permits for free to counter international competition. That made it too early to estimate the value to E.U. governments of sales of permits to those industries, said Mr. Karmali.

In the European Union, nations must use all the revenues earned from selling permits to the aviation sector for investments in climate and energy.

Some of that money is expected to be used by governments to make good on a promise to give $10 billion to developing countries to help them begin tackling climate change between now and 2013, and to contribute to a similar fund, which is supposed to be worth $100 billion by 2020, that would help nations most vulnerable to the effects of global warming.

But nations need use only half the revenues from selling permits to the power and industrial sectors for those kinds of climate-related projects, leaving plenty of money for other purposes - and that means carbon trading should soon look like manna from heaven for cash-strapped treasuries.


http://www.environmentalleader.com/2010/04/22/climate-bill-lacks-industry-support/

Climate Bill Lacks Industry Support


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Despite working with Senators on a compromise for climate legislation, major industry associations including the American Petroleum Institute and the National Mining Association are not saying whether they support the Senate climate bill, set to be released next week (April 26),  reports Reuters.

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Despite working with Senators on a compromise for climate legislation, major industry associations including the American Petroleum Institute and the National Mining Association are not saying whether they support the Senate climate bill, set to be released next week (April 26),  reports Reuters.
Major sticking points include offshore oil drilling, the Environmental Protection Agency's climate regulations, gasoline taxes, the upper limit for carbon pricing, and a border tax.
As an example, offshore drilling is opposed by many Democrats including Senators Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg from New Jersey, while coastal states support it. In addition, big oil companies want to be protected from endangered species lawsuits such as the one that cites industry emissions are causing erosion in a coastal Alaskan town, reports Reuters.
However, EPA's climate regulations and gasoline taxes may no longer be issues. According to recent reports, the Senate climate bill is expected to prohibit the EPA from regulating carbon emissions, and despite rumors of a gas tax increase to pay for the energy and climate bill, the White House has said that Senators and the White House do not support a gas tax increase.
Opposition to President Obama's "green" agenda is also spreading to chemical companies, which will also be impacted by proposals to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, reports The Guardian.
Leading the charge is a secretive group called the Coalition for Responsible Regulation Inc. (CRR), which is connected to Solvay, a leading European chemical company in Europe, according to the article. The group has joined more than a dozen states and several industry groups in 17 legal challenges against the EPA.
In February alone, several industry groups, conservative think tanks, lawmakers and three statesfiled 16 lawsuits against the EPA's endangerment finding, which allows the agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.
The filings with the Texas authorities indicate that CRR was founded on November last year, a day after the EPA announced its endangerment findings, reports The Guardian. 
Eric Groten, an attorney for the coalition, said in the article it plans to file at least three more legal challenges against the EPA.
The court documents list six companies and trade associations representing mining and beef interests as members, and although Solvay is not listed, Groten told the newspaper that there were more corporate and individual members.
At the same time, the White House is reviewing the EPA's rule on which factories and power plants will be subject to GHG regulations, reports Reuters.
The EPA requires 31 industries, which accounts for 85 percent of the annual production of U.S. greenhouse gases in the country, to track and report emissions, starting with the largest emitters on Jan. 1.
The EPA's "tailoring rule" sets emissions thresholds for big emitters including coal-fired power plants as well as cement, glass and steel makers.
The Obama Administration has said it prefers that Congress pass legislation to limit greenhouse gases but without legislation the EPA is the back-up plan to regulate emissions, which many U.S. lawmakers and industries are against, reports Reuters.

 http://planetark.org/wen/57710

Jackson Riles Business, Lawmakers With Carbon Rules
Date: 23-Apr-10
Country:
 US
Author:
 Ayesha Rascoe

Jackson Riles Business, Lawmakers With Carbon Rules Photo: Bob Strong
Lisa Jackson, the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, listens to a question at a news conference at the UN Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen December 9, 2009.
Photo: Bob Strong

From Texas lawmakers to top coal mining executives, a wide array of business and political interests would like to stop the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ambitious and solo plan to tackle climate change.
But standing in the way is an energetic former chemical engineer who has vowed to press ahead with a raft of changes that only Congress or the courts can block.
The first African-American to head EPA, Lisa Jackson is now the poster woman for 21st century environmentalism and standing firm against critics who say her agenda is too radical for an economy emerging from a steep recession.
"I'm sick of the same old tired arguments," Jackson said in an interview with Reuters at her Washington office. "I don't buy into this idea that we can't have economic progress...and we can't have a strong environment. I believe it's a false choice."
Although the Obama administration has said it would prefer that Congress address global warming through legislation, Jackson's agency could play a sweeping role in transitioning the United States to a low carbon economy if Congress is unable to get its act together.
Just a few months into the new administration, EPA issued a historic finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health, which compels the agency to regulate carbon under the Clean Air Act.
But this doesn't sit well with groups such as the National Mining Association, who argue that the EPA is ill-equipped to handle the enormous task of limiting greenhouse gases.
The agency said it will "tailor" its carbon reduction rules to affect only the largest polluters, but many industry groups believe this narrow rule would not survive court challenges and the damage will be felt more widely.
"Once you start the truck down the hill, it's hard to stop it," said Carol Raulston, a mining association spokeswoman.
Critics warn that if the so-called tailoring rule is struck down by the courts, the EPA will be forced to impose cumbersome and costly rules on virtually every source of greenhouse gases -- from churches to schools and coal plants to farms.
And there is growing concern that Congress will not be able to pass a climate bill, because of the haggling between Republicans and Democrats.
NIGHTMARE SCENARIO?
Jackson, a self-described pragmatist with a master's degree in chemical engineering from Princeton University, disputes these claims. She said the point of the tailoring rule is to avoid the "nightmare scenario" envisioned by opponents where the agency regulates everything in sight.
"When it comes out you'll see that we're making good on our word," Jackson said of the rule to be released by May.
Born in Pennsylvania in 1962, Jackson was adopted and raised in the impoverished lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, Louisiana. She is no stranger to the energy industry, working summers at a big oil company in her youth.
"I'm an environmentalist who worked three summers in a row for Shell Oil Company in gas plants and oil field work. I don't see those in any way as mutually exclusive," she added.
As an engineer, Jackson said she strongly believes technological innovations can play a major role in helping to solve the clean energy problem.
Jackson worked at the EPA for 16 years before eventually becoming the Commissioner of New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection.
JACKSON'S CHEERING FANS
After years of feeling like outcasts at the EPA, environmentalists say they have found a true champion with Jackson now at the helm of the EPA.
"It's so invigorating to see the Environmental Protection Agency back on its feet and doing it's job again," said David Doniger, a policy director at the Natural Resources Defense Council's climate center.
Since coming to office, Jackson has impressed environmentalists by tightening standards for mountaintop mining, proposing new air quality rules, and approving California's request to crack down on vehicle emissions.
Doniger noted Jackson received a standing ovation last year when she spoke to environmentalists at the Copenhagen climate meeting shortly after finalizing the agency's greenhouse gas decision .
"I hadn't experienced anything quite like that," Doniger said. "She was a rock star at Copenhagen."
Green groups also herald the administration's effectiveness in pushing the nation's ailing auto industry to begin producing more fuel efficient vehicles, striking a deal with automakers last year to impose the first U.S. greenhouse gas emissions rules on vehicles.
EPA administrators have the challenge of following science and the law and keeping politicians happy, said Sierra Club chairman Carl Pope. "It is not easy and nobody has ever done it as well as she is doing it," he added.

http://planetark.org/wen/57714

Derivatives Bill Calls For U.S. Carbon Market Study
Date: 23-Apr-10
Country:
 US
Author:
 Timothy Gardner and Roberta Rampton

A tough new proposal to regulate U.S. markets calls for top regulators and government officials to conduct a study on transparency in emerging U.S. carbon markets as part of the financial reform package.
The heads of the Treasury Department, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and other U.S. agencies would be required to study oversight of existing and prospective carbon markets, according to the proposal, part of a bill passed by the Senate Agriculture Committee this week.
The goal of the study is "to ensure an efficient, secure, and transparent carbon market, including oversight of spot markets and derivative markets," the bill said.
Senator Blanche Lincoln's Agriculture Committee voted to advance the bill this week. It will be merged with the Senate Banking Committee's financial reform package, expected to be debated next week, which will likely include a crackdown on the unregulated $450 trillion derivatives market.
Emerging carbon markets are either voluntary or regional because the U.S. government does not limit emissions of gases blamed for warming the planet, considered a requirement before the launch of a national market.
Ten states in the U.S. Northeast operate a carbon market on power plants. In addition, the Chicago Climate Exchange also runs voluntary carbon markets.
Some critics of carbon markets say that not all of the credits that are traded in them represent true emissions reductions.
Senators John Kerry, a Democrat, Lindsey Graham, a Republican and Joe Lieberman, an independent, hope to unveil a climate bill on Monday that is expected to include a carbon market on power plants beginning in 2012, which could be expanded to the manufacturers years later.
Other agency officials required to participate in the study would be the heads of the Agriculture Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Energy Information Administration, the independent statistics arm of the Department of Energy.
The interagency group would be required to submit a report to Congress on their study within six months after the report becomes law.

http://planetark.org/wen/57656

Dairy Sector Adds 4 Percent To Man-Made Emissions: FAO
Date: 21-Apr-10
Country:
 ITALY
Author:
 Svetlana Kovalyova

Dairy Sector Adds 4 Percent To Man-Made Emissions: FAO Photo: Jeff Green
Healthy Holstein dairy cows feed at a farm in central Washington in this December, 24, 2003.
Photo: Jeff Green

The dairy sector accounts for 4 percent of global man-made greenhouse gas emissions, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization said in a report.
The dairy sector emitted 1.969 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent in 2007, of which 1.328 billion tonnes were due to dairy production and 151 million tonnes to meat from culled dairy animals, the FAO said.
Global milk production, processing and transportation accounted for 2.7 percent of the world man made greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the FAO said.
The dairy sector could boost biogas output to cut emission of methane, which accounts for about 52 percent of GHG emissions the sector produces, and carbon emissions could be captured if grassland management were improved, the FAO said.
Recommendations on how to cut GHG emissions from the dairy sector will come at a later stage, when the programme of biophysical and economic analysis of mitigation options is completed, the Rome-based agency said.
The report, covering production systems from nomadic herds to intensified dairy operations, was posted on FAO's website www.fao.org.
FAO's report on livestock emissions in 2006 established that 18 percent of all GHG emissions were caused by the livestock sector.

http://planetark.org/wen/57680

States Fear Devil In Details Of U.S. Climate Bill
Date: 22-Apr-10
Country:
 US
Author:
 Peter Henderson

California and other states with aggressive environmental agendas said on Wednesday they fear a federal climate bill may unacceptably weaken their power, in a new sign of uncertainty over compromise legislation being crafted by U.S. Senator John Kerry and his allies.
Democrat Kerry, independent Senator Joseph Lieberman and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham are expected to unveil a bill next week to cut greenhouse gas emissions that navigates among competing interests groups, after a previous effort failed.
"There is a gray area there where there could be mischief or litigation," California's top climate change regulator, Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols, told reporters on a conference call, outlining concerns.
"We want the statute to be clear that unless there is very explicit reason to the contrary, that states are encouraged to move forward."
States fear the bill could include a ban on state and regional carbon trading markets, the loss of California's ability to set clean car standards, and vague language that could lead courts broadly to curtail state action, said Emily Figdor, global warming program director of Environment America, a non-governmental group.
Fuel composition standards and performance standards for big polluters were examples of areas at risk, she said.
Analysts including researcher Point Carbon see the federal legislation as a longshot for passage this year, and states that favor strong federal action are in a delicate position. They do not want to lose the ability to try new regulations or take action if the federal efforts don't meet their goals.
At a meeting of the Western Climate Initiative last week, state representatives discussed fears that any criticism of the federal bill could be used by opponents to block it.
The federal bill is expected to include a key provision for a cap-and-trade program, which limits total greenhouse gas emissions and lets big polluters trade permits to emit.
Similar state plans are expected to be forbidden. That would be more drastic than a moratorium on state cap-and-trade considered in a bill passed by the House of Representatives.
The U.S. northeast has such a system working and California and the Western Climate Initiative plan their own market to begin trading on January 1, 2012.
"To just have one program that would preempt states and have a one-size-fits all federal approach really not only ignores the whole history of success in the environmental area but also would not be the wisest way to go in terms of either maximizing greenhouse gas reductions or to maximize the amount of job creation," said Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Director Doug Scott.

http://planetark.org/wen/57684

China-Led Bloc To Consider Kyoto Climate Pact Future
Date: 22-Apr-10
Country:
 INDIA
Author:
 Krittivas Mukherjee

China-Led Bloc To Consider Kyoto Climate Pact Future Photo: Kham
A sunset is seen in the background of a chimney of a concrete factory in Hanoi April 19, 2010.
Photo: Kham

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.
An Indian negotiator said the agenda was "realistic" and aimed at exploring "all options to get a good deal for all."
The BASIC meeting agenda also said it would consider how elements of the Copenhagen Accord, a political pact that the bloc helped broker last year along with the United States, could be included in the current negotiating process.
The Copenhagen Accord sets a non-binding goal of limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times and a goal of $100 billion in aid from 2020.
It also lists steps by dozens of nations, including all the top greenhouse gas emitters, to either cut or curb the growth of their emissions by 2020.
The Copenhagen conference was originally meant to agree the outlines of a broader global pact to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.
The South Africa meeting's agenda also will consider whether the BASIC bloc of nations could be expanded and whether smaller groups of powerful nations such as the G20 bloc and the 17-nation Major Economies Forum could be useful platforms for negotiations.
Poorer nations want negotiations to continue on two tracks -- one working on a successor to Kyoto from 2013 and the other looking at longer term actions to fight climate change by all nations.
(Editing by Alistair Scrutton and Ron Popeski)