Sustainablog

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

10.12.09

'Only 50/50' chance that 2C climate target will be met

That's what I call headline gymnastics. The scientists (and the article) appear to be stating that, in order to have a 50/50 chance of success, emissions would need to peak in 2016 and drop by 4% per year every year thereafter. Based on current offers and commitments in Copehagen and elsewhere, peaking will happen after 2020, and the consequent decline would have to be 5% per year every year thereafter.

In other words, there is very little chance that we will afford ourselves even a 50% shot at success.

-JFB

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http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/only-5050-chance-that-2c-climate-target-will-be-met-1837373.html
'Only 50/50' chance that 2C climate target will be met
By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor, in Copenhagen
Limiting the global temperature rise will require a huge effort

Keeping the global temperature rise caused by climate change to 2C, which is widely regarded as the limit of what the Earth can safely stand, is going to be extremely difficult and will involve an enormous effort by the world, new research by British scientists indicates.

The 2C target, first proposed by the European Union in 1996 and now seen as a norm, is likely to be adopted by the international community as a whole next week at the end of the UN climate conference in Copenhagen.

But the new study, unveiled at the conference yesterday, shows that hitting the target is crucially dependent on the year in which global emissions of greenhouse gases peak, and the later the peak, the more drastic the emissions cuts will have to be.

Furthermore, even the earliest potential peaking date now offers only a 50/50 chance of staying below the 2C threshold, the study suggests.

The 2C figure refers to the rise above the global average temperature before the Industrial Revolution, when large-scale burning of fossil fuels began to produce big emissions of greenhouse gases.

The global temperature currently stands at about 0.75C above the pre-Industrial level, and the carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere is thought to have committed the world to a further rise of about 0.6C - so there is only just over half a degree left before 2C is hit.

Keeping the world to that level, although technically possible, will be "very challenging", the lead author of the new research, Dr Jason Lowe of the Met Office's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, said yesterday.

The findings are from a new government-sponsored research project entitled Avoid, involving several scientific institutions and focusing on the emissions pathways necessary to keep control of the expected temperature rise.

It shows that if the world's carbon emissions as a whole were to peak and start to decline in 2016 - which many observers consider highly unlikely - it would be necessary to cut them back by at least 4 per cent a year to have a 50/50 chance of staying below the danger threshold.

The world's emissions surged after 2000, largely as a result of the exploding industrialisation of China, and before the recession they were thought to have been running at about 3 per cent a year.

The economic downturn will have lessened the rate but it is likely to shoot back up when the world economy recovers.

Turning a 3 per cent annual rise in CO2 emissions into a 4 per cent annual decline is an enormous task and one not currently envisaged by the potential Copenhagen agreement to be signed next week, which would allow China (the world's biggest emitter) and other big rapidly industrialising countries such as India to carry on increasing their emissions (although their rate of growth would slow).

But that is only the best-case scenario envisaged in the research. The rate of decline would have to be even steeper with a later peak, say 2020 - which has been suggested as a target by Britain's Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Miliband, and which is mentioned in a draft of the Copenhagen agreement (although in square brackets, which means it has not yet been generally agreed).

A 2020 peak would mean cutting emissions at 5 per cent a year to have a 50 per cent chance of staying at 2C, the Avoid research suggests.

This is not only an even bigger demand for the world - but the 2020 peak itself is far from certain. Earlier this week, Professor Kevin Anderson, one of the world's leading experts on CO2 emissions rates, wrote in The Independent that his analysis of "what was on the table" at Copenhagen indicated a global peak some time between 2020 and 2030.

The research suggests that the emissions reduction rates required after a peak later than 2020 "may be beyond economic and technological feasibility".

Does this mean that keeping to 2C is now, in practical terms, impossible? Dr Lowe said: "None of the climate modelling I have seen has an easy answer to the question of limiting temperature rise to C. There are pathways which lead to it, but in terms of the timing and rates of emissions reductions, these pathways are very challenging."

8.12.09

The Economist: A special report on climate change and the carbon economy

For those who hadn't noticed the striking cover, this week's Economist Special report is focused on climate change. Well worth picking up.

The Economist
A special report on climate change and the carbon economy
The Economist print cover

http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15017322

Stopping climate change
Dec 3rd 2009
From The Economist print edition

Rich and poor countries have to give ground to get a deal in Copenhagen; then they must focus on setting a carbon price

AT A time when they are not short of pressing problems to deal with, the presence of 100-odd world leaders at the two-week meeting that starts in Copenhagen on December 7th to renew the Kyoto protocol on climate change might seem a little self-indulgent. There will be oceans of planet-saving rhetoric, countless photographs of politicians wearing dark suits and serious faces and, if things go according to plan, an agreement to cut emissions to avert a rise in temperature that might anyway have turned out to be marginal and self-correcting.


The Economist


It might; and then again it might not. Uncertainty about the consequences of climate change makes it hard to persuade people to spend money on it, for where the damage is uncertain, so are the benefits of averting it. Yet uncertainty is also why mankind needs to take the problem seriously. If we were sure that the temperature would rise by 2-3ºC, then we could choose to live with that. But we do not know how far the rise might go. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the body set up by the UN to establish a scientific consensus on the subject, puts the range of possible increases by the end of this century at 1.1-6.4ºC. At the bottom end of the range, the difference would be barely noticeable. At the top end of the range—well, guesses about what the world would look like then read rather like science fiction.
Although the benefits of averting that sort of catastrophe are incalculably large, the costs of doing so should not be enormous—as little as 1% of global output, if policy is well designed (see our special report). This newspaper reckons that the world should fork out, rather as householders spend similar proportions of their income on insuring their homes against disaster.
Sharing and trusting
Agreeing that the problem is worth tackling is, however, a small step on the way to doing so. Since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which spawned the Kyoto protocol, was signed in 1992, global carbon-dioxide emissions have risen by a third. The problem is not a lack of low-carbon technologies. Electricity can be generated by nuclear fission, hydropower, biomass, wind and solar energy; and cars and lorries can run on electricity or biofuels. Nor is the problem an economic one. A percentage point of global economic output is affordable for a worthwhile project. Saving the banks has cost around 5% of global output.
So the problem is both simpler and cheaper to fix than most people think. But mankind has to agree on how to share out the costs, both between and within countries. That splits into two challenges. The first is to get an international deal, which is what world leaders are trying to do at Copenhagen. The second is to implement that deal at a national level, with better policies than those currently in place, including a credible carbon price. Otherwise the cost will be far more than that 1%.
The prospects for Copenhagen look better than those for Kyoto did. Australia, which initially walked away from Kyoto, has now ratified it (though its government may choose to hold an election on the issue—see article). America's emissions-cutting bill is stuck in the Senate, and may never emerge, but Barack Obama is keen to push on. Some middle-income countries, such as Brazil and Mexico, have announced targets for cutting emissions; China has announced one for cutting the carbon-intensity of its economy.
What it's all about
The arguments at Copenhagen will focus on two issues: emissions cuts and money. Developed countries are required to produce targets for cutting their emissions by 2020. On the basis of the IPCC's figures, their emissions need to drop by 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020 if the world is to limit the rise in temperature to 2ºC above pre-industrial levels. The offers on the table add up to around 15% compared with 1990 levels by 2020. America, the main laggard, is offering around 4%.
Developing countries are required to come up with "actions" to limit emissions. China, now the world's biggest emitter, and so the country in the spotlight, has committed itself to cut the carbon-intensity of its economy by 40-45% by 2020. America is dissatisfied with that, because that's pretty much where China would get to on the basis of its existing policies.


Emerging countries want governments in the rich world to pay huge sums from their coffers for adaptation to, and mitigation of, climate change. China has mentioned $400 billion a year. The EU reckons €100 billion ($150 billion) a year is more like it—some from exchequers, most from capital markets.
On emissions cuts, both sides need to give ground. Developing countries are right that America's offer is unimpressive compared with 1990 figures, but the trajectory from now on is pretty steep. And, given that the crucial legislation is stuck in the Senate, Mr Obama's decision to put any numbers on the table is a brave one. Senators react badly to the sense that their country is being pushed around by foreigners—as their pre-emptive rejection of the Kyoto protocol showed. A deal on the basis of the numbers America has offered would be better than no deal. Nor is China's offer derisory. The Americans complain that China's existing policies would achieve those cuts with no extra effort. True; but China, unlike America, has already introduced significant emissions-cutting measures.
On cash, money should indeed change hands—both for moral reasons (rich countries are largely responsible for the problem so far but poor ones will suffer most) and for practical ones (some poor countries do not have access to the capital they need to invest in mitigation). But developing countries should not be asking for huge government-to-government transfers. Capital markets are better at allocating resources than governments are. Rich-country governments should help money flow from the markets by subsidising the risk of investing in clean energy in poor countries: public money should be used to prompt larger sums of private capital.
If an agreement is reached at Copenhagen, there will be much relief on all sides; but the job will only just have started. The parties to the negotiation decided to put aside the question of whether, and how, to make the deal legally binding pending the passage of America's emissions-reducing legislation. And an international agreement is only the first step to emissions cuts. National targets have to be implemented through domestic policies which encourage businesses to invest in clean products and processes, and discourage them from investing in carbon-intensive products and processes. This is the second, harder task.
Effective, efficient or neither
A good policy framework would include some regulation in areas where the market doesn't work well, such as the energy-efficiency of buildings and appliances. It would include a modicum of subsidy, on research into technologies that are still a long way from being marketable, such as carbon capture and storage. But it would rely largely on by far the most efficient tool in the policymaker's kit—a carbon price.
A carbon price sends business a price signal to invest in clean stuff not dirty stuff. It doesn't involve micromanaging business, which regulations do. It doesn't impose a burden on taxpayers, or require governments to pick winners, which subsidies do. It is, according to an American study, twice as efficient as any other policy.
Economists prefer carbon prices, especially those set by taxes rather than cap-and-trade systems, which are more vulnerable to capture by the polluters they are supposed to penalise. Sadly, though, the views of economists carry little weight. Governments and businesses both tend to like subsidies.
Europe has done best. Its cap-and-trade system has set a carbon price and cut emissions modestly in the sectors it covers. But it relies too heavily on subsidies for renewable energy, and too little on its carbon price. Economists reckon a carbon price of around $40 is needed. Europe's is around €13. America does not yet have a national carbon price; and its corn-ethanol subsidy, combined with a tariff on cheaper, greener imports, takes the planet's first prize for the world's most counterproductive "green" policy. The subsidy-laden bill to establish a cap-and-trade system is a step in the right direction; but, since the carbon price it would set is likely to be around $12, rising to $20 by 2020, not a very large one.
Governments see subsidies as a convenient way of easing in emissions curbs which businesses would otherwise resist. That may be so in the short term. But in the long run they make cutting emissions harder. The notion that dangerous climate change can be averted for a mere 1% of global GDP depends on policy being efficient. If it isn't, the costs will mount—and so will the chances that the effort will fail.
The leaders gathering in Copenhagen need to come to an agreement, even if it isn't a very good one. But that will only be the start. The national policies used to implement cuts need to be more efficient than the ones that are so far in place. That requires leadership from the politicians, and support from the voters. The world is, in the end, in their hands.

http://www.economist.com/displayStory.cfm?story_id=15060638&source=hptextfeature

Green enough?
Dec 8th 2009
From Economist.com

Gloom and doom in a very big room

Some 35,000 asked to get in, but the convention centre holds only 15,000. I am one of those lucky 15,000, here to cover the opening of the Copenhagen climate conference (COP15), which is supposed to hash out some sort of agreement to follow the Kyoto protocol.
Copenhagen is a fairly small city, but it's slick and well-run. Kastrup airport is festooned with posters advertising Denmark's green companies, as well as other subjects related to the climate conference. The baggage system tells me exactly how long my bags will take to arrive. They come as promised. The modern Metro does the same, arriving exactly when the overhead clock says it will, making my home system (New York) seem rickety and archaic by comparison.


AFP

Raising their voices


The Bella Centre, where the conference is being held, seems as large and populous as the city outside. Over here are the NGOs, over there a warren of meeting rooms for the official delegations. The media centre has hundreds of internet-enabled laptops free for any hack to use, in the unlikely event any of us forgot our own. Wireless is ubiquitous, free and functional. Denmark's prime minister says that 80% of the food is organic, and the plastic cups are biodegradable. A booth about the "Copenhagen wheel" shows a simple bicycle wheel, invented with MIT's help, that can harness the energy generated when a bicycle brakes, and then release it when the bike needs extra power. (This in pursuit of Copenhagen's aim to be the world's first carbon-neutral capital, by 2025.) The staff are Anglophone, young, attractive and friendly. Never have I seen a big event like this run so well.
But when things get down to business on the first day, I am not so confident this week will be paradise. It begins with a short film, from the "Raise Your Voice" climate campaign. A girl watches a series of storms and devastations wreck the earth on her television news. She then runs out the door and across a field, which parches and cracks below her feet. She jumps and clings to a tree branch as the world literally falls to pieces beneath her. It ends with the little girl intoning, "Please, help the world."
Then the film goes dark, and back in the hall itself, cheesy trumpet-and-harp music kicks in, while a girl in Danish native dress sings a solo, followed by a Greenlandic girl doing the same. Ten minutes into the official conference and I'm annoyed. Then Lars Lokke Rasmussen, the slightly schoolboyish prime minister, andRitt Bjerregaard, the mayor of Copenhagen, take the stage. The city has rebranded itself "Hopenhagen" for the two weeks of the conference, and both of them surprise me by mentioning it from the podium, Ms Bjerregaard about five times. But on the bright side, the mayor tells the delegates, the water in Copenhagen's harbour is clean enough to swim in. Good to know. I might need a chilly dip to wake myself up at some point.

The first substantive comment comes from Yvo de Boer, the executive secretary of theUnited Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. He tells the hall sternly that the clock has ticked down to zero, and "the time for restating well-known positions is past." Unfortunately, when the delegates from the floor begin their statements, that is exactly what they do: Sudan, speaking for the G77, demands more action from rich countries; Sweden, speaking for the EU, says of course Europe takes climate change absolutely seriously, and so on.
There is a surprising head of steam going into the conference, with America, Brazil, China, India, South Africa and others all recently announcing numerical targets for emissions reductions. But there remain huge gaps between rich and poor countries. I still don't know whether the next two weeks will see them bridged, or just papered over.

http://www.economist.com/specialreports/displayStory.cfm?story_id=14994872

Getting warmer
Dec 3rd 2009
From The Economist print edition

So far the effort to tackle global warming has achieved little. Copenhagen offers the chance to do better, says Emma Duncan (interviewed here)


Illustration by M. Morgenstern


THE mountain bark beetle is a familiar pest in the forests of British Columbia. Its population rises and falls unpredictably, destroying clumps of pinewood as it peaks which then regenerate as the bug recedes. But Scott Green, who studies forest ecology at the University of Northern British Columbia, says the current outbreak is "unprecedented in recorded history: a natural background-noise disturbance has become a major outbreak. We're looking at the loss of 80% of our pine forest cover." Other parts of North America have also been affected, but the damage in British Columbia is particularly severe, and particularly troubling in a province whose economy is dominated by timber.
Three main explanations for this disastrous outbreak suggest themselves. It could be chance. Populations do fluctuate dramatically and unexpectedly. It could be the result of management practices. British Columbia's woodland is less varied than it used to be, which helps a beetle that prefers pine. Or it could be caused by the higher temperatures that now prevail in northern areas, allowing beetles to breed more often in summer and survive in greater numbers through the winter.

The Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which the United Nations adopted at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, is now 17 years old. Its aim was "to achieve stabilisation of greenhouse-gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system". The Kyoto protocol, which set about realising those aims, was signed in 1997 and came into force in 2005. Its first commitment period runs out in 2012, and implementing a new one is expected to take at least three years, which is why the 15th conference of the parties to the UNFCCC that starts in Copenhagen on December 7th is such a big deal. Without a new global agreement, there is not much chance of averting serious climate change.
Since the UNFCCC was signed, much has changed, though more in the biosphere than the human sphere. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the body set up to establish a scientific consensus on what is happening, heat waves, droughts, floods and serious hurricanes have increased in frequency over the past few decades; it reckons those trends are all likely or very likely to have been caused by human activity and will probably continue. Temperatures by the end of the century might be up by anything from 1.1ºC to 6.4ºC.
In most of the world the climate changes to date are barely perceptible or hard to pin on warming. In British Columbia and farther north the effects of climate change are clearer. Air temperatures in the Arctic are rising about twice as fast as in the rest of the world. The summer sea ice is thinning and shrinking. The past three years have seen the biggest losses since proper record-keeping started in 1979. Ten years ago scientists reckoned that summer sea-ice would be gone by the end of this century. Now they expect it to disappear within a decade or so.
Since sea-ice is already in the water, its melting has little effect on sea levels. Those are determined by temperature (warmer water takes up more room) and the size of the Greenland and Antarctic ice caps. The glaciers in south-eastern Greenland have picked up speed. Jakobshavn Isbrae, the largest of them, which drains 6% of Greenland's ice, is now moving at 12km a year—twice as fast as it was when the UNFCCC was signed—and its "calving front", where it breaks down into icebergs, has retreated by 20km in six years. That is part of the reason why the sea level is now rising at 3-3.5mm a year, twice the average annual rate in the 20th century.
As with the mountain bark beetle, it is not entirely clear why this is happening. The glaciers could be retreating because of one of the countless natural oscillations in the climate that scientists do not properly understand. If so, the glacial retreat could well stop, as it did in the middle of the 20th century after a 100-year retreat. But the usual causes of natural variability do not seem to explain the current trend, so scientists incline to the view that it is man-made. It is therefore likely to persist unless mankind starts to behave differently—and there is not much sign of that happening.
Carbon-dioxide emissions are now 30% higher than they were when the UNFCCC was signed 17 years ago. Atmospheric concentrations of CO2 equivalent (carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases) reached 430 parts per million last year, compared with 280ppm before the industrial revolution. At the current rate of increase they could more than treble by the end of the century, which would mean a 50% risk of a global temperature increase of 5ºC. To put that in context, the current average global temperature is only 5ºC warmer than the last ice age. Such a rise would probably lead to fast-melting ice sheets, rising sea levels, drought, disease and collapsing agriculture in poor countries, and mass migration. But nobody really knows, and nobody wants to know.
Some scientists think that the planet is already on an irreversible journey to dangerous warming. A few climate-change sceptics think the problem will right itself. Either may be correct. Predictions about a mechanism as complex as the climate cannot be made with any certainty. But the broad scientific consensus is that serious climate change is a danger, and this newspaper believes that, as an insurance policy against a catastrophe that may never happen, the world needs to adjust its behaviour to try to avert that threat.
The problem is not a technological one. The human race has almost all the tools it needs to continue leading much the sort of life it has been enjoying without causing a net increase in greenhouse-gas concentrations in the atmosphere. Industrial and agricultural processes can be changed. Electricity can be produced by wind, sunlight, biomass or nuclear reactors, and cars can be powered by biofuels and electricity. Biofuel engines for aircraft still need some work before they are suitable for long-haul flights, but should be available soon.
Nor is it a question of economics. Economists argue over the sums (see article), but broadly agree that greenhouse-gas emissions can be curbed without flattening the world economy.
A hard sell
It is all about politics. Climate change is the hardest political problem the world has ever had to deal with. It is a prisoner's dilemma, a free-rider problem and the tragedy of the commons all rolled into one. At issue is the difficulty of allocating the cost of collective action and trusting other parties to bear their share of the burden. At a city, state and national level, institutions that can resolve such problems have been built up over the centuries. But climate change has been a worldwide worry for only a couple of decades. Mankind has no framework for it. The UN is a useful talking shop, but it does not get much done.



The closest parallel is the world trading system. This has many achievements to its name, but it is not an encouraging model. Not only is the latest round of negotiations mired in difficulty, but the World Trade Organisation's task is child's play compared with climate change. The benefits of concluding trade deals are certain and accrue in the short term. The benefits of mitigating climate change are uncertain, since scientists are unsure of the scale and consequences of global warming, and will mostly accrue many years hence. The need for action, by contrast, is urgent.
The problem will be solved only if the world economy moves from carbon-intensive to low-carbon—and, in the long term, to zero-carbon—products and processes. That requires businesses to change their investment patterns. And they will do so only if governments give them clear, consistent signals. This special report will argue that so far this has not happened. The policies adopted to avoid dangerous climate change have been partly misconceived and largely inadequate. They have sent too many wrong signals and not enough of the right ones.
That is partly because of the way the Kyoto protocol was designed. By trying to include all the greenhouse gases in a single agreement, it has been less successful than the less ambitious Montreal protocol, which cut ozone-depleting gases fast and cheaply. By including too many countries in detailed negotiations, it has reduced the chances of agreement. And by dividing the world into developed and developing countries, it has deepened a rift that is proving hard to close. Ultimately, though, the international agreement has fallen victim to domestic politics. Voters do not want to bear the cost of their elected leaders' aspirations, and those leaders have not been brave enough to push them.
Copenhagen represents a second chance to make a difference. The aspirations are high, but so are the hurdles. The gap between the parties on the two crucial questions—emissions levels and money—remains large. America's failure so far to pass climate-change legislation means that a legally binding agreement will not be reached at the conference. The talk is of one in Bonn, in six months' time, or in Mexico City in a year.
To suggest that much has gone wrong is not to denigrate the efforts of the many people who have dedicated two decades to this problem. For mankind to get even to the threshold of a global agreement is a marvel. But any global climate deal will work only if the domestic policies through which it is implemented are both efficient and effective. If they are ineffective, nothing will change. If they are inefficient, they will waste money. And if taxpayers decide that green policies are packed with pork, they will turn against them.

http://www.economist.com/specialreports/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14994731

Is it worth it?
Dec 3rd 2009
From The Economist print edition

What economists have to say about mitigating climate change


Illustration by M. Morgenstern


EVER since climate change became a subject for public discourse, economists have been making life difficult for environmentalists. Their problem is that mitigating climate change will require sizeable investments. When making investments, governments and companies normally look at rates of return. If an investment looks likely to deliver a decent return, it is worth making. If it doesn't, it isn't.
The trouble with mitigating climate change is that the benefits are uncertain and distant. Compared with investments that deliver clear benefits in the near future—such as education in developing countries, for instance, which commonly produces returns of around 10% a year—they do not look worthwhile. Conventional analysis would therefore suggest that those who want to make the planet a better place should invest in schools in Malawi rather than in clean energy.
Lord Stern, asked by Tony Blair, then Britain's prime minister, to look into the economics of climate change, devoted his report published in 2006 to the question of whether mitigation was worthwhile (or, according to some critics, to justifying a political decision that had already been made). He came out in favour.



The Stern review has since been used as an intellectual prop by greenish politicians everywhere. Economists have been more critical, on two grounds. The first concerns the discount rate—the annual rate at which future costs and benefits are discounted. Lord Stern uses a rate close to zero. A higher rate, often the cost of borrowing money, is more common. The higher the rate, the lower the value of future benefits or costs; and vice versa. Lord Stern agrees with Frank Ramsey, an economist who wrote 80 years ago that discounting "later enjoyments in comparison with earlier ones…is ethically indefensible and arises merely from the weakness of the imagination".
Other economists feel there is nothing wrong with their imaginations but plenty wrong with Lord Stern's near-zero rate. They think he should have used what William Nordhaus, an economics professor at Yale University, calls "assumptions that are consistent with today's marketplace real interest rates and savings rates". In a world of limited resources, they point out, it is not obvious that spending them on future generations rather than on the current one is morally right. After all, since future generations will probably be much richer than we are, it makes no more sense for us to sacrifice our well-being for them than it would to expect 18th-century peasants to go without gruel so we can buy more computers. Mr Nordhaus argues for a 3% discount rate, which implies that benefits accrued in 25 years' time are worth about half their current value. He would prefer to spend less money now, and live with more warming, than Lord Stern would.
But others argue against using short-term rates in the long term. Paul Klemperer, an economics professor at Oxford University, points out that very long-term securities carry very low interest rates. When the British government recently issued 40-year index-linked bonds, for instance, it did so at a 0.5% real rate. And over the very long term standard discount rates lead to strange conclusions. At a modest 2% rate, for instance, a single cent rendered unto Caesar in Jesus's time is the equivalent of about $1.5 quadrillion (or 30 times the value of the entire world economy) today.
Martin Weitzman, an economics professor at Harvard University, is less critical of Lord Stern than Mr Nordhaus is: he thinks the review is "right for the wrong reasons". Its Leitmotiv, he maintains, is "the immorality of relegating future generations to live under the shadow" of serious climate change "when for a mere annuity cost of a per cent or two (or at most three) of GDP each year we might have purchased an insurance policy on their behalf". But, he says, such guilt feelings are likely to lead to the choice of a discount rate that is hard to justify intellectually. "I think that rather than trying to go through the back door with [an] unreasonably low [discount rate]…it is much better to go directly through the front door with the legitimate concern that there is a chance, whose subjective probability is small but diffuse, that global warming may eventually cause disastrous temperatures and environmental catastrophes."
A premium to buy peace of mind
Most economic analyses of climate change concentrate on the likeliest outcome—the highest point in the probability curve. That, on the basis of the IPCC's data, would be 2.8ºC over the next 100 years. Mr Weitzman reckons they should look instead at events that are less likely to materialise but cannot be ruled out (the right-hand tail of the curve), such as a massive temperature increase within a century. "Societies and ecosystems whose average temperature has changed in the course of a century by more than 6ºC are located in the terra incognita of what any honest economic modeller would have to admit is a planet Earth reconfigured as science fiction, since such high temperatures have not existed for some tens of millions of years." It is worth buying insurance against such an eventuality, he says. Mr Weitzman, thus, succeeds where many others have failed: he manages to reconcile economics with normal human instincts.
Ken Caldeira, an atmospheric scientist at the Carnegie Institution, puts the same point a different way. "If we already had energy and transportation systems that met our needs without using the atmosphere as a waste dump for our carbon- dioxide pollution, and I told you that you could be 2% richer, but all you had to do was acidify the oceans and risk killing off coral reefs and other marine ecosystems, risk melting the ice caps with rapid sea-level rise, shifting weather patterns so that food-growing regions might not be able to produce adequate amounts of food, and so on, would you take all of that environmental risk, just to be 2% richer?" He has, he says, often asked audiences this question; nobody has ever answered "yes".
The second point on which economists take issue with Lord Stern is his estimate of the cost of mitigating climate change. The review reckons that it would take somewhere between -2% and 5% of gdp per year to limit them to 500-550ppm. At the bottom end of the range, in other words, shifting to clean energy would increase economic growth, whereas at the top it would shrink it. The review plumps for an average cost of around 1% of GDP per year.
The IPCC, the International Energy Agency and McKinsey, a consultancy, tend to agree with Lord Stern. And a piece of recent research, which shows that the cost of cutting pollution often turns out to be less than forecast, supports a modest estimate. Resources For the Future, an American think-tank, looked at regulations on things such as asbestos, power-station emissions and CFCs (refrigerant gases) and found that 12 of the 25 sets of rules it looked at were less expensive to implement than expected and only six were dearer.
But some economists think Lord Stern's cost estimates are too low. Dieter Helm, professor of energy policy at Oxford University, says the underlying assumptions about the costs of various technologies are likely to prove overoptimistic because they are produced by people who have an interest in exaggerating their viability.
Whether or not Lord Stern has won the argument economically, he has certainly won it politically, for his 1% of GDP figure for the cost of mitigating climate change is now widely used. But a large caveat should accompany any use of that figure, because it assumes that the policies employed for mitigation will be both efficient and effective—and so far that has not been true. As Mr Helm points out, "there is a voluminous literature of government failure, regulatory capture and the impact of rent-seeking behaviour within the policy process. Climate-change policy is likely to be one of the largest sources of economic rents from policy interventions. There is a large and growing climate-change 'pork barrel'." The larger the barrel, the higher the costs of mitigation will be.

http://www.economist.com/specialreports/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14994802

The green slump
Dec 3rd 2009
From The Economist print edition

Why investors have been deserting clean energy

THE slogan that BP adopted in 2000, "Beyond Petroleum", was brilliantly unforgettable. It linked the company's name with the bright, clean future which, the flower/sun logo implied, was to be found on the far side of fossil fuels. But that, as it turned out, was unfortunate, for the company is no longer hurrying towards those fresh green pastures.
BP insists that the role of renewable energy in its strategy has not changed, but admits that investment in it will fall from $1.4 billion in 2008 to between $500m and $1 billion this year. The company is selling some of its renewable-energy assets, including three wind farms in India, and has cut its solar-cell manufacturing capacity in Spain and America. The one renewable-energy source it still seems to be serious about is biofuels.

Shell, which also took a sizeable punt on renewable energy, admits that its strategy has changed. Earlier this year its then chief executive, Jeroen van der Veer, said of wind, solar and hydrogen, "I don't expect them to grow much at Shell from here." Further investments in renewable energy, he said, would focus on biofuels. Linda Cook, who resigned in May as head of Shell's gas and power business, said that wind and solar "struggle to compete with the other investment opportunities we have in our portfolio".
Whereas policymakers have been scurrying from conference to conference to urge the world on towards a green future, investors have been walking away from it. For one businessman the attendance at the World Business Summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen in May said it all. "There was the usual raft of bigwigs on the panel, but the audience was just hangers-on—journalists, PR people and so forth. There were no serious delegates there."



The clean-energy business has had a hard year. Investment in the sector tanked in late 2008, as did share prices (see chart 2). Private equity and venture capital held up a little better, but not much. The beginning of 2009 was "scary", according to Michael Liebreich, chief executive of New Energy Finance, a consultancy.
The industry suffered particularly badly in the credit crunch. Almost by definition, renewable energy sources have low running costs but high up-front costs. And because they are regulated assets with long-term pre-defined revenue streams, they are particularly suited to debt finance, and therefore tend to have high debt-to-equity ratios (typically 80-20). "When the project finance disappears, you've got a problem," says Robert Clover, director of alternative-energy equity research at HSBC. He points out that some of the banks that suffered worst during the crisis—RBS, Lehman Brothers, Washington Mutual and Fortis—were also among the biggest in clean-energy finance.
As the flow of finance to electricity generators dried up, so did the orders to equipment manufacturers. Mr Clover reckons that wind-turbine manufacturers' order books so far this year are down by 55-60% on the same period in 2008.
But the problem was not just the shortage and cost of capital. The credit crisis also revealed a basic problem with the clean-energy business. Fossil fuels are, in terms of the energy they store, remarkably inexpensive to get out of the ground and sell. That makes dirty industrial processes irresistibly cheap—so long as they are not required to cover the costs of the pollution they cause. Companies cannot be expected to abandon them unless they get a clear signal from consumers or governments that it is in their financial interest to do so. And they are not getting such a signal.
Public awareness of global warming picked up significantly about three years ago. Now most consumers claim to be concerned about it, and public concern is one reason why companies have been branding themselves green. Energy companies boasted of their diversification out of fossil fuels. Businesses with small carbon footprints, such as banks and retailers, promised to go carbon-neutral.



But consumers' commitment to greenery is rather doubtful. There is a big market for organic products (though it has got smaller since the recession), but shoppers are more concerned about their families' health than about the planet, and few are prepared to pay premium prices for green products. BA, for instance, has been offering carbon offsets with its flights for the past four years, but finds that only around 3% of customers buy them.
In the absence of pressure from consumers, governments need to give businesses a shove. That was the idea behind the Kyoto protocol, which aims to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by getting countries to accept binding targets with timetables attached. It divided the world into developed countries, which are required to cut their emissions, and developing countries, which are not. When rich countries ratify the protocol, they have to commit themselves to reducing their emissions by a certain percentage below a date of their choosing (mostly 1990)—Britain by 12.5%, Japan and Canada by 6%, and so on. The idea is that in order to meet these targets governments should introduce policies that send price signals to businesses to shift investment away from dirty products and processes to cleaner ones.
Global carbon-dioxide emissions have risen by 20% since the protocol was signed in 1997, so the plan has evidently not worked all that well. There are three main reasons for that. First, rich countries have exported some of their dirty industry to the developing world. Steel, cement, cars, fridges, computers, toasters, kettles and all the paraphernalia of modern life the production of which used to cause pollution in developed countries are now made in China and other developing countries where emissions are not capped—and have risen partly as a result of that shift.
Second, the world's biggest emitter when Kyoto was signed, America, has not ratified the protocol, and the biggest polluter per person among countries with significant emissions, Australia, did so only two years ago. It might reasonably be argued that the blame should fall on those countries' governments, rather than on the treaty itself; but a treaty in which the most important parties play no part cannot be said to be a success.
Third, some countries have failed to cut their emissions as promised. In 2007 Canada's emissions were 29% above their 1990 level and Spain's 57%. But there is no need for them to miss their targets, thanks to the countries of the former Soviet Union. Their dirty industries collapsed during the 1990s, so they are awash with carbon credits that can be bought for a small consideration. Countries in danger of failing to meet their Kyoto targets can simply buy what is known in the industry as "Russian hot air". As the 2012 deadline for meeting Kyoto targets approaches, there is a growing appetite for those meaningless credits.
Even in countries that have cut their emissions substantially, business is not always getting the right signals. Britain's apparently creditable performance, for instance, is less the result of a well-designed policy than the "dash for gas" in the 1980s, spurred by the hostility to the coal industry of its then prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. Attempts to get a renewable-energy industry going have flopped.
Britain is not alone in finding it hard to work out how to send business the right signals. Policies that are effective, efficient and politically palatable have proved elusive everywhere.

http://www.economist.com/specialreports/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14994818

Good policy, and bad
Dec 3rd 2009
From The Economist print edition

Some mitigation policies are effective, some are efficient, and some are neither


Illustration by M. Morgenstern


GREENHOUSE-GAS emissions targets can be implemented through three sorts of policy instruments—regulation, carbon-pricing and subsidies. Governments generally like regulation (because it appears to be cost-free), economists like carbon prices (because they are efficient) and businesses like subsidies (because they get the handouts).
Regulation can be useful where the market is not working well. Buildings are rarely designed to save energy, because those who put them up do not usually pay the bills and those who occupy them choose them for their views or their looks, not their energy-efficiency. The same goes for appliances, most of which do not use enough energy to affect consumers' choices. Small regulatory changes (see box, next page) can cut energy consumption without distorting the market much. According to McKinsey, around one-third of the required greenhouse-gas reductions will actually save money.

Two-thirds, however, will not. They can be achieved only if companies invest in more expensive, cleaner technology. That will happen only if governments require them to do so, or tax dirty products and processes (through a carbon price), or subsidise clean ones.
Carbon pricing keeps government out of management decisions and allows managers to choose between different ways of cutting carbon. According to a paper by Carolyn Fischer, of Resources for the Future, and Richard Newell, head of America's Energy Information Administration, a carbon price is around twice as efficient as a renewable portfolio standard (which requires power companies to generate a certain proportion of the power they sell from renewable sources) and about two-and-a-half times as efficient as a renewable-energy subsidy.
A carbon price can be set either by a tax or through a cap-and-trade system. Europe already has such a system and America, Australia and Japan are trying to set one up. Norway and Sweden have carbon taxes and France soon will (though none of them covers much of those countries' economies). The European Commission is also now looking at a tax. Both methods have advantages and drawbacks, but tax wins out for simplicity and stability.
More important than the way the price is set, though, is its level. It needs to be high enough to send an unmistakable signal to business. According to Dimitri Zenghelis, one of the authors of the Stern Review and a senior adviser to Cisco and the Grantham Research Institute, a $40 carbon price now, doubling by 2050, and combined with non-price policies such as appliance standards and R&D support, is needed to hit the 450ppm target.
The European Union's Emissions-Trading Scheme, which started up in 2005, is the only large-scale attempt so far to set a carbon price. Under the ETS, EU countries get national allocations which they then parcel out to over 11,500 factories in five dirty industries. Companies can buy and sell allocations amongst themselves, and can also buy "certified emission reductions" from developing countries to meet their caps through Kyoto's "clean development mechanism".
Europe's flagship
The ETS makes up the vast bulk of the global carbon market, which will be worth around $122 billion this year. It is the principal way of financing the shift from high- to low-carbon power and industrial processes in the developing world. A wind farm in India; a methane-capture scheme for pig farms in Brazil; a forestry project in Indonesia; equipment to capture industrial gases in China—the ETS can finance them all.
Although it is still young, the ETS has had some impact on emissions. According to a 2008 study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in its first three years it probably reduced them by 120m-300m tonnes, or 2-5% a year, below what they would otherwise have been.
Power companies and manufacturers factor a carbon price into their investment decisions these days. At €15 ($22) a tonne the price is high enough to induce power companies to switch some generation from coal to gas at the margin, but not high enough to encourage much innovation.
Blame politics. The price is determined by the cap, which is set by the European Commission in consultation with member states. Initially, member states overestimated their emissions in order to get lots of permits, so the carbon price was lower than the commission had expected. For the second phase of allocations, from 2008, member states fought vigorously to get more permits than their neighbours. Some sued the commission and, in September 2009, won. The price dipped again.
Thanks to a combination of recession and lack of political will, most estimates of the future level of Europe's carbon price have been revised sharply downwards this year. And if America gets a carbon price, it is unlikely to be high enough to make much difference. According to America's Environmental Protection Agency, the legislation Congress is now considering would set it at $12 a tonne in 2012, rising to $20 in 2020. That, by itself, is unlikely to encourage much new investment, so if America is to make a dent in its emissions, it will have to rely mostly on subsidies.
There is an argument for some of those. Basic R&D in new energy technologies—in carbon capture and storage, for instance, which would allow the continued use of coal to generate electricity—is too risky for most companies to undertake on their own, and offers enough social benefits to deserve government support. But the subsidies now on offer go far beyond that.
Governments are spending heavily on encouraging the switch to low-carbon technologies, especially wind and solar power. "These policies are not particularly efficient, but they have been quite effective," says Guy Turner, director of carbon markets at New Energy Finance. Some 50% of new power capacity added in the EU in 2000-06 was renewable energy, compared with 29% in 1990-2000.
This sort of energy is expensive. The best indication of that is the carbon price that would be required to make investment in renewables worthwhile without subsidy. According to New Energy Finance, onshore wind energy needs a carbon price of $38, offshore of $136 and solar cells of $196. Europe's target for generating 20% of its energy from renewable sources therefore looks pricey. According to Richard Green, director of the Institute for Energy Research and Policy at Birmingham University, the implied marginal cost of carbon would be €129 a tonne—which suggests that allocating such large resources to renewable-energy subsidies is, as Mr Green says, "seriously sub-optimal".
The worst example of a wasteful subsidy is America's support programme for home-grown corn ethanol, which is coupled with tariffs on cheaper sugar-cane ethanol from Brazil. The programme has raised global food prices (and thus increased malnutrition among the world's poorest); lined the pockets of America's farmers; given policies to cut carbon a bad name; and cut little, if any, carbon.
Solar flare
Europe has yet to devise a policy quite so disastrous, but Spain's solar subsidy comes a close second. Its feed-in tariff for solar energy, established in 2007, offered generators 44 euro cents per kilowatt-hour. Coal-fired power costs around 4 cents per kwh to generate. The tariff was supposed to be for small-scale projects, of 100kw or less; but generators found that they could get it for larger ones if they installed banks of 100kw modules next to each other.
The resulting boom benefited manufacturers not just in Spain but also in Germany and China, the biggest producers of solar cells. Last year Spain accounted for 40% of world demand. The government had planned for 400MW of solar capacity to be built by 2010. In the event, 3GW was built. Panicking about the commitments it was building up, the government announced that rates would drop to 32 cents on September 29th 2008. "There were all sorts of abuses," says Jenny Chase, solar analyst at New Energy Finance. "If you connected a single module to the grid before September 29th, your whole project got financed. So modules were changing hands for vast sums of money." After the deadline the market collapsed.
The Spanish crash hit silicon-wafer producers, the manufacturers of equipment for solar-cell producers and the makers of cells across the world. Prices across the industry crashed by 30-40%, and solar companies' share prices fell by 50-75% in 2008, though they have picked up a bit this year. Some 20,000 jobs have been lost in the solar industry in Spain over the past year, and plenty more elsewhere.
Europe's energy subsidies, unlike America's, do not include nuclear, largely because of German opposition (which may change, following Angela Merkel's recent election victory). Nuclear power is more expensive than coal and gas, but probably cheaper than most renewables—though nobody is sure, since political opposition has ensured that few plants have been built in the West in recent years. Nuclear power does, however, have the virtue of scale. For renewables a gigawatt of power is a massive amount; for nuclear power it is the basic unit.
Thanks to stimulus money to combat the recession, subsidies are now flooding into the renewable-energy business faster than ever before. Governments across the world have trumpeted their stimulus packages as a way of saving the world economy and the planet at the same time. Green stimulus money globally adds up to around $163 billion, according to New Energy Finance, of which more than $100 billion is being spent in America and China. The biggest chunk, around a quarter, is going on improving energy efficiency. Grid development is next, with a fifth.
The green stimulus money has been slow in coming. In America it started to flow in the second half of this year, just as the economy began to recover. Some of it has been used to extend the tax credits for wind and solar energy and to convert some of the tax-credit schemes into grants. As a result, wind developers in America now get a cheque for 30% of the cost of the project once they connect to the grid. That scheme runs out at the end of next year.
Mr Clover is concerned about the likely effect. "We're expecting a stampede in 2010. The danger is that you just bring forward demand. That's been a key feature of the US market. We've already seen several subsidy cycles—very high installations followed by complete cessations of activity. All anybody wants is long-term regulatory stability." He hopes that will come with the imposition of a federal renewable portfolio standard on generators, which would require them to sell a certain proportion of renewable electricity as part of the mix.
Globally, New Energy Finance reckons that only $24 billion of green-stimulus money will be disbursed this year, with another $58 billion to follow in 2010 and a further $56 billion in 2011. So it looks as though the money will come too late to temper the recession of 2008-09, and may instead fuel another inflationary boom in a couple of years' time.

http://www.economist.com/specialreports/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14994810

Vampires on a diet
Dec 3rd 2009
From The Economist print edition

How a boring gadget saved $2 billion-worth of electricity

THE dullest bits of the many electronic devices people plug into mains sockets in their houses and offices are the power adaptors. These are boxes that sit between the plug and the device, or are sometimes integrated with the plug. Their job is to convert high-voltage alternating current from the mains into low-voltage direct current for mobile phones, laptops, iPods and other electronic gadgets. About 5 billion such devices are in use worldwide.
Until recently the conversion was made using copper wire. Typically, half the power they drew from the wall, and sometimes as much as 80%, would be lost in conversion. As a result, electricity bills and carbon emissions were both higher than necessary.

Making the conversion with integrated circuits is much more efficient, with as little as 20% of the power being lost. The technology for this has been available for many years and costs only around 30% more than the copper-wire method, but the market gave manufacturers little incentive to switch. Power adaptors are cheap, usually costing $2 or less. Appliance-makers tend to buy them from companies in Taiwan or China. Contracts are won and lost on a fraction of a cent per unit. And since consumers do not think about power consumption when choosing a phone or laptop, manufacturers tended to stick with copper wire.
Seven years ago the Natural Resources Defence Council and Ecos Consulting, an energy consultancy, got manufacturers, power utilities and the state and federal governments together to talk about shifting to integrated circuits. It took two years to get regulations in place in America. Once adopted in the world's biggest market, integrated-circuit adaptors spread swiftly everywhere, because manufacturers cannot afford to make things that cannot be sold in America.
For consumers the switch has meant lower power bills and smaller, lighter power adaptors. For the world as a whole it has meant a drop in global power consumption worth around $2 billion a year—saving 13m tonnes of CO2 annually worldwide, the equivalent of closing down eight coal-fired power stations.
There are plenty more such savings available, says Chris Calwell of Ecos Consulting. The biggest potential is in large-screen televisions, cable and satellite set-top boxes and battery chargers. Millions of devices—known to energy-efficiency experts as "vampires"—continue to suck in electricity even when the device that sits in them is fully charged.

http://www.economist.com/specialreports/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14994888

Cap and tirade
Dec 3rd 2009
From The Economist print edition

America struggles with climate-change legislation


Illustration by M. Morgenstern


"WHAT that means in code", Senator Bob Corker, a conservative Republican from Tennessee, told the audience at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources about America's proposed climate-change legislation, "is we're transferring wealth from our companies and our citizens…to raise carbon prices and send money abroad."
Senator Maria Cantwell, a left-wing Democrat from Washington, does not normally agree with Mr Corker, but her line of reasoning was similar. In costing the bill, she said, the Environmental Protection Agency had estimated that $1.4 trillion dollars a year would go abroad to cover the generous provision for offsets in the bill. "What can we buy abroad for that? Can't we spend this money on developing technology at home?" Senator Corker was fairly sure that the foreigners would find things to sell America. "When $1 trillion comes around there are hucksters all over the world who will do business with you."



After eight years of resistance from the Bush administration, America may be about to get mandatory federal greenhouse-gas emissions controls. The House of Representatives has passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act, otherwise known as the Waxman-Markey bill. It is sponsored by two powerful Democrats, Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Edward Markey, chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment.
The bill steers a difficult course between the demands of environmentalists and those of business. In attempting to bring emissions down by 17% below 2005 by 2020, or 4% below 1990 levels, it aims low by the standards of other rich countries, but is under attack in America on the ground that it will hurt the economy. In a cap-and-trade system designed purely for efficiency all permits would be auctioned, which is what Mr Obama wanted. But as a result of concessions made in committee, by the time it was passed, 85% were to be given away initially (though some of the value of the giveaways will be returned to power consumers as rebates).
Even so, the bill is struggling. It got through the House by a mere seven votes and has got stuck in the Senate. The Kerry-Boxer bill (the Senate version of Waxman-Markey) has fallen victim to many factors. One is health care, which has used up a lot of political time and energy and generated much ill will between the parties. Republican former supporters of cap-and-trade—such as John McCain, Richard Lugar and Lisa Murkowski—have become unwilling to do the president any favours. Another is public attitudes (see article).
The distribution of Senate seats does not help. Americans on the coasts are more willing than those in the hinterland to mitigate climate change, partly because they are more liberal, partly because they are less reliant on coal and partly because they are more worried by hurricanes and rising sea levels; yet coastal Americans are vastly under-represented because their states are more heavily populated than those inland and every state gets two Senate seats. And since a bill needs 60 votes out of 100 to pass through the Senate, senators representing a mere 11% of the population can block that passage. The biggest problem for the bill, however, is that much of business has weighed in against it.
Business, ironically, was largely responsible for Waxman-Markey's inception. In 2007 a group called USCAP, made up of environmental organisations and companies that wanted legislation, proposed a cap-and-trade bill, and Waxman-Markey looks a lot like their proposal. Some of those companies (such as Exelon and PG&E) were power utilities with little or no coal-fired generation; some (such as GE and Alstom) were equipment companies that would benefit from regulations requiring their customers to buy new kit.
Waking a sleeping bear
But oil companies and energy-intensive manufacturers tend to fear carbon caps, and once the bill started trundling through Congress those companies were stirred into action. "It was like poking a sleeping bear," says Elizabeth Moler at Exelon, the largest nuclear-power generator in America. Powerful trade associations such as the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Petroleum Institute and the US Chamber of Commerce started to lobby heavily against it.
The energy companies' voices tend to be heard loud and clear in Washington, DC. According to the Centre for Responsive Politics, the energy industry has been the fourth-biggest spender this year out of 13 sectors. In the first ten months of this year it lavished $300m on 2,225 lobbyists in Washington, DC. It handed twice as much in campaign contributions to the bill's opponents in Congress than to its supporters.
These days it is considered bad form to say that the planet can go boil itself, so rather than denying that the globe is warming, corporate critics of the bill tend to argue that cap-and-trade is the wrong remedy. Some, such as ExxonMobil, actually advocate a tax (which is unlikely to materialise).
The move to give away, rather than auction, permits has been much criticised. But perhaps the most contentious aspect of the bill is its generous provision for the use of offsets—the matter which exercised Senators Corker and Cantwell. Offsets are popular among developing countries because they provide an income, and among businesses in rich countries because they keep down the cost of compliance. The Environmental Protection Agency says that without the contribution from offsets, the carbon price under the cap-and-trade system would be twice as high as it is now.
Yet there are worries about the authenticity of offsets. That is partly because they are vulnerable to fraud, but mainly for deeper and more philosophical reasons. Offsets are based on the idea of "additionality"—that the credit is being issued for a cut in emissions which would not otherwise have taken place. Within the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto protocol, which creates most international offsets, projects have to be certified as producing "additional" cuts by the CDM's executive board.
But Michael Wara, an expert on environmental law at Stanford University, argues that it is in practice impossible for the board to know that the projects they approve would not have happened otherwise, and indeed some of the projects that have been financed look as though they might have. He cites some 20 gas-fired power stations in China that were partly financed by the CDM (and thus, indirectly, by European consumers). Given that China long ago announced its intention to diversify out of coal for reasons unconnected with climate change, he reckons that those power stations would have been built anyway, so the emissions cuts they led to were not additional. Senator Corker shares his scepticism about offsets. "That's not a market," says the senator. "That's Alice in Wonderland make-believe."
The Waxman-Markey bill covers more of the American economy than the ETS does of Europe's, and takes a far more generous approach to offsets. As a result, the American offset market would be 20-50 times larger than the existing CDM market, says Mr Wara. This could pose problems. The CDM board's approval rate has declined lately because it is determined not to issue dodgy credits. With a market as large as America promises to create, there is a risk that there will not be enough offsets available, or that they will be suspect. Senator John Barrasso, a Republican from Wyoming who sits on the energy committee, predicts that it will be "rife with green-collar crime".
Marketphobia
Arguments about offsets and volatility have raged since cap-and-trade was invented. But this year its supporters face a new problem: a post-credit-crunch hostility to markets in general. For Jason Grumet, who as executive director of America's National Commission on Energy Policy has been pushing cap-and-trade legislation for years, "mistrust of the market is as big a challenge to getting the legislation through as concerns about costs." In the House it led to emendations of the bill to restrict trading in carbon derivatives—and thus both the scope for banks to make money and the usefulness of the market.
Senator Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, co-sponsored a previous bill to curb emissions because she was worried about the effect of climate change on the coastline. But a bill like Waxman-Markey may not get her support. "There's a concern that we're creating a new $1 trillion market that will be susceptible to being manipulated by Wall Street in the same way as mortgage-backed securities were."
This new-found scepticism about market mechanisms leaves supporters of carbon curbs in some despair. "There's no question that a tax would be much easier to implement," Mr Grumet told the Senate's energy committee. "If there were a serious bipartisan effort to garner support for such a measure it would gather a head of steam." But so far there isn't.
Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, has said there will be a vote on an economy-wide bill next spring. But given the opposition to such a system, other outcomes are possible. One is regulation. The EPA is required by a Supreme Court decision to regulate greenhouse-gases as pollutants under the Clean Air Act—a prospect so alarming to business that it increases the chances of legislation. There is also talk of a more limited cap-and-trade system, covering the power utilities, which are reconciled to the idea, but excluding the oil industry, which is still fiercely resisting it.
With mid-term elections next autumn, a bill on such a sensitive issue will need to pass before summer. Much depends on the president. If he puts his back behind Waxman-Markey, America may get a weakened version of a second-best policy. If he doesn't, America may get something worse—or nothing at all.

http://www.economist.com/specialreports/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14994856

Who cares?
Dec 3rd 2009
From The Economist print edition

Don't count on public opinion to support mitigation



AMERICANS support the idea of controlling emissions. In a poll published in October by the Pew Research Centre, 50% of those who had an opinion supported limits, compared with 39% against. Other polls have shown higher levels of support. But that apparent enthusiasm is qualified by a number of factors.
The first is price sensitivity. In a poll in August, 58% said they would support a cap-and-trade system that increased monthly electricity bills by $10, but for an increase of $25 the figure dropped to 39%.
Second, ignorance and indifference are rife. Whereas half of the respondents to the Pew poll who knew about cap-and-trade supported the idea, 55% had never heard of it. In a Gallup poll in September, 1% cited the environment as America's most important problem, 26% health care and 29% the economy.



Third, scepticism seems to be on the rise. The Pew poll showed a fall in the proportion of Americans who thought there was solid evidence of rising global temperatures, from 71% in April 2008 to 57% in October 2009. The proportion blaming rising temperatures on human activity also fell over the period, from 47% to 36%.
It is hard to see how scientific developments could be responsible for this shift. It seems more likely to be the result of economics. When people are poorer they may be less willing to support policies that will cost them money, but feel uncomfortable about jeopardising the planet's future to fatten their bank balance. Scepticism absolves them of selfishness.
Figures from other countries support the idea that attitudes have changed during—and possibly as a result of—the recession. A poll published by the European Commission showed a fall in the number of EU citizens who saw climate change as the world's gravest problem from 62% in spring 2008 to 50% in July 2009. Over the same period the proportion citing global recession as their main concern rose from 24% to 52%.
In Australia, meanwhile, where Kevin Rudd's support for mitigation helped him win the 2007 election—probably the first election anywhere in which climate change played a serious part—a poll published in July by the Lowy Institute showed that the proportion of voters who were prepared to shoulder "significant costs" to tackle global warming had fallen to 48% from 68% in 2006.

http://www.economist.com/specialreports/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14994880

A long game
Dec 3rd 2009
From The Economist print edition

China sees opportunities as well as dangers in climate change



UNLIKE America's leaders, China's bosses are not much troubled by recalcitrant legislatures. The government has therefore had no difficulty in executing a smart volte face on climate change. Around three years ago its fierce resistance to the notion of any limit on its greenhouse-gas emissions started to soften. It now seems to be making serious efforts to control them.
One reason for this change is the country's growing awareness of its vulnerability to a warming world. The monsoon seems to be weakening, travelling less far inland and dumping its rainfall on the coasts. As a result China is seeing floods in the south-east and droughts in the north-west. At the same time the country's leaders are deeply concerned about the melting of the glaciers on the Tibetan plateau, which feed not just the Ganges, the Indus, the Brahmaputra and the Mekong but also the Yangzi and Yellow rivers (see map).



A second reason is China's growing sense of global responsibility. The country is not only the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases; it now regards itself, and is regarded, as one of the world's leading powers, and therefore expects to work with the other big powers to tackle global problems such as the economic crisis, nuclear proliferation and climate change.
A third reason is energy security. Although China has large coal reserves, it is also a big importer. Concerns about excessive dependence on foreign fossil fuels sharpened when China's oil imports rocketed and, in 2005, the attempt by CNOOC, China's largest offshore oil and gas company, to buy America's Unocal was rebuffed. China's push into nuclear and renewable energy has been driven by its need to diversify its energy sources.
The fourth reason is economic. The Kyoto protocol has given China an incentive to clean up its act. China has received $2 billion through the CDM for cleaning up its industrial processes and building clean-energy capacity—half the money that has flowed through the CDM. That is expected to rise to $8 billion by 2012.
But a longer-term economic motive springs from a shift in the way China thinks about growth. In the past, its all-out drive for growth has led it to rebuff pressure to cut emissions. Attempts to control pollution foundered on the performance-assessment system for officials at all levels of government, which prioritises growth. But that has been adjusted to encourage energy efficiency, and at the same time the leadership has started to argue that growth and greenery are compatible.
Since Wen Jiabao took over as prime minister, the leadership has tried to define economic growth as something broader and longer-term than GDP figures imply: the emphasis has been on a "harmonious society" and "scientific development". Nobody was sure what the latter meant, but Mr Wen has recently been talking about a more "resource-efficient environmentally friendly society" and Hu Jintao, the president, has referred several times to a "low-carbon economy" and a "green economy".
Local pollution may help to explain the shift. Residents are infuriated by filthy air and water that kills people and damages unborn children. Policies to cut carbon-dioxide emissions—through reducing the energy used to produce goods—can help clean up China's cities at the same time.
More interesting is the idea that clean energy might be a source of growth rather than a constraint on it. China, so the argument goes, missed out on the computer revolution. It makes hardware, but American firms own most of the valuable stuff—the intellectual property for the software. "You can't get rich making socks and toys," explains Lin Jiang, director of the China Sustainable Energy Programme at the Energy Foundation in San Francisco. "They're looking for the next growth industry. Clean energy clearly has huge potential. And no country dominates the industry yet. It's a wide-open field." Hu Angang, an economist at Tsinghua University, calls this "a huge opportunity for China. The country will become the largest renewable-energy market, bio-energy market, clean-coal market, nuclear-power market, carbon-exchange market, environmental-technology market, low-carbon economy, exporter of low-carbon products and low-carbon-technology innovator."



The government is giving the economy a shove in that direction. In 2006 the five-year plan set a target for a 20% cut in the energy intensity of GDP by the end of 2010. The start was slow, but by the end of last year it had managed 10% and it now looks on track for its target. According to Mr Lin, that would mean a reduction in carbon emissions of 1.5 billion tonnes per year by 2010, more than the Waxman-Markey bill's caps for domestic industry would take out of America's economy by 2020. China has relatively tight vehicle fuel-efficiency standards (see chart 5). Electric vehicles are being generously subsidised ($8,800 for a car and $73,500 for a bus) and the government plans to build the capacity to produce half a million a year by 2012.
The most visible changes have come in renewable energy. In 2005 the National People's Congress passed legislation to offer subsidies for renewable energy—around twice the amount for coal. For wind energy, the target was set at 20GW of capacity by 2020. The subsidy generated so much building that China now expects to hit that target by the end of this year and is aiming for 150GW by 2020. "It's like a gold rush right now," says Mr Lin. The target for solar energy, similarly, has been raised from 1.8GW to 20GW by 2020.
To put this in context, wind currently generates only 0.4% of Chinese electricity. Coal generates 80%. And, although China's government does not have to jump the legislative hurdles faced by America's president, it sometimes struggles to get policy implemented on the ground. Yet if China's many layers of government can be persuaded that green means growth, they will cleave to this policy; and the leadership seems keen to make that happen.
China, thus, is after the same "green jobs" that Americans have been promised as part of their road to economic recovery. America has huge advantages in terms of technology and capital, but China has a couple of things going for it too: cheaper labour and a leadership unconstrained by the need to get re-elected every four years. China can play a long game, which helps when dealing with climate change.

http://www.economist.com/specialreports/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14994828

Closing the gaps
Dec 3rd 2009
From The Economist print edition

How the world divides on a global deal


Illustration by M. Morgenstern


BEYOND the planet-saving rhetoric, the argument at Copenhagen and beyond will be about emissions levels and money. On both, large gaps need to be closed for a deal to be reached. The main gap on emissions levels is between America and the rest of the world. The main gap on money is between the developed and the developing worlds.
To establish the size of the emissions cuts needed, you have to start with where you want to end up and work backwards. The G8 group of nations agreed in Italy earlier this year that the increase in global temperatures should be no more than 2ºC above pre-industrial levels. To achieve that, according to the models on which the IPCC bases its calculations, global emissions will have to be cut to half their 1990 levels by 2050. For rich countries that means an 80% cut in their emissions by that date, a reduction to two tonnes of CO2 equivalent per head per year. At present, emissions in America are around 24 tonnes per head; in Europe they are ten.



Forty years is a long time. Governments can agree to meet distant targets in the comfortable knowledge that they will not be held responsible for failing to do so. Shorter-term targets are therefore more important. The IPCC's figures suggest the developed world should aim to cut by 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020. That will be a stretch, since the targets that developed countries have put on the table so far add up to around 15% below 1990 (see chart 6).
The European Union is committed to a 20% cut, rising to 30% if the rest of the world promises significant cuts. It has a detailed plan for getting there, including lower country caps in its Emissions-Trading Scheme and regulations on car emissions. Japan's new government has promised a reduction of 25% on 1990, but has revealed little about how it might manage that. Australia's government struggled trying to get its legislation through parliament. Canada's emissions continue to grow.
Two weeks before the Copenhagen conference, Mr Obama announced that America would offer a 17% cut on 2005 emissions by 2020—the figure in the Waxman-Markey bill. That's around 4% below 1990 levels—well below the figure of 25-40% that is expected of developed countries—but it is possible that other countries might accept it. Because of the attitude of the Senate and the Bush administration, America is starting to cut later than other developed countries, so it is bound to take some time to catch up. Its negotiators will offer more impressive sounding medium-term figures—17% over 1990 by 2025, or 30% over 1990 by 2030. According to Todd Stern, America's special envoy on climate change, "Several different countries have come up to me and said, 'You've got a path that's pretty good even if we don't like your 2020 number'."


And the rest of the world knows that America's negotiators are constrained by the precarious position of the legislation. The Senate reacts badly if it senses that America is being pushed around by foreigners. It voted 95-0 to reject the Kyoto deal that the Clinton administration had negotiated. If it thinks that the Obama administration is caving in to international pressure it might reject not just the treaty but also the legislation.
The chances of legislation getting through the Senate—and the chances of a deal being done at Copenhagen—were given a boost by China's announcement, a day after Mr Obama's, of a number of its own. According to the "road map" drawn up two years ago at the UNFCCC conference in Bali, developing countries are not required to come up with numerical targets for cuts, but they are required to propose "nationally appropriate mitigation and adaptation actions".
Because it is the world's biggest emitter, and because of its falling out with America over Kyoto, China has been under particular pressure to come up with a significant "action" of some sort. It has offered a 40-45% cut in the carbon intensity of its economy by 2020. That's less than America was hoping for—it reckoned the figure should be at least 50%, since China would get to 40-45% on the basis of its existing policies—but China's number is an opening bid, and there is relief all round that it has come up with one at all.
Assuming that all the countries involved can produce satisfactory plans that the others sign off on, there will then be carrots and sticks to hold them to their promises. In theory Kyoto is a legally binding agreement with a compliance mechanism. In practice it is toothless, partly because of the availability of "hot air" from the countries of the former Soviet Union for rich countries to buy to meet their targets. But even without the hot air, there is no effective way of holding non-complying countries to account, for the compliance mechanism merely imposes punitively large cuts in the next period on countries failing to meet their targets in this one. That is not going to happen.
France would like something much toothier: trade sanctions, more politely known as "border-tax adjustments". These, in the view of some, would serve both to keep countries to the commitments they had made, and to prevent factories moving from rich countries to poor ones. The threat of tariffs has got some momentum in America too, and the Waxman-Markey bill includes a provision for border-tax adjustments.
Money-shaped carrots
To most developing countries this is poison. China's ministry of commerce said the measure "will not help any country's endeavours during the climate-change negotiations, and China is strongly opposed to it". Mr Obama is with the Chinese. "At a time when the economy worldwide is still deep in recession and we've seen a significant drop in global trade," he said after the House of Representatives passed the Waxman-Markey bill, "I think we have to be very careful about sending any protectionist signals out there."
The carrot to get developing countries to honour their commitments is money. There are two reasons for rich countries to cough up as part of a Copenhagen deal. The first is a moral one. It is widely accepted that since the developed world is responsible for pumping 200 years-worth of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, it should help the developing world adapt to climate change. The second is a pragmatic one. China aside, many developing countries lack the capital to invest in cleaning up their economies, so if they cannot get access to rich-world capital, the investment will not happen.
China says that the developed world should hand over 1% of its GDP, or about $400 billion a year. The African Union wants $67 billion a year for Africa alone. Britain's prime minister, Gordon Brown, has suggested that the developed world should pay $100 billion a year in total. The European Commission is proposing €100 billion a year in 2020. The gap between the numbers proposed is even larger than those figures suggest, because the Chinese and the Africans seem to be talking about government-to-government transfers only, whereas Mr Brown and the European Commission are talking about a combination of those and private capital.
There is no objective way of establishing how much guilt money the rich world should come up with. The amount of investment needed to clean up the world economy is somewhat easier to determine. According to the International Energy Agency, the 2ºC target will require around $1 trillion a year in investment. The World Bank says around $475 billion of that total will need to be spent in developing countries.
Various countries have made constructive suggestions about how to rustle up cash. Mexico wants a $10 billion Green Fund to which countries would contribute on the basis of both their emissions and their GDP; Norway is suggesting an auction of 2% of carbon-market emissions allowances which could raise $15-25 billion; the poorest countries have proposed a tax on air travel which could raise $8-25 billion; the World Bank has a $5 billion target for its climate investment funds. Altogether those might raise $60 billion, which still leaves a big hole.
How could it be filled? "By private capital," says Cameron Hepburn of Oxford University's Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment. "Rich governments have serious pressures on their finances. But they can maximise the bang for their buck by mobilising their vast capital markets." And private-sector investment is likely to be more efficiently used than government-to-government transfers.
At present there is not much sign of private capital investing in developing-world clean-energy infrastructure. But it is not a mad idea. Energy infrastructure is a long-term investment. That should suit pension and sovereign-wealth funds. With assets of $12 trillion and $3.75 trillion respectively, they should be able to raise some of the necessary funds.
But first developing countries need to put in place those "nationally appropriate mitigation actions". In a tiny way that is starting in China, where APG, a Dutch pension fund with a portfolio of $200 billion, has put together an energy-efficiency fund because the incentives the Chinese government has put in place make it worthwhile. "It washes its face financially," says Rob Lake, head of sustainability at APG.
But China is not short of capital. The problem is elsewhere in the developing world, where economic, political and currency risks scare off foreign investors. So a lot of thinking is going on about how to mitigate those risks. The United Nations Environment Programme, in collaboration with the P8, a group of big pension funds, and other institutional investors, has produced a report on how to use public-sector money to leverage much larger amounts of private-sector finance into clean investment in developing countries; the World Economic Forum has produced another; Lord Stern a third.
The general idea is that the most efficient use for the public-sector funds which rich countries are going to transfer to poor ones would be to insure private money against the risks posed by volatile currencies, unreliable governments and the risk that clean-investment policies will not survive political change. Using public money to leverage private money to build infrastructure and transform economies is not a new idea, says Dominic Waughray of the World Economic Forum: it is the model the Marshall Fund used to rebuild Europe after the second world war. But it is still a contentious one. Some developing-country governments suspect this is a ruse by rich countries to shirk their responsibilities while making money out of the poor. They tend to prefer the idea of the cash going straight into their coffers.
The gaps that remain between rich and poor countries on these issues are huge. It is clear that some will remain after Copenhagen. That does not mean the world is giving up on a deal. It means that there will be a lot of work to do next year. That work will be easier if the world goes about it in a different way.

http://www.economist.com/specialreports/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14994838

What needs to change
Dec 3rd 2009
From The Economist print edition

The prospects are gloomy, but they can be made brighter


Illustration by M. Morgenstern


THOSE who have had the misfortune to be closely involved in climate-change negotiations are not short of ideas on how the process might be made more productive. One improvement would be to stop trying to deal with so many gases at once (see article). Another would be to stop trying to deal with so many countries.
With 192 participants, the annual UNFCCC conferences are too big to do anything very useful. But most greenhouse-gas emissions are produced by the 17 countries that meet in the Major Economies Forum, a group put together by George Bush in what was widely regarded as an attempt to sabotage the UNFCCC. The MEF has, ironically, turned out to be a good forum for tackling difficult questions. The UNFCCC should therefore stick to big statements of principle and leave the details to the MEF or other small groups.



The negotiations also divide the world into two halves. The idea of "common but differentiated responsibilities" on which the UNFCCC is based—that everybody is in it together but some countries are more responsible than others—is reasonable. But the way it is being applied means that the developed ("Annex 1") countries bear all the burden of mitigation whereas developing ("non-Annex 1") countries benefit from the CDM and are not required to limit their emissions at all.
This binary division has fostered an us-and-them attitude that gets in the way of agreement and forces together countries that have little in common. The world economy has changed a lot in 17 years. For example, Mexico and South Korea are non-Annex 1 countries, but also members of the OECD, the club of rich countries. The non-Annex 1 countries now have widely differing concerns. China wants money for cutting industrial emissions. Africa wants generous provisions for forestry. Brazil has hydro power and biofuels, so it wants a regime that favours those. South Africa's economy is based on coal, so it wants investment in carbon capture and storage.
Most developing countries cling to this division because they have done well out of it, but some middle-income countries are trying to get rid of it. "Mexico's main goal", says Mario Molina, a Nobel prize-winning chemist and a key figure in the successful campaign to cut ozone-depleting gases, "is to make a difference in the impasse between developed and developing countries." Mexico has made a commitment along developed-country lines to halve emissions by 2050, and proposes that prosperous heavy-emitting developing countries—including Mexico—be net contributors to its "Green Fund". China dislikes the idea, but it is gaining traction.
A further problem with the framework created at Kyoto is that it ignored some crucial sources of emissions—chief among them deforestation, the source of around 12% of man-made greenhouse-gas emissions, more than the EU contributes in total. Dealing with it is also one of the cheapest ways of cutting emissions. But working out how to do that is difficult, which is why deforestation got left out of Kyoto.
Cutting emissions from factories means paying people to do things differently. Stopping deforestation, by contrast, means paying people for not doing something they might otherwise have done. This is tricky. Should people be paid for each year in which they have refrained from cutting down trees? If so, how much? And who, exactly, should be paid? The owners or occupants of forests that are being cut down? Or the owners or occupants of all the forests in the world? That would either be prohibitively expensive, since forests cover 30% of the Earth's landmass, or the payments would not be high enough to protect the most endangered areas of forest.
The UN programme for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD), the main model under discussion at Copenhagen, favours the more limited approach. But that, its opponents argue, would create a perverse incentive. As Bharrat Jagdeo, Guyana's president, says, "You can't have a sustainable strategy that focuses only on those places that have high rates of deforestation, otherwise you'll get leakage. The logging companies will have an incentive to move to countries that have conserved their forests," as Guyana has. Creating a sensible mechanism to deal with deforestation is going to require different levels of payment—higher ones for areas vulnerable to being cut down for farming and lower ones for the rest.
Despite the difficulties, avoiding deforestation is regarded as a crucial tool for cutting emissions. Indonesia, for instance, has said that with REDD in place, it could cut its emissions in two decades by 40% from 2005 levels. A deal on deforestation therefore looks likely—if not at Copenhagen, then in the near future.
Hold the champagne
That the world is gathering in Copenhagen next week to try to decarbonise the global economy is a good thing in itself, and a consequence of other reasons for optimism. It is now widely accepted that averting serious climate change is technically feasible and economically affordable. Everybody has a good idea of what is needed, in terms of money and emissions cuts, to get a deal. Most big emitters have either started on, or promised, serious reduction programmes, and all of those countries' leaders have invested a lot of political capital in being seen to make a success of averting serious climate change.
Copenhagen will not produce a detailed, comprehensive, legally binding agreement. But with good luck and good will, something positive may come out of it: a political agreement, which would be turned into a legally binding agreement when the fate of America's climate-change legislation has been decided, and a deal on some specifics, such as forestry.
But even if Copenhagen's participants end up toasting their efforts over the head of the little mermaid, what really matters is how any international agreement is implemented at a national level. And there, although progress has been made, some things are also going awry. Too little effort is going into carbon pricing and too much money into subsidies. The system is getting fat with pork; and the more pork there is, the smaller the chance that the world can cut its emissions without causing serious damage to its economy.
And yet it can be done. Most of the necessary technologies are available. The economics can be made to work. Everything depends, in the end, on the voters and their political leaders. Willing voters and braver politicians will mean better policies. And better policies will enable mankind to make a big difference to the planet's future at a surprisingly small cost.

http://www.economist.com/specialreports/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14994848

Unpacking the problem
Dec 3rd 2009
From The Economist print edition

The attractions of a piecemeal approach to global warming



ONLY half of man-made global warming comes from CO2. The rest comes from a variety of sources, including hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), black carbon (soot), methane and nitrogen compounds. Packing them all up together gives the Kyoto protocol an elegant framework which in theory should solve the problem with a single set of numbers—the national caps that are designed to cut the whole range of greenhouse gases.
Critics point out that the Kyoto protocol has achieved a great deal less than the Montreal protocol, which was designed to prevent the use of ozone-depleting CFCs. Montreal, implemented in 1987, was originally expected to cut half of its gases in 12 years. In the event it got rid of all of them in ten years. It has had a huge global-warming side-benefit. CFCs are greenhouse, as well as ozone-depleting, gases. According to a study in 2007, the Montreal protocol prevented the emission of 189 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent. Kyoto has abated around 10 billion tonnes.

Montreal worked better than Kyoto largely because the problem was a manageable size and the gases similar in nature and origin. Some people therefore argue that the greenhouse-gas problem should be unpacked and dealt with under different agreements.
Methane and nitrous oxides produced by agriculture account for about 10% of man-made warming. Most of that comes from the guts of cattle and sheep. That could be cut through breeding programmes and less gassy diets.
Black carbon is a particular problem in the Arctic and the Himalayan glaciers; it melts snow and ice and thus increases the tendency to absorb heat from the sun. It contributes somewhere between an eighth and a quarter of global warming. Unlike CO2, which stays in the atmosphere for centuries, it disappears within weeks. Cutting emissions would therefore make an instant difference.
Black carbon is produced by diesel engines and primitive stoves burning wood and cow dung. Mechanisms appropriate for dealing with large-scale emissions from power plants and factories will have little impact on peasants' cooking techniques. Providing villagers with cheap, cleaner stoves would be more effective.
HFCs—industrial gases with 1,440 times the global-warming potential of carbon dioxide—are another candidate. Like CFCs, they are produced by a smallish number of industrial processes, and cutting emissions of them is cheap and easy. America, Mexico, Canada and a bunch of other countries have indicated that they support the idea of dealing with HFCs under the Montreal protocol.
Those in favour of a more holistic approach argue that disaggregating greenhouse gases could undermine the effort to solve the problem as a whole. But better to get some significant cuts made than none.

7.12.09

Green Newsclips for December 7, 2009: Scientists tell Canada to do more and cross their fingers they're wrong, fewer Americans believe climate change is a priority (or even exists), and the Russian secret service is behind Climategate... But don't be too alarmist, people don't listen to doomsayers

http://planetark.org/wen/55803

Do More To Help Climate, Scientists Tell Canada
Date: 04-Dec-09
Country:
 CANADA
Author:
 David Ljunggren

Do More To Help Climate, Scientists Tell Canada Photo: Chris Wattie
Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrives at the airport in Port-of-Spain ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) November 26, 2009.
Photo: Chris Wattie

OTTAWA - More than 500 Canadian scientists on Thursday urged the country's government -- portrayed by critics as a laggard in the fight against climate change -- to significantly boost efforts to fight global warming.
Canada, one of the world's worst polluters per capita, says it plans to cut greenhouse gases by 20 percent by 2020 from 2006 levels. It has yet to explain how.
The scientists said in an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper that Canada needed "a greatly increased level of ambition for our domestic emission reduction targets and the actions necessary to achieve them".
The minority Conservative government dismisses calls for deeper cuts in emissions on the grounds that this would cripple the economy, in particular the crucial energy sector.
Separately, Canadian Auto Workers union leader Ken Lewenza wrote to Environment Minister Jim Prentice criticizing "a lack of ambition on Canada's part" to tackle global warming.
No one in Prentice's office was immediately available for comment.
(Editing by Peter Galloway)

http://planetark.org/wen/55790

Top Climate Change Expert Hopes Science Got It Wrong
Date: 04-Dec-09
Country:
 GERMANY
Author:
 Erik Kirschbaum

Top Climate Change Expert Hopes Science Got It Wrong Photo: Daniel Munoz
Steam and other emissions are seen coming from a power station in Wollongong, some 89 km (55 miles) south of Sydney November 17, 2009.
Photo: Daniel Munoz

POTSDAM - Germany's top climate researcher says he hopes he and his fellow scientists around the world have got it all wrong about global warming.
Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, head of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, told Reuters he gets no pleasure at all in being a prophet of doom and hopes he and his colleagues have overlooked effects that could still arrest climate change.
"It would be wonderful if some mechanism that we haven't yet been able to understand could still have an impact and manage to stabilize global warming at a high level for a while," he said in an interview in his institute's office outside Berlin.
"I would be delighted if it turns out that we haven't understood the system as well as we think we do and that we might get a 20- to 30-year 'breathing period' when global warming slows or is even halted," the physics professor said.
But Schellnhuber, who advises German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the European Union on climate change, said it was also possible scientists were erring in the opposite direction and underestimating the climate change dynamics.
Most scientists say heat-trapping gases from burning fossil fuels are nudging up global temperatures. A minority say the rises are entirely the result of natural fluctuations.
Schellnhuber will join world leaders next week in Copenhagen when they will try to work out a new U.N. pact to address global warming.
SCARE-MONGERING?
"It's like we're on the Titanic," said Schellnhuber, 59. "But this time we've got a clear view of the horizon. We're not up there in the look-out with a pair of binoculars in the dark but rather with a radar system, a scientific radar system.
"The problem is there are 192 captains on the ship," he said, referring to the number of countries involved in the talks on fighting climate change. "And that is a fatal situation. But I'm nevertheless hoping for a magic moment in Copenhagen."
Schellnhuber presented a "Copenhagen Diagnosis" last month with 25 experts that said global warming is happening faster than expected and sea levels could rise by up to 2 meters (6-1/2 ft) by 2100. They urged action to cap rising greenhouse gas emissions by 2015 to avoid the worst impact of climate change.
Skeptics, who call the report more scare-mongering, have recently seized on hacked emails as evidence the case for climate change has been exaggerated.
"I personally wish it were just 'scare-mongering', that this is all exaggerated," Schellnhuber said when asked about the skeptics. He said scientists face intensive peer scrutiny that ensures high standards of quality, integrity and accuracy.
"What special interests are supposedly being represented? Our findings have nothing to do with special interests. The system is constructed to ensure the greatest credibility."
Schellnhuber pointed out Albert Einstein was among the scientists who worked in the same offices he now occupies.
"No one goes into science to earn a lot of money or to become famous or to meet beautiful women," he said. "People go into science because they're interested in finding the truth. It's total nonsense (to accuse scientists of scare-mongering). Those people will never believe us."
(Editing by Ralph Boulton)

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/climate-change/lowering-the-doom/article1389493/

Lowering the doom
By John Allemang
From Saturday's Globe and Mail

The lack of political will around the coming summit tells thoughtful ecologists their approach isn't working. People need a more globally warming message. John Allemang investigates how to change the climate of debate.

Changing our climate for the worse? That's the easy part. But changing human minds and behaviour - that turns out to be much, much harder.

No matter how much confidence scientists have in the truth of their global warnings, getting the message out to the folks who are actually wrecking the planet has proved to be a far more challenging proposition. Cars still jam the streets, energy consumption increases, polluters sow doubt and denial and, as the Copenhagen summit on climate change nears, politicians still prevaricate as if there were an endless succession of tomorrows.

While there may well be an apocalypse looming on the far horizon, dire prophecies just don't cut it in the here-and-now of consumer culture. So forget the grim 100-year predictions for a second. The crisis at this very moment seems more like a crisis of communication.

Even the chair of the David Suzuki Foundation, James Hoggan, agrees: "Whether it's the scientific community, environmental groups, politicians, the media or business leaders, we haven't done a great job of conveying accurate scientific information to the public on the risks of climate change - or, indeed, of even conveying what climate change is."

Over the decades the climate-change war has been waged, many tactics used to soften up the masses have been unproductive at best and downright discouraging at worst. Even if you believe doomsday is coming, is it really such a good idea to talk it up and wallow in the death and destruction that will result if we don't change our awful ways and acknowledge Al Gore's inconvenient truth?

Such pessimistic predictions may have seemed effective as a way of winning attention (and the Nobel). But if the goal is to motivate people to useful action, say those who are experienced in environmental communication, it calls for something new.

"People have a finite capacity for worry," says Mr. Hoggan, the author of Do the Right Thing: PR Tips for a Skeptical Public . "When you overwhelm people with catastrophe, you don't actually engage them - you just produce an emotional numbness."

People have a finite capacity for worry. When you overwhelm people with catastrophe, you don't actually engage them - you just produce an emotional numbness. James Hoggan, chair of the David Suzuki Foundation

That's an intellectual evolution that Mr. Suzuki himself has gone through. His widely viewed TV series The Nature of Things once tended to depict nature as a beautiful pristine thing that bad humans habitually destroyed. Even now, his enemies feel able to undermine his mainstream scientific views by dismissing him as a merchant of doom.

Yet the current incarnation of Mr. Suzuki, in keeping with his foundation's communication techniques, has shifted from the dependable jeremiads of old to a message of everyday hope and more immediate usefulness. Last year, he co-wrote David Suzuki's Green Guide , a book that comes to grips with climate change through small-scale lifestyle adjustments such as biodegradable carpeting and energy-efficient appliances.

"I believe that one has to keep warning [that] the signs are there, the science is in," Mr. Suzuki said when the book came out. "But I realized years ago that you can get people to respond to fear, but you can't sustain it, because it's too soul-destroying."

TO NUDGE MINDS TOWARD GREEN, REDUCE THE SCALE

So what will people respond to when fear doesn't do it? Mark van Vugt is a psychologist who teaches at VU University Amsterdam, and he's part of an emerging group of cognitive scientists studying the sometimes uneasy relationship between climate-change messaging and the workings of the brain.

He says the announcements to be made by global leaders in Copenhagen are of much less consequence than the decisions that are being shaped in the complex minds of ordinary human beings.

"It's very hard to look at a climate-change conference as a primary driver of individual behaviour," Dr. van Vugt says. "Copenhagen is about political solutions, but the environmental issues remain inherently uncertain for most people. So what we have to do is translate these issues into something meaningful at the individual level."

Acquiring information is the basic way the brain deals with uncertainty, and with a subject as complex and contested as long-term climate change, Dr. van Vugt believes the best approach is to localize the discussion: Make it less about far-off glaciers, because people find it hard to cope with a problem they can't easily influence, and more about local parks, forests or air quality.

Any kind of message for change, he believes, must focus on personal identity and our need to belong: "We're influenced by significant others and want to look good to our neighbours and friends."

So a good way to persuade people to reduce electrical consumption is to let them compare their rates with the rest of the community: Have utility bills award a smiley face to those whose consumption is lower than their neighbours and a frowning face to those who are profligate. People then will reduce without any other external motivator, Dr. van Vugt says.

But good behaviour at the individual level won't last if institutional behaviour is untrustworthy - environmental groups must not overstate a threat; scientists can't be seen to adjust data, even in a good cause (as researchers from the International Panel on Climate Change were recently accused of doing); businesses must not act as though they're a law onto themselves; and governments can't preach one thing and then do another.

"Suppose it turns out that the recyclables and organics we've been sorting and separating are just being tossed into one big garbage heap - well, that's a recipe for disaster," Dr. van Vugt says. "You've created goodwill only to destroy it."

While environmentally friendly behaviours are often presented as something altruistic and selfless, he suggests that incentives are key to any successful strategy. "Our primary motivation is to get ahead of others, to see ourselves rewarded for good behaviour while bad behaviour gets punished." So it doesn't hurt to awaken some of this potential goodness by, say, offering a free bus pass for those prepared to be wooed to public transit.

At the same time, it's useful to make green products more luxurious rather than crafting an image of asceticism and self-conscious suffering. "A nice, well-made mountain bike can cost as much as a car and may become a status symbol for just that reason," Dr. van Vugt says. This is what psychologists refer to as signalling potential: Look at me, I'm green and rich and sexy .

Orthodox environmentalists may shudder at the thought, and question the ability of sexy status symbols to stop the seas from rising. Yet the attractiveness of self-denial has proved to be a hard sell to those used to the comforts of our present wastefulness.

"The evidence so far is profoundly against the notion of sacrifice as a success strategy," designer Bruce Mau says. "We've been saying for decades, 'Get out of your cars,' but in not one of those years have there been fewer cars."

For Mr. Mau, solving the problems of climate starts with smart design - carpeting with its own 1-800 number that you call when it needs recycling, a Tesla electric car that looks more beautiful than a Ferrari, and buses that come with cup holders so you don't feel like you're downgrading quite so much from your car.

"If you describe a sustainable future in negative terms," he says, "and if you highlight what it's going to cost them, people aren't going to move there. Doom-and-gloom is a dead end."

FIND A BALANCE BETWEEN PERKS AND PEER PRESSURE

The beauty of sustainability has an undeniable appeal. But between the aesthetics and the ascetics of climate change, there's still a lot of room to manoeuvre. A considerable amount of public goodwill was arguably wasted by the campaign to switch from incandescent bulbs to stylish compact fluorescents, a relatively low-impact improvement.

Those who listened attentively to the noisy messaging that promoted the switch to the compact fluorescents may well feel like their effort was wasted - and their commitment could be harder to summon for a more significant shift, such as reducing beef consumption by half. Politicians, after all, fear beef-industry interests, while the incandescent-bulb lobby is relatively powerless.

As the director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University in Virginia, Edward Maibach has studied the diverse effects of environmental messaging. He is convinced that changing human behaviour isn't as challenging as many people - certainly many politicians - now believe.

He can tell you from his polling data that when people are asked about changing their behaviour and reducing energy use in response to climate change, 40 per cent of those surveyed report it had no negative impact on their lives - and 30 per cent actually say it improved their quality of life.

From this, he concludes that "there's a collectivist spirit out there that's waiting to be reactivated. People are waiting to be asked to sacrifice. By and large, politicians are fearful about doing the right thing about greenhouses gases because they think they'll be thrown out of office. Yet we've shown that for every one person who'll get upset if you reduce emissions, two and a half will stand up and applaud."

Political leaders who resist the gospel of self-sacrifice like to talk instead about lucrative opportunities - all those Obama-esque "green jobs" to be found in building solar panels and wind farms, retrofitting drafty houses and remaking cities for public transit while (bonus points here) ending dependence on foreign oil.

They don't bother pointing out that our democracy-driven tentativeness has allowed a more decisive China to begin setting itself up as the leading producer of wind energy, solar-panel equipment and electric vehicles.

While waiting for our politicians to see the light, Dr. Maibach encourages citizens to take actions that make green behaviour appear to be the rule, not the exception. Individuals will give up in despair if they think they're engaged in a thankless task of changing the world on their own.

Hope and optimism come from a public display of commitment - Dr. Maibach cites simple school-based programs where parents ask fellow parents not to idle their cars while waiting for their children, explain the reasoning behind their request and perhaps offer a stick-on decal to those who will take the non-idling pledge.

He says the public pledge by itself makes it three times more likely that potential do-gooders will follow through on their good intentions. And from creating that kind of group effect, it then becomes easier to change public policy. "Once you can develop this behaviour and show it to be the social norm, it enables politicians to change the laws more easily."

That is certainly a tactic the David Suzuki Foundation is turning to in its messaging, especially as the Stephen Harper government has shied away from a commitment to environmentalists' cause. The foundation aims to work with government in a non-partisan way, and yet Mr. Hoggan says that when he goes to Copenhagen, "I'm going to tell the media exactly what I think about our government's failure on climate change."

Though the Prime Minister purports to speak for Canada, polls show that a majority of Canadians want stronger action from the government, and this allows groups such as the David Suzuki Foundation to appropriate the Team Canada brand - drawing attention to the negative international response Canada's policies generate internationally (Canadians hate being seen as bad guys) while featuring concerned athletes on the Suzuki website who will challenge Conservative climate policies from an educated-jock perspective (global warming means cancelled ski races).

And thus the Canadian environmental movement, far from being marginal or radical, is seen at its most patriotic and mainstream.

BUT WHAT IF 'DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY' IS JUST A LIE?

All these feel-good tactics may be useful in garnering more widespread support. But will they genuinely be effective in combatting climate change?

The Young Greens of the Green Party don't seem to think so. They recently mounted a more outraged and outrageous 1960s-style campaign, with the support of Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, that used the attention-getting slogan, "Your parents f*cked up the planet - it's time to do something about it. Live green, vote Green."

So it's not all happy faces out there. David McKnight, a journalism professor at the University of New South Wales, criticizes environmentalists for being "a rather elite movement, aimed at symbolic actions to attract media attention and at lobbying government."

He believes (and many in the environmental movement would agree) that the most effective messaging will come from a broader-based movement, similar to the anti-war campaign of the 1960s, that puts hundreds of thousands of people on the streets.

Milan Ilnyckyj, an Ottawa-based blogger on environmental issues, argues that there should be a greater focus on the issue of morality, which is to say immorality.

"If we can accept that climate change causes harm to current and future generations," he writes, "the argument that polluters have some right to keep behaving as they have in the past weakens considerably."

Echoing that thought, William Rees of the University of British Columbia's School of Community and Regional Planning suggests that the international community should develop ways to prosecute governments for criminal negligence on environmental issues.

Still, even this approach presupposes that science and politics in the end can speak the same language. And that's an assumption that doesn't sit well with Kevin DeLuca, a

professor of communications at the University of Utah.

"The raison d'être of science is doubt," he says. "But doubt is fatal in politics." Doubt opens the doors for debate about climate change, and endless debate prolongs inaction indefinitely.

Environmentalists look for ways to appeal to a mass audience, and come up with an upbeat message about satisfying self-interest and feeling good. "And so you end up with a spirit-of-the-apocalypse message veiled in a 'don't worry, be happy' conclusion," Prof. DeLuca notes.

He has no confidence in such a contrivance and, unlike most environmentalists, he says he can't put on a happy face even if strategy seems to demand it.

"The problem with the happy-face message is that the future isn't going to be happy. The Earth can get along without people - people can't get along without the Earth."

But that's a message no one wants to hear.

John Allemang is a feature writer for The Globe and Mail.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=121105095&ft=1&f=1025

For Public, Climate Change Not A Priority Issue
by RICHARD HARRIS




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An iceberg melts in Kulusuk, Greenland.
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John McConnico/AP

An iceberg melts in Kulusuk, Greenland, near the Arctic Circle in this 2005 photo. Skepticism over global warming has been growing, and according to a recent Harris Poll, barely half of the American public believes that the carbon dioxide building up in the atmosphere could warm our planet.

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December 7, 2009
Nearly 100 world leaders are expected to appear at the global warming talks that open Monday in Copenhagen. This is an unprecedented showing of leadership for the issue. Yet at the same time, public opinion of climate change is souring — particularly in the United States.
A recent Harris Poll, among the latest of several over the past year, shows that barely half of the American public believes that the carbon dioxide that's building up in the atmosphere could warm up our planet.
There are multiple reasons for this growing skepticism, including psychological reactions and politics. Anthony Leiserowitz of the Yale University School of Forestry puts one reason above all the rest: "First of all, it's the economy, stupid."
People can only worry about so many issues at one time, he says. So it's no surprise they worry about issues that hit closest to home.
"And the economy is still by far the No. 1 concern of Americans, which just pushes all other issues off the table."
Climate A Low Priority
In a poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, climate comes in dead last, No. 20 of the 20 big issues of concern to America. But that doesn't completely explain why a number of recent polls show that people are less and less likely to accept the science of global warming. Here's where psychology comes in.
Even as scientists become more confident that climate change is a serious hazard, public opinion is shifting the other way, says Kari Marie Norgaard at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash.
"This seems irrational," she says. "And in that sense, it's challenging the basic premise that we have of an enlightened, democratic, modern society."
Norgaard studied this shift in public opinion and found that as people start to feel overwhelmed by the scope of the problem, they simply turn away from the topic. It's a form of denial, she says.
"We just don't want to know about it, so we are actively distancing ourselves from it or trying to protect ourselves from it."
That implies that some of the swing in public opinion can actually be explained as a reaction to growing public awareness of the issue, like Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth, or the 2007 United Nations science report.
A Loud Minority
But psychology isn't the whole answer, either. Leiserowitz's opinion research shows that there's a relatively small but active group of people who have decided that climate change is a phony issue.
"The people who are pretty skeptical about whether this is even an issue to worry about, they're pretty mobilized right now," he says, "and they're amplifying their message across the country."
Right now, they're having a field day with the e-mails stolen from climate scientists. Skeptics have taken some suspicious-sounding statements in those e-mails as proof that climate change is a hoax. That's certainly not the view of mainstream scientists, but again, the public doesn't necessarily listen to scientists.
People trying to stir up doubt about climate change aren't working in a vacuum, says Tim Wirth, a former Democratic senator who now runs the United Nations Foundation. There's a large and well-funded effort to block legislation that could hurt the industries most responsible for carbon emissions.
"Where does that money come from?" he asks. "Well, it comes in part, sometimes in large part, from the very industries whose ox is going to get gored if there's aggressive climate legislation. So that gets increasingly difficult on Capitol Hill."
The Effect Of Public Opinion
The ultimate question is: How important is public opinion in the fight over climate change legislation?
"I don't think any place in the world would you find the public demanding [climate legislation]. I think it's very hard to see the public demand anything. That's very rare," Wirth says.
What does matter is the influence of the naysayers. And they don't need a majority voice to make a big difference.
So proponents of action on climate change — both on Capitol Hill and in the White House — have tried to build public support for climate issues by actually not talking about global warming. Instead, they are framing their actions in terms of green jobs and energy security.
Leiserowitz says that's a good strategy. He's found that the public is leery of regulations to control global warming. But, he adds, "When you ask a question like, 'Would you support a system that supports rebates for solar panels or people who buy fuel-efficient cars,' everybody likes that idea."
Questions like that get positive responses in the 90 percent range, he says. "That's a higher [percentage] than likes apple pie, or their own mother, probably," he said, only half-kidding.
So the question ultimately may not hinge on whether the public is deeply concerned about global warming, but how expensive and disruptive it turns out to be to address it.

http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/12/04/just-51-of-americans-believe-in-global-warming-down-from-71-in-2007/

Just 51% of Americans Believe in Global Warming, Down from 71% in 2007
Posted By Environmental Leader On December 4, 2009 @ 9:35 am In ChartsClimateFeaturePeople,Research & TechnologyU.S. | No Comments
belief in global warmingThe percentage of Americans who believe in global warming continues to decline, after reaching a peak of 75 percent in 2001.

Since 2007, when 71 percent of Americans believed in global warming, the percentage has taken a precipitous fall, to just 51 percent, according to a recent Harris Interactive [1] poll.

About 29 percent of Americans don't believe in global warming, while 21 percent are unsure, according to the survey "Big Drop in Those Who Believe that Global Warming is Coming [2]" (PDF).

The "unsure" category has grown from 6 percent in 2007, and is now nearly double the percentage from 1997, when 12 percent were unsure.

The belief patterns tend to fall along party lines, with 73 percent of Democrats believing in global warming, compared to just 28 percent of Republicans.

The new research falls in line with an October consumer survey [3] from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. In that poll [4], about 35 percent of Americans said they see global warming as a very serious problem, down from about 44 percent in April of 2008.

In the nation's heartland, residents are unconvinced that human activities are the cause of global warming, according to anecdotal information from a Reuters [5] article.

"There have been times in the past when there was global warming in the absence of man. It is all part of a natural cycle. I think it is a little vain to think man could destroy this great planet," said Sharon Byers, a Lees Summit, Mo., resident, in the article.

Beliefs may be influenced by the fact that about 25 percent of the U.S. population are evangelical Christian, who generally believe in a cataclysmic end to life on Earth, according to the article.

"If you are an evangelical Christian in the American vein then you believe it is our responsibility to look after the planet but it will be ultimately destroyed no matter what we do," Bart Barber, a Southern Baptist preacher in Farmersville, Texas, told Reuters.


Article printed from Environmental Leader: http://www.environmentalleader.com

URL to article: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/12/04/just-51-of-americans-believe-in-global-warming-down-from-71-in-2007/

URLs in this post:
[1] Harris Interactive: http://www.harrisinteractive.com/
[2] Big Drop in Those Who Believe that Global Warming is Coming:http://www.harrisinteractive.com/harris_poll/pubs/Harris_Poll_2009_12_02.pdf
[3] survey: http://people-press.org/report/556/global-warming
[4] poll: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/10/22/fewer-americans-view-global-warming-as-a-problem/
[5] Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE5B30PR20091204

http://planetark.org/wen/55791

UK Climate Expert Steps Aside After Hacked E-Mails
Date: 04-Dec-09
Country:
 UK
Author:
 Reuters


UK Climate Expert Steps Aside After Hacked E-Mails Photo: Peter Andrews/Files
Smoke bellow from the chimneys of Belchatow Power Station, Europe's largest biggest coal-fired power plant, in this May 7, 2009 file photo.
Photo: Peter Andrews/Files

LONDON - The head of a British climate research institute has stepped aside after hacked e-mails were seized upon by skeptics as evidence that the case for global warming has been exaggerated.
Phil Jones, head of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, will step aside "until the completion of an independent review," the university said in a statement.
"It is an important step to ensure that CRU can continue to operate normally," University Vice-Chancellor Professor Edward Acton said after accepting Jones' offer to stand aside.
Dubbing the affair "Climategate," some climate change skeptics have seized upon the e-mails, some of them written 13 years ago, and accused scientists at CRU of colluding to suppress data which might have undermined their arguments.
Skeptics have pointed to phrases in the e-mails in which climate scientists talk of using a "trick" to "hide the decline" in temperatures as evidence that they adjusted data to fit their theories. CRU denies any manipulation.
Delegates meet in Copenhagen for a December 7-18 talks to try to work out a new U.N. pact to address global warming.
The head of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate (IPCC) Change, Rajendra Pachauri, told Reuters last week that the leaks do not affect findings in 2007 that it was more than 90 percent certain that human activities were causing climate change.
"This private communication in no way damages the credibility of the ... findings," he said, saying that all conclusions were subjected to rigorous review.
Some CRU researchers contribute to the IPCC's reports which pull together data from scientists around the world in an attempt to give a consensus view on climate change. "Opposition groups are taking passages out of context to try to undermine public confidence in climate science," the Union of Concerned Scientists said in a statement on Wednesday.
"Even without data from CRU, there is still an overwhelming body of evidence that human activity (is) triggering dangerous levels of global warming," it said.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/was-russian-secret-service-behind-leak-of-climatechange-emails-1835502.html

Was Russian secret service behind leak of climate-change emails?
By Shaun Walker
FSB accused of paying hackers to discredit scientists after stolen correspondence traced to server in Siberia

The news that a leaked set of emails appeared to show senior climate scientists had manipulated data was shocking enough. Now the story has become more remarkable still.

The computer hack, said a senior member of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, was not an amateur job, but a highly sophisticated, politically motivated operation. And others went further. The guiding hand behind the leaks, the allegation went, was that of the Russian secret services.

The leaked emails, which claimed to provide evidence that the unit's head, Professor Phil Jones, colluded with colleagues to manipulate data and hide "unhelpful" research from critics of climate change science, were originally posted on a server in the Siberian city of Tomsk, at a firm called Tomcity, an internet security business.

The FSB security services, descendants of the KGB, are believed to invest significant resources in hackers, and the Tomsk office has a record of issuing statements congratulating local students on hacks aimed at anti-Russian voices, deeming them "an expression of their position as citizens, and one worthy of respect". The Kremlin has also been accused of running co-ordinated cyber attacks against websites in neighbouring countries such as Estonia, with which the Kremlin has frosty relations, although the allegations were never proved.

"It's very common for hackers in Russia to be paid for their services," Professor Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, the vice chairman of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, said in Copenhagen at the weekend. "It's a carefully made selection of emails and documents that's not random. This is 13 years of data, and it's not a job of amateurs."

The leaked emails, Professor van Ypersele said, will fuel scepticism about climate change and may make agreement harder at Copenhagen. So the mutterings have prompted the question: why would Russia have an interest in scuppering the Copenhagen talks?

This time, if it was indeed the FSB behind the leak, it could be part of a ploy to delay negotiations or win further concessions for Moscow. Russia, along with the United States, was accused of delaying Kyoto, and the signals coming from Moscow recently have continued to dismay environmental activists.

When Ed Miliband, the Secreatary of State for Climate Change, visited Moscow this year, he had meetings with high-level Russian officials and pronounced them constructive. But others doubt that Russia has much desire to go green.

Up in the far northern reaches of Russia, there are stretches of hundreds of miles of boggy tundra; human settlements are few and far between. Often, the only inhabitants are indigenous reindeer herders, who in recent years have reported that their cyclical lifestyle is being affected by the climate: they have to wait until later in the year to migrate to winter camps, because the rivers do not freeze as early as they used to. In spring, the snow melts quickly and it becomes harder for reindeer to pull sleds.

Much of Russia's vast oil and gas reserves lie in difficult-to-access areas of the far North. One school of thought is that Russia, unlike most countries, would have little to fear from global warming, because these deposits would suddenly become much easier and cheaper to access.

It is this, goes the theory, that underlies the Kremlin's ambivalent attitudes towards global warming; they remain lukewarm on the science underpinning climate change, knowing full well that if global warming does change the world's climate, billions of dollars of natural resources will become accessible. Another motivating factor could be that Russia simply does not want to spend the vast sums of money that would be required to modernise and "greenify" Russia's ageing factories.

But global warming also brings with it a terrifying threat for Russia, the melting of permafrost, which covers so much of the country's territory. Cities in the Siberian north such as Yakutsk are built entirely on permafrost, and if this melts, are in danger of collapsing, along with railways and all other infrastructure.

But many in Russia's scientific community are deeply sceptical of the threat from global warming. And only 40 per cent of Russians believe climate change is a serious threat, a survey shows

Russia's commitments ahead of Copenhagen have been modest. In June, the President, Dmitry Medvedev, said Russia would reduce emission levels by 10 to 15 percent from 1990 levels by 2020. But what this actually means is a whopping 30 per cent rise from the present levels. Using the 1990 figures as a benchmark is a way to gain extra leeway, because emissions in Russia have tumbled since the Soviet Union collapsed and much of its polluting industrial complex went down with it.

Of course, Russia is not alone in falling short on climate commitments. But nor does it have a track record for openness for dismissal of the claims against the FSB to be straightforward. The Tomsk hackers in the message along with their leak, wrote of their hopes that the release would "give some insight into the science and the people behind it". Similar insights into the hackers themselves look extremely unlikely.

http://www.unep.org/publications/ebooks/kick-the-habit/pdfs/KickTheHabit_en_lr.pdf
A UN GUIDE TO CLIMATE NEUTRALITY

Green Newsclips for December 7, 2009: Scientists tell Canada to do more and cross their fingers they're wrong, fewer Americans believe climate change is a priority (or even exists), and the Russian secret service is behind Climategate... But don't be too alarmist, people don't listen to doomsayers

http://planetark.org/wen/55803

Do More To Help Climate, Scientists Tell Canada
Date: 04-Dec-09
Country:
 CANADA
Author:
 David Ljunggren

Do More To Help Climate, Scientists Tell Canada Photo: Chris Wattie
Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrives at the airport in Port-of-Spain ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) November 26, 2009.
Photo: Chris Wattie

OTTAWA - More than 500 Canadian scientists on Thursday urged the country's government -- portrayed by critics as a laggard in the fight against climate change -- to significantly boost efforts to fight global warming.
Canada, one of the world's worst polluters per capita, says it plans to cut greenhouse gases by 20 percent by 2020 from 2006 levels. It has yet to explain how.
The scientists said in an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper that Canada needed "a greatly increased level of ambition for our domestic emission reduction targets and the actions necessary to achieve them".
The minority Conservative government dismisses calls for deeper cuts in emissions on the grounds that this would cripple the economy, in particular the crucial energy sector.
Separately, Canadian Auto Workers union leader Ken Lewenza wrote to Environment Minister Jim Prentice criticizing "a lack of ambition on Canada's part" to tackle global warming.
No one in Prentice's office was immediately available for comment.
(Editing by Peter Galloway)

http://planetark.org/wen/55790

Top Climate Change Expert Hopes Science Got It Wrong
Date: 04-Dec-09
Country:
 GERMANY
Author:
 Erik Kirschbaum

Top Climate Change Expert Hopes Science Got It Wrong Photo: Daniel Munoz
Steam and other emissions are seen coming from a power station in Wollongong, some 89 km (55 miles) south of Sydney November 17, 2009.
Photo: Daniel Munoz

POTSDAM - Germany's top climate researcher says he hopes he and his fellow scientists around the world have got it all wrong about global warming.
Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, head of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, told Reuters he gets no pleasure at all in being a prophet of doom and hopes he and his colleagues have overlooked effects that could still arrest climate change.
"It would be wonderful if some mechanism that we haven't yet been able to understand could still have an impact and manage to stabilize global warming at a high level for a while," he said in an interview in his institute's office outside Berlin.
"I would be delighted if it turns out that we haven't understood the system as well as we think we do and that we might get a 20- to 30-year 'breathing period' when global warming slows or is even halted," the physics professor said.
But Schellnhuber, who advises German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the European Union on climate change, said it was also possible scientists were erring in the opposite direction and underestimating the climate change dynamics.
Most scientists say heat-trapping gases from burning fossil fuels are nudging up global temperatures. A minority say the rises are entirely the result of natural fluctuations.
Schellnhuber will join world leaders next week in Copenhagen when they will try to work out a new U.N. pact to address global warming.
SCARE-MONGERING?
"It's like we're on the Titanic," said Schellnhuber, 59. "But this time we've got a clear view of the horizon. We're not up there in the look-out with a pair of binoculars in the dark but rather with a radar system, a scientific radar system.
"The problem is there are 192 captains on the ship," he said, referring to the number of countries involved in the talks on fighting climate change. "And that is a fatal situation. But I'm nevertheless hoping for a magic moment in Copenhagen."
Schellnhuber presented a "Copenhagen Diagnosis" last month with 25 experts that said global warming is happening faster than expected and sea levels could rise by up to 2 meters (6-1/2 ft) by 2100. They urged action to cap rising greenhouse gas emissions by 2015 to avoid the worst impact of climate change.
Skeptics, who call the report more scare-mongering, have recently seized on hacked emails as evidence the case for climate change has been exaggerated.
"I personally wish it were just 'scare-mongering', that this is all exaggerated," Schellnhuber said when asked about the skeptics. He said scientists face intensive peer scrutiny that ensures high standards of quality, integrity and accuracy.
"What special interests are supposedly being represented? Our findings have nothing to do with special interests. The system is constructed to ensure the greatest credibility."
Schellnhuber pointed out Albert Einstein was among the scientists who worked in the same offices he now occupies.
"No one goes into science to earn a lot of money or to become famous or to meet beautiful women," he said. "People go into science because they're interested in finding the truth. It's total nonsense (to accuse scientists of scare-mongering). Those people will never believe us."
(Editing by Ralph Boulton)

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/climate-change/lowering-the-doom/article1389493/

Lowering the doom
By John Allemang
From Saturday's Globe and Mail

The lack of political will around the coming summit tells thoughtful ecologists their approach isn't working. People need a more globally warming message. John Allemang investigates how to change the climate of debate.

Changing our climate for the worse? That's the easy part. But changing human minds and behaviour - that turns out to be much, much harder.

No matter how much confidence scientists have in the truth of their global warnings, getting the message out to the folks who are actually wrecking the planet has proved to be a far more challenging proposition. Cars still jam the streets, energy consumption increases, polluters sow doubt and denial and, as the Copenhagen summit on climate change nears, politicians still prevaricate as if there were an endless succession of tomorrows.

While there may well be an apocalypse looming on the far horizon, dire prophecies just don't cut it in the here-and-now of consumer culture. So forget the grim 100-year predictions for a second. The crisis at this very moment seems more like a crisis of communication.

Even the chair of the David Suzuki Foundation, James Hoggan, agrees: "Whether it's the scientific community, environmental groups, politicians, the media or business leaders, we haven't done a great job of conveying accurate scientific information to the public on the risks of climate change - or, indeed, of even conveying what climate change is."

Over the decades the climate-change war has been waged, many tactics used to soften up the masses have been unproductive at best and downright discouraging at worst. Even if you believe doomsday is coming, is it really such a good idea to talk it up and wallow in the death and destruction that will result if we don't change our awful ways and acknowledge Al Gore's inconvenient truth?

Such pessimistic predictions may have seemed effective as a way of winning attention (and the Nobel). But if the goal is to motivate people to useful action, say those who are experienced in environmental communication, it calls for something new.

"People have a finite capacity for worry," says Mr. Hoggan, the author of Do the Right Thing: PR Tips for a Skeptical Public . "When you overwhelm people with catastrophe, you don't actually engage them - you just produce an emotional numbness."

People have a finite capacity for worry. When you overwhelm people with catastrophe, you don't actually engage them - you just produce an emotional numbness. James Hoggan, chair of the David Suzuki Foundation

That's an intellectual evolution that Mr. Suzuki himself has gone through. His widely viewed TV series The Nature of Things once tended to depict nature as a beautiful pristine thing that bad humans habitually destroyed. Even now, his enemies feel able to undermine his mainstream scientific views by dismissing him as a merchant of doom.

Yet the current incarnation of Mr. Suzuki, in keeping with his foundation's communication techniques, has shifted from the dependable jeremiads of old to a message of everyday hope and more immediate usefulness. Last year, he co-wrote David Suzuki's Green Guide , a book that comes to grips with climate change through small-scale lifestyle adjustments such as biodegradable carpeting and energy-efficient appliances.

"I believe that one has to keep warning [that] the signs are there, the science is in," Mr. Suzuki said when the book came out. "But I realized years ago that you can get people to respond to fear, but you can't sustain it, because it's too soul-destroying."

TO NUDGE MINDS TOWARD GREEN, REDUCE THE SCALE

So what will people respond to when fear doesn't do it? Mark van Vugt is a psychologist who teaches at VU University Amsterdam, and he's part of an emerging group of cognitive scientists studying the sometimes uneasy relationship between climate-change messaging and the workings of the brain.

He says the announcements to be made by global leaders in Copenhagen are of much less consequence than the decisions that are being shaped in the complex minds of ordinary human beings.

"It's very hard to look at a climate-change conference as a primary driver of individual behaviour," Dr. van Vugt says. "Copenhagen is about political solutions, but the environmental issues remain inherently uncertain for most people. So what we have to do is translate these issues into something meaningful at the individual level."

Acquiring information is the basic way the brain deals with uncertainty, and with a subject as complex and contested as long-term climate change, Dr. van Vugt believes the best approach is to localize the discussion: Make it less about far-off glaciers, because people find it hard to cope with a problem they can't easily influence, and more about local parks, forests or air quality.

Any kind of message for change, he believes, must focus on personal identity and our need to belong: "We're influenced by significant others and want to look good to our neighbours and friends."

So a good way to persuade people to reduce electrical consumption is to let them compare their rates with the rest of the community: Have utility bills award a smiley face to those whose consumption is lower than their neighbours and a frowning face to those who are profligate. People then will reduce without any other external motivator, Dr. van Vugt says.

But good behaviour at the individual level won't last if institutional behaviour is untrustworthy - environmental groups must not overstate a threat; scientists can't be seen to adjust data, even in a good cause (as researchers from the International Panel on Climate Change were recently accused of doing); businesses must not act as though they're a law onto themselves; and governments can't preach one thing and then do another.

"Suppose it turns out that the recyclables and organics we've been sorting and separating are just being tossed into one big garbage heap - well, that's a recipe for disaster," Dr. van Vugt says. "You've created goodwill only to destroy it."

While environmentally friendly behaviours are often presented as something altruistic and selfless, he suggests that incentives are key to any successful strategy. "Our primary motivation is to get ahead of others, to see ourselves rewarded for good behaviour while bad behaviour gets punished." So it doesn't hurt to awaken some of this potential goodness by, say, offering a free bus pass for those prepared to be wooed to public transit.

At the same time, it's useful to make green products more luxurious rather than crafting an image of asceticism and self-conscious suffering. "A nice, well-made mountain bike can cost as much as a car and may become a status symbol for just that reason," Dr. van Vugt says. This is what psychologists refer to as signalling potential: Look at me, I'm green and rich and sexy .

Orthodox environmentalists may shudder at the thought, and question the ability of sexy status symbols to stop the seas from rising. Yet the attractiveness of self-denial has proved to be a hard sell to those used to the comforts of our present wastefulness.

"The evidence so far is profoundly against the notion of sacrifice as a success strategy," designer Bruce Mau says. "We've been saying for decades, 'Get out of your cars,' but in not one of those years have there been fewer cars."

For Mr. Mau, solving the problems of climate starts with smart design - carpeting with its own 1-800 number that you call when it needs recycling, a Tesla electric car that looks more beautiful than a Ferrari, and buses that come with cup holders so you don't feel like you're downgrading quite so much from your car.

"If you describe a sustainable future in negative terms," he says, "and if you highlight what it's going to cost them, people aren't going to move there. Doom-and-gloom is a dead end."

FIND A BALANCE BETWEEN PERKS AND PEER PRESSURE

The beauty of sustainability has an undeniable appeal. But between the aesthetics and the ascetics of climate change, there's still a lot of room to manoeuvre. A considerable amount of public goodwill was arguably wasted by the campaign to switch from incandescent bulbs to stylish compact fluorescents, a relatively low-impact improvement.

Those who listened attentively to the noisy messaging that promoted the switch to the compact fluorescents may well feel like their effort was wasted - and their commitment could be harder to summon for a more significant shift, such as reducing beef consumption by half. Politicians, after all, fear beef-industry interests, while the incandescent-bulb lobby is relatively powerless.

As the director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University in Virginia, Edward Maibach has studied the diverse effects of environmental messaging. He is convinced that changing human behaviour isn't as challenging as many people - certainly many politicians - now believe.

He can tell you from his polling data that when people are asked about changing their behaviour and reducing energy use in response to climate change, 40 per cent of those surveyed report it had no negative impact on their lives - and 30 per cent actually say it improved their quality of life.

From this, he concludes that "there's a collectivist spirit out there that's waiting to be reactivated. People are waiting to be asked to sacrifice. By and large, politicians are fearful about doing the right thing about greenhouses gases because they think they'll be thrown out of office. Yet we've shown that for every one person who'll get upset if you reduce emissions, two and a half will stand up and applaud."

Political leaders who resist the gospel of self-sacrifice like to talk instead about lucrative opportunities - all those Obama-esque "green jobs" to be found in building solar panels and wind farms, retrofitting drafty houses and remaking cities for public transit while (bonus points here) ending dependence on foreign oil.

They don't bother pointing out that our democracy-driven tentativeness has allowed a more decisive China to begin setting itself up as the leading producer of wind energy, solar-panel equipment and electric vehicles.

While waiting for our politicians to see the light, Dr. Maibach encourages citizens to take actions that make green behaviour appear to be the rule, not the exception. Individuals will give up in despair if they think they're engaged in a thankless task of changing the world on their own.

Hope and optimism come from a public display of commitment - Dr. Maibach cites simple school-based programs where parents ask fellow parents not to idle their cars while waiting for their children, explain the reasoning behind their request and perhaps offer a stick-on decal to those who will take the non-idling pledge.

He says the public pledge by itself makes it three times more likely that potential do-gooders will follow through on their good intentions. And from creating that kind of group effect, it then becomes easier to change public policy. "Once you can develop this behaviour and show it to be the social norm, it enables politicians to change the laws more easily."

That is certainly a tactic the David Suzuki Foundation is turning to in its messaging, especially as the Stephen Harper government has shied away from a commitment to environmentalists' cause. The foundation aims to work with government in a non-partisan way, and yet Mr. Hoggan says that when he goes to Copenhagen, "I'm going to tell the media exactly what I think about our government's failure on climate change."

Though the Prime Minister purports to speak for Canada, polls show that a majority of Canadians want stronger action from the government, and this allows groups such as the David Suzuki Foundation to appropriate the Team Canada brand - drawing attention to the negative international response Canada's policies generate internationally (Canadians hate being seen as bad guys) while featuring concerned athletes on the Suzuki website who will challenge Conservative climate policies from an educated-jock perspective (global warming means cancelled ski races).

And thus the Canadian environmental movement, far from being marginal or radical, is seen at its most patriotic and mainstream.

BUT WHAT IF 'DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY' IS JUST A LIE?

All these feel-good tactics may be useful in garnering more widespread support. But will they genuinely be effective in combatting climate change?

The Young Greens of the Green Party don't seem to think so. They recently mounted a more outraged and outrageous 1960s-style campaign, with the support of Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, that used the attention-getting slogan, "Your parents f*cked up the planet - it's time to do something about it. Live green, vote Green."

So it's not all happy faces out there. David McKnight, a journalism professor at the University of New South Wales, criticizes environmentalists for being "a rather elite movement, aimed at symbolic actions to attract media attention and at lobbying government."

He believes (and many in the environmental movement would agree) that the most effective messaging will come from a broader-based movement, similar to the anti-war campaign of the 1960s, that puts hundreds of thousands of people on the streets.

Milan Ilnyckyj, an Ottawa-based blogger on environmental issues, argues that there should be a greater focus on the issue of morality, which is to say immorality.

"If we can accept that climate change causes harm to current and future generations," he writes, "the argument that polluters have some right to keep behaving as they have in the past weakens considerably."

Echoing that thought, William Rees of the University of British Columbia's School of Community and Regional Planning suggests that the international community should develop ways to prosecute governments for criminal negligence on environmental issues.

Still, even this approach presupposes that science and politics in the end can speak the same language. And that's an assumption that doesn't sit well with Kevin DeLuca, a

professor of communications at the University of Utah.

"The raison d'être of science is doubt," he says. "But doubt is fatal in politics." Doubt opens the doors for debate about climate change, and endless debate prolongs inaction indefinitely.

Environmentalists look for ways to appeal to a mass audience, and come up with an upbeat message about satisfying self-interest and feeling good. "And so you end up with a spirit-of-the-apocalypse message veiled in a 'don't worry, be happy' conclusion," Prof. DeLuca notes.

He has no confidence in such a contrivance and, unlike most environmentalists, he says he can't put on a happy face even if strategy seems to demand it.

"The problem with the happy-face message is that the future isn't going to be happy. The Earth can get along without people - people can't get along without the Earth."

But that's a message no one wants to hear.

John Allemang is a feature writer for The Globe and Mail.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=121105095&ft=1&f=1025

For Public, Climate Change Not A Priority Issue
by RICHARD HARRIS




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An iceberg melts in Kulusuk, Greenland.
Enlarge

John McConnico/AP

An iceberg melts in Kulusuk, Greenland, near the Arctic Circle in this 2005 photo. Skepticism over global warming has been growing, and according to a recent Harris Poll, barely half of the American public believes that the carbon dioxide building up in the atmosphere could warm our planet.

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December 7, 2009
Nearly 100 world leaders are expected to appear at the global warming talks that open Monday in Copenhagen. This is an unprecedented showing of leadership for the issue. Yet at the same time, public opinion of climate change is souring — particularly in the United States.
A recent Harris Poll, among the latest of several over the past year, shows that barely half of the American public believes that the carbon dioxide that's building up in the atmosphere could warm up our planet.
There are multiple reasons for this growing skepticism, including psychological reactions and politics. Anthony Leiserowitz of the Yale University School of Forestry puts one reason above all the rest: "First of all, it's the economy, stupid."
People can only worry about so many issues at one time, he says. So it's no surprise they worry about issues that hit closest to home.
"And the economy is still by far the No. 1 concern of Americans, which just pushes all other issues off the table."
Climate A Low Priority
In a poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, climate comes in dead last, No. 20 of the 20 big issues of concern to America. But that doesn't completely explain why a number of recent polls show that people are less and less likely to accept the science of global warming. Here's where psychology comes in.
Even as scientists become more confident that climate change is a serious hazard, public opinion is shifting the other way, says Kari Marie Norgaard at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash.
"This seems irrational," she says. "And in that sense, it's challenging the basic premise that we have of an enlightened, democratic, modern society."
Norgaard studied this shift in public opinion and found that as people start to feel overwhelmed by the scope of the problem, they simply turn away from the topic. It's a form of denial, she says.
"We just don't want to know about it, so we are actively distancing ourselves from it or trying to protect ourselves from it."
That implies that some of the swing in public opinion can actually be explained as a reaction to growing public awareness of the issue, like Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth, or the 2007 United Nations science report.
A Loud Minority
But psychology isn't the whole answer, either. Leiserowitz's opinion research shows that there's a relatively small but active group of people who have decided that climate change is a phony issue.
"The people who are pretty skeptical about whether this is even an issue to worry about, they're pretty mobilized right now," he says, "and they're amplifying their message across the country."
Right now, they're having a field day with the e-mails stolen from climate scientists. Skeptics have taken some suspicious-sounding statements in those e-mails as proof that climate change is a hoax. That's certainly not the view of mainstream scientists, but again, the public doesn't necessarily listen to scientists.
People trying to stir up doubt about climate change aren't working in a vacuum, says Tim Wirth, a former Democratic senator who now runs the United Nations Foundation. There's a large and well-funded effort to block legislation that could hurt the industries most responsible for carbon emissions.
"Where does that money come from?" he asks. "Well, it comes in part, sometimes in large part, from the very industries whose ox is going to get gored if there's aggressive climate legislation. So that gets increasingly difficult on Capitol Hill."
The Effect Of Public Opinion
The ultimate question is: How important is public opinion in the fight over climate change legislation?
"I don't think any place in the world would you find the public demanding [climate legislation]. I think it's very hard to see the public demand anything. That's very rare," Wirth says.
What does matter is the influence of the naysayers. And they don't need a majority voice to make a big difference.
So proponents of action on climate change — both on Capitol Hill and in the White House — have tried to build public support for climate issues by actually not talking about global warming. Instead, they are framing their actions in terms of green jobs and energy security.
Leiserowitz says that's a good strategy. He's found that the public is leery of regulations to control global warming. But, he adds, "When you ask a question like, 'Would you support a system that supports rebates for solar panels or people who buy fuel-efficient cars,' everybody likes that idea."
Questions like that get positive responses in the 90 percent range, he says. "That's a higher [percentage] than likes apple pie, or their own mother, probably," he said, only half-kidding.
So the question ultimately may not hinge on whether the public is deeply concerned about global warming, but how expensive and disruptive it turns out to be to address it.

http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/12/04/just-51-of-americans-believe-in-global-warming-down-from-71-in-2007/

Just 51% of Americans Believe in Global Warming, Down from 71% in 2007
Posted By Environmental Leader On December 4, 2009 @ 9:35 am In ChartsClimateFeaturePeople,Research & TechnologyU.S. | No Comments
belief in global warmingThe percentage of Americans who believe in global warming continues to decline, after reaching a peak of 75 percent in 2001.

Since 2007, when 71 percent of Americans believed in global warming, the percentage has taken a precipitous fall, to just 51 percent, according to a recent Harris Interactive [1] poll.

About 29 percent of Americans don't believe in global warming, while 21 percent are unsure, according to the survey "Big Drop in Those Who Believe that Global Warming is Coming [2]" (PDF).

The "unsure" category has grown from 6 percent in 2007, and is now nearly double the percentage from 1997, when 12 percent were unsure.

The belief patterns tend to fall along party lines, with 73 percent of Democrats believing in global warming, compared to just 28 percent of Republicans.

The new research falls in line with an October consumer survey [3] from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. In that poll [4], about 35 percent of Americans said they see global warming as a very serious problem, down from about 44 percent in April of 2008.

In the nation's heartland, residents are unconvinced that human activities are the cause of global warming, according to anecdotal information from a Reuters [5] article.

"There have been times in the past when there was global warming in the absence of man. It is all part of a natural cycle. I think it is a little vain to think man could destroy this great planet," said Sharon Byers, a Lees Summit, Mo., resident, in the article.

Beliefs may be influenced by the fact that about 25 percent of the U.S. population are evangelical Christian, who generally believe in a cataclysmic end to life on Earth, according to the article.

"If you are an evangelical Christian in the American vein then you believe it is our responsibility to look after the planet but it will be ultimately destroyed no matter what we do," Bart Barber, a Southern Baptist preacher in Farmersville, Texas, told Reuters.


Article printed from Environmental Leader: http://www.environmentalleader.com

URL to article: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/12/04/just-51-of-americans-believe-in-global-warming-down-from-71-in-2007/

URLs in this post:
[1] Harris Interactive: http://www.harrisinteractive.com/
[2] Big Drop in Those Who Believe that Global Warming is Coming:http://www.harrisinteractive.com/harris_poll/pubs/Harris_Poll_2009_12_02.pdf
[3] survey: http://people-press.org/report/556/global-warming
[4] poll: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/10/22/fewer-americans-view-global-warming-as-a-problem/
[5] Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE5B30PR20091204

http://planetark.org/wen/55791

UK Climate Expert Steps Aside After Hacked E-Mails
Date: 04-Dec-09
Country:
 UK
Author:
 Reuters


UK Climate Expert Steps Aside After Hacked E-Mails Photo: Peter Andrews/Files
Smoke bellow from the chimneys of Belchatow Power Station, Europe's largest biggest coal-fired power plant, in this May 7, 2009 file photo.
Photo: Peter Andrews/Files

LONDON - The head of a British climate research institute has stepped aside after hacked e-mails were seized upon by skeptics as evidence that the case for global warming has been exaggerated.
Phil Jones, head of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, will step aside "until the completion of an independent review," the university said in a statement.
"It is an important step to ensure that CRU can continue to operate normally," University Vice-Chancellor Professor Edward Acton said after accepting Jones' offer to stand aside.
Dubbing the affair "Climategate," some climate change skeptics have seized upon the e-mails, some of them written 13 years ago, and accused scientists at CRU of colluding to suppress data which might have undermined their arguments.
Skeptics have pointed to phrases in the e-mails in which climate scientists talk of using a "trick" to "hide the decline" in temperatures as evidence that they adjusted data to fit their theories. CRU denies any manipulation.
Delegates meet in Copenhagen for a December 7-18 talks to try to work out a new U.N. pact to address global warming.
The head of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate (IPCC) Change, Rajendra Pachauri, told Reuters last week that the leaks do not affect findings in 2007 that it was more than 90 percent certain that human activities were causing climate change.
"This private communication in no way damages the credibility of the ... findings," he said, saying that all conclusions were subjected to rigorous review.
Some CRU researchers contribute to the IPCC's reports which pull together data from scientists around the world in an attempt to give a consensus view on climate change. "Opposition groups are taking passages out of context to try to undermine public confidence in climate science," the Union of Concerned Scientists said in a statement on Wednesday.
"Even without data from CRU, there is still an overwhelming body of evidence that human activity (is) triggering dangerous levels of global warming," it said.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/was-russian-secret-service-behind-leak-of-climatechange-emails-1835502.html

Was Russian secret service behind leak of climate-change emails?
By Shaun Walker
FSB accused of paying hackers to discredit scientists after stolen correspondence traced to server in Siberia

The news that a leaked set of emails appeared to show senior climate scientists had manipulated data was shocking enough. Now the story has become more remarkable still.

The computer hack, said a senior member of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, was not an amateur job, but a highly sophisticated, politically motivated operation. And others went further. The guiding hand behind the leaks, the allegation went, was that of the Russian secret services.

The leaked emails, which claimed to provide evidence that the unit's head, Professor Phil Jones, colluded with colleagues to manipulate data and hide "unhelpful" research from critics of climate change science, were originally posted on a server in the Siberian city of Tomsk, at a firm called Tomcity, an internet security business.

The FSB security services, descendants of the KGB, are believed to invest significant resources in hackers, and the Tomsk office has a record of issuing statements congratulating local students on hacks aimed at anti-Russian voices, deeming them "an expression of their position as citizens, and one worthy of respect". The Kremlin has also been accused of running co-ordinated cyber attacks against websites in neighbouring countries such as Estonia, with which the Kremlin has frosty relations, although the allegations were never proved.

"It's very common for hackers in Russia to be paid for their services," Professor Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, the vice chairman of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, said in Copenhagen at the weekend. "It's a carefully made selection of emails and documents that's not random. This is 13 years of data, and it's not a job of amateurs."

The leaked emails, Professor van Ypersele said, will fuel scepticism about climate change and may make agreement harder at Copenhagen. So the mutterings have prompted the question: why would Russia have an interest in scuppering the Copenhagen talks?

This time, if it was indeed the FSB behind the leak, it could be part of a ploy to delay negotiations or win further concessions for Moscow. Russia, along with the United States, was accused of delaying Kyoto, and the signals coming from Moscow recently have continued to dismay environmental activists.

When Ed Miliband, the Secreatary of State for Climate Change, visited Moscow this year, he had meetings with high-level Russian officials and pronounced them constructive. But others doubt that Russia has much desire to go green.

Up in the far northern reaches of Russia, there are stretches of hundreds of miles of boggy tundra; human settlements are few and far between. Often, the only inhabitants are indigenous reindeer herders, who in recent years have reported that their cyclical lifestyle is being affected by the climate: they have to wait until later in the year to migrate to winter camps, because the rivers do not freeze as early as they used to. In spring, the snow melts quickly and it becomes harder for reindeer to pull sleds.

Much of Russia's vast oil and gas reserves lie in difficult-to-access areas of the far North. One school of thought is that Russia, unlike most countries, would have little to fear from global warming, because these deposits would suddenly become much easier and cheaper to access.

It is this, goes the theory, that underlies the Kremlin's ambivalent attitudes towards global warming; they remain lukewarm on the science underpinning climate change, knowing full well that if global warming does change the world's climate, billions of dollars of natural resources will become accessible. Another motivating factor could be that Russia simply does not want to spend the vast sums of money that would be required to modernise and "greenify" Russia's ageing factories.

But global warming also brings with it a terrifying threat for Russia, the melting of permafrost, which covers so much of the country's territory. Cities in the Siberian north such as Yakutsk are built entirely on permafrost, and if this melts, are in danger of collapsing, along with railways and all other infrastructure.

But many in Russia's scientific community are deeply sceptical of the threat from global warming. And only 40 per cent of Russians believe climate change is a serious threat, a survey shows

Russia's commitments ahead of Copenhagen have been modest. In June, the President, Dmitry Medvedev, said Russia would reduce emission levels by 10 to 15 percent from 1990 levels by 2020. But what this actually means is a whopping 30 per cent rise from the present levels. Using the 1990 figures as a benchmark is a way to gain extra leeway, because emissions in Russia have tumbled since the Soviet Union collapsed and much of its polluting industrial complex went down with it.

Of course, Russia is not alone in falling short on climate commitments. But nor does it have a track record for openness for dismissal of the claims against the FSB to be straightforward. The Tomsk hackers in the message along with their leak, wrote of their hopes that the release would "give some insight into the science and the people behind it". Similar insights into the hackers themselves look extremely unlikely.

http://www.unep.org/publications/ebooks/kick-the-habit/pdfs/KickTheHabit_en_lr.pdf
A UN GUIDE TO CLIMATE NEUTRALITY

Carbon newsclips for December 7, 2009: København COP15 Special Edition -- the participants, the "asks", the commitments, why it's not enough, and why businesses want more direction

http://www.wbcsd.org/plugins/DocSearch/details.asp?type=DocDet&ObjectId=MzY3Nzk

Closing the gaps

The Economist, December 5, 2009 - Closing the gaps

How the world divides on a global deal

BEYOND the planet-saving rhetoric, the argument at Copenhagen and beyond will be about emissions levels and money. On both, large gaps need to be closed for a deal to be reached. The main gap on emissions levels is between America and the rest of the world. The main gap on money is between the developed and the developing worlds.

To establish the size of the emissions cuts needed, you have to start with where you want to end up and work backwards. The G8 group of nations agreed in Italy earlier this year that the increase in global temperatures should be no more than 2{degree}C above pre-industrial levels. To achieve that, according to the models on which the IPCC bases its calculations, global emissions will have to be cut to half their 1990 levels by 2050. For rich countries that means an 80% cut in their emissions by that date, a reduction to two tonnes of CO2 equivalent per head per year. At present, emissions in America are around 24 tonnes per head; in Europe they are ten.

Forty years is a long time. Governments can agree to meet distant targets in the comfortable knowledge that they will not be held responsible for failing to do so. Shorter-term targets are therefore more important. The IPCC's figures suggest the developed world should aim to cut by 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020. That will be a stretch, since the targets that developed countries have put on the table so far add up to around 15% below 1990 (see chart 6).

The European Union is committed to a 20% cut, rising to 30% if the rest of the world promises significant cuts. It has a detailed plan for getting there, including lower country caps in its Emissions-Trading Scheme and regulations on car emissions. Japan's new government has promised a reduction of 25% on 1990, but has revealed little about how it might manage that. Australia's government struggled trying to get its legislation through parliament. Canada's emissions continue to grow.

Two weeks before the Copenhagen conference, Mr Obama announced that America would offer a 17% cut on 2005 emissions by 2020—the figure in the Waxman-Markey bill. That's around 4% below 1990 levels—well below the figure of 25-40% that is expected of developed countries—but it is possible that other countries might accept it. Because of the attitude of the Senate and the Bush administration, America is starting to cut later than other developed countries, so it is bound to take some time to catch up. Its negotiators will offer more impressive sounding medium-term figures—17% over 1990 by 2025, or 30% over 1990 by 2030. According to Todd Stern, America's special envoy on climate change, "Several different countries have come up to me and said, 'You've got a path that's pretty good even if we don't like your 2020 number'."

And the rest of the world knows that America's negotiators are constrained by the precarious position of the legislation. The Senate reacts badly if it senses that America is being pushed around by foreigners. It voted 95-0 to reject the Kyoto deal that the Clinton administration had negotiated. If it thinks that the Obama administration is caving in to international pressure it might reject not just the treaty but also the legislation.

The chances of legislation getting through the Senate—and the chances of a deal being done at Copenhagen—were given a boost by China's announcement, a day after Mr Obama's, of a number of its own. According to the "road map" drawn up two years ago at the UNFCCC conference in Bali, developing countries are not required to come up with numerical targets for cuts, but they are required to propose "nationally appropriate mitigation and adaptation actions".

Because it is the world's biggest emitter, and because of its falling out with America over Kyoto, China has been under particular pressure to come up with a significant "action" of some sort. It has offered a 40-45% cut in the carbon intensity of its economy by 2020. That's less than America was hoping for—it reckoned the figure should be at least 50%, since China would get to 40-45% on the basis of its existing policies—but China's number is an opening bid, and there is relief all round that it has come up with one at all.

Assuming that all the countries involved can produce satisfactory plans that the others sign off on, there will then be carrots and sticks to hold them to their promises. In theory Kyoto is a legally binding agreement with a compliance mechanism. In practice it is toothless, partly because of the availability of "hot air" from the countries of the former Soviet Union for rich countries to buy to meet their targets. But even without the hot air, there is no effective way of holding non-complying countries to account, for the compliance mechanism merely imposes punitively large cuts in the next period on countries failing to meet their targets in this one. That is not going to happen.

France would like something much toothier: trade sanctions, more politely known as "border-tax adjustments". These, in the view of some, would serve both to keep countries to the commitments they had made, and to prevent factories moving from rich countries to poor ones. The threat of tariffs has got some momentum in America too, and the Waxman-Markey bill includes a provision for border-tax adjustments.

To most developing countries this is poison. China's ministry of commerce said the measure "will not help any country's endeavours during the climate-change negotiations, and China is strongly opposed to it". Mr Obama is with the Chinese. "At a time when the economy worldwide is still deep in recession and we've seen a significant drop in global trade," he said after the House of Representatives passed the Waxman-Markey bill, "I think we have to be very careful about sending any protectionist signals out there."

The carrot to get developing countries to honour their commitments is money. There are two reasons for rich countries to cough up as part of a Copenhagen deal. The first is a moral one. It is widely accepted that since the developed world is responsible for pumping 200 years-worth of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, it should help the developing world adapt to climate change. The second is a pragmatic one. China aside, many developing countries lack the capital to invest in cleaning up their economies, so if they cannot get access to rich-world capital, the investment will not happen.

China says that the developed world should hand over 1% of its GDP, or about $400 billion a year. The African Union wants $67 billion a year for Africa alone. Britain's prime minister, Gordon Brown, has suggested that the developed world should pay $100 billion a year in total. The European Commission is proposing ?100 billion a year in 2020. The gap between the numbers proposed is even larger than those figures suggest, because the Chinese and the Africans seem to be talking about government-to-government transfers only, whereas Mr Brown and the European Commission are talking about a combination of those and private capital.

There is no objective way of establishing how much guilt money the rich world should come up with. The amount of investment needed to clean up the world economy is somewhat easier to determine. According to the International Energy Agency, the 2{degree}C target will require around $1 trillion a year in investment. The World Bank says around $475 billion of that total will need to be spent in developing countries.

Various countries have made constructive suggestions about how to rustle up cash. Mexico wants a $10 billion Green Fund to which countries would contribute on the basis of both their emissions and their GDP; Norway is suggesting an auction of 2% of carbon-market emissions allowances which could raise $15-25 billion; the poorest countries have proposed a tax on air travel which could raise $8-25 billion; the World Bank has a $5 billion target for its climate investment funds. Altogether those might raise $60 billion, which still leaves a big hole.

How could it be filled? "By private capital," says Cameron Hepburn of Oxford University's Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment. "Rich governments have serious pressures on their finances. But they can maximise the bang for their buck by mobilising their vast capital markets." And private-sector investment is likely to be more efficiently used than government-to-government transfers.

At present there is not much sign of private capital investing in developing-world clean-energy infrastructure. But it is not a mad idea. Energy infrastructure is a long-term investment. That should suit pension and sovereign-wealth funds. With assets of $12 trillion and $3.75 trillion respectively, they should be able to raise some of the necessary funds.

But first developing countries need to put in place those "nationally appropriate mitigation actions". In a tiny way that is starting in China, where APG, a Dutch pension fund with a portfolio of $200 billion, has put together an energy-efficiency fund because the incentives the Chinese government has put in place make it worthwhile. "It washes its face financially," says Rob Lake, head of sustainability at APG.

But China is not short of capital. The problem is elsewhere in the developing world, where economic, political and currency risks scare off foreign investors. So a lot of thinking is going on about how to mitigate those risks. The United Nations Environment Programme, in collaboration with the P8, a group of big pension funds, and other institutional investors, has produced a report on how to use public-sector money to leverage much larger amounts of private-sector finance into clean investment in developing countries; the World Economic Forum has produced another; Lord Stern a third.

The general idea is that the most efficient use for the public-sector funds which rich countries are going to transfer to poor ones would be to insure private money against the risks posed by volatile currencies, unreliable governments and the risk that clean-investment policies will not survive political change. Using public money to leverage private money to build infrastructure and transform economies is not a new idea, says Dominic Waughray of the World Economic Forum: it is the model the Marshall Fund used to rebuild Europe after the second world war. But it is still a contentious one. Some developing-country governments suspect this is a ruse by rich countries to shirk their responsibilities while making money out of the poor. They tend to prefer the idea of the cash going straight into their coffers.

The gaps that remain between rich and poor countries on these issues are huge. It is clear that some will remain after Copenhagen. That does not mean the world is giving up on a deal. It means that there will be a lot of work to do next year. That work will be easier if the world goes about it in a different way.


http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk/mpapps/pagetools/print/news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8399236.stm?ad=1

European media on climate summit

Divergent opinions as to what can be achieved by the highly-anticipated UN climate summit in Copenhagen is reflected across much of Europe's media. The opening day of the summit has drawn a range of views across the continent, from deep scepticism to hopeful optimism for the future of the planet.

In an unprecedented display of uniformity, 56 newspapers in 45 countries carry the same editorial, urging politicians to forget their differences and work together to forge an agreement.

The politicians in Copenhagen have the

on this generation: one that saw a challenge and rose to it, or one so stupid that we saw calamity coming but did nothing to avert it. We implore them to make the right choice. 

An

recognises that a legally binding agreement will not be reached in Copenhagen but a commitment can be made, provided rich countries cut the right deal with poorer ones:

But Copenhagen needs to provide a deal that permits the developing world its ascent to prosperity. The main risk to success is that the developing world rejects the deal or that the mutual suspicion between the United States and China on the verification procedures scuppers the plan. 

A column in host country

wonders to what extent the outcome of the talks will be translated into action on the ground:

Regardless of the results in Copenhagen the period following the summit will be more important. Can the results of Copenhagen be implemented? Do populations and governments have the will to implement the changes required when the media and politicians return home from Copenhagen and the international agenda no longer concentrates on the climate?

These will be the big questions. But the result in Copenhagen is important and there is no doubt that the appearance of the American president, Barack Obama, at the negotiations is good news in itself. Together with 100 other heads of state and government he will be able to cement an agreement which forms a basis and a solid foundation for focussing on bringing down CO2 emissions in years to come. 

The importance of Barack Obama's presence at the summit is echoed in

The challenge is so huge that the summit will probably end with a mere political declaration, very far from the goal of establishing a new treaty. And this despite the fact that the pressure of public opinion has forced world leaders to take the problem very seriously, as shown by the fact that Obama had to change tack and announce that he will turn up at the very end of the summit.

His presence is undoubtedly key to achieving an agreement - albeit one based on the lowest common denominator - that will make it possible to continue working afterwards and, at the same time, investigating the climate in order to dispel the very last drop of scepticism about global warming. 

Blogging on

Isaac Rosa is highly sceptical as to whether the summit can achieve anything at all: The challenge is huge and the willingness scant. Environmental deterioration cannot be halted by a few measures, either by promising more windmills or by trading emissions. It requires a transformation of the economic model which nobody feels like or is in any hurry for.

If they did not do it with the crisis - nor of course have they even been moved by the abject poverty and hunger this model causes - how could an imprecise and distant threat like that of the climate achieve it? 

Writing in France's

Dominique Garraud depicts a doomsday scenario of what might happen if Copenhagen fails to deliver tangible results:

In Copenhagen, Obama and his like have a mission statement of biblical simplicity: if their countries fail to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by half by 2050 compared to the 1990 figure, the point of no return will have been reached...

The disaster scenario, with the melting of the arctic ice at a rate never seen before and glaciers feeding into the great rivers, an increase in sea levels and floods followed by great droughts generating world hunger.

The repercussions of such a cataclysm are known: hundreds of millions of climate refugees and the prospect of a proliferation of 'water' wars. Copenhagen is not the emergency. It has already come to pass and it is more than time to move on from words to deeds. 

Jakob Schlandt, writing in

advocates a more wait-and-see approach, suggesting it is too soon to pass judgement on the summit:

A global climate protection agreement poses a huge threat to economic interests. That is why agreement in Copenhagen is not certain...

Failure in Copenhagen would be a big setback, but future conferences could make up for that. So it will only be clear in a few years' time whether or not strict global climate rules will apply. If no long-term agreement has been reached by then, we would indeed have reason to despair. 

One country, Russia, appears to regard climate change as a fringe issue, according to an editorial in

Under the headline Spare Planet, the unattributed commentary notes how the whole issue is given scant importance among Russia's leaders and people:

Last week the front pages of the world's leading newspapers were devoted to the issue which in Russia is still considered to be more of a fad among the slightly eccentric Greens than something that serious people should be concerned about: the international summit on climate change that is opening in Copenhagen today...

The heads of 98 states are planning to come to Copenhagen... However, the leaders of the Russian state have ignored the summit... The top Russian officials' disdain for environmental issues reflects the attitude that prevails in our society.

Russians do not worry about global warming... To all appearances, Russia is still not part of the international community, as if we live on a different planet. 

Non-UK media excerpts provided by BBC Monitoring.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/europe/8399236.stm

Published: 2009/12/07 15:31:06 GMT

© BBC MMIX


http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/08/science/earth/08climate.html?_r=1∂ner=rss&emc=rss&pagewanted=print

Meeting on Climate Opens With Calls for Urgent Action
By TOM ZELLER Jr.

COPENHAGEN — A much-anticipated global meeting of nearly 200 nations — all seeking what has so far been elusive common ground on the issue of climate change — got under way here on Monday with an impassioned airing of what leaders here called the political and moral imperatives at hand.

"The clock has ticked down to zero," said the United Nations' climate chief, Yvo de Boer. "After two years of negotiation, the time has come to deliver."

From now until Dec. 18, delegates will try to hammer out some of the most vexing details involved in the pursuit of a global climate accord. Among these are broad cuts in greenhouse gas emissions — particularly from big polluters like the United States and China — and a commitment from wealthy nations to deliver what could ultimately be hundreds of billions of dollars in financing to poor countries, who argue that they are ill equipped to deal with a problem they did little to create.

Several countries announced new emissions goals in the days leading up to the meeting, including China, Brazil, the United States, India and South Africa — although many participants have noted that the targets are far too low to keep rising temperatures in check in coming decades.

The pledges so far are "not going to get us as far we need to go, to really stay within the two-degree limit," said Koko Warner, an observer with the United Nations University in Bonn, Germany. He was referring to scientists' recommendations that temperature increases be capped at two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

"We don't want to admit it, because the consequences are so bad," she said.

Still, speakers at the conference's opening plenary session — which began with a video appeal from children across the world to save them from what looked like an apocalyptic future of deserts and rising seas — were clearly aiming to spur negotiators forward.

After several hundred delegates and observers settled inside the main conference hall of the Bella Center to music from a trumpeter, a harpist and the Danish Girls Choir, Connie Hedegaard, the Danish minister presiding over the conference, noted the recent string of emissions commitments by various countries.

"Every positive announcement will improve our chances of staying below the two degrees Celsius target," she said. "But as we all know only too well, we are not there yet."

"This goes for financing as well," Ms. Hedegaard said, noting that arriving at a consensus on that issue "may be an even bigger challenge" than emissions cuts.

Rajendra K. Pachauri, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, spoke before delegates of the urgent need for action. And, alluding to a recent controversy over e-mail messages between scientists hacked from a university computer server, he had pointed remarks for those who "find it difficult to accept" climate change science.

Climate change skeptics have argued that the e-mail shows that the evidence for global warming is less unequivocal than scientists assert.

But Dr. Pachauri ticked off a list of trends that robustly reflect the warming of the global climate. "Internal consistency from multiple lines of evidence strongly supports the work of the scientific community, including the individuals singled out in these e-mail messages," he said.

Both inside and outside the plenary session, the mood among negotiators and other participants was one of cautious optimism.

Jonathan Pershing, the State Department's special climate envoy, who represented the United States at the opening plenary, said he saw strong signs that the conference would prove critical in getting traction on curbing emissions and helping poor countries that are urgently threatened by climate change — particularly given the decision by more than 100 leaders, including President Obama, to attend.

He said he saw no indication that efforts could be blunted by Saudi Arabia and other countries that have cited the e-mail flap in challenging climate findings.

Outside the Bella Center, calls were growing for conference participants to overcome their differences and deliver results in coming days.

An open letter from a coalition of groups, including Friends of the Earth, the Third World Network and others, accused the Danish organizers of "undemocratic practices" and of "convening small and exclusive groups of countries before the Copenhagen meeting."

The assertion is a reference to rumors that "alternate" treaties are being readied by some big players, including conference organizers, should efforts to resolve differences on the current text prove fruitless.

Meanwhile, 56 newspapers around the world published the same editorial calling for "decisive action" in Copenhagen.

"In scientific journals the question is no longer whether humans are to blame, but how little time we have got left to limit the damage," read the editorial, which was widely distributed in a campaign led by Britain's Guardian newspaper. "Yet so far the world's response has been feeble and half-hearted."

Continued inaction will ravage the planet and wreak havoc on economies and livelihoods, the editorial's authors warn.

"The politicians in Copenhagen have the power to shape history's judgment on this generation: one that saw a challenge and rose to it, or one so stupid that we saw calamity coming but did nothing to avert it," the editorial said. "We implore them to make the right choice."

Andrew C. Revkin and James Kanter contributed reporting from Copenhagen.


http://planetark.org/wen/55820

Obama Surprises With Copenhagen Summit Decision
Date: 07-Dec-09
Country:
 US
Author:
 Ross Colvin


Obama Surprises With Copenhagen Summit Decision Photo: Reuters
U.S. President Barack Obama will attend the end of the Copenhagen climate change summit, a late change of plan the White House attributed on Friday to growing momentum toward a new global accord.
Photo: Reuters

WASHINGTON - U.S. President Barack Obama will attend the end of the Copenhagen climate change summit, a late change of plan the White House attributed on Friday to growing momentum toward a new global accord.
Obama was originally scheduled to attend the December 7-18 summit in Denmark on Wednesday before traveling to nearby Oslo to collect his Nobel Peace Prize.
Some European officials and environmentalists had expressed surprise at the initial decision, pointing out most of the hard bargaining on cutting greenhouse gas emissions would likely take place at the climax of the summit, when dozens of other world leaders are also due to attend.
"After months of diplomatic activity, there is progress being made toward a meaningful Copenhagen accord in which all countries pledge to take action against the global threat of climate change," the White House said in a statement.
Danish officials say more than 100 world leaders have confirmed they will attend the conference, which Denmark hopes will help lay the foundation for a successor to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on curbing global warming gases.
"Based on his conversations with other leaders and the progress that has already been made to give momentum to negotiations, the president believes that continued U.S. leadership can be most productive through his participation at the end of the Copenhagen conference on December 18th rather than on December 9th," the White House said.
GROWING CONSENSUS
The Obama administration has been encouraged by recent announcements by China and India, two other major carbon emitters, to set targets to rein in emissions and the growing consensus on raising cash to help poor nations cope with global warming, seen as a stumbling block to a new U.N. deal.
Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen swiftly welcomed Obama's decision, saying his attendance was "an expression of the growing political momentum toward sealing an ambitious climate deal in Copenhagen."
In London, a spokesman for British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Obama's presence would give "huge impetus" to the negotiations.
The United States will pledge in Copenhagen to cut its greenhouse gas emissions roughly 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.
It was the last major industrialized country to offer a target for cutting greenhouse gases in a U.N.-led drive to slow rising world temperatures that could bring more heatwaves, expanding deserts, floods and rising sea levels.
Experts expect the Copenhagen gathering to reach a political agreement that includes targets for cuts in greenhouse gases by rich nations by 2020. Agreement on a successor to Kyoto will be put off until 2010.
The White House said Obama had discussed the status of negotiations with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Britain's Brown.
There appeared to be a growing consensus that a "core element" of the Copenhagen accord should be to seek pledges totaling $10 billion a year by 2012 to help developing countries cope with climate change, the White House said.
"The United States will pay its fair share of that amount and other countries will make substantial commitments as well," it said.
Environmentalists welcomed Obama's move and some called for him to shift his administration's target for cutting emissions at the same time.
"After a global outcry, President Obama has listened to the people and other world leaders; he has come to his senses and accepted the importance of this potentially historic meeting," Martin Kaiser, Greenpeace International's political climate coordinator, said in a statement.
"Now that he has moved the date, he needs to move his targets and his financial contribution to be in line with what climate science demands," he said.
(Editing by Peter Cooney)

http://planetark.org/wen/55823

FACTBOX: Climate Offers, Demands By Top CO2 Emitters
Date: 07-Dec-09
Country:
 US
Author:
 Michael Szabo, Alister Doyle and Gerard Wynn

Following are the negotiating positions of major nations before a 190-nation U.N. conference in Copenhagen on December 7-18 which will try to work out a new pact to combat climate change.
1) CHINA (annual emissions of greenhouse gases: 6.8 billion tonnes, 5.5 tonnes per capita)
* Emissions - China said it will cut its carbon intensity -- the amount of carbon dioxide emitted for each unit of GDP -- by 40 to 45 percent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels. The domestic voluntary target will still allow emissions to rise.
* Demands - China said developed nations' targets to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions are still too low. It expects cuts of at least 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 and wants a promise of far more aid and green technology.
2) UNITED STATES (6.4 billion tonnes, 21.0 tonnes per capita)
* Emissions - The U.S. aims to cut emissions by 3 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, a 17 percent cut from 2005. President Barack Obama will visit Copenhagen on December 9, before other leaders. The U.S. also said it would extend cuts to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 and to 83 percent by 2050.
* Obama wants an accord in Copenhagen that covers all issues and has "immediate operational effect."
* Finance - The United States says a "dramatic increase" is needed in funds to help developing nations.
* Demands - "We cannot meet this challenge unless all the largest emitters of greenhouse gas pollution act together," Obama said.
3) EUROPEAN UNION (5.03 tonnes billion, 10.2 tonnes per capita)
* Emissions - EU leaders agreed in December 2008 to cut emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and by 30 percent if other developed nations follow suit.
* Finance - EU leaders have agreed that developing nations will need about 100 billion euros ($147 billion) a year by 2020 to help them curb emissions and adapt to changes such as floods or heatwaves. As an advance payment, they suggest 5-7 billion euros a year between 2010 and 2012.
* Demands - The EU wants developing nations to curb the rise of their emissions by 15 to 30 percent below a trajectory of "business as usual" by 2020.
4) RUSSIA (1.7 billion tonnes, 11.9 tonnes per capita)
* Emissions - Cut greenhouse gases by 22-25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. That means a rise from now -- emissions were 34 percent below 1990 levels in 2007.
5) INDIA (1.4 billion tonnes, 1.2 tonnes per capita)
* Emissions - India aims to cut its carbon intensity by between 20 and 25 percent by 2020, from 2005 levels, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said on December 3. He said India would not set a year when emissions will peak.
* Demands - Together with China, India wants rich nations to cut emissions by at least 40 percent by 2020 and opposes a goal of halving world emissions by 2050.
6) JAPAN (1.4 billion tonnes, 11.0 tonnes per capita)
* Emissions - Cut emissions by 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 if Copenhagen agrees an ambitious deal.
* Finance - Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama told the United Nations that Tokyo would also step up aid.
OTHER MAJOR EMITTERS:
CANADA (658 million tonnes, 19.8 tonnes per capita)
* Emissions - Environment Minister Jim Prentice has reiterated a target of cutting emissions by 20 percent below 2006 levels -- about 3 percent below 1990 -- saying Canada's plan mirrors Obama's goal.
SOUTH KOREA (664 million tonnes, 13.7 tonnes per capita)
* Emissions - Cut emissions by 30 percent below "business as usual" levels by 2020, which is equivalent to a 4 percent cut from 2005 levels.
BRAZIL (440 million tonnes, 2.2 tonnes per capita)
* Emissions - Will cut its emissions by between 36.1 percent and 38.9 percent from projected 2020 levels, representing a 20 percent cut below 2005 levels.
AUSTRALIA (381 million, 17.9 tonnes per capita)
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has offered to cut emissions by between 3 and 23 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. But his plan for carbon trading has failed in the Senate. That gives him the option of calling an early election at any time, but he says he would prefer elections at the normal time of late 2010.
INDONESIA (380 million tonnes, 1.6 tonnes per capita)
* Emissions - Aims to cut emissions by 26 percent by 2020 below "business as usual" levels. Taking CO2 from deforestation into account, Indonesia is the world's third largest emitter of greenhouse gases.
Note: Greenhouse gas emissions are 2008 data from Germany's Energy industry institute IWR except for the EU, which are from a 2007 submission to United Nations.
http://planetark.org/wen/55759

FACTBOX: Cost Of Climate Change, Offers To Pay
Date: 03-Dec-09
Country:
 US
Author:
 Reuters

Sharing the cost of fighting climate change is one of the main sticking points to agree a global warming deal in Copenhagen this month.
The cost is totaled as the combined bill from cutting greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for unavoidable changes including droughts, floods and rising seas, called mitigation and adaptation.
Following are cost estimates, offers to pay, and proposed schemes.
COST ESTIMATES
1. Economic cost
* up to 5.5 percent lower global GDP in 2050 - IPCC
* to limit warming to 2-2.8 degrees Celsius
* 1-5 percent of GDP - review by Grantham Research Institute
2. Extra investment
- MITIGATION, GLOBAL
* $430 bln/ year by 2020 - IEA
* falls to $95 bln/ year after efficiency savings -IEA
* 530-810 bln euros/ year 2020-2030 - McKinsey
* $197 bln in developing countries by 2020 - IEA
- ADAPTATION IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
* $75-100 billion/ year from 2010-2050 - World Bank
* $7 billion/ year in agriculture alone - IFPRI
3. Funds needed by developing countries
* 100 billion euros ($150.6 billion)/ year by 2020 - EU
* $140 billion/ year by 2020 - Greenpeace
* $50 bln/ year by 2015 - Nick Stern
MONEY ON TABLE
1. Carbon markets
* Kyoto's clean development mechanism spurs trade in offsets
* CDM deployed $6.5 billion to developing countries in 2008
2. Global "green" stimulus, under economic recovery plans
* $177 billion for clean energy - New Energy Finance
* $513 billion for energy, grids, rail, water, waste - HSBC
3. World Bank climate investment funds
* pledges of over $6.1 billion from rich countries
4. Global adaptation fund
* raised from a 2 percent levy on the global carbon market
* valued at 89 million euros ($134.1 million) so far
5. Norwegian funds to slow deforestation
* up to 3 billion crowns ($543 million)/ year
* committed 700 million crowns to an Amazon fund
6. U.S. budget for "international programmes"
* $1.2 billion in 2010, including $275 mln for rainforests
7. Germany carbon allowance sales
* 120 million euros/ year for developing nations
PROPOSED SCHEMES
1. Fast-track funds under U.N. climate process
* Up to $10 bln/ year from 2010-2012 for developing nations
2. Mexican proposal for long-term funds, under U.N. process
* fund raised from all nations
* based on greenhouse gas emissions and ability to pay
* Could initially raise $10 billion per year
3. Norwegian proposal for long-term funds, U.N. process
* apply carbon quotas to rich nations, in tonnes of CO2
* force them to pay for 2 percent of those allowances
* Could raise $15-25 billion per year
4. Carbon markets
* up to 38 bln euros/ year for developing nations by 2020-EU
5. Climate bonds
* investors buy climate bonds
* rich nations guarantee yields and principle on maturity
* could front-load climate cash to spend now

http://planetark.org/wen/55758

Q+A: What Copenhagen Outcome Would Excite CO2 Markets?
Date: 03-Dec-09
Country:
 UK
Author:
 Nina Chestney

LONDON - A United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen on December 7-18 is unlikely to excite carbon and renewable energy investors unless rich countries sharpen their emissions reductions targets.
The summit is most likely to impact the price of carbon, among all commodities, because tougher carbon caps imply more demand for emissions permits. Benchmark European carbon permits were trading at 13.60 euros ($20.50) a tonne on Wednesday.
WHAT COPENHAGEN OUTCOME WOULD RAISE CARBON PRICES?
* James Cameron, vice chairman of Climate Change Capital:
"More aggressive targets and the promise of implementation of domestic carbon markets would raise prices. So would the EU going to its higher target if it sees comparable efforts in other countries like the United States."
(The European Union has said it may increase its offer to a 30 percent cut in greenhouse gases by 2020, from 20 percent.)
* Trevor Sikorski, head of carbon research at Barclays Capital:
"There's not much from Copenhagen that's going to raise carbon prices. You might get a bit of a sentiment bounce if Annex-1 (rich) countries agree targets and financing issues. If it looks like the European target could go above 20 percent it could drive prices upwards."
* Simon Glossop at emissions traders CF Partners:
"Everyone will jump on some kind of (higher) commitment from (U.S. President Barack) Obama. If that moves the market it will move back down again because there will be a realization that it's meaningless."
"There is a risk prices will fall if someone says something detrimental to the carbon market, that they are not committed to cap-and-trade, or carbon taxes are the way forward."
* Emissions trader:
"Determined statements from countries like India, Brazil, the U.S. and China could be seen as a signal by the market that this could be a serious play after 2012. Prices won't rise to 20 euros in this case, only a couple euros probably."
* Another emissions trader:
"Pledges by China and the United States are a step forward. If India follows up China and the U.S. on quantitative reduction targets, prices could rise to 14-14.20 euros."
WHAT KIND OF OUTCOME WOULD Mobilize CAPITAL FOR INVESTMENT?
* Tom Murley, head of renewable energy at HGCapital:
"Nothing coming out of Copenhagen will make investors put capital to work. All Copenhagen can do is set the stage. Then we have to go out and have the casting call and find the casting crew to do it."
* Emmanuel Fages, carbon analyst at Societe Generale/Orbeo:
"It will require real concrete announcements on the role and instruments of future carbon markets, so that investors can identify rules. You could have a 'sentiment' effect, whereby investors and funds would enter the markets seen now as more credible, more secure and here to stay. This will not be as immediate, but progressive over 2010."
* Zeinegul Hassan, renewable energy analyst at Frost & Sullivan:
"Clearer positions on long-term commitments will help investors to decide on future plans. At the moment this isn't clear enough. The U.S. position right now is not strong enough to boost investment. World leaders did not reveal all their cards. In early 2010 there will be clearer signals."
(Editing by Gerard Wynn and Anthony Barker)

http://planetark.org/wen/55818

U.N. Climate Summit In Close Range Of A Deal: Report
Date: 07-Dec-09
Country:
 DENMARK
Author:
 Alister Doyle and Anna Ringstrom

COPENHAGEN - The world is within striking distance of a U.N. deal to curb greenhouse gas emissions enough to avoid the worst effects of global warming, a U.N. report said on Sunday as delegates gathered for climate talks in Copenhagen.
"For those who claim that a deal in Copenhagen is impossible: they are simply wrong," Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP), said as delegates gathered for December 7-18 talks on a new deal to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.
"We are in closing range of a deal." he told a news conference ahead of the 190-nation talks.
UNEP and British climate change expert Nicholas Stern said in a report adding up commitments to date that the gap between countries' strongest proposed greenhouse gas cuts and what is needed may be only a few billion metric tones.
The report said the world should aim for maximum emissions of 44 billion metric tones a year in 2020 to have a chance of limiting a rise in world temperatures to a widely accepted benchmark of no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times.
Current promised curbs on emissions proposed by developed and developing nations would be enough to limit emissions to 46 billion metric tones by 2020, if fully implemented.
In recent days and weeks, countries including the United States, China, India, Brazil and Indonesia have laid out new targets mean to slow climate change that may bring more droughts, floods, heat waves and rising sea levels.
The report said that current world emissions are about 47 billion metric tones a year. Without any curbs, emissions would rise to the mid-50s or higher by 2020, the study said.
By contrast, many experts say pledges made so far are not enough to reach the benchmarks that have been set for averting the worst of climate change, such as ensuring that global emissions fall after 2020.
Steiner said that further use of emissions cuts on aviation and shipping or wider use of forests to soak up emissions could help close the gap.
Steiner said the gap between scientists' views on what must be done and what is on the table in Copenhagen had narrowed significantly. "There is still a significant gap but people overestimate the impossibility of actually closing that gap."
"You could say that we are within a few gigatonnes of actually having a deal in Copenhagen in terms of the target for 44 gigatonnes by 2020," he said.
He said a realistic figure for the current gap between the 190 nations' pledges and where they needed to be at the of the conference was probably around 2 gigatonnes, with a range in the report of between 1 and 5 gigatonnes.
"This signals ... that if leaders want to negotiate a deal, they have the means to do so, and to do so in a way that would allow an agreement at the end of Copenhagen."

http://planetark.org/wen/55830

FACTBOX: Who Is Going To Copenhagen?
Date: 07-Dec-09
Country:
 DENMARK
Author:
 David Cutler

The number of world leaders due to attend the Copenhagen climate conference has risen to 105, Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said on Saturday.
They represent 82 percent of mankind, 89 percent of the world's GDP and 80 percent of the world's current greenhouse gas emissions, he said.
Most are expected to come for the climax of the December 7-18 conference: U.S. President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh are the latest to announce such plans, adding to momentum for a new accord to curb global warming.
Following are some of the leaders attending:
AUSTRALIA - Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had hoped to take his carbon-trade scheme to Copenhagen, but parliament rejected laws to set up the scheme this week. Rudd is to play a key negotiating role in the talks.
BANGLADESH - Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
BRAZIL - One of the world's top greenhouse gas emitters. Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva is due in Copenhagen December 16-18.
BRITAIN - Prime Minister Gordon Brown was one of the first world leaders to commit to attending the Copenhagen talks.
CANADA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
CHINA - Premier Wen Jiabao.
ETHIOPIA - Prime Minister Meles Zenawi will head the African delegation. Mauritian Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam and Seychelles President James Michel will also attend. EU - European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, December 17-18.
FRANCE - President Nicolas Sarkozy, December 17-18.
GERMANY - Chancellor Angela Merkel, December 17-18 (provisional).
INDIA - Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will go to Copenhagen on December 17, his office said on Saturday.
NEPAL - Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, December 15-17.
NETHERLANDS - Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, December 17-18. Also Environment Minister Jacqueline Cramer. NORWAY - Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, December 16-19 (provisional).
POLAND - Environment Minister Maciej Nowicki opens the conference. He leaves after passing the presidency to Denmark.
SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
THAILAND - Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, Dec 16-17.
UNITED STATES - President Barack Obama, December 18.
(Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/greenhouse-gas-cuts-just-token-gestures-1835499.html

Greenhouse gas cuts just 'token gestures'
By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor
Copenhagen won't prevent disaster, warns top scientist

The cuts in greenhouse gas emissions being proposed at the Copenhagen climate conference, which opens today, are completely inadequate to stop dangerous climate change, one of Britain's leading climate scientists warns.

Current proposals, including recent ones from major emitting nations such as the US, China and India, are "little more than token gestures", compared to what the science deems necessary to give even a 50-50 chance of staying below the danger threshold, says Professor Kevin Anderson, Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Manchester.

Writing in The Independent today, Professor Anderson cautions that with the commitments currently on the table in Copenhagen, global emissions of carbon dioxide will peak far too late for temperature rises to stay below two degrees Centigrade above the pre-industrial level, which is regarded as the limit that the earth and human society can safely stand.

Instead, they are likely to put the world on a disastrous trajectory for four degrees or even higher.

Nations must now make much more radical commitments, he says, even if it means sacrificing economic growth.

Professor Anderson is one of the world's leading experts on CO2 emissions rates, and his comments represent a sobering reality check about just how great is the task which the world now faces in bringing global warming under control.

The meeting in the Danish capital, which lasts for the next two weeks and will be attended in its final stages by most of the world's leaders including President Barack Obama and Gordon Brown, will attempt to construct a new climate treaty under which all countries will eventually cut back their CO2.

In the run-up to the conference, most of the world's biggest carbon emitters, led by China and the USA, and including the European Union and Britain, have "put numbers on the table" indicating the reductions they are prepared to make, if negotiations are successful in the round.

The targets announced for the first time in the last fortnight by America, China and India, in particular, have been regarded as a considerable step forward.

But the sum of all the commitments is simply inadequate for the point where emissions peak as a whole and then start to decline to come early enough, Professor Anderson says.

The date of the emissions peak is increasingly seen as a vital point in checking the progress of the warming.

Last year, the Met Office's Hadley Centre for climate prediction and research said that if global emissions peaked in 2015 or 2016 and then declined annually at a rate of four per cent, there would be a 50-50 chance - but no more than that - of keeping the rise in temperatures to two degrees, the goal upon which much of the world's climate policy is premised.

For every ten years that the peak was delayed, the Hadley Centre said, the world would be committed to another 0.5 of a degree of warming.

Professor Anderson points out that there is a widespread assumption that an emissions peak might come relatively early, but asserts that the political and economic will to bring this about is actually absent.

He writes: "For example, the [Lord] Stern and the [UK] Committee on Climate Change reports are premised on global emissions reaching their highest levels by 2015 and 2016 respectively, before beginning a process of year-on-year reductions."

He goes on: "However, amongst those working on climate change there is near universal acknowledgment that such early peaking years are politically unacceptable - yet the Stern and the CCC analyses remain pivotal in the formation of emission-reduction policy.

"The statements by the US, China and India, allied with commitments from other nations, suggest peaking global emissions between 2020 and 2030 is about as hard as the economic and political orthodoxy is prepared to push in terms of emission reductions.

"If peaking global emissions between 2020 and 2030 is left unquestioned, the cumulative quantity of greenhouse gases emitted will be sufficient to put temperatures on a 4 degrees C or higher trajectory."

In recent years, emissions have shot up in a way no-one expected even a decade ago, largely owing to the breakneck industrialisation of China, which doubled its CO2 output over the decade from 3bn to 6 bn tonnes, and in doing so overtook the US as the world's biggest polluter. Currently global carbon emissions are rising by nearly three per cent annually, making a four per cent annual decline as tall order indeed, and one that the present Copenhagen commitments would not remotely be able to facilitate.

There has to be a move to a radical new level of emissions cuts, Professor Anderson says, if dangerous climate change is to be avoided.

He writes: "If Copenhagen is to have any chance of kick-starting a global movement to stay below the 2 degrees C characterisation of dangerous climate change, it must inspire and instigate a rapid shift away from the current political and economic consensus."

The first challenge, he says, is to get political buy-in to what the science is saying in relation to, at least, a 50:50 chance of not exceeding 2 degrees C.

"In brief, wealthy (OECD) nations need to peak emissions by around 2012, achieve at least a 60 per cent reduction in emissions from energy by 2020, and fully decarbonise their energy systems by 2030 at the latest.

"Alongside this, the 'industrialising' nations (non-OECD) need to peak their collective emissions by around 2025 and fully decarbonise their energy systems by 2050."

He notes: "This scale of reductions is presently far removed from that which the negotiators in Copenhagen are intending to consider."

He concludes: "The second challenge for Copenhagen, therefore, is to make a clear and explicit decision to do all that is necessary to put global emissions on a 2 degrees C pathway, even if this requires a temporary cessation in economic growth amongst the wealthy OECD nations."

* On the eve of the conference yesterday, the UN's top climate change official expressed confidence that the meeting would deliver a comprehensive, ambitious and effective international climate change deal. "Negotiators now have the clearest signal ever from world leaders to craft solid proposals to implement rapid action," said Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Mr de Boer said there was unprecedented political momentum to clinch an ambitious deal in Copenhagen: "Never in 17 years of climate negotiations have so many different nations made so many firm pledges together.

"So whilst there will be more steps on the road to a safe climate future, Copenhagen is already a turning point in the international response to climate change."

However, climate sceptics will be boosted by the fact that the controversy over the stolen emails from the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia, which has been seized on by the sceptic lobby seeking to undermine the scientific consensus, will receive an airing at the conference today. Mr de Boer said that Dr Raj Pachauri, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, would refer to it in his speech during the opening ceremonies.

The UNFCCC secretariat revealed last night that 34,000 people had applied for accreditation to the meeting, taking place in a conference centre which only holds 15,000. The limit on accreditation of journalists has already been reached at 3,500 and further accreditation has been suspended, while environmental groups are being rationed as to the numbers of activists who are allowed on the site.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6941974.ece

Climate scientist James Hansen hopes summit will fail
James Bone in New York


James Hansen

(Stuart Clarke/Sunday Times)


Dr Hansen believes that a Copenhagen deal would be counterproductive


A leading scientist acclaimed as the grandfather of global warming has denounced the Copenhagen summit on climate change next week as a farce.
James Hansen, the director of Nasa's Goddard Insitute for Space Studies, told The Times that he planned to boycott the UN conference because it was seeking a counter-productive agreement to limit emissions through a "cap and trade" system.
"They are selling indulgences there. The developed nations want to continue basically business as usual so they are expected to purchase indulgences to give some small amount of money to developing countries. They do that in the form of offsets and adaptation funds." he said.
Dr Hansen, 68, the fifth of seven children of an Iowa farmer, joined Nasa after taking his PhD to study Venus but changed course when he realised that man-made emissions were choking the atmosphere on his own planet.
He was one of the first voices to raise the alarm about rising global temperatures in the early 1980s, forecasting correctly that the planet would warm in the coming decades.
Next week he publishes his first book, entitled Storms of my Grandchildren, warning that "our planet, with its remarkable array of life, is in imminent danger of crashing" and declaring, "It is our last chance".
He decries the cap and trade system envisaged by governments trying to "seal the deal" at Copenhagen as ineffective in stemming carbon emissions. Under such systems, governments set limits on overall emissions and polluters trade quotas among themselves.
"The fundamental problem is that fossil fuels are the cheapest form of energy. As long as they are, they are going to be used," he said. "It's remarkable. They refuse to recognise and address the fundamental problem and the obvious solution."
He dismisses government announcements of national targets for greenhouse gas emissions as promises that will not be kept, noting that even Japan missed its goals under the Kyoto Protocol. He said that it would be better for the summit to fail rather than reach the type of cap and trade-based system envisaged.
"If they sign on to anything like they are talking about then it's definitely counter-productive. Any time you start down that path, it's time wasted. We would do better taking a year time-out and figuring out a better path."
Dr Hansen, an adjunct professor at Columbia University's Earth Institute in New York, argued that the only effective way to control global warming was to institute an increasing "carbon tax", not "cap and trade".
"We are going to have to move beyond fossil fuels at some point. Why continue to stretch it out longer?" he said. "The only way we can do that is by putting a price on carbon emissions. The business community and the public need to understand that there will be a gradually increasing price on carbon emissions."
He proposes that the "carbon tax" start at the equivalent of about $1 per gallon of petrol but rise in future years. The tax revenues should be returned directly to the public in the form a dividend, he said.
He added that the world must be prepared to abandon coal unless its emissions are captured and embrace a new generation of nuclear power.
Dr Hansen, who was a young post-doctoral student at Columbia University at the time of student unrest against the Vietnam War on the campus in the late 1960s, said that government inaction on global warming called for similar "civil resistance" now. He said: "That is the kind of activism we need."

http://planetark.org/wen/55792

Climate Talk Collapse Better For Planet: NASA's Hansen
Date: 04-Dec-09
Country:
 UK
Author:
 Kylie MacLellan

LONDON - The planet would be better off if the forthcoming Copenhagen climate change talks ended in collapse, according to a leading U.S. scientist who helped alert the world to dangers of global warming.
Any agreement likely to emerge from the negotiations would be so deeply flawed, said James Hansen, that it would be better for future generations if we were to start again from scratch.
"I would rather it not happen if people accept that as being the right track because it's a disaster track," Hansen, who heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, told the Guardian newspaper.
"The whole approach is so fundamentally wrong that it is better to reassess the situation. If it is going to be the Kyoto-type thing then will spend years trying to determine exactly what that means."
On Wednesday China and other big developing nations rejected core targets for a climate deal proposed by the Danish hosts in a draft text, such as halving world greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Developing nations want richer countries to do much more to cut their emissions now before they agree to global emissions targets which they fear may shift the burden of action to them and hinder their economic growth.
Hansen is strongly opposed to carbon market schemes, in which permits to pollute are bought and sold, seen by the European Union and other governments as the most efficient way to cut emissions and move to a new clean energy economy.
Hansen opposes U.S. President Barack Obama's plans for a cap and trade system for carbon emissions in the United States, preferring a tax on energy use.
Tackling climate change does not allow room for the compromises that govern the world of politics, Hansen said.
"This is analogous to the issue of slavery faced by Abraham Lincoln or the issue of Nazism faced by Winston Churchill," he said. "On those kind of issues you cannot compromise. You can't say let's reduce slavery, let's find a compromise and reduce it 50 percent or reduce it 40 percent."
"We don't have a leader who is able to grasp it and say what is really needed," he added.
© Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved

http://www.greenercomputing.com/print/28754

Pressure Mounts for IT's Inclusion in Copenhagen Agreement
By Tom Young
Created 2009-11-30 03:48

LONDON, United Kingdom — [Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on BusinessGreen.com and is used with permission.]

The IT industry will be mentioned in the draft climate treaty that will form the basis for negotiations at next month's UN summit in Copenhagen, following a successful lobbying campaign from the international body that regulates the IT and telecommunications industry.

The International Telecommunications Union said that the main aim of its push to have IT included in the treaty is to see energy-efficient IT projects included in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) offsetting scheme, or any successor to it.

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The CDM allows emission-reduction projects in developing countries to issue carbon credits or Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) that can be sold to governments and businesses in richer nations to generate an additional revenue stream for low-carbon investments.

The CDM initiative currently covers a wide range of renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects, controversially including investments in so-called clean coal technologies. But it does not accept emission-reduction projects based on the rollout of more energy-efficient IT and telecommunications systems.

Malcolm Johnson, director of the ITU's standardization bureau, said that including IT projects in the CDM would stimulate significant investment from IT companies while also helping to aid development in poorer nations. "This is a way of bridging the digital divide and tackling climate change," he said. "It's a win-win situation."

The ITU said that awarding CDM credits for IT projects would bolster the business case for IT firms to invest in the development of smart grids, intelligent transport systems and high-speed broadband in developing countries – all of which can also serve to curb emissions growth.

The group argues that IT firms will invest in developing countries regardless of the industry's inclusion in the CDM, and as a result provide them with the opportunity to earn carbon credits which will give them an incentive to ensure their investments are environmentally sustainable.

For example, instead of simply replacing the mobile phone masts that provide the telecoms infrastructure in African countries, firms would receive carbon credits if they installed replacement masts that are powered by onsite renewable energy systems.

Cisco chief executive John Chambers and Ericsson chief executive Carl-Henric Svanberg are understood to be lobbying the US and Danish government respectively to get IT mentioned more widely in the Copenhagen agreement.

Johnson said the ITU has also written to all governments that will be present at Copenhagen and asked them to push for changes to the CDM to include IT.

The proposals are also understood to have the support of Ban Ki-moon, secretary general of the UN, who is likely to mention the importance of IT in reducing emissions in his opening speech at Copenhagen.

But the ITU still fears that any mention of IT could be dropped from the treaty in the frantic trading that goes on during negotiations.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/copenhagen/article6943447.ece

Copenhagen targets not tough enough, says Al Gore

Robin Pagnamenta, Energy Editor
Even if a deal is reached at the UN climate change talks in Copenhagen next week it will only be the first step towards the far more radical cuts that are needed in global carbon emissions, Al Gore, the former US Vice-President, told The Times last night.
Mr Gore said that to avoid the worst ravages of climate change world leaders would have to come together again to set more drastic reductions than those now planned.
"Even a final treaty will have to set the stage for other tougher reductions at a later date," he said. "We have already overshot the safe levels of CO2 in the atmosphere."
He insisted that the present goal set for Copenhagen of stabilising world emissions of carbon dioxide at or below 450 parts per million — enough to prevent a rise in average global temperatures of no more than 2C — was insufficient and a safer target would be 350 parts per million.
"Are we doing enough? The answer is obviously no — 450 is not the right target. But it is presently seen as beyond the capacity of governments around the world. We are stretching the capacity of governments even to hit a 450 target."
"We are gambling with the future of human civilisation in accepting odds that by any definition make our present course reckless . . . But it's still the most likely path to success."
Speaking from San Francisco, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and veteran climate campaigner also raised the pressure on President Obama to offer more stringent cuts in US emissions than the present offer of a 17 per cent reduction by 2020.
Mr Gore said that figure from the US, the world's second-biggest carbon polluter, was "weaker than it should be" although he expressed sympathy for the challenges that Mr Obama faces in driving tough carbon regulation through a resistant House of Representatives. He said: "I'm glad that he is putting reduction targets on the table. I wish that they were stronger but I recognise the difficulties he faces in the Senate."
Mr Gore also threw his weight behind calls for a system of international carbon taxes in order to slash fossil-fuel consumption although he warned that huge political obstacles existed to this which meant that it would be many years before such a system could be applied globally.
He said that a system of carbon emissions trading was a more realistic first step on this path and rejected criticism from James Hansen, the pioneering climate change scientist at Nasa, who has condemned both Mr Gore and the Copenhagen meeting for their focus on carbon markets as a solution to climate change.
Mr Gore said: "The correct policy response will include both of these powerful tools. But the degree of political difficulty associated with a carbon tax is a degree of difficulty much higher than the cap and trade approach."
He also brushed aside questions over the reliability of climate science that have followed the publication last month of leaked e-mails between climate experts. He claimed that the scientific consensus around climate change "continues to grow from strength to strength". He added: "The naysayers are in a sunset phase with a spectacular climax just before they subside from view. This is a race between common sense and unreality."

http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/12/07/u-s-unveils-climate-fund-proposal-for-developing-countries/print/

U.S. Unveils Climate Fund Proposal for Developing Countries
Posted By Environmental Leader On December 7, 2009 @ 9:00 am In Carbon FinanceCarbon Finance & OffsetsClimateEmissionsFinancialFundingGlobalGovernmentStrategy & Leadership | 1 Comment
emissions7The United States has proposed a global climate fund, most likely operated by the World Bank, which would manage billions of dollars to help poor countries address climate change including emissions reductions and adaptation measures, reports the New York Times [1].

How much money richer countries will contribute to the fund is still unknown, and is part of this week's climate talks in Copenhagen.

William Pizer, deputy assistant secretary for environment and energy at the U.S. Treasury Department, said in the article that just agreeing on a structure for delivering and accounting for the money would be a major step.

Treasury officials said the fund would leverage both private-sector investments and public funds, and would be one of several financial arrangements to help developing countries access funds for different needs, reports the New York Times.

However, environmental activists are against the involvement of the World Bank, saying that it favors rich nations and funds too much fossil fuel development, reports the New York Times.

It's estimated that countries will offer between $7 billion and $10 billion for immediate needs in poor countries, with about $1.3 billion from the United States, reports the New York Times. The United States has not said how much it will allocate in the long term, according to the newspaper.

The U.S. plan, which borrows ideas from proposals announced [2] earlier by Mexico and Australia, would be governed by a board comprised equally of net donors and recipients, reports the New York Times.

World Bank chief Robert Zoellick said no one will be able to address climate change unless both the capabilities and needs of developed and developing countries are taken into consideration, reports Google [3] (via AFP).

Zoellick is also urging countries to use energy more efficiently and more renewable sources such as solar, wind and hydropower energy, regardless of the outcome of climate talks in Copenhagen, reports theWinnipeg Free Press [4].

In a recent interview with Financial Times [5] Zoellick said the expectation for Copenhagen will be a political framework with further directions for a treaty, and the questions will deal primarily with overall greenhouse gas levels and a financing mechanism.

He also said in the article that there is a need to connect development and economic thinking to the larger greenhouse gases issue and people have to realize that climate change is significant for the environment and the economy so it must be looked at as an ongoing process.


Article printed from Environmental Leader: http://www.environmentalleader.com

URL to article: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/12/07/u-s-unveils-climate-fund-proposal-for-developing-countries/

URLs in this post:
[1] New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/cwire/2009/12/02/02climatewire-us-proposes-climate-adaptation-fund-for-poor-53618.html
[2] announced: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/05/13/mexicos-alternative-to-global-cap-and-trade-gains-steam/
[3] Google: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jryWcjGoAUgsECA0c0jRDKvT_fjA
[4] Winnipeg Free Press: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/greenpage/environment/78511922.html
[5] Financial Times: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/726f7fee-df4f-11de-be8e-00144feab49a.html

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/65775d54-e2d1-11de-b028-00144feab49a.html

Business leaders call for clear direction
By Ed Crooks in London
Published: December 7 2009 02:00 | Last updated: December 7 2009 02:00


Business leaders have called for agreement at Copenhagen, urging governments to provide the support for the vast investment in clean energy they say will be needed to sustain fuel supplies while curbing carbon dioxide emissions.
Opinions differ over the details, but chief executives contacted by the Financial Times were united in arguing that it was important for world leaders to set a clear lead to provide a stable platform for investment.
Jürgen Grossmann, chief executive of RWE, the German energy group, said the industry wanted a strong agreement at Copenhagen. Many European energy CEOs will be in the city during the talks.
Mr Grossmann rejected suggestions that the meeting's significance had faded with the chances of a binding treaty. "I think it can reach a verbal agreement that will bind people to a legal treaty later," he said. "If the US president says yes to something, it will be very hard for him later to go back on that."
Helge Lund, chief executive of Statoil, Norway's national oil company, reflected the consensus, calling for policies that provide "a level playing field and predictable conditions".
Companies are also pursuing their own interests. Fulvio Conti, chief executive of Italian energy group Enel, said a deal should support the use of carbon credits earned from cutting emissions in developing countries to help meet targets in developed countries.
Peter Voser, CEO of Royal Dutch Shell, said a deal at Copenhagen needed to recognise the potential of carbon capture and storage, a technology being developed by Shell.
Companies that pioneer the technology "should receive incentives", he said, "on the principle that a tonne of CO 2 stored underground is as good as a tonne of CO 2 avoided through a wind farm".
US and European business leaders, concerned about the effect of curbing emissions on their competitiveness, urged the strongest possible deal. Feike Sijbesma, chief executive of Dutch life sciences group DSM, said the rich world "needs to be aligned. The difference now between the US and Europe . . . will put a burden on European industry and that will lead to a risk of job losses".
The US Chamber of Commerce, which has criticised statutory limits on CO 2 emissions, said it wanted to see a deal at Copenhagen, but also raised concerns about competitiveness.
Stephen Eule, of the chamber's Institute for 21st Century Energy, said: "Business and industry will be largely responsible for implementing whatever emerges from these talks, so we have a strong interest in an agreement that promotes economic growth and a level playing field."
There was an expectation that, whatever the outcome of Copenhagen, the trend towards clean energy would continue.
Enel's Mr Conti said: "Even if we don't get agreement at Copenhagen, I still see the US administration pursuing policies to support renewables and energy efficiency. I still see China seizing business opportunities and capturing efficiency gains in its economy."



Carbon newsclips for December 7, 2009: "Plan B" -- The U.S. EPA Endangerment Finding

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/07/us-climate-carbon-emissions-danger/print

US climate agency declares CO2 public danger
Environmental Protection Agency declaration allows it to impose emissions cuts without agreement of reluctant Senate
Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Monday 7 December 2009 20.24 GMT
The Obama administration adopted its climate change plan B today, formally declaring carbon dioxide a public danger so that it can cut greenhouse gas emissions even without the agreement of a reluctant Senate.
The timing of the announcement – in the opening hours of the UN's Copenhagen climate change summit – prevents Barack Obama from arriving at the talks without concrete evidence that America will do its bit to cut the emissions that cause global warming.
"Climate change has now become a household issue," said Lisa Jackson, head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), adding that the evidence of climate change was real and increasingly alarming. "This administration will not ignore science or the law any longer, nor will we ignore the responsibility we owe to our children and our grandchildren."
The announcement gives the EPA a legal basis for capping emissions from major sources such as coal power plants, as well as cars. Jackson said she hoped it would help to spur a deal in Copenhagen.
The EPA action had been seen as a backstop should Congress fail to pass climate change law. Obama and other officials had repeatedly said they would prefer to pass legislation, but that prospect has grown increasingly remote. The House of Representatives narrowly passed a climate change bill in June, but the proposals have stalled in the Senate.
Jackson said the EPA's regulations, which would come into effect from next spring, would not be too onerous, applying only to facilities emitting more than 25,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.
The oil and manufacturing industries, which have opposed climate change action, said the move was overly politicised, and warned that the new regulations would be tied up in lawsuits.
The US Chamber of Commerce, also sceptical on global warming, said the move would hurt the economy. "An endangerment finding from the EPA could result in a top-down, command-and-control regime that will choke off growth by adding new mandates to virtually every major construction and renovation project," said Thomas Donohue, the chamber's president.
Jackson is to address the Copenhagen meeting on Wednesday, while Obama will join more than 100 other world leaders in the Danish capital on the final day of the conference, on 18 December.
The endangerment declaration dates from a supreme court decision in 2007 ordering the EPA to make a ruling on whether carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions were a pollutant subject to the Clean Air Act of the 1970s.


http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/07/epa-sets-carbon-crackdown/?pagemode=print

E.P.A. Sets Carbon Crackdown
By JOHN M. BRODER
The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday will complete its determination that greenhouse gases pose a danger to human health and the environment, paving the way for regulation of carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles, power plants, factories refineries and other major sources.


The move gives President Obama a significant tool to combat the gases blamed for the heating of the planet even while Congress remains stalled on economy-wide global warming legislation.
The agency finding also will allow Mr. Obama to tell delegates at the United Nations climate change conference that began today in Copenhagen that the United States is moving aggressively to address the problem.
The E.P.A. administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, is expected to announce the step at a news conference this afternoon in Washington.
The Obama administration has signaled its intent to issue a so-called endangerment finding for carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases since taking office in January. Ms. Jackson announced a proposed finding in April and has taken steps to implement the rules that would be needed to back it up.
The administration has wielded the finding as a prod to Congress to act on legislation, saying in effect that if lawmakers do not act to control greenhouse gas pollution they will use their rule-making power to do so. At the same time, the president and his top environmental aides have frequently said that they prefer such a major step be taken through the give-and-take of the legislative process.
The administration struck a deal with automakers in the spring to set stricter tailpipe emissions and higher fuel economy standards as part of the greenhouse gas regulation efforts. The E.P.A. has also announced rules requiring all major emitters to report an annual inventory of emissions.
In late September, the agency announced a proposed "tailoring rule," that limits regulation of climate-altering gases to large stationary sources such as coal-burning power plants and cements kilns that produce 25,000 or more tons a year of carbon emissions.
Industry groups and the United States Chamber of Commerce have objected to the proposed regulations, saying they would damage the economy and drive jobs overseas. Some groups are likely to file lawsuits challenging the new regulations, which could delay their effective date for years.
Thomas J. Donohue, the president of the Chamber of Commerce, said that the endangerment finding "could result in a top-down command-and-control regime that will choke off growth by adding new mandates to virtually every major construction and renovation project." He said that his group supports "rational" federal legislation and an international agreement to control global carbon emissions.
"The devil will be in the details, and we look forward to working with the government to ensure we don't stifle our economic recovery," Mr. Donohue said.


http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/12/07/obama-epa-finalizing-endangerment-finding-on-emissions/

Obama, EPA Finalizing 'Endangerment Finding' on Emissions
Posted By Environmental Leader On December 7, 2009 @ 9:32 am In Carbon Finance & OffsetsClimateEmissionsFeatureGovernmentManufacturingPolicy & LawU.S.Utilities | 1 Comment
carbon emissions sunset2The Environmental Protection Agency and the Obama Administration are expected to announce the long-awaited — and long-feared, by some — ruling that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions pose a danger to public health and welfare, according to news reports.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has planned [1] a "significant climate announcement" at 1:15 Eastern Dec. 7.

The so-called "endangerment finding [2]" is likely to put in motion a nationwide cap-and-trade program, even if Congress does not enact such legislation, reports theWashington Post [3].

In response, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) is telling his Republican colleagues they should back a climate bill so that Congress, not the EPA, defines the rules on national emissions, reports The Hill [4].

If Jackson announces the endangerment finding as expected, large polluters would be required to upgrade machinery to reduce emissions.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue, in a statement released to the Wall Street Journal [5], said that EPA's ruling could lead to a "top-down command-and-control regime that will choke off growth by adding new mandates to virtually every major construction and renovation project."

Dan Riedinger, spokesman for the Edison Electric Institute, a utility trade group, told WSJ that the EPA would be less likely than Congress to devise an "economywide" approach to emissions regulations that spreads the burden of emissions cuts to other economic sectors.

Under preliminary EPA drafts of the ruling, facilities that emit less than 25,000 tons of CO2e annually would be exempt.

In September, EPA said that large emitters of greenhouse gases will have to begin collecting [6] their emissions data Jan. 1 under the new reporting system.

The program will apply to about 10,000 facilities that emit about 85 percent of the nation's greenhouse gases.


Article printed from Environmental Leader: http://www.environmentalleader.com

URL to article: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/12/07/obama-epa-finalizing-endangerment-finding-on-emissions/

URLs in this post:
[1] planned: http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/a798c411f6e8b0fc8525768500450fe6?OpenDocument
[2] endangerment finding: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/11/11/as-congress-drags-feet-on-co2-regulations-epa-moves-forward/
[3] Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/12/07/AR2009120701645.html
[4] The Hill: http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/677-e2-wire/70851-epas-endangerment-finding-expected-today
[5] Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126013960013179181.html?mod=rss_Today%27s_Most_Popular
[6] collecting: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/09/22/epa-sets-jan-1-deadline-for-ghg-emissions-reporting/


http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=121152734&ft=1&f=1025

EPA: Greenhouse Gases Are Danger To Human Health
by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

text sizeAAA
December 7, 2009
Officials tell The Associated Press that the Environmental Protection Agency has concluded greenhouse gases are endangering people's health and must be regulated.
The EPA will announce its findings at a news conference Monday.
The announcement is timed to boost the Obama administration's arguments at an international climate conference beginning this week that the United States is taking actions to combat global warming, even though Congress has yet to act on climate legislation.
Under a Supreme Court ruling, the so-called endangerment finding is needed before the EPA can regulate carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases released from power plants, factories and automobiles under the federal Clean Air Act.

Carbon newsclips for December 7, 2009: Do cap-and-trade schemes work?; Scope 3 emissions; Capital Markets and climate, and more

http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/12/03/australia-votes-down-climate-legislation-again/print/

Australia Votes Down Climate Legislation Again
Posted By Environmental Leader On December 3, 2009 @ 8:51 am In AustraliaCarbon Finance & OffsetsClimateEmissionsGovernmentPolicy & Law | 2 Comments
emissions4The Australian Parliament has voted down [1] its emissions trading scheme (ETS) for the second time, reports the Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC) News. If it had passed, Australia would have become one of the first countries to implement a comprehensive cap-and-trade scheme.

The Parliament voted down [2] the carbon-trading proposal for the first time in August citing two primary reasons: it was not tough enough and it was not wise to make a commitment before the Copenhagen climate talks.

The second defeat by the Senate gives Prime Minister Kevin Rudd an early "double-dissolution" election trigger over climate change, reports The Australian [3].

It's unclear if and when the Prime Minister Rudd would call for an early election to break the deadlock, but he said he would to re-introduce the legislation into parliament again in February, reports Reuters [4].

Analysts told Reuters that Rudd may seek an election as early as March to push through the ETS though the next general election is not due until late 2010.

One Senator voted against the carbon trading scheme because Australians had started to question climate change science, while supporters of the carbon scheme accused the Coalition of being led by climate-change skeptics and trying to scare voters, reports ABC News.

http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/12/04/measuring-and-managing-elusive-scope-3-emissions/

Measuring and Managing Elusive Scope 3 Emissions
Posted By Environmental Leader On December 4, 2009 @ 1:03 am In Guest ColumnLargeSupply ChainSustainability | No Comments
Jen AceIf your company sells products to Wal-Mart, you likely already know the importance of understanding and managing your Scope 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The responses to Wal-Mart's Sustainable Product Index questionnaire were due in October. While the questions themselves were not overly complex, many companies were left scrambling for answers. Suppliers also see the direction in which Wal-Mart is headed: "no" is currently an acceptable answer to the question "Have you measured your corporate greenhouse gas emissions?" Clearly, a time will soon come when this will not be the case.

Further, Wal-Mart recognizes the importance of Scope 3 GHGs, the catch-all bucket for the emissions that don't fall into Scope 1 (on-site and mobile fuel combustion) and Scope 2 (electricity and steam use). Suppliers who received the questionnaire represent Wal-Mart's own Scope 3 emissions, and the company will almost certainly want these suppliers to understand their own Scope 3 emission sources in the not-too-distant future as Wal-Mart establishes "real transparency" in its supply chain.

In my last column [1] I mentioned Dell's ill-fated attempt at carbon-neutrality, which was scuppered by its failure to take into account Scope 3 emissions. If you compare the company's actual Scopes 1, 2 and 3 emissions to the emissions it offset through renewable energy purchases, wind power certificates and a tree planting scheme, the contrast is stark: 5,490,085 tons emitted and only 537,308 tons offset, or 9.8 percent.

Add the 5 million tons of emissions produced by customers using the computers and servers, which some people refer to as Scope 4, and the percentage of emissions offset drops to 5.1 percent. I don't believe that Dell maliciously misled customers — the company was taking first steps on its carbon footprint path and overstepped on a marketing claim. However, the example does illustrate the difficulty of understanding, never mind managing, Scope 3 emissions.

Consumer packaged goods companies are trying to understand supply chain GHG emissions because their major customer is asking for the information, and similar trends are also being seen in other industries, particularly in California. Webcor Builders, the largest construction company in California, has integrated carbon accounting into to its routine business practices. To understand its total GHG impact, it is looking at Scopes 1, 2, and the elusive Scope 3.

Rather unsurprisingly, Scopes 1 and 2 accounted for less than 1 percent of Webcor's emissions. To paraphrase Bill Clinton's campaign mantra: it's in the buildings, stupid. Construction transforms around 3 billion tons of raw materials—about 40 percent of the total flow of these materials into the global economy—into buildings each year. Of course, the majority of emissions related to buildings occur in the use phase. Buildings consume some 20-40 percent of energy in developed countries. Still, construction activity itself is significant. A snapshot of GHG emissions intimates this idea. Using the Comprehensive Environmental Data Archive (CEDA) environmental input-output database, construction activity is shown to be the third-largest category of GHG emissions (see figure 1, below). (The percentages do not add up to 100 because industries purchase from each other and construction activity also uses electricity.)

jen ace chart

The US Green Buildings Council is starting to get a handle on this. The LEED v3.0 for New Construction certification system now awards up to 25 percent of points to certify a green building for activities related to reducing impacts on climate change in both the construction and use phases of the building's life. This is a sharp departure from the equal weighting that the climate change impact category had received under previous versions.

Most of the emissions from a building will occur during the use phase, but the construction phase is far from insignificant, representing roughly 15 percent of emissions in the United States. Webcor is taking the lead in the construction industry by going beyond Scopes 1 and 2 to take active measures to account for the entire carbon footprint of the construction phase of a building and not just their own fuel and electricity emissions.

Webcor has preemptively approached owners of several large public and private building projects in California and they readily agreed to assist in piloting this effort. Webcor and subcontractor/bidders will now provide a building carbon footprint along with financial proposals for several major upcoming projects.

Clearly, a construction company cannot do this if it only understands its own Scopes 1 and 2 emissions. Webcor realized this issue and used a top-down hybrid life cycle assessment to produce a drill-down carbon report of major materials in a building. This approach compared Webcor's financial information with the BEA's industry-average data to generate a complete overview of Webcor's specific emissions It's as if you were standing at the top of a mountain with a camera that could take a 360-degree picture of everything around you—you would be able to see other mountain peaks, but not the glaciers on them or the depth of the valleys between them.

Once you're able to identify the peaks, though, you can gauge their relative size: the peaks labeled "Concrete," "Steel," and "Glass" are big; the ones called "Office Paper," "Staples," and "Lightbulbs" are not. Now that you know the structure of the building is important, you can go to your concrete supplier to find out how he or she works differently from an industry-average concrete supplier. Cement is the component of concrete that generates the most GHG emissions. One of Webcor's concrete suppliers, US Concrete, is replacing significant amounts of cement with fly ash (supplemental cementitous material, a by-product of coal-fired power plants). This replacement saves approximately 0.7 tons of carbon dioxide equivalents per ton of fly ash used, and improves Webcor's carbon footprint of the building in question.

Webcor also saves time and money by focusing on the suppliers identified as material to their carbon footprint, rather than sending a questionnaire to every single nut and bolt manufacturer, a painful task for a company with thousands of suppliers.

None of the projects in California have a requirement for what the carbon footprint number should be—yet. In some ways the situation is a lot like Wal-Mart's in that the first round of questions only asks for a response. Nobody doubts that a future round will require the response to meet a certain standard, and that the companies who are using the interim period to start actively managing their carbon emissions all the way along the supply chain will have an advantage.

Jen Ace is Director of Client Engagement at Climate Earth [2], which uses Enterprise Carbon Accounting to help companies understand the carbon footprint of their entire business – including the supply chain.


Article printed from Environmental Leader: http://www.environmentalleader.com

URL to article: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/12/04/measuring-and-managing-elusive-scope-3-emissions/

URLs in this post:
[1] column: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/08/10/enterprise-carbon-accounting-shows-the-way-forward/
[2] Climate Earth: http://www.climateearth.com/

http://storyofstuff.com/capandtrade/index.php

The Story of Cap and Trade
...of course, not everyone agrees with the views in that video. For counterpoints, see:

http://daily.sightline.org/daily_score/archive/2009/12/01/a-story-of-ignorance-about-cap-and-trade
A Story of Ignorance About Cap and Trade
PAR ERIC DE PLACE
01/12/2009 16:30
A caricature of climate policy.

Just collosally ignorant. That was all I could think to say on viewing the latest eco-video web sensation, The Story of Cap and Trade by Annie Leonard and Co. No one does a circular firing squad like the Left and this contribution is a potential Hall of Famer.

Leonard has a disarming Every Gal schtick, but it masks a shockingly ill-informed -- or maybe outright deceptive -- "critique" of cap and trade. I was working myself up to rant about about it, but over at Grist Dave Roberts got there before I did. To give you a flavor of Dave's take-down:

I hesitate to call this an "argument" in the video, since it mainly consists of using the words "Enron," "bubble,""Wall Street," and "scam" suggestively, without saying anything at all specific about why this commodity market—which would be one of any number of commodity markets, most of which work perfectly well, including the carbon market in Europe—would be uniquely evil.

I do have one major complaint about Dave's post, however: he's way too nice about it. The video's 10 minutes is so loaded with factual inaccuracies and deceptions that it would literally take me hours to unravel them all. It's really quite a feat.

It's not just the trading part that she butchers. She comes close to flat out lying about offset programs (and I say this as a card-carrying offsets skeptic), fumbles on allocations, blinks on consumer fairness, and mangles a description of Europe's experience. In fact, so childish is the video that most of the criticisms are actually directed at "these guys," a pair of stick figures in pin-striped suits. No kidding, the critique is literally directed at a caricature.  

Toward the end, she suggests a handful of policy alternatives. Of course, she doesn't mention this, but many of these would actually be enhanced by an operational cap-and-trade system (funding renewable energy, for example). But others are almost laughably hackneyed ("concerned citizens around the world need to speak out"). It's just bizarre.

I'm not going to waste any more time writing about it. Go read Dave's post. But I'll close with just one important point: carbon trading is absolutely unrelated to the program's environmental integrity. Get that? "Cap"  and "trade" are two different words. Leonard and others don't seem to understand this elemental fact. Even if some Wall Street bad guys made money on the program, it would still reduce emissions. The trading doesn't affect the cap. It just doesn't.

So if you're worried about carbon, then cap it. If you're worried about carbon trading, then regulate it. And if you're worried that your knee jerk misunderstandings about climate policy are being ignored on the eve of a game-changing global agreement, go viral with an Internet video. 

http://daily.sightline.org/daily_score/archive/2009/12/02/cataloguing-the-errors-in-the-story-of-cap-and-trade
There's a viral Web video making the rounds. I don't like it. (For context, read my first post on this subject: "A Story of Ignorance About Cap and Trade.") Today, I'm going to catalogue its errors.

You can find the transcript here (pdf), though just reading the transcript doesn't give you the full picture of the snark conveyed by the animated cartoons that accompany Annie Leonard's delivery in the video. Here's the video:

Now, let's take an inventory of all the errors. Get comfy, it's gonna take a while.

"Okay, meet the guys at the heart of this so-called solution. They include the guys from Enron who designed energy trading, and the Wall Street financiers like Goldman Sachs who gave gave us the subprime mortgage crisis."

False. For decades environmental activists, progressives, and scientists have labored against overwhelming odds to enact a cap and trade program. In no sense are "these guys" from Enron and Wall Street at the heart of the solution. They are not now and they never have been.
But I've got to hand it to her: this insult really stung. All these years that tens of thousands of folks like me have worked long hours at low pay (or no pay) to hash out a workable and effective climate policy and it turns out that our purported allies like Leonard would rather paint us as duplicitious bankers in pin-striped suits. (That's not an exaggeration, by the way: that's how the animated cartoon depicts cap and trade proponents throughout the video.)

"Their job is to develop brand new markets. They stake their claims and then when everyone and their grandmother wants in, they make off with huge amounts of money as the market becomes a giant bubble and then bursts."

Odd. Uh, what? This doesn't really have to do with cap and trade so I should probably leave it alone, but it's perplexing that this is what she thinks markets do. But I want clarification from the bien-pensants to my left: are progressives now anti-market in all circumstances? Do the recent bubbles mean that we're now supposed to be, in principle, opposed to stocks, commodities, etc? Are we supposed to hate the acid rain cap-and-trade programs too?

"...they've got a new idea for a market – trading carbon pollution."

False on two counts. It's not a new idea. Brokers have participated in cap and trade markets since the 1990s and in carbon markets for about a decade. There have been no instances of gaming or market manipulation.

What they trade is not carbon pollution -- sounds nasty, right? -- but a limited right (an "allowance" or "permit") to emit carbon pollution.

"They're about to develop a new $3 trillion bubble..."

Deception. A trading market is not a bubble. There are trading markets for US Treasuries, soybean futures, municipal bonds, and stocks in Coca-Cola to name just a very few things that are traded. (Oh, and carbon permits, I almost forgot.) None of these things are bubbles.

"...how are we gonna reduce carbon 80% and not go back to living like Little House on the Prairie? Well, these Cap and Trade guys are saying that a new carbon stock market is the best way to get it done."

False. These "Cap and Trade guys" (that's me and the banksters, I guess), are saying -- as we have been saying for years -- that the best way is to put a cap on carbon. I work on climate policy full time and I have literally never heard anyone say that "a new carbon stock market" is the best way. I've never heard anything like it, in fact.

"...these guys take their fee as they broker this multi-trillion dollar carbon racket, I mean market."

Classy. Not that this kind of thing merits a response, but its worth pointing out that carbon trading brokers reduce costs. That means they save money for consumers (and businesses) and help the whole program function more smoothly. Buyers and sellers of carbon permits (or anything else for that matter) don't have to use a broker; people use brokers because it's cheaper and easier too -- and, yes, brokers take fees for their services.

"A lot of environmental groups that I respect do too. They know it's not a perfect solution and don't love the idea of turning our planet's future over to these guys..."

False. Cap and trade does not "turn our planet's future over to these guys" (meaning the Wall Street guys). The most elemental fact about cap and trade is that carbon trading is absolutely unrelated to the program's environmental integrity. Even if some bad guys made money on trading, the program would still reduce emissions. The trading doesn't affect the cap. At all. Not even a little.

Under cap and trade, our planet's future remains where it is now: in our hands. It's up to governments to set firm legal limits -- cap, in other words -- on climate pollution. Trading carbon permits doesn't change that.

"...even the economists who invented the cap and trade system to deal with simpler problems like fertilizer pollution and sulfur dioxide, say cap and trade will never work for climate change."

False. They do not say that it will "never" work for climate change. (Go ahead and read the lengthy footnote provided for this claim in the transcript.) They are skeptical, to be sure, but largely because they are concerned about enforcement of a global program. Of course, it's unlikely that we'll ever have, or even want, a global program. We'll have national or regional programs that are loosely coordinated.

"When it comes to any kind of financial scam, like subprime mortgages or Bernie Madoff's pyramid scheme, the devil is always in the details. And there are a lot of devils in the details of the cap and trade proposals on the table."

Deception. I don't even know what this is supposed to be about other than fear-mongering. Bernie Madoff! Ooga-booga! What on earth do "financial scams" have to do with cap and trade? (Hint: we never find out.)

"Devil number one is known as Free Permits, which is why some people call this system Cap and Giveaway.

False. Free permits are not a feature of cap and trade, but rather of cap and trade done poorly. There's a simple solution: auction or sell the permits. The major US cap-and-trade bills take a complicated hybrid approach, auctioning some, giving some away, and reserving the value of others for public benefits.

"In this scheme, industrial polluters will get the vast majority of these valuable permits for free. Free! The more they've been polluting, the more they'll get."

Confusion. Free allocation of permits does not imply that the allocation occurs on the basis of historical pollution. There are plenty of other principled ways to give away permits, some of which will be undertaken by the climate bills in Congress.

"In Europe where they tried a Cap and Giveaway system, the value of the permits bounced around like crazy..."

Confusion. It is more or less common knowledge in climate policy circles that the reason that the value of permits in Europe bounced around initially had little to do with the fact that permits were given away for free. It was because too many permits were distributed at the outset, a problem that has since been corrected. 

"...energy costs jumped for consumers..."

Confusion. Increased energy costs have nothing whatsoever to do with the method of allocating permits. Any program that restricts carbon -- taxes, cap and trade, or regulation -- will increase costs.

"Carbon emissions actually went up!"

FalseCarbon emissions went down.

"MIT economists say the same thing would likely happen here in the US."

Cherry-picking. She doesn't mention the legions of economists who support cap and trade.

"Instead of just giving permits away to polluters, we could sell them and use the money to:

  • build a clean energy economy
  • or give citizens a dividend to help pay for higher fuel prices while we transition to that clean energy economy
  • or share it with those who are most harmed by climate change. Some people call this paying our ecological debt"
Deception. The implication here is that existing cap-and-trade proposals won't do these things. In fact, they will -- at least partially.

"Did you know that in the next century, because of the changing climate, whole island nations could end up underwater and the UN says 9 out of 10 African farmers could lose their ability to grow food. Wouldn't a real solution benefit these people instead of just polluters?"

Odd. Is this even relevant? Or is it just a sneaky innuendo that a cap on carbon would not benefit the African farmers (and others in the Third World) whose livelihoods are threatened by climate change?

In fact, the best thing we can do is put the brakes on climate-changing emissions post haste. Then we should figure out how to help people adapt to the changes that are already inevitable. Luckily, cap and trade provides an excellent framework to do both of these things. That's what the coming summit in Copenhagen is all about.  

"..operators of a polluting factory can claim they were planning to expand 200% but reduced the plans to expand only 100%. For that meaningless claim, they get offset permits – permits that they can sell to someone else to make more pollution!"

Deception. She selectively cites a few instances of nutty-sounding abuses in one particular carbon offsets program and then conflates them with offsets generally. (Dave Roberts has a nice treatment of this in his post on the video.) But this one is a bridge too far. The cap-and-trade proposals in Congress would not allow this kind of thing. In fact, they go to great lengths to specify exacting standards for offsets -- and this kind of thing is wildly out of bounds.

I'm not a fan of offsets. They may turn out to be a good thing, but they do worry me a lot. Still, they are a problem for any carbon policy. They will plague carbon taxes, regulation,  or voluntary action just as they do cap and trade. So if you're worried about offsets, as I am, the logical thing to do is to try to reduce their role and tighten the standards used to certify them.

"We're not even close to a global agreement on a carbon cap to begin with..."

Deception. Europe has a cap on carbon and the United States is very close to having one (and Canada will follow the US's lead). So that will cover all of the world's largest contributers to the problem of climate change. Many other nations, including some of the big dynamic developing countries, have said they will consider a carbon cap if the rich countries lead. Forging a global agreement on a carbon cap is what the big summit in Copenhagen is about.

"...we're putting the cart before the horse and rushing off to trade schemes and offsets."

False. Cap and trade puts things in the right order. To wit, it puts a cap on carbon emissions -- something that no other carbon policy does. Other policies, like carbon taxes, are more concerned with setting a price on carbon put are perfectly happy to let the market determine how much carbon is emitted. (Also, what does it mean to "trade schemes"?)

"We don't need to let these guys design the solution..."

Deception. "Thes guys" (the Wall Street guys, according to her video), did not design the solution. Cap and trade was pioneered by the US Environmental Protection Agency where it proved to be remarkably successful. It's since been rolled out successfully for numerous air pollution programs, a carbon cap-and-trade system in Europe (successfully) and a carbon cap-and-trade system in the northeast US (also successfully).

Go EPA go! Cap that carbon!

Confusion. Letting the EPA cap carbon should be a last resort. Enacting a cap based on regulatory fiat is almost sure to be the more expensive and unfair way to do it. Command and control regulation would create arbitrary winners and losers, raise prices for consumers, and lack mechanisms to address equity concerns.

Unless, that is, the EPA did what it's good at doing: enact a cap-and-trade program. Now that's something I could support.

"...a U.S. cap and trade law proposed in 2009 guts the Clean Air Act..."

False. The cap-and-trade laws in Congress do not "gut" the Clean Air Act. (Interestly, this claim is actually not cited in the transcript; or rather, there's a citation but it is supporting an unrelated claim in the next paragraph.) It is possible that US federal law will reserve carbon reduction for new comprehensive energy and climate laws -- the laws that include cap and trade -- but the EPA will retain all of its authority to do everything that it has been doing since its inception. The only thing the EPA might lose -- and I say "might" -- is its ability to manage carbon policy, an ability that it has had for less than a year.

"...cap and trade makes citizens think everything will be okay if we just drive a little less, change our light bulbs and let these guys do the rest."

Deception. And a classy one at that. It's true that cap and trade takes a comprehensive approach to climate change, rather than relying on small-bore individual actions that have, to date, proved totally inadequate to addressing climate change. That's a good thing. But to be successful, cap and trade will likely need the support of dozens or hundred of complementary policies -- the very sorts of things that are included in the current legislation in Congress.

Moreover, cap and trade does nothing to allay anyone's concerns about adapting to the climate changes that are already inevitable. It may, however, provide some much-need funding to address these problems.

"These cap and trade proposals are mostly about protecting business as usual."

False. Cap and trade is about fundamentally changing the current energy economy away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy, efficiency, and conservation. There's no other policy that's so far-reaching in its scope, especially when one considers the other important components in the energy and climate bills in Congress.

"Right now, the US subsidizes fossil fuels at more than twice the rate of renewables. What? We shouldn't be subsidizing fossil fuels at all!"

Deception. Cap and trade would, in effect, put a price on fossil fuels, thereby reducing their net subsidies. It also provides a revenue stream that can be directed toward subsidizing renewable energy.

"I know we'd all love to sacrifice nothing, save the planet and get rich doing it."

"We can't solve it with the mindset – their mindset..."

Classy. And this is how the piece wraps up, with what passes among progressives for name-calling and taunts. Needless to say, this stuff has pretty much nothing at all to do with cap and trade. There are no real solutions offered in the video, nor anything other than bromides that we can't "get rich" saving the planet.

Whew.

For a more credible assessment of cap and trade, let me suggest Sightline's Cap and Trade 101: A Climate Policy Primer. For more on the bills in Congress, please seeAlan's excellent post on the Waxman-Markey bill, which passed the House last summer, and my roughed-in notes on the Clean Energy Jobs Act that's now in the Senate.



http://planetark.org/wen/55806

Q+A:How Do Carbon Trading Schemes Work, Or Not Work?
Date: 04-Dec-09
Country:
 AUSTRALIA
Author:
 Reuters

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will reintroduce legislation for a "cap and trade" scheme to cut the country's carbon emissions, he told reporters on Thursday, in the hope of pushing the stymied laws through a hostile senate. With just four days to go before the United Nations Dec 7-15 Copenhagen climate change summit, several countries have come out with their first carbon reduction pledges, which may feed into new schemes sparked by agreements at the conference.
Here are some questions and answers on carbon trading schemes, how they work, and why some critics object to them.
WHAT'S THE AIM OF CARBON TRADING?
Carbon dioxide, produced mainly by burning fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum or through deforestation, is the main greenhouse gas that scientists say is heating up the atmosphere, causing seas to rise and greater extremes of weather.
Putting a price on every tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by industry and transport or saved from being emitted by being more efficient or locking away carbon by growing trees provides a cash incentive to curb carbon pollution.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Under cap-and-trade schemes, companies must have a permit for every tonne of greenhouse gases, such as CO2, they emit. The more they emit, the more permits they must have.
A government issues a set quantity of emission permits for polluting companies, and has an overall cap on the number of permits they will allow to be sold. At the end of each year, firms surrender permits equivalent to their emissions.
Companies can buy or trade emissions by buying allowances from other polluters, or from a government auction.
Over time the cap is tightened by decreasing the number of permits or decreasing the number of free permits to big emitters. As the carbon permit price rises, companies are forced to become more efficient and invest in cleaner technology.
Under the only current global climate agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, 37 industrialised nations already face greenhouse gas limits, creating a multi-billion dollar market in offsets from clean-energy projects in developing countries.
HOW MUCH MONEY MIGHT THE NEW CARBON MARKETS ATTRACT?
Globally, carbon trading could be worth $2 trillion by 2020, from $125 billion last year, some market players say.
Europe's scheme is the largest, and only domestic, cap-and-trade system operating. Launched in 2005, its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is mandatory for all 27 member states, and covers nearly half all EU carbon emissions.
HOW MUCH IS IT WORTH
A separate Kyoto scheme, called the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), is currently worth about $6.5 billion.
Some companies have opted for an unregulated voluntary market, which operates outside the CDM and the EU's ETS.
About 123 million tonnes of carbon credits, valued at $705 million, were transacted in the global voluntary carbon market in 2008, according to industry estimates. This is a fraction of the $125 billion global carbon market.
HOW WOULD AUSTRALIA'S SCHEME WORK
A fixed carbon price of about $9.25 (A$10)/tonne would be set from July 2011. A fully open market would operate from mid-2012.
The scheme aims to cover 1,000 of Australia's biggest polluters and 75 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions.
AND WHY IS EMISSIONS TRADING CONTROVERSIAL?
Carbon market mechanisms such as cap-and-trade are often seen as more politically acceptable and attractive to industry than carbon taxes.
Opinion polls show most Australians support action on climate change, but are wary of the electricity and fuel cost hikes emissions trading would bring.
Critics of the schemes range from climate change sceptics, who do not believe carbon emissions are human-created or warrant controls, to green groups who dislike the market-led approach.
Some environmentalists say turning carbon dioxide into a commodity by pricing it, and giving compensation to companies who participate in carbon markets, amounts to an undeserved subsidy for polluters, and sends the wrong signal about the kind of action needed to the challenge.
The extent to which the schemes will actually reduce emissions is also hotly debated.
© Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved

http://planetark.org/wen/55773

Investor Brains Target "Smart" Climate Finance
Date: 03-Dec-09
Country:
 UK
Author:
 Gerard Wynn

LONDON - Smart financing can multiply limited public funds to fight climate change, say investors targeting a financing gap and a major stumbling block for the world to agree a new climate deal.
Developing countries want rich nations to pay them to fight a climate change problem largely created by the industrialized world, under a deal meant to be agreed this month in Copenhagen.
But there is a huge funding gap as recession-hit developed countries struggle to make concrete offers ahead of a December 7-18 summit, meant to lay the framework for a new climate pact to be agreed next year to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.
Carbon markets have so far failed to deliver the tens of billions needed, deploying $6.5 billion in developing countries last year under carbon offset schemes under Kyoto.
"There's a whole new world to look at in addition to carbon finance," said Murray Ward from the New Zealand-based Global Climate Change Consultancy.
Some developing nations want as much as 1 percent of the wealth of better off peers, while rich countries and analysts estimate the climate cost to developing nations at between $100 billion and $300 billion annually by 2020.
Only about $10 billion is on the table now. Double-click here for a factbox of climate costs, money on the table and proposed schemes.
"You can see a huge difference in ambition levels," said HSBC climate analyst Nick Robins.
Ideas center on how to use limited public funds to mobilize much greater private sector cash of around $100 billion.
They range from public loan guarantees or high-risk equity stakes in projects, to bonds where governments sell notes which they repay over 10-15 years, getting up-front investor cash now to protect rainforests, for example.
BONDS, DEBT
"I think institutional investors are attracted by a long bond and I think if you get public policy right you can produce quite attractive returns," said James Cameron, vice-chairman of green investors Climate Change Capital, speaking at an Environmental Finance conference earlier this week.
"Investors want governments to assert the public interest, a reallocation away from business as usual, but their culture gets in the way," Cameron said, referring to high returns from investment in fossil fuels. "Somebody's got to show how it can be done."
One new idea is to link a portion of industrialized nations' swelling sovereign debt to delivering on their climate promises -- which may give private funds the extra confidence to invest in alternative energy, but cost nothing in extra public commitments.
The approach could leverage private sector cash four times the amount of linked public debt, estimated the architect of the approach Michael Mainelli, founder of London-based Z/Yen.
Governments would benefit by differentiating their sovereign debt from all the rest under global, multi-trillion-dollar stimulus plans.
Investors would not only have the benefit of more confidence in green investments, but could also use the sovereign debt as a hedge on those investments -- because governments would pay a higher interest rate if they missed their climate pledge.
© Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved

http://planetark.org/wen/55696

Capital Markets Gear Up For Climate Change
Date: 30-Nov-09
Country:
 UK
Author:
 Sarah Hills - Analysis

LONDON - As the world wrangles over how to fight climate change, with national leaders to meet in Copenhagen early next month, capital markets are gearing up to handle the consequences if the effort fails.
The insurance industry, including reinsurers, who distribute risk around the sector, has traditionally been the main way to hedge against hurricanes, floods and other natural disasters.
But climate change could increase the scale and frequency of these disasters so drastically in coming years that traditional insurance might become unable to handle the burden.
Much of the risk would have to be shifted into the capital markets, where financial instruments such as catastrophe bonds and hurricane futures may boom, and increasingly exotic instruments are being developed to spread the burden further.
"In a more volatile risk landscape, as might be produced by climate change, the need for risk transfer instruments quickly increases," said John Seo, managing principal at Fermat Capital Management.
"If we look 10 years ahead, we will see an acceleration of the need for newer, or at least more evolved, forms of insurance-linked securities (ILS) to manage reinsurer risks."
Nobody can predict with certainty the costs of climate change, but a consensus is building in financial markets that the insurance burden is likely to rise substantially. Even a successful meeting in Copenhagen might only slow global warming and an increase in violent weather patterns over coming decades.
Climate change could cut gross domestic product in countries at risk by up to a fifth by 2030, a study by the U.N.-backed Economics of Climate Adaption Working Group found this year. The hurricane-prone U.S. state of Florida could see weather-related costs knock 10 percent off its GDP each year.
A report by catastrophe modeling company AIR Worldwide, in partnership with the Association of British Insurers, said the general insurance industry might not be able to cope with the increased frequency and severity of floods and typhoons brought about by climate change.
CATASTROPHE BONDS
Ten years ago, a natural disaster that could be expected to occur once in a hundred years would have cost insurers $55 billion, Seo said. Ten years from now, it might cost $220 billion, he estimated.
One result may be rapid growth in issuance of catastrophe bonds. These are ILS which insurers use to pass on potential losses from natural disasters to investors; the bonds pay interest but if a disaster occurs and results in a specified amount of damage, the investors have to pay part of the cost.
An estimated $27 billion of cat bonds have been issued since the first such instrument was launched in 1994 -- a tiny part of the burden carried by traditional insurance. Issuance almost ground to a halt after last year's collapse of Lehman Brothers, which played a counterparty role in several cat bonds.
But issuance has rebounded dramatically in the past several months and is on track to total about $3-4 billion this year. It is expected easily to reach $5 billion in 2010, closing in on its record annual peak of $7 billion, hit in 2007.
The Lehman crisis may in fact have helped prepare the cat bond sector for growth by encouraging issuers to experiment with new collateral provisions aimed at reassuring investors.
This could eventually help cat bonds become mainstream investments, expanding the pool of active buyers beyond adventurous ones such as hedge funds to include diversified asset managers.
Another way to spread the risks of climate change is hurricane futures, which pay out to investors if the size of insurance losses exceeds a trigger level.
The Chicago Mercantile Exchange and U.S.-British insurance futures exchange IFEX have been trading hurricane futures since 2007; IFEX had its busiest-ever month for the futures in April this year, with $41.1 million in notional trades.
In June this year, Eurex became the first continental European exchange to offer the futures. They have not yet traded because of a quiet U.S. hurricane season, but Eurex is launching new contracts for 2010, aiming to attract investors who want to diversify beyond traditional asset classes such as equities.
EXOTIC INSTRUMENTS
Demand for more exotic insurance-linked instruments may also rise in coming years. They include industry loss warranties, which are derivatives triggered by the size of losses caused by an event to the entire insurance industry, and "sidecars," which capture the risk of a sub-portfolio of an insurance or reinsurance company's business.
Other exotic products being developed include temperature futures, and catastrophe-linked instruments that bear a resemblance to equities.
Some governments and international organizations, looking ahead to the burden of climate change, are encouraging development of new financial instruments to cope with it.
One example is the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility, which the World Bank helped to set up in 2005. It is owned and operated in the Caribbean for Caribbean governments, selling windstorm and earthquake cover to them.
The facility said in October that it was developing an excess rainfall weather derivative that might eventually be repackaged into a cat bond to spread the risk through the international capital markets.
The World Bank estimates only 3 percent of potential losses from natural disasters in developing countries are insured, against 45 percent in developed countries, and says the capital markets are important to changing this.
"Societies are becoming more vulnerable as the risks they face become more interconnected," said Martin Bisping, head of non-life risk transformation at Swiss Re.
"The transfer of catastrophic risk should be a key element in the financial strategy of every disaster-prone country."
© Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved

http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/12/07/climate-bill-impact-on-ag-becomes-more-clear/

Climate Bill Impact on Ag Becomes More Clear
Posted By Environmental Leader On December 7, 2009 @ 2:42 am In AgricultureCarbon Finance & OffsetsClimateForestsGovernmentPolicy & LawPredictionsU.S. | No Comments
farm sceneSome farmers would benefit from the House version of the climate bill by being paid to plant trees, while the fresh fruit and vegetable industry likely would face higher production costs.

Under the House plan, from 2015 to 2050, about 85 percent of revenue from agricultural-related carbon offsets would come from creating woodlands, reports Reuters [1]. By 2050, about 59 million more acres of woodland would be created.

The forestry offsets would be worth about $3 billion a year, said Joe Glauber, the chief economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Midwest and South Central states would get the lion's share, with the Northeast getting about 11 percent.

According to EPA modeling, total farm income would be about $22 billion higher per year, not counting the offsets, Reuters reports. The rise would come from higher crop and livestock farmgate prices. Farmers might also derive extra income from using low- and no-till methods, by revising their use of fertilizer or even capturing methane from manure.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that the House climate bill posed a "real opportunity for agriculture," reports Agriculture.com [2].

However, depending on the economic model used, input costs clearly would rise. For corn, costs would rise $1.44 an acre, using a model from the EPA. Using data from the Department of Energy, the projection rises to $4.72 an acre.

As for the fresh fruit and vegetable industry, average costs would rise about 2 percent in the short term and up to 4 percent in the coming decades, according to The Packer [3].

But Kam Quarles, Vice President of Government Relations and Legislative Affairs for the United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, D.C., told The Packer that the USDA/EPA analysis looks only at on-farm production, and does not include the extra energy and emissions associated with transporting and storing sensitive fresh produce, which must be refrigerated.

Instead, Quarles said that USDA and lawmakers should take a "360 degree" perspective regarding the impact to the fresh produce industry, including the competitive advantage gained by growers in other nations who may not have the same costs added to their operations.


Article printed from Environmental Leader: http://www.environmentalleader.com

URL to article: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2009/12/07/climate-bill-impact-on-ag-becomes-more-clear/

URLs in this post:
[1] Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE5B260T20091203
[2] Agriculture.com: http://www.agriculture.com/ag/story.jhtml?storyid=/templatedata/ag/story/data/1259788600501.xml
[3] The Packer: http://thepacker.com/USDA-offers-climate-change-cost-estimates-for-produce/Article.aspx?articleid=963959&authorid=117&feedid=215&src=top

Water Management newsclips for December 7, 2009: California Water Allocation Hits Record-Low Level

http://planetark.org/wen/55775

California Water Allocation Hits Record-Low Level
Date: 03-Dec-09
Country:
 US
Author:
 Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES - California officials said on Tuesday that drought and environmental restrictions have forced them to cut planned water deliveries to irrigation districts and cities statewide to just 5 percent of their contracted allotments.
Although the state Water Resources Department typically ends up supplying more water than first projected for an upcoming year, its 5 percent initial allocation for 2010 marks the smallest on record since the agency began delivering water in 1967.
Drastic cutbacks in irrigation supplies this year alone from both state and federal water projects have idled some 23,000 farm workers and 300,000 acres of cropland in California, according to researchers at the University of California at Davis.
Water shortages also have forced California cities large and small to raise rates they charge and to ration supplies.
The state water allocation initially set for this year was 15 percent of the amount users are entitled to receive under their contracts. That figure was later raised to 40 percent, still well below the 68 percent averaged over the past decade.
While a return to wetter weather in the months ahead could quickly ease the crunch, the initial 2010 allotment was greeted with alarm up and down a state already beset with chronic budget problems and jobless levels above the national average.
"On the heels of three years of drought and ongoing regulatory restrictions, we are now bracing for yet another year of painfully limited water supplies," said Laura King Moon, assistant general manager for the State Water Contractors.
ENVIRONMENTAL RESTRICTIONS QUESTIONED
Seeking to address California's deepening water crisis, the state Legislature and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger reached agreement last month on a landmark package of measures to conserve water and pour billions of dollars into new water infrastructure projects.
The state supplies more than 25 million people and over 750,000 acres of farmland with water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta in northern California, fed by rainfall and snow-melt runoff from the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
That water is delivered to municipalities and irrigation districts throughout California by way of a sprawling network of reservoirs, pipelines, aqueducts and pumping stations known as the State Water Project.
But the prolonged drought, the worst in state history, has depleted the Sierra snowpack and reservoir levels. Complicating matters are federal restrictions on delta pumping levels in order to protect endangered fish species.
"We ought to look seriously at the cost of some of the restrictions they're putting in place," said Richard Howitt, a resource economist at UC Davis. "It's not that they're not needed. The fish are dying. But so are the farm workers."
The other major supplier of water from the delta -- and a more important one for California farmers producing over half of the fruit, vegetables and nuts grown the United States -- is the federal government's Bureau of Reclamation.
That agency waits until mid-February, near the end of California's traditional wet season, to set its initial water delivery allocation. Last year, a zero allocation was declared for most of the farmers who buy water from the federally managed Central Valley Project, but that level was later raised to 5 percent of normal for many of them.
(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Eric Beech)

Alternative Energy newsclips for December 7, 2009: UK Smart Meters; While sustainable energy is the future of capitalism -- despite the fact fuel prices won't rise this winter -- efficiency is the most important policy

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/dec/02/smart-meters-go-ahead/print

Government gives go-ahead to smart meters
Multibillion-pound programme will go to all 26m homes in UK and lay the foundations for a 'smart grid' – but who will pay?
Terry Macalister
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 2 December 2009 15.28 GMT
 larger | smaller
Smart home graphicView larger picture
The smart home Photograph: Xcel Energy
The government unveiled its vision of hi-tech homes last night with "smart" meters acting as a cornerstone of a more efficient, greener electricity grid system.
British Gas and other power suppliers have been given responsibility for installing meters in each of Britain's 26m homes by 2020, enabling them to read consumption levels remotely and end the use of estimated bills. The gadgets would also allow homeowners to monitor their own gas and electricity usage – and production if they have solar panels or wind turbines.
However, a row over the £8.5bn outlay for smart meters threatened to overshadow the announcement with critics warning that the energy companies might pocket the benefits.
The Department of Energy and Climate change (DECC) said the cost of the scheme would be dwarfed by the £14.5bn of expected savings as power companies reduce administrative costs and consumers benefit from lower bills.
Lord Hunt, the energy minister, said the international talks in Copenhagen next week on climate change underlined the importance of cutting carbon by changing lifestyles and energy usage.

smart meter A smart meter on trial earlier this year. Photograph: Christopher Thomond
"Smart meters will put power in people's hands, enabling us all to control how much energy we use, cut emissions and cut bills. Smart grids will help manage the massive shift to low carbon electricity such as wind, nuclear and clean fossil fuels," he said.
The smarter grid, outlined in a new DECC discussion document, entitled Smarter Grids: The Opportunity, sees new IT systems being used to provide much more information on demand flows and allow intermittent power, from wind, or inflexible power from nuclear, to be more easily integrated into Britain's wider electricity system.
The plans were welcomed by power companies and industry bodies. But consumer groups and energy consultants raised concerns that the smart meter rollout was being put in the hands of a sector that was already under fire for high charges and allegedly not passing on previous benefits to customers.
"We're concerned that consumers could be saddled with the entire multibillion pound bill for a project that's going to save the industry hundreds of millions of pounds a year," said Martyn Hocking, editor of Which? magazine.
Energy consultant, McKinnon and Clarke, also raised fears. "We are concerned that this is another example of smoke and mirrors by the energy industry who are clutching at straws to create a positive story, when the real scandal is that they are making a profit of approaching £200 on every home in the country," said analyst David Hunter.
But British Gas promised that savings from smart meters would be passed on to its customers and said there were good reasons for assuming that the 2% of energy-savings predicted by the government would turn out to be a major underestimate.
Petter Allison, director of smart metering at British Gas, said a company from Baltimore, in the United States, presenting at a conference in London was boasting of customers energy use was down by 20% per annum.
It further argued that the roll-out of smart meters would create 2,600 jobs in the company by 2012, including 2,100 experts in the field, 400 support staff and 100 managerial jobs.


guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2009



http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/technology/article6943586.ece

Rollout of smart meters could turn Britain into a nation of power stations
Robin Pagnamenta, Energy Editor

solar panels

Solar panels are a key to future energy sustainability


Rooftop solar panels, wind turbines and other home energy-production devices could generate almost one sixth of Britain's electricity supplies within ten years, according to the chief executive of National Grid.
Steve Holliday, who runs the UK's largest utility company, said that 15 per cent of the country's electricity production would come from so called "embedded generation" in homes and offices by 2020. "That is an enormous part of the mix," he said ahead of a speech on the future of Britain's energy system at Imperial College next week.
Mr Holliday said that home based "micro generation" would become an increasingly viable proposition after the £9 billion rollout of "smart meters" in Britain's 26 million homes, which was announced by the Government this week.
As well as saving consumers money, making consumption more efficient and allowing power companies to take readings remotely, the new devices could allow for two-way flows into the national grid. That would allow millions of householders to sell the electricity they generate back into the system. Other sources of home based power production include "micro-CHP plants" — a new type of domestic boiler that generates electricity as well as heat.
Mr Holliday warned, however, that homeowners could end up spending billions of pounds on redundant smart metering technology if their rollout was rushed through. He said that there was a risk that if the rollout was forced through too quickly, the devices would not be sophisticated enough to be able to communicate adequately with new and emerging "smart grid" technologies that promise to cut energy wastage dramatically across the wider UK power network.
"I worry that if we don't have a careful plan then we will invest too much too soon," he said. "These are not insubstantial sums of money and we do not want to look back and regret making the investments that we did."
National Grid, the operator of the high-voltage transmission and gas distribution networks, has a market value of £16 billion.
Mr Holliday said that a key benefit of the meters would be their ability to communicate with a national "smart grid", which should pave the way to a lower carbon future by tying in vast wind farms, electric vehicles and more efficient heating systems.
The Government claims the meters, which provide real-time information about energy consumption, and smart grids, which give real-time data about power demand and generation across the network, are both essential if Britain is to hit its targets of cutting emissions by one third by 2020.
Mr Holliday said: "We are very enthusiastic about smart meters but we need to make sure that we don't get ahead of ourselves. We don't want to build it piecemeal. The meters are a crucial piece of the jigsaw — they are the interplay device between the home and the grid."
Paul Golby, chief executive of E.ON UK, cited the case of Italy, which was the first large country to introduce a national smart meter programme. However, it is now having to scrap the technology and introduce new meters because the old ones are out of date.
Mr Holliday also estimated that Britain could improve its total energy efficiency levels by 25 per cent by 2050 through the use of improved insulation and smarter technology.


http://www.forbes.com/2009/12/02/winter-dollar-gas-intelligent-investing-oil.html?feed=rss_news

Winter Heat
Alexandra Zendrian, 
12.03.09, 6:00 AM ET

It seems hard to believe that winter's upon us with such seasonably high temperatures across much of the country. But even if the cold takes hold, natural gas and oil prices aren't bound to skyrocket this year as they have in the past.

Crude oil was trading at about $78 on the New York Mercantile Exchange recently, while heating oil was at almost $2 and natural gas was at about $5. The average residential heating oil price was up 3 cents per gallon at $2.75 per gallon, according to the Energy Information Administration. That is up 3.4 cents from this time last year.

The economic downturn has depressed demand for oil, which means that there is excess capacity, the EIA said in its weekly petroleum report. The world's supply of gasoline available to be imported to the U.S. is increasing and U.S. inventories for crude oil remain high, the report says.

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On the fundamentals, oil and gas prices should fall but a weak dollar and inflation fears, as well as investors hunting for return in a low interest rate economy has propped up commodities prices generally. For investors using stronger currencies oil prices will see to be falling but folks who have to pay for oil in dollars will feel the inflation pinch.

"Any dramatic ongoing devaluation [of the dollar] will be offset in the dollar-denominated price per barrel," says Bill Singer, shareholder at Stark & Stark law firm. Singer is avoiding commodities investments now other than the PowerShares DB Agriculture Fund. He's doing this because, "I'm not clear as to how much of the present price purely reflects supply/demand issues and how much reflects a correlative price to the U.S. dollar's recent devaluation."

Burt White, chief investment officer at LPL Financial, agrees. "If the dollar remains in a freefall, then commodities will have tailwinds to move higher," he says.

Still, he cautions against relying on commodities investments as a dollar hedge, especially outside of gold and other precious metals that have tended to trade more like currencies than commodities.

"There is no rule that says that the dollar and oil have to be interconnected. Often they decouple, especially when there is extreme demand drive growth of oil at the same time the U.S. is showing strong economic gains relative to the rest of the world," White says.

Steven Roge, portfolio manager at R.W. Roge & Company, Inc., recommends investing in oil and natural gas and suggests doing so in a diversified way. He says the key to finding good investments in the energy sector is to focus on management teams. Often, management encourages share dilution, which lowers the company's earnings, Roge says, and investors should avoid those companies. He also advises being careful with small capitalization oil companies, as stock prices are volatile.

Roge recommends EOG Resources, Inc., which develops and produces natural gas and oil, because the firm has a conservative management team and little debt. Roge also likes Canadian Natural Resource Ltd. for its strong management team. To round out your energy portfolio's diversification, try investing in equipment makers, such asHelmerich & Payne, which Roge says is one of the more technologically advanced companies in that space. He also says that Exxon Mobil Corporation is notoriously undervalued and is like owning an energy mutual fund because of its vast and worldwide exposure.

Bill Mann, portfolio manager of The Motley Fool Independence Fund, likes investing in energy exploration and production companies, as he says that area has been crushed over the past year. Mann recommends TOTAL S.A. and CGG Veritas.

Darrell Jobman, senior analyst at TraderPlanet.com, likes commodities as a hedge against the dollar. He advises avoiding investing in gold, which some investment advisers have noted could be the next bubble in the short-term. But otherwise, he likes this commodities and currency hedge investment strategy.

https://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/PDFDownload.aspx?ar=2478

The future of capitalism: Building a sustainable energy future

In a collaboration between Duke University's Fuqua School of Business and McKinsey, a panel of experts and CEOs from leading energy companies debate the critical scientific, resource, and policy issues challenging energy sustainability today.
December 2009
As global climate talks get underway in Copenhagen, questions of a sustainable energy future will come to the fore as participants discuss the challenges from rising demand, affordability, and energy security. Should we focus on energy efficiency solutions? Where should we place our innovation bets? How can we align public policy to match our energy goals? In this video, three CEOs—Tom Albanese of mining giant Rio Tinto, Aubrey McClendon of Chesapeake Energy, and Bill Timmerman of the energy company Scana—offer their perspectives on the practical issues stifling energy independence, where to prioritize short- and long-term goals, and alternatives that can improve our energy future. George McLendon, dean of the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences at Duke University, and Scott Nyquist, a director in McKinsey's Houston office, also participated in the panel.
This edited panel discussion is the first in our "Future of capitalism" series, which will explore the important issues shaping the business landscape in the aftermath of the credit and economic crises. A collaborative effort between the Fuqua School of Business and McKinsey, the series will comprise four forums over the course of the current academic year on energy, the financial system, globalization, and the role of business education in society. Blair Sheppard, dean of Fuqua, moderated the energy panel, which took place in November 2009.
Watch the video, or download a PDF of the transcript.


The future of capitalism: Building a sustainable energy future
Experts and CEOs from leading energy companies offer their perspectives on energy sustainability.
Launch Interactive



http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/9b7f3c16-dfaa-11de-98ca-00144feab49a.html

Cars, bulbs and buildings seen as key to carbon
By Fiona Harvey, Cynthia O'Murchu and Simon Briscoe in,London
Published: December 3 2009 02:00 | Last updated: December 3 2009 02:00


Governments around the world could make rapid, substantial and relatively cheap cuts to carbon emissions by pursuing energy efficiency in place of more ambitious, but expensive, technological solutions, says a new study.
The analysis, based on data provided to the Financial Times by McKinsey, the consultancy, identifies more energy-efficient cars, lighting and buildings as the "low-hanging fruit" in the global warming battle.
The findings are particularly relevant in the US, the world's second largest emitter of greenhouse gases, as Washington prepares to join international efforts to fight global warming at a UN conference beginning in Copenhagen next week.
The McKinsey analysis says that for the US the initial upfront expense of buying an electric or hybrid car would be rapidly offset by lower fuel costs, which in turn result in lower emissions per vehicle. It estimates a saving of €79 ($119, £52) for every tonne of carbon dioxide mitigated by 2030 through greater vehicle efficiency. For lighting the saving is €50 and €44 for buildings. Carbon capture and storage, a much touted technology to cut emissions, is by contrast likely to remain much more expensive. The cost of taking a tonne of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere this way would initially be €76 in the US in 2015, the consultancy found, falling to €39 a tonne by 2030.
US companies should also invest in energy efficiency before they turn to buying carbon offsets overseas, if they wish to get the most "bang for the buck".
This contrasts with the view of many US businesses which believe they will need to buy cheap carbon credits from abroad if they are to cut emission mitigation costs under a federal cap-and-trade system up for consideration in the Senate.
For companies looking to invest in renewables, the most cost-effective place to do so through the UN carbon trading scheme, is likely to be South Africa - which currently offers generous feed-in tariffs - according to a study by the Technical University of Braunschweig in Germany.
Smaller hydroelectric power plants, which are among the most popular small-scale projects registered under the UN system, are also highly costeffective, the study claims.
These costs contrast sharply with other forms of renewable energy that have a higher profile. Solar power, for instance, would cost €34 per tonne of carbon dioxide avoided in India in 2015, while in China the cost would be €43 per tonne, according to McKinsey's estimates. Wind turbines are lower cost but still relatively expensive. In China, McKinsey calculates wind turbines would cost €8 per tonne of carbon avoided in 2015, and €15 in India.
Making renewable energy investments in developed countries is far more expensive, according to the data.
This reflects one of the founding philosophies of the UN's Clean Development Mechanism - that it would help rich countries achieve their obligations to cut emissions under the 1997 Kyoto protocol by allowing them to invest in lower cost projects in the developing world. Poor nations meanwhile could gain access to low-carbon technology which they could not otherwise afford.
But the scheme has fallen short of expectations, prompting calls for its overhaul at the Copenhagen conference. The greatest single reducer of emissions under the CDM, is the elimination of certain industrial gases - such as hydrofluorocarbons, a by-product of the manufacture of refrigerants.
But while this should in theory be one of the cheapest methods of cutting emissions - at an estimated $1 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent destroyed, according to Point Carbon, a carbon consultancy - the international community ends up paying much more, with high profits accruing to factory owners and intermediaries such as carbon traders.
Yvo de Boer, the UN's top climate change official, said Copenhagen must produce "mechanisms . . . that will allow for prompt action on emissions, to deploy new technologies, and to build capacity in developing countries". Some form of carbon trading would remain a key mechanism, he said.



http://www.wbcsd.org/plugins/DocSearch/details.asp?type=DocDet&ObjectId=MzY3NjU

Efficiency best policy says study

Financial Times, 3 December 2009 - Governments around the world could make rapid, substantial and relatively cheap cuts to carbon emissions by pursuing energy efficiency in place of more ambitious, but expensive, technological solutions, says a new study.

The analysis, based on data provided to the Financial Times by McKinsey, the consultancy, identifies more energy-efficient cars, lighting and buildings as the "low-hanging fruit" in the global warming battle.

The findings are particularly relevant in the US, the world's second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, as Washington prepares to join international efforts to fight global warming at a UN conference beginning in Copenhagen next week.

The McKinsey analysis says that for the US the initial upfront expense of buying an electric or hybrid car would be rapidly offset by lower fuel costs, which result in lower emissions per vehicle. It estimates a saving of €79 for every tonne of carbon dioxide mitigated by 2030 through greater vehicle efficiency. For lighting the saving is €50 and €44 for buildings.

The analysis says the upfront expense of buying an electric or hybrid car would be rapidly offset by lower fuel costs

Carbon capture and storage, a much touted technology to reduce emissions, is likely to remain much more expensive. The initial cost of taking a tonne of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere this way would be €76 in the US in 2015, before falling to €39 a tonne by 2030.

US companies should also invest in energy efficiency before they turn to buying carbon offsets overseas, if they wish to get the most "bang for the buck".

This contrasts with the view of many US businesses which believe they will need to buy cheap carbon credits from abroad if they are to reduce emission mitigation costs under a federal cap-and-trade system under consideration in the Senate.

For companies looking to invest in renewables, the most cost-effective place to do so through the UN carbon trading scheme, is likely to be South Africa – which currently offers generous feed-in tariffs – according to a study by the Technical University of Braunschweig in Germany,

Smaller hydroelectric power plants, which are among the most popular small projects registered under the UN system, are also highly cost-effective, according to the study.

These costs contrast sharply with other forms of renewable energy that have a higher profile. Solar power, for instance, would cost €34 per tonne of carbon dioxide avoided in India in 2015, while in China the cost would be €43 per tonne. Wind turbines are lower cost but still relatively expensive. In China, McKinsey calculates that wind turbines would cost €8 per tonne of carbon avoided in 2015, and €15 in India.

Making renewable energy investments in developed countries is far more expensive, according to the data.

This reflects one of the founding philosophies of the UN's Clean Development Mechanism – that it would help rich countries achieve their obligations to cut emissions under the 1997 Kyoto protocol by allowing them to invest in lower cost projects in the developing world. Poor nations meanwhile could gain access to low-carbon technology which they could not otherwise afford.

But the scheme has fallen short of expectations, prompting calls for its overhaul at the Copenhagen conference. The greatest single reducer of emissions under the CDM, is the elimination of certain industrial gases – such as hydrofluorocarbons, a by-product of refrigerants.

But while this should in theory be one of the cheapest methods of cutting emissions – at an estimated $1 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent destroyed, according to Point Carbon, a carbon consultancy – the international community ends up paying much more.

Yvo de Boer, the UN's top climate change official, said Copenhagen must produce "mechanisms that will allow for prompt action on emissions, to deploy new technologies, and to build capacity in developing countries".

(FW) Dr. David Suzuki's acceptance speech for the Alternative Nobel

Hi all

this was forwarded to me by the David Suzuki Foundation...  In brief, this is the acceptance speech for the "Alternative Nobel", otherwise known as the Right Livelihood Award, given by David Suzuki in Stockholm this week. Those of you who have had the chance to see Dr Suzuki speak will recognise many of the themes he's been speaking on for many years, and their importance is growing by the day...

Thanks to Karel for forwarding

 

David Suzuki

            I'd like to begin by thanking the Right Livelihood Foundation for the great honour you have bestowed on me.  Thanks too, to Stephen Lewis who put the effort into nominating me. 

            I would not have been able to do what I have in my life without the efforts of my wife, the brains and the looks beside me, Dr. Tara Cullis.

            A lot of people at The Nature of Things and the David Suzuki Foundation, have worked very hard on programs and projects, yet people give me a lot of the credit for their efforts.  And the Canadian public by watching my programs in substantial numbers, kept me on air as host of The Nature of Things for thirty years.  So I accept this award with gratitude on behalf of all the people who have made me look good.
            In a few days, delegates will gather in Copenhagen to try to come to some kind of agreement on how to tackle the challenge of human-induced climate change.  Vested interest groups - the fossil fuel and auto industries - and a few dissident petro-states like Canada, will attempt to water down any hard targets and I fear we will not be able to respond adequately to the urgent threats from human activity.
 
            Now it is true, ever since life appeared on the planet some 3.8 billion years ago, living organisms have interacted with and changed the physical and chemical properties of the planet: weathering rock and mountains; absorbing carbon and sequestering it as limestone; creating the oxygen rich atmosphere by photosynthesis; making soil; filtering water; and so on.  But those processes took millions of years and involved tens of thousands of species.
 
            Now, we are suddenly and singlehandedly altering the physical, chemical and biological features of the planet on a massive scale.  From a plane 10 kilometers above the earth, you can see our impact – immense lakes behind dams, clearcut patches of forest, huge farms and cities.  We have become a geological force.
 
            Not long ago, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, drought, forest fires and earthquakes were referred to as "natural disasters" or "acts of God".  Not any more.  We have joined god as a major force causing these events.
 
            Human use of fossil fuels is altering the chemistry of the atmosphere; oceans are polluted and depleted of fish; 80% of Earth's forests are heavily impacted or gone yet their destruction continues.  An estimated 50,000 species are driven to extinction each year.  We dump millions of tonnes of chemicals, most untested for their biological effects, and many highly toxic, into air, water and soil. 
 
            We have created an ecological holocaust.  Our very health and survival are at stake, yet we act as if we have plenty of time to respond. 
 
            When our species appeared in Africa 150,000 years ago, we were not very impressive.  Our advantage over all other species was the human brain that endowed us with a massive memory, curiosity and creativity.
 
            That brain imagined a future and recognized that we could influence that future by using our experience and knowledge to see danger and opportunity.  Foresight, the ability to look ahead, was our unique advantage and enabled us to spread across the planet and occupy every continent.  We are now the most numerous mammal in the world, and with technology, consumption and a global economy, we are undermining the very things that keep us alive and healthy.
 
            But we have increased our ability to look ahead with scientists, supercomputers and telecommunications.  And for over 40 years, leading scientists of the world have been telling us we are on a dangerous path, that there are opportunities if we shift direction.  Yet now we turn our backs on the very survival strategy of our species – look ahead to avoid the dangers and exploit the opportunities.
 
            Instead, we complain about the cost of changing our ways.  The Prime Minister of Canada has refused to honour the Kyoto protocol and opposes a binding agreement with hard targets for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.  He tells us: "Canada is a northern country so we need to use more fossil fuels.  Besides, it will cost too much to reduce emissions".  And to that I say, "thank god for Sweden."  Like Canada, Sweden is a northern country, yet by enacting a carbon tax, you have reduced emissions beyond the Kyoto target while the economy has grown by 44%.  So thank you for putting the lie to my Prime Minister's claims.
 
            For most of human existence, we have been local tribal animals.  Now we have to ask, "What is the collective impact of all 6.8 billion people in the world?"  But there is no mechanism to act as a single species in our common interests. 
 
            Instead, we fiercely defend our boundaries around property, cities, provinces or countries.  But human borders mean nothing to air, water, windblown soil or seeds or migrating fish, birds or mammals. 
 
            My Prime Minister regards the economy as our highest priority and forgets that economics and ecology are derived from the same Greek word, oikos, meaning household or domain.  Ecology is the study of home, while economics is its management.  Ecologists try to define the conditions and principles that enable a species to survive and flourish. Yet in elevating the economy above those principles, we seem to think we are immune to the laws of nature.  We have to put the "eco" back into economics.
 
            The current economic system is fundamentally flawed and inevitably destructive.  Nature performs "services" that keep the planet habitable for animals like us: photosynthesis removes carbon dioxide and generates oxygen.  Nature filters water, creates soil, sequesters carbon, and so on.  Yet economists call such ecosystem services "externalities".  They are not considered a part of our economic system.
 
            Now there are some things in the world we can`t change – gravity, entropy, the speed of light, the first and second Laws of Thermodynamics, and our biological nature that requires clean air, clean water, clean soil, clean energy and biodiversity for our health and well being.  Protecting the biosphere should be our highest priority or else we sicken and die.
 
            Other things, like capitalism, free enterprise, the economy, currency, the market, are not forces of nature, we invented them.  They are not immutable and we can change them.  It makes no sense to elevate economics above the biosphere, for example.
 
            Economists think the critical part of our economy is us.  We are so clever, creative and productive.  And since there is no limit to human imagination and creativity, economists believe the economy can and must grow forever which is an impossibility.  Growth is not an end or goal, it's just a description of a state of a system.  Yet if you ask a politician or business executive how well they did last year, they will point to growth in market share, profit or GDP. 
 
            If we think growth is progress, well no one wants to impede progress, so we fail to ask the important questions like "What is an economy for?"  "Are we happier with all this stuff?" "How much is enough?"  "Why does a global economy act as if a Mongolian horseman, a farmer on the Andes and a Papua New Guinean highlander have the same aspirations and needs?"
 
            If we continue to set human borders and the economy as our highest priorities, we will never come to grips with the destructiveness of our activities and institutions. 
 
            When our species was born, we looked out at a chaotic world and the human brain imposed order and meaning in myriad ways, looking ahead and imagining the world into being.  That was our great gift.  So now the challenge is to imagine a different world where our wealth is in human relations and the things we do together, and we learn to live in balance with the rest of nature.  By imagining a future, we know where we want to go and then we can marshall our creative abilities to make it happen as we always have.
 

Recent green columns by Jim Harris in the National Post

 

 
Recent columns:
Climate inaction threatens $28T in assets . . . http://bit.ly/7t2ehk
Profitability drives sustainability . . . . . . . . . . http://bit.ly/4Q2A31
Future oil shortages being downplayed . . . . . http://bit.ly/7gbQYD
Heat/Power combo doubles grid efficiency . . .http://bit.ly/8ZuGLX
The Danish secret to grow wind power . . . . .  http://bit.ly/8oEYQj
Cutting Carbon is very profitable: McKinsey .  http://bit.ly/7d2w2a
Cleantech: Economic opportunity of century . http://bit.ly/4IiZrF
Wal-Mart has green religion saving $500M/yr  http://bit.ly/8fO19U
Real-time feedback drives energy efficiency. . http://bit.ly/4SD2Yd
Millions of Green energy jobs at stake . . . . .  http://bit.ly/7YfkKj
Ice Bear helps utilities keep their cool . . . . .  http://bit.ly/6uSkdw
Green buildings financially outperform others ..http://bit.ly/6bFr5e
Europe bans 100W incandescent bulbs . . . . .http://bit.ly/4Nh9yY
Going green great for growing the top line . . . .http://bit.ly/4SGs09
IBM saving $450M by virtualizing servers . . .   http://bit.ly/6CvSvV
Canada most energy inefficient of OECD . . . . http://bit.ly/5VWgwo
Dell saving $1.8M/yr turning off PCs at night . .http://bit.ly/4V6vIL
Prius taxis save >$11,000 year in gas costs .  http://bit.ly/5iLrCQ
HDTVs create Super Bowl super spike . . . . .  http://bit.ly/8I6aN7
Electronic devices wastes billions when "off" . .http://bit.ly/67mhVX
White roofs save a trillion . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   http://bit.ly/5MqZXt
Oil prices force turn to green . . . . . . . . . . . .  http://bit.ly/7kOaqd
Savings rise with efficient escalators . . .  . . .  http://bit.ly/5Be86o
Going Green Pays Dividends . . . . . . . . . . . .
 http://bit.ly/5sbGmL