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


Alternative Energy newsclips for 21 December 2009: Feed-in tariffs, Alternative energy in the Big 3, Sun-assisted desalination; and in other news, people believe in self-interest. Who knew?

Feed-in Tariff Systems Take Hold in North America
Posted By Environmental Leader On December 21, 2009 @ 10:00 am In Clean EnergyEuropeFinance & ReportingFinancialGovernmentIncentivesNorth America | No Comments
solarpanelsEven as state-level feed-in tariffs start to take off, global programs are the most effective way to ensure sustainable growth in the photovoltaic (PV) market. A white paper on solar feed-in tariffs from the SEMI PV Group says [1]stable, transparent and substantial national feed-in tariffs will fuel rapid growth and new investments in the solar industry.

The white paper [2] recommends new public policies in support of solar power adoption and best practices for feed-in tariff design and implementation.

The paper indicates that feed-in tariffs can be successfully integrated with existing polices such as rebates, renewable portfolio standards, tradeable renewable energy credits, net metering, and tax credits.

Best practices cited in the paper include support for technology differentiation, generation cost-based rates, fair purchase and interconnection requirements, use of fixed-price and long-term payments, and the use of predictable incentive declines.

Nearly 80 percent of the world's solar demand comes from FiT-supported policy environments, according to the white paper. The SEMI PV Group says feed-in tariffs are preferred because they are performance-based (pay for actual MW), do not require taxpayer subsidies (cost assigned to energy users), and do not conflict with other renewable energy policies.

A white paper released [3] in September by the Greener Dawn Climate also indicates that FiT policies may be a less expensive way to renewable energy development compared to other policies including renewable energy certificates (RECs).

In the U.S., the states of Washington and Wisconsin have proposals for feed-in tariffs. Washington state has plans for a bill on feed-in tariffs, called the Standard Offer Contracts (SOC) in the next legislative session, reports [4]. Projects are capped at only 2 megawatts (MW) for all renewables, which will be restrictive for wind, geothermal, and wave energy because infrastructure costs are so high for those renewable projects, according to the article.

Washington state currently has production-based incentives for residential-size solar and wind systems that qualify for the state's net-metering program, reports

The current program [5] (PDF) pays $0.30/kWh for solar PV and $0.12 US/kWh for wind systems up to 25 kW through 2020, and includes substantial bonus payments for products built instate, reports

The proposed changes to Wisconsin's Renewable Portfolio Standard requires 10 percent of the state's generation to come from in-state renewables, reports [6]. According to RENEW Wisconsin [7], this translates into the installation of 7,000 MW of solar PV or 3,500 MW of wind generating capacity, reports Wind-Works.

Legislation [8] (PDF) for feed-in tariffs is also expected in the in Minnesota, Michigan, and Indiana, reports

In September, Hawaii and the Ontario province in Canada approved [9] feed-in tariffs, followed [10]by California in October.

Earlier in the year, Gainesville's City Commissioners in Florida approved [11] the implementation of a solar feed-in tariff in the city, while Vermont implemented [12] a pilot feed-in tariff policy and Nevada added incentives for solar energy.

In Canada, the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) has awarded 700 contracts for renewable energy to homeowners under the province's new feed-in tariff program, reports [13]. The OPA received 8,000 MW of applications for wind and solar energy contracts under the province's microFit program.

Of the 8,000 MW of applications for feed-in tariffs, nearly 1,300 MW were for solar PV, and 6,300 MW were for wind energy, but there is only 2,500 MW of grid capacity available in the first phase of OPA's feed-in tariff program, reports Another 1,500 MW of grid expansion is currently under construction with the projection of as much 4,000 MW of renewable capacity in three to five years, according to

The OPA estimates [14] that the first FiT projects will generate more than $5 billion in investments in manufacturing, design, construction and engineering, and together with other initiatives under the Green Energy Act will help create 50,000 "green collar" jobs. Click here [15] for more information about Ontario's Feed-In Tariff Program.

Feed-in tariffs may also help The European Union Energy Council meet its new Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD [16]) that requires all buildings to be energy neutral by 2020, reports the Phoenix Green Business Examiner [17].

In Europe, the Spanish government recently authorized [18]338 renewable energy projects with a capacity of 9,050 MW, reports Renewable Energy Magazine. The registered plants, under Spain's registry of pre-assignation of remuneration, can now sell power to the grid under the existing feed-in tariff system over four stages between 2010 and 2013, according to the article.

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Summary by Datamonitor of the current power generating mix of the big 3 participants at Copenhagen - US, EU and China.

Thanks to Soumya

Sun-Assisted Desalination
Energy-saving process uses free heat to desalinate seawater.
By Tyler Hamilton

A Canadian startup has built a pilot desalination plant in Vancouver that uses a quarter of the energy of conventional plants to remove salt from seawater. The process relies on concentration gradients, and the natural tendency of sodium and chloride ions--the key components of salt--to flow from higher to lower salinity concentrations. If the system can be scaled up it could offer a cheaper way to bring drinking water to the planet's most parched regions while leaving behind a much lower carbon footprint than other desalination methods.

"We've taken it from a benchtop prototype to a fully functional seawater pilot plant," says inventor Ben Sparrow, a mechanical engineer who established Saltworks Technologies in 2008 to commercialize the process. "The plant is currently running on real seawater, and we're in the final stage of expanding it to a capacity of 1,000 liters a day."

Today most desalination plants are based on one of two approaches. One is distillation through an evaporation-condensation cycle, and the other is membrane filtration through reverse osmosis. But both options are energy-intensive and costly.

Saltworks takes a completely different approach based on the principles of ionic exchange. The process begins with the creation of a reservoir of seawater that is evaporated until its salt concentration rises from 3.5 percent to 18 percent or higher.

The evaporation is done in one of two ways: either the seawater is sprayed into a shallow pond exposed to sunlight and dry ambient air, or seawater is kept in a large tower that's exposed to waste heat from a neighboring industrial facility. The second approach is used in the commercial-scale plant. The concentrated water is then pumped at low pressure into the company's desalting unit along with three separated streams of regular seawater. At this point the most energy-intensive part of the process is already over.

Inside the desalting unit, which in the pilot plant is about the size of a microwave oven, specially treated polystyrene bridges connect two of the regular seawater streams to the highly concentrated stream. Positive ions (largely sodium) and negative ions (largely chloride) are drawn by diffusion through the polystyrene, which has been chemically treated to manipulate specific ions, from the concentrated steam into the weaker ones. One bridge is treated to allow only positively charged ions to pass, while the other bridge only allows negatively charged ions to pass. But both allow other ions in salt water, including magnesium, calcium, sulfate, and bromine ions, to pass through. "The negatives all flow in one direction and the positives all flow in another direction," Sparrow says.

The two regular streams--one now having a surplus of positive ions and the other having a surplus of negative ions--are also connected to the third saltwater stream, which is the target for final purification. The two out-of-balance streams want to become balanced again, so they essentially strip the third stream of all positive and negative ions. The end result is de-ionized water that only requires some basic chlorination or ultraviolet treatment before being piped into homes and businesses.

Sparrow, who is also chief executive of Saltworks, says the process uses low-pressure pumps to circulate the water, meaning lightweight plastic pipes can be used instead of corrosion-resistant steel. Saltworks cofounder and president Joshua Zoshi says scaling up the system should be simple because the plastics and ion-selective chemicals used are plentiful and cheap. "Our next step is to engage with industry and work with potential customers to get the technology out into the field," Zoshi says.

Much of the research and pilot-plant funding to date has come from Canada's National Research CouncilB.C. Hydro's Powertech Labs, and Sustainable Development Technology Canada, a federal agency that supports clean technology development through grants.

Rick Whittaker, chief technology officer at SDTC, says the company has a reasonable chance of success because the science behind it is sound and the approach is based largely on the creative integration of existing technologies. "There's technical risk," says Whittaker. "But we're quite confident they can scale it up."

78% of Oil Execs Say Cap-and-Trade Won't Safeguard the Environment
Posted By Environmental Leader On December 17, 2009 @ 2:31 am In Carbon Finance & OffsetsClimateFossil FuelsOil & GasPredictionsResearch & TechnologyU.S. | 1 Comment
oil derrickAbout 78 percent of fossil fuel industry executives say that the proposed cap-and-trade legislation for carbon emissions will be ineffective in safeguarding the environment, according to the 2010 Energy Outlook Survey from BDO Seidman LLP [1].

The survey [2] of 100 chief financial officers at U.S. oil and gas exploration and production firms also found that 48 percent think wind energy will best contribute to the world's future energy needs. Biofuels (23 percent), solar (16 percent) and hydroelectric (10 percent) bring up the rear.

About 41 percent expect renewable energy to comprise less than 5 percent of the U.S. energy sector in five years. One quarter of respondents said renewables would comprise 5-8 percent of the energy sector, and 15 percent said that renewables would comprise 9-12 percent of the energy sector.

More than a third (34 percent) of oil executives said that they expect world demand for liquid hydrocarbons to peak in 5-10 years. When asked the same question last year, just 25 percent gave that response.

As an indication of the political and economic environment, the survey found that 57 percent of executives report delaying or terminating an oil or gas project during 2009, up from 26 percent in 2008.

More than three-quarters (76 percent) of the CFOs said that the federal economic stimulus was not beneficial to the energy industry. About 20 percent said the stimulus was "only slightly" or "somewhat" beneficial, according to a press release [2].

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Green newsclips for 21 December 2009: The need to invest in green is clear in the UK and at the Conference Board

UK must invest in green technologies or lose out to other countries, MPs warn
Britain's transformation to a low-carbon society could be delayed by a lack of people trained in the right skills, says report
Alok Jha, green technology correspondent, Wednesday 16 December 2009 11.55 GMT
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COP15 RENEWABLE ENERGY :  Wind turbines sit atop a development of new houses, CROYDON
Wind turbines sit atop new houses that utilise 20% renewable energy in Croydon, London. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
Britain's transformation to a low-carbon society will be delayed by a lack of people trained in the right skills unless the government significantly increases its investment in the sector, a group of MPs have warned. They said that hundreds of thousands of jobs could be created if the government doubled its funding of green technologies, making the UK a world leader in a market worth £3tr worldwide.
"The government has missed a big opportunity to kick-start a green industrial revolution with its £3bn fiscal stimulus. Germany, the US, Japan and China have invested billions in their low-carbon industries," said Tim Yeo MP, chair of the House of Commons environmental audit committee (EAC).
In the US, the government has spent about £50bn to create half a million new green jobs, while Germany, Japan and Korea have also announced major plans to grow their domestic environmental sectors. China's economic stimulus plan includes £142bn for environmental measures.
"Only one sixth of the UK's government's fiscal stimulus package was devoted to green industry," said Yeo. "At the same time as cutting carbon emissions we could be boosting employment and putting UK firms at the forefront of the huge global market for green technologies."
The EAC's report on green jobs and skills, published today, identified about £405m for low-carbon industries and advanced green manufacturing in the 2009 budget. But members of the committee said the size of funding was nowhere near enough to allow the UK to compete internationally in this sector. "It could have been double that if you have regard to what's happening in other countries," said Yeo. "£1bn wouldn't have been too much – it would have been justified and quite effective as well."
The report identified a shortage of skilled people available for environmental firms, which could prevent the government from delivering the promises in its low-carbon transition plan, published earlier this year.
Yeo said there were three areas where the government should encourage green industries and create more jobs. As well as focusing more of the economic stimulus on the green sector, the MPs suggested launching a street-by-street programme of energy-saving measures for households.
"Most of the work is labour-intensive and involves pretty rapid paybacks – improving the insulation in older buildings often produces a payback much quicker than five years," said the report. David Cameron has said a Conservative government would make councils go "house-to-house, street-to-street" to identify areas most in need of energy-efficiency improvements.
The committee said that increasing the speed and scale of the programme to insulate UK homes could kick-start a market worth up to £6.5bn a year.
Ministers must also give industry long-term stability through government policy, in order to encourage companies to invest in training and skills for new green jobs. "The potential for Britain to display its skills [in low-carbon industries] is considerable but it doesn't look as though the government is leading in that direction," said Yeo.
He added that moving quickly would put the UK at the forefront of the world's green economy: "The global need is very urgent indeed, so those countries which do invest now will have significant first mover advantage - in five years' time, the opportunity will have gone. London has 87% of the international emissions trading taking place at the moment. That's a huge first-mover advantage and reflects our strength in financial services historically. The danger is we're going to cede a similar advantage to other countries in some of the other technologies."
Friends of the Earth's senior economics campaigner, Ed Matthew, said the government had to urgently steer the country to a low-carbon economy. "Developing Britain's hugerenewable energy potential and cutting energy waste could make this country a world leader in creating a safe and prosperous future. The [EAC] rightly highlights the importance of a 'street-by-street' energy saving programme – this has massive potential to create new jobs, cut fuel bills, tackle fuel poverty and slash emissions."
He added: "But far bolder action is needed to raise finance to make the low-carbon transition. Ministers must set up a green investment bank to give the UK's low carbon sector the turbo boost it so desperately needs."
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The Threat of a Changing Climate: The Emergency and Business Continuity Managers' Perspective
The Threat of a Changing Climate: The Emergency and Business Continuity Managers' Perspective examines the threat of climate change and natural hazards and suggests actions to help organizations confront this threat.
Document Highlights:
Communities and organizations in Canada should be concerned about a number of natural hazards that could be affected as a result of the warming of the lower atmosphere and the earth's surface and oceans.

This briefing captures and shares the key findings and lessons from a Conference Board network session dedicated to the threat of climate change and natural hazards—held by its Council on Emergency Management (CEMT), a national forum of emergency and business continuity management professionals. Council members heard experts—including academic researchers—from the private and public sector, held critical discussions, and engaged in facilitated workshops designed to promote collaborative innovation and to identify emerging and next practices.

The briefing also gives an overview of the threat landscape, identifies some of the challenges for emergency and business continuity management, and suggests some practical approaches that will help organizations confront this threat more effectively in the future.

Carbon Newsclips for 21 December 2009: Kobnhavn hangover -- The good, the bad, and the next steps

The good:

Touch wood - Climate change and forests

The Economist, December 19, 2009 - Deforestation has come of age as a global issue

Everyone agrees on the need to save trees, but the details are still tricky

WHATEVER else historians say about the Copenhagen talks on climate change, they may be remembered as a time when the world concluded that it must protect forests, and pay for them. In the Kyoto protocol of 1997, forests were a big absentee: that was partly because sovereignty-conscious nations like Brazil were unwilling, at any price, to accept limits on their freedom to fell.

All that is history. As the UN talks went into their second week, trees looked like being one of the few matters on which governments could more or less see eye to eye. Over the past two years, skilful campaigning by pro-forest groups has successfully disseminated the idea that trees cannot be ignored in any serious deliberation on the planet's future.

Most people at the summit accepted the case that is endlessly made by friends of the forest: cutting down trees contributes up to 20% of global greenhouse emissions, and avoiding this loss would be a quick, cheap way of limiting heat-trapping gases. Unless forests are better protected, so their argument goes, dangerous levels of climate change look virtually inevitable.

On December 16th six rich nations gave advocates of that view a boost when they pledged $3.5 billion as a down payment on a much larger effort to "slow, halt and eventually reverse" deforestation in poor countries. The benefactors—Australia, France, Japan, Norway, Britain and the United States—endorsed tree protection in terms that went beyond the immediate need to stem emissions. Keeping trees standing would protect biodiversity and help development of the right sort, they said.

In lines that could have come from a green campaigner, Gordon Brown said the forests "provide a global service in soaking up the pollution of the world." Unless action was taken, "these forests could be lost for ever, impacting not only the global climate but on the livelihoods of 90% of the 1.2 billion people" who rely on trees for a living. The money stumped by the six countries was a first instalment of the $25 billion needed between now and 2015 to cut deforestation by a quarter. In a rare synergy between Britain's ceremonial rulers and its real ones, the effort to gather up $25 billion in pledges has been led by the Prince's Rainforests Project, a charity run by the heir to the British throne, Prince Charles: his predilection for the green and organic has been a gift to British comics but went down well in Denmark.

Impressive as it was, the rich nations' offer did not settle the questions that need resolving in any global forest deal. One was whether or not to include timetables and targets. The most ambitious proposals called for a 50% reduction in deforestation by 2020 and a complete halt by 2030. But forested nations were unwilling to accept those ideas until they saw what the rich world was offering.

The other question was how so much money will be ladled out, how it will be raised and who would receive it: national governments, regional authorities or local people, including the indigenous. Any plan that did not give local people cause to keep their trees standing would surely fail. But some have argued that doling out cash to forest-dwellers is too crude an approach; it may be better to help non-forest areas yield more crops, or to concentrate on restoring marginal land to farming. Advocates of national approaches—involving entire countries, not small areas—say local efforts cause "leakage" as felling is stopped in one place but shifts to another.

Tony La Viña, the chief negotiator on the UN initiative known as "Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD)" was optimistic, as of December 16th, that the issues left to settle were "manageable." The fact that REDD has been broadened to include rewards for countries that have conserved their forests (as opposed to repentant sinners) is an encouraging sign. But that does not mean the problems are negligible.

The question of how much money to raise from government transfers, and how much from carbon trading, is not merely of concern to radical greens. Some Europeans fear that throwing forests into the carbon market will depress the price; but for America's Congress, a healthy market in offsets may be the only thing that makes payment to protect forests palatable.

Supporters of REDD say it offers performance-related finance for saving forests on a far larger scale than ever before. It aims to ensure rigorous verification. The proposal's critics insist that a superficially good deal could prove terrible because of loopholes in carbon accounting. These may come from inflated national baselines for deforestation, or allowances that permit some sorts of tree-felling to be ignored. Sceptics also claim that REDD ignores some causes of deforestation, like the demand for soy, beef, palm oil, and timber which tempts people to act illegally.

But things are changing on that front. Green groups want firms to shrink their "forest footprint"—and some are responding. On December 11th Unilever, a giant food company, said it was abandoning one of its palm-oil suppliers because of doubts about what it is doing in some of the world's forests. That is sobering for anybody tempted to chop down rainforest and plant something more immediately lucrative. In the longer term, Copenhagen's decisions may do a lot more to make the forests lucrative in themselves.

Some blue-chip companies see carbon price and legal framework as keys to future

ClimateWire, 14 December 2009 - The chief executive officers of some of the biggest companies in the world agreed on Friday that a price on carbon and government support to change consumer behavior are keys to them offering more environmentally friendly products that would make money at the same time.

Meeting in downtown Copenhagen while nearly 200 countries were negotiating a global warming agreement at the Bella Center convention hall on the outskirts of the Danish capital, the CEOs of Coca-Cola, Unilever, Iberdrola, Vestas, GDF Suez and other multinational giants discussed the outlook for business in a low-carbon world -- at first privately, then at a town hall-like meeting with journalists and other business executives attending.

Everyone agreed that there must be a price on carbon, said Jim Rogers, the CEO of Duke Energy, the North Carolina utility. "The conversation was very rich," he said. "How much should the price be? Should it be cap and trade or tax? Will the price stimulate investment, and will it change consumer behavior?"

"As we ended the conversation, we acknowledged there were no voices from China in our room. We thought that was a telling point, because they are the No. 1 producer of solar power panels and wind power, and they're building 13 nuclear plants, more than any other country in the world. The conclusion was, actions speak louder than words. They're going to cross the bridge to the low-carbon world, and they'll make money doing it. We need to recognize that fact and go about our business accordingly," he added.

Ditlev Engel, the CEO of Vestas, the world's largest wind turbine maker, said a global carbon price would create a market larger than the oil trade. "Who will look after the money that's coming in and make sure it's deployed correctly?" he asked. "You need four or five regions with new regulatory bodies that you can trust that will use the money in the right manner going forward. I want to tell the negotiators at Bella Center, 'Come up with a price on CO2, and don't leave without it.'"

The CEO of Acciona, the second-biggest wind power operator in the world, said carbon pricing is the most important element that can convince companies to take more risks and invest in renewable technologies in particular and greener products in general, with a view to eventually making a profit.

"We need to make an effort that at some point pays off," said Jose Manuel Entrecanales. "We are taking probably more risk than our shareholders would approve. When you take that risk, you have to be very careful and not forget that corporations have shareholders who do not necessarily feel that your corporation should be an activist one."

A search for a framework and a price signal

Gerard Mestrallet, CEO of GDF Suez, the world's second-largest utility, said his company is ready to make green investments, but only under a clear framework that would allow it profitable returns.

"If the carbon pricing signal is clear, we will answer positively," he said. "In many fields, quick action is possible, but we need clear and equitable targets. Most corporations are facing a recession and job cuts. It has never been so difficult to impose additional constraints on corporations, which are facing enormous challenges."

He said the French company will in the future offer municipalities an integrated business that manages electricity, gas, heating and cooling networks, as well as waste disposal, in a master plan that is carbon-neutral at first and eventually "energy-positive and with total recycling."

Ignacio Galan, CEO of Spain's Iberdrola, the largest renewable energy operator in the world, criticized governments that he said weren't doing enough to promote energy efficiency. "Every government talks about not increasing energy prices, but they don't do anything about efficiency," he said. "They don't penalize consumption. If the price is higher, the people would have the mentality that this has a value; otherwise, they won't."

Galan also called for a price on emissions, as well as emission caps for each country. "There are still many voices who say there is no problem, that the global warming situation is not yet certain," he said. "We have to convince everybody that there is a problem that needs to be solved, then we need a global commitment to solve it."

"Industry has solutions," he added, "and will be able to do things to improve the present situation, but it's crucial that we have the proper framework to recover the investment we need to make. We have to teach the developing countries not to make the same mistakes we made and make better use of their resources than we did."

Easier said than done, said Duke's Rogers. "Energy efficiency is not the low-hanging fruit. That's a myth," he asserted. "When I look at efficiency, I look at a payback period of 40 years, but my clients look at three years. No one has made it a mission to make it happen. The most environmentally benign power plant I build is the one I don't need to build." He vowed to increase solar power production by paying customers to let Duke install panels on their roofs.

"We'll put solar on your rooftop, and we'll pay you a lease to use your rooftop, because that's your power plant," he said. "You will pay a higher price for solar, but we will subsidize it with our nuclear and coal."

Must governments lead?

Marc de Jong, the CEO of Philips Lighting, gave an example of cooperation with government in which his company made money, consumer behavior was changed, and the environment benefited at the same time.

"As a big customer, government can make the lead example," he said. "Last month, the Mexican government and us agreed to supply, free of charge, 8 million households with efficient lighting bulbs. They'll get better light and use less power." But de Jong said that when it comes to efficient light bulbs, governments aren't adopting them fast enough for street lighting, for example. "They're only adopting it at a rate of 3 to 5 percent per year, even though they'll save the extra money spent in one to two years."

At least one executive said he doesn't need government help to become more environmentally friendly; instead, he needs a change in consumer behavior.

"Consumers are not going to compromise on price and quality," said Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, the maker of Magnum ice cream, Lipton tea and various detergents. "With Unilever products, we have about 125 billion washes per year in the world. If consumers wash 10 degrees Celsius lower, that's the equivalent of 16 million cars off the road. It can be done today. I don't need technology to shoot anybody to the moon, I don't need government intervention, I just need to work in my value chain and help consumer change their behavior."

Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent agreed that consumers are the key to a greener society. "Consumers are responsible for a large portion of emissions and energy usage in any country around the world," he said. "We are unique because we're invited in the lives of billions of people daily with more than 400 brands. There is a great convergence in willingness of consumers to change behavior in both developing and emerging markets."

"The real challenge," he said, "is to be able to innovate fast enough so that we can bring goods [and] brands [to] markets faster and at price-competitive conditions. They may say they're willing to pay a higher price, but they are not going to pay a higher price for greener goods and brands. You've got to continually innovate."

He pledged that by 2020, the soft drinks giant will be water-neutral as a global company through reduced use, recycling and replenishing water. "That works because reducing water reduces costs," he said. "Secondly, we want to decouple packaging from virgin fossil fuel. Once you can scale it up, it's going to start costing less."

Another example of doing something that's good for the Earth and also for Coca-Cola's bottom line was cutting the energy use of the company's 10 million refrigeration units around the world by 50 percent, with all refrigerators becoming chlorofluorocarbon-free by 2015.

The bad:

FACTBOX: Main Points Of The Copenhagen Accord
Date: 21-Dec-09
 Emma Graham-Harrison

COPENHAGEN - U.S. President Barack Obama reached a climate agreement on Friday with India, South Africa, China and Brazil. The deal outlined fell far short of the ambitions for the Copenhagen summit.
Here are key points from the agreement, which is titled "Copenhagen Accord."
"Deep cuts in global emissions are required according to science...with a view to reduce global emissions so as to hold the increase in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius."
A proposal attached to the accord calls for a legally binding treaty to be pinned down by the end of next year.
The text says: "Developed countries shall provide adequate, predictable and sustainable financial resources, technology and capacity-building to support the implementation of adaptation action in developing countries."
It mentions as particularly vulnerable and in need of help are the least developed countries, small island developing states and countries in Africa.
"Developed countries set a goal of mobilizing jointly $100 billion a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries. The funds will come from a wide variety of sources, public and private, bilateral and multilateral."
An annex carries the following short-term financing pledges from developed countries for 2010-2012:
EU - $10.6 billion
Japan - $11 billion
United States - $3.6 billion
Details of mitigation plans are included in two separate annexes, one for developed country targets and one for the voluntary pledges of major developing countries.
These are not binding, and describe the current status of pledges -- ranging from "under consideration" for the United States to "Adopted by legislation" for the European Union.
A sticking point for a deal, largely because China refused to accept international controls, the section on monitoring of developing nation pledges is one of the longest in the accord.
It says emerging economies must monitor their efforts and report the results to the United Nations every two years, with some international checks to meet Western transparency concerns but "to ensure that national sovereignty is respected."
The accord "recognizes the importance of reducing emission from deforestation and forest degradation and the need to enhance removals or greenhouse gas emission by forests," and agrees to provide "positive incentives" to fund such action with financial resources from the developed world.
Mentioned, but not in detail. The accord says: "We decide to pursue various approaches, including opportunities to use markets to enhance the cost-effectiveness of and to promote mitigations actions."
(Editing by Janet McBride)

Climate summit leaves the hard work undone

The International Herald Tribune, December 21, 2009 Monday - The United Nations climate change talks concluded with a statement of intention, not a binding pledge to begin taking action on global warming - a compromise seen to represent a flawed but essential step forward.

With the swift bang of a gavel, a prolonged fight between nations small and large over an international pact to limit climate risks came to a grudging close, suggesting to many participants that the chaos and contentiousness of the talks signaled the effective end of the all-encompassing United Nations process that for almost two decades had been viewed as the best approach to tackling global warming.

The final accord, a 12-paragraph document, was a statement of intention, not a binding pledge to begin taking action on global warming - a compromise seen to represent a flawed but essential step forward.

As the talks concluded early Saturday morning, Robert C. Orr, the U.N. assistant secretary general for policy and planning, said that virtually every country had signaled that it would back the accord and that the decision to simply ''take note'' of the deal was shorthand for acceptance.

China lauded the outcome, Xinhua reported Sunday. The talks produced ''significant and positive'' results, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi was quoted as saying.

But many delegates of the 193 countries that had gathered here left Copenhagen in a sour mood, disappointed that the pact lacked so many elements they considered crucial, including firm targets for mid- or long-term reductions of greenhouse gas emissions and a deadline for concluding a binding treaty next year. Even President Barack Obama, a principal force behind the final deal, said the accord would take only a modest step toward healing the Earth's fragile atmosphere.

The process, known as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, has produced a series of 15 conventions after a 1992 climate summit meeting in Rio de Janeiro. But it has become unworkable, many said, because it has proved virtually impossible to forge consensus among the disparate blocs of countries fighting over environmental guilt, future costs and who should referee the results.

''The climate treaty process isn't going to die, but the real work of coordinating international efforts to reduce emissions will primarily occur elsewhere,'' said Michael Levi, who has been tracking the diplomatic effort for the Council on Foreign Relations.

That elsewhere is likely to be a much smaller group of nations, roughly 30 countries responsible for 90 percent of global warming emissions. It was these nations that Mr. Obama rallied in a series of dramatic encounters on Friday to finally agree on a deal that starts a flow of financing for poor countries to adapt to climate change and sets up a system for major economies to monitor and report their greenhouse gas emissions.

This smaller group of nations will meet periodically to tackle a narrower agenda of issues, like technology sharing or the merging of carbon trading markets, without the chaos and posturing of the U.N. process. A version of this already exists in the Major Economies Forum, which, with 17 nations, has been a model of decorum and progress compared with what the world saw unfold at the climate talks.

The deal worked out in Copenhagen is a political agreement forged by major emitters to curb greenhouse gases, to help developing nations build clean-energy economies and to send money flowing to cushion the effects of climate change on vulnerable states. But even if countries live up to their commitments on emissions, a stark gap remains - measured in tens of billions of tons of projected flows of carbon dioxide - between nations' combined pledges and what would be required to reliably avert the risks of disruptive changes in rainfall and drought, ecosystems and polar ice cover from global warming, scientists say.

The chances of success substantially hinge on whether Mr. Obama can fulfill his promises to reduce American greenhouse gas emissions and raise tens of billions of dollars to help other countries deal with global warming. That in turn depends in large part on whether the U.S. Congress takes action on a bill that puts a price on carbon and devotes a large part of the proceeds to foreign aid. And that is no sure thing.

The accord was embraced by some environmental groups that portrayed it as the best first step along an extraordinarily daunting decades-long path toward a world of ample energy without greenhouse pollution.

But it was bitterly attacked by others that portrayed it as grossly insufficient.

Yvo de Boer, the U.N. official who manages the climate negotiations, said that though the Copenhagen accord was ''politically incredibly significant,'' it hardly moved the treaty process from where it was in 2007, when the world's countries pledged to complete a binding agreement this year.

''We have a lot of work to do on the road to Mexico,'' he said, in a reference to the next climate meeting, to be held in Mexico City next year.

That may be mostly wishful thinking. Even reaching the tenuous accord in Copenhagen was a tortuous path, culminating in an impassioned debate on the floor of the plenary meeting that lasted into early Saturday morning.

Speaker after speaker from the developing world denounced the deal as a sham process fashioned behind closed doors by a club of rich countries and large emerging powers. The debate reached such a pitch that the Sudanese delegate likened the effect of the accord on poor nations to the Holocaust.

Lumumba Stanislaus Di-Aping, a Sudanese diplomat who has been representing the Group of 77 developing countries, said that he believed the pact would ''result in massive devastation to Africa and small island states.''

But his intemperate language set off a backlash and many of the smallest and most vulnerable nations, while continuing to express reservations, began falling in line behind the deal. Ultimately, all but a handful of countries - Venezuela, Cuba, Sudan and Saudi Arabia among them - went along with the decision to accept the document.

Before the parties gathered in Copenhagen, the United States and China had been sniping at each other over various aspects of the proposed accord, particularly over U.S. demands that Beijing agree to a system of international monitoring, through which its public promise to reduce the carbon intensity of its economy - the rate of emissions per unit of economic activity - could be verified.

But as that friction was growing, there was also significant progress on sharing clean energy technology and even exchanges between American and Chinese environmental officials over ways to accurately measure greenhouse gas emissions.

The friction boiled over as Mr. Obama arrived at the Copenhagen meeting.

Twice on Friday, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao sent a lower-lever Chinese official to represent him at the meetings with Mr. Obama. To make things worse, each time it was a lower-level official.

It was bad enough, officials said, describing the atmosphere later, that Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei was sitting at the table with Mr. Obama, Chancellor Angela Merkel and other world leaders.

But Friday afternoon, after what administration officials believed had been a constructive meeting between Mr. Obama and Mr. Wen, the Chinese prime minister sent his special representative on climate change negotiations, Yu Qingtai, to a meeting of the leaders of major countries, including Mr. Obama.

The White House made a point of noting the snub in a statement to reporters. Mr. Obama, for his part, said to his staff: ''I don't want to mess around with this anymore. I want to talk to Wen,'' according to an aide.

The White House set up an evening meeting between Mr. Obama and Mr. Wen. It also set up a separate meeting with President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India. Their approval was needed to seal any climate deal.

Shortly before the appointed time of the meeting with Mr. Wen, Denis McDonough, the U.S. National Security Council chief of staff, and Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, arrived and were startled to find the Chinese prime minister already meeting with the leaders of the three other countries.

They alerted Mr. Obama, and he rushed down to the site of the meeting.

''Mr. Premier, are you ready to see me?'' Mr. Obama called from the doorway. ''Are you ready?''

Despite its tense start, the meeting led to an accord that settled a number of issues, including a compromise on wording on the issue of monitoring and verification that satisfied Mr. Wen.

Mr. Obama then took the text to a group of European nations whose representatives grumbled but signed off.

''This progress did not come easily, and we know that this progress alone is not enough,'' the president said, with no note of triumph in his voice.

Dropped from earlier drafts was language calling for a binding accord ''as soon as possible.''

Climate Deal Won't Cap Warming, Big Gaps
Date: 21-Dec-09
 Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent - Analysis

Climate Deal Won't Cap Warming, Big Gaps Photo: David Gray
A chimney is seen next to an apartment block in central Beijing December 16, 2009.
Photo: David Gray

COPENHAGEN - A climate deal among world leaders including President Barack Obama puts off many tough decisions until 2010 and sets the planet on track to overshoot goals for limiting global warming.
Obama spoke of "the beginning of a new era of international action" but many other leaders said it was "imperfect," "not sufficient" and at best a "modest success" if it gets formally adopted by all 193 nations in Copenhagen on Saturday.
Problems faced by China and the United States -- the world's top emitters -- stood in the way of a stronger deal for the world's first pact to combat climate change since the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol in 1997.
In big advances, the deal adds a promise of $100 billion a year to help developing nations from 2020 and promotes the use of forests to soak up carbon dioxide. But it is unclear where the cash will come from.
European leaders fell in reluctantly after Obama announced the deal with China, India, South Africa and Brazil. It was drafted by 28 nations ranging from OPEC oil produces to small island states.
A drawback is that the deal is not legally binding -- a key demand of many developing nations. The text instead suggests an end-2010 deadline for transforming it into a legal text that had long been expected in Copenhagen.
The deal sets a goal for limiting a rise in world temperatures to "below" 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times but does not set out measures for achieving the target, such as firm near-term cuts in emissions.
"It clearly falls well short of what the public around the world was expecting," said Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists. "It's clearly not enough to keep temperatures on a track below 2 degrees."
A U.N. study leaked this week showed that current pledges by all nations would put the world on track for a 3 Celsius warming, beyond what many nations view as a "dangerous" threshold for droughts, floods, sandstorms and rising seas.
Mention in some past drafts of a goal of halving world emissions by 2050 below 1990 levels, for instance, was dropped. China and India insist that rich nations must first set far tougher goals for cutting their own greenhouse gas emissions.
And developed nations failed to give an average number for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 -- many scientists say they need to cut by between 25 and 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 to avoid the worst of climate change.
Instead, all countries would have to submit plans for fighting global warming by the end of January 2010 to the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat.
The pact sums up pledges by major economies for curbing emissions so far -- the looming deadline of Copenhagen spurred nations including China, the United States, Russia and India to promise targets.
But no nations promised deeper cuts during the December 7-18 conference as part of a drive to shift the world economy away from fossil fuels toward renewable energies such as wind and solar power.
The deal proposes deadlines of the end of 2010 for a new "legally binding" instruments.
Jake Schmidt, of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said that the talks were complicated by China's drive to assert a new, more powerful, role for itself in the world.
"Part of the dysfunction is that China is feeling its way into a new, more powerful role," he said.
Obama pushed through the pact while he faces problems at home. His goal of cutting U.S. emissions by 4 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 is stalled in the U.S. Senate.
And the deal is unclear on many points. It says developed nations should provide $30 billion in aid to help the poor from 2010-12 and then raise aid to $100 billion a year from 2020.
But it does not say where the money will come from, saying it will be a variety of sources, including public and private. That means that developed nations might try to tap carbon markets for almost all the cash and plan little in public funds.,dwp_uuid=d68cb1fc-a38d-11de-a435-00144feabdc0.html

Deal leaves plenty to play for
By Fiona Harvey in Copenhagen
Published: December 20 2009 19:08 | Last updated: December 20 2009 19:08

Sleeping delegates at Copenhagen conference
World's wake-up call: delegates sleep in the early hours of Saturday during the climate change summit in the Danish capital

The agreement struck at the Copenhagen climate change summit will not be enough to stave off dangerous levels of climate change, according to numerous analyses.
That is because, due to the accord's limited nature, countries can stick to the lower end of the ranges of commitments they made before the conference to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
Under pressure from domestic interests, governments might even seek to reduce their pledges by their self-imposed deadline of the end of next month.
If commitments remain at the upper end of the scale, the world would be within a whisker of meeting scientific estimates of the amount of reductions needed, according to an analysis headed by Lord Stern, the former World Bank chief economist and prominent climate change analyst.
But if they are at the bottom of the scale, the outlook for the planet is likely to be much more ominous.
The Copenhagen accord's weak legal status is another impediment in trying to persuade nations to be more ambitious with their commitments. Because of opposition from a few Latin American governments, countries have agreed within the context of the United Nations negotiations only to "note" the accord, rather than sign up to it. That makes it harder to press countries into stiffening their promises.
Barack Obama, the US president, acknowledged as much. He hailed the pact as "the first time in history all major economies have come together to accept their responsibility" on climate change. But he added: "We know that this progress alone is not enough."

Those who do not believe man-made carbon emissions are causing climate change are relishing Copenhagen's failure to deliver a concrete deal.

China demonstrated its formidable negotiating skills in bringing about an outcome that suits it better than any other nation.

Danish economy
The country has benefited from the spending by tens of thousands of participants.

The planet
The threat remains of catastrophic climate change caused by a global temperature rise. 

Renewable energy companies
The lack of a binding commitment to promote green technology will reduce investors' appetite for long-term renewable energy projects.

Carbon traders Copenhagen will not give carbon markets the boost that traders had wanted from a strong agreement.

"We're going to have to build on the momentum that we've established here in Copenhagen to ensure that international action to significantly reduce emissions is sustained and sufficient over time."
The US has pledged to cut its emissions by 17 per cent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels, but that is conditional on domestic legislation being passed. The European Union has vowed to cut its emissions by 20 per cent, compared with 1990 levels, by the same time.
Most developing countries, including China and India, have agreed only to curb the future growth of their emissions. But many, rather than committing themselves to a single target, have pledged a range. The EU will deepen its promise to 30 per cent below 1990 levels if other countries also agreed ambitious targets. China is committed to reducing the growth in its carbon dioxide output per unit of gross domestic produce by 40 to 45 per cent by 2020.
When all of these ranges are added up, the potential difference in emissions cuts is huge. The European Climate Foundation estimates that if all countries went to the upper end of their ranges, emissions would be reduced by 17 per cent from 1990 levels, by 2020. But if countries stuck to the lower end of their ranges, the cut would be only 3 per cent.
That gives negotiators plenty to play for in the next month. "There will be a lot of discussions going on, trying to persuade countries to go to their upper targets," said one dev eloped country's negotiator.
But the omens are not good, said Bernice Lee, research director for energy and the environment at the Royal Institute of International Affairs. "None of the major parties moved out of their comfort zones in . . . negotiations. They stuck to their opening offers."
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009. Print a single copy of this article for personal use. Contact us if you wish to print more to distribute to others.

Business chiefs hit at climate agreement
By Ed Crooks and Fiona Harvey in Copenhagen
Published: December 20 2009 19:26 | Last updated: December 20 2009 21:39

Global energy businesses are disappointed and confused by the climate deal agreed in Copenhagen, saying it does not provide enough certainty to justify the huge investments needed to cut carbon emissions.
The deal – agreed by major economies including the US and China on Friday evening but not formally adopted by the United Nations – makes a commitment to limit the rise in global temperatures but does not specify caps on emissions to achieve that objective.

In depth: Copenhagen - Dec-16
Editorial Comment: Dismal outcome - Dec-20
Analysis: Copenhagen: A discordant accord - Dec-20
Full text: Copenhagen accord - Dec-19
Global Insight: For rich nations, this is not the season for giving - Dec-20
Deal leaves plenty to play for - Dec-20
Chief executives and business groups in Europe were particularly critical of the deal. Peter Voser – the chief executive of oil and gas group Royal Dutch Shell , which has supported limiting emissions – said "much more" was needed.
The role of business will be crucial in fighting the threat of global warming, with the private sector expected to provide about 90 per cent of the $500bn a year investment needed.
"I think there will be growing [demands] on the part of business to see this accord turned into something that is legally binding," said Yvo de Boer, chief UN climate change official.
The full significance of the deal will not be known until well into next year.
Countries are supposed to fill in details of planned cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, left blank in the accord, by the end of next month. The UN is to follow with more talks towards a legally binding global treaty.
But companies said it was clear that world leaders had not yet done enough to underwrite a radical change in business strategy. Mr Voser said: "We ... recognise that the accord reflects a true political willingness to combat climate change. However, it remains unclear how this political willingness will translate into concrete steps."
Eon, the European energy group, had pledged to cut its emissions faster if there was a strong deal at Copenhagen. But Wulf Bernotat, its chief executive, warned that such cuts would "depend on further progress" in the UN talks, and from the US and China in particular.
Werner Schnappauf, managing director of BDI, the German industrial association, said German companies could react by transferring jobs to countries with less strict environmental rules. "The result for our companies is that the creation of a [global] competitive level playing field has receded," he said.
The National Foreign Trade Council, a US free trade lobby, urged Congress not to impose tariffs on imports from countries that have agreed only to slow, not cut, emissions growth.
Trevor Sikorski of Barclays Capital said Copenhagen's failure to agree on a timetable for a treaty would undermine confidence in carbon markets.

Is There Hope for Business after Copenhagen?
By Joel Makower
Created 2009-12-20 20:11

I've been trying over the past few days to find some Hopenhagen in Copenhagen — that is, to see some positive outcome to the COP15 climate summit just concluded. The two-week event ended with a whimper, not a bang, a not-altogether-surprising conclusion to an overhyped event in which all parties had anticipating the entire world coming together to solve a single, critical issue affecting — well, the entire world.

When it was all over, the whole exercise — nearly 50,000 official attendees, and probably an equal number of unofficial ones, attending hundreds of events, from formal negotiation sessions to informal scrums of concerned souls conversing around a dinner table — seemed to be for naught, an exercise in futility born of a ideal that disparate parties could find common purpose in jointly solving global problems.

As you likely know by now, the Copenhagen Accord (download - PDF), which the summit ultimately yielded, is a meager statement cobbled together by five countries and "recognized," sometimes begrudgingly, by most but not all of the other 188 national delegations. It contained little that's new or actionable, acknowledging that "climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time," that "deep cuts in global emissions are required according to science," and that "adaptation to the adverse effects of climate change and the potential impacts of response measures is a challenge faced by all countries." It recognized that actions should be taken to keep any temperature increases to below 2°C but contained no legally binding commitments for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. There are some multibillion-dollar financial commitments from developed countries to developing ones, but few specifics about where the money is coming from, or where it will go.

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Was it a modest first step, a travesty, or simply a non-event? It's too soon to tell, of course, but pundits — those that aren't still shell-shocked, at least — already are spinning it in these and many other ways.

For companies, Copenhagen seems a setback, a lost opportunity, partly of their own making. As I've previously written, business executives were out in full force, whether speaking on panels, participating on workgroups, or seizing the opportunity to engage in wall-to-wall meetings with various other business folks, government officials, or NGO leaders present in Copenhagen. But business — at least the forward-thinking companies that have been pressing for more certainty about future carbon constraints and pricing — were not adequately represented at the negotiating table.

Some of this had to do with the fact that COP15 was a meeting of governments, each with their own issues about their economies, development needs, and energy and natural resource supplies. (Companies were represented only through business groups that were designated as nongovernmental organizations, or NGOs, and had the same status as activist groups and other nonprofits.) The interests of business seemed ill-represented in the negotiations, despite the fact that in most capitalist economies, companies are responsible for most of the emissions.

But it's much more complicated than that. During my brief stay in Copenhagen last week, I got a glimpse of the complexities and seemingly intractable issues the negotiators faced. For example, Brazil and Saudi Arabia feuded over whether and how to value their respective interests: avoided deforestation for the former and carbon capture and storage for the latter. Russia for a time held things hostage, negotiating to hold on to its massive store of carbon credits — one of the few positive things to result from its economic meltdown, since an idle economy tends to be a less-polluting one — past 2012, threatening to dump them all on the market at once if it didn't get its way, creating a glut that would lower their price to virtually nothing, potentially crashing world carbon trading markets. I'm sure there were many more of these governmental hissy-fits; much of it was beyond my knowledge or comprehension.

With all of these games being played, how could the bottom-line interests of business possibly compete?

The true business consequences of Copenhagen's COP-out will reveal themselves in the weeks and months ahead, as companies consider what, if anything, the summit's inaction means to their strategies and shareholders. I'll be among those watching closely.

What brings me solace amid all this is when I consider how far companies and technologies have come in recent years despite of any real political leadership on climate change. The Bush-Cheney administration did everything possible to maintain the status quo, even reversing what little climate progress had been made up to then. Yet during those years, the cleantech sector was born, blossoming into the global industry it has become. Renewable energy technology is on the march, growing rapidly in scale and efficiency in all corners of the world. Energy efficiency has become big business, especially in building retrofits, despite the near lack of regulation or energy or carbon price signals. Global companies are measuring, tracking, and reporting their carbon impacts, and an emerging industry of software tools, accounting services, and offsets is there to assist. The automobile industry has pretty much steered itself in the direction of electric vehicles. Even next-gen biofuels are looking viable these days.

Did I mention that I'm trying to find hope in all this?

Of course, all of this would scale much more quickly if the world's governments had risen to the occasion, providing a roadmap for companies to make investments, develop strategies, and innovate.

As a result, key questions loom large in COP15's aftermath: Will Copenhagen's impass stymie the corporate progress made to date? Will it give courage to the incumbent carbon-intensive interests (and their allied think tanks, politicians, and media outlets) that stand to lose in a low-carbon economy? Will companies continue their efforts to curb greenhouse gases? Will their efforts be at a scale and speed insufficient to address the problem at hand?

Is Hopenhagen still possible? I'd welcome your thoughts.

Moderate Global Warming To Wipe Out Many Species
Date: 18-Dec-09
 Alister Doyle,

COPENHAGE - Up to a fifth of all species of animals and plants risk extinction even if the world manages to limit global warming to levels widely viewed as safe, the head of the Convention on Biological Diversity said.
Ahmed Djoghlaf also told Reuters on the sidelines of December 7-18 talks on climate change in Copenhagen that every nation in the world was set to fail to meet a target of slowing the loss of species by 2010.
The Copenhagen talks are considering adopting a goal of limiting global warming to a 2 degree Celsius rise over pre-industrial times, a target agreed in July by industrialized nations and other leading economies including China and India.
"For each degree centigrade of warmer temperature, it is predicted that 10 percent of all known species will disappear," Djoghlaf told Reuters.
"Therefore this idea of stabilizing the temperature at no more than 2 Celsius...will lead to the disappearance of 20 percent of known species," he said. "Climate change is contributing to the loss of biodiversity."
He said scientists have recorded more than 2 million species, from apples to zebras, but there may be more than 15-30 million. World temperatures have already risen by about 0.7 degrees Celsius since the start of the Industrial Revolution.
"We continue to lose biodiversity at unprecedented rates and this has been seriously compounded by climate change but also by land use, urbanization," and other factors, Djoghlaf said.
A report this week said climate change will disrupt habitats for many creatures other than polar bears whose Arctic home is thawing.
It named another 10 other species vulnerable to climate change -- beluga whale, clownfish, leatherback turtle, emperor penguin, quiver tree, ringed seal, salmon, staghorn coral, Arctic fox and koala.
Djoghlaf said reports from more than 100 of 193 countries that are part of the Convention showed that none had managed to reach a goal set in 2002 of significantly slowing the loss of biodiversity by 2010.
"Of the 100 countries that have reported not a single country has claimed to have done it," he said.
(Editing by Michael Roddy)

The next steps:

After COP 15, What's the Outlook for Business?
Posted By Environmental Leader On December 21, 2009 @ 9:14 am In ChartsClimateEconomicsFeaturePolicy & Law | No Comments
unilateral emissions cutsWhile the Copenhagen talks yielded [1] a non-binding political agreement, some business sectors say a better outcome would have included a more concrete set of targets.

In the Copenhagen Accord [2] (PDF) that was reached, a cap was set on worldwide temperature increases of no more than 2 degrees. Unilateral GHG targets would be set by each nation (see image).

The agreement puts business leaders in the uncomfortable position of not knowing how environmental policy will force decisions about the costs of doing business, reports the Wall Street Journal [3].

Without a legally binding carbon target, the outlook for clean tech investment is not as rosy, for instance, said Joan McNaughton, Senior Vice President, Power and Environment Policies, at Alstom Power, a clean-coal firm.

The uncertainty has led to a fall in the price of carbon allowances in the EU, with prices falling 5 percent on Dec. 17, the biggest drop in six months, according to WSJ. Prices fell 8 percent further the morning of Dec. 21, reports Reuters [4].

Matthew Curtin, a Dow Jones columnist, wrote [5] that the talks proceeded on a faulty premise of tracking how much CO2 gas each nation produces, instead of how much fossil fuel each nation consumes.

For corporate sustainability leaders, the lack of a binding agreement means that multinational firms should update their climate change and sustainability strategies, according to a report from Verdantix, "Business Implications of the Copenhagen Accord[6]."

Here are some take-aways from the Verdantix report:

From 2010-2011, focus on national climate policies. Consider the business implications of a possible carbon tax in France and allowance auctions in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in Australia. For companies operating in the U.S., focus on immediate actions regarding CO2 from the Environental Protection Agency.

- Avoid investing in markets covered by the Kyoto Clean Development Mechanism. The global carbon market created by the mechanism may be the biggest casualty from the Copenhagen Accord, Verdantix notes. Poor market rules, insufficient administration and a depressed carbon price make investing in the mechanism "very high risk."

- Be prepared to explain to company leadership why carbon management should remain a priority. Some CEOs will see the lack of firm emissions targets as a reason to scale back on a company's carbon reduction plans, Verdantix notes. But the Copenhagen Accord sets in motion a series of nation-based carbon reduction efforts. Additionally, carbon management yields reduced energy costs and builds environmental brand value.

- Conduct a climate change adaption risk assessment. Consider the impacts on your supply chain from water availability, energy costs and other factors.

Some business sectors, including the aviation [7] and shipping [8] industries, had sought an international accord with defined expectations for their carbon reduction. Without one, companies will be subject to emissions standards that vary from nation to nation, or even by region.

For instance, the EU is planning strict emissions standards for aviation and shipping. The U.S. airline industry has launched a shot across the bow of the aviation emissions standards by filing a lawsuit [9].

While some EU nations wanted taxes on aviation and shipping to pay for a $100 billion climate fund for developing nations, that approach was fiercely opposed by the sectors, reports the Telegraph [10].

The European steel industry fears that, without binding international targets, the EU may unilaterally impose a 30 percent GHG reduction target, up from 20 percent. The EU steel industry says it would need free carbon allowances in order to compete internationally with nations that do not have emissions targets, said the European Confederation of Iron and Steel Industries.

Thomas Friedman, the outspoken New York Times columnist, said that the U.S. business sector would benefit from an all-out attempt by the U.S. to control carbon emissions – whether through carbon taxes, pursuit of energy efficiency or construction of renewable energy infrastructure.

The key is economies of scale, he told Grist, in a Q&A [11]. "There's only one thing that's as big as Mother Nature and that's Father Greed. It is the market. And the way you leverage the market is to get the world's biggest, capitalist country is to take the lead in the clean tech industry," he told Grist.

Additionally, the lack of a Copenhagen climate deal will have negative implications on the fisheries industry, reports the Business Standard [12].

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Mexico next stop to salvage UN climate talks

Reuters, 21 December 2009 - The world will find it hard to get U.N.-led climate talks back on track in Mexico in 2010 after an unambitious deal agreed in Copenhagen set no firm deadline for a legally binding treaty.

Mexico will host the next annual U.N. ministerial talks from Nov. 29 to Dec. 10, 2010 to build on a "Copenhagen Accord" that seeks to limit temperatures rising to no more than 2 Celsius above those recorded in pre-industrial times. But it does not spell out how to achieve that goal.

For months, the United Nations had insisted the Copenhagen talks, culminating with a summit of 120 world leaders on Friday, had to be a "turning point" in slowing climate change with nation-by-nation pledges of curbs in greenhouse gas emissions.

On Saturday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon acknowledged the deal -- led by the United States and China and which leaves blanks for national commitments -- fell short of hopes but was "an important beginning."

A shift to Mexico, which sees itself as half-way between rich and poor nations, could help negotiations that almost collapsed amid allegations by Sudan and Venezuela that host Denmark were biased in favour of the interests of the rich.

Mexico "can much better...fill this very difficult task of building bridges," said Kim Carstensen, head of the global climate initiative of the WWF environmental group.

U.N. documents adopted in Copenhagen say results of work by key U.N. groups on ways to slow global warming are to be presented "for adoption" in Mexico -- but dropped demands by many nations that texts should be a "legally binding treaty".

Many nations want the Mexico meeting brought forward.

"There's a big risk that we have lost momentum," one senior delegate said of the fight to limit emissions to avert predicted sandstorms, more powerful cyclones, species extinctions, droughts, mudslides and rising ocean levels.


President Barack Obama hailed the deal, originally worked out with China and other leading emerging economies and backed by most other states, as a historic step and promised to build on "momentum that we established in Copenhagen".

China and the United States are the top emitters of greenhouse gases. So far the schedule does not reflect urgency.

The next planned U.N. climate meeting is a regular half-yearly session among officials in Bonn, from May 31 to June 11. By comparison, in 2009 there were three sets of talks in Bonn and other sessions in Bangkok and Barcelona before Copenhagen.

Apart from recognising a 2 C temperature ceiling, Saturday's decision supported a "goal" for a $100 billion annual fund by 2020 to help poor countries fight climate change, with a quick-start $10 billion a year from 2010-12.

The deal was not formally adopted by all nations due to opposition by a handful of developing nations who said it ignored the real needs of the poor.

Some analysts said the U.S. and China deal could brighten prospects for action by the U.S. Senate to cap carbon emissions in 2010. The United States is the only major industrialised nation with no carbon cap.

"It sets the stage for action in the Senate, where one of the major barriers has been lack of transparency for commitments by China," wrote Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Now we have that, it can not be an excuse for our Senators not to act."

A problem for Copenhagen was a lack of other looming deadlines. The first period of the existing Kyoto Protocol, which binds all nations except the United States to cut emissions, runs until Dec. 31, 2012.

Even so, businesses and carbon markets are clamouring for certainty about the extent of legally binding cuts beyond 2013, to help assess risks, for instance, of building a high-polluting coal-fired power plant or a cleaner but more costly wind farm.

Copenhagen did not produce many promises but all major nations have set emissions targets for 2020 since the talks were launched in Bali, Indonesia, in 2007. Many of these were ranges of cuts, conditional on a strong deal in Copenhagen.

Under the "Copenhagen Accord", a first deadline is for backers to submit plans for curbing greenhouse gas emissions by Jan. 31, 2010 to the United Nations.

"There are big uncertainties about what countries will promise. Will they still give ranges or a fixed number? What will Japan do?" said Alden Meyer, of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The European Union has promised a cut of 20 percent from 1990 levels by 2020, or 30 percent if all others act. Japan has been targeting a cut of 25 percent by 2020, assuming a strong Copenhagen deal, without an explicit fallback number.

Obama has given a provisional pledge of a 17 percent cut from 2005 levels -- which is 4 percent below 1990.

And the toughest climate "deadline" is likely to be 2015 -- the year world emissions would have to peak to give a good chance of limiting global warming to 2 Celsius, according to the U.N.'s panel of climate scientists.

A leaked document by the U.N. Climate Secretariat last week showed current emissions pledges put the world on track for a 3 Celsius rise in temperatures -- not 2.

Gordon Brown calls for new group to police global environment issues
World leaders at Copenhagen summit

(Steffen Kugler/AFP/Getty Images)

Gordon Brown with world leaders on the final day of the Copenhagen summit on climate change

Ben Webster, Francis Elliott
A new global body dedicated to environmental stewardship is needed to prevent a repeat of the deadlock which undermined the Copenhagen climate change summit, Gordon Brown will say tomorrow.
The UN's consensual method of negotiation, which requires all 192 countries to reach agreement, needs to be reformed to ensure that the will of the majority prevails, he feels.
The Prime Minister will say: "Never again should we face the deadlock that threatened to pull down those talks. Never again should we let a global deal to move towards a greener future be held to ransom by only a handful of countries. One of the frustrations for me was the lack of a global body with the sole responsibility for environmental stewardship.
"I believe that in 2010 we will need to look at reforming our international institutions to meet the common challenges we face as a global community." The summit failed to produce a political agreement among all the countries. Delegates instead passed a motion on Saturday "taking note" of an accord drawn up the night before by five countries: the US, China, India, Brazil and South Africa.
Despite being the first world leader to join the summit, Mr Brown was excluded from the key meeting where the compromise was decided.
Ed Miliband, the Climate Change Secretary, admitted today that the results of the Copenhagen conference were "disappointing" because of the absence of agreement on emissions targets or a deadline for turning the accord into a legally binding treaty.
Mr Miliband pointed the finger of blame at China for resisting a legal agreement and its rejection of a proposal for 50 per cent cut in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Efforts to give legal force to the commitments in the Copenhagen accord came up against "impossible resistance from a small number of developing countries, including China, who didn't want a legal agreement", he said.
Challenged over accusations that the agreement reached in Copenhagen failed to protect poor people in developing countries, Mr Miliband said: "The eventual outcome was disappointing. But the idea that walking away from agreement would have been better for people facing climate change is frankly ridiculous.
"I think we can protect and help those people's lives and indeed protect them from climate change through this agreement.
"The fact is that we have got fast-start finance of $10 billion a year flowing as a result of this agreement." He said it was important that countries had agreed for the need to make emissions cuts, even though they had failed to commit to specific targets.
"We won't know the precise shape of [the national emission targets] until the beginning of February, and we are going to have to push for them to be higher.
"Even though there were things we didn't achieve, the fact is we have got for the first time developing countries coming together and saying that they are going to reduce emissions, and the finance is flowing."
Mr Miliband rejected claims that Britain and the European Union were "sidelined" by their absence from a meeting at which President Obama and the leaders of China, India, Brazil and South Africa thrashed out the basic shape of the accord.
"I don't think that was the meeting that in the end decided the agreement," he said. "The big decisions took place in a group of about 30 countries in which President Sarkozy, Chancellor Merkel and Gordon Brown were represented."
In the accord
? Agreement that "deep cuts in global emissions are required according to science"
? "Long co-operative action" needed to keep the global temperature increase below 2C
? Rich countries should submit proposals for economy-wide emission reduction targets for 2020 to the UN by January 31
? By the same date, developing countries should produce plans to cut the rate of growth of their emissions
? There should be international monitoring of any emission cuts in developing countries that are funded by rich countries
? A reassessment of the accord by 2015 to check whether emission reductions are on track to keep the temperature increase below 2C
? Consideration in 2015 of strengthening the goal to 1.5C
Not in the accord
? Emission targets, either for 2020 or 2050
? A date by which global emissions should peak
? Any deadline for turning the accord into a binding treaty
? A commitment on how much of the climate protection funding would be additional to existing overseas aid pledges
? Agreement on an international body to verify the emissions reported by each country

FACTBOX: Comparison Of U.S. Plans To Cap Carbon
Date: 18-Dec-09

A "cap and dividend" bill introduced in the U.S. Senate last week would reduce the role of Wall Street in carbon markets by returning money raised from emissions credit auctions to the public.
It stands in contrast to the climate bill stalled in the Senate that would create a "cap and trade" market more open to trading of emissions permits by companies and investors.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hopes climate legislation could be taken up by the full Senate in early spring.
Below are some of the differences between the two bills. Cap and trade is represented as "C&T" while the other legislation is "C&D".
- In the Senate, Democrat John Kerry, Republican Lindsey Graham, and independent Joe Lieberman, are working on compromise C&T legislation. They are casting the bill as one that would create jobs. A C&T bill passed in the House of Representatives in June, known as Waxman-Markey after its sponsors.
-The C&D bill was introduced last week by Senators Maria Cantwell, a Democrat, and Susan Collins, a Republican. It comes late in the game as many lawmakers are already committed to C&T.
*Kerry, Graham and Lieberman are touting the compromise C&T bill as legislation that will add jobs in clean energy like nuclear and solar and wind power.
*C&D would result in tax-free monthly checks sent to every American and averaging $1,100 a year for a family of four.
*C&T bill in Senate is over 1,000 pages
*C&D came in at under 40 pages
*C&T targets big polluters, such as power plants, oil refineries, and makers of glass, cement and chemicals. Transportation sources would also be targeted.
*C&D only targets producers and importers of fossil fuels such as coal mining companies and oil importers.
* C&T would initially auction 25 percent of the permits to pollute and distribute the rest of the permits to polluters. The proceeds would go to state regulators to invest in cutting power bills or to develop energy efficiency programs.
Companies and investors would be allowed to sell the permits in a market to polluters that need the credits to meet an ever-declining emissions cap. The market gives companies the option of cutting their own output of greenhouse gases or buying credits representing emissions cuts.
*C&D would institute monthly auctions in which companies covered by the legislation would have to buy permits to pollute. Most of the proceeds would go to the public, while 25 percent would go to the development of clean energy.
* C&T backers are focusing on a 17 percent cut by 2020 under 2005 levels, with much stronger cuts by 2050.
* C&D backers want a reduction of 20 percent by 2020 under 2005 levels and stronger cuts by 2050.