Climate Change Correspondent, Asia, Singapore
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Dec 3, 2009

Forest-CO2 scheme needs cash to save species: study

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – A U.N. carbon-payment scheme aimed at saving forests in poorer nations could push some species to extinction unless it is designed to spread investment across many countries, a study released on Friday shows.

The United Nations wants the scheme, called reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD), to be part of a broader pact to fight climate change by rewarding poorer nations for preserving forests through carbon offset revenue.

Dec 1, 2009

Forest carbon scheme hopes for green light in Copenhagen

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – While nations bicker over the size of emissions cuts and climate funds, saving forests has turned out to be among the least contentious issues in U.N. climate talks and has achieved the most progress.

The reason, analysts and the world body say, is that curbing deforestation is an easy win for the climate and most countries support a U.N. scheme that aims to reward developing nations for protecting their remaining forests.

Nov 15, 2009

SNAP ANALYSIS: APEC nations back face-saving climate plan

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – President Barack Obama backed on Sunday a compromise proposal to ensure U.N. climate talks next month in Copenhagen don’t end in failure.

The decision comes as 19 Asia-Pacific leaders meeting in Singapore said on Sunday it was unlikely a tougher, and legally binding, U.N. climate deal would be agreed at the Dec 7-18 Danish talks.

Nov 15, 2009

APEC nations back face-saving climate plan

SINGAPORE, Nov 15 (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama backed on Sunday a compromise proposal to ensure U.N. climate talks next month in Copenhagen don’t end in failure.

The decision comes as 19 Asia-Pacific leaders meeting in Singapore said on Sunday it was unlikely a tougher, and legally binding, U.N. climate deal would be agreed at the Dec 7-18 Danish talks.

Bickering over emissions reduction targets, climate financing for poorer nations and how to measure, report and prove emissions reduction steps have bogged down U.N. climate talks for months.

The U.N. has set a December deadline to agree a broader climate pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol from 2013, with that goal now pushed into 2010 at least.

The Danish proposal tries to deal with the reality of too many unresolved issues and the need to deliver a politically binding agreement that would capture progress already achieved in the U.N. negotiations, and at the same time provide for immediate action already from next year.

Support for Danish Prime Minister’s Lars Lokke Rasmussen’s "one agreement — two purposes" proposal gives the troubled U.N. climate negotiations breathing space by aiming for a politically binding agreement in Copenhagen. Legally binding details would be worked out later.

In particular, it will give Obama’s administration more time to try to get a sweeping climate bill through the Senate. Analysts say it needs to pass the Senate in the first few months of 2010 to avoid becoming pushed aside in the run-up to mid-term elections.

But it will not ease the pressure on the United States, the world’s number two greenhouse gas emitter, to offer a much tougher mid-term emissions reduction target.

The current Senate draft climate bill outlines a reduction of 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, but this is far below the cuts the U.N. climate panel says are need from rich countries to avert dangerous climate change.

Many developing countries say rich nations’ collective cuts are far below the 25-40 percent reductions from 1990 levels by 2020, the U.N. climate panel says.

The U.N. talks process has run out of time, with too much to be agreed to seal a broad, legally binding agreement in little more than a month.

Hence Denmark’s "Plan B", which aims to capitalise on the stated desire of world leaders for Copenhagen to deliver a successful outcome.

Denmark also hopes the agreement would mandate continued legal negotiations and set a deadline for their conclusion.

But analysts point to the risk of that deadline slipping if the U.S. political will to agree on emissions targets and carbon cap-and-trade fails, particularly if the U.S. economy falters.

It also risks growing frustration from developing countries which accuse rich nations of not doing enough to fight climate or help poorer states adapt to its impacts.

Developing nations, including big emitters Indonesia and Brazil, have recently laid out tough, voluntary targets to curb emissions by 2020.

South Korea has opted for a tough voluntary 2020 target as well, underscoring the point that developing nations are already moving to curb their emissions, with some of targets they have announced being more ambitious than those of many rich nations.

All this adds pressure on Denmark to ensure the face-saving proposal yields an agreement in Copenhagen that doesn’t erode nations’ desire to reach a tougher pact as soon as possible.

It will also need to spell out more clearly how the fight against climate change fairly splits the burden and the financial bill between all nations. (Editing by John Chalmers)

Nov 14, 2009

APEC retreats from C02 target, Brazil pledges cut

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Asia Pacific leaders backed away on Saturday from supporting a global halving of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, even as Brazil pledged deep cuts of its own over the next decade.

An initial draft leaders’ statement from an Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Singapore had said that “global emissions will need to … be reduced to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.”

Nov 14, 2009

APEC leaders back off on emissions cut target-draft

SINGAPORE, Nov 14 (Reuters) – Asia Pacific leaders are backing away from a target of halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, pledging instead to "substantially" slash them by that date, the latest draft of their summit statement says.

The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Singapore is the last major gathering of global decision-makers before a U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen in three weeks meant to ramp up efforts to fight climate change.

"The 50 percent reduction did appear in the draft, but it was very controversial," said Yi Xianliang, counsellor at the department of treaty and law at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who is negotiating in the climate talks.

"If the reduction was in this statement, it might have disrupted negotiations," Yi told a news conference, adding the decision to remove the target was a collective decision.

Hopes have largely been dashed that the Copenhagen meeting will yield a legally binding framework for a new climate deal. Arguments over targets have been a key stumbling block in U.N. negotiations and at other forums, such as the G8.

"I am sorry to say that the political commitment of some countries’ leaders and governments are not reflected in the behaviour and actions of the negotiating teams," Li said, referring to the overall climate negotiations. He blamed a "bloc of developed countries" for the impasse.

While the APEC talks are not part of the troubled U.N. climate negotiations, any future emissions goals the 21 members adopt is crucial because the group is responsible for about 60 percent of mankind’s greenhouse gas pollution.

"The clock is ticking to Copenhagen," Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd earlier told a news conference. "But when you have gathered in Singapore economies which represent a large part of any final negotiated outcome for Copenhagen, this is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss."

APEC member China, the world’s largest carbon emitter, says it won’t take on binding emissions reduction targets until rich nations commit to tough reductions from 1990 levels by 2020. On Saturday, APEC member South Korea gave the U.N. climate talks a small boost by opting for the toughest of three voluntary emission targets, choosing minus four percent from 2005 levels by 2020, a government source told Reuters in Singapore

Newly industrialised South Korea is not bound by the U.N.’s Kyoto Protocol to take on firm targets, but is under pressure to rein in the rapid growth of its carbon pollution.

The United States and Japan agreed on Friday they would aim to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 and back a global goal to halve emissions by mid-century.

Both are also APEC members and new Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has vowed to cut Japan’s emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 — if other major emitters such as China sign up to an ambitious U.N. deal to fight climate change.


The initial APEC draft leader’s statement said "global emissions will need to … be reduced to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050".

The latest draft says: "We believe that global emissions will need to peak over the next few years, and be substantially reduced by 2050, recognising that the timeframe for peaking will be longer in developing economies".

In July, the G8 failed to get major developing nations China and India to sign up to the goal of halving world greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Conservation group WWF said this week it was doubtful the minus 50 percent goal would be in the final APEC declaration.

"Normally it doesn’t survive in these kinds of circumstances," said Kim Carstensen, head of WWF’s global climate initiative.

He was referring to past objections from China and other big developing nations on adopting a 2050 emissions target unless rich nations adopt a 2020 target as well.

Developing countries blame rich nations for most of mankind’s greenhouse gas pollution to date and say they should make major reductions first.

The APEC draft doesn’t mention a 2020 target but does retain a goal of limiting the global average temperature increase to within 2 degrees Celsius. (Additional reporting by Yoo Choonsik, Nopporn Wong-Anan and Lucy Hornby, Editing by Bill Tarrant and Dean Yates)

Nov 14, 2009

Rio says China not enough to sustain industry

SINGAPORE, Nov 14 (Reuters) – OECD economies must recover for the resurgence of international trade and consumer spending needed for miner Rio Tinto <RIO.L> and other industries to be on a sustainable footing, its chief executive said on Saturday.

Tom Albanese pointed to the strength of China’s economy and said China’s growth in 2009 has been a key part of Rio Tinto’s success in 2009 and the Asia-Pacific region, but that was not enough for a full-scale global recovery.

"I think though that we have to be very mindful and cautious of the fact that the U.S. economy, the European economies, other OECD economies, with the exception of Australia, have been in negative mode growth this year," he told Reuters on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific leaders and CEO summit in Singapore.

"And until we see recovery of those economies you will not see the necessary resurgence of international trade and consumer spending that ultimately is necessary to put our industries and other industries on a sustainable footing."

He said he was impressed with the resilience and strength of the economy in Australia, whose mineral wealth has made it an ideal supplier to fuel China’s rapid industrial growth.

Australian employment rose in October, a second month of surprisingly strong growth that pushed up the Australian dollar <AUD=>. [ID:nSYD490561]

"To some extent the Australian dollar reflects that underlying strength of the Australian economy," he said.

However, he said that Australia’s planned introduction of a carbon cap-and-trade scheme would hurt the economy. He said Rio, the world’s second largest miner and a major coal producer, preferred a common global approach to cutting carbon emissions.

"We do admire the leadership that Australia has taken but I think Australia has to recognise it has now put itself at a competitive disadvantage from a regional perspective, particularly on energy in terms of export industries.

"It will have a negative effect on the Australian economy and on Australian jobs."

Australia is the world’s top coal exporter and a big producer of steel, aluminium and liquefied natural gas.

The Australian government hopes the Senate will pass a suite of carbon trade laws by the end of this month. This comes ahead of a global meeting in Copenhagen in December that is aimed at trying to agree a broader climate pact, but hopes for success have dimmed as nations fail to agree on targets and financing.

The Australian scheme faces intense opposition in its Senate, meaning the government might not get the extra seven votes it needs for the laws to pass.

The scheme, if passed, would cover 75 percent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions from about 1,000 of the most polluting companies or operations.

The scheme will would require polluters to buy a permit for every tonne of carbon they produce. The government has proposed a flat carbon price cap of A$10-a-tonne ($8.34-a-tonne) on start-up. The scheme would move to full auctioning and trading of permits from 2012. (Editing by Neil Chatterjee)

Nov 13, 2009

Rich nations’ climate cash offers still not clear

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Just weeks from a major U.N. climate summit, rich nations have yet to unveil specific amounts to help poor countries fight global warming, Canada’s finance minister said on Friday.

Funding to help poorer nations adapt to rising seas and more chaotic weather is a make-or-break issue for talks to try to seal a broader climate pact in Copenhagen next month.

Nov 12, 2009

Asia governors endorse U.N. forest carbon scheme

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Six provincial governors from Indonesia, Laos and the Philippines on Thursday backed an expanded U.N. scheme aimed at protecting and conserving forests in return for carbon credits.

In a joint statement after a meeting on the sidelines of an annual gathering of Asia-Pacific leaders, the governors said the scheme, called REDD+, held the promise of boosting livelihoods for local communities, a key step in curbing deforestation.

Nov 11, 2009

Climate takes back seat at APEC

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – With little prospect of any new climate change initiatives emerging at an APEC meeting in Singapore this weekend, the climate agenda might instead focus on liberalizing trade in green goods and services.

Keeping the fragile global economic recovery on track will dominate the talks at the 21-member Pacific rim group meeting, but climate change is also expected to feature prominently with just weeks to go before a major U.N. climate gathering.

    • About David

      "I report on climate policy, climate science and the carbon market (CDM, emissions trading) in Asia. I'm based in Singapore. It's a great story in a fast-growing and fast-changing region. I've been writing about climate change since university in Canberra, where I did a life sciences degree, with a communications major on the side. I started writing science articles for newspapers and, soon after completing my studies, joined as a cadet on The Canberra Times. After a few years there, it was off to London and then Hong Kong."
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