Environment Forum

from The Great Debate UK:

Beyond Copenhagen: sub-national solutions are now key

Julian Hunt.jpg- Julian Hunt is visiting professor at Delft University and formerly director general of the UK meteorological office. Charles Kennel is distinguished professor of atmospheric science, emeritus and senior advisor to the sustainability solutions institute, UCSD. The opinions expressed are their own. -

The non-legally binding "deal" agreed at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen among the U.S., China, Brazil, South Africa and India, has brought to a conclusion what has proved an extraordinarily complex set of negotiations.

The outcome has been criticised on numerous grounds and, in U.S. President Barack Obama’s own words, “We have much further to go”.

In effect, the agreement may ultimately amount to no more than a long-term climate change dialogue between Washington and Beijing.  While global action to tackle emissions of carbon dioxide must remain a priority, the fact remains that we may be heading towards a future in which no long-term, comprehensive successor to the Kyoto regime is politically possible.

One of the chief flaws in the Copenhagen negotiations was the fact that the overly-ambitious political deals being discussed were not realistic, nor framed to inspire people to act and collaborate with each other across the world on both a local and regional level.  Going forwards, national governments will need to be more honest about future likely emissions and also of future temperature changes.  In this crucial debate, scientists must be free to state their estimates without political bias.

from The Great Debate:

Weatherization heats up in 2010


By John W. Edwards, Jr.

President Barack Obama certainly is walking the walk when it comes to weatherizing America’s homes.

Five billion dollars was included in the economic stimulus legislation for the Weatherization Assistance Program, the federal program started in 1976 to help low-income families.

And more recently the president has proposed a “cash for caulkers” incentive program for homeowners modeled on the successful “cash for clunkers” autos program earlier this year.

Unexpected guests for dinner

Sitting at the base of the memorial cross at Azimuth Hill two nights ago watching the baby chicks that had hatched over a 24-hour period we noticed a black dot on the horizon.

In less than an hour the dot grew larger and larger, as it steaming towards us, until finally a large dark ship, with razor sharp spikes impaled around its exterior, dropped anchor in Commonwealth Bay.

Paul Watson

It was the Steve Irwin, an anti-whaling protest ship owned by the environmental activist group Sea Shepherd and skippered by Captain Paul Watson.

What if they didn’t give a news conference and everybody came?

CLIMATE-COPENHAGEN/The only laughs in Copenhagen on Friday were for a news conference that never happened.

Rumours spread fast among thousands of journalists, particularly if they have spent a day watching climate talks slowly implode in Copenhagen, waiting hours for anyone to hand out snippets of information about what was going on.

Add in U.S. President Barack Obama’s star power and you have a recipe for pandemonium.

Copenhagen climate conference’s giant globe: A sign of things to come?

globe-2An enormous white globe dangled in Copenhagen’s Bella Centre, the location of the world’s largest ever leaders’ summit on climate change, could be an unintended yet chilling sign of things to come.

An observant attendee made it clear by scribbling on the giant model of the earth that its designers forgot to paint on small, low-lying Pacific island nations like Tuvalu and the Cook Islands.

Scientists say rising global temperatures are melting the world’s polar icecaps and this will lead to higher sea levels by the end of the century. The Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) is pressing rich countries, mostly responsible for higher atmospheric levels of climate-warming carbon dioxide, for financial aid in mitigating and adapting to global warming.

Carbon trading and a new climate deal

(Updates with comments from Karen Alderman Harbert)


A key component of a prospective climate deal coming into Copenhagen has been the targets for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

Targets would help put a “price” on carbon emissions that could then be bought and sold under a cap and trade scheme. (Click here for a related article.)

Proponents of the potentially lucrative market say it provides clear incentives to reach targets or even overshoot them, while opponents say the system would give big polluters a way around any targets.

Packing while Copenhagen burns

Bella1The talks were supposed to be over, “family photo” taken, and slaps on the back given all round.

So all the 193 countries and many RINGOS, BINGOS, YOUNGOS, banks and others who had set up temporary Copenhagen offices had been told to have them packed up by Friday evening.

The rest of the plan has fallen apart, with world leaders crammed into conference rooms desperately trying to salvage something from two weeks of fruitless talks.

from Global News Journal:

Parallel worlds at U.N. climate talks

protesterWhile UN climate talks involving world leaders descended into chaos and farce in the rooms and corridors of this immediately forgettable Copenhagen exhibition centre, a parallel world flourished in its main conference hall.

Meetings of world leaders and environment ministers through Thursday night and Friday yielded a series of draft climate texts, each more toothless and lacking in ambition than the last. NGOs despaired. The assembled media veered between disbelief and boredom. And outside in the snow the vegans, climate activists and other protest groups kept up a steady drumbeat of protest in the snow.

But inside the main conference hall, bureaucrats continued the deliberations they started two years ago to negotiate a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. Unfazed by the chaos around them they worked their way laboriously and methodically through articles, sub-sections and clauses. All beamed live in to the press room but incomprehensible to the media.

from Mario Di Simine:

At COP15, the waiting is now the hardest part


You go for walks, maybe stretch out on an open couch, perhaps stand in long lines for a luke-warm bite to eat. You make numerous trips to the vending machines, munch on biscuits, chat with colleagues. Life in the fast lane of the COP15 Climate Conference in Copenhagen has slowed down to a crawl, and the waiting is most certainly the hardest part.

On the final day of the conference, the media -- and everyone else -- is looking forward to an outcome, any outcome of a two-week marathon that was supposed to lead to cuts in greenhouse gas emisions and a 2010 deadline for a legally binding treaty.

The world leaders gathered here and their negotiators are still working on the cuts, but that deadline is now out in the cold. What kind of deal will finally emerge? No one here, not the media at least, has an answer to that yet.

from The Great Debate:

Cost of cap-and-trade for U.S. households

-- John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own --

How much are U.S. households prepared to pay to avert the threat of climate change? According to the latest polling data published by the Washington Post, the answer is not very much, probably not much more than $25 per month or $300 per year.

Most respondents (65 percent) believe the federal government should regulate greenhouse gases from sources like power plants, cars and factories, including those who believe this strongly (50 percent) or somewhat (15 percent). Only a minority think the government should not regulate them (29 percent).

While the margin favoring regulation has narrowed since the middle of the year (when it was 75 percent to 22 percent), probably in response to a vigorous opposition campaign, there is still a clear majority in favor of taking some action on climate change.