Environment Forum

Are the Copenhagen climate talks failing?

COP15picIn the last few days it has seemed like the only thing everyone can agree on in Copenhagen is that time is running out.

The heads of state start arriving today and descend in full force on Thursday.

Negotiators say they don’t want their leaders arguing over the placement of a comma or a set of brackets, and so everything needs to be tied up by Friday morning.

That leaves just over two days, and more than 190 countries gathered in the conference hall can’t even settle on a draft text to argue over.

The parties seem to have divided into three factions – although officially it is rich vs poor, as developing countries say they are united.

In reality, developed countries responsible for most emissions currently in the atmosphere are facing down the major developing countries expected to produce the majority of emissions in coming decades.

Cap and trade not the solution, climate scientist says

Fighting climate change is a huge investment opportunity but not through emissions trading and investors should instead put their money into renewables which will power the economy in the future, says a leading environmental scientist and cap and trade expert.

As yesterday’s walkout by African nations showed, getting anyone to agree on anything at the U.N. Climate Conference is easier said than done. The use of markets to address pollution is no different. Supporters of cap and trade — the system which allows companies or groups who meet their emissions targets to sell their remaining carbon credits — are out in force, but so are the groups who say the scheme prevents less responsible companies from breaking their bad habits.

Scientist Payal Parekh, from International Rivers, has come to Copenhagen to lobby on the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to highlight the failures of the cap and trade system. She said: “We are working here to ensure that we get ambitious reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases so that we can make a smooth and efficient transition to a clean and green economy. This means that we really need to set up a system that rewards innovators as opposed to allowing dirty industries to continue polluting.

Solar car “crashes” at end of round the world trip

Luckily for my colleague, photographer Kacper Pempel, this solar powered “taxi” was not going very fast when it smashed through a wall of polystyrene at the end of a 52,000 km trip around the world.

It stopped pretty much in the debris of the makeshift wall after the deliberate “crash” marking the finish outside the venue of Dec. 1-12 U.N. climate talks in Poland. (Click here for a story)

Driver Louis Palmer, a Swiss teacher (in blue, lower right), has driven through 38 nations over 17 months, the first time a solar-powered car has gone round the world. He ended the final stretch at U.N. climate talks with Yvo de Boer, the head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat as a passenger.