Environment Forum

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.

“Cap and trade favours dirty industries as opposed to innovators. The reasons for this are that in cap and trade systems that are up and running, most notably in the European Union, polluters are given rights to continue their dirty habits and there are also loopholes such as offsets which allow them to not have to make their emissions reductions at home but instead push them off on to developing countries.”

Proponents of the buying and selling of carbon credits believe that it is vital world leaders reach a deal on emissions targets by the end of the Copenhagen Conference. The head of the Asian Development Bank, Haruhiko Kuroda, recently told Reuters that failure to reach a deal could cause the collapse of the carbon market.

from Mario Di Simine:

Change must start from grassroots, Schwarzenegger tells COP15

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The COP15 conference on climate change will be a success even if no deal comes out of it, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said on Tuesday in Copenhagen.

“It depends on what your definition of a deal is,” Schwarzenegger told the media. “The important thing is to move the agenda forward.”

The governor is in Copenhagen to participate in a number of events on the sidelines of the main conference. Before meeting with the media, Schwarzenegger delivered a speech to an audience of mostly non-governmental organization members on California’s climate change efforts and the important of leading from the grassroots level.

What can ordinary people do to slow climate change?

(Updates with comments from Knut Alfsen of the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research, Oslo (CICERO))

Today’s expert panel discusses the question, “What can ordinary people do to slow climate change?”

Join the discussion and let us know what you think.

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Gidon Eshel, physics professor at Bard College:

What can ordinary people do to slow climate change? A lot.

Which is extremely important as it appears increasingly unlikely that Obama the president will deliver  what Obama the candidate promised.

from Mario Di Simine:

Climate costs up front worth gains later, EBA chief says

Fiona Wain photoMany negotiators and large industry groups at the COP15 climate conference in Copenhagen argue that climate action is a question of cost, but the price paid up front is worth the savings later, says the chief executive of a leading business think tank.

The cost often referred to in talks is regarding initial capital expenditures, or capex, but climate change solutions should be compared with operational costs, which would be decreased, and they should also be compared with the collateral of damage avoided cost benefits, Fiona Wain, chief executive officer of Environment Business Australia (EBA), told Reuters.com in an interview.

"If you haven’t got pollution, if you haven’t got waste, if you haven’t got greenhouse gas emissions, that’s a significant lessening of the drain on the public purse in all countries," she said.

from Mario Di Simine:

Coke says green strategy will win business

Having an integrated clean technology strategy will be a big part of winning  business in the 21st century, a Coca-Cola executive told Reuters.com on Monday, and its investments in refrigeration will likely have the biggest impact on that strategy long-term.

The world's biggest soft drinks maker has hooked up with Greenpeace on an initiative to eliminate hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) -- greenhouse gases with a high warming effect -- from its refrigeration and cooling equipment by 2015, said Jeff Seabright, Coke's vice president for Environment & Water Resources.

“We have about 10 million pieces of equipment that run in 200 countries around the world every day, and although we’re only 1 percent of the commercial refrigeration market we have an opportunity to really lead on this,” he said.

from The Great Debate:

Climate skeptic: We are winning the science battle

- Dr. Fred Singer is the President of The Science & Environmental Policy Project and Professor Emeritus of environmental science at the University of Virginia. The views expressed are his own -

The International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) charter states that the organization’s purpose is to look for human induced climate change. The Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) does not have this problem. If we find support for human induced climate change, we say so. If we do not find support for human induced climate change, we say so. In fact, the first NIPCC report, of which I was a lead author, was called 'Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate'.

We see no evidence in the climate record that the increase in CO2, which is real, has any appreciable effect on the global temperature. IPCC relies heavily on the surface temperature data, which is distorted by a deletion of a number of surface stations. The 'best' stations were kept - the ones around temperature islands and by airports.

What about China?

(Updates with comments from Raymond Pierrehumbert, Knut Alfsen and Kim Carstensen)

HONGKONG-POLLUTION/

The world’s top emitter of greenhouse gases by geographical boundaries is China. A close second is the United States. Between the two great powers, they account for 40 percent of all carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels.

Heading into the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, the pressure was on for China to come up with a real plan for how it would scale back its record emissions.

from Mario Di Simine:

Video: Protests under way in Copenhagen

Demonstrators came out in force early Saturday morning as the sun broke through the clouds that have blanketed Copenhagen during the first week of COP15.  A huge march, with about 60,000 protesters expected, is planned for later in the day but smaller rallies are already under way as groups make their way to the main event -- the march to the Bella Center, host of the COP15 global climate conference.

Here are some video clips from one march, where protesters held aloft banners reading "Demand Climate Justice" and "Face Facts, Make Pacts". They want global leaders gathering in Copenhagen to commit to eliminating or at the very least radically reducing CO2 greenhouse gas emissions.

The silent revolution in energy efficiency

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

John Kemp

Current debates about cutting energy consumption and carbon emissions often carry a strong undercurrent of asceticism.

There is an almost missionary zeal to save the planet by reverting to a simpler and more satisfying past when energy consumption was lower (or at least encourage other people to make necessary sacrifices).

But the post-war experience of the United States and other industrialized economies suggests it is possible to combine rising living standards with the same or lower energy use.

Forget polar bears, who will save the prostitutes?

Among the many messages sent out by politicians during the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen, “Be sustainable — don’t buy sex” has to be one of the least expected. This was the advice circulated by Ritt Bjeregaard, the city’s mayor and a former EU Environment Commissioner, sent via postcard to all the hotels in the city to tell them to stamp down on conference-goers looking to patronise prostitutes on their premises.

Prostitution is legal in Denmark (though brothels and pimping are not), and sex workers had been expecting to do a roaring trade during the two-week conference.

Mayor Bjeregaard’s note sparked an angry response from the Sex Workers Interest Group, which pointed out that its members are not breaking the law and promised free sex to any attendees who produced one of the postcards along with their conference accreditation.

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