Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Fortunately 95% of the march was not like this scene.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
An informal meeting between President Obama, the Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen and 28 other heads of state, mostly from the EU but also including Japan, India and Russia was scheduled spontaneously this morning to produce a last-minute negotiating text. According to news reports the resulting “Copenhagen Accord” stipulates that parties “ought” to limit the rise of global mean temperature to 2 degrees, without defining concrete emissions reductions targets for developed countries. Commitments for developing country mitigation actions are equally not included. However, the annexes of the document provide room for filling in the parties’ pledges later. In terms of financing, the draft mentions the provision of $30bn up to 2012 and up to$100bn in climate aid by 2020. The timeline for finalizing an ultimate agreement is extended to COP 16 in Mexico City and it is said that negotiations should continue under both the Kyoto and the Convention track. The latest news reports however claim that even the 2010 deadline has now been removed, leaving the future of the international negotiations in the open.
From what is known right now, the “Copenhagen Accord” can be considered nothing else than a rough 3-page sketch out of the smallest common denominator. Except for financing, none of the “crunch” issues seems to be resolved which raises the question of what has actually been achieved over the last 10 days. It is therefore questionable whether the now officially announced extension of the talks until Sunday night will help to regain what has been lost already.
So what we can hope for now? The easiest outcome would be for governments settle for the upper ends of the emission reduction ranges they unilaterally announced in the run up to the summit. The EU, for example, could increase its target from 20 to 30 percent by 2020, and Japan’s goal as well is still contingent on the level of ambition displayed by other developed countries. However, for this to happen, someone would have to make a first move. Crucially the US would need to offer more than its percent reduction target on 2005 levels. But President Obama effectively dashed this prospect in his speech this afternoon - he did not offer any further emissions cuts or financing commitments, nor did he directly address the US Senate to push for the passing of strong domestic legislation. Instead, he boiled down international climate politics to a simple formula consisting of mitigation, transparency and financing – not that helpful really given that everyone knew this already.
At this stage the most likely outcome is what we suggested would happen going into the talks. There will effectively be no negotiated outcome. Parties will voluntary commit to unilateral targets which are not contingent on what other countries do. The EU, US, Japan and Australia have all proposed unilateral absolute targets for 2020 (all but the EU require the passage of domestic legislation) and China and India have proposed (largely business as usual) energy intensity targets. It now seems clear that China and India simply will not compromise their growth, even with the injection of substantial money from the developed world, and without this compromise the US will not budge from its unilateral position. And without the US it is very difficult for the EU, Australia and Japan to go further. Stalemate.
Friday, December 18, 2009
US President Barack Obama said an "unprecedented breakthrough" had been reached among day-long meetings involving about two dozen presidents and prime ministers gathered in Copenhagen.
Obama admitted the so-called Copenhagen Accord did not go far enough, but characterised its provisions as "meaningful," arguing they provided a tool for ratcheting up action on greenhouse gases.
But hours after Obama and other key leaders flew home, delegates from 194 nations gathered to approve the text and met a raucous response from several developing states that resented not being part of the closed-door discussions.
Venezuela's representative Claudia Salerno Caldera held up what appeared to be a bloody palm, saying that she had cut her hand in an effort to gain the attention of conference chair Denmark.
"You are going to endorse this coup d'etat against the United Nations," she said as an all-night session approached dawn on its 13th day.
Ian Fry of Tuvalu, a tiny Pacific island whose very existence is threatened by climate change, said the agreement amounted to Biblical betrayal and vowed to defeat it.Related article: Climate deal 'worst in history': G77
"It looks like we are being offered 30 pieces of silver to betray our people and our future," he said to applause in the chamber.
The agreement set a commitment to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), but did not spell out the important stepping stones -- global emissions targets for 2020 or 2050 -- for getting there.
Nor did it spell out a year by which emissions should peak, a demand made by rich countries that was fiercely opposed by China, or insist on tough compliance mechanisms to ensure nations honoured their promises.
Climate Deal Announced, but Falls Short of Expectations
climate change deal on Friday that the Obama administration called “meaningful” but that falls short of even the modest expectations for the summit meeting here.
The agreement still needs to be approved by the 193 nations gathered here.
The accord addresses many of the issues that leaders came here to settle — and if signed, will represent an unprecedented effort by the nations of the world to take concerted steps to address global warming.
But the agreement appeared to leave many of the participants unhappy.
Even an Obama administration official conceded, “It is not sufficient to combat the threat of climate change, but it’s an important first step.”
“No country is entirely satisfied with each element,” the administration’s statement said, “but this is a meaningful and historic step forward and a foundation from which to make further progress.”
The statement added, “We thank the emerging economies for their voluntary actions and especially appreciate the work and leadership of the Europeans in this effort.”
But many of those emerging economies are likely to express displeasure. Europeans said the deal does not require enough of the United States, China and other major emitters and could put European industries at a competitive disadvantage because the European Union is already subject to a carbon emissions constraint program.
The accord drops the expected goal of concluding a binding international treaty by the end of 2010, which leaves the implementation of its provisions uncertain. It is likely to undergo many months, perhaps years, of additional negotiation before it emerges in any internationally enforceable form.
“We entered this negotiation at a time when there were significant differences between countries,” the American official said.
“Developed and developing countries have now agreed to listing their national actions and commitments, a finance mechanism, to set a mitigation target of two degrees Celsius and to provide information on the implementation of their actions through national communications, with provisions for international consultations and analysis under clearly defined guidelines,” the official said.
The deal came after a dramatic moment in which Mr. Obama burst into a meeting of the Chinese, Indian and Brazilian leaders, according to senior administration officials. Chinese protocol officers protested, and Mr. Obama said he did not want them negotiating in secret.
The intrusion led to new talks that cemented key terms of the deal, American officials said.
Sergio Serra, Brazil’s senior climate negotiator here, confirmed that Mr. Obama had “joined” a meeting of Brazilian, Indian, Chinese and other officials, although he did not say that Mr. Obama walked in uninvited.
“After several discussions had taken place they were joined by President Barack Obama,” Mr. Serra said. “Several important decisions were taken — not a few due to Brazilian mediation — that we hope will bring a result, if not what we expected, that may be a way of salvaging something and pave the way to another meeting or series of meetings to get the full result of this proceeding.”
President Obama announced that an agreement had been reached but he left Copenhagen before the assembled 193 nations could study or vote on the accord. Aides said he left to get to Washington ahead of a major snowstorm headed toward the capital.
The agreement apparently grew out of a document that was being edited by high-ranking officials from some two dozen countries throughout the day. But many specifics that were included in earlier versions were excised in the document left on the table when Mr. Obama made his announcement, and many parties considered it at best a work in progress.
According to a senior Obama administration official the United States, China, India and South Africa have reached a "meaningful agreement" on climate change Friday evening. Details are not clear what this means but at the verge of collapse....a deal of any meaning between these players is big news. Stay tuned....
COP15 prepares for overtime
The climate talks will probably go on into the weekend.
"The secretary-general of the UN has asked people not to leave tonight," European Union Environment Commissioner Stavros Dima told Reuters.
He said he was confident that leaders would eventually reach a deal.
"I cannot imagine 120 leaders going back to their countries with empty hands. Everyone expressed commitment to fight climate change. OK, do it," he said.
Money, power and greed have once again taken precedent to future generations.
We will not give up the fight but after reading the leaked draft I'd be lying if I didn't admit that the air has been sucked out of my lungs. Tomorrow is a different day but this is very sad to watch.
With hope that this ultimately will wake up and unite the youth of the world for global action.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
session yesterday. Great conversation about the success of their bike
share program and the stumbling blocks it faced. They estimate that
it has reduced traffic in the town center by 25% including the
increased private bike use. We spoke of a Austin/Copenhagen
sustainable municipal policy mtg.... Hoping Mayor Leffingwell would be
in to hosting such an event. We have a lot that we could learn from
Europe on such things.
Sent from my iPhone
Bottom-line is that we are coming down to the wire and we should be much further along. The heads of state begin to arrive tomorrow so lets hope that the momentum picks back up.
If you'd like a very good glimpse of where the tension between the large developed countries and the smaller vulnerable nations is rooted, this response to an early plea from Papa New Guinea captures the dynamic well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDcFHonH9Uk
Send some positive vibes towards Copenhagen.....future generations are relying on success in the present.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
covering serious policy, global action and climate impact in educated
detail while the American Media provides 24 hour coverage of the
Tiger Woods scandal and ginning false climate controversy. The fossil
fuel PR firms must be thrilled at the success they are having in
deploying corporate media distraction 'news'. Over 100,000 people
from around the world converged in a peaceful climate solidarity march
yesterday and barely a footnote in the news.... instead the heasline
is a story about a few hooligans that got arrested.
The march was great and full of youthful energy for climate action....
Desmond Tutu led the final mile.
Sent from my iPhone
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Attended an amazing summit event from indigineous peoples representatives from around the world. Very impassioned pleas from native peoples to deal with the climate shifts that they are dealing with in real time. Had some great photos and video but you will just have to take my word for it now....powerful stuff to see the Human face of climate change and those who will be most directly effected in the short term.....not many dry eyes.
Expect some protests today as many feel the commitment is not strong enough to stave off an already serious climatic trajectory.
Total bummer but life goes on....and in the context of negotiating the worlds climate commitment, it ain't nuthin. Still have that handy device called an iphone so will try to post from it and I should be able to get to an internet cafe soon enough.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Despite the international scientific community’s consensus on climate change, a very small band of critics continues to deny that climate change exists or that humans are causing it. Widely known as climate change “skeptics” or "deniers", these individuals are generally not climate scientists and do not debate the science with the climate scientists directly – for example, by publishing in peer-reviewed scientific journals or participating in international conferences on climate science. Instead, they focus their attention on the media, the general public, and policy makers with the goal of delaying action on climate change.
Not surprisingly, the skeptics have received significant funding from coal and oil companies, including ExxonMobil. They also have well-documented connections with public relations firms that have set up industry-funded lobby groups to - in the words of one leaked memo - "reposition global warming as theory (not fact)."
Over the years, the skeptics have employed a wide range of arguments against taking action on climate change - some of which actually contradict each other. For example, they have claimed that:
Climate change is not occurring
- The global climate is actually getting colder
- The global climate is getting warmer, but not because of human activities
- The global climate is getting warmer, in part because of human activities, but this will create greater benefits than costs
- The global climate is getting warmer, in part because of human activities, but the impacts are not sufficient to require any policy response
To gain an understanding of the level of scientific consensus on climate change, a recent study examined every article on climate change published in peer-reviewed scientific journals over a 10-year period. Of the 928 articles on climate change the authors found, not one of them disagreed with the consensus position that climate change is happening or is human-induced.
These findings contrast dramatically with the popular media's reporting on climate change. One recent study analyzed coverage of climate change in four influential American newspapers (New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, and Wall Street Journal) over a 14-year period. It found that more than half of the articles discussing climate change gave equal weight to the scientifically discredited views of the skeptics.
This discrepancy is largely due to the media’s drive for balance in reporting. Journalists are trained to identify one position on any issue, and then seek out a conflicting position, providing both sides with roughly equal attention. Unfortunately, the “balance” of the different views within the media does not always correspond with the actual prevalence of each view within society, and can result in unintended bias. This has been the case with reporting on climate change, and as a result, many people believe that climate change is still being debated by scientists when in fact it is not.
While some level of debate is of course useful when looking at major social problems, eventually society needs to move on and actually address the issue. To do nothing about the problem of climate change is akin to letting a fire burn down a building because the precise temperature of the flames is unknown, or to not address the problem of smoking because one or two doctors still claim that it does not cause lung cancer. As the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) acknowledges, a lack of full scientific certainty about some aspects of climate change is not a reason for delaying an immediate response that will, at a reasonable cost, prevent dangerous consequences in the climate system.
"ExxonMobil has manufactured uncertainty about the human causes of global warming just as tobacco companies denied their product caused lung cancer," said Alden Meyer, the Union of Concerned Scientists' Director of Strategy & Policy. "A modest but effective investment has allowed the oil giant to fuel doubt about global warming to delay government action just as Big Tobacco did for over 40 years."
Anyone interested in looking beyond the FoxNews headline on the so called 'climate gate' will see the clear fingerprints of the fossil fuel industry playing the same PR games and attempting to cloud science with propaganda. The US corporate media has dutifully pushed a false controversy in the run-up to the COP summit. Fortunately it seems most folks are trusting the world scientists over Rush Limbaugh.
There is no conspiracy theory here, it's quite simple and maniacally logical. The multi-billion dollar oil/coal industry profit-model is entirely built by taking fossilized carbon out of the ground and putting it in the sky. Thus some have decided their best business strategy is to do everything they can to disrupt efforts to reduce fossil carbon based emissions.....even if it means putting quarterly profits ahead of climatic stability. Corporate media is the natural conduit for that campaign.
Not all of the energy companies are digging in to a fossil-based energy future but unfortunately the ones with the most money and political influence are. Historically, they are quite effective at such campaigns while the scientists are simply not built for spin-wars. This time however, much of the public is not biting on the same tactics that have worked in the past. Sunshine is great disinfectant...let's keep a bright light on science and sensibility. Let the spin burn-off.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Free bicycles huge success at COP15
Delegates choose CO-neutral transport to get around in Copenhagen.
“We want to give delegates the chance to experience the Danish way of riding bikes no matter what the weather conditions are. Actually, delegates are very happy to take the bikes to their hotels and to meetings in the city,” says Henrik Smedegaard Mortensen from Bicikeli.
Over the next week or so my goal is to capture some of the images and scenes outside of the formal proceedings (which are well covered). It is the Human face of climate change that reminds us that this is more than just a political convergence.