Tag: Europe

Let’s Count the Ways the Polish Government Earned The Fossil of the Day, while the Polish People Deserve Only Rays

      
Photo Credit: David Tong, Adopt A Negotiator

The list of reasons to award Poland as the first place fossil is probably the longest any country has ever earned. 

Reason 1: Continuously opposing the European Union from taking more ambitious climate action

Reason 2: Co-hosting a Coal Summit coinciding with the COP but not organizing any debate on renewable energy opportunities

Reason 3: Inviting polluting companies that openly oppose an ambitious climate action to sponsor the COP

Reason 4: Allowing the dirty side of European industry, Business Europe, to represent the business voice at the pre-COP

Reason 5: Writing mad postings on the official COP19 website about the economic opportunities the melting Arctic will bring as well as chasing the “pirates, ecologists and terrorists” on the sea

Reason 6: Presenting delegates with standard climate denialist rhetoric through their mobile device app, repeating the old chestnut that “climate changes are natural phenomena, which occured (sic) many times on Earth”.

Poland, it is not ok to misuse your position as a COP President to advance your own coal agenda. Stop it.

Ray of the Day for the Renewable Energy Loving Polish People

The Polish government is holding the world back and acting as the PR department of the coal industry.

But the Polish people want to grasp a renewable future, not be stuck in a coal-based past. No less than 89% of Polish citizens want more energy to come from renewable sources and more than two-thirds of Polish people (70%) want an energy policy that gives support to renewables. 73% of Polish people want Poland to be more involved in global actions to prevent the negative effects of climate change. 

With this ray we say: Thank you, Poles, for supporting a future without climate chaos. It is about time that Prime Minister Tusk and his government listen to their people and go for an energy revolution based on energy efficiency and renewables. All renewable power to the Polish people.

 

About CAN: The Climate Action Network (CAN) is a worldwide network of over 850 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in more than 100 working to promote government and individual action to limit human0induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels. www.climatenetwork.org 

About the fossils: The Fossil of the Day awards were first presented at the climate talks in 1999, in Bonn, initiated by the German NGO Forum. During United Nations climate change negotiations (www.unfccc.int), members of the Climate Action Network (CAN), vote for countries judged to have done their 'best' to block progress in the negotiations in the last days of talks.

About the rays: CAN, gives out the 'Ray of The Day' award to the countries who are a ray of hope over the past days of negotiations at the UN climate change conference. This ‘Ray of Solidarity’ is in the same spirit.

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Typhoon tragedy shines light on need for action at Warsaw climate negotiations

[Warsaw – Poland] – November 11, 2013: The major UN climate negotiations of the year opened today against a backdrop of tragedy with more than 10,000 people expected to have been killed in the most extreme Typhoon to have ever hit the Philippines.

According to the IPCC, such typhoons are expected to become more frequent and more extreme if the climate continues to change.

Speaking at the Climate Action Network opening press conference, Dr Alicia Ilaga from the Filipino delegation, said the devastation caused by the Typhoon highlighted how important it was that these talks agree to establish an mechanism in the UN to deal with the loss and damage caused by climate change.

“I bleed for my country, I bleed for my people who have been buried and washed away,” Dr Ilaga said. “We are investing in renewable energy, we are trying to adapt, but we cannot bear this burden on our own.”

Climate change is caused by the burning of fossil fuels. That industry is having unprecedented access to these negotiations at the behest of the coal-dependent Polish Government, through corporate sponsorship and the  Coal and Climate Summit being held next week.

Julia Michalak EU policy officer from CAN Europe said that if the Polish Government wanted to be taken seriously on the international stage, it needed to prove it deserved to host this year’s climate negotiations.

“The Polish Government can show it cares about future generations by abandoning plans to build new coal mines, ceasing to block EU climate action including discussions around an ambitious 2030 carbon pollution reduction target,” Michalak said.

While the tragedy of the Philippines disaster cast a pall over the opening of the climate negotiations in Warsaw, it should give parties a wakeup call to come up with concrete steps to urgently reduce carbon pollution and provide funds for poorer countries to take their own climate actions.

“The Polish government’s flagrant fossil fuel agenda should not deter parties from pushing hard for positive outcomes in Warsaw. This is no time for low expectations. We expect vision and leadership on the path to Paris in 2015,” said Tasneem Essop, WWF Head of Delegation to COP19.

ON DEMAND WEBCAST of PRESS CONFERENCE AVAILABLE HERE: http://unfccc4.meta-fusion.com/kongresse/cop19/templ/play.php?id_kongres...

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Contact:
For more information or for one-on-one interviews with NGO experts, please contact Climate Action Network International’s communications coordinator Ria Voorhaar on +49 (0) 157 317 35568 or rvoorhaar@climatenetwork.org.

Climate Action Network (CAN) is the world’s largest network of civil society organizations working together to promote government action to address the climate crisis, with more than 850 members in over 100 countries.
Climate Action Network-International

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Perplexing Poland

Has the Polish Government been taken over by the Yes Men? (That would be the somewhat erratic outfit with a penchant for highlighting the superficial and often self-serving follies of leading institutions and firms).  ECO asks this only rhetorically, of course -- at times the back and forth made our eyes cross.  But let us explain.

There was that somewhat mad posting a few weeks ago on the official COP19 website about the economic opportunities that the Arctic ice melt would bring while chasing pirates, ecologists and terrorists off the seas.  
The Yes Men stepped up to claim credit, sort of.  The whole thing left everyone quite perplexes, including the Polish government.

But then the story got better (or really, worse). Check out the official COP iPhone application. It actually greets you with this opening message: ‘Climate changes are natural phenomena, which occurred already many times on earth’. So why worry, huh?! ECO has been wondering whether an accompanying ringtone is coming, maybe “Que sera, sera”…

Inviting 12 fossil industry firms to sponsor the COP, including only the anti-climate lobby Business Europe in the pre-COP and – to top the madness, actually organizing a global coal summit in Warsaw alongside the COP, complete with a “Warsaw Communiqué ”?
All this would push the envelope even for the Yes Men.

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Why when it comes to energy issues, Warsaw is closer to Washington than to Brussels– and what we can expect from the Warsaw COP19 climate summit

http://blog.gmfus.org/2013/08/09/why-when-it-comes-to-energy-issues-warsaw-is-closer-to-washington-than-to-brussels-and-what-we-can-expect-from-the-warsaw-cop19-climate-summit/

 

In November this year the next global summit dedicated to climate change will start in Warsaw. Once again Poland will chair the global climate negotiations. What is to be expected?

Difficult situation for global negotiations

In 2013 the climate is not well. Last year global CO2 emissions rose by another 1.4 per cent.  According to scientists the effects of climate change will be more severe than expected.  Most probably the temperature increase will be as high as five degrees Celsius and it will not be possible to curb the increase within the previously estimated two degrees Celsius.

Recently only a few countries managed to reduce emissions.  The United States was an exception in that it reduced emissions by 10 % — ironic considering it is the only country of the climate change convention which did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Admittedly Europe did reduce emissions by about 2.5 % cent in 2012, but there is no avoiding the fact that this was partially due to the financial crisis.

When the energy and climate package was adopted in Brussels in 2008 — assuming a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions, 20 % share of renewable energy and a 20 % increase in energy efficiency by 2020 — Europe was convinced that it should be the champion of climate protection and that by setting a good example it would entice the rest to follow.  This, however, did not happen. Five years have elapsed since that time – and while no one is going back on those decisions, enthusiasm has subsided.  Ever more often, instead of discussions of long term climate change strategies among European politicians, we see them talking numbers. The European recession is not releasing its grip and questions regarding energy prices are being posed more often — particularly as the United States is going through a gas revolution and the price of that resource is almost three times less than in Europe.  There is a large probability that a few years down the line American gas will make an appearance in Europe, significantly changing the energy map of the Old Continent.

The state of play in Poland and the US

The question is: what role can Poland play as the host of the global climate summit?

For years Warsaw has been participating in all UN and EU political projects in unison, delivering on its promises of emission reductions – which cannot be said of all the EU countries.

Now, however, as one of the three most coal dependent countries in the world, Poland is not supporting an increase in emission reduction targets in Europe — which Brussels is vying for — unless there is progress on the global forum.

Even if Poland on the UN level is presenting the common EU position, in recent years Warsaw seems closer to Washington than to Brussels when it comes to climate and energy policies. The keys to understanding this problem are the disproportionate allocation of costs for this low emission transformation and the varied levels of returns in the EU. The struggle for economic competitiveness is continuing in the background whilst the environment, unfortunately for many European Union member states, has taken on a secondary role.

After 2008, Polish politicians are finding it difficult to explain to Polish society why it is necessary to follow the European climate policy in the face of the fact that it is not yielding the expected emission reduction results and why is it that Poland, according the European Commission calculations, is to pay the most out of the EU countries.  Even if the goal of European climate policy is more than just a reduction of emissions, an increase in energy security, innovation, and the generation of funds for the modernization of the industrial sector, the actions of the European Commission are still seen as unfavorable for the Polish economy and without benefit to the environment.

There is no chance of a fundamental change in the direction of climate policy before 2017 in the United States.  However, President Obama in his speech on 25th of June announced new comprehensive program for tackling climate change and is going to use his executive powers to introduce more restrictive environmental protection standards through various regulations – a proof that if the big political framework doesn’t work, the bottom up approach might offer a solution to the problem. Nevertheless there is also a chance that the gas revolution will influence the United States to change its position as there is no reason for such determined resistance to reducing targets considering the emission levels are the lowest in 20 years.

Light at the end of the tunnel?

As is evident, significant progress on the subject of a global agreement with legally binding targets cannot be expected in the near future. Therefore the question of how to protect the climate if reduction targets are not viable has to be asked.

Both the United States as well as Poland prefer definite climate protection programs. This is called a framework for various approaches at the global negotiations forum. As an example, such activities could include increasing energy efficiency in buildings, transportation and industry.  Such actions will certainly be backed by many countries, including the United States and Poland. The development of dispersed generation is a worthy cause as it is beneficial to local communities and uses renewable energy. The European Union, adopting this new perspective, earmarked 20 per cent of its budget for such efforts.

Another significant issue involves the withdrawal of harmful fossil fuel subventions as discussed by the International Energy Agency in its last report of June 2013. Fossil fuel subsidies paint a false picture in discussions on the costs of energy — and additionally do not take into consideration the external costs of burning coal and other fossil fuels, standing in the way of the development of renewable and clean sources of energy. Even if we accept that the process of moving away from fossil fuels will last many years, the entire energy sector is in need of systematic changes.

The old principle of “thinking global, acting local” is an apt description of climate negotiations. Therefore in Warsaw, we must put more emphasis on definite actions supporting climate protection.

Let’s do more and talk less — before it really is too late.

Joanna Mackowiak Pandera, Head of the Market Development Department, Management Team Poland for  DONG Energy, was a Spring 2013 European Marshall Memorial Fellow.

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Countries Must Commit at Warsaw to put numbers on the table in 2014

Friday, June 14, Bonn – Germany:  Climate Action Network called for nations to agree a 2014 deadline for releasing their new carbon pollution reductions pledges before the close of the main climate talks in Warsaw this November.

The call came as the latest round of talks closed in Bonn today having made incremental progress on the shape of a comprehensive climate deal to be agreed in 2015.  But Greenpeace UK political advisor Ruth Davis said a deadline for pledges was vital for the negotiations to remain on track.

“This deadline is needed partly to give enough time to assess the pledges against the latest climate science, and partly so that countries can compare their efforts,” Davis said. “Having enough time to negotiate these targets is vital to avoiding the kind of last minute scramble that made the 2009 Copenhagen summit such a disaster.”

These negotiations were held against a backdrop of the worst-on-record flooding in Eastern Europe and extreme weather in the US. German and New York officials stated this week that they would spend billions fortifying their cities against future extreme weather, showing that the costs of climate change are already being tallied in rich countries as well as poor.  

With climate change already impacting millions across the world, the Climate Action Tracker initiative said this week current pledges put the world on track for 4 degree C warming. This would result in devastating impacts for the planet and its people.

With that in mind, Lina Li, from Greenovation Hub in Beijing, said the Bonn talks failed to make major progress on an international mechanism to cover the loss and damage caused to communities by the effects of climate change. Also missing in action was substantial progress on the review  which would assess whether the agreed global temperature limit of 2 degrees Celsius was adequate.

Areas for substantial discussion in Warsaw include the thread that pulls the climate negotiations together: financial support for developing countries to adopt a low carbon development strategy that reduces emissions and helps them adapt to climate impacts. 

“While most countries have shown a cooperative spirit in the talks so far this year, the Warsaw negotiations will be a test of whether this can be maintained as we move towards more substantial discussions,” Li said.

Dorota Zawadzka-Stępniak, from WWF Poland, said the Polish government needed to invite the holders of the purse strings - finance ministers - to Warsaw to discuss real commitments to increasing financial pledges.

“For the Polish presidency to be a success, Poland must stop blocking enhanced climate action in the EU and adopt a progressive attitude towards its domestic climate and energy policy,” Zawadzka-Stępniak said. “We need to embrace a low carbon pathway and make a strategic shift in the Polish energy system in order to be a credible partner in the negotiations.”  

Contact:

Ria Voorhaar
International Communications Coordinator
Climate Action Network – International
mobile: +49 157 3173 5568

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Poles Apart

 

Poland is an extraordinary country. It has overcome many years of oppression and poverty to transform itself into a significant economic powerhouse and a proactive European player on diplomacy.

But it appears the Polish government is willing to risk their status as rising international star, and allow its politics to be captured by high carbon incumbents.

If the Polish government continues to pursue this position, it is quite likely that the EU will lose patience, and a diplomatic backlash is quite possible. This will result in Poland losing its say to shape the future of Europe’s energy regime, widening the gap between its ageing and inefficient energy infrastructure and a more dynamic, smarter and innovative power system across other EU countries.

ECO wonders if the Polish government is kicking itself in deciding to put their names forward for the Presidency of COP19 later on this year. Warsaw will not be a Poznan. Back in 2008, the Poles were still only agitators as opposed to today’s outright blockers of the EU’s energy and climate ambitions. Poznan was a low-key COP, unlike Warsaw, which should agree on the outlines of an Equity Reference Framework for the post-2020 deal; outline further efforts on public finance (with the engagement of Finance Ministers); close the pre-2020 mitigation gap; affirm the political significance of the Loss and Damage debate and set in place a series of processes to deliver a 2015 agreement.

Warsaw will be a high profile event. But Poland’s diplomatic strategy is flawed – they are invisible, and there is an emerging disquiet amongst many Parties and observers if they were the right choice. Among those are established voices such as Raul Estrada-Oyuela, a legend to those of us in the climate and diplomatic arena, who unforgettably locked delegates in the room in Kyoto to hammer out the subsequent protocol, who calls Poland’s ability to host such an important event into question, based on the Polish SBI chair’s failure to resolve this issue. (Link to Estrada’s letter here http://bit.ly/estrada-oyuela)

What is needed from the Polish government is not just to be a rising star, but a sophisticated diplomatic actor that understands how to build consensus around ambitious action climate change. An actor who has a more mature and deeper understanding of its national interest. An actor who understands that a reliance on coal undermines the long term prosperity of its own people, and recognises that modernising its economy is essential if it is to compete in a globalised world.   Instead, what we have is a government that plans to build new coal fired power plants and open new lignite reserves, which recent studies state have the worst implications upon health within the EU, and that also displace 20,000 people.  Such aggressive coal expansion, and its persistent objections to greater European ambition, cannot be reconciled with its desire to be an international player in the run up to 2015.

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HFCs: Finally Phasing Out One Man-Made Problem?

 

ECO was pleased to wake up Sunday to the news that Presidents Obama and Xi had agreed to work together to combat climate change by phasing down the super greenhouse gases, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), under the Montreal Protocol. An agreement under Montreal could prevent emissions of 100 billion tonnes CO2e by 2050. First that great party on Saturday, and then this?!

For a while now, the EU has been busy pushing a COP decision at Warsaw that will urge Parties to begin this exact same process under the Montreal Protocol, and they are clearly excited to have China and the US in agreement. As Connie Hedegaard tweeted Saturday, “Welcome on board!” All eyes are now on the next intersessional meeting of the Montreal Protocol happening in a few weeks, hoping it will turn this political arrangement into concrete, short-term action, which must not stop at phasing down, but start phasing out with appropriate finance and technology support to developing countries.

HFCs are human-manufactured chemicals, primarily used in refrigeration, air conditioning and foam blowing, which were commercialised to replace the high-Global Warming Potential, ozone depleting, human manufactured chemicals phased out by the Montreal Protocol over the past 25 years. Yet, HFCs are also extremely harmful to the climate, with global warming potentials much higher than carbon dioxide. Fortunately, commercially available, climate friendly natural alternatives exist for most of their uses, and developed countries should ensure that these are provided to developing countries at an affordable cost to enable them to take a faster phase in.

Under the Montreal Protocol, all 197 Parties have accepted firm reduction commitments. These commitments are based on the legal principle of common but differentiated responsibilities that incorporates a grace period for developing countries and financial and technology transfer support. This allows them to implement mandated phase-out schedules after developed countries, in recognition of developed countries’ larger historical contribution to ozone depletion and developing countries’ right to continued growth and development. In addition, the Montreal Protocol has financially supported the phase-out of ozone depleting substances in developing countries through developed country contributions administered by the Multilateral Fund (MLF).

On Monday, the EU held a side event to discuss how to deliver progress on HFCs in practical terms. A far cry from some of the more theoretical debates happening elsewhere, this took a packed room through a demonstration of what the Montreal Protocol has achieved in terms of climate mitigation and technology transfer. A whopping 220 Gt CO2e have been avoided since the early 1990s alone, with the $3 billion channelled through the MLF. The message came across loud and clear: if you’re looking for bang for your buck, look no further than the Montreal Protocol. This led more than one participant to ask why we’re not using the tried and tested mechanisms already in place to get rid of these super greenhouse gases.

ECO wonders the same thing, and hopes Parties will stop their politics and get to work. ECO also calls upon developed countries to ensure that support is provided to financial and technology transfer to ensure these technologies are available at affordable costs to developing countries, and encourages a faster phase out to better technologies.

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EU Already at 27% below 1990 – Time for Merkel, Hollande and Cameron to Wake Up

 

ECO is amused by the blind belief in carbon markets the European Union maintains, while its own emission trading scheme has become a zombie. In the ADP, EU has argued that “new market mechanisms will deliver ambition”. Really? At home, Europe’s own emission trading is currently blocking ambition, and in fact encouraging a shift from gas to coal, as the emission allowance prices have crashed.

The reality is that demand for carbon market units is at an all-time low. Current prices are looming at around 0.4 Euro for Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) offset credits and at around 4 Euros for European allowances. The EU flagship policy is close to dead due to the reluctance of German Chancellor Merkel to fight for her legacy as a “climate chancellor”. This has allowed the conservatives in the European Parliament to block even the back loading of EU ETS (EU jargon for a temporary, short-term fix to the ETS).

Sandbag, famous for its brilliant carbon market analysis, estimated in its blog yesterday that in 2012 Europe's emissions fell 27% below 1990 levels, once offsets surrendered into the EU ETS are factored in. This renders EU’s 20% by 2020 target irrelevant, and means that the EU’s ETS will remain useless in the foreseeable future. This is very unfortunate, not only for EU’s own climate investments (which now lack an incentive) but also for climate finance, because low price and low demand means low revenues.

The EU always wanted to link up with emission trading schemes in China, California and the like. But now the question is, why would they link up with the EU, when all EU has to offer is a zombie market with no demand? Without a much more rigid climate target, or CO2 taxes that guarantee a minimum price for the pollution allowances, the market approach plays into the hands of those who want to invest in fossil fuels.

ECO wonders how Merkel, Tusk, Hollande and Cameron can explain their inaction to the citizens of Europe, who have been seriously affected by the unprecedented heavy rainfalls and consecutive flooding. Due to the lobby pressure of a few industries, the lives, homes and livelihoods of Europeans will be further put at risk.

But European leaders have a chance to fix it. This autumn, the European Commission will present a proposal for new 2030 climate and energy targets, and the time for the European leaders to make decisions is in March 2014. The COP in Warsaw will be the first litmus test for Tusk, Merkel (yes, there is an election before...), Hollande and Cameron on whether Europe will be able to phase out any investment into new, coal fired power plants, put renewable energies at the forefront of energy supply (and not catastrophic, highly risky nukes) and take energy efficiency seriously. The impact on the UN talks could be significant.

Europe will host two COPs within the next two and a half years. They have a particular responsibility to lead us to a good treaty in 2015. Continuing “business as usual” would mean putting the livelihood of millions of European (and other) citizens at risk.

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How Much Climate Finance Will Developed Countries Provide in 2013 and Beyond?

 

Based on pledges/statements made in UNFCCC…

Finland, France, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the UK were first off the blocks in making financial pledges in Doha.  This was welcome. But the adequacy and the clarity of these pledges vary significantly and need to be pinned down.

And then there’s the rest…

No developed country Party should be coming back to this process empty handed! ALL developed countries need to urgently commit to what climate finance they will provide in 2013 and beyond, in a way that is transparent, comparable and makes clear how finance is new and additional.

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