En esta Edición:
- ¿La Mitigación, cuándo es “significativa”?
- El drama de las agendas SBI & SBSTA
- ¡Este es nuestro hogar también!
- Avances en Adaptación, posibles en Bonn
- El Rayo del día
- Ludwig en Bonn
En esta Edición:
Ludwig went to the presentation of the IPCC on their renewables report and learned that renewable energy can provide all our current and future energy needs. While listening to the presentations of these smart scientists he also learned that in order to optimally use what nature offers us, we need governments to develop the right set of supportive policies. Ludwig was therefore very surprised when he opened his computer after this presentation and read about the Chinese government planning to cancel its subsidies for wind energy due to a complaint at the World Trade Organisation against this subsidy by the US government. Did the US government not yet receive a copy of the IPCC report? If not, Ludwig would be happy to give them his copy.
In his most recent State of the Union address, President Obama introduced the idea of “winning the future” to the American public. ECO welcomes this race, and humbly suggests a focus on climate policies could help him achieve this seemingly paradoxical goal. To win the race, the U.S. will need to actually join it. A recent Pew and Bloomberg New Energy Finance report shows that the U.S. has slipped down to number three in private investment in clean energy development, such as small-scale solar installations, launching Germany into the number two spot. Until 2008, the U.S. had held the top spot, a spot now firmly held by China. Globally, 2010 clean energy finance and investments grew by 30 percent to a record $243 billion.
Why is the U.S. competitive position ‘deteriorating’, ECO wonders?
The report concludes that climate policies matter to investors. Pew’s Clean Energy Program Director attributed the decline in investments in the U.S. to a ‘weak and uncertain’ policy framework. China, Germany and India are rising in investment rankings because they have adopted policies such as renewable energy standards, carbon reduction targets and/or incentives for investment and production.
In the race to win the future, the US seems to be running with its shoes untied.
The report – Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race? 2010 edition – is the second annual compilation of clean energy investments (which includes renewables and energy efficiency). Last year’s reportmade big waves in the U.S. when it announced that China had taken over the lead.Now the gap has widened and the US is falling even lower down the rankings.
ECO has to wonder when U.S. elected officials will wake up to that fact that the real ‘job killer’ is not carbon regulation. It is the failure to join the rest of the world in the race to the new energy future
Extra Extra! The US wins the first Fossil of the Day for 2011!
This fossil is formally presented for their complete refusal to accept the concept of a common/standardized accounting system for measuring national emissions reductions towards their target.
During Sunday’s workshop on national mitigation targets and strategies, the US made it exceptionally clear that they do not envision a common accounting framework. ECO noted the continual expressions of that view by the US, while noticing that the US seemed to be pretty alone in that view. The irony of that position became even more glaring as the US raised several questions in the developing country session regarding a common framework for developing business-as-usual scenarios for developing emissions. The irony wasn’t lost on ECO. One can only hope that the US will “review the tape” and remember that the US has always been a strong proponent of rigorous rules. Maybe a relaxing spa treatment in Bangkok will refresh their memory.
The word ‘comparable’ in English carries a double meaning, meaning both ‘capable of being compared’, and ‘similar or equivalent’.
The capability of being compared remains a vital component to the evolving climate regime – otherwise we have no climate regime and will be in a completely bottom up world, with all the lack of ambition and massive destruction that this implies. The targets of developed countries need to be addressed through mandatory and uniform accounting rules, so that ‘special national circumstances’ (i.e. individually devised loopholes) are not used as a means to obfuscate the amounts of pollution each country is contributing to the atmosphere. The need for this common, complete, accurate and transparent information was recognized in Cancun. Is the US backtracking on the Cancun agreement already? The US seemed to be the only country yesterday speaking out against a rules-based system that includes common accounting of emissions.
It’s a great thing if, as the honourable delegate from the US explained, the US intends to assess reductions based on economy-wide emissions of all sources and sinks, and that the US target refers to complete domestic reductions. As far as Annex I countries are concerned, this target would therefore have a lot of integrity, if calculating emissions were the only important issue – and if ambition counted for nought. The honorouable delegate from the US went on to say that it was important to gauge the adequacy of country reduction targets as an aggregate, which contradicts his lambasting the idea of agreeing metrics to assess the adequacy of individual reduction targets. The US appears to be the only country opposed to this notion. Should we take this as another unfortunate example of US ‘exceptionalism’?
In truth the US is not the only developed country that would rather go it alone instead of playing well with others. As we have seen in interminable KP workshops, when asked to define comparability, meaning ‘similarity or equivalency’, developed countries come out with an astonishingly self-serving arrays of metrics that serve to minimize their ambition for clean sustainable development and mean that their eventual decarbonization will be steeper and far, far more expensive than early action would have allowed. While developed countries, each and every one, are not doing all they can possibly do to reduce their reductions in the face of this global crisis, then their actions are not, in this sense, comparable.
The bright and shiny moments in yesterday’s workshop on mitigation targets of developed countries were noticeable, albeit sparse, and mostly rhetorical. It seems to ECO, the truth is still inconvenient!
We learned that reducing emissions is good for the economy. Many countries re- affirmed the need to increase the ambition level and were very aware of the gap between current pledges and the cuts needed to stay below 2 degrees of warming, let alone the needed 1.5°C limit. And nearly everyone – except the U.S. – acknowledged the need for common accounting standards to ensure the environmental integrity of this global climate cooperation.
But, to put it simply, knowing a thing and doing a thing isn’t the same thing...
On the difficult questions CAN posed; negotiators did not have such positive answers. For example, what will their true emissions be? Assumptions on forests and other land use accounting, the use of carbon offsets and hot air carry-over are all huge potential loopholes. While there was some conversation on this subject – with the U.S. promising to count both sources and sinks in its land-based accounting approach and challenging other countries’ approaches – there was no definitive account of those true emissions. Russia, Iceland and others didn’t take up the challenge, but you know, there’s those inconvenient ‘national circumstances’ to consider. The offsets question was kicked to the MRV discussion...so stay tuned.
CAN expected that developed countries with current pledges below the 25-40% range would explain how their low pledges are consistent with their fair share of the needed global mitigation efforts. We did not get answers. We just heard a lot about ‘conditions’ that must be met before they will tell us their real target.
CAN expected developed countries whose pledges are below their current Kyoto targets, and/or below business as usual under existing domestic legislation and targets, to explain how those pledges constitute progress. To ECO’s dismay, one candidate for this question, Canada, didn’t even sit for the exam. Another, the EU, wiggled free of the challenge by explaining that member states really want to achieve their long-agreed voluntary energy efficiency targets which is needed to cut their domestic emissions overall by 25%. ECO, along with the Philippines, would like to ask how that makes the EU a climate leader.
ECO also wanted to know how their 2020 pledges will allow them to achieve near-zero emissions by 2050. Only Norway seemed to come even close to answering, but Germany did present indicative decadal targets for -80% by 2050, while the UK’s trajectory to -80% is enshrined in national law. The UK’s model is overall not a bad model for a low-emission development strategy. There was a potentially encouraging admission by Poland that it was too addicted to coal and was embracing energy efficiency. Now, if only Poland took that realisation to Brussels.
While additional details remain to be tabled, equally important work must begin to enable the leading industrialized countries of the world to ensure the environmental integrity of their emissions targets.