Tag: emission reduction targets

From Tokyo to Bonn: A Target Heard 'Round the World

In Bonn, while most nations are clarifying their pledges, as agreed, Japan is not saying a word about its 25% target. We know that Japan has been revising its 2030 energy strategy. While we welcome the intensive discussion on that, we hope that Japan also contributes to the discussion we are having here – reduction targets for post-2012 and, importantly, raising ambition!

In Bonn, while most nations are clarifying their pledges, as agreed, Japan is not saying a word about its 25% target. We know that Japan has been revising its 2030 energy strategy. While we welcome the intensive discussion on that, we hope that Japan also contributes to the discussion we are having here – reduction targets for post-2012 and, importantly, raising ambition! At the minimum, Japan needs to reaffirm its 25% from 1990 levels by 2020 target and show the world it will keep to the path of a low carbon future, even while recovering from the catastrophe that struck last year. In fact, some Japanese NGOs have shown that the 25% target is achievable even while phasing out all nuclear. Japan can make a sizeable contribution to the world by transitioning toward a safe, low carbon economy. Japan should use its discussion at home to raise its voice at Bonn and reach a more ambitious target by Bangkok!

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"CAN Collectibles": CANADA

Gotta Catch 'Em All!

Fast Facts About Countries That Can Increase Their Ambition in Qatar


National Sport: Lacrosse (bet we caught you there! Admit it, you would have wagered your copy of the Daily Programme that it was hockey)
Famous for: Poutine and winter (although we're getting worried about keeping winter snowy)
Best things about Canada: Our widely heralded reputation as a friendly, green giant
Worst things about Canada: We no longer deserve our widely heralded reputation as a friendly, green giant
Something you didn't know: We're officially getting rid of our 1 cent coin, the penny
Something else you didn't know: Vancouver's overall emissions will be cut 80% by 2020 (from 1990 levels)
Existing unconditional pledge on the table: None, we’ve given our national sovereignty over to the Americans – call us the 51st state!
Existing conditional pledge (upper end): 17% below 2005 by 2020 – conditional both on the USA taking action and on the Canadian government actually having a plan to meet even this weak target
Next step to increase ambition by COP18: Announce and implement ambitious GHG regulations for the oil and gas sector. Couple with implementation of loopholefree regulations on coal emissions and announce a comprehensive, crosscountry plan to meet our existing target, and then beat even that
Rationale: GHG emissions from the tar sands will account for a doubling in Canadian emissions growth between now and 2020, but are unregulated & subsidised
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Canada Exposed!

Under Stephen Harper the Canadian Government has become a seasoned veteran when it comes to dealing with criticism for their lack of action on climate change and reckless approach to tar sands expansion. This week in Canada, there has been a triple blow to the Government’s climate and energy policy from some prominent sources:

- National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy – this para-governmental institute with close ties to the conservative government released a report that estimates climate change impacts and adaptation costs in Canada have been seriously underestimated.  The report finds that these costs could reach between 21 and 43 billion dollars per year by 2050.

- Canada’s Environment Commissioner – the Government’s own watchdog, issued a report saying he could find no evidence that the government had any plan that would come close to reaching even its own weak GHG reduction targets.  He went on to berate the government for basing tar sands projects on “incomplete, poor, or non-existent environmental information.”

- European Commission – despite years of aggressive lobbying by the Canadian and Albertan Governments, the European Commission is sticking to the science and insisting that their Fuel Quality Directive reflect the high GHG content of the tar sands. This precedent-setting decision, sends a clear signal reinforcing the truth that the tar sands are one of the world’s dirtiest fuels.

 Responding to questions in Parliament on these reports Environment Minister Peter Kent tried to reassure his colleagues that, “our government has definitely not given up on the environment.” One could almost hear the proverbial ice melting from under his feet.  Oh Canada!


Umbrella Series Part 4: Here Comes the Russian Swan Song!

In Bangkok, Russia presented its different baselines and scenarios of Russian greenhouse gas emissions. These scenarios vary from an unrealistically fast economic growth based on old carbon technologies leading to a 14% emission reduction by 2020, to a more reasonable scenario with greenhouse gas emissions at -28% at 2020. While challenging, this ambitious scenario could be achieved through energy savings and energy efficiency measures, but the real Russian puzzle was not revealed in Bangkok.

 What Russia did not say was that these scenarios exclude any contributions from LULUCF and AAU carry over. That is, Russia already assumes that it will not carry forward its existing hot air (ECO and the atmosphere say thank you Russia!), and accepts that the reduction potential is noticeably bigger through reductions in the LULUCF sector.

In 2009, Russian greenhouse gas emissions without LULUCF were at -35%, but with LULUCF Russia was at -59% from 1990 levels! ECO believes that Russia should raise its emission reduction commitment to a minimum of -25% by 2020 -- without LULUCF and AAU carry-over. Including LULUCF, emission reductions targets for Russia could increase to at least -40% by 2020.

If this does not happen, we will see Russia, together with Ukraine and Belarus, undermining the environmental integrity of global action on climate change.

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Does Anyone think that there is no gap?

Hearing no objection it is so decided. So can ECO take it then, that, thanks to the challenging question by the European Union in Thursday’s workshop on developed country mitigation pledges, there is universal agreement that there is a gap? Fine.

So let’s move to the next step: looking at ways to increase ambition (to close the said gap), which was among the agreed purposes of the workshop, yet tacitly but plainly avoided by most developed country presenters. The European Union, at least, made a good faith attempt on the issue, and, yes, including more gases and sectors is among the things to look at. Yet ECO missed a slide explaining what the MRV- able conditions the EU has to move to (at least!) a 30% target. Instead, we were slightly amused when told that even the 20% target would be hard work. ECO reminds Parties that current EU legislation allows for more than half of the effort needed between 2013 and 2020 to be covered by carbon offsets instead of domestic action. That would also mean that with current emission levels (-16% below 1990 levels), no more domestic action is needed until 2020.

Yet, ECO’s readers will know the story of the one-eyed among the blind. Canada merrily implied that its pathetic target be comparable to the EU’s (considering that Canada is suggesting an increase over 1990 levels), and smartly dodged the question by a delegate how a target that is even weaker than its current Kyoto target could possibly constitute progress towards meeting the 1.5°C/2°C challenge. Canada’s Southern neighbours had, likewise, not much to offer, except maybe the notion that one needn’t be worried about the gap now because the review could maybe fix it later. ECO wonders if the US understands that leaving the gap unaddressed now, will require very, very steep reductions to make up for the delay, and if the US will be the country to champion that.

Delegates planning to attend today’s spin- off groups on developed country mitigation might want to keep in mind the conclusion by the co-chairs at the end of the workshop: that there is a gap, that there is some resolve to address it, and that further work needs to be done. ECO couldn’t agree more and suggests a four step approach for today’s informal sessions: (1) Developed countries make clear what their net domestic emissions will be in 2020; (2) Parties agree to close the loopholes by Durban, e.g. on hot air or carbon offset use, and have Parties not use bogus LULUCF projections meant to hide emissions but use historic reference levels and cover all emissions (see separate article in this issue); (3) Developed countries move to the high end of their pledges, by Durban, as a first important step; and (4) begin addressing the remaining gigatonne gap, by recognizing its size and a firm resolve in Durban to close it through a fair sharing of the globally needed mitigation effort, based on responsibility for emissions and capability to cut them.

And now: it is so decided!

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Umbrella Series Part 3: Ukraine Needs Realistic Goal Posts Urgently!

As an economy in transition, Ukraine, a member of the Umbrella Group, is a country with a special status in the UNFCCC framework. Nevertheless, this special treatment cannot extend to the setting of 2020 targets. Experts from the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) analyzed and compared the pledged emissions reduction targets of all Annex I countries. IIASA concluded that Ukraine’s emissions reduction pledge of 20% below 1990 levels by 2020 was highly inadequate, since Ukraine’s business as usual scenario for 2020 will be as much as 54% below 1990 levels. Moreover, such a target means that Ukraine expects a huge amount of new hot air for trading. One should characterize Ukraine’s proposal not as an actual emissions reduction target, but a “no emission reduction measures necessary” target.

Experts have estimated that Ukraine could easily take a target of at least 57% below 1990 levels by 2020, with the added benefit of actually making money! With its National Climate Mitigation Strategy not yet in place, Ukraine should perhaps use this opportunity to develop a mitigation strategy that is not only realistic and economically viable but also delivers for the climate. ECO would be very interested to hear a presentation from Ukraine about its national climate change policies and assumptions and conditions related to a 2020 target. Such a presentation was notably missing in the workshops in Bangkok and Bonn.

While it is obviously one of the Ukraine’s priorities to see a continuation of its current special status, it should understand that it cannot also have its other demands met, like full carry-over of AAUs or continuing with a way-above business as usual scenario target.


CAN Submission: Views on new market-based mechanisms, February 2011

CAN welcomes the opportunity to respond to the invitation to present views on the establishment of new market-based mechanisms (decision -/CP.16, paragraphs 80-82).

CAN strongly believes that any new market-based mechanisms must take into account and build upon the lessons learned from the operation of existing market-based mechanisms during the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol to ensure the environmental integrity of any new mechanisms as well as the overall UNFCCC regime.

Canada Adrift

Let’s say you’re a tar sands loving North American government with a bit of a carbon dependency problem. You need a clever way to get away with doing nothing on climate change, and you notice that your neighbor to the south won’t have an easy time getting a cap-and-trade bill through its Congress.
For Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, the solution surely seemed obvious: announce that you just can’t lift a finger to deal with climate change unless the U.S. moves first. As they say in Canada: problem solved, eh?
Not quite, as it turns out. With the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency moving to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new industrial facilities starting in 2011, Harper’s plan of outsourcing climate policy to the U.S. meant that Canada would have to do the same.  That’s bad news for the tar sands (oil bearing deposits in central Canada), where plans for a massive expansion just don’t line up with pesky limits on their emissions.
Enter John Baird, Canada’s brand new – er, not so new – environment minister. (Veteran observers will remember him as the last minister in Bali to oppose the science-based target range of 25-40% below 1990 in 2020.)
Confronted about lining up with the neighbors to Canada’s south, Baird had some choice words: the US proposal is ‘patchwork’ and ‘very, very preliminary stuff’, covering ‘a small, tiny percentage of new plants’. Yes, that would be in contrast to Canada’s comprehensive proposal of doing nothing whatsoever for any percentage of its new plants.
And this isn’t the first time that Canada’s policy – 100% harmonized, as long as the US doesn’t do anything – has reared its ugly head. Internal emails from the Department of Foreign Affairs released yesterday show Canadian diplomats hard at work to ‘kill’ a 2007 US clean fuels policy. They enlisted allies at Exxon and other oil companies in the battle to, as they so lyrically put it, ‘keep the oil a-flowing’.  And when one official from Environment Canada pointed out that curbing tar sands emissions is a good thing, her comment was dismissed as ‘simply nutty’. Is it a coincidence that this sorry little episode took place the last time John Baird was environment minister?
Anyway, adding it up, it’s clear that Canada’s three-bagger of Fossils from the first day of the Cancun talks is the most appropriate way to welcome John Baird and the government he represents back to the negotiating table.  Oh, Canada – how could you!

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The EU Chooses

Next Thursday, European environment ministers will discuss whether the EU should upgrade its 2020 target to 30% unilaterally. ECO says yes! And while you are at it, make sure to meet it domestically, so that any offsetting comes on top of 30%.
While several environment ministers have already indicated their support, others are holding back. But let’s face it, almost everybody expects the EU is going to move to 30% anyway. The more time they waste discussing the matter, the more time they lose reaping the economic advantages.
For two years now, the EU has not budged from its conditional pledge to increase to 30% if comparable efforts are made by other major economies. But this position has diminishing relevance.
Several studies, including from the European Commission, clearly show that EU has good reason to increase ambition right now. The most obvious is that they have
already nearly reached the 20% target, a full 10 years before 2020!
According to the European Environment Agency, the EU’s 2009 emissions stood at approximately 17.3% below 1990 levels. Although the economic crisis is part of the reason, there is no doubt that most of the effort has already happened.
Second, consider the low-carbon race. China became the biggest wind market in the world last year. If EU leaders want their green industry to remain at the forefront, they need to give their economies clear direction.
Third, a more ambitious emissions target would generate billions of euros of additional income for governments, as the majority of industries will have to buy emissions permits under the emissions trading scheme. Funneling this money to climate measures will accelerate EU’s low-carbon development and trigger much needed long-term financing for developing countries. And independent research shows that more ambitious climate policies won’t result in mass relocation of industries outside of the EU.
With smart policies, increasing the EU’s target will be cost neutral and reduce its foreign fuel dependence, cut energy bills in the longer run and reduce public health costs. So, all in all, the perfect moment for going to 30% is now!

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Fossil of the Day: New Zealand

A fossil is awarded to New Zealand, as an ambassador for all Annex I Parties, for bluntly declaring that if they don’t get the rules they want on forest management, they’ll have to change their overall emission reduction target. Does this mean that the LULUCF sector is just a slush fund and Copenhagen pledges are open for renegotiation if the slush fund disappears?

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