Have a strong coffee, shake your head and rub your eyes. Saudi Arabia, the well-known guardian of fossil fuel interests, is planning a massive renewable energy scheme in its country. So says the news in the region and rumours from inside the Royal Family and their ministries. Apparently 52 Gigawatts (GW) of renewable power will come online by 2030, 130% of existing electricity generation capacity - most of it as concentrated solar power and the remainder as solar photovoltaics and wind. Reportedly, the government is looking for a quick start, with about three GW to be installed in 2013 and another four GW in 2014.
It all started about one year ago when Saudi Arabia announced a US $100 billion investment for solar power, which was followed shortly after by oil minister Al-Naimi declaring to the media "Saudi Arabia plans to generate solar electricity equalling the amount of its energy from crude exports”. Although the current plan does not come close to that ambition, it still represents a remarkable and substantive move. For comparison, in 2011, which was another renewable energy boom year, total newly installed renewable power worldwide was about 80 GW.
ECO is not naïve. We know that high oil prices on world markets of more than $100 per barrel are strong incentives for any oil exporter to save the crude domestically and reap the benefits of exports. Certainly one, if not the key, motivation for the Saudis presently.
But there is another logic. Saudi Arabia admits that using renewable energy makes much more sense than “abundant” fossil fuels. And expanding renewables substantially, for whatever reason, is good for our atmosphere and the climate. Each ton of CO2 saved through renewables is one ton saved permanently. Could we also imagine that some clever folks in Saudi Arabia assume that the desire for fossil fuels in the world economy will end some time before we physically run out of them? We should be reminded that OPEC’s call for increased oil prices in the early 80s met with this advice from the then oil minister Yamani of Saudi Arabia to his peers: “The stone age did not finish because mankind ran out of stones”. Is it now time to assume that the Saudis are seriously preparing to export solar and become a technological hub for solar industry manufacturing?
Before ECO applauds Saudi Arabia’s constructive contribution to climate change policy, ECO would like this renewable energy target officially confirmed in Riyadh and announced internationally. If this happens, ECO will rub its eyes again and be happy to publicly acknowledge a landslide in Saudi policy, especially when those with greater responsibility are shirking their pollution reduction obligations.
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|
Like the Secretariat, our LCA chair and many other delegates in the Maritim, ECO also has experience with the trials and tribulations of construction projects. But not to worry. Yesterday, AOSIS and the LDCs presented a new blueprint for a sturdy and livable structure that can be a functional home for all of us, with a minimal carbon footprint and protection from the increasingly uncertain elements.
To build a good foundation, AOSIS has designed some strong pillars to replace or reinforce the flimsy developed country pledges. For instance, the EU, which has been mixing only 20% cement with sand for its concrete, can strengthen its climate edifice by rising to 30% concrete or even more. This is required to meet the building codes anyway, so why skimp and risk collapse?
New Zealand should raise its level to at least 20%. And in Australia, government papers, forced by NGOs to be made public, show that the conditions for its 15% target have already been met.
Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan will need to dig deeper foundations in the second commitment period to prevent vast amounts of hot air.
Canada, which has been out of compliance with building codes for some time, has decided to build tar sand castles and has given up on any construction that will last more than a few years.
Moving from the foundation to the ground floor, AOSIS, troubled by the United States, Canada, Russia and Japan ¨C fleeing the building and planning to build their own shanties ¨C warns they must use comparable construction standards, and prepare for the visit of the building inspector. As long as they remain in the Convention, they must demonstrate that their efforts are comparable to those of Kyoto buildings, and will achieve results consistent with the best available science.
Adequate housing for all requires scaled up contributions to the building fund, which is why the LDCs are unhappy with the lack of reliable and predictable finance. Conventionland’s wealthier residents, who have already built comfortable homes with high carbon footprints, have thus far refused to give a clear timetable towards meeting the US$100 billion commitment by 2020. They only seem to be offering play money and junk bonds to add up to the $100 billion.
With a strong foundation laid, the LDC architects have proposed that a mighty Durban Tower can be built in a few years on the same institutional structure as the current, modest Bali Tower. The venerable old Kyoto Tower will be dwarfed by the combined ambition of these two new structures, which will have ample space for mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology transfer and capacity building. The new towers will be in full compliance will all codes. Regular visits by monitoring, reporting and verifying teams, checking up on finance and mitigation actions, will be welcome events.
The initial sketches from Durban are about to become detailed blueprints, full of shovel-ready projects that will be built for the occupants well in advance of the construction schedule.
The LDCs, like all of us, have placed their futures in the hands of a new Project Manager who we trust will not be satisfied with the current low level of ambition. All the settlers in Conventionland must spare no effort in ensuring the post-2020 Durban Tower reaches new heights, with clear milestones for each coming year.
In the Kyoto plenary yesterday, we got a taste of how things sound when there is no more time to defer decisions for another year. After all the talk of gaps, urgency and the need to set rules before targets, there’s nowhere else to move for Australia and New Zealand.
Those two were left alone in Durban as the only countries still unable to make up their minds on a second commitment period. They remained unwilling, still, to move ahead with the Durban ambition coalition, and be part of an agreement that can give us hope that we’ll close the emissions gap.
And not willing, either, to attract the ire of the world by formally withdrawing, like Canada, or refusing to participate, like Japan and Russia. It’s decision time for everyone, and the sooner Australia stops dithering about Kyoto, the sooner everyone can get on and talk about the dozens of other matters jostling for attention at the UNFCCC.
We know that Australia has a price on carbon legislated and will adhere to the Kyoto rules. We know they have a 2050 target in place to reduce their emissions by 80%. We know they want to participate in carbon markets, and for a new legal agreement to be forged that can keep greenhouse gas concentrations to 450ppm. There's really no reason for them to delay any more.
As for all the other Kyoto countries, the challenge was unequivocally put at yesterday’s plenary: the only circumstances where an eight year commitment period is acceptable is if ambition is sufficient to meet two degrees.
The only way to participate in carbon markets is to have a binding target to reduce emissions. And the only way to keep the talks for a new and comprehensive legally binding agreement on track and on schedule is to put your name down on the Kyoto willing list.
a CAN Europe Side Event featuring Michiel Schaeffer from Climate Analytics, Sivan Kartha from Stockholm Environment Institute, Artur Runge-Metzger from The European Commission and Tim Gore from Oxfam, produced by Ulriikka Aarnio
Premieres: Wed 16 May · 18.15-19.45 · Metro (Ministry of Transport)
"After just one screening, I knew all I needed to about closing the ambition and equity gaps. And I finally understood this graph! 4 Stars!" -- Ludwig
Announcing: A New "CAN Collectibles" Series!
Fast Facts About Countries That Can Increase Their Ambition in Qatar
Clip and Collect Them All!
|Best things about Norway:||Brown cheese, 2600 km of ski tracks around Oslo and vast fish stocks|
|When in Norway:||Don't talk to strangers on public transport. Norwegians will consider you|
|Norwegian favourite entertainment:||freakish. Except maybe if you are offering compliments on our great country|
|Annual number of SMS sent per capita (2010):||Whale hunting and jokes about the Swedes|
|National high point:||1300|
|Worst thing about Norway:||1994: Winter Olympics and 2nd referendum rejecting EU membership|
|Existing unconditional pledge on the table:||Chronic oil addiction|
|Existing Conditional pledge (upper end):||30% below 1990 by 2020|
|Next step to increase ambition by COP18:||40% below 1990 by 2020|
|40% by 2020 with at least 2/3 of the target through domestic mitigation|
|Rationale:||Norway has pledged to move to a target of 40% if this will contribute to achieving an ambitious global agreement. Increased mitigation ambition from rich countries such as Norway is probably the most important thing that can contribute to increasing overall ambition at the moment, so Norway should make good on this promise right away. Secondly, Norway needs to make clear that it intends to meet its target mainly through domestic action rather than offsetting. This is important for Norway's credibility in UNFCCC negotiations.|
Phil Ireland, Oxfam Australia, delivers CAN's opening KP intervention.