Posts Tagged ‘Copenhagen’
UPDATE: SINCE THIS POST, THE WHITE HOUSE ANNOUNCED THE PRESIDENT WILL INDEED ATTEND AND SPEAK AT THE UNFCCC IN COPENHAGEN ON DEC. 9. Bravo! Must’ve been this blog. ;
Check out the beautiful logo designed by the US Department of State for the 15th Council of Parties meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It’s part of a federal agency Website aimed primarily at foreigners wanting to know what the red, white and blue will commit to at the December 7-18, 2009 summit of 192 countries in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is trying to stay positive despite the US announcement that no comprehensive climate treaty would emerge from the talks, as many countries were hoping for.
From America.gov Website: Any agreement has to involve immediate global action on climate change, and all nations must meet their share of the responsibilities, Clinton said. The agreement must also cover all of the major issues, including adaptation, financing, technology cooperation and forest preservation, she said.
The agreement also must help provide funding to assist developing nations, which are often the least able to implement complex agreements, she added.
“We are prepared to support a global climate fund that will support adaptation and mitigation efforts and a matching entity to help developing countries match needs with available resources,” Clinton told reporters.
“Funding through the new global climate fund and a technology mechanism will help developing countries identify what they need, where to get it, and how to finance, operate and maintain it,” she said.
Clinton stressed that the Copenhagen conference is not the end of the process, as many in the media and environmental community have suggested.
The funding part has indeed been left out of most media reports, and depending on the dollar amount committed by the US, the news should be welcomed by developing countries in particular. For 20 years, the UN has been working on climate change, but the funding to implement actions has been missing.
The more I stare at that US-Copenhagen logo (above), I wonder if that green line is really a frown?
NOTE: The EnviroMedia team is packing our bags for our trip to the Copenhagen event. We’ll again be serving as non-governmental delegates, and writing about our experiences for several media outlets. Check EnviroMedia’s Website on Nov. 30 for the launch of a new, fun public service effort aimed at educating Americans about climate change policy.
The following article by Kevin Tuerff is published in the September 21 issue of Environmental Leader.
Most Powerful World Leaders Gather Sept. 22 at U.N. Headquarters
A historic moment will unfold tomorrow at United Nations headquarters, as U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao speak to top world leaders, each offering specific proposals for reducing pollution from greenhouse gases that are affecting the global climate.
Despite the speeches, controversy remains among large and small nations, and it often resembles a high stakes poker game. Who are the players? Who is bluffing? And who has the best hand?
Last December in Poznań, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told delegates and ministers from 190 countries assembled at the UNFCCC event that if foreign ministers didn’t make enough progress in the first half of 2009, he was willing to place global warming on the agenda for their bosses to address at the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York. He made good on this promise.
Throughout 2009, there have been many diplomatic climate meetings held around the world, with all the right countries attending. The talks are moving about as slowly as a cold war discussion about nuclear weapons. While some progress has been made, namely the U.S. coming to the table for the first time, there are major differences yet to be negotiated.
The U.N. is nudging politicians by declaring this to be Global Climate Week, and pushing a “Seal the Deal” campaign among business and environmental advocates. With a goal of putting the final terms in a treaty for all 190 countries to sign mid-December in Copenhagen, Denmark, there are many details to be worked out.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of UNFCCC
U.S. President Barack Obama
Chinese President Hu Jintao and 23 other world leaders
U.S. Sen. John Kerry
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Todd D. Stern, U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change
Least developed countries and their leaders are miffed they don’t get to attend the September 22 meeting.
The High Stakes
It’s too late to stop global warming. Scientists warn additional delays to implementing aggressive reductions in carbon dioxide could intensify the negative effects of climate change.
What will the biggest polluters commit to? China and the U.S. are responsible for 40 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.
How much should developing countries like China and India reduce their greenhouse gas emissions?
How to Count
The United States and China may propose a new system to track pollution reductions, allowing each country to set its own rules and determine how it plans to meet U.N. targets. Some EU officials are alarmed about scrapping the Kyoto system and the time required to start over.
Brazil says U.S. emission reduction levels are not steep enough on the timeline. The proposed climate legislation pending in Congress would achieve a 4 percent reduction below 1990 levels by 2020. Other countries want a 40 percent reduction from the U.S. by that time.
Russia says it won’t play without China and the U.S. making big reductions. Australia and Canada have made similar threats.
Both China and India have been complaining loudly that their countries should be allowed more time to continue polluting at the same pace because they are considered developing countries.
Most estimates for climate mitigation and adaptation run in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Who has the money, especially in today’s global recession?
Each year, U.S. taxpayers spend billions of dollars combating global terrorism, nuclear proliferation, poverty and HIV/AIDS. Although the timing is terrible, Americans will eventually be asked to pony up to fight yet another threat to the planet in the way of climate change.
So far, U.S. Climate Envoy Todd Stern has been saying the U.S. will provide aid to other countries through technology transfer of best practices for energy efficiency and clean energy. Other countries maintain that countries creating the most pollution should pay cash to the countries that are most negatively impacted.
This could result in American taxpayers picking up most of the tab to stop deforestation of Brazilian and Indonesian rainforests, and helping Pacific island nations like Tuvalu that may need to abandon their land due to rising sea levels.
The question of who collects and distributes funding for climate adaptation is another area for contention among nations.
The Best Hand
Advantage probably goes to China and the United States. China is both a manufacturing behemoth and also a rapidly emerging player on clean energy. The U.S. has some of the brightest minds and game-changing technology.
The Next Game
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is working on a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. The next conference of parties (COP 15) is slated for December 7-18, 2009, in Copenhagen.
Yvo de Boer doubts every detail of a new treaty will be in place by COP 15, but believes it’s important to get the signatures from 190 national leaders. He also believes it’s important for long-term business investment, saying, “You can’t really afford to keep waiting and waiting and waiting for governments to say where they’re going to go on this issue.”
After this week at the U.N., the next hand in this poker game will come from the U.S. Senate, as they consider their own version of the American Clean Energy and Security Act. The House of Representatives approved their version in June.
As country music star Kenny Rogers sang in The Gambler, “You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run.”
Kevin Tuerff is principal and cofounder of Green Canary Sustainability Consulting and EnviroMedia Social Marketing.
Notes from my recent trip to Washington, D.C. with my 15-year-old niece
“This is where all the lobbyists work,” I told my niece as we drove past K Street in Washington, D.C. “What’s a lobbyist?” she said. I smiled, somewhat surprised she didn’t already know, considering how smart she is for a sophomore in high school.
This trip, without family, was a first for Alison and me, meant to be a way to have quality time with Uncle Kevin. She chose Washington, D.C. as our destination because she had never been. It’s one of my favorite cities, with so much to see and do in the nation’s capital.
Although I promised her Uncle Kevin wouldn’t be doing any work on this trip, I immediately broke that promise by agreeing to do a TV news interview at NBC’s capitol bureau.
The upside was Alison got to have a behind-the-scenes tour of a network TV newsroom and control room. I did my interview about regulation of green marketing claims, and then we were off to catch a bus tour of several monuments and memorials.
The relatively new FDR Memorial is really cool. Several of the former president’s famous quotations are carved into stone. Alison and I agreed there was one in particular that fit well with my passion for the environment.
The line was apropos for the moment, because I knew the following day the U.S. House of Representatives would be voting on the Waxman-Markey bill, called the “American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.’’ It’s a mammoth bill, best known for its “cap and trade” provision to regulate greenhouse gases that contribute to the global climate crisis.
My business partner Valerie Davis and I have been closely following the international policy debate on global warming for many years. In December 2007, we traveled to Bali, Indonesia to participate as delegates in the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. As Americans, we were embarrassed by our government’s continued refusal to cooperate with the more than 180 countries assembled to work on the problem. After all, our country was responsible for the greatest levels of greenhouse gas pollution.
In December 2008, we attended the same conference in Poznań, Poland. Thanks to the recent election of Barack Obama, we witnessed a remarkable turnaround: the U.S. foreign diplomat announced our country would reverse course, and commit to at least a 50 percent reduction in pollution by 2050. At the time, I was proud to see the change. I also believed it would be impossible for our new President and Congress to pass related legislation in time for the critical 2009 meeting in Copenhagen. Our economy was in a free fall and it appeared nothing else could possibly be on the minds of politicians in Washington.
I was wrong. On the second day of Kevin & Alison’s excellent adventure to D.C., I was able to secure gallery passes to the U.S. House, thanks to Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Austin. After waiting in a 45-minute line, we finally sat down in the half-empty gallery, watching 435 congressmen mill around the House floor. After watching one vote, the next speaker was Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif. I got choked up as I watched him lay out before the House his climate and energy change bill, asking for a final vote on adoption. Despite years of fighting and debate, the US House was about to take steps to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, put a cap on carbon and other greenhouse gases, and lay the foundation for changing the way we develop and consume energy for decades to come.
After hearing the first Republican opponent of the bill give his opening remarks, my niece turned to me and said, “He sounds like a 4-year-old who doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and he whines a lot.”
We didn’t stay in the gallery for the full 3-hour debate. We had a date at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. We saw Dorothy’s ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz.”
And then there was the original Kermit the Frog Muppet in a glass case. Kermit has been the source of controversy recently, accused of selling out as a spokes-puppet for Ford Motor Company’s hybrid vehicle. In the ad, Kermit says, “Maybe it is easy being green.”
Back at our hotel, we tuned into C-SPAN to watch the end of debate. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was the final speaker. She encouraged her fellow colleagues to vote for the bill because of four words, “jobs, jobs, jobs and jobs.” During the 15-minute vote, I explained to Alison that the bill would require at least 215 votes (a simple majority) to pass. “Why are all of the Republicans voting against this?” I tried to explain that usually the political parties vote as a block. As the clock ticked down with less than a minute to go, the Democrats hadn’t hit the 215 mark yet. In the end, 44 Democrats would vote “no” and 8 Republicans voted “yes.”
Bottom line: 219-212, the climate change and energy bill passed! Alison and I gave each other a high-five. Next stop for the bill is the U.S. Senate. I’m certain there are problems in the 1,200-page bill that must be fixed in the Senate version.
The bill aims to reduce greenhouse gases by 80 percent by the year 2050. We figured out Alison will be 56-years-old in 2050. She hopes to be living in world then where clean energy is the norm.
Bill co-sponsor Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts said the bill is “the most important energy and environmental legislation in the history of our country. It sets a new course for our country, one that steers us away from foreign oil and towards a path of clean American energy.”
On our last day in Washington, we visited the Newseum, where dozens of US newspapers display their front page. It was no surprise that Michael Jackson’s death dominated the headlines of page one.
However, even the Des Moines Register made the story their Top story of the day. More newspapers from both the east and west coast made the story top news, than ones in the southern U.S. Our own Austin American Statesman buried the story in section A, but the Houston Chronicle placed the story on page one.
Alison and I went to Washington to tour our nation’s capitol. We ended up being witness to freedom and democracy in action. What a country. Happy Independence Day!
GREEN CANARY WAS THERE: U.S. SETS TONE FOR COPENHAGEN CLIMATE AGREEMENT
by Wendy Reed, Green Canary Consultant
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) Last week, representatives from 17 of the world’s major economies gathered in Washington, D.C. for President Obama’s “Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate.” The meeting was the first of three scheduled for the purpose of preparing for December’s Copenhagen gathering, where a climate agreement is slated to be adopted that will take us beyond the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
Green Canary & EnviroMedia attended a reception last week for international
delegates last week at the Kennedy Center, and a briefing this week on the
forum at the U.S. State Department. Jonathan Pershing, Deputy Special Envoy
for Climate Change, shared discussion topics and outcomes from the meeting with a group of approximately 20 climate policy and industry trade
organizations. We met Sen. John Kerry and forum participants from Great
Britain, Mexico and South Korea.
According to Mr. Pershing, several country representatives at the Forum
commented that more was achieved with the United States at this one meeting than at all climate change meetings that came before. This was attributed to a shift from the past of focusing on what the United States didn’t want to do to what it would do. Just yesterday, Mr. Pershing told a group of business leaders via teleconference the has U.S. State Department has submitted to the United Nations an “implementing agreement” for Copenhagen, saying “It’s a story for where we want to go.”
Monday’s Forum was broken into two main topics: transformational technologies and core issues to resolve before the meeting in Copenhagen. First was the discussion on transformational technologies – technologies with the potential to help mitigate the effects of climate change if advanced on a global scale. This discussion proved to be the least contentious at the Forum.
The topic was introduced by U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and was followed by presentations from Australia and India. Australia presented on global carbon capture and storage, a topic popular among the group according to Mr. Pershing. India gave a presentation on the importance of energy efficiency, with a focus on buildings, emphasizing that energy efficiency can produce the biggest outcome for the least investment.
-Technologies Template In Development-
The group came away with universal agreement to put together a technologies “template” that would form the basis of a few options that could be advanced collectively through public-private partnerships, with a goal to significantly reduce CO2 emissions globally. This template is to be prepared and potentially agreed upon prior to Copenhagen, and should consist of a set of fewer than 10 technologies the Forum countries as a whole would be willing to support, work together on and put money toward.
The second Forum topic regarding core issues to be resolved, was to be divided into discussions on “mitigation” and “finance.” The United States, South Africa and Mexico gave presentations on their thematic approaches to mitigation. The U.S. presentation positioned climate change as “real and urgent, requiring significant yearly actions and not small incremental changes.”
The goal of the core issues segment at the Forum was to discuss and come to agreement on both mitigation and finance approaches by the preparatory meeting scheduled for July in Italy. Mitigation, which included the discussion on how to determine individual country CO2 target numbers for the next agreement, consumed 2 ½ hours. This left the finance discussion essentially postponed until the next global economies meeting in June.
Questions about U.S. priorities for financing climate change mitigation were raised by several groups at the briefing. They expressed a desire to see Congress appropriate funds in a way that gives a boost to U.S. industry sectors that could be part of the solution, and encouraged the State Department to develop part of the climate strategy by first taking stock of U.S. industry capabilities and then determining the appropriate matching tactics.
-U.S. Priorities for Climate Change Mitigation -
Mr. Pershing shared that his perception is that Congress’ top 3 priorities for how to appropriate taxpayer dollars for climate change mitigation are:
1. Adaptation efforts for poor countries experiencing the worst effects,
2.Forestry projects to slow the destruction of rain forests, and
3. Technology investments.
He agreed that U.S. companies could benefit from addressing climate change. He also asserted a desire by the U.S. government to do its best to maintain a level playing field internationally for U.S.-based companies and to facilitate the creation of public-private partnerships at home. “We don’t want to disadvantage companies,” he said, “but carbon.”
Characterization of the Forum’s success was cautionary in nature at this week’s briefing. Trust issues are a barrier for the United States in working with the other countries who have been present all along in
international climate talks and agreements. There is concern that the U.S. will not follow through on promises. As a result, many countries are looking to the U.S. to set short-term goals as well as the long-terms goals shared at the meeting – goals that would have to be met within a Presidential term of office, not passed on to the next U.S. leader who could then change the terms. U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern asserted a U.S. goal at the Forum to reduce domestic emissions to 1990
levels by 2020 and to attain an 80% reduction from that by 2050.
Another barrier to success, with the United States joining the talks at this stage of the climate agreement process, is the fact that many of the countries who signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol have already arrived at CO2 reduction target numbers and appear inclined to hold on to their long-term positions. This leaves less room for fresh dialogue on how to determine country-by-country reduction targets, something the United States would like to see happen. Parity and “comparability” in terms of country commitments, among developing and developed countries alike, was a key issue that kept Congress from ratifying the Kyoto Protocol in the past. Based on the briefing, this theme continues to be of utmost importance to U.S.
climate agreement negotiators today.
-U.S. Remains Committed to Copenhagen Deal by December-
According to Mr. Pershing, the United States is committed to achieving an international agreement by the end of the year, and will work overtime to make it happen. “We just need to find a common language with the other countries,” he said. “We each have a different history and should commit to something different, appropriate to our own circumstances.” He added, “I don’t believe that an agreement in Copenhagen will be the end-all-be-all [for the United States to address climate change]. We must marry our
commitment to other efforts in trade and technology, forestry, and more.”
Countries participating in the Major Economies Forum included: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Green Canary Headed to Copenhagen–Subscribe Now for Direct Reports.
A team from Green Canary and EnviroMedia have booked their December tickets for COP15 at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. At the UNFCCC in
Bali in 2007, and Poznan, Poland in 2008, Tuerff and Davis wrote daily reports from the conference for several organizations and media outlets,including the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development,
EnvironmentalLeader.com and the Austin American Statesman.
Email Green Canary CEO Kevin Tuerff if you’d like to subscribe to our special reports from Copenhagen, or if you’d like a special report for your organization.
(WASHINGTON DC) Valerie Davis, Millie Salinas and I were honored to attend a U.S. State Department reception at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, in honor of the 17 delegates of Major Economies Forum on Climate and Energy. A highlight was briefly meeting Senator John Kerry. He spoke about his long fight against global warming, going back to the Rio conference and the Kyoto Protocol.
We spoke with delegates from Mexico, Britain and Korea as well as staff from several Hill staffers. The buzz in the room was that China had delivered to President Obama (& other countries) that day some very significant announcements about their climate change commitments. Haven’t read any details yet.
A summary of what we learned at the event by Valerie Davis, “Senator Kerry: Climate, Energy Challenges Spell Opportunity,” was published April 30 on EnvironmentalLeader.com
We were also able to meet Todd Stern, US Climate Envoy, right after he spoke. It was a quick exchange, but he was pleased to know we had been to the UN Climate Change conferences in Bali and Poznan, and he appreciated our work in advocating for action on climate change.
A must read from the Sunday New York Times: “The perception that the U.S. is now serious about tackling climate change has set off a flurry of diplomacy around the globe.” Read the full article here.
Green Canary Sustainability Consulting is releasing a national poll this week that shows a growing number of Americans now believe climate change is real, and is caused by human activities. But at least 1/3 of Americans are not on board. (Check back to this site March 4 for the full survey results and news release).
Davis, Tuerff at UNFCCC in Poznan, Poland, Dec 2008
Having attending the last two UN Climate Change meetings, I’m overjoyed to see the Obama Administration step up to lead. In both Bali, and Poland the thousands of attendees from around 190 countries were begging the United States to step up and lead. Not just because we are the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, but primarily because they knew we had the entrepreneurial spirit and technology to develop new ways to address the global climate crisis.
The environmental minister of small African country told me, “After 9 years of being absent, we miss you, we welcome the United States back to the table. You are the country that has developed cures for diseases, satellites and the Internet. We need you to develop new technologies to combat global warming. And the rest of the world will buy them from you.”
My fear is the dirty work of passing specific pollution reduction laws will be so contentious, we may end up with a piece of paper from Copenhagen, and nothing else. Question is: how to convince the ‘non-believers’ that investments in climate adaptation, conservation, energy efficiency and renewable fuels are worth it, especially for future generations? I believe the US Government should undertake a massive educational effort to explain the science, the challenges and the solutions that lie behind the Copenhagen Treaty.