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CCNet 24/11/13

UN Climate Agreement: Rich Nations Face Climate Compensation Claims

Britain’s Bill For Climate Aid Rises To £4.5 Billion




The ongoing United Nations (UN) climate negotiations in Warsaw, Poland ended with an agreement called the “Warsaw international mechanism for loss and damage (IMLD)”. “We have seen essential progress. But let us again be clear that we are witnessing ever more frequent, extreme weather events, and the poor and vulnerable are already paying the price,” said Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UNFCCC in a press statement. “Now governments, and especially developed nations, must go back to do their homework so they can put their plans on the table ahead of the Paris conference,” she added. --Neha Sethi, Live Mint/The Wall Street Journal, 24 November 2013



The last minute compromise amendment at the UN climate summit introduced by the Indian delegation confirms the firewall between rich and poor countries, i.e. the agreed Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) will remain under the UNFCCC Convention and guided by the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities. Moreover, the agreed national ‘contributions’ (whatever that means) are undefined, voluntary and not legally binding. In short, the can has been kicked into the long grass yet again while the chances for a legally binding agreement remain close to zero. --Benny Peiser, The Global Warming Policy Foundation, 23 November 2013
 
 
 
 
 
Britain has been committed to sending an extra £1.5 billion of taxpayers’ money abroad as aid to help poorer countries tackle climate change due to a new European Union policy. As part of a new budget, EU leaders have taken the decision to give the funds to developing countries which say they suffer damage due to global warming. The money comes on top of £2.9 billion the Government has already pledged from its own aid budget to spend on climate change projects. --Richard Gray, The Sunday Telegraph, 24 November 2013
 
 
 
 
 


20% of the EU’s budget will go towards fighting climate change, climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard announced in Warsaw today. This equates to €180 billion on climate spending between 2014 and 2020, which will be used to reduce emissions domestically and help developing countries adapt to climate change—three times what was provided in the previous budget. Much of this will be spent on domestic projects, helping with the development of climate-smart agriculture, energy efficiency and the transport sector. --Sophie Yeo, Responding to Climate Change, 19 November 2013
 


 
Growing numbers of Tory backbenchers are now calling for the Government to withdraw from expensive climate change and carbon emission commitments. Japan’s decision to sharply reduce its carbon emission goals and Australia’s scrapping of a tax on high carbon emitters has increased the pressure. Lord Lawson of Blaby, the former Conservative chancellor and a climate change sceptic, criticised the EU for using its wider budget to provide climate aid. Douglas Carswell, Tory MP for Clacton, said the decision was unjustifiable. He said: “We’re spending money that we don’t have to solve a problem that doesn’t exist at the behest of people we didn’t elect.” --Richard Gray, The Sunday Telegraph, 24 November 2013
 
 
 
 
Most of the $27 billion in climate funding for poor countries has gone toward clean energy and energy efficiency. Only a small slice, about $5 billion, went toward helping poor countries prepare for the actual impacts of climate change, like droughts or heat waves. --Brad Plumer, The Washington Post, 18 November 2013
 
 
 
It is only one sentence in the coalition agreement, but it could mean the end of Germany’s green energy shift (Energiewende). The Christian Democrats (CDU) and Social Democrats (SPD) want to force the renewable industry to pay for conventional back-up energy generation. --Die Zeit, 22 November 2013
 
 
 
1) UN Climate Agreement: Rich Nations Face Climate Compensation Claims - Live Mint/The Wall Street Journal, 24 November 2013

2) Britain’s Bill For Climate Aid Rises To £4.5 Billion - The Sunday Telegraph, 24 November 2013

3) The EU’s Warsaw Offer: €180 Billion To Fight Climate Change - Responding to Climate Change, 19 November 2013

4) UN Climate Agreement: Firewall Remains But Compromise Breaks Deadlock - Associated Press, 23 November 2013

5) Where Have All The Climate Billions Gone? - The Washington Post, 18 November 2013

6) Reality Check: Coalition Agreement May End Germany’s Green Energy Shift - Die Zeit, 22 November 2013


 
 
 
1) UN Climate Agreement: Rich Nations Face Climate Compensation Claims
Live Mint/The Wall Street Journal, 24 November 2013

Neha Sethi

The ongoing United Nations (UN) climate negotiations in Warsaw, Poland ended with an agreement called the “Warsaw international mechanism for loss and damage (IMLD)”.

“The conference also decided to establish an international mechanism to provide most vulnerable populations with better protection against loss and damage caused by extreme weather events and slow onset events such as rising sea levels. Detailed work on the so-called ‘Warsaw international mechanism for loss and damage’ will begin next year,” a press statement issued by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat said.

“We have seen essential progress. But let us again be clear that we are witnessing ever more frequent, extreme weather events, and the poor and vulnerable are already paying the price,” said Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UNFCCC in a press statement.

“Now governments, and especially developed nations, must go back to do their homework so they can put their plans on the table ahead of the Paris conference,” she added.

The UNFCCC has 195 parties all over the world and its aim is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.

The press statement said that the conference ended “keeping governments on a track towards a universal climate agreement in 2015 and including significant new decisions that will cut emissions from deforestation and on loss and damage.”

“Warsaw has set a pathway for governments to work on a draft text of a new universal climate agreement so it appears on the table at the next UN Climate change conference in Peru. This is an essential step to reach a final agreement in Paris, in 2015,” said Marcin Korolec, president of the COP19 conference in a press statement.

“In the nick of time, negotiators in Warsaw delivered just enough to keep things moving. The talks opened with a tragic reminder of what is at stake, but there were few signs of urgency within the negotiating rooms. Country representatives now need to return home to make significant progress on their work plans and national offers that can become the backbone of a new climate agreement,” said Jennifer Morgan, director, climate and energy programme, World Resources Institute, an environmental think tank.

The final agreement in Paris is aimed at intensifying domestic preparation of countries to increase their national contributions for bringing down the effects of climate change. More than 190 countries agreed to start preparing “contributions” for the new deal, which is supposed to be adopted in 2015. The term “contributions” was adopted after China and India objected to the word “commitments” in a standoff with the US and other developed countries. The agreement signed in Paris will come into force from 2020.

The press statement added that 48 of the poorest countries of the world finalized a comprehensive set of plans to deal with the inevitable impacts of climate change at the conference. “With these plans, the countries can better assess the immediate impacts of climate change and what they need in the way of support to become more resilient. Developed countries, including Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland have also paid or pledged over $100 million to add to the Adaptation Fund, which has now started to fund national projects,” it added.

Full story
 
 

2) Britain’s Bill For Climate Aid Rises To £4.5 Billion
The Sunday Telegraph, 24 November 2013

Richard Gray

An extra £1.5 billion of British public money is to be sent as aid to developing countries to help them tackle climate change after the European Union decided to spend additional funds on aid

Britain has been committed to sending an extra £1.5 billion of taxpayers’ money abroad as aid to help poorer countries tackle climate change due to a new European Union policy.

As part of a new budget, EU leaders have taken the decision to give the funds to developing countries which say they suffer damage due to global warming.

The money comes on top of £2.9 billion the Government has already pledged from its own aid budget to spend on climate change projects. The announcement has angered Conservative MPs and global warming sceptics.

Among the climate change projects already funded by the EU is a 13-mile-long train line in Quito, Ecuador, a country that has enjoyed growing wealth and reduced inequality due to its oil industry.

Details of the extra climate-aid payments emerged as UN climate talks in Poland dragged on into an additional day of bad-tempered negotiations.

Among the key issues being discussed was whether developed countries should pay additional compensation to poorer nations to deal with what they say is the impact of climate change.

Ed Davey, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said the UK was opposed to paying compensation in this way, describing it as “not fair or sensible”.

However, as ministers and officials attempted to negotiate terms for a new deal on reducing carbon emissions last week, European leaders approved the new EU budget from 2014 to 2020.

It included plans to siphon off €15 billion (£12.5 billion) over the next seven years from the main EU budget to be used as climate aid.

The UK contributes about 12.5 per cent of the EU’s overall budget, meaning that about £1.5 billion of the additional aid over the next seven years will have been paid by British taxpayers.

Growing numbers of Tory backbenchers are now calling for the Government to withdraw from expensive climate change and carbon emission commitments.

Japan’s decision to sharply reduce its carbon emission goals and Australia’s scrapping of a tax on high carbon emitters has increased the pressure.

Lord Lawson of Blaby, the former Conservative chancellor and a climate change sceptic, criticised the EU for using its wider budget to provide climate aid.

He said: “This is a complete waste of taxpayers’ money. It will achieve no useful purpose at a time when people are already hard pressed.”

Douglas Carswell, Tory MP for Clacton, said the decision was unjustifiable. He said: “We’re spending money that we don’t have to solve a problem that doesn’t exist at the behest of people we didn’t elect.

“The problem is because the decision makers in the EU are not properly accountable. They are making decisions that not only affect how billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money will be spent, but will directly impact the heating costs people in my constituency will face over winter.”

He added: “The rethinks that have happened in Japan and Australia and elsewhere desperately need to happen here as well.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg, Conservative MP for North East Somerset, said: “We shouldn’t be wasting money in this way.

“Every penny of money that comes from the British government is paid for by taxpayers and we are supposed to be in an age of austerity.

"We are cutting back on things like children’s services but then you are spending £4.5 billion on climate change aid which won’t make a blind bit of good anyway.”

Connie Hedegaard, the EU Commissioner for climate action, said the EU was committed to spending 20 per cent of its entire annual €960 billion (£805 billion) budget on climate-related projects.

“The development-aid budget will also see 20 per cent being used to help support countries we are supporting address climate change,” she said.

Full story (subscription required)
 
 

3) The EU’s Warsaw Offer: €180 Billion To Fight Climate Change
Responding to Climate Change, 19 November 2013

Sophie Yeo

20% of the EU’s budget will go towards fighting climate change, climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard announced in Warsaw today. 

This equates to €180 billion on climate spending between 2014 and 2020, which will be used to reduce emissions domestically and help developing countries adapt to climate change—three times what was provided in the previous budget.

Much of this will be spent on domestic projects, helping with the development of climate-smart agriculture, energy efficiency and the transport sector.

Over the next seven years, €15 billion from the EU’s overseas development budget will be ringfenced for climate spending. This is separate from what is provided each year by individual member states. For instance, the UK will provide £3.87bn of international climate aid between 2011 and 2015.

Speaking at a press conference in Warsaw today, EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard said that if the world is successfully going to tackle climate change “one of the things we need is to change is the whole economic paradigm, including the way we construct our budgets.” She added that Europe is the first region to construct its budget in this way.

Full story
 
 


4) UN Climate Agreement: Firewall Remains But Compromise Breaks Deadlock

Associated Press, 23 November 2013

Developed countries and fast-growing economies have reached a last-minute compromise to avert a breakdown of U.N. climate talks in Warsaw.

China and India had clashed with the U.S. and other developed countries Saturday over the wording of draft decisions with guidelines on when countries should present commitments for a new pact to fight global warming.

The talks were deadlocked after China and India insisted on wording that would keep a firewall between rich and poor countries that the U.S. and other developed countries want to get rid of.

However, a compromise was reached in which the word “commitments” was replaced by the weaker “contributions,” allowing the talks to continue Saturday.

Full story

Editor’s Note: The last minute compromise amendment introduced by the Indian delegation confirms the firewall between rich and poor countries, i.e. the agreed Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) will remain under the UNFCCC Convention and guided by the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities. Moreover, the agreed national ‘contributions’ (whatever that means) are undefined, voluntary and not legally binding. In short, the can has been kicked into the long grass  again while the chances for a legally binding agreement remain close to zero. –Benny Peiser
 
 
5) Where Have All The Climate Billions Gone?
The Washington Post, 18 November 2013

Brad Plumer

Most of the $27 billion in climate funding for poor countries has gone toward clean energy and energy efficiency. Only a small slice, about $5 billion, went toward helping poor countries prepare for the actual impacts of climate change, like droughts or heat waves.

One of the cruel ironies of climate change is that the poor countries that have contributed the least to the problem are expected to get hit the hardest.

That’s why, in recent years, many of the world’s wealthier nations — including the United States, Germany, Britain, and Japan — have promised billions of dollars in aid to help developing countries adapt to the impacts of global warming and switch over to cleaner energy sources.

In 2009, these nations pledged $30 billion in “fast start” climate finance over the next three years, with a promise to scale that up to $100 billion per year in aid from both public and private sources by 2020.

But that latter pledge now looks increasingly unlikely — and it’s one of the big sticking points at the ongoing U.N. climate negotiations in Warsaw this month.

So it’s worth asking: What does this climate aid actually look like? Where has it all gone so far? And are wealthy nations really going to put up $100 billion per year in climate finance in the years to come? Here’s a breakdown:

–2010-2012: The first $35 billion in climate aid. Between 2010 and 2012, the world’s wealthy nations say they provided $35 billion to help poorer countries adjust to climate change, as promised at Copenhagen. (You can see a full breakdown of these pledges from the World Resources Institute here.)

The vast majority of that aid — $27 billion — came from five countries: Germany, Japan, Norway, Britain, and the United States. And most of it went toward clean energy, efficiency, and other mitigation projects around the world. Only a small slice, about $5 billion, went toward helping poor countries prepare for the actual impacts of climate change, like droughts or heat waves.

For instance, Norway gave Brazil $1 billion to help prevent deforestation. The United States gave the Congo Basin $15.7 million to preserve rain forest biodiversity. Japan gave Egypt a $338 million loan for wind power. You can see a partial list of projects in this map below from 2011 (click to enlarge):




Critics have pointed out, however, that these climate pledges didn’t always add up. Oxfam International has argued that most of the aid wasn’t “new and additional” — much of it was foreign aid that already existed but was simply repackaged under the auspices of climate change.

The United States, for instance, says it provided $7.5 billion in “fast start” climate finance between 2010 and 2012, spread out across more than a hundred countries. But Oxfam says that total includes existing development aid approved by Congress that the State Department says produced “climate co-benefits.” It also includes loan guarantees through the Export-Import Bank that are primarily intended to benefit U.S. companies.

recent analysis from the World Resources Institute found other twists in that initial round of climate finance. Much of the aid wasn’t particularly well-targeted to climate change — there was little relationship between the recipients of climate finance and their vulnerability. That could be a consequence of the fact that most of the “climate finance” was simply aid that already existed.

–2013: Climate aid now seems to be plateauing. After the initial “fast start” round, the wealthier nations said they would help “mobilize” $100 billion per year in climate aid from public and private sources by 2020. But it’s not at all clear how this will happen.

Another recent report from Oxfam estimates that global climate aid from developed countries amounted to between $7.6 billion and $16.3 billion in 2013. The report said it was impossible to get a precise estimate, thanks to “murky accounting” — those figures, for instance, likely include existing loans that will have to be paid back.

Overall, Oxfam concluded that “most developed countries are now failing to demonstrate promised increases,” with the exception of Britain and Germany.

Full story
 
 

6) Reality Check: Coalition Agreement May End Germany’s Green Energy Shift
Die Zeit, 22 November 2013

It is only one sentence in the coalition agreement, but it could mean the end of Germany’s green energy shift (Energiewende). The Christian Democrats (CDU) and Social Democrats (SPD) want to force the renewable industry to pay for conventional back-up energy generation.

Almost unnoticed by the public, Federal Environment Minister Peter Altmaier (CDU) and North Rhine Westphalia’s Prime Minister Hannelore Kraft (SPD) have agreed upon on a passage in the Energy chapter of the draft coalition agreement that could ensure the end of the green energy transition and seal the fate of the renewable energy industry. “This is massive,” is the comment even in government circles. The decisive statement has allegedly been included in the draft contract under pressure from the bosses of RWE and E.on, Peter Terium and John Teyssen.

The renewable energy lobby has not even noticed the attack on its core business. The decisive statement can be found in line 259 of the 11 November draft agreement. It says: “We will examine whether large producers of electricity from renewable sources must guarantee a base load portion of their maximum feed in order to contribute to supply security.”

This refers to the cardinal problem of solar and wind energy, the intermittency of power generation that depends on the weather. The year has 8,760 hours; wind turbines, however, only produce for 1,530 hours at full power, photovoltaic systems even just for 980 hours. To make matters worse, no one knows in advance when green electricity is fed into the grid, and when it’s not available.

The proposal by Altmaier and Kraft boils down to a requirement for operators of wind and solar power to take out a form of insurance. In principle, they must guarantee the supply of the kilowatt hours usually provided by their systems, regardless of whether the wind blows or the sun is shining. However, this is only possible for wind and solar systems by guaranteed power of conventional power plants. This way, coal or gas power plants would be brought back into the business – and the green power producers would have to pay for it. They would be forced to do business with RWE and Co.

The business model of renewable energy operators would be destroyed. This is made clear by a simple calculation: the cost of conventional power plant capacity in Europe is typically estimated at 60 Euros per kilowatt. Since solar energy systems need the back-up only for about 1,000 hours per year, this would result in a kilowatt-hour price of approximately six cents for the insurance. An operator of solar power systems would have to pay this amount for every kilowatt hour generated by himself to the operators of a coal or gas power plant, so that they hold up the necessary safe plant capacity.

Part of the legally guaranteed EEG feed-in tariff, which has the objective to promote green electricity, would end up with the operators of conventional power plants in this way. It is such a big amount that one could no longer make any profit with green electricity. If they had to shoulder the burden, the development of renewable energies would come to an end – and so would the green energy transition.

Operators of onshore wind turbines would be charged for the usual hours at full load with less than four cents per kilowatt hour. The feed-in tariffs for new wind turbines is currently around nine cents. Take away four cents for back-up and the wind operator would be left with five cents per kilowatt hour. For this amount, however, nobody is building a wind turbine. The green energy transition would be killed instantly. Instead, RWE and Co. could breath again. It cannot be ruled out that their current search for a new corporate image would be undermined as a result.

Whether it will actually get that far is uncertain. After all, the formulation in the draft coalition agreement includes three vague concepts. Firstly, the matter should only be “examined”. Secondly, only “large” green power producers should be obliged, if at all. And thirdly, the back-up insurance should be organized only for a proportion of the base load. Disaster is looming but there is still hope.

The mere fact that the coalition partners are flirting with the idea of promoting old energy at the expense of new one is a revelation. It shows how much the CDU and the SPD are now distancing themselves from the green energy transition.

Translation Philipp Mueller

Die Zeit, 22 November 2013 (in German)
 
 
 
 


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