The Global Warming Policy Foundation

CCNet –  8 May 2012
The Climate Policy Network


UN Fails to Finalise Rio+20 Plan

Talks Deadlocked Over Green Protectionism Fears
 
 

After two weeks of closed door negotiations, a U.N. preparatory committee has failed to reach consensus on a global plan of action, titled "The Future We Want," to be adopted by a summit meeting of world leaders mid-June in Brazil. In an effort to break the deadlock, the PrepCom will give another shot at the zero draft when it holds an unscheduled five-day session beginning May 29. This will be a last ditch attempt to finalise the draft action plan. --Thalif Deen, IPS News, 7 May 2012
 
 
 
 
Representatives from governments negotiating the outcome document for the United Nations Sustainable Development Conference (Rio+20) today agreed to add five more days of deliberations to bridge differences that have kept them from making further progress in negotiations. Countries have voiced concern over the theme of the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty, with some developing countries asserting that a green economy approach should not lead to green protectionism or limit growth and poverty eradication. --UN News Centre, 5 May 2012
 
 
 
A statement released Friday by a coalition of international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) warned that Rio+20 "looks set to add almost nothing to global efforts to deliver sustainable development". Antonio Hill of Oxfam said, "After four months of talks on the so-called zero draft outcome document, the Rio+20 talks are stuck at zero." He said little or nothing has emerged that will deliver on what governments agreed was needed 20 years ago at the Earth Summit. --Thalif Deen, IPS News, 7 May 2012
 
 
 
 
Miffed with the way some UN and other international organizations have played a partisan role in climate change negotiations, India has demanded that their reports and studies should not be accepted as part of these deliberations. So far, these external reports were used more for rhetorical discourses and building public pressure outside the negotiation forums. --Nitin Sethi, Times of India, 6 May 2012
 
 

EU nations are dithering over how to fill a multi-billion-euro fund to help tackle climate change, just as the region's executive body hosts talks with countries likely to bear the brunt of extreme weather. Non-governmental organisation Oxfam said "intransigence" from some EU member states was putting the coalition at risk as they are arguing against firm commitments to finance after 2012. --Reuters, 7 May 2012
 
 
 
Are biofuels about to become irrelevant in Europe? It is not just austerity on the decline throughout Europe with France’s Nicolas Sarkozy another leader down as of yesterday. While Europeans are rethinking their countries’ austere budgets, European Union officials in Brussels are also doubting the efficacy of biofuels. --Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit, 7 May 2012
 
 
 
I voted against the Climate Change Act, not on the basis that the science is still so uncertain, but on the evidence provided to Parliament by the government about the costs and benefits of the Act. I got a copy of the impact assessment. I was the only person to do so - I know that because when I went to the vote office, they said "Oh, we can't find that, no-one's asked for it." But they did eventually find it. And I read it. And this is the government's assessment of the costs and benefits of the Climate Change Act, the most expensive piece of legislation probably introduced in this country since the Welfare State. –-Peter Lilley, MP, 1 May 2012
 
 
 
1) UN Fails to Finalise Rio+20 Plan On Sustainable Future - IPS News, 7 May 2012

2) Rio+20 Talks Deadlocked Over Green Protectionism Fears - UN News Centre, 5 May 2012

3) Cash-Strapped EU Nations Get Cold Feet Over $100bn Climate Fund - Reuters, 7 May 2012

4) India Demands Exclusion Of Partisan NGO Reports From Climate Talks - Times of India, 6 May 2012

5) Biofuels On The Brink In Europe - Triple Pundit, 7 May 2012

6) Peter Lilley, MP: Communicating Climate Realism - Policy Exchange, 1 May 2012
 
 
 

1) UN Fails to Finalise Rio+20 Plan On Sustainable Future
IPS News, 7 May 2012

Thalif Deen

After two weeks of closed door negotiations, a U.N. preparatory committee (PrepCom) has failed to reach consensus on a global plan of action, titled "The Future We Want," to be adopted by a summit meeting of world leaders mid-June in Brazil. The negotiators, comprising representatives of all 193 member states, proclaimed limited success, including reducing the size of the action plan - formally called the "outcome document" - from nearly 200 to less than 100 pages.

The document, called the "zero draft", originally ran to more than 6,000 pages of submissions by member states, international organisations and civil society groups.

Still, after protracted negotiations ending last Friday, Ambassador Kim Sook of South Korea, one of the co-chairs of the PrepCom, said delegates had expressed "disappointment and frustration at the lack of progress" on reaching agreement on a plan aimed at a greener economy and a sustainable future.

In an effort to break the deadlock, the PrepCom will give another shot at the zero draft when it holds an unscheduled five-day session beginning May 29.

This will be a last ditch attempt to finalise the draft action plan, which has to be ready for approval by world leaders arriving in Rio de Janeiro for the three-day summit, beginning Jun. 20.

The summit will be the culmination of the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, also called Rio+20), a follow-up to the landmark 1992 Earth Summit in Brazil which adopted Agenda 21 and the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development.

"Let us be frank," UNCSD Secretary-General Sha Zukang said Friday, "currently, the negotiating text is a far cry from the 'focused political document' called for by the General Assembly."

He said the objective should be to arrive in Rio "with at least 90 percent of the text ready, and only the most difficult 10 percent left to be negotiated there at the highest political levels".

However, a statement released Friday by a coalition of international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) warned that Rio+20 "looks set to add almost nothing to global efforts to deliver sustainable development".

"Too many governments are using or allowing the talks to undermine established human rights and agreed principles such as equity, precaution, and polluter pays," it said.

Antonio Hill of Oxfam said, "After four months of talks on the so-called zero draft outcome document, the Rio+20 talks are stuck at zero."

He said little or nothing has emerged that will deliver on what governments agreed was needed 20 years ago at the Earth Summit.

Full story

 


2) Rio+20 Talks Deadlocked Over Green Protectionism Fears
UN News Centre, 5 May 2012

Representatives from governments negotiating the outcome document for the United Nations Sustainable Development Conference (Rio+20) today agreed to add five more days of deliberations to bridge differences that have kept them from making further progress in negotiations. Countries have voiced concern over the theme of the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty, with some developing countries asserting that a green economy approach should not lead to green protectionism or limit growth and poverty eradication.


“The present negotiation approach has run its course,” said Rio+20 Secretary-General Sha Zukang, adding that there is a need to proceed with a sense of urgency.

The negotiated document, along with voluntary commitments by governments, businesses and civil society, is meant to set the stage for the global community to recommit to sustainable development and agree to concrete actions when they gather at the Rio+20 Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 20 to 22 June.

Mr. Sha called for greater political will and agreement on all sides and underlined that the main objective is to get to Rio de Janeiro with at least 90 per cent of the text ready and only the most difficult 10 per cent left to be negotiated there.

“We can have an outcome document which builds upon earlier agreements – an outcome document which is action-oriented in spelling out the future we want,” he said.

Mr. Sha stressed that the present document, despite having been reduced by about 100 pages, still has too many paragraphs and contains too much repetition. “Currently, the negotiating text is a far cry from the 'focused political document' called for by the General Assembly,” he said.

Countries have voiced concern over accountability and implementation of the commitments made, as well as over the theme of the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty, with some developing countries asserting that a green economy approach should not lead to green protectionism or limit growth and poverty eradication.

“Delegates have expressed disappointment and frustration at the lack of progress,” Rio+20 Preparatory Committee co-chair Kim Sook told participants at the concluding meeting of the latest round of talks yesterday.

Mr. Kim emphasized that there will be a change in working methods when negotiations resume that will include working from a new text prepared by the co-chairs, as well as other changes in the negotiating procedures.

The five added negotiating days have been set for 19 May to 2 June and will take place in New York.

More than 120 Heads of State have registered to attend Rio+20, and some 50,000 people, including business executives, mayors, representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), youth and indigenous people, among others, are expected to participate in both official and informal events during the Conference.
 


3) Cash-Strapped EU Nations Get Cold Feet Over $100bn Climate Fund
Reuters, 7 May 2012

EU nations are dithering over how to fill a multi-billion-euro fund to help tackle climate change, just as the region's executive body hosts talks with countries likely to bear the brunt of extreme weather.

The EU recommitted to providing €7.2bn ($9.4bn) for the fund over 2010-12, according to draft conclusions seen by Reuters ahead of a meeting of EU finance ministers next week.

But after that, how much cash will flow is unclear as the text - drafted against the backdrop of acute economic crisis in the eurozone - only states the need to "scale up climate finance from 2013 to 2020" without specifying how.

The Green Climate Fund aims to channel up to $100bn globally per year by 2020 to help developing countries deal with the impact of climate change.

Its design was agreed at international climate talks in Durban last year.

Europe's climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard is fighting to build on Durban's fragile agreement to keep alive the United Nations process on tackling climate change.

On Monday and Tuesday, she will hold informal discussions in Brussels with members of what some call the "coalition of ambition", ahead of UN talks in Bonn later this month.

The coalition is a union of the EU, the Alliance of Small Island States and the Least Developed Countries, which at the UN talks in Durban played a lead role in forging agreement on keeping alive the Kyoto process to address global warming.

"I have invited to Brussels today and tomorrow a group of 30 ambitious countries, represented by their ministers, to discuss how we can keep up this momentum and continue to achieve results together," Hedegaard said in a statement.

'Stubborn'

Non-governmental organisation Oxfam said "intransigence" from some EU member states was putting the coalition at risk as they are arguing against firm commitments to finance after 2012.

"At a critical moment in the fight against climate change, Europe looks to be sitting back rather than stepping up," Lies Craeynest, Oxfam's EU climate change expert, said.

Debate has also focused on how much of the EU's $30bn share of the $100bn should come from the private sector, which would reduce the need for public funds.

The draft conclusions ahead of the May 15 EU ministerial meeting noted "further efforts are required to clarify the concept of private financing and its contribution to the $100bn"”.
Full story
 


4) India Demands Exclusion Of Partisan NGO Reports From Climate Talks
Times of India, 6 May 2012

Nitin Sethi

Miffed with the way some UN and other international organizations have played a partisan role in climate change negotiations, India has demanded that their reports and studies should not be accepted as part of these deliberations.

Domestically, it has refused the Asian Development Bank's (ADB) request to become an official partner to its study on the cost-benefit analysis of taking different actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The decision against ADB's proposal on 'mitigation studies' is not the first time that the government has taken such a step on offers from international organizations and funding agencies. "The method that ADB was using was such that it would seem all emission reduction actions are purely beneficial in terms of economics," an official told TOI.

Earlier, India had fought a silent battle at international climate negotiations to point out that the Bridging the Emissions Gap report, presented by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), was a clever presentation of data showing the gap between what the world had committed to reduce emissions and how much more needed to be done to remain within relatively safer levels of global warming. Scholars from the Stockholm Institute of Environment, using the data that UNEP had collected but not highlighted, showed that the developing countries had committed to greater emission reductions than the rich nations.

"It's not that the data is wrong in these reports, but what answers one is looking at. If the reports are part of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change like the IPCC report, they are informed by the needs of all countries and not guided by politics and interests of the few," an official said.

In one of the most prominent such cases, the government had taken the UNDP to task in 2007 for presenting a report that had discarded the notion of fair-burden sharing while apportioning responsibility to reduce global emissions.

If the report is based on the premise of fair burden-sharing formula, the solutions it would throw up like which country should do what are bound to be at odds with dumping the responsibility for historical emissions and only looking at the remaining atmospheric space.

"Now, equity has been accepted by even groupings like US-led Major Economies Forum that had refused to entertain it so far. An equitable decision on how countries share emission reductions to remain within safe limits is back on the table after Durban talks, and studies or institutions that do not make this as a basis of their research are playing a partial role at these meetings," another official noted.

So far, these external reports were used more for rhetorical discourses and building public pressure outside the negotiation forums. With the EU and Association of Small Island States, which ally closely with the Europeans, demanding that reports from outside the negotiation process too be taken into consideration while firming up greater commitments for all, India has formally objected to such a move.
 


5) Biofuels On The Brink In Europe
Triple Pundit, 7 May 2012

Leon Kaye

Are biofuels about to become irrelevant in Europe? It is not just austerity on the decline throughout Europe with France’s Nicolas Sarkozy another leader down as of yesterday. While Europeans are rethinking their countries’ austere budgets, European Union officials in Brussels are also doubting the efficacy of biofuels.

Biofuels have become a lynchpin in the European Union’s long-term energy strategy. As Europe lurches towards a goal of 20 percent of its total energy requirements by 2020, biofuels are an important part of that goal. Another EU directive mandates that 10 percent of transport fuel comes from renewable energy sources. But “renewable” has become a loaded word when it comes to biofuels because of the effects they have on land where they are grown as well as their resulting emissions.

At issue is the concept of indirect land use change (ILUC). ILUC theory dictates that by converting farms for food into land grown for biofuel crops, such production increases an overall demand for additional land for farming. If farmers therefore cut down trees or drain wetlands, the results would be the release of millions of tons of carbon emissions that would otherwise be sequestered in peat bogs and forests. Studies the EU commissioned suggest that the risk of ILUC is higher for biodiesel, often made from oilseeds, than for bioethanol, manufactured out of sugar or grain. Meanwhile there is talk in Brussels over whether biodiesel is really better for the environment than conventional diesel, though some experts argue that plants grown for biodiesel’s production offsets any carbon emissions from biofuels.

The result has been reported infighting between the EU’s Climate Commission, which supports the move to include ILUC emissions in the overall emissions count of crops used to produce biofuels. The Energy Department, however, opposes such a rule. Naturally the biofuels industry, worth approximately $17 billion in Europe, is against such a change because such a shift could drastically affect its business. Farmers, generally a powerful lobby throughout Europe, could see their bottom line take a hit as well.

Full story

 

 
6) Peter Lilley, MP: Communicating Climate Realism
Policy Exchange, 1 May 2012

Peter Lilley's speech at the Policy Exchange debate A Greener Shade of Blue? Communicating Climate Change on the Right

It's a privilege to be part of this panel. The document that was sent out says the presumption today is that there's a problem communicating climate change on the right, because some on the political right are suspicious of taking action to reduce greenhouse emissions, some are hostile to climate science, others worry that it's just a cover for anti-capitalist political aims, or they challenge some of the economics behind the policy measures. Well, I take it I am here set up as an example of this problem, a token denialist, one of the infamous five who voted against the Climate Change Act. In short, a suitable case for treatment.

Indeed I was worried and relieved when Dr Corner spoke, because I'd seen that Cardiff University houses his school on communicating climate change in the School of Psychology, and I wondered whether this was a sort of Stalinist approach, where one who was thought to deviate from the established line was in need of treatment, and in fact that wasn't the line taken. But I would suggest another line to take, for your studies of the psychology, is to study the groupthink in the climate change business. And I will happily give you an article on the subject, that I wrote in the Wall Street Journal some while ago.

Before I go on to what I say, can I - because I am somewhat of the grit in the oyster - explain my own position? I studied physics at Cambridge, before I went on to become an economist, and I fully accept the existence of the greenhouse effect. Without the warm blanket provided by greenhouse gases, notably CO2 and water vapour, the Earth would probably be a frozen, uninhabitable rock. If the amount of CO2 is doubled, it's well established that the direct effect, other things being equal, would be to raise the Earth's temperature by about one degree Centigrade. Since warmer air holds more water vapour, that could double the impact, or reduce it if the resulting clouds reflect back more sunshine.

All that's certain and settled. But a degree or two rise in temperature is, of itself, not a huge concern. To predict temperature increases large enough to generate catastrophic consequences requires invoking feedbacks, which are at best uncertain, or even unknown, and in order to amplify the initial greenhouse effect. So the debate is not about whether CO2 will warm the climate, but how much, how certain, how soon, how much harm it will cause, and how well we could adapt to it. And all those areas have great doubts and concerns, but also great opportunities for those of an alarmist disposition.

However, I voted against the Climate Change Act, not on the basis that the science is still so uncertain, but on the evidence provided to Parliament by the government about the costs and benefits of the Act. The government published an impact assessment of the Climate Change Act - it's always obliged to publish an assessment of the costs and benefits of any piece of legislation - in order that Parliament should know that the benefits substantially exceed the costs and it's worthwhile doing.

I got a copy of the impact assessment. I was the only person to do so - I know that because when I went to the vote office, they said "Oh, we can't find that, no-one's asked for it." But they did eventually find it. And I read it. And this is the government's assessment of the costs and benefits of the Climate Change Act, the most expensive piece of legislation probably introduced in this country since the Welfare State.

Full speech

 

 

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