Posts Tagged ‘climate change’

Urgency to seal deal as COP17 ends … (John Yeld, Daily News, 7/12/2011)

With less than 72 hours left in which to strike a new climate change deal at the COP17 summit, negotiations are on a knife-edge.

An impeccable source, close to the process who asked to remain anonymous, said last night: “The outcome still hangs in the balance – it’s very hard to call.”

But there is reportedly also an urgency and willingness among the negotiators from the 194 member nations and the EU to seal an agreement before the summit ends on Friday.

At the heart of a possible new deal is the highly contentious issue of a second commitment period for developed nations to further reduce their greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto protocol.

The first commitment period for these 27 “Annex 1” developed countries ends next year.

The basis for much of the negotiations at the summit is the EU’s “road map” proposal which will see it and a small number of developed countries like Norway sign up for a second Kyoto commitment period, in return for guarantees that negotiations for a new global, legally binding treaty deal that will pull all countries in will be concluded by 2015 and come into effect in 2020.

This deal will have to include the US, which is not part of Kyoto, and the big emitters like China, India, Brazil and SA that are listed as developing countries under the protocol and hence not subject to any compliance measures.

But the EU has also attached other demands to its road map and some negotiators are concerned that the bloc may be trying to whittle down the legal rigour and integrity required by the protocol. They say this will also weaken the legal character of any possible global climate deal.

Although many still see the US as the “spoiler” at the summit, – particularly the non-governmental groups – there is some understanding in the negotiating rooms of its domestic policies, which make it politically impossible to sign any deal that might appear to be giving dollars to business rivals like China to boost their competitiveness.

China is, in turn, concerned at the US’s history of having signed up to the Kyoto protocol but then not ratifying it.

Negotiators are looking for ways to remove the “firewall” between how developed and developing countries are categorised in terms of the Kyoto protocol, so that there will be balance and symmetry in the way all big greenhouse gas emitters are treated in future.

Small island states desperately want tough new emissions targets, but the recent financial meltdown in key parts of the developed world means they are unable and/or unwilling to put brakes on their economies through further compulsory carbon reductions.

“So we’re in a bit of a dilemma, but all the pieces are on the table,” the source said last night.

 “We’re on an edge and it’s very hard to call one way or another, but I’m extremely encouraged by the progress.”


COP17’s ‘flabby, racist’ agreement (Daily News, 6/11/2011)

Copy of Copy of ND KUMIShayne Robinson, Greenpeace Poor communities bear the brunt of the greed of multinational companies, says head of Greenpeace International Kumi Naidoo. Picture: Shayne Robinson/Greenpeace

 ‘We have gone from anticipating a fair, ambitious and binding agreement (or Fab) to a “full-of-loopholes and bull****” (Flab) agreement.”

And this flabby agreement, said head of Greenpeace International Kumi Naidoo, amounted to what he called environmental racism.

“Poor communities bear the brunt of the greed of multinational companies – when the most vulnerable are being affected this way, we have to question the quality of democracy and fair process,” he said.

He was speaking at a side event at the 17th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, entitled “Coal, the Dirty Truth”, in which Greenpeace and environmental organisation the Sierra Club examined the facts, exposing the costs of coal in a carbon-constrained world. Activists from China, the US, SA and India took part in the presentation.

Ferrial Adam of Greenpeace began by saying SA generated 90 percent of its energy from coal.

Melita Steele, climate change and energy campaigner at Greenpeace Africa, looked at the local example of Eskom’s latest power station in Kusile: “It is completely unnecessary – (with) natural resources like wind and sun, SA will be able to generate (half) its energy from renewables by 2030,” she said.

And the Medupi and Kusile stations were also the largest in the world, each capable of generating 4 800 megawatts each.

Greenpeace India’s Siddharth Pathak talked about the mining of coal in terms of biodiversity.

“The Royal Bengal tiger roams the central parts of India, where some want to explore the idea of mining coal – it is already critically endangered,” he said.

Iris Cheng of Greenpeace International also explained why the disadvantages of using carbon capture and storage technology to mitigate the use of fossil fuels outweighed its advantages: “Who will be accountable if there is a leakage?” she asked.

She said that trying to store carbon increased coal and water usage by 30 percent and energy to facilitate the process by 10 to 40 percent.

“By looking at this kind of false solution in Durban, we are giving it legitimacy: it could eat away at the valuable finance that could be used to invest in things like renewable energy,” she said. – Kamcilla Pillay

COP17 waits for a miracle (Peter Fabricius, 6/11/2011

Maite2COP17 President Maite Nkoana-Mashabane speaks during a news conference at the Conference of the Parties (COP17). Picture: Reuters/Rogan WardInternational Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane joined others in prayer at a church in Umlazi on Sunday for a successful outcome to the COP17 climate conference in Durban.

This naturally elicited some flippant remarks about how desperate the minister and her government must be about getting a deal as the countdown begins to the end of the talks on Friday.

Priests and gurus have certainly contributed their bit to the big effort being made at COP17 to achieve a far-reaching climate deal. And a great deal of faith in mankind, if not divine intervention, certainly seems in order.

But for most, religion remains a metaphor in the climate change milieu. Last week at COP17, during a discussion about carbon trading, Henry Derwent, a carbon trader, offered one of the best.

He noted that many climate change purists regarded carbon credits as “papal indulgences”. They believed that instead of being allowed to buy such credits to emit carbon by financing the efforts of developing countries to combat climate change, they should simply not be allowed to sin.

Derwent complained about how such ideologues were throwing obstacles in the path of agreement.

He said some delegates from the developing world, and particularly Africa, were trying to kill the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), the centrepiece of the carbon-trading system, unless the developed countries signed up to a second commitment period under the Kyoto protocol.

That protocol is the only global legally binding treaty for curbing greenhouse gas emissions, but it is in severe jeopardy. Japan, Canada and Russia have announced that they will not sign up to a second commitment period under the Kyoto protocol when the first one expires at the end of next year.

They say that, together, all the so-called “Annex 1” developed countries which signed the first commitment period generated only about a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gases and that unless other major emitters like China, India and Brazil committed themselves, the Kyoto protocol remained meaningless.

The EU and a few others feel much the same, but they have at least agreed to be part of a second commitment period if all the big emitters agree in Durban to negotiate towards a broader, legally binding emission-curbing treaty to be implemented from 2020.

That’s the big deal on the table in Durban, although the chances of its being clinched look rather slim.

If that deal is not agreed to here and the EU and company carry out their threat not to sign on to a second commitment period under the Kyoto protocol, there is a grave danger that Durban will become notorious, at least in the popular mind, as “the graveyard of the Kyoto protocol”.

However, Japan for one insists that this would be an incorrect characterisation and that the Kyoto Protocol would live on in its other important elements, not least the CDM, which it says it will continue to support fully.

Many analysts believe that the carbon-trading markets that help finance the CDM will falter and perhaps fail without the legally binding commitments to emission reductions of a second Kyoto commitment period.

Already the volumes of carbon trading have begun declining quite steeply. Uncertainty about the future of Kyoto has been offered as the most likely reason, although carbon traders don’t all agree.

But it is one thing for the carbon market to get antsy and reluctant to invest; it is quite another for the government to try deliberately to scupper the CDM purely to punish those who want out of the Kyoto protocol.

No doubt they should stay in. And other big emitters should join them. But those who are trying to kill the CDM are shooting themselves in the foot. If the immense amounts of money that have already been committed by rich countries to finance the fight against climate change by poor countries are to be met – $100 billion (R797m) over a year by 2020 – markets will have to play a big part. This is in the end about economics, not religion or morality.



Green farming has major benefits (2/11/2011, Daily News)


(Bloomberg, Picture: Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg)

 Farming ecologically to counter food insecurity and maximising the use of crops as a carbon sink was possible – all that was needed was long-term trust between stakeholders and the political will to get projects off the ground.

Those were the sentiments shared by Henry Neufeldt of the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry at a presentation he delivered at one of the 17th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP17) side-events yesterday.

“Agriculture that is sustainable increases productivity while removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere,” he said, quoting the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

“By 2050, 70 percent more food would need to be produced to feed a much larger population,” he said.

Increased agriculture would also place greater pressure on biodiversity, he said.

The only way forward, he said, was to reduce the environmental impact while maximising output.

He said that one way for governments to assist in the move to more sustainable practices was to provide frameworks which incentivised sustainable management practices, such as making use of crop rotation, boundary trees and feed choices.

He said that the poor often resorted to coping strategies, such as eating the seeds that they would have otherwise planted during the next season.

“This is why all sustainable programmes need to work with food security,” he said.

Marja-Liisa Tapio-Bistrom of the FAO agreed with Neufeldt and said that food insecurity and climate change were the most difficult goals of our time.

“This is especially pressing because there are more than one billion people who do not have enough to eat,” she said. ~ Kamcilla Pillay

COP17 talks ‘will help the poor and vulnerable’ – Daily News (SAPA, 5/12/2011)

Christiana Figueres

Christiana Figueres, UN Executive Secretary. Picture: Marilyn Bernard

Climate talks in Durban are on track to help poor and vulnerable nations deal with increasingly fierce heatwaves, storms and drought brought about by climate change, says the UN’s top climate official.

“I am pretty confident that we are going to come out of Durban at the end of next week with probably the strongest package to support adaptation that we have ever had,” Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), told AFP in an interview on Saturday.

Climate change initiatives fall into the two broad categories of “cut” and “cope”: cutting the greenhouse gas emissions that drive global warming, and coping with the impacts already hitting regions across the world.

How to allocate scarce climate resources across this divide is a keenly debated issue at the 12-day climate negotiations under the UNFCCC, which end on Friday.

Most developing countries would like to see more money going into projects that help small-scale farmers cope with climate-enhanced weather extremes, or assist coastal communities deal with amped-up storm surges and rising seas.

So far, however, the lion’s share of funds has gone to mitigation, the term used for schemes to reduce the amount of CO2 humans pump into the atmosphere.

About 95 percent of the roughly $97 billion (R782bn) channelled into climate-related finance each year is earmarked for mitigation, according to a report by Climate Policy Initiative, an international research centre based in San Francisco.

“The split between mitigation and adaptation contrasts with some of the rhetoric in global climate change negotiations, where many countries and commentators have remarked that climate finance should be split 50-50,” lead author Barbara Buchner notes in the study.

New initiatives on the table in Durban should help shift the balance in this direction, Figueres said.

Some are only preliminary steps, such as forming a working group to examine “loss and damage” that can be attributed to climate change and devising a programme that allows the most exposed nations to highlight targets for assistance.

All of these are to be piloted by an umbrella adaptation committee that exists on paper, but has yet to be set up.

More contentious is a Green Climate Fund, to be ramped up to $100bn a year by 2020 to help with both mitigation and adaptation in poorer nations. Again, the mix has yet to be defined.

For Figueres, the yardstick for progress in the UN talks as a whole is how well they serve this constituency.

“I firmly believe that the success of this process must be measured by its effect on the most vulnerable populations of the world, not those that are least vulnerable,” she said.

Earlier in the day, about 6 500 people, mostly activists from South Africa and other parts of the continent, marched through the streets of central Durban calling for “climate justice”. – Sapa-AFP



Zapiro brilliance encapsulates COP17 in a nutshell … (

COP17 People’s space culture evenings just keep delivering !

Various artists were on show at the COP17 Peoples Space held at Howard college every weekday night. From peotry readings, kwaito, reggae, blues and the ever present Tanga Pasi. Such talent on display – make sure you find time to come to Howard college from 8pm to 10 pm for live entertainment adn movie screenings at 7. Definitely worthwhile. Hosted by Pamela Ngwenya and Nidhi Nepaul. (Photographs by Timothy Wiggill).