Friday, 5 December 2008

Climate Snippets - 6 December - Global Day of Action on Climate Change Special

Climate change news from Aotearoa and around the World.

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Poznan climate talks begin.

About 10,600 delegates from 186 governments, businesses and environmental groups will meet in Poznan for two weeks of talks. The meeting marks the halfway point of a two-year push to agree a new climate treaty in Copenhagen at the end of 2009 to succeed the Kyoto Protocol which expires in 2012 Much of the debate is about trying to agree on an overall emissions cut by developed nations of 25 percent to 40 percent by 2020, though the final target is not likely to be set until the Copenhagen meeting.

Head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat, Yvo de Boer, said meeting the climate change targets at the same time as the world was grappling with recession would be a challenge. Mr de Boer praised President-elect Barack Obama for saying that he would seek to cut United States emissions of greenhouse gases back to 1990 levels by 2020 as part of global action to avert more heatwaves, floods, droughts, more powerful storms and rising seas. US emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels in factories, power plants and cars, are about 14 percent above.

In Europe, economic slowdown has exposed doubts about the costs of an EU goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. UN talks host Poland, which gets 93 percent of its electricity from coal, and Italy are leading a drive for concessions in a package meant to be agreed at a December 11-12 summit of EU leaders in Brussels. The talks in Poland will review new ideas for combating global warming, such as handing credits to tropical nations for preserving forests. China is also suggesting that developed nations should give up to 1 percent of their gross national product in aid to help the poor switch from fossil fuels.

NZ Farmer plea at climate talks - Greens say PM risks undermining exports.

Prime Minister John Key has confirmed New Zealand will seek special treatment for its farmers at climate change talks this month, bringing claims from the Greens that the stance could damage agriculture exports. Mr Key said negotiators in Poznan, Poland, would argue aggressively for any targets on greenhouse gas emissions for New Zealand to take account of the significant contribution farming played in the economy. The industry accounts for half of New Zealand's carbon emissions. But Greens co-leader Russel Norman said the stance would undermine international efforts to reduce emissions and could threaten farm exports as other countries focused on high-emitting industries. "If they want credibility in any of these negotiations, they've got to be seen to be taking action domestically," Dr Norman said. "Undermining the ETS undermines that credibility. If we're asking for anything around agriculture, then we need to be seen to be doing stuff domestically. "The problem is that everyone's got a reason for special treatment, and if everyone gets special treatment, then we don't reduce emissions."

Financial crisis no excuse to slow carbon fight: UN climate chief.

The world financial crisis must not become an excuse for backsliding on efforts to curb global carbon emissions, a top UN environmental official warned Thursday. While acknowledging the severity of the financial turmoil, Yvo de Boer, said: "To use the financial crisis as an excuse not to act on climate change would basically amount to setting yourself up for the next financial crisis. For example, within the next five to 10 years we will be replacing about 40 percent of the power-generating capacity worldwide. If, in the light of the financial crisis, a decision is made to go for cheap and dirty technology, as in the past, that technology will still be around in 30 to 50 years," he said. "The challenge for industry is how it can be part of the solution and not part of the problem," he later told reporters.

'World mandate' on climate action.

An opinion poll in 11 countries has produced what organisers term a "global mandate" for action on climate change. About half of the respondents wanted governments to play a major role in curbing emissions, but only a quarter said their leaders were doing enough. In developing countries, a majority of people were prepared to make "lifestyle changes" to reduce climate change. The survey was commissioned by the HSBC Climate Partnership, which includes business and environmental groups. The survey revealed that 43% of people questioned put climate change ahead of the world's financial instability as an issue of current concern, even though the surveys ran in the turbulent months of September and October. However, the numbers saying they would alter their lifestyles to reduce climate change had fallen in the year between the previous survey, in 2007, and this one.

Nielson, Taylor & Clark: Govt should go with emissions trading scheme.

The new Government's decision to put the emissions trading scheme on hold
pending a review came as a bolt from the blue. Stakeholders had been led to expect that there would be some changes to the ETS but the proposal to pass legislation putting it on hold was completely unexpected. The decision has thrown the emerging carbon market into disarray. It has undermined the recent launch of the New Zealand Stock Exchange's carbon trading platform, TZ1. EcoSecurities, one of the largest promoters of emission reduction projects in the world, pulled out from the launch of its New Zealand business. It has brought into doubt the forest sector's investment in large-scale carbon sequestration [storing carbon in forests]. According to one report it led an Asian investor to cancel a 25,000ha afforestation project. There are other indications that investment in new plantings has evaporated.

Dim view of light bulb decision.

The Greens are unhappy with National's decision to overturn the previous government's ban on incandescent light bulbs. Energy and Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee has reportedly instructed the Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority to prepare the paperwork to reverse the ban. The legislation would have seen incandescent bulbs switched off in October next year. Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says it's par for the course for National which has opposed every energy efficiency proposal she can think of in recent years. She says National has set a climate change target of a 50% reduction in Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2050 but does not seem to have the slightest idea of how it will get there.

In Brief

Brazil sets plan to cut deforestation by 70 percent over 10 years.

EU agrees to cut car emissions.

Solar cemetery.

Vatican set to go green with huge solar panel roof.

Major Study: Palm oil offers no green solution.

India's humble rickshaw goes solar.

Climate change keeps swans in Siberia.

Jeanette Fitzsimons: NZ red faced over climate change’.

Rod Oram: Can John Key find his compass?

Heinberg: The Food and farming transition.

Monbiot: Whistling in the wind.

Best of the Net

Blog: Don Elder waxed poetic about the prospects for NZ coal this week at Solid Energy’s maiden annual meeting in Auckland.

Blog: Greenpeace climate rescue weblog.

Blog: National rejects expert advice?

Send a Greenpeace e-postcard to Poznan

Don’t be a Rodney – write a letter to key.

UK E.on coal company Google-bombed.

CBC Video: Canada looks to Germany

Video: The Big Ask.

Audio: Norman: Climate science review 'embarrassing'.

Greenpeace has turned it's front webpage into a giant countdown clock leading to Copenhagen to highlight how little time we have left to cut a real deal on climate change.

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