Friday, December 14, 2007

Bali meeting a 'road map' for Copenhagen

Sarah Clarke

ABC news

As negotiations intensify in the final stages of the Bali climate change conference, Australia and the US are coming under more pressure not to water down the declaration.

The United Nations is urging countries to sign a declaration that specifies that developed nations support a cut in their emissions of between 25 and 40 per cent by 2020.

But the United States is trying to remove any mention of a target.

And while the Australian delegation is also refusing to sign on to the target, scientist and Australian of the Year Tim Flannery says he will not be disappointed if the specific target is removed.

"The role of this meeting was to agree a road map out to December 2009 in Copenhagen when by that stage, we will have needed to agree the basic building blocks of the new treaty, and they include targets," he said.

The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned that at the rate we are going, we are looking at two degrees Celsius increase in temperatures.

"Clearly not enough action's been taken to date to address that," he added.

"Emissions are growing year by year, the threat is growing year by year, but these negotiations are never easy. We're dealing here with the most difficult negotiations I think humanity has ever embarked upon."

Dr Flannery says some countries are not yet ready to move, and believes the best outcome can be achieved by taking a measured, step-by-step approach towards 2009.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has said he is waiting for the Ross Garnaut report before he makes any commitment to short-term targets.

Dr Flannery says the Rudd Government's approach is cause for enormous optimism.

"As a bridge between the US and the Europeans and the Chinese, he can play a leading role globally in this, which is so much more important than waiting six months to decide precisely what the target's going to be," he said.

Interim targets

Dr Flannery says it is imperative for Australia to make short-term interim targets to meet the 25 to 40 per cent global level by 2020.

"Globally, we need to have emissions peak within about seven years and then 40 years from now we need to be living in what are effectively decarbonised economies," he said.

"That means we won't be burning coal conventionally anymore, won't be using petrol and oil as we use it now and probably with a greatly reduced dependency on gas.

"That is a massive, massive undertaking. This is really a new industrial revolution that we're going to see develop. So it's a big job, but I think for the first time ever, we've got the basic conditions right."

He says much of the work done over the last 12 months in the area of climate change, in which a Nobel Prize and an Academy Award have been won for work in the field, has helped to lay the foundations for future action.

But Dr Flannery warns that any contributions made by the US will be to be on its terms.

"We can't do anything with America. They have to be there and what that means in reality is that we need to keep a broad enough pathway open to allow the Americans to be part of this ongoing process," he said.

"They face difficulties, it's a much more cumbersome political system than we have in Australia and many places elsewhere. Changes take time."

Friday, December 07, 2007

Proof of global warming

Why doesn't the IPCC have this data in its report???

Tropical fever over targets

December 8, 2007
Marian Wilkinson

There is a simple but powerful equation that was being thrown at officials and reporters from the developed nations in Bali this week.

Almost 70 per cent of the greenhouse gas pollution already causing climate change was put into the atmosphere in the past by rich countries as they built prosperous economies for fewer than a fifth of the world's population.

Officials from China, India, Africa and the small island nations argued, at times acrimoniously, at the United Nations climate talks that this inescapable reality means rich countries must shoulder much of the burden in the fight to slow climate change and pay much of the bill to weather the damage that will continue for decades.

This is the harsh diplomatic reality facing the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, and his Climate Change Minister, Penny Wong, when they arrive in Bali early next week. While scientific necessity, and the developed world, demand that heavily polluting developing countries such as China and India must rein in their own soaring emissions, the fight over who pays most and who sacrifices most underscored every discussion in Bali this week.

The crucial talks that began on Monday have one main aim: to agree to begin formal negotiations that will produce a new global climate change agreement by 2009. The outcome in Bali is not supposed to determine targets for rich or developing countries. But as officials from more than 180 nations ground out proposals for the "road map" to this agreement, the debate over what targets the rich countries would meet was impossible to ignore.

Led by China's formidable delegation, the developing world asked explicitly whether developed countries were trying to walk away from a consensus reached in Vienna earlier this year that they should take the lead in making deep cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. This proposal emerged from the hard scientific facts put together by the UN's peak scientific body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. If the world is going to avoid dangerous climate change, it needs to halve the soaring level of emissions by mid-century. To do that it must start now. The UN recognised that industrialised countries have the technology and government institutions capable of taking the lead. Under the principles of the Kyoto Protocol, that is expected.

As a newly ratified member of the protocol, Australia is now aligned with that position. But this week, developed countries under the protocol, such as Japan and Canada, appeared to want to water down the Vienna consensus. After a week of basking in plaudits for Australia's ratification of Kyoto, Rudd suddenly found Australia's position on the Vienna proposals under scrutiny. Where did Australia stand on developed countries cutting their emissions between 25 and 40 per cent by 2020?

Critically, the so-called Vienna Declaration does not commit individual developed countries to these cuts now. And how they can be achieved is up for debate. But in Bali this week, the developing world demanded that the Vienna proposal be recognised.

Europe and New Zealand confirmed their support for the Vienna Declaration, and by Wednesday night the Australian delegation did as well. But immediately, Rudd at home had to confront accusations from the Opposition that he had committed Australia to reckless cuts in emissions that would damage the economy. He was quick to insist that the Vienna Declaration was not a commitment.

"The target that you referred to, 25-40, is in fact contained in what is described generally as the Vienna Declaration," he explained. "Many states have publicly recognised the work of the IPCC in putting together that report but, in so doing, states have also indicated that they do not necessarily accept those targets, nor do they accept those targets as binding targets for themselves. That has been a reality since the Vienna Declaration was issued in August of this year. That is also the position of the Australian Government."

He repeated, as he did before the election, that Australia will not set any 2020 target until the report by the economist Ross Garnaut is delivered next year. That, he said, "is to ensure that those targets are meaningful environmentally and responsible economically. And that's the way ahead".

But in Bali, Rudd will not so easily duck this issue. As he spoke in Brisbane, in Bali the head of the UN climate negotiating team, Yvo de Boer, told reporters he had just come from a meeting discussing the Vienna proposals. And he said: "I think it is clear to everyone that industrialised countries will have to continue to take the lead. All countries, all governments, realise that industrialised countries will have to reduce their emissions somewhere between 25 and 40 per cent by 2020. So that's an agreed range for industrialised countries."

Australian and UN officials are anxiously stressing that these targets do not have to be signed or sealed in Bali or, indeed, until some way down the track. The Kyoto Protocol's first targets do not expire until 2012. Under these, Australia has an easy ride. While many developed nations agreed to cut their emissions by up to 5 per cent on 1990s levels, Australia was allowed to increase its emissions by 8 per cent of 1990 levels. Unfortunately for Rudd, this deal, and a decade of inaction by the Howard government to slow Australia's soaring emissions, means that making deep cuts by 2020 will be difficult.

While Australia can correctly insist the 2020 targets are not up for discussion in Bali, they are now deeply colouring the debate as officials move behind closed doors to nut out a deal on the road map.

Put simply, the Bali talks have divided the developing world and the developed. And among some developing nations, especially India, there is a very hard line emerging that there should be no concessions until the developed world takes the lead on cutting emissions, agrees to technology transfers and puts up serious money to fund the world's adaption to climate change.

On the other side, Japan among others wants to see serious proposals from China and India on emissions reductions before it agrees to commitments after 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol's first round expires. The new global agreement that follows this cannot give its two biggest competitors, the US and China, an unfair advantage.

The hope is that a consensus will prevail. It is possible there will be a commitment to begin negotiations on two tracks: one will continue down the Kyoto track to pursue commitments from nations which have ratified the protocol. The other will be under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, called the dialogue track. This would include the developing countries and the US, which remains outside Kyoto and opposed to binding targets. By 2009 these two tracks could come together in a final agreement.

By the time Rudd attends the Bali talks early next week it will be clear whether a consensus is emerging. Along with the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, and the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, he will be performing on the main stage. This week, Rudd said he wanted to act as a "bridge" between the developed and developing world, especially between China and the US.

But when he stands to make his statement on the floor of the talks, many in the developing world will be listening to what the new Prime Minister will say about the burden Australia and the developed world are willing to take in the battle to save the planet.

Rajendra Pachauri discusses US approach to climate change

US States, Cities Can Impact Climate

BALI, Indonesia (AP) — Despite Bush administration reluctance, U.S. states and cities could make an American "national commitment" to a new global agreement to cut greenhouse gases, the chief U.N. climate scientist said Friday.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Rajenda Pachauri said the U.S. approach to climate change might be altered by the upcoming presidential election or by the combined actions of states and cities.

Pachauri, whose Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shared this year's Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore, spoke with AP during the U.N. climate conference on this resort island.

More than 180 nations are assembled to try to launch negotiations on an agreement for future reductions in carbon dioxide and other industrial, transportation and agricultural gases blamed for global warming.

The Indian climatologist, chairman of the IPCC, is heading to Norway to accept the Peace Prize on Monday on behalf of his panel, which is a network of 2,000 climate and other scientists.
Later in the two-week conference, Pachauri and Gore will make separate appeals for decisive steps toward a new regime of deeper emissions cutbacks to succeed the Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2012.

The 1997 Kyoto accord required 36 industrial nations to reduce emissions by an average 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. The United States is the only industrial nation to reject Kyoto; President Bush says the required cuts would damage the U.S. economy.

The U.S. delegation in Bali has indicated no change in that position. However, "there's much that's happened in the U.S." at congressional, state and local levels, Pachauri said.

California last year adopted a sweeping law requiring reductions of about 25 percent in greenhouse gases by 2020. New York and nine other Northeastern states are putting caps on power-plant emissions and developing a system to trade emissions allowances. And just last month, six Midwestern states announced a joint program to reduce emissions.

At the local level across the United States, city governments have introduced significant measures to rein in carbon emissions.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to reduce his city's emissions by 30 percent by 2030, by requiring taxis to switch to gas-saving hybrid vehicles, for example, and most controversially by proposing fees for vehicles to enter lower Manhattan.

Seattle claims city operations have cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 60 percent through motor pools of hybrid cars, trucks using biodiesel fuel and other measures.

Pachauri said he saw two paths for the United States.

"One would be, let's say, the U.S. administration committing itself to certain actions," he said. "The other approach would be, independent of what the U.S. administration does, several states in the U.S. and several other entities over there decide to take action on their own, and the sum total of that would amount to a commitment, you could say, equivalent to a national commitment."

In addition, he said, "the U.S. is in for a presidential election that really would have some bearing on what the outcome is in these negotiations" over the next two years.

Presidential candidates in both the Republican and Democratic parties favor mandatory caps on U.S. emissions, and a U.S. Senate committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would — if not vetoed by Bush — impose a cap-and-trade system nationwide.

Some analysts have suggested a new international deal on climate, because of an American aversion to international controls, might have to accommodate a U.S. caps system lying outside a treaty-bound regime obligating other nations to emissions caps.

Asked what might happen if world governments fail to act decisively on climate, Pachauri referred to the landmark findings of his panel's 2007 reports.

The "inevitable consequences," he said, are "clearly not in the interest of the human species and other species that inhabit this planet," including mass extinctions of plants and animals and sharp rises in sea level because of warmer, expanding water and the runoff of melted land ice.

"And that's really an irreversible change," he said.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Australian PM distances himself from big emissions cuts by 2020

Here is a story about Kevin Rudd backing down on 'deep' emission cuts for 2020 and said Australia was opposed to cuts of between 25 and 40%.
Well I am certainly not opposed to 'deep' cuts and I agree with Dr Pearman (former head of CSIRO atmospheric research) that the scientific research is suggesting we need cuts of between 20 and 30 % minimum.
6th Dec 2007
BRISBANE, Australia (AFP) — Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Thursday denied his government would support deep carbon emission cuts for developing nations by 2020 aimed at curbing global warming.

Rudd said Australia remained opposed to the binding cuts of between 25 and 40 percent in the next 12 years, despite reports that Australian officials had publicly embraced the plan at a major UN climate change conference in Bali.

Speaking after his cabinet's first meeting in the eastern city of Brisbane, Rudd told reporters his government was opposed to the target, which originated from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change earlier this year.

"(Nations) have ... indicated that they do not necessarily accept those targets, nor do they accept those targets as binding targets for themselves," he said.

"That is also the position of the Australian government," he added, days before flying to Bali to attend the conference along with four of his senior ministers and just after he moved to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

Two major Australian newspaper groups reported earlier Thursday that Australian representatives to the Bali conference had told delegates that Canberra "fully supports" the proposal that developed countries need to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 25 to 40 percent by 2020.

Environmental groups had praised the reported announcement, while Australia's new opposition said such a move would have a "devastating impact" on the country's economy.

Rudd had earlier repeatedly said Australia would not set its own 2020 target until he received a report he has commissioned from his climate change economic specialist next year.

The prime minister, who has set a 2050 target for cutting greenhouse gas pollution by 60 percent, said Thursday he would wait for the report before setting short-term targets.

"I think speculation on individual numbers prior to that is not productive and I would suggest it would be better for all concerned if we waited for the outcome of that properly deliberated document," Rudd said.

The link to this story is broken (so I have left the full story).

Random Man says "Hmmmm... Hope he isn't just going to "wait and see" when it comes to climate change!!!"

Emissions bill heads to fight on senate floor

Zachery Coile
Chronicle Washington Bureau
December 6, 2007

Washington- Congress took its first significant step in the fight against global warming Wednesday as a Senate committee voted to send a bill to cut greenhouse gases to the Senate floor next year.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee's 11-8 vote sets up a contentious debate in Congress over climate change that could have an impact on the presidential and congressional elections.

"This is a historic moment," California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, who chairs the committee, said teary-eyed at the end of the nine-hour hearing. "What happened here today will not go unnoticed. The whole world is watching."

Boxer was under intense pressure to finish the bill this week while world leaders are gathered at a climate change summit at Bali, Indonesia, to show the world that Congress is moving closer to acting on climate change even though the Bush administration still opposes mandatory cuts in emissions.

"The United States simply has to take a leadership role," said Sen. John Warner, R-Va., one of the chief sponsors of the bill. "We are the superpower in the world, and we've got to utilize our status to try to correct a situation all of us acknowledge is causing hardship through fluctuations in temperature throughout the world."

The bill is modeled on California's market-based climate program. It would set a mandatory cap on emissions and would create a national trading system in which polluters could buy or sell credits to emit greenhouse gases.

The measure would cap greenhouse gas emissions starting in 2012 and require power plants, large manufacturers and the transportation sector to gradually reduce their emissions by 62 percent from 1990 levels by 2050.

But the heated debate at Wednesday's hearing showed there is still no clear consensus in Congress on solutions to the climate crisis. Warner was the lone Republican to join Democrats and two independent senators on the committee to support the bill.

Most Republicans on the panel warned that the bill could raise energy costs for American businesses and consumers and might not slow rapid temperature increases if emissions in China and India continue to grow.

"This bill is all pain and no gain," said Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the committee's ranking Republican.

The sharpest debate came over the issue of rising emissions from China and India. The United States historically has been the world's largest emitter - and it continues to be the world's largest per-capita emitter. But China, with a booming economy fueled by coal-fired power plants, is overtaking the United States in total emissions.

"We can do what we want, and Europe can do whatever it wants, but if China and India continue to do what they want, we will have zero impact on world carbon dioxide levels," said Sen. David Vitter, R-La.

But Warner, who warned of the national security implications if rising sea levels lead to mass population displacements, said the United States must stop using China and India as an excuse not to limit emissions.

"If we don't act, China and India will simply hide behind America's skirts of inaction and take no steps of their own," he said.

Republicans offered several amendments to boost nuclear energy, which some tout as a possibility for solving global warming because nuclear plants produce electricity without emitting greenhouse gases. But the measures were defeated after Boxer warned they would kill the bill.

Many of the GOP amendments were symbolic: One would have opened waters off the shore of several Southern states to drilling if natural gas prices increased because of the bill. Another would have pulled the plug on the bill if China and India didn't pass similar measures within 10 years. Still another measure would have required businesses to tell the Securities and Exchange Commission about how much it would cost them to comply with the bill. The committee rejected them.

A measure to prevent states like California or municipalities from enacting their own climate rules also was defeated.

The bill "continues to let the states do their trailblazing work," Boxer said.

The panel also added a low-carbon fuel standard - modeled on a California rule - that would require a 5 percent cut in the carbon content of transportation fuels by 2015 and a 10 percent cut by 2020. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who approved a similar standard in January, made calls to lawmakers in recent weeks lobbying for the measure.

But other efforts to toughen the bill failed. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., offered an amendment to require an 80 percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2050, in line with what some scientists say is needed to limit the worst potential effects of global warming.

But Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., a chief sponsor of the bill, said the deeper cuts would not pass. "The most important thing is to get something passed, to get something started," Lieberman said.

Sanders also lost on a measure, backed by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., that would have required the permits to emit greenhouse gases to be auctioned to companies rather than given away. The bill gives away most permits at first and gradually moves to auction them over time. But Sanders warned it could lead to windfall profits for some electric utilities and manufacturers.
Supporters hailed the panel's voting out of the bill as a major step, but insiders say it faces long odds in the Senate, where 60 votes are needed to pass any major bill.

The measure has three Republican co-sponsors - Sens. Norm Coleman of Minnesota, Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina and Susan Collins of Maine. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, has sponsored a separate climate bill. But supporters of climate legislation might have lost another key Republican vote: Arizona Sen. John McCain, who recently said he'll support a bill only if it boosts nuclear power.

The House has been waiting for Senate action, but House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell, D-Mich., has pledged to push forward on a climate change measure next year. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, has said it will be one of the House's top priorities in this session.

The battle lines for the debate are already being drawn. Schwarzenegger and groups of environmentalists, scientists and evangelical leaders released letters this week supporting the bill. The U.S Chamber of Commerce and the National Mining Association released their own letters, warning of the bill's costs.

Inhofe promised "an enormous floor flight" next year to defeat the bill. But Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who played a key role in brokering a deal over the climate bill, predicted: "The votes are going to be there. They're going to be there because it's the right thing to do."

Key provisions of climate bill

The bill passed Wednesday by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, among other things, would:

-- Cap emissions of greenhouse gases starting in 2012, and gradually reduce emissions by 62 percent from 1990 levels by 2050.

-- Cover about 80 percent of U.S. emissions, mostly from electric utilities, major manufacturers and fuel refiners.

-- Allow polluters to buy, sell and trade credits to emit greenhouse gases.

-- Create a Federal Reserve-type board to monitor the trading system, and make adjustments if the costs of the program rose too quickly.

-- Use the proceeds from auctions of the credits to develop new energy technologies and help low-income consumers pay their energy bills.

-- Create a low-carbon fuel standard, modeled on California's rules, cutting the carbon content of transportation fuels by 10 percent in 2020.

To read the complete text of the global warming bill go to

Source: Chronicle staff report.