"If we are lucky, some early disasters that don’t kill too many people will frighten the world’s countries into accepting tougher cuts in emissions while there is still time to avoid the worst, but this is the best that we are going to get for now. So two cheers for the two-degree limit." Gwynne Dyer below.
Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change:
what's he measuring I wonder? how much time we have left (severally and collectively), or the length of his dick? or the length of someone else's dick? or what? an, I suppose genetic, resemblance to Jan Pronk (Two Views of Darfur), they say, "you can always tell a Dutchman - but you can't tell him much"
Jonathan Pershing, US Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change, &
Todd Stern, US Special Envoy for Climate Change:
and I say, I don't think none of these bureaucrats & diplomats & lawyers will make no nevermind, no.
(... none of 'em doin' nothin' that their mama wouldn't disapprove ... call me sexist but I remember, out in Great Paradise, Placentia Bay, listening to Loyola Pomeroy and his wife talking about refrigerators, back in the 60s ... she wanted one and he didn't care, he said, "if we get onnea them then we'll want a gen'rater too t' run it" ... and my own mother worming a dishwasher out of my dad, both Lol and dad laughing over it at the time ... Lol later died saving his son from the cold waves God bless 'im)
1. Com avanço mínimo, negociação do clima caminha para "desastre", Renate Krieger, 18/08/2009.
2. Gloomy Negotiators End Bonn Climate Talks, Paul Voosen, August 14 2009.
3. UN chief warns the world 'will not make it' to agreement on climate change, Louise Gray, 14 Aug 2009.
4. Money stands between delegates, agreement at Bonn climate talks, Nancy Isenson, 14/08/2009.
5. Will Climate Policy Take A Back Seat During the Economic Slowdown?, Jonathan Pershing, October 31 2008.
6. Climate Change: Two Cheers for Two Degrees, Gwynne Dyer, 10 July 2009.
7. No sign of bias, Editorial, Tuesday Aug 18 2009.
Com avanço mínimo, negociação do clima caminha para "desastre", Renate Krieger, 18/08/2009.
Se a atmosfera geral era de pessimismo com o término, semana passada, de uma reunião diplomática destinada a avançar no combate ao aquecimento global, a questão das florestas parece ter avançado - ao menos no que diz respeito à reorganização de um texto sobre o desmatamento evitado.
"Há muito mais consenso nas discussões sobre o desmatamento evitado do que sobre outras questões discutidas aqui", disse Federica Bietta, vice-diretora da Coalizão de Florestas Tropicais, resumindo a semana de negociações no âmbito da Convenção do Clima da ONU em Bonn (Alemanha).
Segundo Bietta, cuja organização defende a inclusão do chamado Redd (Redução de Emissões por Desmatamento e Degradação Florestal) no mercado de carbono, há grande apoio para uma implementação de ações nessa área em três fases: um aumento dos mecanismos de medição em países com florestas tropicais, o desenvolvimento de projetos-modelo de engenharia florestal e o acesso dos países a mercados para financiar projetos.
Porém, segundo Carlos Rittl, do WWF Brasil, foi reintroduzido um parágrafo no texto dizendo que as reduções de desmatamento não poderiam ser abatidas das metas de redução de emissões dos países ricos - uma demanda do Brasil. A versão final do texto começará a ser negociada na Tailândia, no dia 28 de Setembro.
A intenção da reunião de Bonn era limpar o texto de 200 páginas que contém as propostas de 190 países para negociar o segundo período do Protocolo de Kyoto, que começa em 2013. A versão final deve ser adotada em dezembro, na conferência de Copenhague.
O avanço lento na definição das propostas frustrou o Secretário-Executivo da Convenção do Clima, Yvo de Boer. "Temos 15 dias de negociação até Copenhague. Apesar do progresso alcançado, não vamos conseguir se continuarmos nesse ritmo. Estou ouvindo muitos falando que podemos adiar um acordo, que podemos discutir ainda no ano que vem. É o caminho certo para um desastre global", afirmou. Segundo De Boer, as propostas dos países desenvolvidos não são suficientemente ambiciosas.
A União Europeia também criticou a lentidão do processo e as reduções tímidas propostas pelos ricos. Por outro lado, também pediu que os países mais pobres quantificassem suas sugestões.
Também os EUA colocaram exigências para os países em desenvolvimento. "Queremos que eles se comprometam com ações. O Brasil está propondo a olhar como reduzir atividades florestais que causam emissões. Mas gostaríamos de vê-las quantificadas", disse Jonathan Pershing, líder da delegação americana. O Brasil disse ter ficado surpreso com a cobrança, que não teria sido mencionada nos círculos diplomáticos.
Os EUA querem cortar suas emissões para níveis de 1990 em 2020, e em 80% até 2050, uma meta considerada fraca. E sua proposta em Copenhague, segundo Pershing, vai depender da aprovação de um projeto de lei de corte de emissões que circula no Congresso. "Queremos negociar com uma proposta coerente com a nossa política doméstica para que possamos fazer parte do acordo", disse o americano. A aprovação ou não da lei afetará a posição dos EUA em Copenhague, mas não deverá impedir os Estados Unidos de fecharem um acordo.
Gloomy Negotiators End Bonn Climate Talks, Paul Voosen, August 14 2009.
The latest round of preparatory talks for the U.N. climate conference concluded today with negotiators lamenting that the languid pace of talks could mean there won't be a deal on emissions in Copenhagen this December.
"It would be incomprehensible if this opportunity were lost," said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. For any hope of a deal, he said, "the speed of the negotiations must be considerably accelerated at the [next] meeting in Bangkok."
The United States' lead climate negotiator, Jonathan Pershing, added to the warnings.
"If we don't have more movement and more consensus than we saw here, we won't have an agreement," Pershing said.
Though the problems were many, there were also glimmers of hope in the current round, such as a collective agreement on what should be done, said Anders Turesson, Sweden's lead climate negotiator and chairman of the E.U. working group.
"What we're talking about is a profound change of industrial civilization," Turesson said. "It would be surprising if there weren't stumbling blocks."
The negotiators were wrapping up a week of talks in Bonn, Germany, aimed at narrowing the number of options in the 200-page main negotiating document. This text, which will serve as the basis for negotiations for the successor to 1997's Kyoto Protocol, is currently inundated with some 2,000 bracketed statements highlighting areas of disagreement.
"We seem to be afloat on a sea of brackets," de Boer said. The document has not been significantly slimmed down in the week's discussions.
Much debate hinges on whether the U.S. Senate will pass climate legislation this fall. Pershing made it clear that the United States will use whatever domestic legislation it passes as the basis for its carbon reduction agreements.
"Our focus is not to repeat Kyoto," Pershing said, recalling the climate treaty that the United States helped negotiate but the Senate did not ratify.
The rosiest interpretations of the House's recently passed climate bill would see U.S. greenhouse gas emissions dropping by up to 13 percent from 1990 levels, de Boer said, well below commitments made by the European Union to reduce its emissions by 20 percent.
In the end, Europeans want to be on comparative terms with the Americans, Turesson said. How that will be accomplished is unclear, given the domestic limits the United States faces.
The U.S. position is that the agreement that will emerge, rather than mandating a single percentage cut that will be met by every wealthy nation, "is something [that will be] conceived country by country," Pershing said.
From developing nations, the United States is seeking not legally binding targets but legally binding actions, Pershing said. One such example would be a quantified commitment from Brazil on how it will tackle deforestation.
Developing nations have been seeking financing from developed countries if they are to limit their emissions and adapt to climate change. So far, there has not been one proposal from developed nations that would raise more than $10 billion a year for such funding, negotiators said.
Meanwhile, the commitments currently on the table from industrial countries will only reduce emissions between 10 and 16 percent from 1990 levels, according to Dessima Williams, the permanent representative of Grenada to the United Nations and chairwoman of the Alliance of Small Island States.
Unless changed, these pledges will lead to temperature change of more than 3 degrees Celsius, Williams said.
Such a temperature increase is well above the goal agreed to by the world's wealthiest nations at the Group of Eight summit in L'Aquila, Italy, last month. There, countries including the United States, Canada and Russia agreed to cap global warming at 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.
In its most recent report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change identified a 25 percent to 40 percent cut in emissions from 1990 levels as necessary to avoid the worst effects of climate change: heat waves, floods, droughts and rising sea levels.
More than 2,000 representatives met in Bonn this week. The consultation, which was characterized as "informal," is the latest in a series of meetings leading up to the U.N. climate change conference in Copenhagen this December. Further meetings will take place in Bangkok in late September and Barcelona, Spain, in November.
UN chief warns the world 'will not make it' to agreement on climate change, Louise Gray, 14 Aug 2009.
The UN's climate change chief Yvo de Boer has warned the world will "will not make it at this rate" to come to an agreement on how to tackle global warming.
More than 90 countries are due to meet in Copenhagen at the end of the year to decide a new agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol.
However Mr Boer, head of the UN climate change secretariat, said only "selective progress" had been made at the latest round of negotiations in Bonn. A deal would most likely see richer countries reduce carbon emissions while poorer countries are given more help to switch to a green economy.
"If we continue at this rate we are not going to make it," he said. "Momentum for a strong result is building at the highest political level. The G8 and the Major Economies Forum are moving forward but that action is not ambitious enough."
He warned that just 15 days of negotiations remain before key UN talks begin in December in Copenhagen at meetings in Bangkok in September and October and Barcelona in November.
"As Copenhagen approaches I keep hearing people say we can delay action on climate change that we can survive a rise of over two degrees C temperature rise, that we can safely cut costs and safely cut corners, that there are other priorities. I believe this is a way to disaster. A deal at Copenhagen this year is simply an unequivacol requirement to stop climate change slipping out of control."
Environmental groups also reacted with disappointment.
Mike Childs, head of climate change at Friends of the Earth, criticised rich countries for failing to agree to cut their own greenhouse gas emissions rather than relying on carbon offsetting.
"Rich countries are once again pushing the con of carbon offsetting at UN climate change talks, which means avoiding real action through dodgy accounting and putting pitifully inadequate targets on the table. Not only does this do nothing to protect people from the threat of runaway climate change, it means the UK will miss out on the new green jobs and industries that would be created by moving to a safe, clean, low-carbon future," he said.
Money stands between delegates, agreement at Bonn climate talks, Nancy Isenson, 14/08/2009.
Informal meetings held in the former German capital were meant to give nations a chance to iron out a few of their differences in the run-up to Copenhagen in December. But that's not what happened.
"If we continue at this rate we are not going to make it," said a frustrated Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), following the Bonn conference.
He warned participants that just 15 days of negotiations remain before a Copenhagen climate conference, where the international community is due to agree on a climate treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol. Negotiators will be meeting in Bangkok at the end of September and in Barcelona in November.
"It is clear that there is quite a significant uphill battle if we are going to get there," said Jonathan Pershing, head of the US delegation. But he said there were some signs of movement. "You absolutely can get there," he said.
A number of other representatives, though, said that the best that can now be expected from the December meeting in Copenhagen was an "interim agreement" that would set out a basic framework for a post-Kyoto accord, with hard numbers to be filled over the course of 2010.
Disagreements between rich and developing countries continue to hold up progress. Delegates could not agree on how much rich nations should have to cut their emissions before 2020, nor on whether poor countries should have to meet binding climate change targets.
The deepest disagreements, however, were about money.
The UN has estimated that, by 2020, the cost of mitigating and adapting to climate change will rise to $200 billion (140 billion euros) per year. Who pays for such measures, and when, is proving to be a sticking point.
On Friday, a bloc of the poor countries and small island states said rich nations should set aside one percent of GDP, some $400 billion annually, to help poor countries cope. And top UN climate official de Boer has called for a first pledge in Copenhagen of $10 billion, to help poor nations map out "solid strategies to limit the growth of their emissions." Neither measure was adopted.
Environmental groups were not impressed by the lack of agreement - but not surprised either.
"The climate change discussion is about fundamentally changing the way we live our lives. It's about fundamentally changing the way governments do business and that doesn't come easy," said Kim Carstensen of the World Wide Fund for Nature.
In discussions like those in Bonn, he said, delegates "talk about huge issues - like how much money is going to be transferred from the north to the south, about how we are going to deal with technology development and technology sharing in the world, how we're going to deal with issues of managing the natural forces and climate and weather extremes around us."
Each of those issues has caused years of discussion, said Carstensen, and taking them all into one regime is bound to be difficult, which means that delegates will have their work cut out for them if they are to find success in Copenhagen.
Will Climate Policy Take A Back Seat During the Economic Slowdown?, Jonathan Pershing, October 31 2008.
The financial crisis is currently at the front and center of the national debate, but if we limit our focus to near-term fixes on the economy, we will just defer requisite action on climate.
It makes sense to frame this issue around risk. The current economic downturn occurred because we misunderstood the risk and regulatory needs of the financial sector. Similarly, we are willfully ignoring risk of climate, and refusing to regulate performance. If we do not do something to regulate greenhouse gas emissions more effectively, in 20 years we will see the negative effects of climate change on a grand scale. Now is the time to take these risks into account.
It’s also important not to view this situation as an either/or proposition between a healthy economy and a healthy environment. If done right, climate legislation can help spur a recovery and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We can do so by incentivizing a transition towards a new green energy system with massive investments in energy efficiency and cleaner technologies.
New research is emerging that calls for climate-friendly green investments to spur economic recovery. A recent Deutsche Bank study found that governments have a “historic opportunity” to stimulate growth through investments in green energy. And as Professor Robert Pollin of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst recently told Congress: “There is no reason at all to delay taking action now to fight global warming. A green investment agenda–focused primarily on measures to dramatically improve energy efficiency but on advancing renewable energy commercialization as well–can itself serve as a powerful engine of job creation in the short run.”
In addition, we can structure policy in a way that has minimal impact on consumers. Lawmakers have discussed several ways to do this, such as a carbon tax and direct rebate to consumers, or efficiency allowance allocations meant to encourage the electric sector to reduce ratepayer costs.
Regardless of the path we choose, we shouldn’t be afraid that climate policy will stymie the economy’s recovery. Rather, we can use climate policy to help to assist our recovery and put us on the path toward a more climate-friendly energy system.
Ultimately, it is not a question of whether we pay to limit the climate risk, but how. We either pay today with increases in electric costs offset by gains in efficiency and long term energy security. Or we pay later with reduced competitiveness of US industry in the global clean tech market; we pay later with huge adaptation costs; and we pay later with a less stable world.
Climate Change: Two Cheers for Two Degrees, Gwynne Dyer, 10 July 2009.
This is how the human race does business. What the G8 summit in Italy decided to do about climate change last week was much less than is necessary, but the very best that a realist could have hoped for. Some tens of millions of people will probably die as a result, or some hundreds of millions if we are really unlucky, but there is still time to avoid the worst. And anyway, it can’t be helped: this is the way we do business.
An example. President Barack Obama has hired the best people in the business as his climate advisers. They know exactly how grave the situation is, and so does Obama. Yet when his chief scientific adviser, John Holdren, was asked why the US would not commit to the same target for greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 as the European Union, he replied as follows:
"If we had not wasted the last eight years, we could probably achieve that target. But we did waste the last eight years and in consequence, it doesn't make a lot of sense for us to officially embrace a target that is not realistically within reach." Analyse that sentence, and what it says is: We didn’t do what we should have for the past eight years, so we can’t do what we should for the next twelve years either.
Get upset about it if you like, but this is how the system works. Obama cannot ignore the fact that climate change denial is still stronger in the United States than anywhere else, and that much of the US Congress is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the fossil fuel industries. He’s going as far as he can, for now. He can’t go any farther even if what he’s doing is not good enough, which it isn’t.
All the parts of the system work like that, not just the American parts. The Indian government, for example, cannot ignore the resentment felt by most Indians when their country is asked to cut its greenhouse gas emissions and slow its own development to deal with a problem that India had little role in creating.
Almost all the excess greenhouse gas that is in the air now was put there by the old industrialised countries, yet the newly industrialising ones like India will be hurt first and worst by the resulting climate change. Cutting their emissions means slowing their escape from poverty, which the old rich countries were never required to do – and if they refuse, climate change will hurt them even faster and worse. No matter which way they jump, India’s decision-makers will face the anger of the voters.
Every country comes to the table with powerful lobbies at home to satisfy, and it’s something of a miracle that the eighteen biggest emitters, countries that together account for 80 percent of human greenhouse gas emissions, all managed to agree that the average global temperature should never be allowed to rise more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.4 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 1900 level. But there were other important things that they didn’t agree on.
The big industrialised countries of the G8 (US, Russia, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada) said they would cut their emissions by 80 percent by 2050, and asked the developing countries to cut their emissions enough to produce 50 percent global cuts by the same date. The developing countries refused.
But those same rapidly industrialising countries of the G5 (China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa) then called the rich countries’ bluff by demanding that the G8 set an interim target for emissions cuts by 2020. Any leader can make promises for 2050, safe in the knowledge that they won’t be around by then. Promises for 2020, on the other hand, may fall due while you’re still in the game – so the G8 leaders refused.
Nevertheless, the idea that all these countries, plus five other big emitters (the European Union, Indonesia, Egypt, South Korea and Australia) would actually agree in mid-2009 on a never-exceed target of +2 degrees C would have been seen as fantasy only eighteen months ago. "It certainly doesn't give you a roadmap on how you should get there but at least they've defined the destination," said Rajendra K. Pachauri, the chair of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change.
Well, not quite, because even at only 2 degrees C hotter the world would be running out of food (global warming hits food production very badly), and that would lead to waves of refugees, failed states, and savage local wars over the remaining water, especially in the sub-tropical regions. Moreover, the two-degree target gives us only a fifty percent chance of avoiding tipping points that would lead to runaway warming.
So we ought to have much more ambitious targets now, and strict penalties for those countries that miss or evade them. Our children’s future really does depend on it. But we can’t have stricter targets yet, because the international political system does not work that fast – and we have no time to re-design it.
If we are lucky, some early disasters that don’t kill too many people will frighten the world’s countries into accepting tougher cuts in emissions while there is still time to avoid the worst, but this is the best that we are going to get for now. So two cheers for the two-degree limit.
No sign of bias, Editorial, Tuesday Aug 18 2009.
There is a word for Taser International Inc.'s accusation of bias, levelled at a former British Columbia appeal-court judge who held the most thorough inquiry into the taser's dangers ever done in this country. That word is "ridiculous."
Was Thomas Braidwood biased, as a Taser lawsuit charges, because he concluded that the taser can cause "serious injury or death" and that police use it too much? Of course not. Twenty-five people in Canada have died after being tasered, yet most police forces in Canada have been loath to acknowledge that the stun gun is dangerous.
Mr. Braidwood chopped away at the existing bias until the truth could be seen. Ten B.C. police agencies that use the taser rely exclusively on the manufacturer's training materials, he noted. Whose bias is in play? Not Mr. Braidwood's. He very reasonably said police should not rely on manufacturers when the materials "encroach into policy areas or topics of medical risks that may be under dispute."
Did he refuse to hear from Taser International, twist facts, deliver a diatribe? No, no and no. He brought before him - in public hearings - experts from emergency medicine, cardiology, electrophysiology, pathology, epidemiology, psychology and psychiatry. He listened to the evidence. Was that an act of bias?
It is worth recalling why the B.C. government called the inquiry. A Polish immigrant, Robert Dziekanski, was tasered five times by RCMP officers at the Vancouver Airport. Unarmed but for a stapler, he gave no resistance at any time to the advancing four officers. He died within minutes. A video of the incident showed as horrific a piece of brutal and incompetent policing as this country has witnessed for some time. Was Mr. Braidwood biased because he doesn't associate such scenes with Canada?
He did not invent the risks. The most likely cause of death from a taser is ventricular fibrillation; the electrical current of the gun triggers a chaotic heartbeat. A second cause may be "spasm in the muscles of respiration ... interfering with the subject's ability to breathe." The B.C. government has accepted all of Mr. Braidwood's recommendations, which include strict limits on taser use. The truth about tasers is now in plain sight, and no amount of lawsuits from Taser International can obscure it.