December 27, 2011 at 2:00 pm #2003
Economist – UN Climate Change Conference
That is why the biggest developing-country polluters, chiefly China and India, were so reluctant to relinquish their freedom to pollute. With most other elements of a deal in place, almost 36 hours after the climate summit was due to have ended, the Indians were the last major obstacle to it. Their particular objection was to the insistence of the EU and its allies that the successor to Kyoto must be legally binding on all countries. Am I to write a blank cheque and sign away the livelihoods and sustainability of 1.2 billion Indians, without even knowing what [the new agreement] contains? asked the Indian environment minister, Jayanti Natarajan. I wonder if this is an agenda to shift the blame on to countries who are not responsible [for climate change].
With the prospect of no deal looming, the Europeans and Indian delegations were urged to go into a huddle in the middle of the conference hall and work out a compromise. They did so and, as per a Brazilian suggestion, agreed that the putative new deal would be a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force.
What that may mean is anyones guess. It was sufficient for the EU, whose belief in legally enforceable international agreements is shared by the Brazilians, to claim success. Yet it is also unclear how important this distinction really is. The Kyoto protocol is legally binding, but contains no provisions to enforce penalties against those who fail in their mitigation endeavours. This has allowed Canada to overshoot its target, massively, with impunity. Unless penalties for failure are inserted into the successor protocol, or instrument, or outcomewhich China and India would almost certainly not allowit is hard to imagine how it would have greater force.
A more important issue will be the scale of the future regimes ambition to curb global warming, as reflected in the mitigation targets countries assume under it. The Durban agreement includes an acknowledgement that there is a widening gap between the mitigation efforts currently promised and those required to keep warming within the broadly recognised 2C safety limit. It remains to be seen whether this will spur countries to take the costly actions that closing this gap would require. The inadequacy of action on climate change hitherto suggests it may not.
Agreement was also reached in Durban on a package of other climate-friendly additional measures. Perhaps most notably, they included agreement on the broad design of a global Green Climate Fund, which will funnel some of the $100 billion that rich countries have promised to make available to poor ones by 2020, to help them cut emissions and adapt to climate change. Again, there was no agreementand little discussionon the important question of where the money will be found.
Business leaders, among whom such things matter, appeared unimpressed by these omissions. The agreement reached was more of a victory for the UN process, than for the global climate, or in creating a new business imperative, said Jonathan Grant, head of sustainability and climate change at PwC. Business will shrug its shoulders over Durban and wait for direction from national capitals.
Among the main players in Durban, the Europeans emerged with most credit. Even as EU leaders were attempting to negotiate the survival of their currency, in Brussels on December 9th, their negotiators were most prominent in Durban and surprisingly forthright. A cynic might reflect that this signalled how toothless the UN process has become. Yet the Europeans efforts were appreciated by many developing countries, including poor African and small island ones most threatened by global warming. Their strong support for the EUs proposals made it much harder for the Indians and Chinese to decry them as a developed-world plot against the poor and helpless.
Among the big developing countries, India may feel most aggrieved. Not unreasonably, it fears that any mitigation action will impose costs on it that it can ill afford to pay, in particular by constraining its ability to grow its economy and thereby withdraw millions from poverty. China, the worlds biggest polluter, whose average emissions per head are already bigger than some European countries, will worry less. It has long seemed resigned to having to undertake more stringent emissions-cutting, indeed its recent heavy investments in renewable energy and energy-efficiency schemes suggest it foresees profits in this.
America has reason to be glad of the outcome. It has long bewailed the asymmetry of the Kyoto protocolthis was the ostensible reason why it failed to ratify it. Yet it was apparent in Durb
Climate change – A deal in Durban
Dec 11th 2011, 18:08 by J.A. | DURBAN
IN THE early hours of December 11th, after three days and nights of exhausting, often ill-tempered, final negotiations, the UNs two-week-long climate-change summit ended in Durban with an agreement.
Its termsassuming they are acted uponare unlikely to be sufficient to prevent a global temperature rise of more than 2C. They might easily allow a 4C rise. Yet with many governments distracted by pressing economic worries, the deal was as much as could have been expected from Durban; perhaps a little more.
The core of it is, in effect, a quid-pro-quo arrangement between the European Union and big developing-country polluters, including China and India. For its part, the EU will undertake a second round of emissions abatement under the Kyoto protocol, after its main provisions expire at the end of 2012. That will prolong the shelf-life of a treaty that imposes no emissions-cutting burden on any developing country.
In return, all countries have agreed to negotiate a new mitigation regime by 2015 and make it operational by 2020. Crucially, this new regime will see the burden of emission-cutting shared among all countries, even if rich ones will still be expected to do much more than poorer countries.This commitment, which was reached despite last-ditch resistance from China and India, and despite little enthusiasm for it from America, looks like the Durban summits biggest achievement. It promises to break a divisive and anachronistic distinction between developed and developing countries, which has thoroughly poisoned the waters of the UN process. It has also rendered it ineffective, given that the so-called developing countries given a free pass under Kyoto, including South Korea and Saudi Arabia as well as China and India, are now responsible for 58% of global emissions.
an that the American negotiators, envoys of a put-upon Democratic president, showed little enthusiasm for almost any part of the international process.
Their objections to some elements of the final deal were, though roundly denounced, in fact perfectly reasonable. They worried, for example, that the global Fund would be too tightly bound to the widerslow-moving and largely ineffectiveUN process. It is a shame they could not get their way in keeping it more separate.
And yet, that the worlds most powerful countrywhose scientists have made a vast contribution to climate sciencewas reduced to playing a bit-part in negotiations over the future of the worlds climate was more than unimpressive. It was demeaning. And next time America demands that China, India or Brazil take bold steps for the global good, on trade or security, it will no doubt be remembered.
Life after Kyoto: Half a loaf can still be wholesome
By Globe Editorial / Published Tue Dec 13, 2011/Updated Wed Dec 14, 2011
Canada was right to leave the Kyoto Protocol, rather than continue to take part in the false pretense that there is an international consensus. But the federal government should not just wait passively for a serious multilateral treaty to emerge, some year, some decade hence. Rather, it should consider adopting limited, moderate measures to reduce carbon emissions. Australia recently did as much, by enacting a carbon tax, which, by some accounts, was influenced by the similar tax that Gordon Campbell, the former premier, introduced in British Columbia in 2008.
In the Canadian election of 2008, Stphane Dion, the Liberal leader, offered the voters of Canada who are also known as the consumers of Canada a clear choice. The peoples response was clear, too: Opposed. Mr. Dions program was called the Green Shift, making his emphasis very explicit. He proposed a carbon tax that could well have resulted in a major reduction of Canadian greenhouse-gas emissions. Because any sales tax is a heavy burden on earners of lower incomes, he tried to counterbalance that regressive effect by an impractically sweeping reshaping of the whole Canadian tax system.
Not only the Conservatives, but also Jack Layton and the ostensibly environmentalist New Democrats campaigned vigorously against the Green Shift; the latter claimed that Canadian consumers could somehow be spared the costs of their own climate policy.
In short, a thoroughgoing, root-and-branch climate policy is not sustainable. Yet Australia has opted for one way of trying to deal with carbon emissions, apparently influenced by B.C.s half-measure that sails a course between opposing reefs: the fatalism of doing nothing, on one side, and the mild irritation of a levy that is noticeable, but does not provoke tax revolt, on the other. As of July 1, the carbon price on which the B.C. tax is based is $25 a tonne. The Australian price is very close to this: $23.81 in Canadian dollars.
This is not to say that a carbon tax is the best option for Canada. The federal government, like Australia, should look for a way to reduce emissions, to which Canadas Arctic may be particularly vulnerable. A new tax is one instance of the measures that Canada should now explore.
Canada cannot act alone on the climate question to any great effect. It is right to hold out for an international agreement that includes large emitters such as China and India. But it should not merely wait and see whether a world of 175 countries can agree on a consistent, binding treaty. It should show some degree of leadership by example.
China and India lead condemnation of Canadas Kyoto withdrawal
by Campbell Clark
Published Tue Dec 13, 2011/Updated Wed Dec 14, 2011
OTTWA / From Wed Globe & Mail – The countries that Canada pegged as the barriers to a better climate-change deal are leading international criticism over the Harper governments move to withdraw from the Kyoto accord.Chinas official news agency, Xinhua, blasted the decision as preposterous and irresponsible action that will scar global climate-change efforts. An Indian official said the move would jeopardize any gains that might flow from weekend talks in Durban, South Africa toward a new agreement.
They were among a long list of countries who criticized Ottawas decision the first official move by any country to withdraw from the 1997 Kyoto climate-change agreement with terms ranging from disappointing to reckless.
For Beijing, it seemed a chance to return the wagging finger that Prime Minister Stephen Harpers government had pointed in Chinas direction.
Environment Minister Peter Kent had long argued that Canada would not enter any new agreement until it included binding commitments for all of the worlds largest greenhouse-gas emitters, and called on China and India to agree to binding emissions cuts.
But China accepted the principle of taking on cuts after 2020 in the Durban talks, and even India agreed to a text that said such an agreement should have legal force. And when Mr. Kent returned to Ottawa to immediately announce that Canada is withdrawing from the existing Kyoto accord, China spoke up.
It is regrettable and flies in the face of the efforts of the international community for Canada to leave the Kyoto Protocol at a time when the Durban meeting, as everyone knows, made important progress by securing a second phase of commitment to the protocol, said Liu Weimin, a spokesman for Chinas Foreign Ministry.They were not alone. Frances foreign ministry spokesman, Bernard Valero, called it bad news for the fight against climate change. Ian Fry, the lead climate negotiator for Tuvalu, the nation of atolls in the South Pacific that is losing territory to rising ocean waters, told Reuters it was an act of sabotage on our future. Even Japan, which like Canada had signalled it would not take on commitments in a second phase of the Kyoto accord after 2012, urged Ottawa to reconsider.Mr. Kent, who announced the Canadian decision Monday, argued that staying in the Kyoto accord would require Canada to spend $14-billion buying carbon credits from abroad. In the Commons on Tuesday, Mr. Harper insisted Canada is still working toward an agreement that would bind all the worlds emitters.
What this government does not favour, what this government has never favoured and has been very clear on is we do not agree with a protocol that only controls a little bit of global emissions, not enough to actually make any difference but enough to transfer Canadian jobs overseas, Mr. Harper said. We will never agree to that.
But Christiana Figueres, head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said in a statement she was surprised at the timing of the announcement, immediately after the Durban talks, and Canada still has legal obligations under a prior accord. Whether or not Canada is a party to the Kyoto Protocol, it has a legal obligation under the Convention to reduce its emissions, and a moral obligation to itself and future generations to lead in the global effort, she said.
December 27, 2011 at 2:00 pm #4787
Here are few News alerts on UN Climate Summit for new Kyoto treaty agreement.
The UN & Environmentalist are frantic to patch a new agreement on Kyoto before the 2012 treaty runs out. Latest efforts which still give free pass to so-called developing countries that now account for 58% Global Emissions (China, India, S.Korea & Saudi’s) and $100 Billion “Green Fund” for poor countries to buy their agreement to defunct Kyoto treaty. The cost Canada was over $14 Billion and loss jobs to oversea countries like China not bound to cost or commitments.
It would be ludicrous in any other setting to have the exempt top polluters decry Canada for withdrawing from Kyoto summit when another farce would place developed countries in peril for jobs/finance for yet another 20 years while doing nothing about real polluters. Never mind no one mentions that none of signature countries actually made any of their goals in last 20 years or that Kyoto actually increased Global pollution by raising developing countries to world leaders in emissions and establishing a manufacturing industry there with absolutely no regard for the environment! Stupidity run amuck. As usual liberal press makes mention but does not present failure Kyoto, bribe Fund represents or hypricital role UN/China in summit.
I don’t understand why Japan piled on Canada for withdrawing, since Japan was first to declare they wouldn’t sign new Kyoto agreement unless China/India were held to same standard as Japan. They too like Canada were tired of losing manufacturing jobs because of unfair edge on cost & investment requirement that China did not have to bear.
It is good that Canada had already registered its voters/consumers disapproval of previous liberal’s administrations “Green Shift”. Hopefully US will be able make the same choice – Obama administration has been carefully absent from comment on Canada or the UN summit …. appearing to still follow Bush’s absence and adherence to US Clear Skies program instead of Kyoto (and US did make all of its goals for reduction unlike Kyoto). There is little doubt that the liberal administration would align with UN/Kyoto if it were not an election year & the choice would cost them the re-election given US views on: job/Economy/negative view of Climate Change.
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