Tag Archives: Greenhouse Gas Emissions

COP 15, Dr. Suess Style

23 Dec

A very interesting reflection on what happened in Copenhagen. Check it out! You will laugh and cry…

Dr. Seuss\’s Copenhagen by Marcus Brigstocke


Cop15 Updates from the Outside

15 Dec

COP15 has brought over 60 000 people to Copenhagen. Due to the lack of space from such an influx of people, the conference centre has shut it`s doors to 70% of NGO attendees. Tomorrow and each day following, fewer and fewer NGOs will be allowed in. By Friday, rumour has it that only 90 NGO attendees will be in the conference centre. Despite being on the outside, we have compiled a number of updates from today`s negotations:

As some countries have reservations on carbon capture and storage (CCS) the emerging technology will not be added to the UN-backed carbon reducing mechanisms here in Copenhagen. http://en.cop15.dk/news/view+news?newsid=3011   

As time runs out, the big issues still being discussed by delegates are emission reduction targets of developed countries, developing country actions and long term financing.

Leaked draft documents from Canada, found by CBC, included statements such as:

projected growth in greenhouse gas emissions from the oilsands in northern Alberta will be 165 per cent by 2020 and proposes to cut that growth — not emissions — by 10 per cent. http://www.cbc.ca/politics/story/2009/12/15/prentice-oil-sands.html

Minister Jim Prentice, second in rank after Stephen Harper in these negotiations, is making himself as scarce as possible in the conference center. Despite efforts, communication by an NGO has not been made.

Tension, Frustrations and Anxiety in the Plenary

10 Dec

Frustrations filled this morning’s CMP plenary as parties could not reach a consensus. The agenda item of discussion was amendments to the Kyoto Protocol. Numerous amendments were proposed by the following countries: Tuvalu, Australia, Columbia, Papa New Guinea, Japan, Czech Republic, Bolivia, Belize, New Zealand, Philippines, and Non-Annex Countries. The tabled amendments included extending the commitment period beyond 2012, requiring developed countries to commit to 40% emission reduction targets of 1990 levels by 2020, giving legal authority to the compliance board, and setting up funding for adaptation and mitigation. With these amendments on the table, Tuvalu proposed the setting up of a contact group to discuss issues regarding these amendments. Much support was voiced for this option. However, much support was also voiced for the option presented by China to allow the  ad hoc working group of the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) to work on developing amendments agreed on by all parties. Without consensus the President made the decision to suspend this agenda item until Saturday. Tuvalu immediately rejected this decision indicating that consensus must be reached sooner than Saturday if COP15 is to be successful, therefore the meeting should continue until a decision regarding the proposed amendments has been made. Again many countries supported Tuvalu. China yet again proposed another option: to scope down issues in the CMP and therefore moving amendment related discussions to be dealt with by the AWG-KP. After a ten minute break in which the President talked with party members, a final decision was to suspend the agenda item until Saturday.

Our feelings were that we cannot wait on this until Saturday. Nothing has been done to date and nothing will be done until next week if a decision on amendments cannot be made soon. Unless a miracle happens next week, the outlook of this conference is grim.

Following the CMP meeting, Tyler and Sylvie spoke with representatives from Tuvalu who supported our feelings. They felt that the President was intentionally stalling to make a decision. Speculation indicates that since the President is Danish, she may be influenced by the release of the “Danish Text” indicating that Denmark is only interested signing their agreement.

In the CMP and COP meetings, Canada and the US have yet to turn on their microphones. If you want to know Canada’s opinion on these matters, as we do, contact Jim Prentice at Minister@ec.gc.ca and urge him to give Canada a voice. We’ll do what we can here in Copenhagen.

Is China doing enough?

8 Dec

As I’m sure all of you are well aware, China is a major greenhouse gas emitter. China and the US combined account for 40% of all world emissions related to energy. Acknowledging this, the Chinese Government have done a number of things. They’ve set a carbon intensity target of 40-45% by 2020. With this target, China is leading all developing countries in terms of having the highest carbon intensity target. China has also committed to introducing low carbon transportation options including a commitment to produce  10 million tonnes of non grain bioethanol by 2020. Accounting for 50% of all world buildings, China has embraced the opportunity to build and renovate buildings to be more energy efficient and sustainable. In addition, China has been researching carbon capture and sequestration and renewable energy technologies. Despite this great effort, it comes down to the fact that China’s greenhouse gas emissions are rising and this will impact climate change. China argues that they are developing more efficiently than other countries have. More specifically, from 2002-2005, China’s GDP has risen 6 times while energy use has risen 2 times. My question to you is…

As China industrialises, is it good enough to not be as bad as developed countries were when they industrialised?

Emission Reduction Targets put forward by Annex 1 Countries

8 Dec

Based on updates from today’s Adhoc Working Group on the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) meeting, Annex 1 countries have put forward the following emission reduction objectives:

Party % Reduction by 2020 Baseline Year
Australia 5-15 2000
Belarus 5-10 1990
Canada 20 2006
Croatia 6% INCREASE! 1990
European Community 20-30 1990
Iceland 15 1990
Japan 25 1900
Kazakhstan 15 1992
Lietchtenstein 20-30 1990
Monaco 20 1990
New Zealand 10-20 1990
Norway 30-40 1990
Russian Federation 20-25 1990
Switzerland 20-30 1990
Ukraine 20 1990

Note: Croatia’s target is not a reduction!

Also note: Australia, Canada and Kazakhstan are the only countries that do not use 1990 as a baseline. One of the outcomes of COP15 is to determine is a baseline of 1990 should be legally mandatory.

AWG – LCA Opening Plenary

7 Dec

At COP15, the AWG-LCA plans to complete work on 3 main topics:

  • financial capacity building
  • actions items, primarily adaptation and mitigation
  • a shared vision

The opening plenary provided the opportunity for different nation groups to voice their opinions on the work planned for the conference. Sudan, on behalf of the G77 and China, called for immediate implementation of finanacing and resources  for adaptation and mitigation by developing countries and want to see an open and transparent process. This message was supported by the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group. AOSIS however, made it clear that they will not accept any agreement that is hinged on only short term funding.  Australia, on behalf of the Umbrella Group (this includes Canada) claimed they were prepared to set legally binding targets in Copenhagen (I hope this is in fact true). They also committ to providing $10 billion a year to developing countries (especially those of the LDC group) in order for them to continue growing in a sustainable manner. Sweden, on behalf of the EU and member countries, spoke of an effective agreement with real numbers including an emission reduction target of 30% by 2020 based on 1990 levels and to cut deforestation by 50% by 2020 and net zero by 2030. They also suggested that all countries help to provide funding with the exception of the LDC group.  This group was the only one to put forward a number of measurable targets to curb climate change. Switzerland, on behalf of the Environmental Integrity Group, outlined a few financing mechanisms that they were ready to develop on order to support developing nations. Algeria, on behalf of the Africa Group, was very specific that they want a new agreement, not sections of the Kyoto Accord copied, pasted and renegotiated. They want to see concrete arrangements for technology transfer to developing countries and are tired of unbalanced negotiations on adaptation and finance.

We’ll see how all of this plays out over the next two weeks and strongly hope that Canada will not take home the infamous fossil award for being the country that slows down negotiations.

Breaking Barriers and Building Bridges

7 Dec

Not five minutes ago, Sarah, Alice, Olivia, Emily, Sylvie, and I walked out of our first conference event. Held by both UNICEF and the FAO, the Breaking Barriers and Building Bridges session welcomed ambassadors from the Children’s Climate Forum – mostly young children from developing countries –  such as South Africa, Zambia, Haiti, Bangladesh, Kenya, Maldives, and Senegal – to speak about issues regarding climate change. It is amazing how children can put things so simply and effectively. It is amazing how children are making decisions that their parents and elders do not make.

The children were asked to identify barriers they face in their home country and bridges they can build to overcome them. Here’s a sample:

  • Barrier: ignorance
  • Bridge: show the impacts climate change is having at home.
  • Barrier: failure to listen to children
  • Bridge: provide opportunities for youth to speak out such as the Children’s Climate Forum

The children were also asked about what role music can play for fighting climate change. Answers spoke of music as a universal language, able to cross borders with ease and unite different cultures. Additionally, music can be the dissemination of information through entertainment as opposed to through sources like speeches or documents and thus, has the ability to reach more people. On a side note, it was said that planting trees in African countries have purpose aside from those environmental – they provide shade, and through this they act as a gathering place as people escape the heat of the sun. People are united through the natural environment.

How we can change the mentality of adults was another question asked. It was suggested that people be shown the changes that have occured in their own country as a result of climate change. What existed at a time past that is no longer there? Show that this river has trickled to a stream. Then show people how to reverse the effect or prevent it from happening again.

The youth ambassador from Maldives brought us some interesting news as well that we had not yet heard. This small developing country of 300,000 people is striving to become the first carbon neutral country in the world, and while this represents a very small portion of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, it also represents a huge step and shines as an example of what a (developing) country can do.

There is no global action without local action. A take-home message in this session was to respect commitments, no matter what size. Humans take steps.

The quote of the day has to go to the ambassador for Angelique Kidjo of Cape Town, the ambassador for UNICEF, who said, “YOU CAN’T MAKE MONEY WITHOUT THE EARTH”. Simple, effective, 100% truth.

All in all, planting trees was a repeated idea of this session. In Canada, we take trees for granted. Trees are nice to look at. They are pretty to walk beside. We often forget about their ecological function and how important they really are. Trees can absorb water and therefore minimize the impacts of floods  and decrease risk of landslides. Trees (such as mangrove forests) act as barriers from intense winds, tsnuamis and other severe storms induced by climate change. Trees improve soil conditions enabling farmers to feed the word. Trees absorb carbon dioxide improve air quality for all to breathe. The list goes on. One simple act of planting trees goes a long way. Let’s not forget that.

IN REFLECTION, here are some issues to consider:

  • Transgenerational communication and values
  • Human desire to share experiences (e.g. childhood): “I am only seeing fragments of the beauty of my country”
  • Immigration issue where people go, where they choose to go, and if they have the choice to leave

Again, we  see how social and environmental issues are parallel.

– Tyler, Sarah & Alice