Thursday, December 15, 2005

The next Texas tea is clear: Wind power is new gusher

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Texas, the home to the world's first oil gusher at Spindletop, is on the brink of yet another energy boom.

Recently, I announced the first offshore lease for wind energy in U.S. history. According to the agreement, Galveston-Offshore Wind, LLC will pay the Texas General Land Office a minimum of $26.5 million over 30 years to develop what could be the first offshore wind farm in the United States.

News of this spread quickly worldwide because the world knows Texas understands energy. It's clear that Galveston-Offshore Wind's proposal to build a 150-megawatt wind farm — enough to power up to 40,000 homes — is no pie-in-the-sky idea. It's a detailed and executable business plan.

The people at Galveston-Offshore Wind, a division of Louisiana-based Wind Energy Systems Technology, have deep roots in oil and gas. Company President Herman Schellstede has spent a lifetime patenting and building offshore rigs. The business is in his blood; his father worked on the very first offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Texas General Land Office also has deep roots in oil and gas. At the Land Office, we've earned more than $9 billion since 1854 from oil and gas royalties. All of that money has been deposited in the state's Permanent School Fund.

The Texas oil and gas industry is a crucial part of our economy and will continue to be so in the years to come. But Texas needs to think long-term. Oil and gas revenue won't last forever.

Power created from wind is competitively priced. In fact, it's less than the market price of electricity in Texas over the past two years.

Land-based wind farms in Texas produce power at a fixed cost of about $28 per megawatt-hour. With no fuel costs, this price is relatively inflation-proof. And as turbine efficiency improves, this cost should fall.

By comparison, a high-efficiency, natural gas-fired power plant burning gas creates power that has a fuel-only cost of $51.52 per megawatt-hour. And with natural gas prices near historical highs, wind power looks even better.

There are hurdles along the way. The effect of wind farms on birds must be minimized. Environmental effects are something anyone leasing state land needs to address, and Galveston-Offshore Wind is no exception. As required by the Land Office, officials with the company have produced a report several inches thick on how they plan to address these concerns.

Sound economic principles are driving wind energy development in Texas.

The fact that wind energy is clean, reliable and inexhaustible is icing on the cake.

Take pride, because Texas is once again pioneering a new frontier.

Patterson, a Republican, is a former state senator, Marine lieutenant colonel and Vietnam veteran.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Montreal Deal; A huge step forward. Still an enormous way to go!

The largest climate change summit ever held limped to a close in the early hours of 10 December, with a consensus to discuss the period after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012 over the coming years and a reluctant agreement from the US to participate in a dialogue on how to combat climate change in the future.

The jury is still out on how the nuanced accords will play out once negotiators sit down as soon as early 2006 to start to hammer out a plan they hope will curb worldwide greenhouse gas emissions enough to slow global warming.

The 13 days of talks in Montreal were unexpectedly dominated by the large rift between Kyoto advocates seeking to move forward on the post-2012 period, and the US and its allies, who drew a hard line against any obligations after 2012.

At one point on 9 December, chief US negotiator Harlan Watson and his aides walked out of the negotiations when delegates moved to include the word “dialogue” in the final communiqué regarding plans to combat climate change in the future.

“If it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it's a duck,” Watson said, contending that the word choice implied that countries that participate in those talks could be bound by the conclusion that emerges from them.

The US has maintained that it will not participate in any talks that could lead to binding emissions reduction targets.

But in the end, the word was left in. The US reluctantly agreed to the text, but only under the condition that it also specifically ruled out “negotiations leading to new commitments”.

“The text that was adopted recognizes the diversity of approaches toward confronting climate change,” said Watson, who has advocated voluntary measures and a greater emphasis on technological solutions in lieu of binding emissions cuts.

That diminutive concession from the US came after enormous pressure from many fronts, including Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, who issued an impassioned plea to the US to re-enter the multilateral process, and former US President Bill Clinton who, energized the pro-Kyoto crowd by saying that when it came to his stance on the Kyoto treaty, President George Bush was “flat out wrong”.

That pressure ruffled feathers in Washington.

In a statement, Jim Connaughton, chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality, said he met with Frank McKenna, Canada’s ambassador in Washington, to express displeasure over Martin’s fiery rhetoric, saying it was an election ploy that could damage relations between the two countries.

The White House, meanwhile, said the appearance by Clinton made the former president, who remains popular in Canada, a political pawn of Martin’s, who is in the midst of a tough battle to retain power in Canada.

In the end, the talks here - which included some 10,000 delegates and observers - may be remembered as the first time since the Bush administration disengaged from the Kyoto process in 2001 that the country’s participation in the multilateral process grew rather than diminished, no matter how subtly.

“It is very significant to have the United States on board, however tentatively,”
Aldo Iacomelli, an Italian delegate and the director of the Italian offices of the International Solar Energy Society, told ISN Security Watch.
“We would have liked to have more [from the US], but I think we can live with what we ended up with, at least for now.”

The UN Secretariat agreed.

“There’s no doubt that it’s better to have the US at the table than it is to have them away from it,”
a UN spokesman said in an interview after the close of the talks.

The official centerpiece to the negotiations is an agreement from the 157 countries that ratified the Kyoto Protocol to talk in the future.

Delegates cheered when the agreement was announced around 6:30 a.m. local time, after a full night of negotiations. But it was questionable how valuable the deal will prove to be.

Though the text did not mention specific dates, it did say the strategy for the post-2012 period would look a lot like the current one, with emissions limits and the trading of carbon credits and market mechanisms to reduce emissions.

The agreement broke a deadlock between those who wanted the Kyoto-like structure to continue beyond 2012, and those who advocated new strategies such as reducing the amount of carbon released per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) or focusing on efforts to adapt to climate change rather than to try to reverse it.

Canadian Environment Minister Stéphane Dion, the president of the conference, applauded the decision, saying it amounted to “a map for the future, the Montreal Action Plan, the MAP”.

The next task will be to establish a timetable for those negotiations to begin. And then, the mammoth task of finalizing the emissions caps for the post-2012 period and determining the length of the next commitment period will begin. Given the difficulty of agreeing simply to discuss the topic in the future, those negotiations promise to be challenging.

Another key issue that must be negotiated before the end of 2006 is that of targets for countries not required to reduce emissions under the terms of the Kyoto agreement. Those nations - called the Group of 77, or G-77 - include China, and India, the second and third largest polluters in the world, respectively, behind only the US.

“We need the support of the United States in this process,” Bruno Oberle, a Swiss delegate, told ISN Security Watch. “But for the process to work, we also need the big emerging economies on board.”

Among the other decisions coming out of the talks is a rulebook on compliance: countries that fail to meet their emissions reduction targets in one commitment period will be forced to meet those targets plus a 30 per cent penalty in the following period.

The conference also adopted a five-year work program that will assess climate change impacts and how to help poor countries to adapt to them. A mechanism for funding the adaptation initiatives was also adopted.

A final key topic under discussion was that of technology, where the centerpiece was a fast-evolving technology involving the capture and storage of carbon under ground. Delegates agreed to study the innovative in greater depth in the future.

“Looking back, I think this is one of the most productive climate change conferences ever,” Richard Kinley, acting head of the UN climate change secretariat, said in a statement. “Negotiations were very difficult, but that shouldn’t obscure the fact that a great deal was accomplished here.”

(By Eric J. Lyman in Montreal)

Friday, December 09, 2005

Opening statement at joint COP/MOP conference

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin opened the high-level segment of
the combined COP and COP/MOP meeting before a full assembly with a
clarion call to action under the Kyoto Protocol. The lengthy ovation
following the speech provides evidence of the broad consensus for
strong decisions coming out of these negotiations.
Referring to the growing number of business leaders urging
governments to pick up the pace of response to the global warming
threat, Mr Martin said:

"What they need from us – from government –
is the certainty that we won't fail them in our duty to build the framework they need, whether it's hard targets or a market for capped emissions and trading credits."

He addressed one of the major tensions at this meeting – the failure
of a few wealthy countries to take responsibility for solving the
problem. He said:
"Climate change is a global challenge that demands
a global response, yet there are nations that resist, voices that attempt to diminish the urgency or dismiss the science – or declare, either in word or in indifference, that this is not our problem to solve."

In response, he added: "Well, it is our problem to solve. We are in
this together. The time is past to seek comfort in denial. The time
is past to pretend that any nation can stand alone, isolated from the
global community – for there is but one Earth, and we share it, and
there can be no hiding on any island, in any city, within any
country, no matter how prosperous, from the consequences of inaction."
In his remarks at the press conference immediately following his
speech, he said:
"To the reluctant countries, including the United
States, I say this: there is such a thing as a global
conscience and this is the time to listen to it…There is absolutely no excuse for any more delay in action."

As expected, US Minister Paula Dobriansky responded curtly to the
Prime Minister's charges at another news conference later in the
day. "One size does not fit all," she said. "It is our belief that
progress cannot be made through formalised discussions."

[translation: Fuck you ExxonMobil hired me and we are not going to take action!]

In his speech, Mr Martin rebutted the main excuse offered by the US
for not taking meaningful action – the fear it would harm the
economy. "Some speak of the cost of bringing about change. But surely
we realise by now that a greater cost will be exacted if we lack the
will or the tenacity to change," he said.

Just before the speech, 25 prominent US economists, including three
Nobel Laureates, called upon the US to reduce its greenhouse gas
emissions through a market-based cap-and-trade approach that would
provide "clear incentives for changes in business practices and the
development of new technologies."

The Prime Minister ended with a stirring call to arms. He said: "We
are called here to protect our planet. We are called here by our
citizens. We must find the will and the way to live up to what they
have every right to expect from us…The challenge is ours. So is the
The only question remaining is whether Ministers here in Montreal
will respond to the Prime Minister's challenge with the serious
decisions needed to chart the path forward, for both the Kyoto
Protocol and the Framework Convention. Nothing less is acceptable.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

2005 Costliest Year for Extreme Weather

Jim Lobe, Inter Press Service, Wednesday 07 December 2005

Washington - The world has suffered more than 200 billion dollars in economic losses as a result of weather-related natural disasters over the past year, making 2005 the costliest year on record, according to preliminary estimates released Tuesday by the Munich Re Foundation at the international climate conference in Montreal.

These damages significantly exceeded the previous record of 145 billion dollars set in 2004, according to the Foundation, which is part of Munich Re, one of several leading re-insurance companies that have warned repeatedly over the past decade that global warming posed serious threats to the world's economy.

Of the more than 200 billion dollars in losses this year, more than 70 billion dollars was covered by insurance companies, compared to some 45 billion dollars in damages last year, according to the Foundation.

It said most losses resulted from the unprecedented number and intensity of hurricanes in 2005, particularly Wilma, which hit Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula; and Katrina, which overwhelmed New Orleans and other coastal areas in the U.S. states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and parts of Alabama.

Wilma, the strongest-ever hurricane, according to records dating back to 1850, caused an estimated 15 billion dollars in economic losses, of which about 10 billion dollars was insured, according to the Foundation.

Damages caused by Katrina, the sixth strongest hurricane on record, were significantly greater, however. Estimated losses come to more than 125 billion, of which more than 30 billion dollars was insured, the Foundation said.

"There is a powerful indication from these figures that we are moving from predictions of the likely impacts of climate change to proof that it is already fully underway,"
said Thomas Loster, the Foundation's director, who added that policy-makers should not only be concerned about the staggering economic loss.

"Above all, these are humanitarian tragedies that show us that, as a result of our impacts on the climate, we are making people and communities everywhere more vulnerable to weather-related natural disasters,"
he said.

Loster released the Foundation's report at the ongoing 11th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Climate Change Convention, which is addressing what the international community should do after the expiration of the Kyoto Protocol, the agreement by the world's industrialised countries, with the exception of the United States and Australia, to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by about seven percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

Most scientists believe that emissions are the main cause of global warming and that they will have to be reduced by 60 percent or more in order to stabilise the atmosphere.

While scientists insist that the increases in financial losses caused by storms may not necessarily be linked to global warming -- increasing populations and economic development in vulnerable coastal areas may be far more important -- a growing number agree that warming is becoming an increasingly significant factor.

Such a notion is bolstered by the occurrence of other highly unusual or even unprecedented weather events recorded during the past year. These suggest the Earth's climate is changing in ways that are generally consistent with predictions by sophisticated computer models about the likely impact of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that have been pumped into the atmosphere in ever-increasing quantities since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.

Hurricane Vince, for example, was the first hurricane on record to approach Europe, making landfall in Spain in October. It was the easternmost and northernmost appearance of an Atlantic hurricane on record, effectively mirroring the appearance of Hurricane Catarina off Brazil in March 2004. Catarina was the first hurricane in the South Atlantic on record.

Similarly, at the end of November, Tropical Storm Delta hit the Canary Islands to devastating effect. It was the first tropical storm to ever hit the islands.

And in July, a weather station in Mumbai recorded 944 mm of rain in 24 hours, the greatest and most intense precipitation event ever recorded in India.

The number of tropical storms broke all records in 2005, according to the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi. As of last week, there had been 26 storms, or five more than the previous record of 21. Of the 26, 16 reached hurricane force.

Scientific models have predicted an increase in the intensity of storms as the atmosphere -- and the temperatures of the seas -- became warmer. Tropical storms and hurricanes derive most of their energy from warm waters.

While scientists agree that it is impossible to link global warming to the frequency and intensity of hurricanes over a one- or two-year period, recent studies have shown that storms have indeed become more intense over the past several decades.

In August, for example, Kerry Emanuel at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) published a paper in the British scientific weekly Nature which found that hurricanes in the Atlantic and North Pacific had roughly doubled in power over 30 years.

In September, a group of meteorologists published a study in Science weekly which found that, while the frequency of hurricanes had significantly increased over the past 35 years, the number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes -- the most powerful -- had increased by 80 percent over that period.

To many scientists, these studies provide additional evidence of a link between warming seas, to which warmer atmospheric temperatures contribute, and hurricane intensity.

Others insist, however, that the 35-year period is still too short a time period to reach any conclusion, because such changes may be tied to other natural "oscillations" involving currents or salinity. In the 1950s and 1960s, for example, hurricane activity was significantly greater than in the three decades that followed.

In his remarks to the climate conference, Loster stressed that economic losses attributable to weather-related disasters have risen much more steeply than those caused by earthquakes, according to records since 1950.

"We do not want to estimate the human tragedy of earthquakes like the recent one in Pakistan which can kill tens of thousands of people a year,"
he said.
"But our findings indicate that it is the toll of weather-related disasters that are the ones on the rise."

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Another great idea from the climate defense network.

Impose the Adaptation Levy on all Flexible Mechanisms

The Adaptation Fund is currently under discussion, and for good
reason. A crucial mechanism, the fund will be used to assist
developing countries at risk. Special emphasis will be given to
countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of
climate change.

The issue at hand is who will control the fund – the Parties, or the
World Bank and the Annex 1 countries? It is essential that the fund
and its operational modalities and guidance come from the COP/MOP and
not from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council where the
Annex 1 Parties have more control.

The adaptation levy is currently on the Clean Development Mechanism
(CDM) only, and account for two per cent of the proceeds from
Certified Emissions Reductions (CER) transactions. This situation
simultaneously hobbles the CDM and limits the size of the fund.
Developing countries, consequently, cannot benefit from either Joint
Implementation or the Emissions Trading Scheme proper, both Annex B
flexibility mechanisms with much bigger transactions. As this is both
unfair and short sighted, Parties here in Montreal should extend the
adaptation levy to apply to all the flexible mechanisms under the
Kyoto Protocol.

And while Parties have reached agreement on the operational
modalities for funding adaptation under the Least Developed Countries
Fund (LDCF) and Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF), there is still
far too little money in the funds to implement priority adaptation
activities. It is essential that Annex 1 Parties provide sufficient
inputs to these funds to support urgently-needed adaptation
activities, as identified by the LDCs through their National
Adaptation Programmes of Action.

Another great idea from the climate defense network.

Impose the Adaptation Levy on all Flexible Mechanisms

The Adaptation Fund is currently under discussion, and for good
reason. A crucial mechanism, the fund will be used to assist
developing countries at risk. Special emphasis will be given to
countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of
climate change.

The issue at hand is who will control the fund – the Parties, or the
World Bank and the Annex 1 countries? It is essential that the fund
and its operational modalities and guidance come from the COP/MOP and
not from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council where the
Annex 1 Parties have more control.

The adaptation levy is currently on the Clean Development Mechanism
(CDM) only, and account for two per cent of the proceeds from
Certified Emissions Reductions (CER) transactions. This situation
simultaneously hobbles the CDM and limits the size of the fund.
Developing countries, consequently, cannot benefit from either Joint
Implementation or the Emissions Trading Scheme proper, both Annex B
flexibility mechanisms with much bigger transactions. As this is both
unfair and short sighted, Parties here in Montreal should extend the
adaptation levy to apply to all the flexible mechanisms under the
Kyoto Protocol.

And while Parties have reached agreement on the operational
modalities for funding adaptation under the Least Developed Countries
Fund (LDCF) and Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF), there is still
far too little money in the funds to implement priority adaptation
activities. It is essential that Annex 1 Parties provide sufficient
inputs to these funds to support urgently-needed adaptation
activities, as identified by the LDCs through their National
Adaptation Programmes of Action.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Climate change: Doomsday scenario for India

By the 22nd century, India will be lashed by up to 30 per cent more monsoon rains.

The southern coastline will be extremely vulnerable to extreme sea-level changes. The harvest of rain-fed crops will see a decline and temperatures will go up by about four degrees Celsius.

These are some of the findings of a three-year-long research programme set up by the British department for environment, food and rural affairs, and the Indian ministry of environment and forests.

The programme involved eight Indian institutes that worked with British research institutes like the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, Exeter.

The institutes studied the impact of climate change on sea-level variability, water resources, forests, agriculture, health, energy, industry and transport infrastructure in India.

A team lead by Rupa Kumar Kohli of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, found that temperatures in India will increase by three to four degree Celsius towards the end of the 21st century. Kohli's team also predicted that the monsoon rains will increase by 10 to 30 per cent.

The Indo-British study says the intensity of cyclonic storms might increase, leading to more 'extreme sea-level events'. The sea level is expected to rise in three locations on the east coast of India, and the southern peninsular coast will become the most vulnerable.

Studies conducted on three river basins -- the Krishna, the Ganges and the Godavari – showed climate change would affect them immensely.

"The hydrological cycle is projected to be more intense with expected increase in extremes and intensities. Model simulations indicate a general increase of about 20 per cent in precipitation over the three river basins, with consequent increase in surface water availability,"
said Kohli.

The study found that the yields of wheat, rice, sorghum and maize will be affected. Increase in temperature is expected to reduce the production of wheat and rice. The study also predicts reduction in the yields of rain-fed crops in general.

The study predicted extreme climatic events increasingly disrupting the Konkan Railway service.

Climate change will boost power generation needs by 1.5 per cent and result in increased occurrence of malaria, it added.

While most of India will have till the end of the 21st century to face the brunt of nature's fury, the impact of climate change on the forests will be felt within the next 40 years, days the research.

According to N H Ravindranath, chairman, Centre for Sustainable Technologies, and associate faculty, Centre of Ecological Studies, Indian Insitute of Science, Bangalore, "Eighty-five per cent of the forest grid will undergo drastic changes in the forest type."

"The higher impact will be on the savannah biomes -- teak and sal forests of central and east India and the temperate biomes of the Himalayas. Moist and dry savannahs are likely to be replaced by tropical dry forests and seasonal forests. By 2050, we will feel a significant impact,"
Ravindranath said.

The impact will be lower on the evergreen rain forests of the Western Ghats and the northeast, he added.

Composition of species and their dominance could also be altered, and large-scale forest depletion and loss of biodiversity are likely to mark the beginning of the bleak scenario.

Ranindranath says that while there would be an increased production of timber in the short- and medium term, there would be a disruption in timber supply in the long term. Similarly, loss of biodiversity will result in loss of livelihood for forest-dependent communities.

"As climate change could cause irreversible damage to unique forest ecosystems and biodiversity, there is a need to develop and implement adaptation strategies like identifying forest management practices and forest policies to reduce vulnerability of forest ecosystems,"
he said.

Climate change is one of the key phrases in scientific research today. Experts across the globe are busy decoding Mother Nature's signals to understand just how much damage man has done to Earth, and just how soon he will begin reaping the deadly harvest of what he has sown over centuries.

The Indo-British study was undertaken as a result of British prime minister's promise to the United Nations General Assembly in 1997 that the United Kingdom would collaborate with key developing countries to study the impact of climate change.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Thousands of protesters took to the streets in cities worldwide

MONTREAL -- Thousands of protesters took to the streets in cities worldwide Saturday to demand urgent action on global warming as delegates continued their work at an international climate change conference to review and update the Kyoto Protocol.

Police said about 7,000 people marched in downtown Montreal -- some dressed as polar bears. Five environmental groups, including Greenpeace and the Climate Crisis Coalition, delivered a petition signed by 600,000 Americans to the U.S. Consulate in Montreal urging President Bush and Congress to help slow global warming.

Organizers said 10,000 people marched through London, passing Prime Minister Tony Blair's home on Downing Street, where they delivered a letter demanding the government reaffirm its commitment to Kyoto with legally binding targets on emissions reductions.

Chanting and blowing whistles, the marchers denounced Blair and Bush for their perceived environmental failings. Some held banners depicting Bush as ''Wanted -- for crimes against the planet'' and advising ''Ditch Blair, not Kyoto.''

'Save New Orleans' party

Canada's Environment Minister Stephane Dion, who is presiding over the 10-day U.N. Climate Change Conference in Montreal, also took part in the march and said final negotiations this week involving about 120 environment ministers and other government leaders would be crucial to improving the Kyoto agreement.

Bush has been criticized for pulling out of the treaty, which binds industrialized nations to lower greenhouse gas emissions. The United States -- responsible for about 25 percent of the world's carbon emissions -- was the target of many demonstrators Saturday.

Protests were expected in 32 countries. In Washington, drivers of hybrid cars planned to rally around the White House. In New Orleans, residents intended to hold a ''Save New Orleans, Stop Global Warming'' party in the French Quarter. Other U.S. events were being held from Boston to Los Angeles.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

UN explores prospects of climate change litigation

LONDON (Reuters) - Companies which contribute to climate change will increasingly face legal action, law firm Freshfields said on Wednesday, launching U.N.-sponsored research which highlights investors' environmental responsibilities.

"Twenty or thirty years ago you were looking at the beginning of tobacco litigation," Freshfields lawyer Paul Watchman said.

"There's going to be a whole host of (climate-change) actions ... we might look to do that kind of thing."

London-based Freshfields was launching with Dutch bank ABN Amro a report produced for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) which said that institutional investors were obliged to consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.

The report aims to encourage investors to address ESG concerns -- such as climate change or child labour -- in their investment decisions, and so bring financial pressure to bear on such issues.

"In our view, (investment) decision-makers are required to have regard, at some level, to ESG considerations in every decision they make," the report said.

In October, the U.N. brokered an agreement by 21 institutional investors, jointly representing $1.7 trillion of assets, on six principles for socially responsible investment, principles due to be formally declared next March.

Lawsuits against alleged errant investors and companies have so far been focussed in the United States.

States including California, Connecticut, Iowa and New Jersey and the city of New York are suing energy companies such as American Electric Power, Cinergy Corp. and Southern Co. to force them to cut their greenhouse gas emissions, Watchman noted.

Such gases, including carbon dioxide, are widely blamed for contributing to global warming and increasingly extreme weather.

In addition, various non-government organisations (NGOs) are bringing actions against U.S. government agencies, while the Inuit people have lodged a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for the dangerous impact of climate change, Watchman told Reuters.

"There is a real danger that the scientific proof linking climate change damage with contribution to global warming through carbon dioxide emissions may be established," he added.

Delegates from some 189 countries are this week debating in Montreal a possible extension to the Kyoto Protocol, which obliges about 40 industrial nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2012.

December 3rd, International Day of Action to Stop Global Warming

Ask each government's national focal point participating in Montreal climate meeting to support an expanded, strengthened Kyoto process

Members of the Kyoto climate treaty are currently meeting in Montreal for the first time since the Treaty took effect. A broad coalition of climate change campaigns of which ClimateArk is a part are carrying out climate change demonstrations on December 3rd around the world. Join us in demanding that the USA and Australia ratify the Kyoto Protocol immediately, and that the entire world community move as rapidly as possible to a stronger emissions reductions treaty that will be both equitable and effective in stabilizing 'greenhouse' gases and preventing dangerous climate change. Even as the pace, intensity and impact of global warming increases, international progress on climate change policy continues to be not only slow but also downright tepid, clearly inadequate to enunciate solutions sufficient to the magnitude of the climate crisis on hand. Please participate in the virtual climate protest below, and join a real demonstration if available in your area by visiting the Global Climate Coalition at . The alert below targets all of the governmental "national focal point" contact points participating in the negotiations. From here you are sending an email to most climate delegations at the conference -- some 200 people. Please send the alert now but make sure you come back on December 3rd and send it again - and let you friends know to do it then as well.

Montreal Talks: Article 3.9 Moves into High Gear

Excitement over the adoption of the Marrakech Accords yesterday
morning spilled over into the session on Article 3.9. The Group of 77
and China as well as the EU made constructive contributions to the
process by expressing their readiness for formal discussions. Some
individual Parties, notably AOSIS, Norway, South Africa and
Switzerland, also brought concrete ideas and creativity to the table.

Developing the Second Commitment Period
This is all good, even if Article 3.9 is only one of several building
blocks of a post-2012 package. All countries have a responsibility to
jointly commit to take action beyond 2012. This joint commitment is
what Montreal must be remembered for. Annex 1 countries need to do
their fair share and set new binding targets that sharply reduce
carbon pollution. Rapidly industrialising developing countries can
pledge to increase the energy efficiency of their fast-growing
industries, such as the power sector, and further implement policies
that promote sustainable development. Least developed countries,
often most impacted by climate change, will continue to require
assistance to prepare and implement adaptation strategies.
Yesterday the Kyoto Protocol came into full force with the adoption
of the Marrakech Accords and the Annex B Parties are working, even if
imperfectly, to meet their obligations.
Developing countries have a vested interest in the rapid forward
movement of the Protocol as they will suffer most from failing to
meet the goal of Article 2, preventing dangerous climate change. The
fact is that action by all major emitters is needed including those
in the developing world.
The question is therefore what scale of action, under what
institutional umbrella and with what level of obligation is the
framework for future action to be negotiated? Under Article 10, all
Parties to the Protocol have a large array of commitments in relation
to greenhouse gases. These need to be developed into much more
concrete actions to move towards implementation of Article 2.
In terms of an institutional umbrella, a review of all aspects of the
Protocol is required at COP/MOP2 in 2006 under Article 9.2.
Preparations for this review are needed in the coming year and should
be part of the agreements here in Montreal. So what should be started
here under the Kyoto Protocol?
Parties should state clearly there will be post-2012 action that:
• reduces the health, environmental, economic and security
risks posed by climate change;
• advances the goals of sustainable development and poverty
• adds to the flexibility mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol to
minimise costs;
• leads to the rapid introduction of new low-carbon and
renewable energy technologies; and
• achieves significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions
by 2017.
The process agreed in Montreal, should be conducted "as a matter of
urgency" with a fully constituted Ad Hoc Open Ended Working Group
having at least two sessions per year and reporting directly to the
COP/MOP, as proposed by G77/China. This process, however, should
conclude no later than COP/MOP4 at the end of 2008, and take into
account the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report.
Over this period the content of the process must include the
following elements:
• Review of Annex B commitments with deeper emissions
reductions for these Parties for the 2013-2017 period;
• Development of new flexible mechanisms linked to emissions
trading, such as sectoral actions with no-regrets targets, and
sustainable development policies and measures, along with significant
improvements of the Clean Development Mechanism;
• Creation of a larger-scale funding mechanism for adaptation
costs linked to the operation of all the flexible mechanisms; and
• A review under Article 9.2 to establish clear criteria and a
rule-based approach to deciding at what point Parties take on
different kinds of action ranging from voluntary to binding.
For 2006, the Kyoto process agreed in Montreal needs to have
submissions from Parties on the content of these issues. These need
to be analysed and debated, so that discussion at COP/MOP2 over
progress on the Article 3.9 review and the initiation of the Article
9.2 review proceeds effectively. Two sessions are needed for this to
occur properly and to reflect the urgency.

Concerns have been raised that such a process would push developing
countries into binding emissions caps and that it leaves the US out.
ECO believes that this process would do neither and we have heard no
Party demanding caps for developing countries. This process also
allows the US to rejoin the discussions. By supporting a broader
process now and establishing good ground rules and a solid process,
developing countries will in effect seize the initiative. This will
reverse a long period in which strategies have been dominated by
defensive tactics rather than a larger proactive strategy.

Montreal Talks Increasingly Limited by Lack of US Engagement

China has urged the US to sign up to Kyoto. The US with 300 million citisens emits more greenhouse gasses than china which has a population nearer 2000 million! The US emmits more than 12 tonnes CO2 per person, compared to less than a tonne per person in China.


MONTREAL -- China, one of the world's major polluters, urged the United States Wednesday to join the Kyoto treaty, rejecting arguments that the pact is flawed because it fails to restrict emissions by developing countries.

China's Sun Guoshunis said his country was already cutting the polluting emissions, adding that it was unfair to expect China and India -- with the world's largest populations -- to ask their impoverished people to cut back on energy consumption.

"We really feel pity that the U.S. has not yet and is not going to join the Kyoto Protocol, not only because of the size of its total emissions, but also because of its higher per-capita emissions," Sun, director of the Department of Treaty and Law at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in an interview.

He spoke during the first meeting of the 140 countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol since it was signed in 1997 and went into effect in February.

More than 8,000 environmentalists, scientists and government officials were attending the 10-day conference in Montreal.

Harlan Watson, the senior climate negotiator for the State Department, said Washington would not be party to any agreement with legally binding targets. "There's more than one way to address climate change," Watson said.

The United States is the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

National Academies weighs up the evidence on climate change

The National Academies has issued a report summarizing the findings of its various investigations into the effects of global climate change.

Entitled ‘Understanding and responding to climate change’ it was released in advance of a meeting of world leaders which opens November 28 in Montreal. That meeting is the first United Nations conference dealing with climate since the Kyoto agreement came into force in February.

The report analyzes its member institutions’ efforts in trying to achieve a consensus on the science, examine new avenues of enquiry and identify the critical needs in the observational and computational infrastructure. The report also highlights the opportunities to use this knowledge to produce more effective responses to these environmental challenges, the Academies explain.

Although the report acknowledges the current gaps in knowledge about the extent and mechanisms of climate change, it warns against using this as an excuse for inaction. “How climate will change in the future is inherently uncertain but far from unknown. If scientific uncertainty about climate change is used to delay action the risks and costs of the adverse effects of climate change could increase significantly.”

The National Academies also draws attention to the growing evidence on the direct impact of changing climate on human health. It notes a recent World Health Organization report, which estimated that climate changes over the past 30 years might have contributed to more than 150,000 deaths and 5 million illnesses annually. This has been the result of warmer temperatures and heavy rain that can create the conditions for the spread of the agents responsible for conditions like malaria. In South Asia, for example, a serious outbreak of another insect-borne disease, dengue fever, has infected 12,000 people and killed at least 1,000 this year.

Environmental change may also have an impact on public health within the US. Several groups have found an association between rising temperatures and deaths stemming from air pollution, including a study by staff at Columbia University examining smog-related deaths in New York City.

US rules out post-2012 climate change talks


MONTREAL - The United States ruled out making extra pledges to fight global warming beyond 2012 yesterday, angering environmentalists who accused Washington of blocking a 189-nation conference in Canada.

Up to 10,000 delegates are meeting in Montreal from November 28-December 9 to discuss new ways to fight a build-up of gases released mainly from burning fossil fuels in factories, power stations and cars.

Chief US negotiator Harlan Watson said he opposed proposals to launch talks on new actions to combat global warming beyond 2012.

Environmentalists accused the US of doing too little to fight a rise in temperatures from human activities that could change the climate.

Bill Hare, climate policy director of Greenpeace, called the US the "fly in the ointment".

"The failure of the US to be willing to discuss future action here is the real issue," he said, predicting that Washington would join a global pact only after Bush leaves office.

Kyoto Protocol backers plan to launch talks, likely to last several years, on new commitments beyond 2012.

Bush rejected Kyoto in 2001, branding it too costly and unfair for excluding poorer countries from caps.

Many also hope to start wider parallel talks among all countries, including the US and developing nations such as China and India.

"We hope to start a dialogue" among all 189 nations, said Sarah Hendry, head of the British delegation which holds the rotating EU presidency. She said that new, tougher measures were urgently needed to combat rising temperatures.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said yesterday he believed all major economies would sign up for a binding accord to succeed Kyoto.

However, Watson reiterated that Washington had no plans to adopt Kyoto-style caps on emissions and rejected predictions that the US was dooming the conference to failure.

"I don't know why it's doomed," he said. "There's more than one way to approach climate change.

"Look at the data - the United States has done better in the first three years of the Bush Administration in addressing greenhouse gas emissions than the EU ... the UK, France, Germany."

United Nations data shows the US is doing worse than all the nations named by Watson in the longer term. US emissions were 13.3 per cent above 1990 levels in 2003 - the EU average was a fall of 1.4 per cent.


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