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Klaus Esterluß | COP17

At mid-point in Durban

The COP17 climate conference in Durban is at mid-point and the prospects for success are not looking very bright. Since this weekend the political leaders have started to arrive to confront some of the problematic issues. There will probably be some compromises being worked out but fears remain that this won’t be enough to tackle the worsening climate situation.
The hottest topic of course is the future of the Kyoto Protocol. Though the developing countries have been fighting for the protocol’s survival it seems that some of the rich nations want, to say the least, some adjustments. Critics say, that they want to get rid of it. In last week’s talks, the European Union came up with some ideas to keep Kyoto alive, through a decision or a declaration. But for this, the EU wants to extract a huge concession, that all “major economies” agree to start negotiating for a new legally binding treaty that will take in effect in 2020. Problem is, that there is no definition of what a “major economy” is. Among developing countries one might think of those with a large population. But on a per-capita basis, they a still developing countries. And that’s the way the developing countries are looking at it. So it is not surprising that developing countries like China, Brazil or India are not interested in taking up talks about this issue. How this story of the Kyoto Protocol is going to end is hard to say. A quick death is unlikely. Especially given the protest this might arouse and the bad name this will give to those who bury it.
The Durban conference is also debating on how to put a new Green Climate Fund into operations. Disputes remain on the fund’s governance. If the is an agreement, it may be Durban biggest but also only visible success. But the are still a couple of more days to go.

Date

December 5, 2011

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Klaus Esterluß | COP17

Youth and the Future

It was Young and Future Generations Day at COP17 in Durban on Thursday, and among the many events, talks and side events that took place on that day alone, one message came across very clear and loud: it is time to act, the time for political inactions has run out. If the world doesn’t act now it might be too late.
Young people and their future are actually at the center of these talks, because it is their future that’s being talked about. They are the primary stakeholders in the outcome of this conference. So they have the right to demand more of the negotiators, and of the targets they are setting. In a session called “An Intergenerational Inquiry” UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres warned youth not to pick up the bad habits of negotiators and stay ambitious. In response, 16-year old Mokgadi Seemola silenced the room in stating, “Because of some of the wrong decisions some negotiators have made, my dream is shattered.” Drought has devastated her South African community and now she faces the harsh realities of climate change. She had hopes to share the world she grew up in with her children, and that’s now impossible.
One would hope that negotiators at this conference had heard the message: that there is no time to wait any longer on coming to a binding agreement on how to stop climate change. There is not much time left. So, what action will they take?
(Report based on Eco, the NGO newsletter by CAN at the UNFCCC meeting in Durban)

Date

December 2, 2011

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Klaus Esterluß | COP17

Wind power crucial for fighting climate change

As the parties are battling over ways to fight climate change in Durban at COP17, the Global Wind Energy Council published a new study on the potential of wind power for significantly reduce CO2 emissions in the energy sector. Since 40% of global CO2 emissions are produced by the power sector it is perfectly clear that we can not win the fight against climate change without a dramatic shift in the way we produce and consume electricity. As science makes clear: global emissions need to peak and begin to decline before 2020. That is a goal only to be reached with a increase of in renewable energy deployments. While building a conventional power plant can take up to ten years, a large wind farm can be put up in a matter of months. And within three to six months of operations, a wind turbine has offset all emissions from its construction, to run virtually carbon free for the remainder of its 20 year lifetime, according to the study.
In the latest publication concerning “Wind Energy and climate policy” introduced here in Durban it says that in terms of the targets already stated by the industrialized countries for the period up to 2020, global wind energy could contribute at least 44% of the total emissions reductions, i.e. 1.5 billion tons of CO2 every year. And although that is nowhere near what the science tells us is required, even for a larger reduction wind power could play a crucial role in achieving that goal.
As Nelson Mandela said: “It always seems impossible, until it is done.”

Date

December 1, 2011

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sumisom | COP17

A COP17 Explainer

(Photo: AP)

With all the coverage of the current UN climate talks in Durban, it’s not always easy to tell exactly what’s going on. There are tons of issues on the table, and for those of us on the outside, it can be a bit confusing to figure out what’s being discussed and what needs to get done.

Ecosystem Marketplace has a great explainer on the nuts and bolts of COP17.

The Kyoto Protocol is the biggest issue up for discussion, and it’s a contentious one. Most developed countries signed on to the agreement, meaning they committed to slashing greenhouse gases. But developing countries didn’t, and that’s split the two sides down the middle. The first part of the Kyoto Protocol runs out next year, and developed countries won’t hit the emissions target they originally agreed to.

But it also gets more specific, like REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation). That’s a way to prevent greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation. Luckily, deforestation is an issue both developing AND developed countries can agree on, and they’re hammering out more details in Durban right now.

Once you’re armed with all that information, it’s a little bit easier to understand what is and more importantly isn’t happening at COP17.

Date

December 1, 2011

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Klaus Esterluß | COP17

Brazil’s new forest law

As the world tries to find ways the reduce global emission in Durban, Eco, a publication of Climate Action Network CAN at COP17, is reporting on Brazils plans of igniting a real carbon bomb. A bill to change the country’s Forest Law is supposedly about to be approved, resulting in the increase of deforestation. The proposed bill, they say, will be sent to President Dilma Roussef for final cinsideration in coming weeks. One of the foreseeable consequences is that an area almost the size of France and Great Britain combined will loose legal protection, according to estimates presented by the Brazilian government itself. Since Brazil will be hosting the Rio+20 con fence next year, the situation is even more delicate.
In the corridors at Durban, these developments are causing considerable consternation. It is expected that Brazil President Dilma Roussef will send a clear message to the world that the country will meet all commitments announced previously in fighting climate change and protecting the Brazil forest.

Date

November 30, 2011

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