July - December 2009
A grudging accord reached in Copenhagen climate talks

20 December 2009 – New York Times – Andrew C. Revkin and John M. Broder
The UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen ended on Saturday after two weeks of theatrics, delays, and last-minute bargaining. The final accord, a grudging agreement between the participants to “take note” of a deal made by five key nations, was a statement of intention rather than a binding pledge to begin addressing climate change. The deal is a political agreement by major carbon emitters to reduce emissions, help developing nations build clean-energy economies, and give financial aid to help vulnerable states cope with the effects of climate change. But even if the states live up to these commitments, a huge gap remains between the emission reduction pledges of all nations and the amount of reductions required to avert the dangerous effects of extreme climate change. UN official Yvo de Boer claimed that the accord is “politically incredibly significant,” but that it barely moved the treaty process from where it was in 2007. Delegates from many of the 193 countries that attended the talks left Copenhagen disappointed that the accord lacked crucial elements, such as firm targets for emission reductions and a deadline for reaching a binding treaty in 2010. Many participants also observed that the failure at Copenhagen might indicate the end of a reliance on the process of UN climate conferences, 15 of which have been held since 1992. Many say this process has become impractical because it has been virtually impossible to reach consensus among all nations. “The climate treaty process isn’t going to die, but the real work of coordinating international efforts to reduce emissions will primarily occur elsewhere,” such as among the 30 countries responsible for 90% of greenhouse gas emissions, said Michael Levi of the Council on Foreign Relations. US President Barack Obama concluded, “we’ve come a long way, but we have much further to go.”
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Climate agreement may have to wait
17 December 2009 – BBC
The Danish presidency of the Copenhagen climate conference is playing down expectations that a comprehensive deal will be reached this week. Danish officials said progress could be made, but an international agreement will likely not be reached until a 2010 summit in Mexico. Despite several days of negotiations and some progress, developed and developing nations remain divided over who should cut emissions, how drastic the cuts should be, and how much money should go to help developing countries adapt to climate change. However, over 130 world leaders will join the conference today, and US President Barack Obama is due to arrive tomorrow. Saleemul Huq, a senior fellow in climate change at the International Institute for Environment and Development, said that “the negotiation process is in a high state of confusion,” but noted that “heads of state are arriving and talking to each other, and within hours every important decision-maker on the planet will be in the same town at the same time.”
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Copenhagen climate conference enters high-level negotiations
15 December 2009 – BBC – Richard Black
Three days of decisive action by ministers are needed to “seal a deal” at the UN climate talks in Copenhagen according to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. Speaking at the commencement of the high-level portion of negotiations, he said that “no one will get everything they want; but if we work together, then everyone will get what they need.” Yet negotiations remain deadlocked on many key points, including the size and verification of emission reduction targets. US chief negotiator Todd Stern stated that he does not expect the US to increase its current pledge of reducing emissions by 3% from 1990 levels by 2020. Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen told ministers that they must make the conference “a decisive moment of change,” but UK Climate Secretary Ed Miliband warned that the talks “could still fail.” Also, the US announced that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will attend the final two days of the conference along with President Barack Obama.
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EU makes 7 billion euro climate pledge
11 December 2009 – BBC
EU leaders have pledged to pay €7.2 billion ($10.6 billion) over the next three years to help developing nations adapt to the effects of climate change. The EU contribution will make up a large portion of a proposed total figure of $10 billion (€7 billion) per year. Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt announced the agreement at the end of the two-day EU Summit in Brussels, and said that all 27 EU members would contribute to the EU doing its “fair share.” Leaders hope the deal will give a boost to the climate conference currently being held in Copenhagen. “What we are seeing today is a very significant move forward in the search for a Copenhagen agreement,” said UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. However, developing countries may not see the EU’s pledge as enough, and whether they accept these figures will depend on what else is offered in the negotiations. Meanwhile, the draft text at Copenhagen urges rich nations to increase their pledges on emissions reductions, and a bipartisan group in the US Senate proposed a framework for a new climate bill that would suggest cutting carbon emissions by 17% by 2020 from 2005 levels.
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EU leaders set to downgrade climate expectations
9 December 2009 – EurActiv
EU leaders have given up on the idea that the UN climate conference in Copenhagen will result in immediate, legally-binding measures to fight climate change. Instead, they are hoping for a roadmap to reach a definitive deal within six months after the conference, according to draft conclusions set to be adopted at the summit of European leaders tomorrow. European Commission President José Manuel Barroso also declared yesterday that a binding agreement would not be reached in Copenhagen because many countries are not ready. However, the draft conclusions do reiterate EU leaders’ commitment to the overall goal of keeping the global rise in temperature to “below the science-based two degree limit for global warming.”
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Copenhagen offers '50-50 chance' of averting dangerous global warming
3 December 2009 – Environmental News Service
The world has a “50-50 chance” of avoiding global warming of over 2˚C—the threshold for dangerous climate change—if a strong political agreement can be reached at the UN conference in Copenhagen, said Lord Nicholas Stern, an economics and climate expert and author of a well-known 2006 study “The Economics of Climate Change.” However, he added that the sum of the most ambitious emissions reduction targets offered by governments so far still falls far short of that goal. The co-author of Stern’s assessment, Dr. Alex Bowen, warned that “weak or delayed action to reduce emissions in the near term would require much stronger cuts after 2020, which would be likely to increase significantly the economic costs of meeting a 2˚C target, and might make it impossible.” Dr. Stern met today with European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, who said that he was “encouraged by the commitment of around 90 leaders to attend Copenhagen,” but that “only time will tell whether this momentum will be enough to bring the right level of offers to the table.
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Obama to attend Copenhagen conference, with emissions target
26 November 2009 – New York Times – John M. Broder
The White House announced that President Obama will appear at the UN climate conference in Copenhagen next month with a provisional target for greenhouse gas emissions reductions in the US. This is the first time in over a decade that an American administration has offered even a tentative pledge to reduce emissions that cause climate change. President Obama will announce that the US intends to reduce its emissions “in the range of” 17% below 2005 levels by 2020, and 83% by 2050. These figures reflect targets set in legislation that was passed by the House in June but remains stalled in the Senate. By making the pledge in a global forum, Obama is hoping that Congress will pass a climate bill and be prepared to ratify an international agreement based on the targets, though White House officials acknowledged that those outcomes remain uncertain. “By announcing a provisional target, contingent on the support of Congress, the president has defined a path to an international agreement that challenges the developed and developing nations to fulfill their obligations,” said Senator John Kerry.
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European construction sector given an eco-renovation
18 November 2009 – EU Observer – Leigh Phillips
The EU will set strict energy standards for the building sector, requiring new public buildings constructed after 2018 and all new buildings constructed after 2020 to have a carbon footprint of “nearly zero.” The deal reached on Tuesday was a compromise between the European Parliament and EU member states, represented by the Council of Ministers. The regulations will also require the energy efficiency levels of homes and apartments for sale or rent to be stated in all advertisements, starting in 2012. Green Party MEPs consider the deal a clear victory, though there is no provision for increasing the energy efficiency of existing buildings. “The EU has laid the foundation for the buildings of the future,” said MEP Claude Turmes of Luxembourg. “This will spark a green revolution along every link of the chain from architects to construction companies and for every new building, from private home to shopping centre.”
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Carbon pollution increased last year, despite recession
18 November 2009 – Associated Press – Seth Borenstein
Pollution usually declines during a recession, but despite the worldwide economic crisis, global carbon dioxide pollution increased by 2% last year, according to a study published yesterday by the US Department of Energy. Almost three-quarters of the growth in emissions came from China, while India and other developing countries accounted for the rest. The study suggests that the world remains on a dangerous path to climate change, despite the recent economic recession. Independent scientists said the study was thorough and its results were sobering. “Basically these numbers are screaming out at decision makers that whatever they are doing now is not working,” said Andrew Weaver, a University of Victoria climate scientist. “There’s a very clear gap between the path we are on and the path we should be on if the goal is to limit global warming to 2 degrees,” said the study’s lead author, Corinne Le Quere of the University of East Anglia.
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Copenhagen “must produce targets”
17 November 2009 – BBC
Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen declared that December’s climate conference in Copenhagen must produce firm pledges on greenhouse gas emissions reductions. Mr. Rasmussen added that he wants negotiators to put “numbers on the table” and reach a “concrete and binding resolution.” Mr. Rasmussen’s statement appeared to chime with remarks made by US President Obama, who declared that the US and China agreed on the need to create a comprehensive treaty in Copenhagen. “Our aim there is not a partial accord or a political declaration, but rather an accord that covers all of the issues in the negotiations and one that has immediate operational effect,” he said. President Obama’s comment seemed at odds with the much less ambitious statement issued by world leaders—including President Obama—at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
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Leaders may delay deal on climate change
15 November 2009 – New York Times – Helene Cooper
US President Obama and other world leaders agreed during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting this weekend to delay the difficult task of reaching a climate change treaty at the UN climate conference in Copenhagen next month. Instead they declared the mission of the conference to be a less-specific, “politically binding” agreement. The leaders said that in order to salvage the conference, they would have to push the most difficult issues inherent in a legally binding treaty into the future. With time running out and deep divisions still unresolved, it has appeared increasingly unlikely that the Copenhagen conference would lead to a comprehensive, binding agreement on climate change, as was originally intended. The leaders’ agreement solidifies what negotiators had already accepted—that the 192 nations involved in climate talks would not resolve the many outstanding issues in time. The gap between the positions of developed and developing nations, as well as among developed countries, seems too wide. One of the main obstacles to a comprehensive treaty Copenhagen is the US Congress’ failure so far to enact climate and energy legislation with binding targets on emissions reductions in the US, which makes other nations less willing to make their own commitments.
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Climate change “playing havoc” with health systems
10 November 2009 – EurActiv
Global warming has brought an increase in heat-related deaths, food poisoning, and insect-borne diseases, according to Jan Semenza, scientific advisor at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). At a conference in Stockholm last week, the ECDC sought to turn the spotlight from the swine flu pandemic to the public health risks posed by climate change. “Many infectious diseases have a strong climate link and ECDC aims to support EU member states to mount an effective response to these challenges in order to contain possible outbreaks and health problems,” Semenza said. The ECDC has submitted a policy paper ahead of the Copenhagen climate conference in hopes that health issues will become a bigger part of the discussion on climate change.
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UNFCCC Executive Secretary says Leaders can and must deliver Copenhagen deal
6 November 2009 – UNEP
As the last negotiating session before the UN Climate Change Conference ended today in Barcelona, the Executive Director of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) stressed that a strong international climate change agreement must be reached at the conference in next month in Copenhagen. Yvo de Boer declared that “Copenhagen can and must be the turning point in the international fight against climate change—nothing has changed my confidence in that.” Progress was made during the Barcelona negotiations on adaptation, technology cooperation, reducing deforestation, and mechanisms to disburse funds to developing countries. However, there was little movement on two contentious issues: mid-term emission reduction targets for developed countries and financing that would help developing countries limit their emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change. “Without these two pieces of the puzzle in place, we will not have a deal in Copenhagen,” Mr. de Boer said.
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UK government says climate deal is unlikely this year
6 November 2009 – BBC – Richard Black
The government of the UK today said it is highly unlikely that a legally-binding climate treaty will be agreed upon at the Copenhagen conference this December, and a full agreement may take up to a year to achieve. UK Climate Secretary Ed Miliband has until recently insisted it could be done, but now says only a political deal is likely. Miliband’s comments echo warnings from the UN Secretary-General, the Danish Prime Minister, and the chief US climate negotiator that only a “politically-binding” treaty can realistically be reached this year. Environmentalists and developing countries reacted with frustration and disappointment. Two years ago, the world’s governments vowed that a new treaty would be finalized next month in Copenhagen. Alf Wills, a South African official who coordinates the G77/China bloc of developing nations, suggested that the real problem was political rather than logistical. Some have suggested that developed countries have not invested enough political energy in the climate negotiations. "Copenhagen is one of the most important meetings in human history, but the politicians seem determined to blow it," claimed Joss Garman of Greenpeace.
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US-EU summit approves creation of Transatlantic Energy Council
5 November 2009 – EurActiv
The first meeting of the new Transatlantic Energy Council was held yesterday, after US President Barack Obama and EU leaders approved its creation during the US-EU Summit on Tuesday. The council, agreed upon at the ministerial level last month, is intended to increase transatlantic cooperation on energy policy and technology research, as well as provide a forum for the discussion of global energy security and the need to switch to low-carbon energy sources. “The Energy Council is a timely initiative in the context of growing global concerns on energy security and the important role that the energy sector has in climate change. Elevating these discussions between us to a political level underscores the importance we both attach to this area of our relationship," EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs explained. Swedish Enterprise and Energy Minister Maud Olofsson, whose country currently holds the EU Presidency and who chaired the Council’s first meeting, added that the US and Europe are now furthering long-standing and well-functioning transatlantic cooperation on energy issues.
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Barcelona climate talks turn up heat on US
4 November 2009 – EurActiv
The final UN climate negotiations before the summit in Copenhagen next month began on Monday in Barcelona, and pressure on the US to set emissions reduction goals and move on climate funding is mounting. Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, called for clarity on the developed countries’ emission reduction targets and stated that any agreement would have to involve the US. “I do not think the international community will accept an agreement that lacks clarity from the US on targets,” de Boer said. Danish Climate and Energy Minister Connie Hedegaard declared that the US could not continue hiding behind the Senate, as the US is not the only country experiencing difficulties in passing domestic climate legislation. The EU was also critical of US inaction, and said it would actively pressure the US to make climate commitments.
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Europe increases climate pressure at US-EU Summit
4 November 2009 – EU Observer – Leigh Phillips
During the first US-EU summit since the election of US President Barack Obama and the June European elections, EU leaders increased the pressure on the US to demonstrate leadership in the battle against climate change. Amid growing concerns that the UN climate conference in Copenhagen next month will be unsuccessful, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Swedish Prime Minister Frederick Reinfeldt, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, and foreign policy chief Javier Solana urged President Obama to take a more dramatic action against global warming. Ahead of the meeting, Mr. Barroso had said he was “worried by the lack of progress in negotiations.” Afterwards, he said he was encouraged by President Obama’s commitment.
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EU leaders strike climate funding deal
30 October 2009 – BBC
At the EU Summit in Brussels yesterday, European leaders agreed on a conditional deal on how to help developing nations respond to global warming, ahead of the UN climate summit in Copenhagen in December. In what European Commission President José Manuel Barroso called “an important breakthrough that brings new momentum,” the EU agreed that developing countries would need €100 billion ($148 billion) a year by 2020 and that the EU would contribute its “fair share” of this money. Announcing the deal, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown noted that EU funding would be conditional on other developed countries contributing funds and on developing nations showing how the money would be spent. Details of how the cost will be shared among EU member states will be determined later by a working group. The discussion had originally been deadlocked over this issue, with nine less wealthy EU states threatening to block a deal unless richer states paid more. With this deal achieved, Mr. Barroso declared: “Next week, we’ll meet the US president and will say ‘let’s make Copenhagen a success.’ ”
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EU proposes emissions limits on small trucks
29 October 2009 – New York Times – James Kanter
The European Commission has proposed setting emissions limits for light trucks and vans made in the EU. The environment commissioner, Stavros Dimas, said that such limits would prevent a repetition in Europe of what happened in the US, where auto manufacturers took advantage of the less-stringent emissions rules for light trucks and increased production of gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles. The proposal is modeled on recent EU legislation that aims to reduce car emissions by an average of 20% by 2015. The European Parliament has yet to consider the draft legislation, however. Due to the economic crisis and the fact that carmakers are one of the most powerful industrial sectors in the EU, the proposal may well be altered before it becomes law.
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EU summit likely to declare 95% emissions reduction goal
29 October 2009 – EurActiv
EU officials will attempt to reassert Europe’s global leadership on combating climate change during the two-day European Summit that begins today in Brussels. According to a draft summit statement, the EU is set to support emissions reductions of “at least 80-95%” of 1990 levels by 2050. However, the pledge will only come into effect if other developed nations commit to similar reductions in emissions. The EU “is at the forefront of efforts to fight climate change,” the draft statement declares. Some groups, however, challenge this statement. The British campaign group Sandbag claimed that “far from leading the world with ambitious reduction targets, the EU is hiding behind clever accounting and in fact pledging to do very little.” During the summit, EU leaders will also discuss the amount of financial aid the EU should give to help developing countries cope with climate change. “The primary political battleground is whether to release figures in advance of Copenhagen or not,” said an EU diplomat.
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White House steps up efforts on climate change
28 October 2009 – New York Times – John M. Broder
The Obama administration expressed renewed urgency about the need to address climate change, but they faced continued opposition from Republicans, new concerns from some Democrats, and the persistence of economic, technological, and political hurdles to refashioning the way Americans produce and consume power. Five senior administration officials appeared before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Tuesday. They expressed their support for a bill sponsored by Senators John Kerry and Barbara Boxer that aims to set up a cap-and-trade system to reduce industrial carbon dioxide emissions as well as provide new incentives for clean energy technology. The officials emphasized that such measures were critical not only to address climate change but also to increase America’s economic competitiveness. Energy Secretary Steven told the committee that US spending on green energy technologies is lagging far behind that of China and several European countries, but added that he was confident the US can catch up and eventually surpass these nations.
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New EU-US energy council to be created
23 October 2009 – EU Observer – Valentina Pop
The US and the EU are preparing to establish a joint energy council to coordinate policy initiatives relating to green technologies, research and development, and energy security on both sides of the Atlantic, according to a US official. The constitutive meeting of the body will likely take place on 4 November, after being formally announced by US President Barack Obama and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso during the US-EU Summit in Washington. The official said the council will be a mechanism for European and American policymakers to discuss methods to “promote energy security, energy markets, the development and deployment of green technology, even the development of common policies and standards.” He noted that the formation of the council reflects the fact that “energy is an important foreign policy priority for the US and a very important component of our bilateral relationship with the EU.” Also reflecting the council’s importance is the high level of the officials who will likely attend—the European Commissioners for Energy, External Relations, and Science and Research; EU High Representative Javier Solana; the Swedish foreign and energy ministers, representing the Swedish EU presidency; and the US Secretaries of State and Energy.
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EU firms up negotiating position ahead of climate meeting
21 October 2009 – EU Observer – Andrew Willis
European environment ministers met in Luxembourg yesterday and adopted firmer EU positions on climate change, in preparation for the UN conference in Copenhagen this December. They reaffirmed the EU goal of reducing carbon emissions by 20% of 1990 levels by 2020, and supported longer-term reductions of 80-95% of 1990 levels by 2050. They also agreed to new commitments for emissions reductions in aviation and shipping, both areas which are not covered under the Kyoto Protocol. The environment ministers’ adoption of a coordinated EU position contrasts sharply with the failure of EU finance ministers to reach an agreement on climate change financing when they met on Tuesday.
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As time runs short for global climate treaty, nations may settle for interim steps
21 October 2009 – New York Times – John M. Broder
With time running out and deep disagreements unresolved, it now appears that the international climate change negotiations in Copenhagen this December are unlikely to produce a comprehensive, binding global treaty. Instead, representatives at the meeting will probably announce a number of interim steps and agree to continue talks next year, and perhaps set a deadline for a final agreement by midyear or December 2010 at the latest. Negotiators seem to have accepted that representatives of the 192 countries participating in the talks will most likely not resolve the many outstanding issues before December. Many have concluded that it would be more effective to take incremental but valuable steps toward an agreement rather than try to force through a treaty that will be difficult to ratify, hard to enforce, and ineffective at combating climate change.
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Major emitters meet for extra climate discussions
19 October 2009 – BBC – Richard Black
Representatives from 17 major carbon-emitting countries, including the US and many European nations, met in London under the auspices of the Major Economies Forum to discuss the international effort to combat climate change in a less formal environment than the official UN negotiations. The two days of talks focused on financial assistance to help developing countries deal with the impacts of climate change, as well as the protection of forests. The meeting discussed mechanisms for raising, governing, and disbursing financial assistance. There was also an acknowledgement that developed countries will have to provide some of the funds, and that the amount of assistance on offer so far will need to be “scaled up.” In light of the meeting, UK Climate Secretary Ed Miliband said that reaching a global climate agreement in Copenhagen now looks more “do-able.”
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Largest obstacle to global climate deal may be how to pay for it
15 October 2009 – New York Times – Elisabeth Rosenthal
As negotiators struggle to reach a global climate deal in time for the Copenhagen summit this December, they face a huge challenge: how to pay for it. An effective climate agreement will purportedly cost $100 billion or more per year by 2020. This money will be needed to help developing countries convert to cleaner but more costly technologies as they industrialize, as well as to assist the poor nations that will be hit hardest by the effects of climate change. Many such countries have clearly stated that they will not sign a climate treaty unless they get financial assistance. The US and Europe have both agreed in principle to such financing, but there is so far no concrete strategy to raise the money. In addition, there is disagreement over which nations will give money, how much each will give, and to which nations it will be given. United Nations officials warn that the failure to produce adequate financing is a “blind spot” that jeopardizes the prospects for a global climate treaty.
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Some EU countries raise questions of stated climate goals
14 October 2009 – EurActiv
As international climate negotiations drag on, some EU member states are calling for a strict assessment of the measures that other countries are prepared to enact before increasing Europe’s own commitments to emissions reductions. The EU’s Energy and Climate Change Package, adopted last year, commits the EU to reducing its carbon emissions by 20% by 2020, regardless of other nations’ actions, or by 30% if other developed countries commit to similar cuts. However, this pledge is now being questioned by some EU nations. Much of their concern is centered on the US, which has so far been reluctant to commit to deep emissions cuts. This underscores the necessity of American and European cooperation in the development of the details of an international climate treaty.
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EU considers carbon tax to reduce emissions
4 October 2009 - New Europe
EU officials meeting in Sweden last week raised the idea of a carbon tax to reduce Europe's CO2 emissions, as a way to demonstrate to the world that the EU is serious about fighting climate change. While the EU already has a carbon dioxide emissions trading scheme, the system covers less than half of Europe's CO2 emissions. The European Commission is therefore considering another cost-effective, market-based instrument - a carbon tax. They proposed broadening the scope of the existing energy taxation directive, which establishes minimum tax levels on gasoline, electricity, and other energy in the EU. Proceeds from the tax could be used to help low-income households with energy costs.
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US embarks on EU-style review of toxic chemicals
2 October 2009 - EurActiv
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the US announced that it will conduct a complete overhaul of the legislation regulating toxic chemicals, which EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson claimed is outdated and inadequate to protect people and the environment from dangerous chemicals. This move echoes the EU's controversial REACH regulations-strict rules on the registration, evaluation, and authorization of chemicals enacted in 2006. The US, China, and Japan have been closely monitoring the implementation of REACH, as the EU is one the largest importers of chemicals and chemical end products. While the EPA's initiative may lead to new fees and the cost of safety tests for chemical companies, the announcement was welcomed by many Americans. "It's a tremendous step forward," said Richard Wiles of the Environmental Working Group.
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NATO leader says transatlantic alliance must prepare for climate change
1 October 2009 - The Associated Press
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen declared that the alliance must do more to prepare for the effects of climate change. He noted that rising sea levels, droughts, and increased competition for land and resources will all have serious security implications. "We should start simply by bringing the security aspects of climate change to the NATO table for discussion, to get a shared view of what the challenge is, and what the best ways forward might be," Rasmussen said.
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Curtain rises on US Senate struggle over climate legislation
30 September 2009 - New York Times - John M. Broder
US Senators Barbara Boxer and John Kerry formally introduced their climate bill into the Senate today. The legislation proposes a cap-and-trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and includes a more ambitious target for emissions reduction than a similar bill passed in the House of Representatives. The Senate bill will now be the focus of an intensive lobbying struggle by industry groups, environmental organizations, local government officials, and many others. The Senate debate will significantly impact the American negotiating position at the international climate meeting in Copenhagen this December.
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New round of climate talks opens with stern warnings
28 September 2009 - Environmental News Service
United Nations-sponsored climate change talks resumed today in Bangkok, Thailand, with dire warnings against a failure to reach a post-Kyoto agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. "The cost of not delivering in Copenhagen is high, ethically, economically, and politically. We must do it," said Connie Hedegaard, Danish Minister for Climate and Energy. Representatives from governments, business and industry, environmental organizations, and research institutes of 177 countries aim to create a draft text for the talks in Copenhagen in December. The talks, which are part of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, will continue through 9 October and are the second-to-last negotiations prior to the Copenhagen meeting.
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Court decision threatens to unravel Europe's carbon market
23 September 2009 - EurActiv with Reuters
Estonia and Poland won a major stage in their battle with the EU over carbon emissions quotas. The EU Court of First Instance, Europe's second-highest court, annulled the European Commission's decision to lower the carbon quotas of the two countries. The court ruled that setting carbon limits should be left to member states rather than the EU. This decision sparked concern among participants and proponents of the European carbon market. If upheld, the court's ruling could lead to an unraveling of the market, which depends on strict limits on carbon emissions. The Commission described the decision as "extremely disappointing" and will consider appealing the decision.
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UN chief praises climate summit
23 September 2009 - BBC
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said that yesterday's climate change summit, which was attended by almost 100 world leaders, has increased the momentum of efforts to tackle climate change in the lead-up to the crucial meeting in Copenhagen this December. "While the summit is not the guarantee that we will get the global agreement, we are certainly one step closer to that global goal today," he said. During the summit, Chinese president Hu Jintao declared that his country would lower its carbon emissions per unit of GDP by a "notable margin" by 2020. The US said this proposal was helpful but that China needed to provide specific figures. US President Obama promised a "new era" of clean energy and emissions reductions. Japan pledged to reduce its carbon emissions by 25% from the 1990 level by 2020. President Nicholas Sarkozy of France called for another meeting in mid-November, ahead of the Copenhagen conference.
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British PM offers to attend Copenhagen, sees low-carbon economy as way out of recession
21 September 2009 - BBC - Roger Harrabin
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown expressed concern that the climate deal planned for Copenhagen is in grave danger of failure, and cautioned that there will be no second chance to undo "catastrophic damage" if "we miss this opportunity to protect the planet." Mr. Brown went further, offering to personally attend the Copenhagen conference, if necessary, and saying he would urge other world leaders to do the same. Climate negotiations are generally attended by environment ministers, but they often lack the political power to make large spending commitments. Mr. Brown also said that a climate agreement is essential to kick-starting a global low-carbon economy, which would be a major driver of global economic growth and a way out of the current recession. As Greenpeace Director John Sauven put it, "Gordon Brown has injected a note of urgency into the Copenhagen talks." Still, the UK has not yet committed itself to the 40% CO2 emissions cuts that most scientists agree are needed to contain climate change.
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Europeans Say US Lacks Will on Climate
20 September 2009 - New York Times - John M. Broder and James Kanter
European leaders are expressing growing concern about the American stance in international negotiations aimed at creating a global climate agreement in Copenhagen this December. Several European officials have said that a lack of political will in the US to adequately address climate change-particularly by adopting legally binding and internationally enforceable targets for emissions reductions-could doom the Copenhagen conference. They also said that the absence of domestic consensus creates doubts about whether the US could keep any pledges it makes at Copenhagen. Although the Obama administration claims that it is deeply committed to meaningful climate action, they want to avoid a repeat of the Kyoto experience, when President Clinton signed the Kyoto Protocol but the Senate refused to ratify it. Still, Europe does not want to undermine the agreement by taking an unrealistic stance with the US, and recently some leaders-including French President Nicholas Sarkozy-have signaled that they could soften their demands.
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UN launches Global Climate Week
19 September 2009 - UNEP News Centre
The first-ever Global Climate Week was officially kicked off today in Hamburg, Germany. The week will see synchronized activities around the world-including events in Hamburg, New York City, Washington, Copenhagen, Mexico City, and Nairobi-aimed at generating international awareness and urging world leaders to reach a deal at the upcoming UN climate conference in Copenhagen. In addition to cities, participants include corporations, community groups, and individuals. The week coincides with the UN summit on climate change in New York on September 22. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, who called for the summit, declared that "no issue better demonstrates our need for global solidarity than climate change," and urged world leaders to agree on a fair and effective climate change pact.
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World's big polluters kick off climate talks in Washington
17 September 2009 - Agence France-Presse
Representatives from the 17 largest CO2-emitting countries kicked off a week-long series of talks on climate change today with a meeting at the US Department of State in Washington, DC. The main goal is to resolve differences ahead of the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen this December, where an agreement for curbing global warming beyond 2012 (when the Kyoto Protocol expires) is to be created. The representatives will meet for two days in Washington, then proceed to New York City and on to Pittsburgh for the G-20 conference. Represented are the EU, France, Italy, Germany, Britain, the US, and other developed countries, plus emerging economies such as China and Brazil-countries that together are responsible for 80% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions and that are participants in the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate initiated by US President Barack Obama in March. It is hoped that the meetings will increase candid dialogue and political leadership on climate change, yet reaching a common position remains a difficult challenge.
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Week of meetings could make or break climate effort
16 September 2009 - Agence France-Presse
The outcome of key international meetings in Washington, New York, and Pittsburgh this week may determine whether a two-year effort to combat climate change will be a historic success or a tragic failure. For months, negotiations leading up to the UN conference in Copenhagen this December have been deadlocked by disagreements between developed and developing countries over how to distribute the burden of emissions reductions and the cost of responding to climate change. "This is a critical moment for the climate change debate," declared US Senator John Kerry. He added that what happens this week "is going to lay a lot of the foundation for what is achievable in December." The head of the World Wildlife Fund's global climate initiative warned: "Without new, powerful political impetus at the meetings in September, the climate negotiations could be doomed."
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Report Urges a "Transatlantic Green New Deal"
15 September 2009 - Docuticker.com
The Worldwatch Institute of the Heinrich Böll Foundation issued a report entitled "Toward a Transatlantic Green New Deal: Tackling the Climate and Economic Crises." The report proposes that the grave economic crisis as well as the severe threat of climate change be addressed together rather than separately. In response to the economic crisis, government bailouts and stimulus packages of unprecedented size and scope have been created. However, in many government and business circles, actions to address climate change are often seen as entailing economic harm. This creates the danger that governments may postpone environmental measures until the economy recovers. Yet fears of environmental actions killing jobs and harming economic growth are for the most part unfounded. Moreover, failure to address climate change soon may ultimately cause large-scale job loss and economic costs in addition to the many other devastating environmental impacts.
Around the world, there has been a growing movement for an integrated response to the economic and climate crises, referred to as the "Green New Deal" (a variation on US President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal of the 1930s). Such proposals call for decisive governmental action to respond to environmental challenges "through a new paradigm of sustainable economic progress."
In its report, the Worldwatch Institute asserts that "coherent transatlantic cooperation is a key requirement for striking a Global Green New Deal." The nations of North America and Europe account for enormous proportions of the world economy and global greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, with the election of US President Barack Obama, conditions are ripe for healing the transatlantic rift over environmental policy and multilateralism. According to the report, "the current confluence of crisis and political change offers what may be an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for thinking creatively and presenting bold, transformative ideas." In addition, adapting the concept of the New Deal to the challenges of the 21st century requires not only including environmental issues, but also incorporating global concerns and international cooperation.
(For the full text of the report click here)

Europe Says Developing Countries Must Contribute to Climate Fight
11 September 2009 - New York Times - James Kanter
EU Commissioner for the Environment Stavros Dimas sought to downplay expectations that developed countries would immediately hand over large amounts of money demanded by developing nations to respond to global climate change. Dimas asserted that such funds "cannot be a blank check." In addition, President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso said: "I am determined that Europe will continue to provide a lead, but developed and economically advanced developing countries must also make a contribution," apparently hinting at the need for greater efforts by countries like China, as well as more action by the US. Both men's statements were follow-ups to the announcement of the EU plan to give €2-15 billion annually by 2020 to help developing countries cope with climate change. This offer is significant, as developing nations have refused to commit to emission reductions as part of a global treaty unless developed nations-in particular Europe, the US, and Japan-help them cope with the effects of climate change.
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EU Proposes Billions to Help Poor Nations With Climate Change Effects
10 September 2009 - BBC - Richard Black
The European Commission proposed that the EU provide $2-15 billion per year to help developing countries adapt to the impacts of climate change, a challenge that the UN estimates will cost these countries around $100 billion per year. The Commission envisions that approximately 40% of this $100 billion would come from the global carbon market that the Copenhagen treaty will supposedly create. The remaining money would come from other industrialized nations such as the US as well as domestic spending by the developing countries themselves. While the Commission believes that the $2-15 billion is an appropriate share for the EU, some groups declare that the amount is much less than the EU ought to pledge. The proposal will now go to the European Parliament and European Council for consideration.
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British Foreign Minister Calls for Increased Diplomatic Efforts Towards Climate Deal
8 September 2009 - BBC - Richard Black
British Foreign Secretary David Milliband said that prospects for reaching a global deal on combating climate change are "in the balance." He warned that there is a "real chance" that the UN summit in Copenhagen this December will not result in an agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol. Milliband is about to embark on a tour of European capitals meant to increase and coordinate diplomatic efforts towards a Copenhagen deal. He will join forces with his French and Swedish counterparts, Bernard Kouchner and Carl Bildt, in the weeks leading up to the summit. Milliband stressed that the because of the influence it has in many countries around the world, the EU could be an effective leader and a "force multiplier" in the fight for a climate agreement.
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EU lawmakers to lobby US on climate
2 September 2009 - EurActiv
EU MEPs are preparing to pressure their colleagues in the US Senate to agree to ambitious emissions reduction targets ahead of negotiations over a new climate treaty in Copenhagen this December. The assembly will send a delegation to Washington to clear concerns about emissions trading and to discuss ideas on issues like how to manage the relocation of industries to regions with less stringent environmental regulations. EU lawmakers hope for more extensive emissions reductions than those in the current US bill.
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UN Leader Calls for Urgent Action on Climate Change
1 September 2009 - Reuters - Wojciech Moskwa
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon visited the remote Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, which may have no ice in 30 years if present climate trends continue, and appealed to world leaders to take urgent action to combat climate change. His visit is part of a campaign to increase support for an accord to limit greenhouse gas emissions in the run-up to the UN climate summit in Copenhagen this December. Ban said he wants the agreement, which will be a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, to be "comprehensive, equitable and balanced for the future of humanity and the future of the planet Earth."
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EU starts stamping out energy guzzling light bulbs
1 September 2009 - Reuters - Pete Harrison
Europe has begun eradicating traditional energy-guzzling light bulbs, part of an EU effort to boost energy efficiency by a fifth by 2020 in the fight against global warming and to cut dependency on costly gas imports for electricity production. Traditional bulbs will be progressively replaced until 2012 with efficient alternatives such as halogen bulbs and compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs, which consume up to 80 percent less energy. Despite concerns about the initial cost of the bulbs, the European Commission said that European industries had been given ample time to adapt and had access to hundreds of millions of euros of EU funding for eco-friendly products.
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EU and MTV try to mobilize youth audiences before the Copenhagen conference
15 July 2009 - European Union
In a collaboration called "Play to Stop - Europe for Climate" both the EU Commission and MTV Networks International will try to raise awareness about the dangers of climate control among young audiences. The campaign is also aimed at mobilizing the public for the Climate Conference in Copenhagen in December. The campaign specifically targets 11 countries with TV spots, concerts in Stockholm, Copenhagen and Budapest, webcasts, and editorial content about the climate change battle. The campaign will run from July-December throughout the European nations.
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International Chamber of Commerce officially supports G8 declaration on climate change
13 July 2009 - Insurance News
The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has released a bulletin that publically supports the pledges made by the G8 countries this week in Italy. The ICC hopes that the talks and negotiations will finalize at the Doha trade negotiation rounds in 2010. However, the ICC also notes that the G8 countries have previously failed many times to implement their strong rhetoric on climate change and hopes they will approach this declaration with a greater sense of urgency. Although the ICC recognizes that reaching an agreement at Doha is very ambitious, they acknowledge that progress has already been made nevertheless.
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European companies issue 400 billion euro plan to capture African solar power
13 July 2009 - AFP - Laure Fillion
Twelve European companies have launched a plan to install multiple huge solar power farms in Africa in order to capture energy for the European countries. The 400 billion euro project could provide 15% of Europe's energy needs by 2050. The protocol was signed in Munich by multiple energy giants including Siemens, RWE, and E.ON. The Desertec Industrial Initiative (DII) plans to set up solar farms from Morocco to Saudi Arabia and transfer the energy to Europe using underwater electricity cables. However, the DII also plans to provide energy to the African countries in order to convert sea water into drinking water. The project is still not completely developed and will spend the next 3 years developing a logistical and profitable solar farm network plan. The Sueddeutsche Zeitung predicts that electricity from Africa will start flowing in 10 years.
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Developing countries are demanding G8 leaders to cut emission rates by 40% by 2020
10 July, 2009 - Guardian - Patrick Wintour
The developing nations are willing to target more ambitious emission reduction plan if developed nations show more commitment themselves. Following the recent G8 declaration that plans to cut emission rates by 80% by 2050, the developing nations now urge G8 nations to cut their emissions by 40% by 2020. Although this plan will most likely not be implemented due to the elaborate legislative requirements both in the EU and the US, this notion shows a trend towards more cooperation between the developing and developed countries on climate change issues. Such a development is seen as extremely important by experts especially with regard to the Copenhagen conference in December. Luis Alfonso de Alba, representing the developing nations at the G8 summit, said that the call for a 25-40% cut is based on what UN climate change scientists had recommended. An intermediate target for 2020 will enhance the G8 declaration which received much criticism because it lacks specific information on how to achieve the 80% cut.
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G8 agrees to new climate deal
8 July, 2009 – Radio Free Europe
After the first day of this week’s G8 summit, the leaders of the G8 nations have agreed to a major emission rate reduction plan in order to battle global warming. The plan aims at limiting the average rise in temperature by 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial levels by 2050. The 2 degree mark is the threshold benchmark, experts say. The countries committed to cutting carbon emission rates by 80% by 2050, but have neglected to specify tactics as to how to reach this goal. Nevertheless, earlier that day the 17 most polluting countries rejected a similar declaration that called for industrial countries to cut their emission by 80% and developing countries to half their greenhouse gas emission rates. However, the G8 deal is seen as great groundwork for a wider agreement to be reached at the UN climate conference in Copenhagen in December, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said.
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US wants G8 to provide $15 billion on food aid
7 July, 2009 – Reuters – Silvia Aloisi and Darren Ennis
According to a draft declaration the US wants the G8 summit this week to provide $15 billion in food aid. The declaration claims that the US is willing to provide $3-4 billion over the next years and hopes that with matching commitments the G8 will be able to provide $15 billion. "The funds...would be earmarked for investment in low income countries to implement agriculture development strategies, to finance agricultural infrastructure, land and water management, risk mitigation actions," says the declaration. The EU has welcomed this commitment by the US and as a result EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said this Monday that the EU will be willing to provide another $1 billion on top of the already promised money, which is estimated to be around $7 billion.
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International companies urge G8 nations on climate deal
6 July 2009 – WWF
High profile international companies have urged the G8 nations today to agree on a global climate deal and set definite targets to cut carbon emissions at the summit in Italy . Many of these companies, including Johnson & Johnson, Nike, Lafarge, Tetra Pak, Nokia, HP, and The Coca-Cola Company, have partnered with the WWF to create the “Let the Clean Economy Begin” program. The WWF sees this move as a monumental shift since it has usually been the governments that have to pressure the economy to oblige to environmental policies. The campaign’s long term goal will be an ambitious plan reached at the Copenhagen conference in December, yet it does recognize the importance of this week’s G8 meeting. Some companies like Fairmont Hotels & Resorts or Tetra Pak, have even set their own goals to cut carbon emission rates. Companies part of the “Climate Savers” program are expected to cut carbon emissions by 50 million tons by 2010, while also increasing profitability.
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