July - December 2011

Member States 'Still Not Leading Way' on Climate Change
6 December 2011 – New Europe Online – Aaron Schips
When it comes to climate-change policy member states are still falling short, according to the new edition of the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), released by Germanwatch and CAN-Europe in Durban at the UN climate talks. Global reliance on unsustainable energy methods and an increase in the worldwide addiction to coal has been worrying politicians and economists including Jan Burck, the author of the index at Germanwatch who criticized the U.S. and Europe for these results.  If the EU is to successfully cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2020, it needs to work together to achieve a common goal. It is hoped that the conference in Durban will set the tone for this decade, and climate responsibility. (Read More)

U.S. Inaction on Climate is "Criminal," Activists Say
3 December 2011 – IPS News - Kanya D'Almeida
Between 15,000 and 20,000 indignant world citizens were gathered outside the U.N. consultation chambers in Durban on Saturday calling for "system change, not climate change." In unity with their African counterparts, citizens in 20 cities across the U.S. assembled against the eco-destructive actions of the "one percent" as part of the December 3 global day of action to save the planet and "occupy the climate." Actions in the U.S. kicked off Friday, when President Barack Obama was presented with the “Mother Earth Accord,” a document stating opposition to the development of the TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline, by a delegation representing leaders from hundreds of Native American tribes.  (Read More)

Climate Change Talks Need to Address Investing in Good Jobs

29 November 2011 – AFLCIO
The 17th annual meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 17) opened in Durban and stressed the need for dialogue, green jobs and investment. The AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council strongly supports the enactment of a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) in the United States and in other nations as a means of providing a steady, secure source of funds to domestic and international climate investment needs. “The Just Transition language we achieved in Cancun needs further guidance on how to mainstream that mandate in United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) decisions” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. (Read More)

Imperceptibly, the Tide of Debate is Turning on Climate Change

27 November, 2011 – MercoPress – Contributors from GLOBE
While the outlook for Durban is highly uncertain, a critical mass of countries are currently advancing landmark domestic climate change legislation at a pace that contrasts sharply with the UN-brokered talks. According to documents provided by the Global Legislators Organization (GLOBE) and the Grantham Institute at the London School of Economics, countries such as China, South Africa, Mexico and South Korea are moving forward with various pieces of climate change legislation. As this happens, the goal must be to translate such progress into a comprehensive, global deal brokered by the UN to build on the Kyoto Protocol, which expires at the end of 2012. These deals are most probably going to be effective only if even more countries take part in the process, and the coming UN summit will be the best place and time to expedite this process.  (Read More)

World Carbon Cuts Are Way Off Target
12 November 2011 – Business Live – Lucky Biyase
The rate of reduction for carbon emissions should have been 2%  per year  since 2000 in order to decrease emissions by 80% by 2050 according to last year’s Cancun agreements.  Now, a 3.4% annual reduction is required in order to achieve the target. South Africa has pledged to cut its carbon use by 34% even if this makes the country uncompetitive, yet South Africa has limited technology and financing to enable it to make the transition. Brazil, China and India increased emissions 11.3%, 10.4% and 9.1% respectively. The report noted that no country sustained decarbonization rates even approaching the annual reduction now required. (Read More)

Eurozone Crisis May Cloud Durban Climate Talks
13 November 2011 – Deccan Chronicle
Experts are worried ahead of the Durban climate change talks that the Eurozone debt crisis may hold back billions of dollars of funding from industrialized countries to their poorer counterparts to adapt to climate change. According to Chandra Bhushan, Deputy Director General of the Centre for Science and Environment, at least in the near future the developing nations can forget about any money coming to them. According to reports, EU finance ministers, during their meeting in Brussels Nov 9, marked around $5.5 billion short-term funding to help developing countries adapt to climate change. NGOs like Oxfam and Greenpeace have termed the money pledged by the EU as re-labeling of development aid.  (Read More)

Pipeline Protesters Form Ring Around White House

6 November 2011 – CTVNews
Thousands of demonstrators encircled the White House on Sunday to protest the President’s decision on a $7 billion project to build the Keystone XL pipeline that would carry 700,000 bpd of crude from Alberta to Texas. While speaking to demonstrators on Sunday, Michael Brune, the Sierra Club's executive director, called on Obama to say no to the pipeline. President Obama said early last week that he would give as much attention to environmental issues as he would to job creation and energy security. (Read More)

The Voice of Small States Will Be Heard
24 October 2011 – The Gleaner
Small developing states are the least responsible for climate change as they together account for less than one percent of global emissions and they depend on the oceans of their food and livelihoods. But because of destructive fishing habits and practices, the world ecosystem is in decline. The UN climate change conference in Durban at the end of this year and also the UN conference on sustainable development in Rio de Janeiro six months later, both talk about integrating the social, economic and environmental sustainable development. It is believed that the world needs to hear the concerns of the small developing states in order to fully understand the problems we are confronted with. (Read More)

China's Carbon Intensity Makes Long Term Climate Targets Nearly Impossible
9 October 2011 – The Energy Collective – Lou Grinzo
Researchers said on Tuesday that China, the world’s biggest CO2 emitter, will meet near-term goals to fight climate change, but C02 emissions will be higher than previously thought. Scientists with Climate Action Tracker said that even if China’s clean energy plan helps it exceed “emissions-to-GDP targets agreed last year,” CO2 output will still be accumulating in the long run. Bill Hare, the director of Climate Analytics said that China’s solid steps to restrict carbon emissions go beyond the pledges made by other big polluter nations such as the United States. Despite taking these steps, it’s believed that China is unwilling to do anything significant about their CO2 emissions as the US and some other countries. (Read More)

South Africa Takes Climate Change Seriously
3 October 2011 – Gulf News - Miller Matola
In November of 2011, the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will meet in Durban, South Africa, for the 17th annual meeting on climate change (COP17) which can illustrate South Africa’s determination to address this issue. Durban is a city where a lot of undeveloped landscapes lead to large-scale urban development, and it has projects to alleviate climate change. These mitigation projects are not only meant to protect the natural environment but also bring about development and create jobs. South Africa seeks to move to green energy and recently joined the BRICS group where it can be able to balance the fight against climate change and economic development and diversity.  (Read More)

Out of the Bunker: Momentum Mounts for a Global Carbon Price on Shipping Emission
26 September 2011 – Oxfam America – Heather Coleman
World Bank and IMF representatives present their findings on climate finance sources which the G20 finance ministers requested. These representatives support the Oxfam and WWF report on a global carbon price in the international shipping sector which is believed to raise a lot of money to help challenge climate change in developing countries. Some of the main points made by Oxfam and WWF include that carbon pricing reduces emissions and generates funding, its overall impact will be small, the revenues generated from the carbon pricing should be able to compensate developing countries. The G20 finance ministers are expected to reach a stipulation that carbon pricing for international shipping will raise climate finance and help developing countries. (Read More)

When the Issue was Nuclear, at Least it Was Clear
27 September 2011 – Oregonlive – David Sarasohn
Frederick Kempe argues in his book that the divided city was where the superpowers confronted each other and that President Kennedy made a mistake in accepting the building of the Berlin Wall, which led to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Kempe, on Thursday evening, will speak about his book, talking about how a crisis can put pressure on the following years. Kempe argues that in order to tackle these crises, everybody should coordinate more with other democracies like Japan, Australia and Brazil for instance and also we shouldn’t miss the discipline. (Read More)

Climate Funding Measures Should Not Hurt Emerging Markets
25 September 2011 – The Economic Times
India is urging developed nations to look for a way to preserve the developing nations’ interests when considering financing for global climate change. The Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee said that they are desperately waiting for the final Bill Gates report which focuses on financing for development in poor countries. He argues that the flow of finance and the new carbon related instruments should be from the developed to the developing nations according to the “United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.”  Finally, Mukherjee finally argues that ‘Carbon export optimization tax’ violates the principle of Convention as all the burden falls on the developing nations.  (Read More)

Paper on climate financing targets fuel subsidies
21 September 2011 – CNBC – The Associated Press
Global financial institutions, including the IMF and the World Bank, recommend raising money to fight climate change by trimming subsidies for fossil fuels. A draft paper points out that we should start by reviewing fossil fuel subsidies which amount to $40 billion to $60 billion per year.  Many subsidies are handed out in poor countries, but cutting subsidies in industrialized countries could raise $10 billion per year for a climate fund. It is also noted that a charge on all carbon emissions would lead to a 10 percent reduction in emissions. The paper concludes by noting that investors will find the most cost-effective means of combating climate change, which is necessary for governments struggling with the financial crisis. (Read More)

EU Proposes Rules To Boost Say On International Energy Deals
7 September 2011 – Fox Business News – Alessandro Torello
Under new rules proposed on September 7, 2011 by the European Commission, European governments negotiating energy agreements with non-EU states would have to inform the commission of their intention to start talks and submit their agreements to the EU so that the commission can approve them.  The purpose of this proposal is to dramatically increase the Commission’s oversight of energy agreements between EU Member States and Russia and other non-EU governments and also to enhance integration of energy markets between the 27 members. The proposed new rules focus on promoting energy efficiency, consuming more environmentally responsible products. (Read More)

Ukraine leader hints at Tymoshenko reprieve
16 September 2011 – Financial Times – Neil Buckley
The President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovich, suggested that legal reforms could lead to the end of the trial Yulia Tymoshenko, a political rival of the president. She is on trial for reportedly misusing her former position as Prime Minister in a gas deal with Russia, but there is speculation that she was arrested for political reasons. The trial has received much criticism from the US and the EU, and some see this announcement as a way out of the political mess. The president received specific warnings from the past and current presidents of Poland, who want Ukraine to sign a free trade and political cooperation treaty with the European Union. That agreement could help put Ukraine on a path to EU membership.
(Read More)

OSCE promotes regional cooperation on ground waters management in Central Asia
12 September 2011 – Finchannel.com
The OSCE is hosting a workshop in Kazakhstan to promote closer integration for the management of ground waters across the region. By bringing together different actors, including government officials, civil society organizations, and scientists, the OSCE hopes to promote the future development and security of the region and its waters. This appears to be a step toward creating a deeper legal framework for creating higher control standards and more efficient use of water, particularly in areas where bodies of water belong to multiple countries.
(Read More)

Flow Starts in Pipeline from Russia to Germany
6 September 2011 – New York Times – Andrew Kramer
Russian gas has started to flow through the controversial Nord Stream gas pipeline to Germany. In a month, the pipeline will have sufficient pressure to operate. The pipeline, which was brought into existence by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, runs under the Baltic Sea and is intended to circumvent Eastern Europe. Although it cost more to construct than an over-land pipeline, it arguably reduces the risk of supply disruptions from price disputes between Russia and its former-Soviet neighbors. 
(Read More)

In the world’s breadbasket, climate change feeds some worry
5 September 2011 – Reuters – Christine Stebbins
America has been the supplier and breadbasket of many types of harvests of grains, meat, crops, vegetables, etc., for regions in the world affected by famine and drought for the last half-century. But climate change’s effects on the Midwest are raising concerns as the region serves as the country’s backbone of agricultural production. Eugene Takle, Professor of Agricultural Meteorology and Director of the Climate Science Program at Iowa State University and Jerry Hatfield, Laboratory Director at the National Soil Tilth Laboratory in Ames, Iowa agree that there has been “a lot more variability in our weather” and therefore agricultural production. Both agreed that the problem is very complex and Hatfield said “we poke at it, but we need to get very serious about how we think about adapting our crop production goals to the concepts of variability.”
(Read More)

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