January - June 2010

UN climate talks re-start amid widespread pessimism, mistrust
31 May 2010 – EU Observer – Leigh Phillips
Six months after the UN climate summit in Copenhagen ended in a shambles of mistrust and vitriol the conversation restarts on Monday in Bonn under an atmosphere that has hardly improved since the winter. The outgoing chair of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Dutchman Yvo de Boer, has been frank by expressing doubt that a significant breakthrough in negotiations will be reached. Capitals around the world, both developed and developing, are in something of a holding pattern while climate legislation in the US Senate remains stalled. The European Union, for its part, has retreated from fully supporting a newly proposed unilateral increase in carbon emissions reductions from -20% to -30% from 1990 levels. To further complicate matters, larger emerging states such as China and India who were architects of the Copenhagen Accord, have since backed away from the three-page document.
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Paris, Berlin signal pause in EU climate efforts
26 May 2010 – EurActiv
France and Germany yesterday joined the growing ranks of European countries opposed to making further unilateral moves on climate change, as the European Commission today plans to make the case for raising the EU’s greenhouse gas reduction goal from -20% to -30% by 2020. French industry minister, Christian Estrosi, argued that industries would move outside of the EU, which would hurt employment policies and stifle much needed economic growth. The French minister and his German counterpart hinted that they await comparable emission reduction offers from other nations before agreeing to a new policy. Neither representative specifically mentioned the United States or China. The common declaration by France and Germany signals a hardening of Europe’s policy on climate change, six months after the failure of UN climate talks in Copenhagen.

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Early EU climate funds falling short of promises
18 May 2010 – EU Observer – Leigh Phillips
The early commitments from the EU and its member states for funds to help the developing world deal with climate change are so far falling short of promises. A Council report to be discussed by EU finance ministers outlines that so far the sum for confirmed pledges is only €2.24 billion. At last December's UN climate summit in Copenhagen, rich countries agreed to "mobilize" $100 billion in long-term climate financing by 2020. As a mechanism to build trust they also agreed to release smaller sums of “fast-track” financing. While the EU is "on track" to meet its pledge of €2.4 billion in fast-track financing for 2010, there is still a significant amount of funds that need to be allocated. The short-fall revealed in the document will frustrate many climate watchers, who will likely complain that if wealthy countries cannot sort out transfers on a smaller scale, it is unlikely they will be able to achieve the larger sums later on.
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EU to re-use 115 million euros on Urban CO2 Reductions

5 May 2010 - EU Observer - Valentina Pop
The EU will use 115 million euros of unspent money to local investment fund for 500 cities which agreed to the "Covenant of Mayors," pledging to reduce CO2 emissions. Proposed by EU energy commissioner Gunther Oettinger, the unspent money comes from the European Economic Recovery package. EuroCities, a network of Europe's biggest cities, said it had pressed hard in 2009 for €500 million of recovery funding for green growth projects, so this pledge comes "too little, too late." Over half of greenhouse gas emissions are created in and by cities and 80 percent of Europe's population lives and works in urban areas, where up to 80 percent of energy is consumed.
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'Slim' Prospects for Climate Deal this Year

12 April 2010 - BBC - Richard Black
Yvo de Boer, the UN climate convention chief, has been quoted as saying that the likelihood of a binding climate agreement by the end of this year is very slim. New analysis shows that the agreements made last December, even if fulfilled, will not stop the average global temperature from rising more than 2C. The most recent three day meeting was largely unsuccessful, being steeped in the fallout and distrusted left over from Copenhagen. The US has promised to meet it's pledge for fast-start finances to developing countries, but has also said it will withhold funding from countries that have not signed the Copenhagen Accord. However, the next setof UN climate meetings have been successfully planned for November.

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EU Capped Carbon Emissions Drop Sharply in 2009
1 April 2010 - Reuters
The sharp fall of of carbon emissions in 2009 reflect the impact of the recession on industry. The EU emissions trading scheme (ETS) limits the carbon emissions and covers 44 percent of EU emissions. It is meant to drive the bloc to comply with targets set under the international Kyoto Protocol. Preliminary data shows that emissions were down 11.2 percent, with some industry down almost 30 percent. This causes an issue because it creates a surplus of EU allowances within the market, driving carbon prices down, and slowing the investment money necessary to jump start more expensive green technology.

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European Energy Agency Could Form Super-Regulator

29 March 2010 - The Guardian - Terry Macalister
The European commission's Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators will be operational by next March. It could be the starting point of an EU-wide single energy regulator, taking that power away from the nation-states. The idea of energy being regulated by Brussels remains a highly charged political issue but members of the European Union are increasingly accepting the need for more international cooperation and integration to achieve energy security and combat climate change. European Union member states have so far balked at giving up national sovereignty in energy regulation and their future acceptance of such an idea would be vital before a fully fledged European regulator was put in place.

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France to Scrap Carbon Tax, Wants an EU-wide Levy, Fillion Says

23 March 2010 - Business Weekly - Gregory Viscusi and Mark Deen President Sarkozy has "scrapped" a planned carbon emissions tax and switched focus to an EU-wide tax. Prime Minister Francois Fillion told members of parliament that only a universal tax will be effective, arguing that the fight should be at the "European level." The EU already imposes carbon-dioxide emission quotas on the region’s largest utilities and factories, and requires those exceeding their limits to buy credits. This move comes days after President Sarkozy's party lost heavily in elections throughout regional elections, gaining only one out of the twenty-two regions.
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Money Spent on Tar Sands projects could Decarbonise Western Economies

15 March 2010 - Guardian - Terry Macalister
A report released today, commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund, states that the around 380bn dollar cost projected for the development of the tar sands in Alberta, Canada could be used to hit half of the Millennium Development Goals in the 50 least-developed countries. The report has been released in the heels of BP's and Shell's (the two companies on the forefront of tar sand oil extraction) plan to speed up their projects after their agreement with Devon Energy. The WWF coordinated the release of the report with the premiere of a new documentary "Dirty Oil." Tar Sands are estimated by critics to emit three times more greenhouse gases than conventional oil production.

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Climate Change Challenges Dwarf Funding Promises

12 March 2010 - Reuters - Megan Rowling
Developed Countries have pledged to a combined $100bn by 2020 for developing nations to address climate change. Though many argue this is not nearly enough to cover the true cost of lowering emissions or conversion to eco-friendly technology, it is still a positive shift to see developed countries willing to pledge anything. The High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing, created by the UN, has been charged with figuring out ways of raising the money promised by rich countries. Most agree that addressing climate change funding must go hand in hand with nation building and development.

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IMF Proposes Climate Change Fund

8 March 2010 - Guardian
The managing director of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has proposed a plan for the world's governments to pool together to raise money necessary to adapt to climate change. He proposed that countries adopt a quota system similar to the one the fund uses. "We all know that [carbon taxes and other fund-raising methods] will take time and we don't have this time. So we need something which looks like an interim solution, which will bridge the gap between now and the time when those carbon taxes will be big enough to solve the problem." The IMF will release their full proposal later this week, detailing the scope of the plan.

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Europe All Mouth and No Money in Green Tech Race

2 March 2010 - Reuters - Pete Harrison
Wednesday, the 3rd of March, EC President Barroso will lay out his vision for the next decade, and it is expected that he will champion green technlogy as a means of boosting jobs and protecting the climate. Many EP politicians had hoped that the EU's Emissions Trading System would have made traditional fossil fuels so expensive that firms would steadily shift to greener sources. However, companies are not converting as fast as hoped for and many decision-makers have realized the need to speed the shift by subsidizing green technology. The EU allotted budget for subsidizing the green tech, however, is much lower than rival countries such as the US, Japan, and China. Britain, Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands are pushing to increase the budget with funds previously for agriculture, something France (which recieves a fifth of the budget) will fight against.

EU needs new CO2 strategy for global talks: Poland

27 Feburary 2010 - Reuters
The EU agreed to lower emissions by 20 percent over the next 10 years with the hopes that others would follow their "good example." This has not happened and the insufficient engagement has prevented the EU from increasing their cuts to 30 percent. Bernard Blaszczyk, who is part of the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme, said that now the Union should focus on shoring up the economy and wait for other large emitters to match their pledge. "Now we should wait for the others...focus our actions on the internal market and strengthening Europe's economic competitiveness."
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UN Report to Quantify the Environmental Impact of Major Companies
19 February 2010 - NYT - Sindya Bhanoo
A UN commissioned report that is due to be released this spring studies the environmental impact of 3,000 companies, including those on the S&P 500. The report, from a British consulting firm Trucost, found that these top companies create 2.2 trillion in environmental damage each year. The report is meant to be used to educate investors on the full impact of companies, so those that wish to invest in green business can be properly informed. The measured impact includes all aspects of a business, even extended supply chains and partnerships.
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UN Climate Chief Resigns
18 February 2010 - NYT - Neil MacFarquhar and John Broder
Yvo de Boer, the UN leader of the international climate change negotiations over the past four years, has resigned. Some speculate that this is a result of the unsuccessful attempts in Copenhagen last December. His resignation has raised questions on whether the UN is the best forum to handle the question of global climate change and whether there is any chance of success for the next round of talks at the end of this year. Climate change has come under fire recently from both sides of the debate. The UN's IPCC has gotten criticized for small mistakes made in it's 2007 report. This has resparked the debate by some on the validity of the scientific evidence supporting climate change, which has only made these difficult negotiations even harder.

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Transforming Economies through Green Investment: Needs, Progress, and Policies
3 February 2010 – GMF and Ecologic Institute

In coming years the global economic system will tackle one of the most challenging reforms to its core structure. Transforming the energy economy to suppress the impact of global warming will call for the cooperation of public and private entities and an aggressive, well thought out investment plan.

Europe and the United States have taken the lead in this process while China has taken the initial steps to assume a more substantial role. Key sectors of the economy in each region are in need of heavy near-term investment to meet the challenge. The power, transport and building industries will have to undergo a restructuring process. The power sector will call for a 16 % investment by 2011 and will increase to 18% by 2030; transport will need 15% by 2011 and 18% by 2030; the building sector will require the largest initial investment of 39% by 2011, but this will decline to 24% by 2030.  Despite the fact that green investment levels have been steady, there is still a considerable investment gap. The worldwide economic recession has negatively influenced the efforts to increase sustainable energy investment with tight access to credit and a lack of tax incentives. Although more than $180 billion were made available for green investment as part of the economic stimulus plans, several countries have adopted to combat the recession. This influx is short term and will be offset in part by a drop in private investment.

At the end of the day, long term sustainable investment will have to rely on politicians revamping policies to include incentives and public investment that leads to innovation and a steadfast private investment in green energy. The private sector will play a major role with private equity and debt making up 86% of new investment, however, public spending will be vital in areas where private investment is lacking such as technology development, grid infrastructures and urban planning. In order to finance the expenditures governments should put a “reliable price on carbon.” This policy would also encourage cost effective low carbon growth in the long term. However this is not politically viable at the present time so a complementary strategy should be implemented including “feed-in tariffs and renewable portfolio standards” as well as “efficiency standards;” all of which have proven successful in channeling private investment while dramatically helping reduce Co2 emissions.

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Rich Need to Show Poor CO2 Deal Won't Hit Economy

20 January 2010 - Reuters - Luke Pachymuthu and Stanley Carvalho

On Tuesday, a British government minister stated that in order for climate talks tocontinue, developed nations must convince developing countries that their economies will not be harmed by a greenhouse gas emissions deal. The UN climate talks aim to create something that was not achieved at the Copenhagen Accord, a new treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol. Though there is still the possibility of a binding agreement, this next round of talks has struggled to move beyond the feelings of resignation and resentment.

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