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Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer of the 5Cs, represented AOSIS as lead negotiator in reaffirming commitment to bold and urgent global climate action based on the best available science in the BBC’s ‘Triple Whammy’ threatens UN Action on Climate Change

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A “triple whammy” of events threatens to hamper efforts to tackle climate change say UN delegates.

At a meeting in Bonn, Saudi Arabia has continued to object to a key IPCC scientific report that urges drastic cuts in carbon emissions.

Added to that, the EU has so far failed to agree to a long term net zero emissions target.

Thirdly, a draft text from the G20 summit in Japan later this week waters down commitments to tackle warming.

One attendee in Bonn said that, taken together, the moves represented a fierce backlash from countries with strong fossil fuel interests.

There was controversy last December at the Katowice COP24 meeting in Poland, when Saudi Arabia, the US, Kuwait and Russia objected to moves to welcome the findings of the IPCC Special Report on 1.5C.

That study, regarded as a landmark, had two clear messages.

It showed that there were huge benefits in keeping temperature rises this century to 1.5C compared to a world that warmed 2C or more.

It also said that keeping the world below 1.5C was still possible, if drastic cuts in emissions were initiated by 2030.

To the frustration of a huge majority of countries, the objections of the four major fossil fuel producers, meant that the scientific report was not formally recognised in the negotiations.

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Image captionDuring intense discussions about the IPCC, some delegates sat on the floor

The battle over the 1.5C report has carried over from Katowice to Bonn. Normally, this mid-year meeting is concerned with technical questions but this time the issue of the IPCC has re-emerged as a huge fault line between nations.

The Saudis are keen to highlight what are termed “knowledge gaps” in the IPCC report, that they believe hamper its ability to inform decision making at national or international level.

“We know that there are some hardliners that would try to downplay the seriousness and the actions that are required, that is their point of view,” said Carlos Fuller from Belize, the lead negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States.

“They recognise that they need to undertake major changes that they are not happy about.”

Many environmental campaigners see the Saudi pressure on the IPCC as part of campaign to discredit the science.

“The report shows the importance of striving towards 1.5C, that it is still achievable, and there is an incredible urgency to act vigorously and quickly,” said Dr Jeni Miller from the Global Climate and Health Alliance.

“This report was requested by the UN, by these countries themselves, so to not accept the findings of the report is a rejection of science, and if you are rejecting the science there is not a way forward to address this problem.”

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Image captionClimate protestors have sought to bring their message to major events including a speech at the Mansion House by Chancellor Philip Hammond

While delegates seek to find a way forward on the science, there is growing concern about the European Union’s inability to reach consensus on cutting carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.

Despite the late support of Germany in favour of the idea, four countries including Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Estonia, refused to support the plan last week.

This has caused some dismay among officials at the UN.

The Secretary General, António Guterres, has called a special summit on climate change to be held in New York in September with the express purpose of getting countries to increase their existing targets.

The EU’s proposed net zero goal was key to making this a success.

Mr Guterres has expressed his “personal concern” about the setback. Campaigners are also worried.

“The EU are very aware of the Secretary General’s summit, they are aware they are calling for a revision of targets, it would be embarrassing for the EU to go with what they just have now,” said Ulriikka Aarnio, from the Climate Action Network.

“Somebody said they would be going from leader to loser if that was the case.”

Contributing to the downbeat mood in Bonn is the forthcoming G20 meeting of global leaders in Osaka, Japan.

A draft of the closing communiqué mentions climate change as just one issue among many and omits to use the phrases “global warming” and “decarbonisation”.

Critics believe that Japan is trying hard to win favour with the US on trade issues by downplaying the scale of the climate question and possible solutions to it.

Japan climate
Image captionJapan is said to be keen to curry favour with the US by downplaying climate issues at the upcoming G20 in Osaka

“The story, based on a draft of the communiqué, shows Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is a weak host and his G20 climate promises are full of hot air, undermining his previous claims that he seeks to save the planet.” said Kimiko Hirata, director of the Kiko Network Japan, a non-governmental organisation.

“Japan, alongside China, is the biggest financier of coal overseas in the world and the government continues to build new coal plants domestically despite our huge solar and wind power potential.”

As well as Japan, other leading economies are continuing to support coal based power generation. A study released by the Overseas Development Institutesays that G20 nations have almost tripled the subsidies given to coal fired plants in recent years, despite the growing need to cut emissions.

CREDIT: BBC News

COP21 climate change summit reaches deal in Paris

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A deal to attempt to limit the rise in global temperatures to less than 2C has been agreed at the climate change summit in Paris after two weeks of negotiations.  The pact is the first to commit all countries to cut carbon emissions.

The agreement is partly legally binding and partly voluntary.  Earlier, key blocs, including the G77 group of developing countries, and nations such as China and India said they supported the proposals.

President of the UN climate conference of parties (COP) and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said: “I now invite the COP to adopt the decision entitled Paris Agreement outlined in the document. “Looking out to the room I see that the reaction is positive, I see no objections. The Paris agreement is adopted.”

COP21: In summary

As he struck the gavel to signal the adoption of the deal, delegates rose to their feet cheering and applauding. The announcement was greeted by cheers and excitement in the hall

Nearly 200 countries have been attempting to strike the first climate deal to commit all countries to cut emissions, which would come into being in 2020.

The chairman of the group representing some of the world’s poorest countries called the deal historic, adding: “We are living in unprecedented times, which call for unprecedented measures.

“It is the best outcome we could have hoped for, not just for the Least Developed Countries, but for all citizens of the world.”

As he struck the gavel to signal the adoption of the deal, delegates rose to their feet cheering and applauding.  The announcement was greeted by cheers and excitement in the hall.  Nearly 200 countries have been attempting to strike the first climate deal to commit all countries to cut emissions, which would come into being.

Key points

The measures in the agreement included:

• To peak greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and achieve a balance between sources and sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century

• To keep global temperature increase “well below” 2C (3.6F) and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5C

• To review progress every five years

• $100 billion a year in climate finance for developing countries by 2020, with a commitment to further finance in the future.

 Image copyright Reuters Image caption UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and French President Hollande join in the celebrations

copyright Reuters: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and French President Hollande join in the celebrations


Analysis: The BBC’s Matt McGrath in Paris

The speeches and the cliches at the adoption of the Paris Agreement flowed like good champagne – success after all has many fathers! The main emotion is relief. The influence of the COP president, Laurent Fabius, cannot be overstated. His long diplomatic career gave him a credibility seldom matched in this arena. He used his power well.

The deal that has been agreed, under Mr Fabius, is without parallel in terms of climate change or of the environment. It sets out a clear long term temperature limit for the planet and a clear way of getting there. There is money for poor countries to adapt, there is a strong review mechanism to increase ambition over time. This is key if the deal is to achieve the aim of keeping warming well below 2C.

More than anything though the deal signifies a new way for the world to achieve progress – without it costing the Earth. A long term perspective on the way we do sustainability is at the heart of this deal. If it delivers that, it truly will be world changing.

Read more from Matt McGrath


Ahead of the deal being struck, delegates were in a buoyant mood as they gathered in the hall waiting for the plenary session to resume.

Mr Fabius was applauded as he entered the hall ahead of the announcement.

Earlier, French President Francois Hollande called the proposals unprecedented, while UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on negotiators to “finish the job”.

Some aspects of the agreement will be legally binding, such as submitting an emissions reduction target and the regular review of that goal.

However, the targets set by nations will not be binding under the deal struck in Paris.

Observers say the attempt to impose emissions targets on countries was one of the main reasons why the Copenhagen talks in 2009 failed.

At the time, nations including China, India and South Africa were unwilling to sign up to a condition that they felt could hamper economic growth and development.

The latest negotiations managed to avoid such an impasse by developing a system of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).

In these, which form the basis of the Paris agreement goal of keeping global temperature rise “well below” 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial levels, nations outline their plans on cutting their post-2020 emissions.

An assessment published during the two-week talks suggested that the emission reductions currently outlined in the INDCs submitted by countries would only limit global temperature rise by 2.7C.

Nick Mabey, chief executive of climate diplomacy organisation E3G, said the agreement was an ambitious one that would require serious political commitment to deliver.

“Paris means governments will go further and faster to tackle climate change than ever before,” he said. “The transition to a low carbon economy is now unstoppable, ensuring the end of the fossil fuel age.”

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UN climate conference 30 Nov – 11 Dec 2015

four_climate_change_976x183COP 21 – the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties – will see more than 190 nations gather in Paris to discuss a possible new global agreement on climate change, aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the threat of dangerous warming due to human activities.
Credit: BBC

Caribbean formatting climate change strategy for Paris meeting

A plume of steam billows from the coal-fired Merrimack Station in Bow, New Hampshire, USA in January this year. The COP 21 Paris talks scheduled for later this year will be the stage for the countries of the world to agree to reducing carbon emissions from power plants, factories, and other types of industry, in order to keep global temperatures down. US President Barack Obama will today unveil the final version of his unprecedented regulations clamping down on carbon dioxide emissions from existing US power plants. The Obama Administration first proposed the rule last year. Opponents plan to sue immediately to stop the rule’s implementation. (PHOTO: AP)

Government climate negotiators and civil society groups from the Caribbean who met with artistes and journalists here last week have discussed strategies to drum up local awareness and attract international attention as part of the region’s preparation for the climate change meeting in Paris at the end of the year.

The plan is to roll out some of the projects simultaneously across the region ahead of the Paris talks and stage one or two others during the session.

The Paris talks are called COP 21 and will be the stage for the countries of the world to agree to reducing carbon emissions from power plants, factories, and other types of industry, in order to keep global temperatures down.

Island states, according to published scientific data, are projected to suffer the most from increasing temperatures and the related sea level rise. As such, the Caribbean, as part of the Alliance of Small Island States, is seeking to start a movement among its own peoples to shine a light on the specific ways the region will be affected in hopes that it will sway the developed world.

If carbon emissions continue unabated, projections are that global temperatures will rise by as much as four degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

Globally, the discussion is to keep it at two degrees, but the Caribbean wants to limit it to 1.5 degrees and has been using the slogan ‘1.5 to stay alive’.

St Lucia’s minister of sustainable development Senator James Fletcher, who hosted the meeting, explained the rationale for the regional approach.

“The region has not done enough to elevate the issue of climate change… we need to amplify our voices both in the region and on the international stage,” he said.

Fletcher suggested that the Caribbean follow the example of the Pacific Islands, which, he said, was a good example of climate action on a regional scale, by co-ordinating the messages it wants to be communicated in ways that galvanise support and attract mass attention.

The St Lucia meeting was called ‘Climate Voices on and for Climate Change’. In addition to the ministry of sustainable development, its sponsors included Panos Caribbean, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, and the Organization of American States.

Credit: Jamaica Observer

The Caribbean Must Develop a Green Economy

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Energy Policy Consultant at the Caribbean Development Bank, Joseph Williams.

Energy Policy Consultant at the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Joseph Williams, believes the Caribbean must move faster towards greater renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

Delivering the feature address at Green Energy Day at the Energy Conference in Port of Spain, Williams said Caribbean countries are not poor in regard to energy.  He said in addition to making good economic sense, a green economy paradigm will provide opportunities to reduce carbon emissions.

He called on Trinidad and Tobago to lead the Caribbean into a new age of green energy, changing the way PetroCaribe currently operates.  Williams stated that the CDB has opened up many areas of access to assist companies willing to go green.

He stated, “Investing in renewable energy is key. Subsidies have grown over the last few years. CDB is willing to help fund energy efficient projects through things like concessional loans.”

 The Policy Consultant outlined a number of areas that still needed to be addressed including the need for policies, a raft of incentives and the lack of capacity in critical areas. He urged all nations to get involved stating, “Renewable energy is not the business of one country, it is the business of all countries.”

Meanwhile, Business Development Manager at Massy Energy, Dr. Dirk Nuber, said the Caribbean must harness more from the sun in the form of solar energy. He went on to say: “Most countries in the Caribbean still depend on fossil fuels. While many countries are good for solar, they are not using it.” He further added that there is great investment in renewable energy and the Caribbean must start adapting to it.

Credit: Caribbean Energy Information System

Caribbean focuses on youth unemployment

Prime Minister of the Bahamas Perry Gladstone.

Prime Minister of the Bahamas Perry Gladstone.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) said on Wednesday that the 9th Meeting of Caribbean Labor Ministers has concluded with a commitment to strengthen social dialogue further both at the national and regional levels.

The ILO also said the meeting in Port-of-Spain, the Trinidad and Tobago capital, ended with renewed impetus to focus on creative solutions to the problem of youth unemployment and the greening of the economy.

The meeting, themed “Decent Work for Sustainable Development,” was attended by 21 delegations headed by 14 ministers with responsibility for labor issues.

The presidents and other representatives of the Caribbean Congress of Labor (CCL) and Caribbean Employers’ Confederation (CEC) were also present, along with representatives from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), and U.N. Agencies (ECLAC, UNESCO,PAHO/WHO and U.N. RC Office Jamaica), as well as the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC).

ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, attended the meeting and held bilateral meetings with chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Prime Minister of Bahamas Perry Christie; and the Governor-General of the Bahamas, Dame Marguerite Pindling.

The ILO said Caribbean Labour Ministers at the Meeting called for the systemic institutionalization of national social dialogue processes and culture, which embrace policy areas.

They agreed to support the capacity of social partners to ensure that their interventions to tripartite forums and consultations will add substantive value to the processes, the ILO said.

Given the impact of climate change on the world of work, the ministers called for long-term policy development, so that countries are sufficiently resilient to meet the related challenges.

It was agreed that new business opportunities, as well as education and skills-training policies, would be implemented in response to the anticipated impact of climate on the workers, the ILO said.

The ministers called for closer collaboration between the ILO and CARICOM, particularly on youth employment, technical, vocational education and training (TVET), labor market information systems and environmental sustainability.

The ministers said that those countries not-yet signatory to the regional “Free of Child Labor” initiative, should be provided with information to consider becoming a party to it, according to the ILO.

It said that it officially informed the Ministers of Labor about a new regional project with CEC and CCL, with funding from the European Union (EU), aimed at strengthening the capacity of workers’ and employers’ organizations in the framework of the Economic Partnership Agreement.

Delegates examined the state of youth unemployment in the Caribbean region, together with public and private partners and institutions such as the government of the Republic of China, Canada, Republic Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, and the ACS.

In this session, it was proposed that anticipating skills requirements could contribute to reduce skills mismatches, the ILO said.

It was also suggested that colleges and training institutions work closely with social partners in developing work-based learning opportunities, beyond apprenticeships and internship programs and closer to labor market demand.

The ILO said session highlighted the need for strong corporate social responsibilities to link youth to the world of work.

Regional certification to ensure consistency of qualifications and opportunities for free movement of youth, by developing fair and sound immigration policies, were also discussed.

Ryder emphasized the importance of reducing carbon emissions for sustainable economic growth, generating new jobs and skills.

With sessions led by representatives from CCCCC in Belize, and the ILO Green Jobs Program in Geneva, climate change and its impact on the work place was discussed.

With higher temperatures, rises in sea level, and increased hurricane intensity threatening lives, property and livelihoods throughout the region, the need for increased technical and financial support for the development of renewable energy in the Caribbean was raised, the ILO said.

Ryder said that the Caribbean has strong traditions of tripartite social dialogue, and mentioned the good practices and innovative solutions which the Caribbean countries are able to implement and share.

Credit: Caribbean Life News

The Carbon Tax Success Story

When Mark Twain wrote, “Never let the facts stand in the way of a good story,” he could have been describing Canada’s current climate policy debate. Prime Minister Stephen Harper repeatedly claims that a carbon tax would “destroy jobs and growth.” Yet the evidence from the province that actually passed such a tax – British Columbia – tells a different story.

The latest numbers from Statistics Canada show that B.C.’s policy has been a real environmental and economic success after six years. Far from a being a “job killer,” it is a world-leading example of how to tackle one of the greatest global challenges of our time: building an economy that will prosper in a carbon-constrained world.

B.C.’s tax, implemented in 2008, covers most types of fuel use and carbon emissions. It started out low ($10 per tonne of carbon dioxide), then rose gradually to the current $30 per tonne, which works out to about 7 cents per litre of gas. “Revenue-neutral” by law, the policy requires equivalent cuts to other taxes. In practice, the province has cut $760-million more in income and other taxes than needed to offset carbon tax revenue.

The result is that taxpayers are coming out ahead. B.C. now has the lowest personal income tax rate in Canada (with additional cuts benefiting low-income and rural residents) and one of the lowest corporate rates in North America. You shouldn’t need an economist and a mining entrepreneur to tell you that’s good for business and jobs.

At the same time, it’s been extraordinarily effective in tackling the root cause of carbon pollution: the burning of fossil fuels. Since the tax came in, fuel use in B.C. has dropped by 16 per cent; in the rest of Canada, it’s risen by 3 per cent (counting all fuels covered by the tax). To put that accomplishment in perspective, Canada’s Kyoto target was a 6-per-cent reduction in 20 years. And the evidence points to the carbon tax as the major driver of these B.C. gains.

Further, while some had predicted that the tax shift would hurt the province’s economy, in fact, B.C.’s GDP has slightly outperformed the rest of Canada’s since 2008.

With these impressive results, B.C.’s carbon tax has gained widespread global praise as a model for the world – from organizations such as the OECD, the World Bank and The Economist. But in the rest of Canada, it is less heralded, which is a shame. Because when you look beyond the political rhetoric and examine the facts, B.C.’s experience offers powerful, positive lessons for Canada.

In particular, it shows that Canada can be competitively ambitious in shaping a 21st century economy that internalizes the real costs of pollution. And that is important, because carbon and other emissions from burning fossil fuels impose heavy costs on us all – as B.C. knows well. The mountain pine beetle infestation, resulting from warming winters, has devastated the province’s interior forest industry, closing mills and costing thousands of jobs. Similarly, air pollution, caused mainly by burning fossil fuels, costs thousands of lives and more than $8-billion a year to Canada’s economy. These problems will only get worse if we don’t get serious about tackling the causes of carbon emissions.

B.C.’s example shows that we can do that, while also building a prosperous economy, if we use smart policies. And it’s not alone in doing so. Both Alberta and Quebec, for example, have also put a price on carbon emissions, using different policy approaches. All three provinces offer instructive, made-in-Canada lessons for spurring clean innovation, advancing energy efficiency, and preparing Canada’s economy to compete with other nations that are already making this shift.

Canada has a history of taking pragmatic, far-sighted policy action to meet global economic challenges, like free trade, deficit fighting or the financial crisis. The shift to a low-carbon economic future poses a similar challenge. With such strong evidence of how to meet it from within our own borders, it’s time to set aside the stories and act.

Ross Beaty is chairman of Pan American Silver Corp. and Alterra Power; Richard Lipsey is professor emeritus of economics at Simon Fraser University; Stewart Elgie is professor of law and economics at the University of Ottawa, and chair of Sustainable Prosperity.

Credit: The Globe and Mail
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