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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Bali summit-who's going after what

Alejandro Litovsky, Open Democracy


The current climate change summit in Bali could be "a milestone towards real progress on climate change" and therefore needs to identify ways to "link the emission reductions to incentives for cleaner, alternative paths for growth", argues Alejandro Litovsky in an Open Democracy commentary. "The principal challenge for climate diplomacy is to engage actors across energy-sector divides and ensure they support the climate process," according to the author.
The commentary cautions that "the climate problem cannot be solved without transforming the energy sector," adding that "this is a difficult task, but also an urgent one."


"The diplomatic task is to make room for a large-scale transition to renewable energy," the Open Democracy commentary argues. There are 3 desired outcomes:


  • Gain support from trade rules and the WTO for the climate agenda as the Kyoto dispute settlement mechanisms do not adequately consider trade-related disputes.

  • Continue to build on existing initiatives from the private financial sector such as the UNEP "finance initiative", the "HSBC climate partnership" or the "investor network" on climate risk, with the objective of developing an coordinated approach in which stronger commitments from private investors to finance renewable energy can strengthen "country commitments" to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Achieve stronger commitments from multilateral agencies to address emission reductions. Multilaterals should help decrease the dependency of developing countries on carbon-based technologies, not lock them into a technology-path dependency.


Litovsky concludes by saying that 2008-09 is "a crucial period to re-engineer the global climate architecture" and "we will fail our targets for 2050 unless we act now". source:EuroAktiv
Interview: Barroso sets 2009 'deadline' for UN climate deal
"Our main objective is to achieve a clear commitment to start negotiations towards an agreement on how to tackle climate change after 2012 when the Kyoto Protocol expires," Barroso told EurActiv.
Earlier in October, the EU's 27 environment ministers set out a number of "building blocks" for a future global climate deal, laying down eight criteria about how the agreement should look. This included a commitment to limit global average temperature rises to 2° Celsius above pre-industrial levels and "fair and effective contributions" by developing countries to achieving this goal (see EurActiv 3/12/07).
China, for instance, is the focus of increasing international attention as it is believed to already have overtaken the US as the world's largest emitter in 2006. However, it is unwilling to commit to binding cuts unless all industrialised countries, including the United States, follow suit.
"I am cautiously optimistic that we can reach a consensus" about China in Bali, said Barroso, who has just come back from an official visit there.
A number of EU countries, led by France, are pushing for a so-called border adjustment tax to be slapped on goods imported from countries which have not ratified the Kyoto Protocol. They argue that energy-intensive industries such as chemicals and steelmaking put them at a competitive disadvantage and threaten to delocalise their production to countries which have less stringent environmental regulations.
"The European Union will seek to protect but not enter into protectionism," Barroso warned when asked about the possibility of introducing such a tax at EU level.
However, he says the Commission is concerned about creating "a level playing field" and considers it "important" to address CO2 emissions concerns "for specific industries".
"It would be neither good environmental policy nor economically viable if energy-intensive industries were to leave Europe and emit emissions, perhaps even higher ones, outside Europe," Barroso said.source: EuroAktiv
My comment: I am for that tax-not to encourage protectionism-but to show other countries that they cannot exploit and abuse our concern for the Nature. Because it's easy to just switch the location and start polluting elsewhere, but in the end, it's all on the same planet. And even worse, the new countries will be probably still developping and thus with lower standards for the emission thus, those companies will pollute even more! I am really FOR this tax!


Debate heats up over Europe's 'carbon competitiveness'

While delegates from over 190 nations meet in Bali to set a negotiating framework for a post-2012 global regime to reduce CO2 emissions, Europe's energy intensive industries have expressed concerns about how they will fare in a new world order with a potentially high carbon price tag.


The EU is expected to play a crucial role during the Bali talks, as its CO2 trading mechanism - the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) - is seen as a key building block in the construction of any future international emissions trading system.
EU leaders have also put forward an ambitious wish list for the Bali talks, and in March EU leaders committed to 30% reduced CO2 emission reductions by 2020 under the condition that a global post-Kyoto deal, featuring a US commitment to binding CO2 cuts, is agreed.
But despite the EU's stated ambitions at Bali, within the EU there are doubts as to whether the bloc is technologically and financially able, and willing, to live up to EU's international 'green' reputation.


The list:



  • Tightening the carbon belt -even if other nations level the playing field by applying a carbon trading mechanism similar to the EU ETS, Europe's global competitiveness would likely suffer in a 'carbon competitive' world since the carbon-intensity of EU exports is higher than those of China, the US and other exporters.

  • Towards a two-track carbon market? -Creating international sectoral agreements, as mentioned by Barroso, would allow energy intensive industries to operate under a separate carbon regime based on emissions reduction targets agreed by the industries, effectively sheltering the sector from a severe increase in operating costs related to clean technology upgrades or the purchasing of emissions credits from projects in developing countries. (/I strongly oppose this one, because it doesn't make sense- if the most polluting industries are being "sheltered" from any clean technology upgrades, then what are we talking about at all?/)

source:EuroAktiv


EU, US eye WTO free trade pact for climate-friendly goods



As world leaders meet in Bali to outline a new global climate regime, the EU and the US have launched a joint push for an international deal on eliminating tariffs on green technologies in the hope of opening up new market opportunities for business.


In March 2007, EU leaders committed to addressing the challenge of climate change through a unilateral 20% cut in CO2 emissions by 2020, adding they would up this target to 30% if other developed nations joined them.
However, countries such as the United States and Australia are opposed to binding targets, for fear that they could harm the global competitiveness of their energy-intensive industries, including chemical and steel production, by causing them either to delocalise to countries with less stringent environmental norms or face significant losses in market share.
While these questions remain hypothetical for most countries, they are already a reality for EU member states, which have been subject to carbon caps ever since the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme came into force in 2005.


However, policymakers will first have to scrutinise World Trade Organisation legislation, as it remains far from clear whether some of the measures under consideration would be compatible with international trade rules.


On 30 November, the EU and the US announced what they termed "a ground-breaking proposal" for a WTO-wide deal on the full elimination of tariffs on 43 products identified by the World Bank as environmentally-friendly. The deal would come under the current "Doha" negotiations on trade liberalisation.
Such a pact, which would cover items such as solar panels and wind turbines, has been strongly advocated by EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, who claims it will foster the development of green products by making them more easily available to all nations and create opportunities for European industries, which lead the market in alternative energy technologies.
The joint move underscores the determination of many EU and US leaders to pursue an offensive business and climate agenda.


Issues:



  • Preferential market access for "green technologies"?Although the Doha Round already includes a mandate for freeing up trade in environmental goods and services (EGS), progress so far has been hindered due to a disagreement over which products should be covered.

  • Subsidies for renewables and green technologies? Governments are increasingly introducing support schemes for green technologies such as biofuels, despite the fact that the WTO Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures prohibits subsidies directed at specific industries or sectors.
    In a resolution adopted on 29 November, the European Parliament called on the Commission to press its trade partners for a review of WTO rules on subsidies and anti-dumping so that environmental subsidies would no longer be actionable, while, on the other hand, failure to comply with global, social and environmental agreements would be considered as forms of dumping or undue subsidies

  • Border tax adjustments?
    The imposition of a 'carbon tax' on imports from countries that are not part of the Kyoto Protocol has been advocated by a number of policymakers as an effective means of cancelling out the competitive disadvantage suffered by European companies compared to foreign ones, which do not have to implement costly emission-reduction schemes.
    An alternative measure would be to require importers to purchase emission allowances under the EU ETS before their products can enter the EU market.


  • Product and labelling standards?
    The European Parliament's report on trade and climate change also highlights the need "to raise public awareness of consumer products' total environmental costs" and calls for legislation that would make it mandatory for products placed on sale within the EU to have "carbon footprint product labels displaying the level of CO2 emissions caused by the production, transport and eventual disposal of a product". Such a measure would also have to be examined according to WTO rules against imposing non-tariff barriers to trade.

source:EuroAktiv


My comment: I really don't understan WTO. It looks like it was created with some good ideas but now it's just not up to the time we're living in. It's weird that for example, it can force a country to allow the import of possibly dangerous products(the case with Austria and GMo corn). I don't think it's right one organisation to have so great responsibilities and rights. All should be done for the well-being of humanity and Earth, not for the well-earning of few companies.


US CO2 cap 'inevitable', says Washington climate expert[fr][de]

Eileen Claussen of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change in Washington spoke to EurActiv about climate change and what can be expected from the US at Bali and in the coming years. Meanwhile, the US Bali delegation has found itself increasingly isolated following Australia's ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.


Delegations from the 192 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are meeting in Bali, Indonesia from 3-14 December at the 13th Conference of the Parties (COP 13) to hammer out a negotiating framework and roadmap towards a future global climate change agreement.


It is widely accepted that any international agreement to significantly reduce global CO2 emissions cannot succeed without the support of the US, which never ratified the Kyoto Protocol.


2008 Presidential election
Timing will play an important role in any future US involvement in a global climate regime, says Eileen Claussen. Considering that a new US administration, to be elected in 2008, will not take office until the beginning or middle of the following year, "the US will probably have a cap-and-trade system passed through legislation by mid-2009", she said.
But Claussen does not expect the current Bush administration to make any major concessions in the meantime.


Winds of change?
Despite concerns that the US will block progress in Bali, some positive signals have emerged from comments made by the US delegation yesterday (3 December).
"We're not here to be a roadblock," said Harlan Watson, leader of the US delegation during the Bali talks. "The United States intends to be flexible and work constructively on a Bali roadmap," he said.
Watson even stated that the US remains open to binding emissions targets, according to Reuters. The EU favours binding targets and is hoping for US backing in order to negotiate "fair and effective" contributions from developing states (EurActiv 03/12/07).


Australia saves the day? The decision by Australia's new government under recently elected Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to ratify the Kyoto Protocol was welcomed with a one minute standing ovation by the delegates at Bali on 3 December.
Australia's move isolates the US as the only nation to not have ratified Kyoto, leading to speculation that Washington is now under increased pressure to sign onto a future climate deal.


source:EuroAktiv


My comment: Well, I know winds are blowing pretty strongly in some places in the USA in favor of Kyoto and Bali, but on some other places they definitely don't blow on the right spot, unfortunately. It's sad to see how politicised is the question in USA, when we're facing such a grave situation with the world's climate. I hope those people, that prefer to believe, it's all just one giant conspiracy intended to enslave their minds or whatever, to face the reality and start acting instead of just rubbing their fur.

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