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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Mind the forests

In today's edition:
  1. Modest progress at Africa climate meeting
  2. UN climate talks to seek speed amid discord
My comment, is that I didn't suspect the inclusion of forests in the deal can have bad effects (explained in the second article). I mean, one would expect that protecting the forests will be good, but obviously, it's just another tool for evading limitations. Is it so hard to make a plan that involve the lungs of the planet in a positive way? Like every country to gain certain amount of emission credits based on the actual amount of forest it posses. This will surely prevents cutting the trees and give developing countries a possibility to industrialize without problems. Think guys, think.

Modest progress at Africa climate meeting

28 August 2008

160-nation talks on climate change wrapped up in Ghana on Wednesday (27 August) with the United Nations proclaiming that the slow pace of negotiations is "picking up". Delegates want forest protection to be part of a greenhouse gas reduction deal but said sectoral industry agreements should remain voluntary.

"Countries have made it very clear that issue of forests needs to be part of a Copenhagen deal," said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in a 27 August press statement.

Delegates did not agree to any specific framework on forest protection, nor were any new funds committed to tackling the destruction of rainforests and other key ecosystems credited with storing CO2, the gas most commonly associated with global warming.

Nonetheless, and despite environmental groups' concerns (see EurActiv 22/08/08), there was a "general sense" that any future climate change deal would need to take deforestation into account, according to one UN official close to the talks.

In contrast, separate emissions reductions agreements between heavily-polluting industry sectors like steel and cement could be kept out of such a deal, the official said. Japan, backed by the US and Canada, is in favour of including legally-binding international sectoral agreements within the scope of a global climate change regime.

But talks nearly collapsed when Tokyo pushed its case during an April meeting of the UNFCCC in Bangkok. Developing states are concerned that such deals will simply serve as a 'backdoor' for developed states to avoid binding emissions targets and that the deals could be used as an excuse for imposing additional levies on products from more polluting developing economies.

These fears appear to have been allayed, however, after a working group session on the issue "provided more clarity", with views converging that "such approaches should not lead to binding commitments for developing countries and that it is up to a country to decide if it wants to put sectoral policies in place or not," the UNFCCC press release said.

It remains unclear, however, as to whether sectoral deals will remain entirely off the agenda of future UNFCCC talks given their potential for considerable emissions reductions and transferring clean technologies to developing states, according to the official. A number of developed-state parties to the UNFCCC are also in favour of moving towards sectoral approaches within the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which allowes rich states to finance clean development projects in poor countries in exchange for emission reduction credits, the official said. source

My comment: Yeah, we all know what sectoral deal means. Smoking ban for non-smokers. I wonder with what money those idiots meet each other just to waste time?

More on that: (it's actually the article from the beginning of the talks, now you can see the difference)

UN climate talks to seek speed amid discord

22 August 2008

The latest round of UN climate talks began yesterday (21 August) in Accra, Ghana, in a bid to overcome disagreements over the tools that countries can use to cut greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate progress towards a new climate treaty by the end of 2009.

Little progress so far

The meeting is the third UN climate change conference since nations committed, in Bali, to adopting a global climate pact by no later than December 2009.

But progress was slow at the last two meetings, in Bangkok and Bonn. Moreover, onlookers believe disagreements between developed and developing nations - as well as uncertainties about the direction of US climate policy after President Bush leaves office, the economic slowdown and the recent collapse of global trade talks at the WTO - will mean delegates at the Accra talks will be uneager to make any firm commitments.

Tough talks on tools

In Accra, experts are to attempt to "reach agreement on the rules and tools" that developed nations can use to reach their emission reduction targets, de Boer explained.

Among the means being considered are Japanese-led proposals for "sectoral targets" – a 'bottom-up' approach whereby different emissions reduction targets would be set for individual industry sectors, such as steel or power generation, according to their specific characteristics and circumstances.

But developing countries are wary of such approaches. They fear that developed nations could use sectoral benchmarks, such as the amount of energy required to produce a tonne of cement, as a means of effectively blocking goods from developing countries' less efficient industries. "We feel extremely uncomfortable with the kind of sectoral approaches that are being discussed," Reuters quotes Indian delegate Ajay Mathur as saying.

Rewards for curbing deforestation

Delegates will also explore new mechanisms that could be set up in an attempt to win over developing nations, such as including forests in carbon markets, by offering carbon credits for halting deforestation. Because trees store carbon as they grow and release it when burnt, curbing tropical deforestation could reduce man-made greenhouse gases by up to 20%. But environmentalists are warning that such proposals could backfire.

The 'land grab threat'

Green NGO Friends of the Earth International warns that including forests in carbon markets is simply another ploy for developed countries to avoid real carbon emissions reductions at home. Indeed, such a scheme would enable them to buy up large tracts of forest to gain carbon credits that can count towards their own emission reduction targets.

"The inclusion of forests in carbon markets enables developed countries to avoid real carbon emissions reductions at home," the group said in a statement issued ahead of the Accra meeting.

FoE further warns that increasing the value of forests in this way could "trigger a rapid increase in land rights' abuses due to a rapid expansion of state and/or corporate control over forests without regard for the customary or territorial rights of Indigenous Peoples and other forest-dependent communities".

The NGO says negotiations should instead focus on the root causes of deforestation, such as increased consumption of biofuels, meat and timber products.

The next major climate meeting is scheduled for December 2008 in Poznań, Poland and the UN hopes to get negotiations over tools over with so that delegates can begin to discuss actual emission reduction targets.

But speaking to the Times of India, Yvo de Boer conceded that clinching a deal on mid-term targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions in Poland would be difficult. "It would be difficult to discuss national targets before the next US administration is in place," he said. source

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