As of Monday, poorer nations (the G77) continued to stall talks at Copenhagen. Despite pressure from rich, developed, polluting nations, the group of developing countries have stood firm in their resolve to get 350ppm (concentration CO2) as a stated goal of the Copenhagen Summit. 350ppm has been identified by climatologists as the likely value that can exist without sending the climate system into either a more chaotic state or a stable state which consists of a much warmer and acidified world. Current concentrations have reached 387ppm. Good for the poorer nations. I sincerely hope they maintain their stance and force real action.
China and the U.S. continue to differ in what they’re willing to accept moving forward. It all comes down to transparency and accountability, really:
China, which last month for the first time publicly announced a target for reducing the rate of growth of its greenhouse gas emissions, is refusing to accept any kind of international monitoring of its emissions levels, according to negotiators and observers here. The United States is insisting that without stringent verification of China’s actions, it cannot support any deal.
Here is a really good interactive graphic demonstrating the emissions of the U.S., Europe, India and China, as well as what some of the goals would achieve. Note the 7th tab in the Global Emissions window. Specifically, note the difference between 1990 and 2005 emissions levels by the U.S. (5 compared to 6 billion metric tons!). See why it’s imperative that President Obama and the U.S. strengthen their goal by using 1990 as the baseline instead of 2005? Note also that the European Union is on pace to meet their Kyoto Protocol goals while the U.S.’s condition has gotten harder and therefore more expensive to meet. You can thank the Republicans for that. Denying the problem exists makes it more costly to deal with it later.
CO2 constitutes about 50% of the greenhouse gas pollutants. There are others that are obviously a threat to successful climate change mitigation attempts. Soot, refrigerants and methane gas have been targeted by behind-the-scenes negotiations at Copenhagen while CO2 garners most of the attention.
There continues to be preliminary actions in the U.S. toward energy and climate solutions. Nothing that President Obama can hang his hat on at Copenhagen, but some action is better than none. Sen. Cantwell (D-WA) and Sen. Collins (D-ME) (yes, that health-care reform destroyer) introduced legislation last week that would seek to employ a market-based system to set a price on CO2 using a shrinking cap on carbon. As with other approaches, a lot of action is supposed to take place after 2020, something that has become a disturbing trend. In contrast to H.R. 2454 (ACES), the House passed energy and climate legislation, the CLEAR (The Carbon Limits and Energy for America’s Renewal) Act doesn’t allow any offsets and actions all pollution allowances from the start of the program. ACES gives away allowances for years before the auction portion of the market begins. While CLEAR might be better scientifically, I’m sure you can guess what the utilities think of it. They would have to pay for allowances rather than get them for free? Yeah, they’ll support ACES in a heartbeat. However, the Union of Concerned Scientists had this to say about the legislation:
The CLEAR Act includes the aspirational goal of cutting heat-trapping emissions 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. The long-term target is in line with the minimum reductions scientists say are necessary to have a reasonable chance of avoiding the worst effects of climate change. However, the bill provisions would not achieve those goals. In reality, the CLEAR Act would only cap carbon dioxide emissions at 6 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.
The U.S. Department of Energy has announced the launch of a new Renewables and Efficiency Deployment Initiative (Climate REDI):
The program will accelerate deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies in developing countries – reducing greenhouse gas emissions, fighting energy poverty and improving public health for the most vulnerable, particularly women and children.
The link has details on the programs in the initiative. In an effort to keep these updates as short as possible, I’ll avoid copying them over for now.
Unfortunately, this week has been busier for me than last week. Just when results are starting to pick up in frequency, I’ve been swamped. I will continue to post these updates through and past Friday as additional results come to light. There are a lot of interesting things to discuss, some of which deserve their own posts due to their comprehensiveness.
My 14Dec2009 summary is here.
My 11Dec2009 summary is here.
My 10Dec2009 summary is here.
My 9Dec2009 summary is here.
My 7Dec2009 summary is here.
Cross-posted at SquareState.