Table Of Contents
Climate Talks Conclude in Bonn
On August 14, UN-led climate talks concluded in Bonn, Germany, four months before the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to be held in Copenhagen. A key focus of the talks was to pare down a 200-page negotiating text to a smaller accord that participating nations can agree to in Copenhagen. Jonathan Pershing, the lead negotiator for the United States, said “marginal” progress had made. “We have probably cut that back a bit but not enough,” he said. “The emphasis was on trying to find where we have common ground – we’ve done a much better job on that but we haven’t closed some of the gaps.” Money has been a central issue in negotiations, with disagreement over how much funding wealthy nations should provide to developing nations as they transition to low-carbon energy sources. "The fact that there are no proposals for financing on the table is preventing progress," said Jose Romero, a negotiator from Switzerland. "This is the big issue." Yvo de Boer, the UNFCCC Secretariat, stated that addressing climate change will cost about $300 billion per year. “Over time, according to my own analysis, we are going to need $200 billion a year for mitigation and probably in the order of $100 billion a year for adaptation . . . from 2020 onwards," he said.
UN Chief: Climate Change Biggest Challenge
On August 11, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued a call to take action on climate change. "If we fail to act, climate change will intensify droughts, floods and other natural disasters . . . . Water shortages will affect hundreds of millions of people. Malnutrition will engulf large parts of the developing world. Tensions will worsen. Social unrest – even violence – could follow," Ban said. “The human suffering will be incalculable.” Ban said he was confident the world could avert catastrophe through action and stressed that urgency was required. "We have the power to change course but we must do it now." He said developed countries should lead by committing to mid-term targets of cutting greenhouse gas emissions 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels, and developing countries should take "measurable, reportable and verifiable" actions to reduce emissions, with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations taking place in December in Copenhagen providing a "once-in-a-generation opportunity" to conclude an agreement. "Trust between developing and developed countries is essential."
North American Leaders Pledge Climate Cooperation
On August 10, President Obama pledged cooperation with President Felipe Calderon of Mexico and Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada on future emissions trading systems and building a smart grid across the region for more efficient and reliable electricity inter-connections at his first trilateral North American Leaders meeting. "The United States, Mexico and Canada have coincided in the importance to face the repercussions of climactic change. The cost is very high, but the price we shall pay for lack of action is not to be calculated - cannot possibly be calculated," President Calderon said. The leaders intend to develop a "North American Carbon Atlas" with comparable approaches to measuring, reporting, and verifying greenhouse gas emissions reductions. They also announced cooperation on aviation sustainability, reducing gas flaring, capture and storage and "protecting and enhancing our forests, wetlands, croplands and other carbon sinks, as well as developing appropriate methodologies to quantify, manage and implement programs for emission reductions in this sector."
Ten Senate Democrats Want Climate Bill to Protect Manufacturing
On August 6, ten Senate Democrats sent a letter to President Obama urging him to support placing tariffs on goods from countries that do not limit their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. “As Congress considers energy and climate legislation, it is important that such a bill include provisions to maintain a level playing field for American manufacturing,” the letter said. “It is essential that any clean energy legislation not only address the crisis of climate change, but include strong provisions to ensure the strength and viability of domestic manufacturing.” The letter was signed by Democratic Senators Sherrod Brown (OH), Debbie Stabenow (MI), Russell Feingold (WI), Carl Levin (MI), Evan Bayh (IN), Robert Casey (PA), Robert Byrd (WV), Arlen Specter (PA), John D. Rockefeller IV (WV) and Al Franken (MN). Obama has not said if he would veto climate or energy legislation that includes any tariff measures. Following the passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454) on June 26 in the House of Representatives, Obama said, "At a time when the economy world-wide is still deep in recession, and we've seen a significant drop in global trade, I think we have to be very careful about sending any protectionist signals.”
U.S. CO2 Emissions From Fuels to Fall 5 Percent in 2009
On August 11, the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) released their monthly short term outlook for the U.S. economy, including projections for CO2 emissions for the first time. Amidst volatile oil prices and economic decline, EIA projects that the United States will reduce its fossil fuel-based CO2 emissions by 5 percent in 2009. Coal emissions are expected to fall 7.9 percent, with the decline exacerbated by fuel switching towards natural gas. While it predicts emissions from motor gasoline may remain broadly unchanged, the EIA expects jet fuel emissions to fall nearly 10 percent this year. The report expects “an improving economy to increase CO2 emissions from fossil fuels by 0.7 percent in 2010”, with coal emissions growing 1.1 percent. This is the first time the EIA has published predictions on CO2 emissions from the burning of coal, natural gas and petroleum, with these emissions accounting for about 80 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
Duke Energy Signs Clean Coal Deal in China
On August 10, Duke Energy Corporation signed an agreement with China’s largest electric utility, state-owned Huaneng, to share information and jointly explore initiatives to produce cleaner power from coal and renewable resources. "We both have the scale and mass to push the global industry forward in the development of clean technologies," said David Scanzoni, a Duke spokesman. Duke is the third largest electric utility in the United States, and Huaneng Group produces more than 10 percent of China's electricity. With China and the United States predominantly coal fueled and ranking as the world's top two CO2 emitters, a focal point of the discussions will be technologies that capture and sequester CO2 from coal power plants.
Members of Oil Industry Set to Stage Climate Bill Rallies
On August 11, the Wall Street Journal reported that EnergyCitizens, an alliance funded in part by the American Petroleum Institute, is organizing 20 rallies across the nation to oppose climate legislation currently before the Senate. The alliance is made up of several business and industry groups, who along with the American Petroleum Institute includes the American Farm Bureau, the American Highway Users Alliance, the National Black Chamber of Commerce and the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, as well as conservative advocacy organizations like the American Conservative Union, Americans for Tax Reform, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste and FreedomWorks. A flier distributed by the alliance says the bill passed by the House in June, the American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454), “will cost two million American jobs, raise gasoline and diesel prices up to $4," and threaten both U.S. competition and energy security. "Let our U.S. Senators know they need to ‘get it right’ and not make the same mistakes as the House," the flier said. The rallies are scheduled to begin on August 18 and continue through Labor Day, just before Congress returns from its summer recess.
U.S. Manufacturers Say Climate Bill Would Cost Jobs
On August 12, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the American Council for Capital Formation (ACCF) unveiled a study on the impact of the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) (H.R. 2454), concluding it will cost the economy 2.4 million jobs. Jay Timmons, Executive Vice President for NAM, said, “Lawmakers should be focused on policies that provide incentives for businesses so they can create jobs and grow. Unfortunately, this study confirms that [ACES] is an ‘anti-jobs, anti-growth’ piece of legislation . . . . [It] would give an edge to overseas competitors, discouraging domestic investment and the creation of American jobs.” The study said cumulative losses by 2030 would total $3.1 trillion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and 2.4 million jobs. It forecast residential electricity price increases of up to 50 percent, and gasoline price increases (per gallon) of up to 26 percent over this period.
New York Governor Signs Executive Order Limiting Emissions
On August 6, New York Gov. David Paterson signed an executive order to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the state by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. The order creates a Climate Action Council tasked with producing a draft climate plan by September 30, 2010. "This is going to be good for economy, good for environment and good for future generations," said Judith Enck, the governor's Deputy Secretary for the Environment. "States that take these early actions on reducing electricity usage and expanding renewable energy will be more competitive under a national (carbon) cap-and-trade program," noted Tom Congdon, the governor's Deputy Secretary for Energy.
Energy Efficiency Could Halve U.S. Greenhouse Gases by 2050
On July 30, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released its analysis of the energy efficiency potential in the United States, titled The Positive Economics of Climate Change Policies: What the Historical Evidence Can Tell Us. The report found that “energy efficiency investments can provide up to one-half of the needed greenhouse gas emissions reductions most scientists say are needed between now and the year 2050.” Such investments would save in “the order of two trillion dollars by 2050” and “can lead to a more robust economy and to a greater level of overall employment opportunities with the United States,” the report concluded. "The evidence shows that productive investments in energy-efficient technologies can enable the U.S. economy to save money and to substantially reduce its greenhouse gas emissions - both immediately and by mid-century," said John A. “Skip” Laitner, director of ACEEE's Economic and Social Analysis Program.
Northeast Officials Consider Limiting Furnace Emissions
Officials in Northeastern states are preparing a regional plan, similar to California's low-carbon fuel standard, to limit greenhouse gases emissions from a unit of fuel. "A critical decision will be whether to limit the program just to transportation fuels or whether to also include heating fuel," said Michelle Manion, of Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management. Oil-burning furnaces heat more than 1 million homes in the region and consume more fuel there than diesel trucks. If heating emissions are not regulated, it may make the states unable to meet their preliminary targets of cutting carbon 10 percent by 2020. Regulating heating emissions is likely to prompt strong opposition from those who fear regulations will raise winter home heating bills. Alternative sources that may be cheaper are being explored. "The use of woody biomass and electricity as substitutes, combined with increased natural gas use for space heating, provides near-term low carbon fuel options for the Northeast," according to analysis from the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management.
For additional information see: NY Times
Antarctic Glacier Thinning at Alarming Rate
On August 14, scientists warned that satellite research shows the Pine Island glacier in Antarctica is melting as much as four times faster than anticipated. "This is unprecedented in this area of Antarctica. We've known that it's been out of balance for some time, but nothing in the natural world is lost at an accelerating exponential rate like this glacier," said Professor Andrew Shepherd of Leeds University. Fifteen years ago, calculations projected the glacier would last for 600 years, but the new research revised that figure down to just 100 years. If the Pine Island glacier collapses, scientists warn that sea level could rise dramatically and the West Antarctic ice sheet could disintegrate. Shepherd said that the glacial center melting would add about three centimeters (cm) to global sea levels, "but the ice trapped behind it is about 20-30 cm of sea level rise and as soon as we destabilize or remove the middle of the glacier we don't know really know what's going to happen to the ice behind it."
India's Emissions Now Five Percent of Global Sum
A World Bank report suggests India’s contribution to climate change is around 5 percent, putting per capita emissions at only one-twentieth of the United States and about one-tenth of Western Europe and Japan. A separate Indian government report said forests absorb 11.25 percent of the country's total greenhouse gas emissions, or about 24 billion tons of CO2, creating a potential market worth $120 billion.
For additional information see: Reuters
Australian Senate Rejects Cap and Trade Emissions Plan
On August 13, the Australian Senate rejected the package of 11 bills that sought to establish an emissions trading scheme beginning in 2011. Resistance came from several groups; the Greens said the 2020 emissions reduction targets (ranging from 5 to 25 percent) were too timid, while the Opposition leader, Senator Nick Minchin, said, “Labor's bill would have cost thousands of jobs, reduced Australian living standards, substantially raised the price of everyone's electricity and damaged the Australian economy all for absolutely zero environmental gain.”
New Zealand Sets New 2020 CO2 Emissions Targets
On August 10, the New Zealand government announced that it will seek to cut emissions 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, if other developed nations sign a comprehensive treaty, and 20 percent if developing countries also get on board. "It seeks to balance our economic opportunities with our environmental responsibility," said Prime Minister John Key. “The target is going to be a big ask for New Zealand because our gross emissions are already 24 percent above our 1990 levels.” Half of New Zealand’s emissions come from agriculture, particularly from methane, a very potent greenhouse gas, but agriculture also provides about half the annual export earnings of $29 billion. Key rejected Greenpeace’s calls for a 40 percent cut, saying the economic and social cost would be unacceptable. "Our opening bid is too low. Hopefully, New Zealanders will convince the government to up its game as the negotiations progress towards Copenhagen," said Green Party Member of Parliament Jeanette Fitzsimons.
Plan to Save National Parks from Global Warming
A report released by National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) found that climate change could result in the catastrophic loss of wildlife in national parks and pushes for a management plan. “The choice is now ours to either chronicle their decline or take actions to make our national parks part of the climate change solution,” said the NPCA, a Washington-based advocacy group. "Right now, no national plan exists to manage wildlife throughout their habitat, which often is a patchwork of lands managed by multiple federal agencies, states, tribes, municipalities and private landholders." The report named specific concerns such as the bleaching of coral reefs in Florida and the disappearance of high-altitude ponds that nurture yellow-legged frogs in California. Jon Jarvis, President Obama’s nominee for Park Service Director, recently suggested that "national park units can serve as the proverbial canary in the coal mine, a place where we can monitor and document ecosystem change without many of the stressors that are found on other public lands."
August 18: Sustainable Investment Initiative Meeting
The Capital Markets Partnership (CMP) invites you to a conference in which it will be releasing its report: Business Case for Commercializing Sustainable Energy Investments and hosting a conference on the topic. The conference will address the structural changes required in the market to allow investors and financiers to differentiate between opportunities on the basis of energy sustainability and to stimulate growth in this sector. CMP is a nonpartisan, nonprofit coalition of 70 investment banks, investors, governments, firms, and NGOs. Speakers for the event include investment banking managing directors, law firm partners, and industry CEOs, with notable addresses from: